Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Rest Days

As the Rector@6 and I struggle to find time to take a day off, the Rectory dogs have taken over the sitting room. I walked into the room this morning and they gave me just the merest nod of acknowledgement as they lounged on our seats. In the old days, they would have jumped off quickly, with embarrassment at being caught up on the furniture. Standards are definitely dropping!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Autumn Fruits

The last church harvest festival was last Sunday - an evening service followed by a hearty supper. These events draw in people who don't usually come to church and it is lovely to be able to share both worship and food with them. The Rector@6 has one more harvest service to attend and that is at the local school. He does enjoy these events. With harvest over in our churches, I have spent this morning peeling, cutting and slicing apples for freezing and drying.What a bumper year for apples and other autumn fruits and vegetables! I have invested in a new toy - a dehydrator. It consists of five drying racks through which warm air gently circulates. It sits in the corner of my kitchen, wafting delicious apple and strawberry scents into the air and warming the room. The resulting apple rings are so scrummy that they disappear rather quickly - not much chance of building up a supply for later in the year. The last of the British strawberries are not so good for eating on their own so I am drying them and I have ground them up to make a sort of strawberry dust, which is great sprinkled on cereal, porridge or cheesecakes. They are worth drying just for the smell!
Now the Rector@6 has also got rather excited about this glut of apples and when he heard that a friend had a press, they spent a happy afternoon squashing apples and dreaming of cider. A demijohn of murky sandy -coloured, liquid sits in the corner of our kitchen, gently burping out a bubble now and then. After the Rector's other attempts of home brewing (click here to read more), I have banned him from hiding this away in any dark corners of the house. This has not stopped him from secreting away containers of rotting apple skins and cores. They appear amonst the cake tins and the plate cupboards. He assures me that these will turn into wonderful apple vinegar. I fear that they may walk out of the cupboard on their own, if the amount of mould is anything to go by! I will keep you updated on their progress.
 'All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above:
then thank the Lord ,
O thank the Lord, 
for all his love.'

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Seasonal changes

It's one of those days where you just have to get out and walk. The clear, clean air adds a sharpness to my thinking. The breeze whispers gently in my ears and clears my head of the doubts that go round and round in my head. Was it really meant to be so challenging? Was it really meant to be so stressful on our marriage? Will we survive this settling period? But, like the fields around us, there is a need to clear the ground to begin another cycle of growing. This has meant that the once productive field must be ploughed and harrowed again. This process involves digging deep and turning over new earth, breaking up the lumps and bumps and trying not to bend the harrow or plough in the process. The barren, chalky subsoil must not be exposed so the valuable top soil must be nourished and not lost in all the upheaval .
As I walk alongside the huge, manicured fields, the dogs relish the space and race down the furrows - we all enjoy this walk, high up above the rest of the world. It can leave you raw and exposed if the weather turns against you, but today, it is on our side. Bright autumn sunshine creates contrasts of dark shadows and shafts of light piercing through the remaining leaves that are clinging to the branches. A few berrries still remain in the hedgerows but summer is over. We are not fooled by these occasional servings of sunshine - the damp, misty mornings tell us otherwise. But today I can revel in walking without a coat or a care in the breeze!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Property matters - a room with a view

Now you might think that I have been a little quiet about the rectory and the property matters. The repairs from the long overdue quinquennial inspection are slowly being completed. This involves us being available (often at very short notice) to let the varying tradespersons in. Therefore, the saga drags on. I have actually given up in my heart and accept that this is where we are for now – which is what I expect most vicarage families do after a few encounters with the building contractors. But I am disappointed at the lack of care for the incoming families. There was no inspection of the remedial works carried out and, at times, we were surprised by the work quality - but we do have a front door without a hole in it now. We were staggered to hear the amount of money that has been spent on this house so far.  I did put pen to paper to the property department to comment on our moving experience and we then received a visit – for which I am grateful. I hope that some of our comments may lead to other families settling into their new homes more easily. It is things like making sure the septic tank is emptied before we moved in – we lived for weeks wondering if drains always smelled like ours when you had a septic tank – only to find (once located ) that it was merrily overflowing into the rose bed! I won’t divulge the details of the conversation we had with the tanker driver who came to empty the tank – suffice to say it took him an hour and a half instead of the usual twenty minutes. 
On that delicate subject, I did say that I would update you on our smallest room upstairs. I have written about this before (click here forprevious loo observation). We have had a second floor re-laid – which involved levelling the floor due to damage from removing the first new floor.  The question of the hand sawn chipboard toilet plinth is being discussed, as is the ‘decorative’ pipe work. But we have redecorated and should you shut the door and rest awhile, you will be transported to a calm oasis - where you can contemplate in peace. The pipe work may no longer offend the eye as you should be distracted by the view!