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I’m in shed heaven April 26, 2011

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… thanks for the help Dad!


summer fun August 30, 2010

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August draws to its close and the new school term is almost upon us. It’s been a good summer despite the drab greyness that has been pierced far too infrequently with sunshine. Here are some high points from the last month or so:

1. completing the 351 mile Bar Yar cycle challenge with Ste. Photos here. We have raised about £2,500!

2. Showstoppers Holiday club for primary age children at church.

3. Fortnightly book group discussing aspects of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. A reminder of the importance of fellowship and discipleship in any Christian community.  

4. Quality time with our families including visits to Harrogate &  Bracknell.

5. camping expedition to Bellingham in Northumberland. Visits to Alnwick, Embleton, Jedburgh, Hexham, Newcastle, Durham amongst others. Long live the North East!

6. summer reading has included Tim Severin’s The Brendan Voyage in honour of the Irish monk St Brendan who lived about 1,500 years ago and was quite possibly amongst the first Celtic Christian missionaries to cross the Atlantic to Newfoundland. Another fascinating book I read was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, written by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Following a stroke in mid-1990s he suffered ‘lock-in syndrome’ meaning he was only able to communicate to the outside world by blinking his left eyelid. The book is a testimony to the power of the human mind, its memory, imagination and depth despite the limitations it is bound by. Shona and I also watched the film version which does not disappoint and is equally stunning for its simplicity and profundity. It is a clever retelling of how Bauby’s condition would have affected him, all the better with it coming from his unique perspective. Rather bias I know but in my opinion the film is right up there with the best I’ve ever seen, perhaps because it also contains the U2 song ‘Ultraviolet’ in its soundtrack! Does it get any better than that?!

7. oh and before I forget, how could I not include watching Emilia take those first few pedals on her bicycle without her stabilisers! Maybe she will be doing coast to coast cycle rides before long?

running on empty July 9, 2010

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The half marathon event last Saturday from Wolverhampton to Birmingham was good fun, a unique course, too hot and I was glad to reach the end but disappointed not to come in under 2 hours.

Nevertheless I did beat my previous PB of 2 hrs 8 mins but a whole minute!

Next up is the cycle challenge.

Regular updates at http://bar2yar.wordpress.com

Training continues June 26, 2010

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Next Saturday is the Black Country/Birmingham half marathon event and so today I took the opportunity to familiarise myself with the route by cycling along the canal towpath. It also gave me a good distance on the bike as the Bar-Yar cycle challenge looms large on the horizon. For regular updates on the cycle challenge visit: bar2yar.wordpress.com.

Some photos from today’s cycle trip below:

The Coseley tunnel was very dark and if it wasn't for the handrail I don't think I would've felt very safe inside! It was very cool which was a welcome break from the heat of the sun outside.

The transport networks in the Midlands are very good as this photo shows. The canal to Birmingham goes under the M5 near West Bromwich. Parallel to the canal at frequent points is a railway line and the tramline.

Lots of signposts are dotted along the canal routes. Here's one pointing to Stourbridge. I could've taken this route but this would've meant 'chickening' out of the plan to get to Brindley place in Birmingham.

Arriving in Birmingham I came across some dragon boat races outside the ICC/NIA and Sea Life Centre. A good atmosphere with sunshine and people enjoying food/drink. This is where next week’s race finishes. A dip in the water to cool down will be tempting!

Some things I noticed from attending Baptist Assembly this week… May 5, 2010

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Most pleasant surprise: being told we had overpaid our Innkeeper’s Lodge accommodation charge and were therefore entitled to a nice refund.

Most overused saying: “Baptist family”.

Most welcome change from last year: different styles of music in main sessions, the opportunity for folk to contribute as part of the communal discernment (e.g., writing comments on the white display boards, the 4 appointed ‘listeners’ who summed up conversations they’d had with people on the Monday morning).

Most stressful situation: either the evening meal at the incompetent Wetherspoon’s restaurant, or Esther’s refusal to go to sleep during David Coffey’s evening address.

Most heavenly moment: Hearing from two long-term missionaries who have just come to the end of their time serving with BMS World Mission, having completed about 30 year’s service (having only set out to do about 2!)

Most hellish moment: Shona’s realisation that she had to revisit said Wetherspoon’s to retrieve her (already lost) new prescription sunglasses.

Most random moment: Meeting two very likeable, friendly, older gentlemen (from Eastbourne) at breakfast and subsequently giving them lifts to and from Assembly.

Most humorous incident: Seeing Shona and Emilia stuck in a lift (temporarily!)

Most admired main platform speaker: Anne Wilkinson-Hayes. Her message about mission being more about plunging ourselves into the river of God rather than all about strategies and techniques was refreshing.

Most amazing bargain: the new BU booklet ‘Gathering Around the Table: Children & Communion’. What a bargain at £3!

Most theologically-erudite occasion: Ruth Gouldbourne’s ‘George Beasley-Murray Lecture’ which highlighted the ontological nature of ministry (being) rather than the functional/task orientated approach. The temptation and cultural norm is to be a pragmatist doing ‘things’. But pastors are also called to ‘be’.

From the old to the new January 1, 2010

Posted by Andy in Family.

A quick list of some 2009 highlights:

Best film: The Boy in Stripped Pyjamas.

Best restaurant: difficult to choose, but top two must be French Connection (Stourbridge) and Jimmy Spices (Birmingham).

Best football match: Monday 11th December (Watford 3-1 QPR), witnessing Watford’s Lloyd Doyley score his first senior goal whilst watching Sky Sports at home (it’s only taken him 10 years!)

Best photograph: the fully-grown sunflower with a dazzling sunset in background.

Best music experience: U2 360 Tour at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, in August.

2010 has now begun and during this forthcoming year I’ll have to make good use of some lovely birthday/Christmas presents I received, such as my new Aria bass guitar and amp, garden tools, photographic book and running shoes. But not simultaneously.

the camera does sometimes lie… thank God! November 7, 2009

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Andy fire juggling with Esther in close proximity.


Where did September go? October 5, 2009

Posted by Andy in Book Reviews, Family, Random.
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Life rattles on at quite a fast pace at the moment. September has come and gone in a flash but it was a productive month:

Loved Waste Watchers Holiday Club at church: report and photo here.

Finished reading Desmond Alexander’s interesting book ‘From Eden to New Jerusalem’: see here.

Visited the local British Legion office (in readiness for Remembrance Parade Service in local park in November) and got shown all their memorabilia.

Enjoyed taking Emilia to a local football training session led by a former Watford player, Paul Devlin.

Inspired by the stories of good citizenship at the local Police Awards Evening.

And finally… Amazed to discover that one of my friends from Primary School days, Richard Green, appeared on X Factor recently. I used to share a lift to school with him, but little did I know 20 years ago that he would one day be a national celebrity (of sorts…) See below for a good laugh:

summer round-up August 22, 2009

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It’s been an enjoyable and relaxing few weeks. Here are the highlights and photographic evidence:

Emilia's debut at Vicarage Road

1. Watford v Doncaster Rovers. Our first home game of new season ended 1-1 but was notable for the fact that it was Emilia’s first trip and indoctrination (?) into all things football. She enjoyed the venture but hasn’t asked me for her first replica shirt yet. Maybe I’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.

2. Our camping adventures took us to mid Wales as we took in the sights of Borth, Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Tywyn and Aberdovey. We took a narrow gauge steam train to Devil’s Bridge and were amazed at the waterfalls, steep steps and breath-taking woodland valleys.

Taking a walk

3. From the western edge to the eastern edge as we visited my Grandparents in Suffolk and the girls were able to compare and contrast Welsh sandy beaches with Felixstowe.

4. The long awaited 360 Tour from Irish rockers U2 steam-rollered into Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium and it proved a worthwhile venture. Had a better view from my previous trip to see them in Cardiff a few years’ back. Good company (thanks Steve, Eileen, Ste) and despite queueing for 2 hours the sounds and sights were out of this world.

u2 360

Our summer family newsletter July 28, 2009

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Click below! (warning: the file is 14MB and may take a few minutes to download!)

Summer Letter 2009