Top ten nuggets from a year in west Worcestershire

I’ve just completed a year in Wichenford, which calls for a light-hearted reflection on it before the run-up to the second ordination; so here’s a grab-bag of highlights and oddities…

Getting down to earth…

  • Clay soil – Shortly after arriving, I discovered that mentioning the thick clay around here opens up many a conversation. Almost everyone has an opinion on it… ranging from “it’s dreadful stuff, requires so much hard work to get anything to grow” to “it’s marvellous stuff, once you’ve worked it over it’s very fertile”.
  • River crossings – you can’t live near two big rivers (the Teme and Severn) without becoming acutely aware either of where you can cross them, or which areas flood easily. To cross the Severn involves either a six mile trek south into the city centre, or a four mile trek north-east to Holt Fleet; although you can drive alongside the river between the two, crossing is impossible.
  • Fresh bread – I’ve always been partial to fresh bread, and this area is a hotbed for craftsman bakers. The various wholemeals that Tony Weatherall produces at Roots in Rushwick are exceptional, as are Mark Wild’s sourdoughs.
  • Growing fruit and veg – being able to go into the garden in the morning and pick strawberries for breakfast is a major delight. There’s plenty else growing as well, which will probably appear in a blog post later… 🙂

    Fresh strawberries this morning

    Fresh strawberries last week… last year the sparrows gobbled the lot, hence the netting.

Incongruous moments

There have been several occasions when I’ve thought, “I’d never have expected that…”

Elephant tile at Cotheridge church

Elephant tile at Cotheridge church

  • There’s an elephant in Cotheridge church – or, to be precise, two! While the floor tiles clearly show an elephant, it seems equally clear that the artist had never seen one.
  • “They never taught me this at theological college” – a thought that has often struck me, but most particularly during workshops with Martley Amateur Dramatics when we’ve been doing vocal exercises such as sirening…

But the incongruous moment of the year has to be…

Black hole accretion disk at the Three Counties show...

Black hole accretion disk at the Three Counties show…

  • Going to an agricultural show and seeing a black hole accretion disk. This happened last week at the Three Counties show. It was fun learning about Charollais sheep and Limousin cattle – but to find myself in the middle of an astronomy exhibition was completely unexpected!  The Young Farmers have a project each year, and this one was a choice between the Solar System and Outer Space. [“Err, what is a black-hole accrestion disk?” I hear you ask: go here or here]

What about the day job?

Day job? Day? Job?

  • Ministry is fun! – and full of incongruous moments. For example, Messy Church was outside my comfort zone when I started, but spending a couple of hours as a kid every month is hardly difficult! It’s an incredibly varied vocation – no day is ever the same.
  • Ministry is unrelenting! – it’s not a 9 to 5, or anything close. There’s always something that needs to be done, day or night, every week of the year. (That’s why it’s helpful to have a garden that also needs constant attention, just to get myself doing something completely different.)
  • Ministry is fulfilling! – the 16-year journey to get here has been worth it! The standout highlight has been starting the Cafe Church in Wichenford, but there has been plenty else besides.

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