Friday, June 30, 2006

Patrick and Canary Wharf...

Canary wharf and its towers dominate us, where-ever you look there is Canary wharf winking at you. I had a jumble pick up to do on the Isle of Dogs. "Pat do you fancy a ride?"

Off we pop, Patrick's chuntering amusing me as we travel. Everyone his cousin as he waves with indiscrimant enthusiasm. On the way back I ask Patrick if he had ever driven around Canary Wharf.

"no sir"

So a slight de-tour and we are driving through the financial might. Patrick was dumb-struck, stretching his neck to take in the sky-scrappers in abject awe.

Almost in a hushed whisper he says with out taking his eyes off the towers.

"Who put these here?"

Apparently the Canary Wharf developmnent passed Patrick by!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The attraction of love in action...

so often there are many words, but little in terms of a lifestyle that reflects the values of the kingdom and a service that exhibits God's great love for humanity. It is of little wonder that, for many, Christianity is not all that attractive.

Charles Ringma reminds us that
"All through God's long march with humanity it is evident that God wanted to bring salvation and wholeness to humankind and to call into being a people who would reflect the grace and goodness of God. This comes to particular fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, and faithful servant of the kingdom of God, proclaims good news, heals the sick, and becomes the hope of the poor. In his life and ministry we gain a window into the heart of God and a visible demonstration of what God's kingdom concerns are all about."
Building on Mother Teresa's observation , "people are attracted by what they see rather than by what they hear" Ringma challenges :-
"so often there are many words, but little in terms of a lifestyle that reflects the values of the kingdom and a service that exhibits God's great love for humanity. It is of little wonder that, for many, Christianity is not all that attractive.

Our world is tired of words, particularly of cliched religious answers and empty political promises. But what is winsome and attractive is love in action. A love spawned by God that sweeps us up in its intensity and transformative power and, as such, so captivates us that we begin to live this love in serving others. This is powerfully attractive."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Brazilians and selfish high expectations...

I had an interesting experience at Ashburnham yesterday.

In some free time I took myself off for a wander and heard screams and shouts from the library. I looked in and there were 8 Brazilian be-decked in flags, bandana's and Ronaldinho replica shirts watching the Brazil Ghana game.

I took a back seat and sat back and watched the game with them. It wasn't long before they were moaning and berating their team. Huffing and puffing, pointing their fingers. Their shouts of criticism knew no bounds! I looked on in disbelief as they relegated Ronaldinho, Kaka, Ronaldo and co to a level that I recognised of not even our current English team - remember Carlton Palmer, Geoff Thomas and Gary Stevens?
Unbelievable - this was Brazil! and even on an off day there was enough about them to instill fear into anyone. If they want to know what inebt underachieveable football is like they should try putting themselves in my shoes!! I looked on and wondered whether expectations too high can be crippling in their selfishness?

My expectations of retreat were more realistic this year and I really enjoyed everything that was on offer. I also enjoyed being part of the Brazilian celebrations!

Monday, June 26, 2006


I am here for a couple of days on a retreat - it is supposed to be good for me!

Anyway hoping for some good conversations with people - starting with Bram as we drive down the A22!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Come Clean...

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts... (James 4:8)

Jonny's latest worship trick is fun.
With all the talk over at theRubicon about blessing, obedience, 'sins in the camp' confession and revival it could be a useful international tool! Ok theologically flawed - careful what you write the slate is always there to haunt you - but fun.

It reminded me of a Youth Retreat I led where I got everyone to write on their hands regrets that they wanted to let go of by washing their hands in a bowl of water. TIP: check the pens you use are not indelible!! Lots of people walked around that weekend with their hands in their pockets!!

Go and confess here.

Friday, June 23, 2006

We are not Perfect []

"The Salvation Army is not perfect, never has been and never will be. There was no 'golden age' when we got it all right, nor will there be again. The dream of copying what we once were to become again what we once were just cannot be realised. The once and future Army is a myth...."
Grant Sandercock-Brown on takes a candid look into SA history - here and seems to have ruffled a few feathers! Whether historically accurate or not he ironically mirrors Catherine Booth's point about historical naval gazing in 'Aggressive Christianity':-
"While the gospel message is laid down with unerring exactness, we are left at perfect freedom to adapt our measures and modes of bringing it to bear upon men to the circumstances, times and conditions in which we live ... Adapt your measures to your circumstances and to the necessities of the times in which you live." (Catherine Booth 1880)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Patrick might have a point ...!

Patrick and I stop walking, he looks at me kindly and says, "Perhaps it is you that needs the social worker!!!"

Patrick was in a flap, he was to see his social worker but it seemed that there was an appointment clash with the boiler maintenance people coming to look at Patrick's boiler. So I walk with Patrick to re-arrange his appointment. I try to clarify the situation as we walk.

"So Patrick the boiler men are coming tomorrow?"


"I thought you said they were coming tomorrow"

"No - I'm meeting Rachel tomorrow ...!"

"So why am I coming to re-arrange the appointment?"

"I don't know!"

"So the boiler people aren't coming tomorrow?"


"So what are we doing now!"

"I don't know!"

Patrick and I stop walking, he looks at me kindly and says, "Perhaps it is you that needs the social worker!!!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Can you help...?

Frankie Ward is doing a paper with Elaine Graham and Heather Walton at the British and Irish Association of Practical Theology conference and is doing some research on the theme of theological reflection. She would like to do something at the conference on blogging as a method of theological reflection.

You can help by tackling these questions and emailing it to Frankie at Don't forget to let them know where you blog.
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. What got you started?
3. Do you have a history of diary/journal/log writing beforehand?
4. How in your own mind do you negotiate the boundary between private and public? E.g. are there things that you would not put on your blog that you would put in a journal?
5. How do you decide? What criteria do you use for inclusion/exclusion?
6. How much time, on average, do you spend blogging each day or week?
7. How many other people do you actively engage with – e.g. are part of your blog community?
8. Who is your readership – literally; as far as you know?
9. and metaphorically? Do you imagine someone to whom you write/with whom you engage?
10. What counts as successful blogging?
11. What does blogging offer as a method of theological reflection?
a. Its opportunities
b. Its draw backs
12. What potential do you see for blogging as a method of theological reflection?
13. Do you know of examples of theological education programmes where students are required to keep a learning journal and blog as a form of journal?
14. Blogging and gender: do you think gender makes any difference to any of the above questions?
Pass it on if you feel inclined? Heh you may even get cited!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Salvation...

"Christ is the deliverer for time as truly as well as for eternity.... He is come to open the prison doors. He is come to set men free from their bonds. He is indeed the Saviour of the world!" (William Booth 1889).
Ray Harris (TP in Canada) once said your 'understanding of mission will only be as wide as your understanding of salvation'. Thinking about 'Lost Themes of Mission' I remembered in the early days of URBANarmy trying to explore this and discovering the danger of watering down Salvation. I also remember taking a bit of minor yet friendly stick for it - even being labeled a heretic ;o)!!!

Stumbling into bechurch shortly afterwards I read these thoughts…

"a friend of mine asked me a few months ago something that I've really been wrestling with for a while. It has to do with salvation and the common evangelical understanding of it. (belief in Jesus = Salvation and Righteousness.... No belief in Jesus = Condemnation and Hell)"

"Now.... I totally agree with that definition, but after really wrestling with the following question for a bit I think that I am starting to see that God's view of salvation is probably just a little more complex and less formulaic than the reader's digest version that we throw around in the evangelical church. I still believe that the reader's digest version is true, but I think there is also much more depth and richness to the gospel than we often realise."

He took a bit of a thumping, however, has our understanding of salvation been narrowed to the point whereby we have lost the profoundness of the fullness of Salvation? As evangelicals we seem to be red hot on the '‘pardon from God'’ aspect of salvation – but speak out aspects of wholeness; healing; community; liberation; sufficiency; fullness of life etc.. in the same breath as Salvation and I'm afraid you'’ll draw '‘wooly liberal'’ glances quickly followed by quick condemnation and dismissal. It leaves me thinking why has this aspect of Salvation become a negotiable?
Since writing that a couple of years ago I have found myself discovering more and more depth to what we understand as Salvation. Bruggemann reminds us that:-
"The primal story line of the Old Tesatament is a sequence of events through which YHWH intervenes in the life of Israel in order to effect rescue, deliverance and emancipation. These actions are nameable, concrete and decisively transformative and are termed salvationÂ… this language bespeaks transformative power of immense proportion so that salvation can also be understood as a victory over negating powers a that are now defeated by the greater power of YHWH....Salvation is deliverance from any and every circumstance or any negative power that prevents full, joyous communal existence. Anything that precludes a full life that reflects the saving one that in the past , can always and will in the future overcome every impediment to well-being."
Jurgen Moltmann also points to an encourages a wide view of Salvation. He writes,
"Salvation does not mean merely salvation of the soul, individual rescue from the evil of the world, comfort to the troubled conscience, but also the realization of the eschatological hope of justice, the humanizing of man, the socializing of humanity, peace for all creation"
The Lausanne covenant includes the following statement:
'“The Salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities.'
Dion Oxford in a recent article - Redemptive Theology of Salvation - (here) on theRubicon talks about William Booth's 'second conversion' and how he developed a new and broader understanding of Salvation. He started his ministry with the single goal of saving souls, later in his ministry he realized that Salvation had a social dimension as well. Roger Greens book on William Booth - The Life And Ministry Of William Booth: Founder Of The Salvation Army - talks about Booth's "Turning Points".

Dion points to an article Booth wrote called 'Salvation for Both Worlds'”
"Christ is the deliverer for time as truly as well as for eternity. He is the Joshua who leads men in our own day out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, as His forerunner did the children of Israel thousands of years ago. He is the Messiah who brings glad tidings! He is come to open the prison doors. He is come to set men free from their bonds. He is indeed the Saviour of the world!"” (William Booth 1889).
It is interesting that as the church has been persuing Salvation for individuals that the sense of Salvation for social structures have become an unnecessary distraction another lost theme of mission as it has become a negotiable. Certainly NT Wright had some interesting comments regards to what has shaped our theology of Salvation - but that'll have to wait!!
Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...
Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

NT Wright and I...!

It was lunch time. I with some friends had made our way to Birmingham to hear NT Wright, Bishop of Durham speak on Mission in a Pagan World. I'd watched as people sidled up to NT Wright over coffee and lunch for a 'one on one' or made a bee-line for a conversation - I wished I'd enough nerve. My head was full of questions from trying to work through the whirlwind of his utter theological depth.
"We need to re-think our orthodoxy .... used the bible to prop up a dualistic soteriolgy ... we've colluded with dualism for far too long ... ticking doctrinal boxes without the narrative we've managed to turn a dot to dot picture of an elephant into a camel ... judgement is Gods fulfillment through Christ to put the world to right ... we've allowed 19th Gnosticism found in our old hymns shape our theology ... it is time for Orthodox Christianity to re-claim the high ground ... salvation is to do with this world ... Jesus had them by the short hairs!!"
... I was aware that NT Wright was making a bee-line for me. This great mind was striding towards me, his hand outstretched, a smile on his faced married to a look of recognition.

Suddenly I was aware that NT Wright was making a bee-line for me. This great mind was striding towards me, his hand outstretched, a smile on his faced married to a look of recognition. "Salvation Army! great to see you .... we've met before haven't we?"

Everything within me wanted to scream 'yes' and then start a great conversation about the renaissance of Gnosticism in contemporary Christianity, but as he shook my hand I had to admit "I'm afraid not!"

Are you sure? Where have you come from?

"The Eastend of London... Poplar - I also teach Mission at TSA training college" I add hopefully.

"No I don't think I have, have I?"


He smiled

"It is good to meet you now... keep the teaching up ...well done"

That was the end of my audience! The renaissance of Gnosticism in contemporary Christianity debate will have to wait!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Gospel of Love...

Charles Ringma quoting Mother Teresa reminds us,
"So tender is his love that he will never force himself upon us.. . rather, he draws a soul, God lifts a soul."
He carries on:
"It is sad to hear that some people think God is really oppressive and dictatorial, and that in the final analysis, God is all about control. It is even sadder when in probing the reasons for this perspective of God, we hear that this has been gained from a reading of the 'history of Christianity'. The Christian church has not always reflected God's peaceable kingdom."

"... It is in the babe of Bethlehem and in the man, Christ Jesus, that we see God's desire to reconcile, forgive, heal, and make whole. The whole gospel story is a story of this gentleness. There is no coercion, only love. There is no force, only love. Jesus did not demand. He welcomed. He invited. He embraced. He forgave. He healed. He set people free."

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:4)

Not a bad measuring stick to keep our expression of mission accountable to!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup big screen

Someone in Canary Wharf had a great idea. "Let's put up a big screen so that people can come and watch the World Cup for free and enjoy a bit of atmosphere!" I heard the first Costa Rican goal from our garden and thought I'd go along at some point. What a great idea.

Unfortunately whoever had the great idea didn't count on the fact that it would act as a magnet for mindless thugs content only with causing discontent for others. 200 people were involved in a alcohol fuelled, bottle throwing mass brawl - read about it here.

So well done to everyone who managed to spoil it for everyone else - because the screen just sits there now waiting to be used for Wimbledon coverage.

Female Ministry (1859) ...

"'Let your women keep silence in the Churches,' has resulted in more loss to the Church, evil to the world, and dishonour to God... "
Here is an on-line copy of Catherine Booth's essay on Female Ministry (1859). I wonder what she would write today?

Sacramental Living .... Ray Harris

Ray Harris is the Training Principal, St. John’s CFOT (Canada), he has written a piece on Sacramental Living (here) which gives a look at TSA and the Sacraments. (Thanks Steve)

Two points of interest for me:

He talks of "traditioning a text" for instance New Testament scholar Luke Timothy Johnson’s comments:
“The account of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples has had such an obvious and overwhelming importance for the Christian community…. [However,] Christian liturgical practice is not based directly on this text but rather on a complex development of ritual traditions that look back to the Gospels only for legitimation after the fact.”
In other words through constant reflection the church has developed their implications for sacraments.

I also found Lars Lydholm's observation interesting:
“at a time where the discussion of the two sacramental signs [baptism and the Eucharist] threatened to ‘block the way’ to the one true sacrament—Jesus Christ―the Army ceased practising the two sacramental signs…. But it never stopped proclaiming and giving witness in word and deed to God’s one true sacrament—Jesus Christ.”
I didn't want to lose the article!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Jubilee...

Jubilee should be something that shapes our understanding of mission - but I sometimes wonder if we are too busy singing songs or looking at cool video loops backed by Coldplay

Bruggemann (2002) (Reverberations of Faith: A Theological Handbook of Old Testament Themes) draws attention to the biblical concept of Jubilee, a radical ethical-economic practice sanctioned for Israel to curb greed, exploitation and the whole rapaciousness of society where the rich get richer at the expense of the poor. The general idea was that every fifty years the people were to: release all debts; set slaves free; let the lands lie fallow, and lands were to be returned to their original (and rightful) owners.

This certainly sounds like good news to the poor. Disappointing then that Old Testament scholars suggest that it never actually happened. I was disappointed but found myself drawn to what was however God's intention for humanity.
  • The idea of Jubilee recognised that a major source of fragmentation in society was the propensity for greed that condones and encourages the rich to get richer and for the poor to get poorer.
  • The idea of Jubilee recognised this greed in society is unjust and should therefore be curtailed.
  • The idea of Jubilee recognised God's concern for the poor.
  • The idea of Jubilee recognised where the cause of poverty is injustice, charity is not enough.
  • The idea of Jubilee recognised God's plan for reparation or restoration of righteousness or fairness

Kraybill (1990) observes:
In true biblical fashion, the Jubilee integrates spiritual and social dimensions. It weaves religion and economics into one fabric. Pulling the two apart prostitutes the biblical truth. Refusing to participate in the economic turnover constitutes flagrant disobedience. (Kraybill 1990)

Kraybill, D (1990) The Upside-down kingdom. Herald
Jesus demonstrated a new way of living, 'disclosed God's social habits!' and it seems to me that Jubilee was a strong theme to that life. Bruggemann draws parallels with the ministry of 'Lukan' Jesus enacting the jubilee. Jubilee should be something that shapes our understanding of mission - but I sometimes wonder if we are too busy singing songs or looking at cool video loops backed by Coldplay.

Jubilee 2000 held great potential; Make Poverty History (or in Poplar Salvation ARmy's highly successful tributary campaign - Make Povery History) was also well supported by churches but whether we can say that Jubilee is foundation to mission, whether we can say that Jubilee is shaping our understanding of our role as church - I'm not convinced.

By and large I wonder if the theme of Jubilee is as lost as it was in the non-practice of Jubilee in the Old Testamant. Shame!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Marcus and Victor...

I was disappointed today. Marcus came in to let us know that the homeless guy also known as Marcus that was found dead in a local canal wasn't in fact him! I was disappointed because I didn't get to see him. I was disappointed because I don't think I have ever seen him sober. I was disappointed that I didn't see the look on his face when he told people he'd been dry for 10 days. I was disappointed because I would have liked to have been like the others who didn't recognise him. Bram got to see him and promises to blog later. (here)

On the other hand I did sit on the bench with Victor. Apparently he has given up on colour, but still struggles with black and white - so he might have a few problems ahead! I asked him what he was going to do if he couldn't do black and white but was adamant to give colour a miss? He just smiled and gave me a "don't worry - you don't understand" look!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I am not jealous ... honest!

John Murray was a team mate in the university 1st XI (this was Lampeter before anyone is unduly impressed), he was a great house mate, a great mate, my best man at our wedding.

I thought of my mate John today while I was strumming and preaching at church today! I thought of John being paid to commentate his way through the World Cup. Poor John I guess someone has to do it!

Ok I am not jealous, or remotely bitter! To be honest I'd rather be trying to fix the toilets at the hall after the service than being paid to watch football!

Really who could think of anything worse! Please remember John - it must be truly terrible!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Lost for words...

Our daughter Eryn (6) wakes up on holiday in tears. She shouts across the tent "Mum I've got a splinter in my finger".

Kate replies "which finger sweetheart?"

There was a slight pause while Eryn thought it through how to describe the finger...

"My swearing finger...!"

Personally I blame the mother!


BTW - she assures us she doesn't use it as such!!

Friday, June 09, 2006

"I've not been to church before what do I have to do...?"

My heart was pounding my mouth was dry. I was in an aisle in the supermarket that I rarely feel the need to venture -Female Hygiene.

Minutes earlier I was leaving the house simply to buy an innocuous pint of milk and bread - but then Kate called out with a request. I probably need to explain that my childhood was dominated by older brothers and a menopausal mother - 'women's things' weren't to be found in the house!
"I find the aisle then I stand in front of a myriad of choice - this is getting painful."

I walk to the supermarket repeating in my mind what my mission entailed. It couldn't be that difficult surely. I find the aisle then I stand in front of a myriad of choice - this is getting painful. Finally I stretch and make a selection surreptitiously sticking it in the basket under the milk and bread, pay and walk home.


Walking home in palpable relief I think back to a conversation that I had with someone who came to church the other week. I think back to his discomfort, his shifting nervousness, his bobbing throat with a bouncing knee tick - "what do I-I do? I've not been to church before w-w-what do I have to do...?" How'd we manage to make the image of church something so alien that people feel like I do when I am in the Female Hygiene aisle?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lost Themes of Mission - Agape...

Agape speaks of a love that exceeds passion, friendship and benevolence. Agape speaks of a love that goes beyond self yet is more than an unselfish feeling. Agape speaks of a love that acts. Agape speaks of a love that loves unlovables.

Catherine Booth – writing in an era of wanton nominalism and 'run wild' philanthropy talks of 'sham compassion' and 'spurious charity'. Her use of words 120 odd years ago has had me ruminating over what 'spurious charity' might look like.

Mission surely is more than just an act of charity, or perhaps something is lost in the nuance of the contemporary use of both words - mission and charity? Caritas in the vulgate is translated from Agape love (1Co 13:13). Agape speaks of unconditional love an attribute God'’s own heart, a kingdom value. Agape speaks of a love that exceeds passion, friendship and benevolence. Agape speaks of a love that goes beyond self yet is more than an unselfish feeling. Agape speaks of a love that acts. Agape speaks of a love that loves unlovables. Charity - or Mission for that matter - without agape certainly is spurious!

Reflecting on Good Samaritan and Prodigal Son -– Kraybill explores what it is to love your neighbour and gives insights to Agape as a theme of mission.
  • Agape is indiscriminate -– love beyond discrimination without obligation without lines of responsibility and exclusion and responds to persons not social categories.
  • Agape is bold -– suspends social norms, ecclesiastical norms which justify callous disinterest by penetrating social barricades that hide people in prisons, hospitals, addiction centres and ghettos of all sorts.
  • Agape is inconvenient, risky, takes time, expensive, jeopardizes social status
  • Agape is courageous and aggressive, more than warm fuzzy feelings, more than good attitudes towards others. It doesn'’t stop with sweet smiles.
  • Agape captures the significance of Love your neighbour (Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:28-31; Lk 10:25-27)
"Jesus modelled agape. He embodied it by being an advocate for the poor. He violated civil and religious laws in the face of human need. His words and deeds insulted the rich and powerful. They didn'’t think he was loving. He championed the downtrodden, the outcasts, and the oppressed even when his behaviour created a ruckus" (Kraybill)
Kraybill, D (1990) The Upside-down kingdom. Herald

Mission without agape certainly is spurious, for mission without agape is mission without the kingdom.

Lost Themes of Mission - Holiness...
Lost Themes of Mission - Righteousness...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The windows are boarded up now...

"now I was hearing Shaggy's story of revenge and vegeance..."

Most of last week all the windows of Shaggy's rather violent arch enemy were smashed in, curtains left to float in the breeze....

It all started last Thursday before youth club.

"But you don't know it was me" Shaggy was staggering, pointing a bloody a hand at me, blood still pouring from a cut that really needed medical attention. In his other hand a large incriminating stick!

Minutes before I walked in on the scene. Going to youth club I saw Shaggy's dog first, then the blood, then Roz our youth worker trying to bandage his hand. I took over so that Roz could get youth club started and now I was hearing Shaggy's story of revenge and vegeance. I look at the drunken Shaggy and then up to the windows.

I sigh, point up at the flat opposite and shout "What good has that achieved?"

He grunts at me as I sit down "Did you see me do it..."


"aha how'd you know it was me...?"

I look at the spot of blood on my new shirt, the blood still dripping from his hand, the stick.

"I don't know Shaggy, call it intuition...!"

He swears obscenities at me as he staggers away down the street. The dog gets up, gives me a look of apology and follows his master.

That was last week - the windows are boarded up now. We wait for the fall out as the revenge rolls on.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Make the choice to stop the traffik...

The Salvation Army is launching a campaign ahead of June’s World Cup to make travelling fans aware of the issue of human trafficking.

It is estimated that up to 40,000 women could be brought into Germany to work as prostitutes during the World Cup, in order to accommodate the huge influx of demand experts anticipate will be generated by male fans attending the games. Thousands of these women are expected to be illegally trafficked.

get the eflier here

Maureen's savings...

Maureen has been really settled recently, there was a time when we could do nothing right but recently she has been really happy.

Why is it that there are people who think it is okay to target old people, gain access to their homes by prentending to be workmen and then think it is okay to steal that persons jewelry and holiday savings?

Maureen was 'done' two days before she was to go on holiday.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Beauty of Dorset...

Back safe and sound from Dorset.

Fossil hunting along the Jurassic Coast. Tandem riding (again) with Bethan. Crabbing along the quay at Poole. A morning at Durdle Door, an afternoon eating seafood at Lulworth Cove. Monkey World. Walks along the Castlmann Trail and lots of reading was really restful.

But I wouldn't have missed Patrick 'singing' in church this morning for the world. Or Victor's weekly encouragement of my guitar playing "the last one was alright, really uplifting ... the rest were rubbish!"

Always good to get away ... always good to get back. Dorset is beautiful but Poplar will always have a beauty for me. I spent quite sometime thinking we move on next month - this is the last time we come back to Poplar from holiday :o(