Friday, 29 February 2008

into my world part 2

Today I had to get 300 fliers printed for the church easter egg hunt that I'm helping to organise. I'd been put in charge of doing one side of the flier - it just needed a map, the church logo and a few contact details on it, but as per usual when I'm asked to do these things, it was not as straightforward as I felt it should have been. This was probably partly to do with the fact that I was using Word which really isn't the ideal programme for this kind of thing. I think I would find designing computer generated artwork far easier if I just had a bit of teaching on how to use programmes that are designed for this kind of thing. I felt the frustration at my lack of knowledge in all areas of creative design using technology last week when I attempted to use photoshop and Lightbox and completely failed at achieving anything...Here are a few photos from my trip to the printers...

A sign below a house window. A little bit weird.

Some more signs in windows..

And some of the graffiti on a piece of artwork in the outdoor gallery in Stokes Croft.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

red balloon

My plan for today was defeated before I had rolled out of bed. I had intended to take a trip to the supermarket at 8am in the hope that there would not be so many morose, dull-eyed shoppers at that time in the morning. However, having not got home from babysitting until 12.45am, the idea of setting my alarm for 7.30am on a Saturday did not appeal. Although to be honest, I did not need an alarm - I never really need an alarm - my body clock wakes me up at 7am or before pretty reliably regardless of the day of the week.

So instead I got out of bed 25 minutes before I needed to go out for breakfast - I had breakfast with 6 lovely ladies which was a wonderful affair. I then headed into Broadmead to try and get a cheap haircut. Boy do I dislike shopping malls. There's just too much stuff and too many people all bustling about. As I fought my way through the masses I wondered whether we will see a physical depletion in the number of shoppers when they finally realise that they cannot keep borrowing and spending money they just don't have. The economy cannot deal with this.

Anyhow, the cheapest hairdressers I could find was a no appointments place and my wait was going to be an hour, so I resolved to go and buy a magazine. I went into Waterstones and after a quick scan around the shop which failed to help me locate the magazines, I resolved to buy a book. There are only a couple of magazines that I would want to read - either about photography or running - and actually, I really don't particularly like buying any magazine as you read them a couple of times, and then they're discarded. I'd much rather pay a bit more money and get a book that will take me a lot longer to read and that I am happy to have on my bookshelves for a lifetime. So that's exactly what I did. I purchased Toxic Childhood. This is the product of three years research (and thirty years experience) of looking into the influence of contemporary culture on children's development. I am sure I will share little nuggets of information with you as I read it. (But don't hold your breath - I am reading another four books at the moment, and this one isn't top priority.)

Having had my hair cut by a lovely South African lady, I went outside to be greeted by the sound of incredible drumming. There was quite a crowd gathered round the performer so I went to take a look. The drummer was a little girl who looked about 7 or 8 years old. What a legend. Here parents then accompanied her - they were genuinely good. I was thoroughly impressed at this girl who sounds like she's been drumming since she was in the womb.

And this was one of the onlookers - I was rather taken by the photo opportunity this subject lent themselves to and wished once more for a super duper wonderous camera that allows me to do far more than my phone lets me.

Friday, 22 February 2008

oh so rushed

Having just realised that I need to be at babysitting half an hour earlier than I thought, I have far less time to do all the things I'd hoped to before leaving, blogging being one of them. So here are a few photos...

Pears for the recipe below

The cake looked nothing like the one in the book

Tulips brightening up my kitchen

Above and below: some of my bargains of the day - I got 8 terracotta pots, 4 tiles and some beautiful material for £3, thanks to the closing down sale in Laura Ashley and the wonderous scrapstore

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Good post ctd...

This morning Jo and I were commenting that we hadn't received any post today, and that neither of us have had any exciting post for quite a while. Yesterday when the post came and I saw a handwritten envelope with handwriting I didn't recognise on it addressed to me so got all excited, only to find it was just a receipt for my FP fees. How disappointing. About five minutes after this conversation, there was a rat-a-tat-tat at the door and it was the postman with a parcel each for Jo and I and a postcard for me- oh how exciting!! This was the postcard:

A while ago I came across this website and what they're doing sounded like fun so I thought I'd join in. I simply had to send an e-mail requesting a postcard and I received one with a challenge that I have to do - everyone gets a different challenge. Once completed, I have to e-mail them a photo. How much fun is that?! Here's the challenge:

My parcel contained the book seen below, which I am very excited about reading - thankyou very very much, Mum and Dad, I really appreciate it.

There's a whole lot more that I want to blog about - it's funny how blogging goes through seasons of lots and little to write about. Maybe I'll post again before bed if I have enough time!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

morning run delights

Thankyou very much Dad for resolving the puzzle - a small prize will be on its way to you shortly!

Here are a couple of photos from my run this morning...

Some rather sad looking blackberries - I'm not sure why they're still hanging on to their dead branches

The Gloucester old spot piglets at City farm, busy snuffling away

Monday, 18 February 2008

into my world

A few photos from my day...

Perhaps one of the most unusual cars I've ever seen - giraffe print?!

Brooks Dye Works - makes me ponder what it was like to live in the industrial age

St. Werburgh's park - the most unusual old school public toilet I've ever seen, just a stone's throw from my house

Now, here's a puzzle for all of you people who's brains work these things out better than myself. Barnes family, I have every faith in all of you to be able to figure this out. (There will be a prize for the winner.)

Three friends have a meal in a restaurant. The waiter arrives with the bill, which is for £30, and the friends put in £10 each to cover it. When the waiter gets to the till, he finds that he has overcharged them - the bill for the meal should have been £25 - so he takes out five £1 in change. Now, being a slightly dishonest man, he decides to give the friends £1 each, so they end up paying £27 between then, and he pockets the remaining £2. But £27 plus £2 is £29, not £30. Where has the extra £1 gone?

I am sure the answer should be simple and straightforward but neither I, nor a number of my friends can work it out! I look forward to hearing your solutions.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

thinking thinking...

I'm back in Bristol after being away for nearly a whole week. Before I went away I'd been really feeling the need to get away from the city, or perhaps just this city. It's funny how spending just a little time away from my life here makes me appreciate it all the more. I am genuinely delighted to be back in this city. It helps that the sun has been shining radiantly all day long, but it's more that I've missed all of my lovely lovely friends here. While this week and weekend have been spent with friends, there's something wonderful about the closeness of the friends that are around you all the time, and that is what I've missed.

I've been continually surprised over the last couple of years, but the last twelve months in particular, at just how much at home I feel here in Bristol. So much so that my desire to spread my wings to other parts of the world has become a smouldering wick rather than a blazing fire whose heat I used to be constantly aware of. However, I think I am starting to feel a little too comfortable. A little too settled. A little bit more aware of all the things going on in the world that need people to be committed to and make a difference in, that is outside of my comfy little world here.

One of the number of things that has provoked this feeling in me is the film 'Blood Diamonds' which is about the corrupt system of mining diamonds in a war-ravaged Sierra Leone and lives being wrecked and torn apart as a result of the political corruption. I know that these films are provoking for the majority of people, but there was one part of the film which struck me. Not the most obviously moving part of it, but it did make me think. Danny Archer (played by DiCaprio) was having a conversation with an American journalist who was trying to uncover to the world exactly what was going on in Sierra Leone, and he made some mention of the journalist going back to America. To which she responded that somehow, going back to a life of sipping latte's and discussing the latest soap operas (or something of that line of meaninglessness) just didn't really appeal to her anymore. This reminded me of how I felt when I came back from Uganda. The prospect of coming back to Westernised culture where money is spent hideously frivilously and much of our time is taken up with doing things that don't actually matter, to the point where we convince ourselves that they really are important, and a whole load of other stuff that is characteristic of the West, really didn't appeal to me. I didn't want to fall back into the same attitudes I'd had before. The same ways of being comfortable; the same ways of seeing my time as my own, as a precious commodity rather than something to be shared as much as possible with others. I wanted the changes that had happened as a result of seeing life being lived differently to have a long lasting impact. But I'm not sure they have.

I genuinely enjoy going for a coffee with myself and reading a good book. I know that this really isn't something that is wrong, but actually, it makes me ask the question of how much of my time is taken up just doing things that please me but don't actually achieve anything or make a difference to anyone else. It's at times like this that I seriously consider what I am going to spend the rest of my life doing; wonder how I'm going to make a difference in some way, whether I'm making myself available enough to God for Him to use me in a way that brings Him glory; whether I'm going to get to the age of 70 and think, 'I've wasted my life trying to please others more than God'. I hope, I pray that won't be the case, that I won't miss what God has for me because I'm too busy running with my head turning in every other direction, save that of the one He's showing me...

Monday, 11 February 2008

George Muller

I mentioned a while ago that I am reading a book about the life and works of George Muller, a man of incredible faith who saw God's provision in breath taking ways. I just want to share with you a little extract of what I read this morning that brought tears to my eyes at God's faithfulness. (I hope this is not illegal!)

At the end of November 1857, a serious leak was noticed coming from the boiler in one of the children's homes Muller had built. They knew it would take several weeks for a new boiler to be installed, and Muller was particularly concerned that none of the children should suffer the cold of winter. The quickest solution was to get the boiler repaired which required the brickwork around the boiler to be dismantled. The day after the boiler broke, a cold North wind set in...

'Muller knelt to pray:

'Lord, You know that I cannot put the repairs off. Dear Father, I ask for two things. Would you please change the North wind to a South wind; and will you give the workmen a "mind to work" as you did when Nehemiah rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in fifty-two days because "the people had a mind to work"?'

On the Tuesday evening before the workmen were due to arrive, the north wind blew still; but on the Wednesday, the south wind blew, exactly as he had prayed. The weather was so mild that no fire was needed. The workmen arrived on cue, removed the brickwork, found the leak in the boiler and began to repair it.
At about half past eight on the Wednesday evening when Muller was going home, he was stopped at the lodge at the entrance to the Ashley Down homes.
'The head of the firm', the porter told him, 'which manufactured the boiler has arrived to see how the work is going and if he can do anything to speed things up.'
Muller returned at once to No.1 and went down to the basement to meet the boss and see how the work was going.
'The men will work late this evening' said the boss, ' and come very early again tomorrow.'
'We would rather, sir, work through the night!' said the foreman.
Muller remembered the second part of his prayer. God had certainly given the men a 'mind to work'!
In the morning the men completed the repairs, stopped the leak...and within about thirty hours had rebuilt the brickwork. Finally they re-lit the fire in the boiler.
And all the time the South wind blew.'

(To give you a bit more of a perspective, by this point, Muller had received £113,000 in donations that he had prayed in, over the course of 22 years. This was in the nineteenth century, so £113,000 was a far more spectacular amount of money then than it is now. In his lifetime, he never once made people aware of the needs of the children of the homes, or the financial needs he faced in order to build the children's homes, he simply prayed and saw his prayers answered.)

Sunday, 10 February 2008

wonderful weekend

This weekend our church went on a weekend away to Kidderminster. We had an amazing time together. It is just incredible the way God loves us and there is absolutely nothing in this world like catching a glimpse of his glory.

Here are a few photos from my 11 mile run this morning...

I'm off to training on Tuesday so there won't be any blogging happening until next week, sadly.

When I get back to Bristol I am thoroughly excited about finally getting to use the photographic society's editing suite, so I can do a whole load of scanning and playing and printing - my membership card arrived in the post yesterday. I have been trying to get hold of it for months but to no avail, due to my busy schedule always clashing with any event of meeting that photosoc are having. Fortunately, one of the committee members was kind enough to post it to me. Thnankyou Bo. (He lived in the same uni accommodation as me in the first year, but I am 100% sure he doesn't know that. Yet another person who I remember but who's had virtually no involvement in my life!)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

bright sun-shiny day

Here are a few photos from today's glorious sunshine

Durdham Downs

Will's welly

Two trees that intrigue me

good post

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I heard the thud of post on my doormat, and found my new passport had arrived. I posted my application less than a week ago, so I think such a fast turn around is thoroughly impressive. The only thing which dampened my excitement slightly was the fact that they have retained my old passport. I had a recollection of old passports being sent back with one corner snipped off. I had accumulated a nice set of stamps and visas from a good sized handful of countries, and now I just have a whole lot of blank pages to fill. I know that losing my old passport does not mean the memories of my adventures are lost or forgotten, but there's something nice about being able to look back at old passports in years to come and marvel at the stamps of different languages and nations all huddled closely together between pages.

I went for a run this morning, and yet again, my lack of a sense of direction was grossly evident. I managed to get lost. In a field. I just couldn't find my way out. I kept hitting dead ends and getting tangled up in thorns, leaving me with multiple puncture wounds. It turned out that the reason why I was having difficulty finding my way out of the field was because I had forgotten that I had come through another field to get to the one I was in, and I was looking for landmarks that I had mentally noted in the first field, in the second. Needless to say, I did eventually get out after 15 minutes of wandering. It was quite fun really, being in a new place, with the sun shining beautifully and the sky a glorious shade of blue, and knowing that somewhere in the field were a couple of deer which I had spotted when I jumped over the gate upon arrival. Not what you'd expect to see in the middle of the city.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

a lesson in what happens if you don't communicate

We have a wonderful set up in my house whereby I am insured on Jo's car, and so I get to use it when she doesn't need it. Sunday evening was one of those times. We were both going to the prayer meeting, but I was going earlier, and Jo was going with her boyfriend. So I drove there, avoiding being blown over on my bike by the howling winds (which I had already faced that morning when I ran 10k along a rather exposed route).

Jo left the prayer meeting before I did, but I only realised this when I opened my eyes to see that she wasn't there anymore. My assumption - she'd driven her car back. Our other housemate, Sazzle, had also driven to the meeting, so it would've been fine for Jo to take the car. Sazzle also left early, but checked that I was ok to get home. Our neighbour was still there, so I knew I could just get a lift back with him, which I did. All well and good.

Fast forward to Monday morning in the office and Hazel's relating how she nearly managed to lock someone in the school (where we meet)after the prayer meeting. She was describing how the security man had turned up, which was unusual as the school have entrusted us with a set of keys to the main building. So normally, the security man will just come after we've all left to lock up the main gates. Hazel related how she queried with the security guard whether it was ok to lock up with Jo's car still in the car park. At which point, I thought, 'why does she think it was Jo's car? Jo left ages before her, and so did I...' I said that I didn't think it could have been Jo's car, as she'd already gone home - it must be someone else's, to which both Hazel and Sarah replied, 'Well, it definitely looked like her car', at which point the whirring cogs slotted into place and I realised I'd left Jo's car at the school. Whoops!!

Fortunately, Jo had not needed her car on Monday morning, hence why we had not realised what had happened. Had Hazel not said anything, at 6pm on Monday evening when Jo and I leave the house to go to Youth, a flood of panic would have rushed through us as the thought that her car had been stolen came blazing across our minds, before realising it hadn't, then being hideously late to Youth due to having to walk 40 minutes to pick up the car. Thankfully, I was able to get the car in the afternoon, and all was well by the evening.

Moral of the story? It's helpful to tell each other your movements to avoid losing cars.

Monday, 4 February 2008

my head hurts

During this FP year, I have learned a huge amount about how I work that I did not know before - it's incredible what you learn about oneself when you put yourself into situations that are totally different to the ones you've grown comfortable with. Some of those things are surprising and exciting, others are just a bit hard to acknowledge.

One thing I am very sure of is that I am definitely not made to be an administrator. I work with two people who are clearly gifted in this area, and I just do not think like they do and cannot do things with the efficiency which they do. Spreadsheets give me a headache - quite literally - in the same way that maps do. On Saturday night I was trying to work out a route to run on Sunday morning, and I felt physically sick, almost like motion sickness.

I am thoroughly intrigued as to what goes on in my brain to cause such a reaction, and when I have some spare time I might just try and do some research on it.

Things are going to be picking up quite a lot of speed here over the next few months, which is a slightly daunting prospect. I can't go into details now, but I am sure I will share with you how things are going as and when they happen. Sorry, that is rather cryptic, and I can't say any more right now, because I don't know how a lot of things are going to pan out, but time will tell...

Saturday, 2 February 2008

muddy toes

At 11am this morning as I donned my bodywarmer and loaded myself up with my camera bag, I danced around my kitchen with delight singing a little ditty. I was off on a day trip!

I want to go on far more adventures and do more fun things, and so when my good friend Lizzie, who I haven't seen for far too long, suggested a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum, I jumped at the idea. The only other time I've been to this wonderful place was in my first year of university in Autumn, and I was blown away by the phenomenal colour of the leaves - I never knew they could be so red. I wish I could show you some photos, but they're all in print form and I don't have a scanner.
So, while it was a lovely day, I was a little bit spoiled by just how good my last experience was. There were a few signs of new life in the snowdrops and a couple of other plants, but otherwise, the naked trees were a slightly sad sight. I was glad I had had the foresight to bring my wellies, as there was a good amount of mud to squelch through.

Feeling thoroughly refreshed, rosy-cheeked and pink-nosed, we headed to the little village of Chipping Sodbury and went for afternoon tea at Poppy's tea rooms. The decor, menus and crockery were an interesting mix of beautiful photography slightly marred by the not-so-classy mounts, and the type of artwork you get on typical old English placemats - slightly dull in colour and a little bit drab. We were thoroughly entertained by our shared company in the tea room - a beautiful little boy of about 18 months with big curly locks of brown hair decided he wanted to sit with us, and after a few feeble attempts at trying to climb up onto the bench which was just too high for him, he confidently walked towards me and held out his arms for me to pick him up. So he joined us for a bit - it turned out he was only interested in my scone though, and when he realised he wasn't getting any, lost interest. Then there were the two girwols - girls trying to be women. (I made that word up - can you tell?!!) Lizzie and I had to look away to hide our amusement at their conversation about buying a car, getting their hair and nails done, and lots of other grown up things which they were clearly not old enough or financially equipped to partake in. They must have been all of 13 tender years old.

It felt good to get out of Bristol (as much as I absolutely love it) and enjoy the fresh country air. Sometimes I get fed up of breathing in fumes. I'm not really sure how to end this post. I don't feel I've done a very good job of writing it well. I'm finding that a lot lately. Not that I have ever considered myself a good writer, but the words just don't feel like they're flowing as I would like them to.