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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

WE’RE HO-OME! Actually we landed on Friday evening and have been home for three whole days now. The Vicar left Devon at 2pm on Friday with our car and trailer with a couple of Pathfinders and Mac from church who’d been helping on the Task Force, following the minibus. Dreamer and I departed at 3.30pm, but rocked up at the Vicarage just twenty minutes after the rest of the crew. With holiday traffic, departure time is everything. Anyway, we’re still in recovery mode here and I thought I’d share our key techniques with you:

1. Unpack. On arrival dispatch all non-residents of your home to their respective families asap. When Dreamer and I drew up, there were still a few waifs and strays at the Vicarage. Plus we still had five Indian missionaries staying. It took us a little while after all that to unload all our luggage and decompress. But you need to get all the kit out of the car/minibus. It’s not fun realising the next day that your sleeping bag is in Tipton because you didn’t unload things properly.

2. Takeaway for tea. Or something you froze before you went away. No matter how perky you think you feel on leaving camp, you will definitely be too tired to do more than pop something in the microwave or call EatWise. Consume in front of a movie. Do not attempt conversation.

3. Sleep. As much as possible. Do not arrange to play in a golf tournament early on Saturday morning *looks hard at someone resident in the Vicarage*. One of the main leaders from our venture slept 14 hours on Friday night. This seems like a suitable amount to me. NB Golf tournament didn’t happen in the end. Too tired, obvs.

4. Reminders. Note that you will have to regulate your life without the aid of a hooter (or bell, depending on your venture’s choice of noisy reminding instrument). Set alarms to remind you to come in for tea. Don’t set a morning alarm if at all possible (see point 4 above).

5. Laundry. There will be many loads. Take your time. You are unlikely to need the multi pocketed shorts in the week to come. Unless you are super keen and have a quick turnaround for another venture. Then you deserve a medal and a laundry company calling round.

Up later this week: more reflections on venture life, including an analysis of best costumes for the last night and tried and tested techniques to get your dorm to be quiet and go to sleep. Or something like that.

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We’re off to camp in a couple of days. No, we’re not actually camping. But we call it that because it’s always been called that. Maybe because people used tents when they took young people away in the 1950s. Who knows? We’re actually off on a CPAS Pathfinder Venture – taking 76 11-14 year olds from youth groups round the country to a boarding school in Devon for a week of fun, adventure, beach trips, crafts and learning about Jesus. The whole of the Vicarage are going, even the Engineer, who is still too young to be an official Pathfinder, but will buddy along with the rest of us and join in where he can and hang out with the Task Force team (who do all the practical stuff) when he can’t.

Also round the country are about 40 leaders of all shapes and sizes getting prepared. Here in the Vicarage we have our part to play. So what essential things do we need to get done before we leave?

1. Reply to the gazillion emails about transport, bible studies, menus, equipment. The inbox tends to heat up red hot in the days before we land in Devon.

2. Concoct suitable costumes for the theme. (France this year). Personally I’m hoping that stripey t-shirts will cut it. Although I know that there will be a few people dressed as baguettes and the Eiffel Tower – the team is a pretty creative bunch. Me, not so much.

3. Prepare the Bible study for the dorm. Although miraculously this year I have done mine already *smug face*.

4. Receive, check, price up and then repack the bookstall. This will take a day or so. There are a lot of books (I just counted and I think we have ordered 251). It will involve post-it notes and patience. It’s arriving from 10ofthose tomorrow!

5. Acquire all the sweeties, craft items and other bits and bobs I have agreed to bring for our dorm times. After first checking through the email that itemises them. If I can locate the email in amongst the gazillion.

6. Sleep for as many hours as possible. Sleep is in short supply in Devon what with early morning leaders’ meetings and late night dorm patrol. My aim is to arrive there *not* completely shattered.

7. Find my shorts with the capacious pockets. And the flip flops. And a raincoat and a couple of fleeces. Doncha just love a summer holiday in the UK?

8. Fill out all the health forms. For me, for the Vicar, for the children. And possibly for the cat aswell; I’m losing track.

9. Obsessively monitor the weather forecast for Barnstaple, praying that we won’t have to book out an entire cinema for an afternoon like we had to that year that Devon was subjected to sheet rain for the almost the entire week of camp.

10. Pray for the team, the kids, the families who send them, the home churches and the Ventures team at CPAS, who all work together to provide a fantastic week of holiday and happiness that can be so important in the Christian walk for so many. My own faith came alive on a CPAS venture in 1981 and I’m praying that all our Pathfinders will grow in faith in Christ next week.

Thankfully we have people staying in the Vicarage whilst we’re away, so we don’t have to work out who’s going to feed (and clear up after) our arthritic cat. I’m leaving early on Friday with Dreamer and we’ll be with the advance troops setting everything up before the kids arrive on Saturday. Then it’s all go until we land home on the following Friday, filled with tales of faith and fun and starting the plans for next year.

We get to go to a lovely beach on camp. We make it a lot busier than this one though…

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Glen Scrivener has produced another great spoken word piece this Advent. Christmas in Dark Places reminds us that:

He took on our frailty, he took on all comers

To turn all our winters to glorious summers.

Such a fantastic reminder as I gaze out on our bleak and misty winter churchyard, looking like a scene from Great Expectations. You can download the mp4 for use too.

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It was too hot to wear hats at our door yesterday

It was too hot to wear hats at our door yesterday

Things always get busier in the Vicarage when the sun is out. We get a lot more callers. So yesterday, just before teatime, we had four rings at the doorbell in the space of about twenty minutes. It was busy but fun and I enjoyed interspersing the construction of last night’s mango and rice noodle salad to chat with people visiting at random:

1. Charming called round with her brother and another boy who’d been playing with him to collect the water pistol that had been left in our garden on Saturday. And to ask for an orange for a cake they were about to bake at home. We had no oranges but I gave her a lemon as a substitute.

2. Lovely had a pair of summer shoes she’d bought in a cheap deal at the market and didn’t need, so she brought them to us. They fit the Queen, who was delighted to have a new pair of mucking about pumps.

3. Then a gaggle of half a dozen lads in their early teens called. They had in tow a shirtless chap in his twenties who looked a bit befuddled. The boys explained that the chap needed a taxi to the next town. I explained that we didn’t give money at the door, but if he came back later, the Vicar (who was out) would help him catch a bus. The chap didn’t seem to speak much English. He didn’t return, so I assume he made it home under his own steam.

4. Wildchild rang the bell continuously until I opened the door. She was with two of her friends and they wanted forms for the youth trip to a laser game tomorrow. I redirected her to Dreamer’s house, where the forms were to be found, and gave the girls a few pointers on doorbell and asking-for-forms etiquette (one ring is enough, it’s ‘please may I have’ not ‘I want’).

I do love the unpredictability of Vicarage life. You never know who God is going to send to your doorstep.

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The Reading Rule

Last month the Vicar and I spent some Nectar points on a garden swing. Sitting on it is incredibly relaxing but we had to make some rules about usage by children as we anticipated that over-vigorous swinging might ensue.

So the rule is:

You can only sit on the swing seat IF YOU ARE READING

This is working very well. I occasionally break the rule myself, but as it’s my rule I think that’s okay. Sometimes I just sit there with the Vicar or a friend and talk. But today the kids were on the swing, obeying the rule, which I found very heartening:

Reading (from L to R) Dr Who, Roald Dahl and Harry Potter

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Every year the Vicar helps out on a CPAS Pathfinder venture (known as ‘camp’ even though we don’t use tents) in Devon, and I join him there with the kids. A great time is had by all learning about Jesus and having a fabulous holiday. This year I have volunteered to help out with the bookstall. They have one every year and I noticed last year that the selection of books was tailored more to the upper age of the camp and to the more literate kids.

A diverse range of children come along to our camp, from 14 year old clergy kids from the suburban Home Counties to 11 year old barely literate unchurched youngsters from the inner city. And I think it’s a real challenge to find books that will suit them. I’m currently hunting for recommendations and have bought a small pile of books to review from our local CLC bookshop.

In my review pile are the following:

Fiction

  • Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee (the Queen gobbled this up in a couple of hours and very much enjoyed it)
  • The Shock of Your Life by Adrian Holloway (recommended by the CLC manager)
  • Afterwards I Knew by Christine Farenhorst

Apologetics/Lifestyle

  • Jesus Rose from the Dead by Catherine MacKenzie
  • Friends First by Claire Pedrick and Andy Morgan

Bible/Devotional

  • For Girls Only! Devotions by Carolyn Larsen
  • No Girls Allowed Devotions by Jayce O’Neal
  • The Manga Bible by Siku
  • Esther: God’s Invisible Hand by Helen Clark

I’ve had a couple of recommendations which I’ve not managed to pick up: Hannah MacFarlane’s books and that old classic, The Chocolate Teapot by David Lawrence.

I would love to have an appropriate book for every Pathfinder this year. So I am asking around for recommendations. Have you found any good Christian literature recently? I’m not just looking for books either – how about journals, booklets or dvds?

If you’ve done youthwork, or have kids between the ages of 11-14, give or take a couple of years, or have any ideas at all, I’d love to get your recommendations. Have you run a bookstall on a summer camp? What sells well to younger teens? I’m especially interested in books that will appeal to boys, who I know are often not keen readers. All help gratefully received!

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What do Vicar’s Wives think about as Autumn half term looms and Christmas will be upon us any minute? Summer holidays of course. We need some thoughts of warmth to keep the chill from our bones as we resist switching the central heating on for one more day… and one more day… and one more day.

Actually, it’s cheap deals on summer holidays that are the key factor, so we have now booked our Eurotunnel tickets, using the marvellous bargain of quadrupling the value of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. And we have bought a new tent! This is most exciting, as the last one saw us through seven seasons and was finally consigned to the campsite bin as we left for home this summer. The three broken zips, combined with extreme dampness and the world’s largest birdpoo meant that we felt that we’d had our money’s worth and were ready to start again.

The special thing about our new tent, besides the increased floorspace that it offers us, is that it is made by a local company, Wynnster, who are part of the Khyam group. Last week we ordered the tent and were able to collect it in person from their warehouse just down the road from our local Ikea. So we were able to combine tent collection with a cheap bonus lunch out.

Our new summer lodgings

I rather wish the weather was better so we could try it out now, but we are not hardy campers, so we’re waiting until 2011 until the Vicar and I can have a really good argument about how to erect it.

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