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Today felt like the first proper day of the New Year here. All three kids are back to school now, the Vicar was writing a sermon, our ministry trainee King arrived back after his holiday and Gone called round. All back to normal.

Gone is back in the hostel up the road after a spell spent at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Unfortunately, due to the date of his arrest and sentencing, Her Majesty was pleased to release him back into the community on Christmas Eve. The Vicar went to collect him from the prison. Due to a fine he’d landed himself with whilst inside, he was released with no money whatsoever. He was also released without a coat or jumper. If the Vicar hadn’t been there to collect him he’d have had no means of getting to his hostel. And he’d have been very cold.

Kind people from church had supplied clothes, food and a telly which were waiting for him at the hostel. Gone really needs a telly. It helps him keep calm and stops him going out drinking. But we’ve had all sorts of telly issues. The original telly didn’t work very well and then last night the Vicar went round to see if he could get it working better. And instead it exploded.

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Gone was upset, understandably, and came round today shouting that he’d got himself arrested for stealing a telly from a shop in the tow-un. He hadn’t, but we did get the message that he wanted a new television. Thankfully another kind person from church donated another tv today and it was waiting in our hallway. So the Vicar went around this evening to set it up. And it’s still not working properly. There’s a problem with the aerial. And until it is sorted, we’ll have Gone at the front door, shouting. Or asking for dvds. Or he’ll go back to prison, where he can get television without the hassle.

It’s just a small thing, but for Gone it’s big. And so we’re praying for some sort of technical miracle. In the meantime, we’ve lent Gone a box set of House. Not his first preference, but something to keep his anxiety at bay. As long as his anxiety isn’t obscure medical condition linked I guess.

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Bleugh. I’ve had a slow start to the year. But a friend has challenged me (and some others) to do some decluttering in this dullest of months. So a group of us are chucking stuff out. One thing on 1st February, two things today, three things tomorrow, four things the day after… all the way up to 28 items on the last day of the month. Those of you with maths heads will have quickly worked out that this will lead to me having a grand total of 406 fewer bits of toot in the Vicarage. It sounds like a lot. Well, it did to me. But then I started looking round the house with different eyes. I surveyed the contents of the bathroom cabinet (saving it for a couple of weeks’ time) and had a brief peek in the Queen’s craft cupboards. I’m already starting to think I’ll need to do the same thing all over again in March.

But for now, here’s today and yesterday’s rather meagre gatherings. I am working myself up to clearing some larger items as the month progresses, but I may spare you the more gruesome details. Please don’t worry that the essential messiness of the Vicarage will be compromised. It will take way more than a month of decluttering to change that. As my husband would agree, after noting the three separate packs of butter left out in the kitchen the other day…

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Just what a tired Vicarage needs on a Monday morning. Early morning workmen arriving before we’ve properly begun the day. But we are very pleased. Because it’s window men. And they have come with several enormous double glazed units to finish off the double glazing that has taken three contracts and about four years to actually arrive.

So it’s a bit nippy in the Vicarage today as great gaping holes are being created as windows are removed. But by this weekend it will be a lot warmer. We are very thankful.

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Windows Win

The window men have been to the Vicarage today. And not just for measuring up (as has been the case over the last four years). They haven’t given us double glazing everywhere, alas, but there are now cosy new windows in the attic. Our ministry trainees no longer have broken panes and drafty sashes, and 170 yearsworth of dust has been dislodged over the upstairs rooms, into the garden and over the window men. There are still a couple of windows to go upstairs, and another contract for the remaining ones in the rest of the house, but for now we (and especially the attic dwellers) are extremely happy to have some added insulation in the Baltic top floor.

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The Vicarage often seems to be heading for this state

Before the Vicar started at theological college, we spent time with some wise friends, Muso and Holy, who were already living on campus there. Theological college can be a funny old place where relationships are often very intense – with people studying, worshipping and living with one another, you get to see each other in very sharp focus. Our friends explained how college was a community of saints – and also a community of sinners.

Holy knew me pretty well and she warned me that I should be careful how I came across because (she said)

Some people might find you a bit intimidating…

Can’t think what gave her that idea. Apart from me being very loud, self confident and bossy, that is. And quite tall. So I arrived at college fully determined to restrain myself as much as possible. The Lord clearly thought I’d be unable to do this unaided, so actually what happened when we started was that I contracted a horrible virus and was laid up in bed for about a month. No chance of being too scary then. Or so I hoped.

Later, when we’d settled in, I thought I’d check up on how I’d done with the not-being-frightening thing, so I asked a new friend about it. Did she think I was intimidating when she first met me? I’d not done as well as I thought because she replied:

I did at first….  But then I saw your house…

I give you this story as an example of why housework may not be that important. And why it’s good to share our failings. And why sitting on the computer writing a blogpost is *far* more important than doing that washing up. Or any dusting. Ever. Just think of it as ministry.

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Today I’m posting some pics of our hallway, where we had to change all the doors as part of the attic renovations. Alas. Mostly lovely Victorian ones – we’ve had to replace 12 in total. We need to have pukka firedoors to comply with building regs because we are making our top storey habitable. I’m sure it’s supersafe and everything. But the building has stood since 1844 with open fires blazing and not burnt down. But there we go.

So I’m a bit sad about the lovely original doors. But also quite pleased about the nasty 70s one with the frosted glass that opened into the kitchen. Now replaced by clear glass which makes the hall and kitchen seem larger, and has the added bonus of enabling us to spot if children on the naughty step are staying there.

Whilst we were having everything done, including carpetting the attic, we decided to change our hall, stairs and landing carpets which were very tatty. So, for one night only, I give you our hall floorboards. But the Vicar has said “No” to sealed and sanded floorboards. Too cold, draughty and echoey. Sadly, he’s right. They do look lovely tho’, so I’ll just look up this post when I think about them instead. And enjoy the warmth.

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Took a few shots of the happy team who’ve been renovating the attic today. The fire doors are all installed and now the decorators are doing their stuff. The bedroom looks a lot larger without the mad youth group painting scheme.

Now we need to get some carpets down and assess where we are with furniture and curtains and keep everyone supplied with Vicarage baking.

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