Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I Won A Chocolate Giveaway

I had spent the day at Pilgrims Hall today and when I arrived home

this parcel had been left with a neighbour

It was from Paula of The Baby Journals but known as Mob on her blog

I had won her giveaway

Getting exciting - note the accompanying card

10 bars of chocolate made from cocoa beans from different parts of the world

Venezuela, Tanzanier,Papua New Guinea, Ecuador,Ghana,Grenada,
Sao Thome,Madagascar,Peru and the Dominican Republic
High percentage dark chocolate too so I'll be getting my anti-oxidants while enjoying

These are not chocolates, they are whole bars

So thank you very much indeed Paula

Just the right gift for a chocoholic
Alan was pleased - he realised that he will not have to buy me chocolate for a month

After opening and drooling I went for a walk before the light completely faded

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Chartwell - Home of Sir Winston Churchill

It is sometime now since I said that I would do a post on the homes of Sir Winston Churchill
but at last I have got to it.
We have visited a number of times over the years as it is only an hours drive from home
but our last visit was last Summer

This house was bought by Sir Winston for its magnificant views over the Weald of Kent to Sussex
It was the place from where he drew inspiration from 1924 until the end of his life.
The rooms and gardens remain much as they were when he lived there with
pictures, books, maps and personal momentoes strongly evoking the career and
wide-ranging interests of this great statesman.
The terraced hillside gardens reflect the importance to Churchill of the landscape and nature.
They include the lakes that he created, the water gardens where he fed his fish, Lady Churchill's Rose Garden and the Golden Rose Avenue - a golden wedding anniversary gift from their children which runs down the centre of the productive kitchen garden.

Many of Sir Winstons paintings can be seen in the garden studio.

I do hope you enjoy this visit

The food is always good there also
On our last visit we had
Minced Beef with sliced chicken, mushrooms, prunes, dates and cinnamon
topped with a creamed potatoe (plus vegetables of course)
It sounded unusual but believe me it was declicious

The house
The only room in the house that one is unable to see is Winston's bedroom. This is because it is too small for a host of tourists. It only holds a bed. It is situated off his large study where I guess he spent most of the night hours as he only slept for 4 hours a night.
His wife Clemmie's bedroom is large and very feminine with a four poster bed

The orchard

The rose garden The croquet lawn

Bronze statue by Oscar Nemon
of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill
It sits overlooking a large lake created by Winston

Looking over the Kent Weald from inside the house

The swimming pool

The chair where Winston sat to feed his fish

Inside the children's play house

The children's play house

The golden rose walk

The upper terrace

Alan on the upper terrace

Yours truly

Sir Winston's Art Studio

This is a postcard of just a small corner of the studio as photography is not allowed
Sir Winston started painting when he was 40 years old
He suffered from depression which he called his Black Dog
His wife Clemmie bought his first set of oil paints and he used painting as a way to combat his depressions

He never used watercolour only oils - 540 different oils

He did his last painting at the age of 84 in Marrakesh in Morocco

There are 135 of his paintings in his studio
He began sculpturing when he was 80
He also built a brick wall that borders one of the gardens
A gifted man

I will post on his ancestral home Blenheim Palace shortly

Friday, 25 January 2008

MY STORY Chapter 16 - On the Road

I was getting on with the routine of life when I received a letter from Pamela and we corresponded for a while. Early in the following New Year she asked me if I would accompany her on an itinerant trip around the UK when she next came over from the States. My brain immediately went into overdrive. One thing I had not shared when meeting in the West Country, and later in my letters, was my previous battles with anxiety and agoraphobia. To go away for 2 weeks without my husband, with someone I did not know that well, and to stay part of the time with people we had never met was stomach churning to say the least. All I could do was leave it in God’s hands while talking to my husband and children. I knew that if this was God’s call then it was right for me to do it so I had to trust Him to show me.

Eventually in the midst of all my fears and anxieties I knew that God was challenging me to start living from all that He had been teaching me, so I telephoned and said I would do it. I was then immediately asked if I would drive. Well this felt like a step too far. I had never driven a hire car and had only once, many years ago, had need to drive any distance outside of my area. Alan always did the long distance driving. “Lord, what are you saying to me, You know I can’t do this!” “But I can” came the reply. “If you are trusting Me to live your life then why can’t you trust Me when driving the car?” I began to panic and think about how awful it would be if I crashed the car and caused death. As I waited on God for His guidance in all of this I came to the place where I had to trust God on every aspect of the trip and know that if I did crash the car then God was in that too. He was in control and it was His responsibility. My responsibility was to do what God was asking of me so I agreed. I am not saying here that we can just get into a car and drive irresponsibly and it will be Ok. No, I am talking about believing in the power of God to be able to carry out what He is asking of us. Obviously God was pressing me to take another step, move on and live from the truth that He was revealing to me. I am not saying that I had no fear or anxiety, I did, but I knew I had t go in spite of this. When the day came to leave Alan gave me his blessing by saying that he knew that I had to make this trip. Up until then it had been a struggle for him too.

Our first visit was probably about 150 miles away and we took the journey in stages, thinking no further ahead than the next hour. We eventually arrived at the house where we were staying and where our first meeting had been planned. In my spirit I sensed that I was going to be more than just the driver, but I did not know how God was going to work this out, but it soon became apparent. After Pamela had finished speaking in the meeting that night she asked if I had anything to add. I immediately knew that God was asking me to share my testimony and this became the flavour of the trip. Pamela would speak and I would follow experientially sharing how it related to life.

There is a saying ‘ A journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step’. I believe God knows what we can bear at any given time and He takes us on one step at a time. Our next stop was to be with a missionary friend in the North West. Another friend who had been in our fellowship here in the South had moved to that area and was going to join us. He had offered to come with us to Scotland and drive the car for that part of the journey. It came as a shock to me when we got a call to say that he was sick and would not be coming with us after all. However after the initial shock I was able to see that for me this was the next step and the next test of faith. It is important for us to realise that these initial reactions of shock and fear are OK. They are not something to be condemned about; they are what pushes us to faith. For some those initial feelings may never change but it is what we do with them that matters. They are our springboard to faith. Oh! Gosh I can’t, but God can.

The actual drive to Scotland became one of the most enjoyable parts of our journey. As we neared the Scottish border the motorway was almost empty (I will not tell you what speed I was doing) and soon we were travelling through some spectacular scenery, The next test for me came after our visit when the time came to make our journey back south. I was suddenly aware that this was the hardest part. On the way up, there was always the possibility of turning back, but on the return trip, that is not an option, one has to keep going. Needless to say, God kept His word and as well as some good meeting with folks both corporately and individually, we were able to do a little sightseeing in the Cotswolds on the way home, plus enjoying an afternoon in Oxford.

I arrived home exhilarated, glad to be home and grateful to God for the many events and experiences He had taken us through during those 2 weeks of itinerant travel. I had done it, I had proved God’s faithfulness and was ready to settle down and get back to the routine of daily life. Little did I know what God had in mind, He hadn’t revealed it yet!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

January Musings

Let's start with some January colour
The Mahonia is just beginning to 'go over'
It has been a great pleasure to me this week to have had the opportunity to talk to one of my dear blogging friends on the telephone
I wanted to surprise Sara and I just kept getting an answerphone, so much against my principles I would put the phone down. I never do this but I wanted it to be a surprise.
Little did I know that Sara was sitting next to the phone and had heard the click as my phone went down. How frustrating is that! Sara has so many unsolicited calls that her friends know she will pick up as soon as they start talking. Anyway in the end I had to leave a message and we were finally able to arrange suitable times by E-mail. It is not easy planning a chat when there are 8 hours between us. It is not easy getting a phone number either. To ask for the number would spoil the surprise.

Where do I start with this though!
This is the area in my house that I call my overflow
It is actually the garage but I think it was built for either a motorbike, a mini or a James Bond car with an ejector seat through the roof
If we drove our car in we would not be able to open the doors!
So we boarded up the back of the door, painted the walls, floor painted the floor and put some carpet down many years ago. We also added old kitchen cupoards, 2 old chest of drawers and an old cheap wardrobe for outdoor activity and walking clothes and lots of shelves that we could get our hands on.
I would like to have converted it into a proper room but as we are on a hill it is quite a bit lower than the house so it would have been an expensive job for the use it would get.
So instead we just knocked through a door from the hall and added some steps.
It is one of those places that is very useful but because it is there it is tempting to store more stuff, hence the reason I regularly declutter. The photos are just part of it.
My attempts to get the job done have not gone as well as I had thought because January did not turn out as quiet as it had first looked. Life is always full so why did I think the calendar would not fill up. My intention is just to plod on with this job as the opportunity arises then I will begin to make a start on the house. It amazes me just how much there is to throw out each year. I am not a hoarder, hubby is.

Last week I received this award again from 2 people
One was from Lindsey of
Raindrops to Rainbows
and the other from S of PR
I know those letters do not make sense but, call it a senior moment, I wrote down those initials and just cannot remember what they stand for. I have searched my post comments and there is nothing there that remotely resembles those initials. There was however one comment that had been deleted by the author so maybe that was it. So if your name begins with S and your post initials are PR then I am truly sorry, I did not intend to leave your link off this post.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Ellis Island,U.S.A.

Thinking of my recent post on Liverpool, one of the things I mentioned was the fact that many European immigrants to the U.S.A. left from this port, it reminded me of a book I recently read.

Island of Hope, Island of Tears by David M. Brownstone, Irene M. Franck, and Douglass Brownstone. I bought this book from a secondhand bookstall and found it fascinating and traumatic in equal measure.

Between 1892 and the early 1950's nearly fifteen million people streamed through Ellis Island in search of a new life. Though it closed as a federal immigration station in 1954, the landmark island was restored and reopened in 1990 as a museum - thus preserving the heritage of 100 million Americans who can trace their immigration roots there.

Island of Hope, Island of Tears tells the stories of these immigrants, largely in the words of the extraordinary men and women and children whose epic journey to America led them through the portals of Ellis Island. Coming primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe, and from widely diverse backgrounds, the immigrants represented in this remarkable book recount the adventures with dignity, wit and honesty. Some immigrants relate each step of their passage to America. Others highlight key events.

Among the dozens of narrators there is a Greek boy forced into the Turkish Army at 15 who escaped to America with the help of the Russian Orthodox Church, a Polish girl who made the harrowing journey from Russia only to have to flee again from a 'white slaver' and a Czech woman who fooled doctors into letting her travel and join her husband despite being 8 months pregnant.

There are many photographs and it is a rich history of the people whose hopes and dreams helped to forge America.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

MY STORY Chapter 15 - Family Matters and More

During the time that we were not involved in any organised fellowship and were very much on our own, some difficult family events took place. My Mother who had suffered serious bouts of depression involving hospitalisation over the years became very ill again. She had all kinds of treatment including Electroconvulsive Therapy but she did not improve. I think she had finally given up, life had become too much for her and she was hospitalised again and became an in-patient. During this time my Father again could not manage without my Mother and this time instead of losing his memory, he tried unsuccessfully to take his own life, so on every level life was difficult. I lived 250 miles away and it was not an option taking my children to stay in view of past traumatic events.When I visited the hospital my Father would walk out of the ward.

After two years in hospital with only the occasional weekend at home my Mother decided one day to leave, in the middle of winter dressed only in flimsy clothes, and made her way home 15 miles away. My Father was out so my Mother sat on the doorstep until he came home. By this time she was suffering from Hypothermia and much against her wishes had to be readmitted to hospital. In view of what she had done, she was placed in a locked room.

This so traumatised her that after a few days she pleaded to go home, and with the agreement of the medical staff, my Father took her home. Two days later I got a phone call in the middle of the night to say she had passed away. My Father was traumatised and in his grief and guilt blamed me for her death, accusing me of not being there when she died and berated me for moving from the north of England to the south when I married. This continued throughout the funeral and from then on whenever I phoned it was to listen to constant accusation. In some way he was trying to assuage his own guilt. He was a very unhappy man and who knows what disappointments and issues in his past had turned him into the man he became. All I could do was pray for him knowing that God was his only answer. Emotionally I felt distraught, bursting into tears when least expected, but I knew that nothing had changed in my spirit and I still knew that God was in control of my life.

Soon after this in 1985 a missionary friend of ours asked if we could have an American lady who was visiting this country stay with us. We were due to go and stay with friends in the West Country, so instead of hosting her in our home we organised bed and breakfast for her near to where we were staying. This lady who we will call Pamela for privacy reasons was in the country linking up with contacts of an ex-missionary friend. He was an Englishman, the son-in-law of C.T.Studd, who had spent his life on the mission field and was now living in America. He had spent his ‘retirement’ years as an itinerant preacher but due to great age and ill health was no longer able to fly.

When Pamela arrived in the West Country she and I drove out into the countryside and ended up sitting in the pews of an ancient country church. We sat there for most of the afternoon chatting and found we had much in common in our spiritual journey, including our desires for the future. However when we said our goodbyes a couple of days later I had no idea the effect this meeting would have on my future life, nor the domino effect it would have for years to come. God arranges these divine appointments and my journey was about to take many more twists and turns in a way that would have been beyond my wildest dreams in the past. I was about to launch on a faith journey like never before.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

LIVERPOOL European Capital of Culture 2008

I am a Liverpudlian - that means I was born and bred in Liverpool
Liverpool has been given the accolade of being the
European Capital of Culture for 2008
As the official opening ceremony took place this weekend I thought it an ideal time to show some photos of this city.
Liverpool is on the North West coast about 220 miles from where I live now here in the South East.
It is a major seaport and seafaring has been in the blood of both sides of my family
It is the port that saw the comings and goings of the slave ships and also
the port from where most Europeans emigrated to the United States
Within my lifetime it is the port where hundreds of prisoners of war returned
and I have vivid memories of being on the quayside with my family at that time
My sister-in-law's brother who is a folk singer was asked to sing Amazing Grace during the opening ceremony. The choice of song being synonymous with the slave trade.
The city was heavily bombed during the war as a result of being a major seaport and it took a long time to recover
It is a city with many museums and art galleries and good theatres
When we stayed as tourists we were unable to see all that we wanted to during our 4 night stay
It is also a city that has produced many, many actors, commedians and writers
probably the Beetles being the most well known
so come with me and have a look around
There are many links on this site for anyone who is interested

The Maritime Museum
(photo curtesy of web page)
This is a fascinating museum and charts the history and movements of the many who emigrated to the United States, not just from Liverpool but from all over Europe
It covers every aspect of Maritime life including the slave trade and this is housed on 4 floors plus a basement which it given over to slave ships

The Anglican Cathedral
The largest cathedral in Europe

The Modern Roman Catholic Cathedral

The waterfront from a ferry

This view was taken from the Maritime museum building and is looking out to where the River Mersey reaches the Irish Sea

This is taken from the top of the Cathedral tower
We are seeing the Welsh mountains on the horizon

The waterfront from the cathedral tower

A Mersey ferry boat
Remember the Beatles song
Ferry Me Across the Mersey

St George's Hall

Some Art Galleries

All the warehouses in the old dock area have been turned into homes, fine restaurants, bars, shops and arts and craft places
One also houses The Tate Modern art gallery

A ride in an amphibian vehicle
The gateway to China town

During our visit Liverpool Football team won the European Championship
and this was the scene that greeted us at our hotel door
They were waiting for the team to show up in an open top bus
It was difficult to get out of the lobby and the only places in a very wide area that were empty were the roads that had to be kept open
Not something that I would have chosen for my visit but it was interesting all the same

The fans were even lining the top of the entrance to the railway station

And during the afternoon dancing in the fountains