When I tell you that the most exciting thing that has happened this week is that I had my hair cut on Friday, that will give you some idea of the sort of week it has been. Virtually nothing to tell you as it has been routine stuff almost entirely.
I did spend a fair bit of time midweek getting the Easter edition of the Old Warden News typed up, formatted and ready for publication and this will now be out in the village within a few days. More soup was consumed on Wednesday at the Northill Lent Lunch. These are gong great guns and have raised over £200 already for Christian Aid. A Northill PCC meeting followed on Wednesday evening, which, at least, saved me from having to watch Liverpool lose yet again to Real Madrid and go out of the Champions League. After the glory of our win over Manchester United we are back to how we have been for nearly all of the season. In a couple of words, desperately average. We'll see how we get on against Fulham this afternoon.
No doubt the Castle will soon be a hive of activity as preparations for tomorrow, Mothering Sunday, are due to begin at any moment. I'll look forward to seeing you all then.
Stay safe and well everyone.
The Benefice Service last Sunday was very well attended and I continued my Lent sermons looking at the three Temptations of Jesus in the wilderness and thinking of them in terms of the ministry that Jesus was about to embark upon. Episode three will follow tomorrow. A good start to Sunday then and the day just got better and better. I haven't mentioned football much in the last few months as Liverpool have had a truly dreadful season compared to recent ones, but much was put right by our best performance of the season and a total demolition of Manchester United 7-0 (yes you did read that correctly) at Anfield. Only because I had some sort of phone malfunction and text messages didn't come in until much later in the evening, I was very restrained and kind to Ray, as a Christian should be. I did, however, manage to get WhatsApp messages ok and these were flying backwards and forwards between Caldecote, Spain and Belfast as the members of the ASLSC were to be found at the furthest ends of the earth, but still enjoying ourselves hugely.
Talking of Spain the Tall Churchwarden has been sunning herself there since last Sunday. I received a message from Spain to tell me that she was reading a book in which there was an All Saints Church and the Vicar was a keen birdwatcher and, I quote, "dull as ditchwater." Sigh. Sob. I shall pass no further comment.
My elation didn't last that long though, as suddenly the weather turned arctic and I really do not like the snow and the cold. Very quickly I was wishing that I was in Spain where I was smugly informed that the temperatures were in the low 20s. More sighing and sobbing followed. This did however bring a lot of bird activity to the Castle Grounds. Here is a Greenfinch struggling to have his breakfast in a blizzard.
The real birding action was not here though but in Cranfield where a pair of Waxwings have delighted hundreds of people all week.
Just amazingly exotic looking birds.
The rest of the week has been fairly standard, with Lent stuff happening and a visit to the opticians on Thursday. Many of you will know my optician, Bob Furnell, whom we have been praying for recently, and I learnt from his daughter that he is doing well now after a very major operation. We send him and his family our love.
Stay well and safe everyone.
I know it is Lent and that Spring must be on the way as I am eating soup for lunch on Wednesdays again at Northill Lent Lunch. Lunch is served on the Wednesdays of Lent at 12:30pm in the Church Hall, Sand Lane and money is raised from this for Christian Aid. Do come along if you can, you would be very welcome.
There are also increasing signs of Spring in the Castle grounds. Bulbs are coming through and it looks like I will have daffodils in bloom very soon, amidst the snowdrops that are looking wonderful. The Churchyard at All Saints is also beginning to look lovely once again, which is so good to see and that is largely down to so much hard work that was done there last year.
This morning I watched this rather handsome Carrion Crow systematically destroy part of my mock-orange bush, as he went back and forth carrying twigs obviously intent on nest building.
Apart from some Lent stuff it has been a fairly routine week in the Parish. On Monday night I had an important meeting with the six Churchwardens of the Benefice, as we tried to look ahead to the time when I will not be around and I was able to give them a certain amount of information about things they will need to deal with and be aware of during the interregnum. Over the next period of time, please remember them all daily in your prayers, as they carry a lot of responsibility and will have much to do to keep the Benefice running smoothly.
Tomorrow is the First Sunday of March and so we will celebrate the Second Sunday of Lent with a Benefice Service at Old Warden at 10:00 am. I'll see you there.
Stay well and safe everyone.
Thankfully I am much improved on last week and more or less over my second bout of Covid. Wasn't very pleasant for a couple of days, but apart from terminal tiredness and a few sniffles I am fine again, testing negative and have been able to back at work since Tuesday. On Tuesday morning I was thankfully ok to be part of an interment of ashes at our church, the first thing I had been able to do for almost a week. Thank you to everyone for all the messages of care and support that I received, they were hugely appreciated and meant a lot. I really am grateful.
On my own behalf and I am sure I speak for all of you in thanking the two Churchwardens for taking over last Sunday. From all I hear, mainly from them :-), they did a wonderful job, as they always do.
Lent began for us all on Wednesday as we celebrated Ash Wednesday with all the usual ceremonies at our Benefice Service in the evening. The count down to Easter has now started. I hope and pray that you will all have a good and holy Lent. Because I was off for a few days, it meant quite a lot of catching up was needed, which I have been doing for most of the week.
During the week a friend sent me the following photo.
There can't be too many Benefices in the country where you can be out for a walk and come across one of these! I'll leave you with a couple of snaps I took in the Castle grounds recently
Common birds but still lovely to see. I'm looking forward to being with you again tomorrow. Please remember that on 5th March there will be not service at our church but a Benefice Service at Old Warden.
Stay well and safe everyone!
Lightning has struck twice. I tested positive for Covid on Thursday morning, which was the last thing I needed and is so frustrating. Have had a couple of rough days but feel a bit better this morning thankfully. Still testing positive though, so I won't be with you in church tomorrow. As ever, the wonderful Churchwardens will look after you. I am hoping that I will be negative and fine by Wednesday for the Ash Wednesday service at 7:30pm. As you know this is the beginning of Lent and a very important day in the Church's year. Please remember that there will be no service here at the Castle on Wednesday morning. If there is anyone you can think of who doesn't know about this, then give them a call; it is better that they hear more than once than not at all. I hope to see you all in the evening.
The big news this week has been, I guess, that I announced last Sunday that I am taking early retirement. Truly, this was one of the most difficult days I have ever had. After nearly 23 years in this parish it has become my life and to have to say that in a few months I will not be here any longer was very hard indeed. Sadly, my health will not let me carry on for much longer. I was hugely moved and humbled by the outpouring of love that I received from everyone last Sunday and that has continued throughout this week.
Tuesday was also a very difficult day. It's quite a while since I had to take two funerals in one day. Both of the funerals were of people I knew and both families have been important parts of my life for many years. I'm sure your love and prayers continue to be with them.
News also broke this week of the truly terrible earthquake which has devastated parts of Turkey and Syria. The death toll and the suffering is chilling and beyond my ability to process it or to make any attempt at understanding it.
Other bits and pieces have been various meetings including the PCC at Old Warden on Thursday night. This has also been Northill Magazine week and my article for the Magazine is about Lent, which is now fast approaching.
All together this has been a tough week for so many people in different ways.
Stay well and safe everyone.
I'd hoped to take my Post-Christmas break this week but there has just been so much stuff going on that this has not been possible. My plans to go Mountaineering in Mongolia have unfortunately been put on hold for a while. However, I have been thankful for a slightly quieter week as I have really not felt at all great. This cold thing that I've had has really outstayed its welcome and it's still lingering on even today, which is getting on for a fortnight since it started. Very annoying and frustrating. As a consequence there is not a lot to report, so I will keep it brief today and leave you with a photo taken in the Castle grounds of my Snowdrops. The Castle is world famous for the number of snowdrops that it hosts, but it is a pretty poor showing this year I have to say.
The other thing I have noticed is that they have come out very much later this year than I ever remember before. On average I would say they are about three weeks late. I saw an article on Look East during the week (thank you to the Tall Churchwarden for the heads-up) about Snowdrops and apparently there are over 5000 species in existence. Who knew? Amazing. I have no idea what sort I have but they are very lovely anyway.
Stay safe and well everyone.
***Stop Press News***
I have just this moment had a visitation. What this poor dog has to suffer; there are no words. Sigh
I have an industrial strength case of Man Flu, so not much from me today. Have been feeling rough most of the week and the levels of self-pity have risen to crisis proportions today.
A couple of highlights from the past week. On Tuesday our former Curate, Janet called to see me on her way back from a local funeral. She seemed very well and bright and she and David are still enjoying their retirement out in the Fens.
On Wednesday our Mothers Union took part in the North Bedford Cluster Epiphany Service at Northill Church, which went well and it was good to see one or two people from other branches that I hadn't seen in quite some time. Our Banner was paraded in at the beginning of the service, which repaid Jill and I our increasingly fraught labours as we tried to put together the different pieces of the contraption which makes the banner procession worthy.
I will take my leave of you with a photo from earlier in the week.
Right I'm off to sob quietly in my corner.
Stay well (better than I am at least) and safe everyone.
At the moment my life is largely taken up with funerals. Yesterday in church we had the funeral of Barbara Marsom. Barbara was such a big part of church life when I first arrived and for all of her life before that. She served the church in so many different ways and although she had withdrawn form church life in recent years it is hard to imagine All Saints without her. Our love and prayers are with her family. The flowers in church looked wonderful and huge thanks to the members of the Flower Guild of which Barbara was a member.
Last Sunday's Christingle Service was lovely and at Coffee we raised another £78.70p for the Children's Society on top of everything that has been collected during the year. Thank you so much to everyone for your generosity.
On Thursday morning the members of the Mothers Union met at Costa in Biggleswade to plan our meetings for the year and to get some dates in the diary. Talking of the Mothers Union, their Epiphany Service will take place at Northill on Wednesday coming at 2:30pm. Everyone is very welcome to come along to this service even if you are not a member. We would love to see you. I've also had couples during the week for their second wedding interviews and arrangements for these later in the year are progressing well.
That's about it really for the week. I'll leave you with a couple of pictures form the Castle Grounds. It's been a quiet winter in the garden and there hasn't been a lot to tell. This Great Spotted Woodpecker brightened up one morning during the week.
I have also been joined on my morning watches by the rather ominous presence of a Grey Heron who stands guard over Manor Court.
Stay well and safe everyone.
Last Sunday we were visited by Bishop Richard, the Bishop of Bedford. Bishop Richard presided at the Eucharist and preached as we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany. Quite what he would he would have made of three members of the congregation parading in crowns to bring up the Three Wise Men to complete our Nativity tableau I have no idea and would probably prefer not to know. He had already done the same at Old Warden earlier. I had to dash off to Northill at the end of the service (actually during the last hymn) but the Bishop stayed for coffee and I just hope nothing too embarrassing happened (a forlorn hope I know.) Sigh.
As I am writing this, there is chaos in dining room here a the Castle as our two esteemed Churchwardens are preparing Christingles ready in time for tomorrow's service.
As you can see, the taller of the two is her normal meek and retiring self. Sigh. (Ok it's a two sigh day. Sigh.) I am keeping well out of the way, as there have already been injuries, sweets all over the place and general chaos, at least by the sound of it. I'm sure that all will be well in the end and we will have workable Christingles for tomorrow.
On Thursday evening our two plus churchwardens form Northill met with Fr Paul Davies here at the Castle to take forward ideas we have had for the Benefice, relating to Lay Leadership and the future direction oof our churches. It was a good meeting and left us with lots to think about as we try to move forward with this.
You may remember a few weeks back a friend of mine managed to get a Blue Tit stuck in the workings of her Aga. This week she went into her sitting room to find a Starling seated on one of her lamps.
Apparently he was not overly happy, as he slowly fried himself. Thankfully the rescue attempt was successfully managed and he eventually flew off to freedom. I don't know what it is with that house, but...
Much of the rest of the week has been taken up with wedding interviews and preparations for the various funerals that are current. This is a sad time for many people within our communities. Please do remember the bereaved in your prayers.
Stay well and safe everyone.
A very happy new year to anyone I haven't already wished this to! One of my hopes for this year is that the website might behave better than it did towards the end of last year. We shall see. For me this week has been fairly quiet, but there have been a number of sad deaths over the last ten days or so and we had our first funeral of the year on Thursday as we laid to rest Carol Kimpton, a well known character in our village. May she rest in peace.
Midweek also brought some lovely news with an email from Jon Ashworth with regard to how things are progressing in Sri Lanka. It was lovely to hear that our Yala Project is still making such a difference to lives in that country. Tomorrow in church yu will be able to see some new photos on the board which Jon sent and Jill will be able to give you more details oof what they are all up to.
It was also lovely to hear from Kostya and Halyna who have sent some Ukrainian chocolates for everyone, as a thank you for the welcome that they received at our church and for the support that we were able to give them when they first arrived with us.
These came via Judy, and Siggy brought them to the Wednesday morning service. Unfortunately Betty ate most of them, but there are still some left for you to try tomorrow morning at coffee.
And that is really about it. Tomorrow we look forward to the visit of Bishop Richard to our church and I am sure that you will all make him feel very welcome. My landline phone was finally fixed on Thursday morning so you can now phone me on the usual number if you need to.
Stay well and safe everyone.
I have spent a lot of time this week trying to fix the website and it was certainly working perfectly midweek; I am really hoping that this is still the case today. Apologies for the last couple of weeks; with not much time, I did my best to put it right, but only with limited success.
A bit hard at a distance to catch up on all that has happened, so I'll confine myself to talking about Christmas itself instead. The services were lovely. I was so glad to have Midnight at our church this year, as it meant I didn't have to stagger too far for the service. A very special moment to light the last candle in our Advent Crown amidst all the loveliness that our Flower Guild have made for the church. It really felt Christmassy and special. The Vertically Challenged Churchwarden added a bit of Caldecote oddness, as she managed to lose her keys in the lining of her coat. Sigh.
Christmas morning was equally good. Your generosity continued with the wonderful presents which I received from you. I am so grateful to you all and for all the cards and gifts which poured into the Castle over the last couple of weeks. Your kindness and thoughtfulness is very special indeed. I am so lucky.
It's equally good to know that the weirdness of All Saints has extended into the furthest reaches of the parish ... Even animals are not immune.
I would like to wish all of you a wonderful New Year and I will see you all at Northill tomorrow and for the feast of The Epiphany at All Saints on 8th January.
Stay well and safe everyone.
My apologies. This is not what I hoped to be writing on here today. There are still serious issues with the website which I haven't been able to resolve. It's quite possible that you will not even see this, but if you do and even if you don't what I really wanted to do was to wish you a very Happy and Blessed Christmas
Well I wasn't expecting this, as I staggered into the Castle kitchen early on Monday morning and looked out of the window
A little later and I had to go down to church.
Yes it has all been very pretty but I have really not liked the cold and the Castle drive has become a skating rink. I'm definitely a summer person.
Last Sunday the tree was decorated after the service had finished and I had left for Northill.
,Lovely photo from Andy. Wish I'd been there to see it all. Thank you to everyone who helped to do this. For me generally it has been a quiet week which has meant that I have been able to put the finishing touches to the Carol Services at the other two churches, which take place tomorrow. I will not be with you for the Crib Service tomorrow, which I am very sad about, but unfortunately it cannot be avoided. This was the only way to accommodate moving the Carol Services because of the World Cup Final. Sadly and extremely unluckily England will not be playing. You will be in very capable hands tomorrow and I am sure that it will be lovely. Do remember that Midnight Mass this year is at our church at 8:30pm on Christmas Eve and our Christmas Day service will be at the usual time of 9:45am. Just like a Sunday because it is an err... Sunday this year!
I will leave you with a thought provoking photo which Judy kindly sent me.
Stay well and safe everyone.
Groan. I am having problems with the software which enables me to edit this website. Fingers crossed for what I am about write. While I am on a similar theme, I apologise for the late appearance of last week's update. Other stuff caught me out and it was only finished late in the day.
Anyway most of what I have to tell you this week has been all to do with the seemingly endless Christmas Parties which have been taking place. Firstly on Wednesday the Flower Guild held their Christmas Workshop and lunch in church.
I had sick communions after the service at Castle on Wednesday, but hoped to pay a visit to the assembled throng as soon as I returned. This didn't work out quite as planned, as I had had problems withe the heating at the Castle and an engineer was due to visit sometime Wednesday afternoon. As it turned out, things were ok as he called just before 1pm, which meant I wasn't hanging around all afternoon. This was brought to a successful conclusion, although it didn't seem like it to begin with. This meant that I was able to eat the bowl of soup which Linda kindly brought over for me and then pay a visit to see the wonderful Christmas Wreaths which the members oof the Flower Guild had made. They really did look wonderful and everyone seemed very happy indeed and were clearly enjoying themselves.
The frenzy continued on Thursday when the members of the Mothers Union met at Roxton Garden Centre for our Christmas Lunch.
The food was good and we all had fun. This has become something of a fixed event in the All Saints calendar now as the Mothers Union continues despite the small number of members that we currently have.
Not much else to say. Northill Magazine took up some time off and on during the week, along with various other bits and pieces.
Stay well and safe everyone
I'd forgotten that today is the Christmas Lunch and Fete at Northill and find myself with very little time before I have to go out. It maybe that this will not be up until later today, so I do hope everyone will check this afternoon at some point if necessary, although, of course, if you don't, then you probably won't read this anyway.
The new church year got off to a wonderful start last week with a lovely service, which was followed by just the most amazing Christmas Lunch.
Before you start writing to the Bishop this is not what it seems to be. I was just giving instructions at this point, which, no doubt, were completely ignored, as they always are. Sigh.
As you can see the Queen of Caldecote was present, seated on her throne at the head of the table, as is only right and proper. There was so much fun, laughter and happiness that it was really lovely to see. A huge thank you must go to everyone who helped with this and with the clearing up afterwards, which was done really quickly and efficiently. Particularly, I must thank the two Churchwardens who masterminded this meal and did much of the work themselves. A great achievement by them and nearly 40 people had a great time because of them. Really well done.
Sunday was also the final day for us to receive Selection Boxes for the Need Project. Lindsay, Judy and I counted them on Monday morning and we found that there were a staggering 227. Christmas, for so many children, will have been brightened a little bit by what you have done. Thank you once again for your generosity. When Lindsay and I transported them to the Need Project, Gordon and his team were overwhelmed by our efforts and it was really good to see them in action helping people in desperate need.
While I am mentioning generosity, I also must say that we were able to send £80 to Children In Need from the coffee money for two Sundays ago. Again, you lot are just amazing.
The rest of the week has been reasonably quiet and I've been able to get on with some preparations for the Christmas services and do some stuff for the Old Warden fundraising that they are trying to get complete, so that work can finally begin in the Spring on their urgent restoration project.
I shall leave you with the quote of the week from the Tall Churchwarden:
"I like sin. Gives me the excuse to go to church."
Stay well and safe everyone.
Not much today, as this is promising to be a very busy weekend and I haven't a great deal of time before I have to go to church to help get things ready for tomorrow. It's our Christmas Lunch tomorrow! Weird I know, as we are still in November, but that's how we roll at All Saints. Personally this is the first of what looks like a number of Christmas meals, which are up and coming soon. No doubt next week there will be plenty to report and photos to be seen.
This week has been pretty standard without any real highlights. I have been quite busy with a PCC meeting at Old Warden and all the work for the Christmas edition of the Old Warden News which I managed to finish on Friday morning (revision 74. Sigh) along with sick communions and various other bits and pieces.
Anyway, stay safe and well everyone and hopefully there will be much more next week.
Before I forget, please read the updated information about the Marie Curie Nurses on the Latest News page.
The Remembrance Service on Ickwell Green went very well indeed, in very mild weather conditions. It was lovely to see our wreath being laid along with the one from the Mothers Union. For me, this is always such a special moment in the year, as we remember those who gave their lives for our country.
My thanks to Andy for the photo. Our church and churchyard also looked quite wonderful for Remembrance weekend. A really great effort.
Largely, the rest of the week has been taken up with meetings and the usual stuff. I have just received a visit from the Parish Mascot, who has reminded me that it is the anniversary of Dilip's death today. I am sure we would all wish to remember that. It will soon be time for the Parish Mascot's yearly appraisal. Current signs are that this is unlikely to go well.
To finish off here is a picture of a Robin in the Castle Birdbath; about the best I can do, as there is not much happening with the birds in the garden at the moment.
Tomorrow is the feast of Christ The King, which is the final Sunday of the Church's Year.
Stay well and safe everyone.
Lots of Photos today. Last Sunday we had our All Souls service, where we remembered our departed loved ones. The service was moving and beautiful, in a poignant way. We had four special candles for Love, Faith, Peace and Hope, which were lighted at various parts of the service.
As tomorrow now approaches our thoughts are all about Remembrance. Our wonderful Flower Guild and others have helped to make the church and the churchyard a truly fitting setting for remembering those who gave their lives in war for our country. Thank you to everyone for your hard work.
Tomorrow's Service on Ickwell Green should be very special. I was there on Friday morning at 11am for a short service for Armistice Day, which was well attended again. It was good to see the children from Northill School there and from the Pre-School.
During the week, my car was being repaired, so I was without it for a couple of days which caused some complications, but with the help of other people turned out to be fine in the end. On Thursday the Mothers Union met at the Castle and one of the things we discussed was the remarkable response to the knitting appeal. Here are the items which our members did and this was only a small part of 16 bin-liners full which were delivered.
This was a wonderful response.
The other major thing that I did this week was to attend a meeting at Old Warden with representatives from the Diocese and from Historic England, which considered the progress that S. Leonard's have made with their huge restoration project. The meeting was interesting and I was very pleased to find that all concerned were happy and encouraging abut the work that has been done so far. If the final fundraising goes according to plan, we hope that the work itself will begin next Spring.
Keep safe and well everyone.
This has been the first really quiet week work-wise that I can remember since early summer. It's not that there has been nothing happening, it's just that pretty much everything I have done this week has been routine. So I will not detain you long. Last Sunday, we celebrated our Patronal Festival of All Saints and gave thanks to God for all our church means to us. A really special day. It was wonderful, as part of the day, to be able to have this very lovely "Thank You" from Judy's Ukrainian guests on display, for the help that we have been able to give them. Thank you to them as well and for sharing our church life during this time.
Tomorrow is All Souls Day and the following Sunday, of course, is Remembrance, when there will not be a service in church, but we will meet on Ickwell Green at about 10:45am
With really nothing else to report at all, I will leave you with a couple of photos. This is rather sad and also rather lovely at the same time.
A friend, this week, walked into her kitchen to find that her Aga was covered in soot. Looking around for a reason this might be the case, it eventually became apparent.