In which Ruth goes into the labyrinth and comes out again

My old church in Bathgate was hosting a Labyrinth Day today so I popped over this morning to have a wee wander. I think the last one I walked was actually in Chartres Cathedral many years ago, although I had done some here before that.  This one was made by the congregation at Comely Bank and their rector Rev’d Frances had brought it over.

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In the meeting room there were tables laid out with a wooden one (with or without marbles), sandy one, a pewter one to trace with your finger, and lots to colour in or just look at. And as ever the colouring in was very popular with child and adult alike.

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I had completely forgotten how long it takes to walk the labyrinth. It always seems much longer than you think. I tried to walk it slowly and meditatively which is not my normal pace. Not that I am a sprinter, you understand! My mother always said I plodded rather than walked. I paused at all the corners and junctions to think about all the times I have to make choices. The joy of the labyrinth is that there is only one way to go. God’s way. As I got to the centre I stood barefoot and tried to let go of all that weighs me down. No, not my hips. All the ‘stuff’ I carry around unnecessarily – the petty bits and bobs that wander around my head when I try to sleep, the little worries of which I can do nothing, the things that don’t concern me but I have to put my tuppence in… all that kind of thing. I was also carrying in the concerns of a friend and was delighted to leave them at the centre and hand them over to God.

Our text today was the Road to Emmaus and the lovely Morag had baked a loaf of bread. The smell was tantalising as it came out of the bread mixer and the children ran round offering us a piece while it was still warm just as I emerged from the labyrinth refreshed and renewed. (Heartburn to follow.)

And they recognised him in the breaking of bread. 

It really was a lovely peaceful morning. Meeting old friends, laughing over felt-tip pens and crumbs of bread. I really should look after my own spiritual life better. Feed myself.

I’m going to get Frances to bring her labyrinth to Christ Church soon and hope we might make our own at our Parish Weekend in August.

Lacy cottas, Rita kitten and other such things

Well. dear readers, I am terribly sorry to have been neglecting you in the past month or so. Since my return from holiday my diary seemed to go into meltdown and I’ve hardly had a moment to myself. In the midst of it all I even had a birthday but it was all rather low key. Who wants to shout about being 57? My boys took me out for lunch so that was nice. And no blood was spilt so that was a bonus.

Last week we hosted the Scottish Guild of Servers AGM. I think it is the first time it has been here so that was a lovely honour but nobody could tell us how many to expect. In the end we catered for 50+ and 50 came. I love it when a plan comes together. It all began with a rehearsal in which the Celebrant assures me they want it to be just like our normal service and then proceeds to change it all. The loveliest part of my day was introducing Walter who has just retired from serving at the altar after 60+ years. (Perhaps 70+ years.) My team did a fine soup and pud lunch and tons of home baking. They’ll have trouble bettering it next year, I reckon!  Lovely to see servers from all over and some old friends. Not too much tat either which was reassuring. Un-ironed lace is never bonny. But let me tell you they have the most ostentatious incense boat you’ve ever seen. And the size of it! Our boat-person practically had to work-out to get the strength up to carry it. While the previous rector was snooping around he retrieved his old thurible – the one with bells on. Oh how we shall miss it. At least Big Aggie is safe and sound, although needing a good clean and polish. (Big Aggie being the huge gothic thurible given to me by Fr Alex, it having been given to him by the Catholic Apostolic Church in Glasgow when it closed down. She is big and beautiful and much loved by all.)

Rita kitten has taken a turn for the worse again. She should have had her annual Booster a few weeks ago but they were loathe to give her it until they’d checked her blood. Sure enough this has shown she is ill again so awaiting to hear what the next step will be. We can tell she is not herself by the fact that she does not hide in her plastic tunnel and leap out on Lucy Pussy, or make herself at home in the wash-hand basin, sunbathe on my study window sill and hiss at passers-by, or stash my feather duster, fluffy toys, bubble wrap in her hidey hole under the study chair. (Not well hidden because the handles stick out.) This time we are more apprehensive because her Pet Insurance won’t cover any of it. I could be looking for a second job at this rate.

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I finally got around to reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and it was delightful. Except perhaps for the end? We’re discussing it next week in the book group so I look forward to seeing what the others thought. We are getting to know one another quite well in this group. We know who prefers a good psychological thriller or a murder or two along the way; who loves a bit of history (especially Tudor); the one who doesn’t like violence; and then there’s me. I’ve just surprised myself by giving up on the last Kate Mosse one because it was just so long-winded and I couldn’t care enough about the characters. That’s unusual for me and maybe says more about where my head’s been these past few months. Just started my birthday book which is the latest by Tracy Chevalier and already I’m enjoying it.

I’ll finish with a lovely story. Someone at church said to me that they were going to be leaving something in their will to Christ Church. But they had decided that they really would like to give it before they die so that they could appreciate what they wanted bought with the money – a new carpet throughout the church, sacristy and choir and servers rooms. At the moment we have pieces here there and everywhere. Hairy carpet tiles in the Lady Chapel, two shades of blue in the sanctuary, an old rug taped down behind the altar, old thin brown cord stuff up the aisle and at the back. This person also helps clean the church and said they’d rather vacuum a nice carpet than this one. Isn’t that a great idea? Give to the church while you can still enjoy it! Yay. What would you buy?

In which Christ Church talks Equal Marriage

Last week we had a great evening at Christ Church with the lovely Beth. Beth represents Changing Attitude Scotland and came to talk to a group about Equal Marriage. It all began when someone in church asked “But why do they need to get married in church when they have civil partnerships?” That’s where it began. I had answered that and had gone on to talk about Scripture and how it is used and misused. But I reckoned that this needed more time than a conversation over coffee.

Beth was happy to come and talk, especially about the latest news on Equal Marriage. But first we used some of the dvd For the Bible tells me so. If you haven’t seen it before then I can really recommend it especially for elderly members of the family who might be stuck in their ways. It features Gene Robinson’s parents among others, and our own +Richard Holloway makes a short appearance too. After the dvd Beth talked for a while on Equal Marriage and then took questions. She created a really good atmosphere which allowed people to feel relaxed enough to ask anything.

It turned out to be a really good evening. If you haven’t talked it over with your congregations then this might be a model you could copy. Our church is going to be voting on it over the next few years so it might be an idea to find out what you and your friends think. I’m happy to lend the dvd if you’d like to see it.

In which Ruth attends HM’s Garden Party

Her Maj comes to Scotland a few times a year but the event that those and such as those look forward to most is the annual Garden Party. This year I was invited (because one of my little flock is now Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Falkirk and one of his duties is to decide who gets invited) and it was an honour. However, I shall whisper to you, dear readers, that I am anti-monarchy, a good socialist at heart (if not always in practice!) and will only be happy when there is a Stewart/Stuart on the throne once more. But sometimes it is an honour to be asked and you have to be selfless and think of it as networking. Am I convincing you? Nah, okay I’ll shut up now.

But you do want to hear all about it, don’t you? First there is the invitation which comes in a gloriously thick envelope, thicker than any envelope you’ve ever seen. So thick in fact, that your letter opener is not sharp enough to slice through. It comes with instructions on what to wear (woman may wear trouser suits – gee thanks), what to do and what not to do. Bring two forms of ID, park here, toilets are there, no medals (drat! had to leave Our Lady’s Miraculous Medal behind).

Now I knew I was going to wear my clerical collar (black shirt of course), black trousers, blackAlegria Paloma shoes shoes (patent funky because I just couldn’t be so sensible) but what to wear on top? What jacket would be suitable for a sunny summer afternoon in Edinburgh? Especially when you don’t feel inclined to spend a lot of money. In fact as little money as possible. Enter eBay and a lovely silky purply duster coat for £1.50 so a bargain too. OK I had to buy a new button when the dry cleaner destroyed it and stick up the hem but still a bargain.

Then there was the rain. Well first there was my hair. My hair which was due a haircut but seemed to be holding up quite well with the use of very strong hairspray. Very strong indeed. And you know how it is? I think I’ll get away without getting a haircut too, you say to yourself. Jolly good. And then there comes a day, 3 days before the garden party when your hair grows an inch overnight and flop. Suddenly it has become too long all over and no amount of spray glue will hold it aloft. Luckily the lovely Tracey at HairDotComb could fit me in on the morning of the party. But that’s always a risk too, you know? Because sometimes the day of a haircut is not the best day for it to be seen in public. Sometimes you have to ‘fix’ it yourself before you dare let anyone see it. I did not have that luxury but thankfully all was well and Tracey excelled herself.

wind-and-rainBack to the rain. And the wind. And the cold wind and almost horizontal cold rain. The kind of day when you want to wear your Jack Murphy with fleece lining. But no, we need to look glamourous and summery so I had a genius of an idea… I would wear my thermal simmet! But what if it got miraculously sunny and I ended up melting in the heat? Well that wasn’t going to happen, was it? So thermal vest it was, thus allowing me to look summery-ish while keeping toasty warm. And the umbrella of course. Luckily I had a purple and pink spotty one which set off my outfit beautifully, although I do say so myself.

Why was I worrying? Lord knows because you should have seen the sights I saw! Streaky fake tan, tattoos, alarming hats and fascinators galore (never quite so glamourous when soaking wet – there is nothing so alarming as a wet feather), grass-covered platform shoes, much body piercing, sinking stilettos. And that was just the men! Actually the men weren’t much better. Some were in cream linen for heaven’s sake. Now what is formal about cream linen, I ask you? And kilts of various hues and lengths. Boys, there comes a time when your tummy is so big it is lifting your kilt well up at the front. You can’t see your knees and thighs glinting in the rain but we can and its not nice. Oh how I love people-watching. And sporran-watching. That’s a whole lot of fun.

I didn’t see Her Maj. Two gay male friends told me she was wearing light blue or peacock. No, no, cried the women. It was mint green. So much for gay stereotypes! I stayed in the dry tea tent eating little cucumber and mint sandwiches and passion fruit tarts. Delicious. Although how one is meant to eat when one is balancing a cup and saucer in one hand and a tea plate in the other is beyond me. I hired a Rector’s Tea Cup Holder for the duration and he was jolly good.

So apart from the people and the bad weather, what else did I notice? After all there were Women wecandoitabout six thousand people there. You know how sometimes you just have a wee think about gender issues and you start to notice… Well perhaps you don’t but I do. And that’s when you notice the role that women play in these royal events which may seem all the more surprising when we have a woman on the throne. First there were the bands. Many military bands were playing throughout the afternoon. I didn’t see any women playing in them. Then there are the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s Bodyguards in Scotland. I can’t find out how you get to be an Archer but it seems to be mainly lawyers and bigwigs from Edinburgh. You have to be invited. Not a woman amongst them. There were some antiquated order of constables too in old fashioned uniform with truncheons aloft – all men. I did see one police officer who happened to be a woman who was directing traffic. And the women serving the tea and buns, of course. But mostly the women were there to serve food or look pretty. Welcome to the nineteenth century. Sigh.

So my first Royal Garden Party is over. I met some old friends, missed a whole host of others. The Queen eluded me but I saw some sights. There was a long purple coat with tartan cuff which I coveted on a very elegant lady. I was fooled by many Presbyterians in purple clerical shirts who I thought were bishops. And I laughed a lot in good company. (Even better was supper at The Steading on the way home and large Bombay gin!)

Baby Annabelle’s baptism sermon

Annabelle, I don’t think you are going to understand what I am going to tell you this morning.
But I hope your mummy and daddy and granny and granddad and uncles and all the rest will remember a wee bit of it and tell you from time to time.

Because today I want to tell you that you are unique.
You are special.
Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not ONE of them is like YOU!
No one’s hair grows exactly the way yours does.
No one’s finger prints are like yours.
And just like your fingerprints, your lips have little markings on them, little grooves in the skin … and everyone has a different pattern, so no one’s lips are like yours.
No one smells just like you.
And no one’s eyes are just like yours.
No one is loved by the same combination of people that love you – NO ONE!
No one before, no one to come.

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE!baby footprints pink

And as you grow up I want you to enjoy that uniqueness.
You do not have to pretend in order to seem more like someone else.
You weren’t meant to be like someone else.
You do not have to lie to conceal the parts of you that are not like what you see in anyone else.
You were meant to be different.

And if you did not exist, there would be a hole in creation, a gap in history, something missing from the plan for humankind.

Treasure your uniqueness.
It is a gift given only to you.
Enjoy it and share it!

So many people these days feel like they are nothing more than a number on a computer card somewhere in a government file.
But God says you are more than that.
You’re a special design.
You were made special.
Because that is the way God created you.

You are different.
You are not just a number.
And because you’re different … YOU are important.
Maybe not important to the government but you are important to God.
Because He is the one who designed you.
He is the one who made you different.
He is the one who made you unique.
(Along with your mummy and daddy of course.)

Scientists have only just recently discovered how unique and special each one of us is — how special you are.
But God has known this all the time.

God knows all about you.

She knows what you need.

She knows what you feel and what you think.

She knows exactly what you have done.

And She loves you in a way that is only for you.

Because God made you special, She has a special interest in you.

Her love is for you and it is special.

Her plan for you and your life is unique too.

It’s special.

That’s something worth thinking about.

I have a little present for you.zebras
It is a zebra.
Because recently I found out that all zebras are unique – just like you.
Each zebra has different stripes so mummy and daddy zebra can tell which is their baby in a crowd of baby zebras.
Each baby zebra is unique and special.

So mummy and daddy Gray have the job of telling you all about the stripey zebra and why it is unique.
And they will also tell you how special you are, because that’s what mummies and daddies do too.

And to finish I have another surprise.

Bubbles.

Because each bubble is unique too.
There are no two bubbles the same.
Each one is a different size or shape or colour.
Each is special.
Each is unique.

Just like you.

Amen

bubbles

In which Ruth visits the Ballet in Lent

“Can you go to the theatre in Lent?” I was asked by one of my little flock.

“Hmm,” I pondered, “I’m not sure that such frivolities are appropriate in Lent. What is it you are going to see?”

“Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Have you heard of them?”

“No.”

“Oh they’re a hoot. All male ballet troup dancing the parts of women.”

“Oh dear. I’m not sure…”

“But we were going to take you. We thought it was right up your street. But we didn’t know if you went to the theatre in Lent.”

“Hell, yeh!”

And so we did, dear reader. We travelled into my home toun of Embra on Saturday night (yes! a Saturday night! when was I last out on a Saturday night?) to the Festival Theatre to watch a bunch of hairy and not so hairy men dress up as ballerinas and perform the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  I haven’t been to the ballet since I was a teenager and disgraced myself at the Nutcracker. There is something about a man in tights holding up a woman that just gives me the giggles and always has. As a result I haven’t trusted myself to go ever since. (I can only manage Opera with a bit of sticky tape across my mouth so I don’t singalong.)

BalletTrockWe were treated to Les Sylphides, Pas de Deux, the Dying Swan (with moulting feathers), La Vivandiere, and Walpurgis Night. The eyelashes, the lipstick, the hair, the legs, the underarm hair, the pointes, the tutus and the voile. It all added up to a scream.

The wonderful thing was that it was taken quite seriously so the skill was superb. Well, I don’t know much about ballet but it all looked very professional to me and my companions, who are aficionados, told me so. Then all of a sudden one of them would fall off the stage, or make a comedy face and off it would go into parody.

The theatre was full to the gunwales and everyone was complaining of sore cheeks as we left. If you ever get a chance to go, please don’t miss it.  Even in Lent.

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And then there were five…

This week I have been on our Diocesan Clergy Retreat. My old rector always used to say that all clergy should go on retreat together so I mostly have. It is bad enough being an extrovert going on silent retreat but having to do it on your own is just agony.  So if it looks like it will be a good speaker, off I trot with a motley crew of clergy and lay readers with a pile of books (not all holy), a magazine, an iPad, a journal and pen, and a bottle or two of wine. The latter is for sharing, of course. books pile

For the past few years our retreat has been at Whitchester just outside Hawick in the Scottish Borders. It is very chintzy. Chintzy walls, chintzy sofas and chintzy chairs, chintzy carpets (can you have chintzy carpets? well they are mostly Chinese by the looks of it). It is all very lovely and very comfy with a log fire roaring in the lounge, a couple of remote-control recliners in the sitooterie, and very elegant and old bits and bobs. A rather nice country house really. With proper butter knives, don’t you know.

And that was what made me think I was living in an Agatha Christie novel this year. Picture the scene:

log fireOne by one we arrive, pulling our little suitcases behind us with enough for a four-day stay. We are shown to our elegant rooms by the Warden and then gather in the lounge by the log fire while the rain chucks it down outside. There are eight of us including our Retreat Leader.  There aren’t very many of us, I think to myself, considering we are a diocese of at least 75 clergy. (I assume they all prefer to have a solo retreat. That’s a lot of solo retreats going on!) But eight feels like a nice number. Not too many people to avoid if you want a quiet corner and chances are there won’t be a queue for the reclining chairs in the sitooterie. And looking around them I thought that yes, they did all fit into an Agatha Christie novel. There was the older lady with the tartan skirt and pearls, and the overweight middle-ager who huffed and puffed and didn’t look as if she really wanted to be there. There was the man who changed into his slippers and looked quite relaxed and at home, and the bishop, of course, in purple shirt and a bag of comfy clothes into which he’d change.

Dinner was served in the dining room with the curtains closed against the storm and the chandelier reflected in the wonderful mantle mirror. (Such a pity there was no sherry beforehand.) Conversations rose and fell and everyone was keen to capture the attention of the Retreat Leader. Ecclesiastical gossip was shared and hopes and fears expressed for this retreat. Our Leader was keen not to impose any rules upon the group and that we should all agree on when we should keep silence and when we should stop. Over coffee and our first session we agreed that we would go into silence after her first talk that evening and break it on the eve of the last day at dinner. (This was to pacify me, the only one who struggles with silence. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to talk until after Mass on the last morning. Imagine!)

And so our retreat began. But on the second day I noticed that the lady with the tartan skirt and pearls came to the morning talk and then snowdropsdisappeared. It was most strange as she was never seen again and nothing was mentioned, as we were in silence. Where had she gone? Had she disagreed with the speaker and walked off in a huff? Or had she been strangled in the walled garden and left to lie with the budding snowdrops? And then there were seven. It was most strange.

On the third day the same fate befell the Bishop. He went to bed at night and never came down again in the morning for breakfast. Where had he gone? Had he been suffocated in his bed by an unhappy priest? Or had he drowned in his shower by the hands of some unknown assailant who was now walking around in his purple shirt impersonating him in a Borders town?  Again we were all left to ponder his fate in silence. And then there were six.

pheasantsIn the evening of the third day the man with the comfy slippers (which were now walking shoes) looked anxiously out of the darkened window as we gathered for our last talk. He seemed more interested in examining the gloom of the garden than listening to our speaker. I thought I saw a flashing light at one point and when I next opened my eyes (just resting them, you understand) he was gone! Gone in the middle of a talk! And nobody seemed to have noticed. Did it have anything to do with the flashing light? Had he gone off for an assignation which turned horribly wrong and he was now lying in the garden being pecked by the pheasants? And then there were five.

We five huddled together and made it safely through to the dinner on the last evening when the lady in the tartan skirt and pearls joined us for the meal. Turns out she hadn’t been strangled but had just been busy and might come back for the Lay Retreat at the weekend. The Bishop, we were told, had engagements which he couldn’t miss but he too would return with his wife for the weekend retreat. (Thank goodness he hadn’t been strangled although I fancy it might have been done by a maniple if he had.) And then it was explained that the man in comfy slippers had a Vestry meeting and was being picked up by his Rector’s Warden at the appointed time. The lights in the garden were no more than the headlights of the car coming to pick him up. And I was so sure the pheasants had a rather guilty look in their eyes.

So there you have it, dear readers. That is the kind of thing I am left to imagine when I am forced into silence.

 

Prayer for Sandy Hook School, Newtown

Loving God,pieta
as our tears fall

and the world watches with horror

and mothers’ arms lie empty,

we pray for your children who have died.

We pray for all who lost their lives

in Sandy Hook School

and for all who mourn them.

Keep watch, dear Lord,

with whose who work or watch or weep this night,

and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Amen

 

 

 

 

In which Ruth returns from the Clergy Conference

Every year our diocese gathers in the sumptuous surroundings of the Atholl Palace Hotel in Pitlochry for a few days. It is the best time to go – November – for the hotel is surrounded by trees of every hue and the hills look glorious in the sunlight. Yes, even a city girl can admire a lovely country view from inside a comfy hotel. In the olden days I’m told that the clergy met in an old youth hostel. Not many went. Funny that. Now that we meet in a nice place, many do come. Not all, but many.

This was the first Conference with our new Bishop John at the helm. Our speaker was Canon Malcolm Grundy who has written books on Leadership and Oversight. I’m afraid our little group couldn’t quite get in to the topic of leadership and shared episcope but we managed to talk about plenty other things. That’s the beauty of the Clergy Conference – even if the talks don’t quite inspire, it is always good to catch up with other clergy and share our stories.

Dare I say that the highlight was going with Mother Anne to the House of Bruar and having a good old window-shop. I even managed to find the spurtle I’ve been looking for for ages. (The boiled wool mules were not such a success. Who knew boiled wool could be so uncomfy?) And sadly they do not seem to do Pickled Quail’s Eggs any more. Where else will I find them, I wonder?

While I was in the bar one evening I got to talking to a certain Canon. (Not the speaker at the conference – one of our very own.) This certain Canon is not someone whom I know particularly well. Our paths don’t cross often in churchy circles.  In fact, I’ve probably thought in the past that we really had very little in common. However, and this is the beauty of the Clergy Conference, we found out that we actually had quite a lot in common. We both shared a love of James Bond movies, and in particular the cars. We also shared a love of a good whodunnit and had read many of the same authors. He had read all the Rizzoli and Isles books and I had watched the TV series, and he’s convinced me to try the books. We blethered for ages on our love of the iPad. And don’t get us started on forensic pathologists – we both adore them, the bloodier the better. And that is one of the joys of the Clergy Conference, because how else would we have found that out about each other? I am also keeping him in my prayers for something he shared with me.

So I have come to the conclusion that that is why we meet every year in Pitlochry. Sometimes we are blessed with unexpected pleasures. And that is one of the joys of ministry. Finding something in common with another human being and hearing their story.

In which Ruth heads to the deep south of Englandshire

The Scottish Episcopal Church is quite generous with clergy holidays, I think. We get 4 weeks and then the inside of a week (not Sundays) after Christmas and Easter. I guess that covers the 10 days of public holidays that we miss. Then of course we have a retreat and clergy conference and possible continuing training which of course our little flocks think of as holidays because we’re not there but we know better. So it gets to a point when they say, “Oh, so you’re off on holiday AGAIN?” and at that point we think we’d better not mention that we are still due a week off this year but daren’t take it!

Anyway, I did take one of those weeks and did a bit of pottering around the house and then went down south to stay with old friends at Bracknell. It was lovely to catch up with them and be taken out and about in  a lovely part of the country. This time we did Reading, Ascot, a Harvest Supper and a local garden. Nice shops, nice canal, nice dresses and hats, nice sausage rolls, nice knot garden.

I was also asked to celebrate at the Family Service at Holy Trinity, Bracknell. It is a strange thing celebrating in another church, especially when you are not familiar with the liturgy. Just as you think you know this bit there is a slight tweak to throw you off course. And I foolishly believed the chalice bearer who told me to consecrate more wine when it looked like there were only two more people waiting. Perhaps there are more in hiding, I thought, as I said a quick prayer over the flagon he’d lead me to. There was a whole lot of wine to consume at the end of that mass. But apart from that it all went terribly well and my celtic blessing made at least one woman cry. (I think that was in a good way.) Of course the microphone switch was the opposite way round from our one in CC so there was a bit of thinking I was off when I was on and thinking I was on when I was off but we get there in the end. (That’s another thing in the church that should be universal, like curtain fittings in rectories.)

Then last week they dropped me off at the Henry VIII Gate of Windsor Castle as I took part in the Clergy Consultation on Believing in Baptism at St George’s House.  This year I was asked to be a Facilitator for my little group which was fun. My brain was given a good old workout with some Augustine, Calvin and Barth as well as some New Testament and the obligatory poetry (all quite good this time, I’m glad to report). We dealt with some meaty issues too, like What is Original Sin and What is the Soul? And we considered what the church would be like if we did away with Baptism. This all lead on to discussions on when a child should receive communion and what was Confirmation for? I also picked up some nice ideas for playing around with liturgy. But sshhh don’t tell the Bishop. And we had a lovely time in Canon James’ newly refurbished house in the cloisters with a glass of rather nice plonk.

The choir in the chapel were on good form and while some complained that we didn’t get to ‘join in’ at Evensong I was quite happy to sit and let the music wash over me. It is not often you get to sit among some wonderful singers belting out Tallis. The Eucharist in the morning was in my favourite little chantry chapel with the cutest unicorn to ponder.

So all in all it has been a good break. I met some super people, I saw some wonderful things, I heard some glorious music and I was well fed in the dining room and at the Eucharist.