Remembering School House Teams

Do you remember your school house teams and colours?

Of course, the most well-known ones are probably from Harry Potter, but which team were you in?

Naomi’s house teams were castles and she was in Richmond: Alnwick (blue), Bamburgh (yellow), Raby (red), and Richmond (green).

Mine (going further back) were poets and I was in Shelley: Byron (blue), Chaucer (yellow), Milton (green), and Shelley (red).

What were yours, and which one were you in?

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Remembering Zoe (2011)

Zoe was a Welsh rescue dog (Border Collie X) that we adopted from the Dogs Trust when she was about 7 or 8 months old, she died on this day (Friday 27 May) in 2011. She had been a wonderful friend and companion for over 14 years.

I have very special memories of her running free on the Welsh mountains in the Rhondda Valley.

Her death came at a very difficult time in my life, and losing her magnified the emotions I was going through at the time. I was living on my own, and had a truly dreadful Bank Holiday weekend, one finishing with a very depressing birthday alone on the Monday.

Never diminish the emotions and feelings people have on the death of a dog, or other animal companion.

First Telegraph Message

My father served in the Royal Signals during the Second World War, and was a Morse Code operator. This fascinated me as a child as he remembered and demonstrated his skills, so much so that I learnt all the letters – not that I could remember them now!

On this day (24 May 1844) Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message over a line strung alongside a railroad between Washington DC and Baltimore some forty miles away. It was an early step in the subsequent rise of technological change upon society, one in which has resulted in me being able to write and publish this post to the whole world from the smartphone in my pocket.

Morse conceived of a rapid communications system using electricity and the electro-magnet while travelling from Europe to take up a post as an arts professor in New York. It was as a result of this idea that he first developed what became known as Morse Code, a method of rendering the alphabet in a sequence of dashes and dots which allowed the sending of messages by telegraph, though his system was significantly simplified by his colleague Alfred Vail. Source

The rest is history, as they say, for in less than two hundred years we have the whole of human knowledge at our fingertips. Unfortunately, we often sadly lack the wisdom to use it wisely.

All Saints’ Church Northampton

On this day (20 May 1950) my parents (Fred and Jean) were married in All Saints’ Church Northampton.

I took this photo on a visit with my daughter Sarah two years ago (2019) on their anniversary. We’d just visited my mother in hospital, where she died a few days later. It was a poignant occasion then, as it is as I write this. I miss my parents very deeply, and tears are in my eyes.

The church stands prominently in the centre of Northampton, my home town.

There has always been a church on the site of All Saints’ since Norman times, although All Hallows, as it was then, was not the ‘Mother Church’ of the ancient settlement. The church we see today, however, is that built after the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675. Source

See also: Silent Joy in Grief

The Joy of Making Coffee

Since retiring (even with young children) I have more time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, one of which is the the sheer joy of making fresh coffee with our coffee maker (a wedding present).

In the past, I often needed to make coffee in a hurry, sometimes resorting to coffee bags for quickness, but NEVER instant coffee!

One of the things I’m looking forward to in retirement is walking into the village, and writing in a coffee shop. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has largely put paid to this. But here’s hoping for the not too distant future, at least I can make proper coffee at home.

There’s so many ways you can make coffee, and it’s especially satisfying when you grind your own beans, although I generally use ground coffee. Taylors of Harrogate is a particular favourite coffee range.

The smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the world’s greatest inventions. Hugh Jackman

Three hundred years ago, during the Age of Enlightenment, the coffee house became the centre of innovation. Peter Diamonde

I enjoy the whole process of making coffee, even cleaning and preparing the coffee machine for the next brew is strangely satisfying.

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Pollyanna back at Playgroup

It was a big day (Tuesday 11 May 2021) for Pollyanna as she went back to a playgroup with Naomi for the first time in over a year, and for the first since we moved last year.

It’s hard to believe she’d actually been to a nursery all on her own prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it seems an age ago – over a third of her lifetime!

It was such a shame I couldn’t go with them because of the restrictions, even though they’re currently being relaxed.

Just look at her happy face!

The Road to Holy Island

Following on from my popular post about Celtic Morning Prayer yesterday, a recollection of a family holiday in August 2019 in a caravan at Haggerston Castle Holiday Park. We had a great time, and you can see from the photo that it was a typical British summer!

Note: You can expand and magnify the photo by clicking on it (opens in a new tab).

The holiday park is very near the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, commonly known as either Holy Island or simply Lindisfarne. It’s a tidal island off the northeast coast of England, close to the border with Scotland, and was an important centre of Celtic Christianity.

[The island] measures 3.0 miles from east to west and 1.5 miles from north to south, and comprises approximately 1,000 acres at high tide. The nearest point to the mainland is about 0.8 miles. It is accessible at low tide by a modern causeway and an ancient pilgrims’ path that run over sand and mudflats and which are covered with water at high tide. Lindisfarne is surrounded by the 8,750-acre Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, which protects the island’s sand dunes and the adjacent intertidal habitats. Source

When I took the photo it wasn’t possible to drive to the island, but we drove over another time on a lovely sunny evening.

Warning signs urge visitors walking to the island to keep to the marked path, to check tide times and weather carefully, and to seek local advice if in doubt. For drivers, tide tables are prominently displayed at both ends of the causeway and also where the Holy Island road leaves the A1 Great North Road at Beal. The causeway is generally open from about three hours after high tide until two hours before the next high tide, but the period of closure may be extended during stormy weather. Source

The road to the island is evocative of the both our physical and spiritual journey through life, so this traditional Gaelic blessing is an appropriate way to conclude:

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.