31 Dec 2012

A Happy New Year!

May the peace of the Lord go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you,
May He bring you home rejoicing 
once again into your door.

A Celtic Blessing

Looking forward to 'meeting up' with you in 2013!

29 Dec 2012

It's panto time!

A visit to the pantomime during the Christmas season is a tradition in our family and it was made even more enjoyable this year as our 10 year-old grandson who goes to weekend stage school and has entertained us all year in several major theatrical productions, including the character of Oliver in 'Oliver!', is taking part in 'Peter Pan' in his home city.  He's playing the part of Curly, one of the Lost Boys in Neverland and he does it with his usual gusto.  It was a lovely day out as we went in a big family group and the mixture of song, dance, comedy, lighting and fantastic costumes with Peter Pan flying over the audience on hidden wires and doing gymnastics was magical.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed during and after the performances. Our daughter-in-law has been hired to be one of the chaperones as the children are strictly supervised.  There are three teams of four who perform on a rota.  Our grandson is one of the youngest in the show, but is showing singing and acting talent and really enjoys the theatrical atmosphere and teamwork, but just as importantly is doing well with his academic schoolwork.

The pirate theme was adopted by our own city this year in one of the piazzas where some models were set up by the fountains.

I wonder if you will be going to see a pantomime this year?  It's quite a British tradition which evolved from the seasonal medieval plays and then combined with ideas from the Italian Commedia del'Arte. In modern times the versions have been taken from popular fairy tales and children's books.

27 Dec 2012

City Centre Seasonal Decorations

Yesterday evening, after two days of Christmas festivities with family and friends we went for a walk around the city centre with some of our guests and children to view the seasonal lights.  It was another rainy evening and the streets were mainly empty and most of the illuminations had been switched off, which was disappointing.
On another day I took a walk just as more Christmas decorations were being put up in the Peace Gardens.

22 Dec 2012

Greetings for Christmas


Wishing you a very happy Christmas  

20 Dec 2012

Indoor plant gift

Around about October I started planting the bulbs that would flower indoors around about Christmas time and in the first weeks of January.   I like to give these as little gifts, especially to our  two daughters and daughter-in-law.  In the past I've grown some in water in special bulb containers so that the grandchildren could see the roots developing, but in recent years I've planted up bulbs in individual pots.  I've also planted up narcissus bulbs in a big pot.

This year the plants are behind in growth - the second photo is from last year - but it doesn't matter because they will be enjoyed when they do produce flowers in a week or two.

14 Dec 2012

York Minster: The Chapter House

York Minster's official name is the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter and it is both a cathedral and a minster - a minster being a centre of Christian teaching and ministering.  It's the largest Gothic  church in England and is certainly a vast building.  My time spent there touched my senses on all levels.
Here are some more photos from that morning in the Minster.

The Chapter House of the Minster was built between 1297 and 1310 and is an immense octagonal building with a conical-shaped roof, timbered inside and leaded outside.  It has no internal central pillar and relies on massive external buttresses to counteract the downward weight of the roof on the walls.  It is still a place used by the Dean and Minster Community for formal meetings.

The entrance to the Chapter House is by way of a vestibule (where there is an architectural model) and in both there are amazing 14th century stained glass windows and stone carvings. My eyes were draw upwards to the beautiful form and decoration of the roof with the Lamb of God depicted in the central boss.

12 Dec 2012

Fire and Ice

Greetings to you all on a very frosty morning where I live!

As you can see, there's not much growing at this time of the year in the covered yard, although it's a great help in keeping the kitchen area sheltered.

When we went to a Christmas Market last year we saw this unusual item which can be used to take the chill off a conservatory or as a feature in the garden using a special oil.  Our daughter bought it for us as a Christmas present and it has proved useful so long as there are no animals and children moving about near it.

I'm not venturing far today, but there's always scope for capturing something of the frost and ice in the garden.

10 Dec 2012

A visit to York

On Saturday I went to York with a group of women from several churches in our area mainly to visit York Minster where it's now possible to see something of the conservation work that is being done on the medieval stained glass and stonework of the Great East Window.
There is display material in the Minster to explain more fully what it happening as the whole of the window has been removed for restoration and a nearly full-sized digital photograph has been put up to show what the window was like before it was taken out.
The Great East Window is the world's largest area of medieval stained glass in a single window. The theme is  "I am the Alpha and Omega - I am the Beginning and the End" and the panels show 'the Beginning' from Creation and 'the End' from the Book of Revelation.
I haven't been to York for many years so as well as spending time in the Minster I walked by the river and the gardens nearby before joining some friends for lunch in the medieval quarter.

                                          The West Front and the Great West Door

                                          The Advent Wreath hangs in the crossing
                                                          between the transepts.

                                The High Altar from the choir stalls with the digital photo
                                of the Great East Window behind it and below - one of
                                    the many windows in this sacred place of worship.

7 Dec 2012

Sky watching: Dawn

The weather here in South Yorkshire has turned very cold.  The high countryside where we usually walk has seen its first snowfall.  We, too, live relatively high up, but are sheltered in the lee of the hill. It's time to put up the long, heavy curtains at the front door and give thanks for a warm home. We wake at the same time every day just before the dawn breaks.  Sometimes it's been raining all night.  What sort of weather will we have during the day, I wonder? There are old sayings about the weather that would give a rough indication.  I wonder if they are reliable in these days of what seems to be abnormal weather?

Here it is at dawn yesterday and this morning - two very different skies and two very different days regarding the weather.  Yesterday was frosty, then wet and very cold. Today it's turned out sunny and dry and also very cold.

                                           6th December

                                           7th December

Tomorrow will be an even earlier start as I'm going to York with a group where we shall visit York Minster and the historic centre.

5 Dec 2012

'Angels from the realms of glory...'

Angels from the realms of glory
Wing your flight o'er all the earth.
Ye who sang creation's story, 
Now proclaim Messiah's birth;
Come and worship,
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new born King.

This well-known carol will be sung in carol services during the coming Christmas season.

James Montgomery (1771-1854) who wrote it was a British editor, poet, hymn-writer and prominent figure in the Sunday school movement who was born in Scotland of missionary parents who lived and died in Sheffield.  He was also known for humanitarian causes such as campaigns to end slavery and the exploitation of child chimney sweeps.

The above memorial window to the hymn writer is in Sheffield Anglican Cathedral and shows a host of angels and St. Matthew, Moses, David and St. John, four witnesses acknowledging God's glory throughout time and eternity. His monument stands in the churchyard outside the window.
He holds a Bible in his hand and engraved are extracts from his poems, 'The Grave' and 'Prayer'.

3 Dec 2012


Yesterday morning we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath during morning prayers in our church and in the evening we did the same at home.  Lighting that candle in community and at home marks for us a period of reflection and preparation for the Christmas season and the celebration of the birth of Jesus. My hope is that during the next few weeks, when life could become full of extra activity, I will be ever mindful of the reason for the season. 

For with You is the fountain of Life; in Your Light we see light.  
Psalm 36: 8-9

1 Dec 2012

Gino's Day


or relaxing....

Gino finds the comfiest, warmest indoor places.