Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Happiness is on a horse on Dartmoor

Riding on Dartmoor is such a contrast to riding in Dorset - the wide-open spaces, capped with an expanse of sky, make you feel like you are riding on the top of the world. When the weather is kind, you can see for miles and miles - right out to the ships entering the Plymouth Sound. At times the silence is engulfing. At other times, there are sky larks high above you, singing as if their lungs will burst. You can feel like you are 'home on the range', surrounded by grazing cattle or, at this time of year, by ponies with diminutive foals, each one seeming cuter than the next.
We have had a lovely afternoon, the Rector@6 rode out for the first time since we left Dartmoor. He has been too busy in the new parish to escape for a horse ride with me in Dorset. I fear the afternoon's ride may have a lasting effect on him - in more ways than one!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Back Home!

I know - I'm not allowed to say that I am back home because we have moved to Dorset but we still have our house in South Devon. So here we are and it's good to be back for a week of R and R.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Throne Room

This is a delicate, personal subject. I have come to realise how important it is for the smallest room in the house to be comfortable! I shouldn't complain - I have an indoor, upstairs flushing (on 3 attempts) wc in our house - we are incredibly fortunate compared to many parts of the world. It is a functioning wc and that should be enough surely - but so too, is the outdoor karzy that many houses had in the past (and some still do). It is about keeping rectories and vicarages up to date. Our smallest room has the feel of a public toilet but with less space - or the school cubicles of yesteryear. There are certainly no niceties about it at the moment. We asked for the handbasin to be put it as it seems incredible that there were not handwashing facilities in the room - and as a result we have a basin and some of the ugliest pipework to go with it. Obviously we are not suppose to have any aesthetic values - but I certainly wouldn't accept it in my own home but for some reason, I am suppose to accept it when I am a rector's wife. We questioned the gap in the newly laid floor that was left when the pan was changed recently. We asked for a new floor rather than accept the offer of filling the gap with mastic! It is the waste of money that annoys me more than anything. I am challenged to work some creative magic on this smallest room - so watch this space! I can't make the room bigger - and the powers that be say they won't knock it into one family sized bathroom but I shall see if we can turn it into a room suitable for contemplation. Any suggestions will be carefully considered so feel free to use your imagination and come up with some ideas!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Building matters

The gloriously fine weather has broken and we have a day of low cloud and fog - so I have time to write the blog. The Rector@6 and I are still so very busy. It is difficult to believe life will slow down - but it is good to be busy. I am riding regularly on a lovely shire cross and I have even been jumping her in the paddock. The last time I jumped on a horse (and it was a pony) was over forty years ago. It is so good to play horses
again!! We have had some lovely invitations to accept and we begin to feel quite 'local' when we join with others to celebrate  occasions such as birthdays or the opening of the second village shop (a shortage of celebrities meant that the Rector@6 had to say a few words.) Last Saturday we stepped in at short notice to host the 'Marriage Matters' course for engaged couples. This is a short course aiming to equip couples to consider the many different aspects of marriage, from parents in law to money matters to the meaning of the wedding vows. It focuses on more than 'the big day'. It was good to work alongside The Rector@6 and another experienced couple - despite two of the three couples dropping out. (If they only knew how I cleaned the Rectory - but it was such a beautiful day, I would probably have pulled out myself - if I had had the choice!) So life is busy for me and even more so for the Rector@6 who often looks and sounds worn out by the end of the day. Today is an 'at home day', (except for the visit to the coffee morning to meet the Sudanese Bishop who is dropping in, the discussions with the neighbouring vicar who is popping in and the churchwardens meeting this evening!)

It just so happens that as we are in today - the builders have returned to carry out some of the jobs identified in the 5 year inspection (which was a year late). As they are replacing a cracked WC upstairs and adding more insulation to the roof space, they are all over the house. The dogs and I are confined to the front room or the kitchen. I expect we will see a lot of these builders as there is quite an extensive repair list and, if they just do a few jobs at a time, I can see that we will get to know them very well!

In contrast, the roof thatchers who are working on many of the village houses at the moment, work with great speed to complete the jobs, as they are so dependent on good weather. These skilled men have been repairing ridges or replacing one side of a roof or occasionally the whole roof. Our village pub remains closed after having had half the thatched roof repaired. It is looking great but there is no one prepared to take the lease on - or manage it at the moment. Many rumours are flying around but in the meantime the door is firmly shut. Anyone want to manage a friendly village pub in deepest Dorset?
So many cottages are needing repairs after the very wet, cold winter we experienced this year. The cottage across the road was to have its ridge repaired but the thatchers have had to repair all of one side, as the roof was in such poor condition. This will have been an unexpected expense for the owners. It amazes me that we still have thatched cottages today but they are so much part of Dorset's charm. It is good to see firms of skilled men are still available to continue the thatching trade.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Water, wine, candle oil... a rector's dilemma!

I have the Rector@6's permission to tell this tale of misfortune as a warning and to prevent anyone making the same mistake. It is also serves to reinforce the importance of the vital role of all who volunteer their time and talents to serve the church in different roles (- especially when you have a new rector/vicar!)

On this particular Sunday, in one particular church, the Rector@6 was involved in setting the altar for the communion service. All completed, the service began in this small parish church. There was only a small congregation of familiar faces (which was probably a good thing on this Sunday). Each person came to receive the bread and wine and returned to their seats. I hear that there were some comments about the taste of the wine at that stage of the service but the Rector@6 was not aware of these. It was only as he came to clear the table that he noticed a globule of something floating on the top of the wine. He is required to finish the left over consecrated bread and wine so, anxious to finish the service on time, he duly drank the remaining contents - and was aware of a very, strange taste indeed!

On the completion of the service, the Rector@6 went to check the cupboard where everything was stored, and there were the bottles; - the wine and a clear bottle of liquid that he had presumed was water. NEVER presume anything! To be fair - the bottles were stored next to each other in a container and at the bottom of a dark cupboard. The 'water' was lamp or candle oil and this is what everyone had tasted - the Rector@6 more so than others. Having checked the small writing on the label to see that this was not a full medical emergency, he joined the congregation for coffee - where the conversation seemed to centre around the strange metallic tasting wine. The Rector@6 owned up to his mistake and was extremely apologetic - pointing out that he would be the first to experience any ill-effects due to the amount he had consumed. It was a very alarming lesson for him to learn. Fortunately all seemed to see the funny side and, I suspect, the Rector@6 will not be allowed to help in the setting up of the Altar on his own for many years!

NB I have it on the church warden's authority - everyone is up and around today!