Thursday, 22 April 2021

You know you're getting old when....

Recent musical releases sound annoying. 

A friend wanted me to listen to a couple of Justin Bieber tracks, and while there was lots of meaning in the lyrics, the 'music' was not something I would choose to listen to. There's a new UK musical star - Arlo Parks - getting some radio play, but although she sounds lovely in interviews, her vocal style is like fingernails on a blackboard in terms of setting my feelings on edge. 

No doubt Led Zeppelin were the same to my parents generation. 

I have a feeling I'm being quietly dropped from church music teams. Once that would have been disappointing but now it may actually be a relief, not to have to listen or play stuff designed to draw emotions put all the time. Some years ago I was trying to keep up with current worship stuff and had a couple of albums by Paul something - Glorious and The Same Love - that were so transparent in their intent and lack of originality that it really started me questioning what was going on with the worship business. If worship has gone mainstream, mediocrity has flowed back up the channel.

Monday, 29 March 2021

Sometimes you need a sense of humour

We are due an unseasonal heatwave in the next few days leading up to Easter. However good Friday will be cool and bank holiday Monday just 8 degrees and raining. 


Thursday, 25 March 2021

Anyone fancy an Italian ruin?

 Saw this place up near lake Como:

The heart goes "Mmmmmm, YES!"

Head not *quite* so convinced!

I could imagine spending 2 X the purchase price bringing it up to scratch, perhaps more.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

The jab jabbed.

 So we both had our vaccinations around 5.50pm this evening. Astra-Zeneca/Oxford vaccine, no side effects so far. It was run like a military style campaign, although being British, the instructions mentioned a requirement to bring a mask and the vaccination registration number but failed to make clear the need for our NHS numbers (sorted, but even so..... ).The innoculation itself was barely noticeable, so fine was the needle - the bad old days of vaccine emulsion being given through a large bore needle seem long gone, and I'm sure this was *mostly* saline solution.

Hopefully my friends can get theirs soon too.

Now we wait until June for stage 2, but the way things are going in Europe right now, I doubt we'll be travelling much this year, let alone looking at houses. Presently there are no plans for a holiday, and we'll just wait & see what becomes possible, if anything at all.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

We have our dates for vaccination

 How tempting it was to write vaccilation (even if it's not spelt correctly).

Anyway, yay us. Later this month, then June for the follow-up dose. Perhaps we WILL manage to get away at some stage this year, not that there aren't more important things, but that would be nice.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Thoughts on Europe and language

Sometimes it's important to write the words we say - talking to other people about going to a hookah bar with a friend can be 'open to interpretation'.

On a different side, we're starting to see an exodus of Brits from Europe. I've been looking at houses in France, Spain, Italy and Greece since October. Previously very few were obviously British owned, but now there are many with English language posters, throws, etc and even the general decor and style of the places is quite different from local tastes. In the case of the nicer (i.e. not semi-derelict) houses you can tell after just 3 or 4 interior shots, even without the written clues.

Without residency, Brits can only stay 90 days out of 180, and I suspect a lot are selling up and moving back. 

Thursday, 4 February 2021

Myanmar blocks Facebook for 'stability'.

Was a headline that came up on my phone from the BBC news website this morning. It feels like many western countries could learn from this otherwise troubled state in that area.

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Borrowed, but funny

 Now that I've lived through a real plague, I understand why rennaisance paintings are full of obese, naked people laying around on couches.

Monday, 1 February 2021

So much futility

This Wednesday the church house group are going to watch a video on mission. If people are excited about God then they'll talk about Him, and if they aren't then all the pushing, prodding and guilting in the world won't make them want to. I really want to just go find a church that builds people up & lets them get on with it.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

What a range.

I have the BBC weather app monitoring a range of different places. Wetaskiwin in Canada is presently at -20 degrees, while Anjuna in Goa is at 32 degrees. Somehow Britain manages to sit somewhere in between, like it does in so many ways: from where I'm sat in the lab I can see melt water dripping from a partially snow covered roof.

It makes me think of the quote about being neither hot nor cold and being spat out, which of course has nothing to do with temperature or weather, and was entirely specific to that location.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

There is a sense of futility

That recalcitrant computer systems generate. We come to rely on their behaving in a consistent manner, when experience tells us they are rather less reliable than the laws of gravity. It's like your desk eating pages from documents and books or rearranging piles of papers.

I'm not referring to my own computer at home but rather to those for work, where drive letters frequently change, access to folders on a virtual desktop is revoked or the folder content disappears. I'm reminded of a biblical expression, likening Egypt to a reed, splintering and wounding the user when they lean on it. Hard to know if it's a testimony to man's endurance or stupidity, refusing to learn.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Life, it seems, goes on.

 And having written that, it's hard to know what to say next, other than "I'm still here".

We seem to have remained covid-free, although we both know some individuals who've had it. Chris has been working from home, and while I've been going in as normal, we're all masked up, distanced, have perspex shields in the office areas etc. In the latest form of lockdown Chris and I don't drive distances for walks, but we have still been managing to get out into the waterlogged landscape.

The tiny cluster of churches we're involved in are having a 'review' with the idea of seeing what needs strengthening, what needs fixing and what's healthy. I don't want to talk about that specifically, other than it has helped crystalise my thoughts that, more than almost anything, a church needs someone who is able to lead well in charge. So many churches shrink, crumble, fail through inadequate leadership that it now seems to be an almost un-predictable lottery in the type of church to which I am accustomed. At one time I'd have said that all the training given in seminary was to enable someone to lead a church when the Holy Spirit wasn't around, but now I seriously wonder if it's both to equip the able and weed out the unsuitable. Having shed quite a few tears over my failure to lead a church well, I hope I've a little better understanding now.

In a lighter frame of mind, we've been considering trying to buy a house in Europe - UK house prices are quite ridiculously high, while in several European countries they're relatively depressed. Plus it would provide a little toe hold on the continent for this Austrian to have a reason to remain one.

It's definitely been an interesting exploration, seeing how different nations and even different sections of nations are when they're at home! At the 'poor' end of the market, the Spanish tend to be both fussy and slightly austere at the same time, the Italians inclined to make stylistically bold and unfortunate choices (and houses built 1950s to 1990s are generally unattractive). The Greeks value their ruins quite highly, and the place is generally more expensive than one would expect, though we have slightly fallen in love with one house up in the mountains north of Kalamata. Of all the races, the French seem to be the best, with the tidiest, most practical and generally attractive houses even when they're of modern construction. 

A factor influencing any choices is, quelle surprise, language. I can manage a bit of Greek (and read the alphabet) a smidge of German and a touch of French (no Spanish or Italian, though I'd learn). Chris is French only (much better than me) but not really happy to live somewhere that would be outside either that or English, though the Greeks would probably be fine with that!

Another factor, as we creak around the place these days, is how many floors is acceptable. I've seen some FANTASTIC places in France and Italy on 4 levels, but the thought of all those stairs is somewhat unappealing. Spain seemed to be best off for bungalows, but they all looked like they were breeze-block and whitewash construction. 

The reality is we almost certainly won't buy another house anywhere else, one being enough trouble on its own, but the research has been very informative.