Sunday, 31 August 2003

It's good to have Ben back

He's been away at a youth camp.

"Did you enjoy it"?
"what did you do"?
"This and that".

Looks like they had a barrel of laughs then. He did hug us though, once we'd got home and there was no-one else around.

BTW this nearly didn't get posted. Thought I'd do a 'quick' processor upgrade this afternoon. 1 dead mobo and a number of hours later I'm back on line. Doncha love computers.

Saturday, 30 August 2003

Well, that was a funny day.

It started out a bit slow, sayong goodbye to friends, then having to wait half an hour for *someone* to get themselves ready to go out. The next bit is a long story, involving shopping for a gate, but returning with an oven, and having to make 2 trips into Oxford because the oven was too big to go in the first car :-/

But such is life that it all turned around this afternoon, and despite every predictable obstacle being put in my way (why do oven sizes get altered every couple of years??) it is now fitted and working.

This evening another good friend (Jez) brought a 'dumped' bike over, which we fixed and made roadworthy. This is particularly good, since he has had to borrow a bike to ride to work. And the new one is actually quite decent too (amazing what some people throw away, it really is). It's rather good, because Jez is a teacher and gave Ben some 'help' with German for his exams this year, so we've been wanting to find a tangible way to say thanks, and it's great that this came up.

Goodbye for now

To some good friends of ours. A couple we've known for over 20 years now, Trevor and Karin Allen, dropped by yesterday evening, stopping overnight with us. We first met them when we were first married - our wedding was a good point at which to make the break from the dead Baptist church we were in without offending too many people. They were in the new church we joined (and still are) and were one of the more mature 'young couples'. I think Trev was about 30 and Karin 28 then (we were 20 and 18!). But we've always been good friends, and their visit was like rolling away all the time we've been apart.

They're on a whistlestop tour heading north. Hope you 2 have a good time, and enjoy all the renewed acquaintences. Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, 29 August 2003

An early morning prayer.

Lord, I want to be righteous.
You can see my heart, how it desires so many things, but forgets you.
Yet you still call me to come close.
You are faithful, I am weak. How can I stand before you?
Wash me through again.
Let me know your forgiveness and cleansing.
Change my heart within from stone to flesh.
Show me your ways, that I can walk in them.
Thankyou Father.

Sometimes you get to see yourself a little more clearly, and a little less like you'd like to think you are.

Thursday, 28 August 2003


Yet another new photo collection published.

Chris passed the magic '40' milestone back in February, and to celebrate, wanted to do something a little wilder than usual. I guess you could say she's a fallen woman now (",).

Wednesday, 27 August 2003

And now, the end is nigh.......

We had our first rain this morning since we came back from holiday. Bye bye summer, bye bye dry trails, it's been nice knowing you.

Tuesday, 26 August 2003

That's better

Got home from work about 6.15, grabbed Sharon (my singlespeed saracen MTB) and headed out. 18 cross country miles and 1hr 25 mins later and virtually all of the stress from yesterday's outing plus todays work have gone.

I may not be very righteous, but I'm grateful for what I can enjoy.

The opulent

Having read Randall's blog this morning, this seemed an entirely appropriate title. As promised, you can view the images from yesterday's visit to Hampton Court palace on I've known Hampton court for a long time, but only from the outside, having fished the river Thames beside it for many years as a kid, so this was a first.

I wonder how much you can tell about people from their decor? People were certainly religious in those days, but apparently with very strange beliefs. The paintings (both walls and canvas) and tapestries show a wild mix of Christian, quasi-christian and greek mythology, all seemlessly intertwined. There was also an erotic flavour to it that I've never been aware of before in 'old master' type paintings. It might just be me, but bearing in mind that during certain reigns the court was practically a knocking shop, maybe I shouldn't find that so surprising.

I've also always been pro-monarchy, despite it being very unfashionable here at certain times. Seeing this place has made me wonder. I've tended to overlook the bowing, scraping and general humiliation of subjects that the royal presence demanded, but here it was so 'in your face' that it couldn't be ignored. It was compounded for me by the regency aspects to the building - the regency period was an era where the poor were truly treated as if beneath contempt by the rich. Toward the end I was just sick of the place - the exaggerated wealth, the rules, and especially the whole falsley religious side of things. Enough is known about the private lives of past monarchs to show that, regardless of their status as head of the church of England, many of them lived deliberately non-Christian lives, even by the standards of the day. I have to say however, that the present Queen does not reflect this, and I have much respect for the way in which she has chosen to live her life.

Maybe I'm really just a rebellious anarchist, trying to throw off restraint.

Ignoring the emotions it stimulated, the palace is kind of interesting, and if you like Gardens then they are particularly good. I've also managed to include a number of pictures of people in authentic costumes. They made a very big deal about use of correct fabrics and techniques etc to make these. These probably do appear very much like they would have done originally, except that they are a lot cleaner! Unfortunately it is not permitted to take pictures inside, so there are no interior shots. The most spectacular interior was inside the chapel, with an incredibly intricate and detailed ceiling, gold covered cherubs a go-go and acres of polished wood panelling. Again my cynicism would make me question whether God's ever been near the place, but he's far more gracious than me and it may be that it is a genuine place of worship, rather than a temple to human glory.

Hope you enjoy the pics.

Monday, 25 August 2003

Yaay! It's a bank holiday today.

So I've got a day off with the family. Now, should we visit Hampton court or Windsor castle?

<10 second pause>

Chris just wandered by and said "Hampton court", so it looks like that's where we're going. I'll try to grab some pics and post them on tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 August 2003

I just love it when

People are really up for it with worship. This evening we had our 'family' type meeting (meant not to be serious etc). But one song in, everyone is just waiting to break into singing in the spirit when the words are out of the way. And people kept asking to sing appropriate songs, rather than needing a prompt or just waiting for someone else.

We didn't soar, because that isn't what this particular time is meant to be about (if God wants to over-rule sovereignly then that's fine however) but I could feel people just wanting to edge over into more. I'm getting quite excited now to see where He's going to take us over the next few weeks.

My single piece of discomfort in all this is seeing another good friend, Andrew K, there. He's in a lot of pain - pretty much morphine on demand, due to a near-failed liver plus various other functions that aren't too good. I know he's tough about pain, because even though his knees have been shot for a long time he's never stopped working (he's about 6'5", 330lb and runs a building company). But talking to him tonight and seeing him sweat from the pain, makes me want to ask "why"? Healing is a gift that just cannot be taken for granted.

Saturday, 23 August 2003

Good friends again.

Had some good friends (Jeremy and Helen, plus progeny) over tonight. It's really great, spending time with people we used to know so well, but haven't really spent been with much over the last few years.

Tomorrow Ben's off to "Exe 2003". It's a youth camp run by salt and light churches in southern England, and held at Exmouth. This year (at 15) he's going as one of the junior leaders. I seriously hope he get's touched while there - while he knows God, he also struggles with what he feels is insufficient awareness of God on a daily basis. We were talking in the car after he'd finished his Saturday job, and discussing how many of the guys in his class did soft drugs (most of them, apparently, although I suspect some say they do to fit in). Ben's always been someone that walks his own path, but sometimes it feels like our kids have to walk through a hairy old world.

Anyway, with his natural sense of timing and style he's upstairs packing now, at 9.30pm. In 12 hours time he'll be off.

Friday, 22 August 2003

Well, she's gone.

It's interesting how you can actually get to love some people over the years. I've often felt like the older brother, and Kathy my younger and slightly wayward sister. But I'd like to think that I've had an influence too, and that our marriage has given her inspiration for her own.

Feel slightly hollow now, but that will pass.

Next stop - Sarah :-)

Mixed weather ahead

Actually it's nothing to do with the weather at all, but today there's cause for celebration and sadness.

Sadness first - someone that I've worked with for the last 7 years is leaving today, to move to Ireland. I've known Kathy since 1997, and we've become almost like brother and sister. Kathy is quite an interesting character, and has seen a fair bit more of the world than most people of twice her age. One of my lasting memories of her was that within the first week in the lab together she said "I won't sleep with you; I just don't fancy you". That was fine by Chris and me ;-)

I will miss her friendship though, and as a company we'll definitely miss her skill set and determination.

The good news is today is my daughter Sarah's 14th birthday. We woke her and Ben early (by their standards - we were ready to leave for work) and sat on the bed while she opened presents. We've had some interesting times, particularly in the last 3 years, but it was 15 minutes of un-alloyed happiness for her. When I left she was busy trying on clothes. Tonight we're taking the children to see "Pirates of the Carribean" followed by a Chinese meal in Oxford. Should be fun.

Thursday, 21 August 2003

One of those nights...

Think I've mentioned on Randall's blog that as a church we've been told to 'pause, turn and focus on God'. Well, as a result we've scrapped our normal pattern of church meetings, house groups etc. Instead we meet for a light, family oriented meeting on Sunday PM, followed by tea, with a serious Wednesday night time of biblestudy, prayer and worship. The worship has been de-focussed too, so that it's lead from the 'hatha'* principle instead of with a worship leader, and with a single instrument, rather than a band. To keep things simple I'd taken an acoustic guitar.

The plan was to open with a single song to help people draw near to God before starting the bible study. God was gracious enough to turn up however, and after about 20 or 25 mins we managed to pull ourselves round to the idea of bible study. The study was good, but it was clearly not the main event, and we were aware of God really wanting to touch us through the Holy Spirit. We broke down for prayer with people ministering to each other, then came back together for worship. It was one of those nights where you don't want to stop, and the desire to keep going fights with the tiredness of the fingers. There are few feelings to compare with the rythmns of heaven being played through your hands. It doesn't even need a specific song to be sung, although when a new one is started then it brings a fresh wave through, as you move into a new key and chord structure. People were singing in the Spirit and in English, as the spirit moved them.

Even when we were packing away it seemed to just take a couple of key words to trigger another song. However by that time we had also become light-hearted, the way you seem to when you've touched the Throne and come back to Earth.

Who can ask for more?

* "everyone hath a word or as spiritual song". Cringe? Yeah, I did the first time I heard it too, but it's still funny ;-)

Wednesday, 20 August 2003

One thing leads to another.

I read Linea's blog this morning about going on a spiritual retreat, and was thinking about how it's a very 'Anglican' church thing to do, at least in the UK. This crossed into spending time with God generally, and how in my particular church stream, retreats tend to be relatively rare, and then usually just for a day or so.

It was at this point I felt God say "what are you planning to do this lunchtime?" The pattern for the last couple of weeks has been to read and reply to blogs, work on my own, view various websites etc. Gradually the realisation came that I've been spending more time on the net than with Him. I then felt him quite clearly say "Come and spend lunchtime with Me".

See you all later then, I've got an appointment.

Tuesday, 19 August 2003

And now, the time has come.....

To go to bed.

Went out tonight for what was advertised as a 'fast ride' with the 1XV. I wasn't disappointed: 18 miles offroad in an hour and 25 mins. Boy wonder (otherwise known as Ben, except on a bike he can fly) came too, and was up there all the time. Darned good, as it's only his 3rd serious ride this year.

Think I'm an adrenaline junky - some of the fast swoopy rooty trails above Wendover were just fantastic, and the final descent into the town was dusty and incredibly fast. Excellent.

I'm just grateful God's given me the strength to enjoy this sort of stuff still. 42 and larking about on a mountainbike like a kid. Or best of all, with one of my kids.


I'm honoured. Despite the dubious temporary decor, Randall's Been kind enough to link me from his blog. Hope I can live up to it now.

Thoughts on teenage angst.

Chris and I were talking this morning about something close to our hearts - teenage girls getting depressed. There seems to be a general attitude of expectancy about teenagers getting depressed. They just do: it's all part of the moody hormonal thing.

Well I'm not so sure any more. Over the last couple of years we have come across teenage girls that have suffered serious depression along with self-harming, loss of apetite, attempted suicides, gross behavioural change, failure to sleep and all the other unpleasant things that go with it. The common feature seems to have been juvenile first sexual experience.

Now, we don't have extensive experience of this, but it's been common enough for us to start wondering about a correlation. Obviously we don't know all the details of those girls that aren't suffering depression, but, as parents, it's certainly made us wonder. I'm not certain that males are free of this either, but the teenage male psyche handles these things differently.

This isn't what I'd expected.

Thoughts and ideas to blog seem to be transient, rather than solid. Things that I feel should be posted seem to dash across my mind, like someone who's taken a shower, only to remember that their clothes are in the room across a corridor, and has to get from one to the other without being seen.

Actually it's quite a good analogy, because often what I think isn't entirely suitable for public airing. Not that I'm necessarily 'thinking dirty' (happens now and again though ;-) but they may be linked to people's personal situations, and this isn't meant to be voyuerism.

This site is going to be changing, both in appearence and accessories. Once I've gathered the tools, I'll be adding a comments facility, possibly a counter (although I'm inclined to believe they're rather sad - if you need to know how many people read your blog then you're either running it for a purpose apart from blogging, or you're an egotist. Or both). Once I get to grips with the template then I'll tweek appearances, add more links, things of interest. Or if I decide this is a waste of time then I'll just kill it.

Monday, 18 August 2003

The end of the first day.

And God saw what I'd made was.... a bit of a mess.

Well, the end of the first day of blog. Knackered now, thanks to running the family round, cooking dinner, then starting on the bike to fix a puncture only to discover cables needing replacing. All a bit imperative with a 1XV ride tomorrow evening.

Just been asked by Chris “why DO you have to use that computer every day”? The answer “because I’m like that” didn’t go down well. Romance is alive and well in the Ertl household then. Lets see what God has for us tomorrow…..
Well, it's a new day and a new blog. Only time will tell if I write complete and utter rubbish or publish anything useful or interesting.