From the banks of the River Chelt

Happy new year to all readers of this blog! May 2010 be a great year for you. This Christmas season has been a great time to catch up with friends. As it would be dull to chronicle each event I will highlight just a few.

Earlier this week I went to London to meet Ajay, a former colleague at Nelson Thornes. It was brilliant to meet him and his family, who provided warm and generous hospitality. Ajay’s dad is a lecturer at Belfast Bible College, and we chatted quite a bit about the need for the church to change: not least because Christianity is now far larger and stronger in the  non-western world. I also had my first experience of Bollywood at the Himalaya cinema: the movie Three Idiots was an entertainingly escapist romp about three engineering students trying to beat the educational system.

It’s been a particular delight to meet with other colleagues from NT: Gina, with whom I worked in my first year there; Carwen, who was there for my second year; and Dom, my line-manager for half the time. I was lucky to be able to work with such lovely people, and am really glad that those friendships are continuing. Dom’s become a mum to Maya in the last couple of months and it was great to drop into her & Stu’s house with Gina; I wonder what the odds are on Maya becoming a sparky singer-songwriter…

New Year’s Eve with Dave S, Carolyn and Dave K

I spent a most enjoyable New Year’s Eve with Dave Slight, Dave Kania and his fiancee Carolyn. We watched a great movie, The Blind Side, which I highly recommend. It’s the tale of a 16-year old black kid from Memphis whose dad had been murdered and whose mum was a crack addict, who was picked up off the street one snowy evening by the Tuohy family, and taken in to live with them. The extraordinary thing about this inspiring feel-good movie is that it is actually true, as this USA Today article shows: “From homeless to the NFL”.

Dave K and Dave S are both off to Bethel Church in Redding, CA, next week for a conference on healing; for those of us who were in the prayer group with them, we’re almost as excited that they are going as they are!

As you might imagine it would be difficult for me to go too long without a trek into the countryside for wildlife. I noticed on the Gloster Birder website that there were a couple of Great Northern Divers at the Cotswold Water Park: extremely unusual this far south and inland. So, on an icy morning before Christmas I made the trek out to one of the man-made lakes beyond Fairford. As I got out of the car and surveyed the birdless sheet of ice in front of me, I did wonder whether someone had been having a giraffe. Nevertheless I wasn’t going to waste the trip, and as I wondered around the lake shore I noticed a strip of clear water in the middle – and there, in sole possession of it, were the two black-and-white birds, diving for food! I watched for about half an hour, amused by their efforts to juggle crayfish into their gullets. They must have strong insides.

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