Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

Today has been lovely and sunny out, not really warm, but warm enough to forgo a coat for short walks. I stepped out the house and was greeted by a wonderful part of God's creation

Flowers... lovely sun yellow! I don't know what they are, but I remember thinking last week that nothing was going to grow in the space that was left and just looked like dead ground. Therefore I hadn't really paid attention to it, until now!

A nice little reminder that God had a great time creating a world for us that makes us smile.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Finding the forgotten...

Isn't it wonderful when you find something you've forgotten about totally?

I have just rediscovered the Metro Blog list, which I submitted an entry to years ago and obviously they never used my email for anything else. So the tracker that I have threw up a link I'd never seen before and lead me here. Quite exciting really. I don't know how much the person who clicked on the link read, but at least they were drawn in enough to have a go, even if the description is a little out of date.

Talking of finding something exciting... I went back in time recently to rediscover the Soul Survivor church. I've been a couple of times, but normally for conferences or with young people. This time was for a new venture, a new congregation and because it was half term I had some time to take for myself.

It was a good evening... Mike Palivachi, one of the main pastors, spoke on the parable of the Prodigal Son and made some good points, all interesting, he does speak for a long time. The worship was good, lovely Ben Cantelon lead, but the band were in the center and everyone was around the outside. That made it very difficult for me to concentrate on God, because I was conscious of people looking at me... I love singing so much, but when people are looking at me I shrink. Eventually though I got used to it.

Soul Survivor is a good church and a good organisation. It's probably a little too far to go for a regular church service, but still, it's the sort of thing I would attend again.

The one shocking thing (though I suppose it shouldn't really be any more) is the ratio of men to women. At a guess the ratio was probably 4:1 or 3:1 (women to men) which is high, but not unusual. When I was younger I'm sure most events were 1:1 - boys and girls evenly matched in number and I can't understand where it went wrong. I don't know if Soul Survivor is unique in this, but as a person who is surrounded by weddings and relationships, I can't help but notice the inbalance (and it seemed that all the men there either has girlfriends or were married).

Anyone else noticed the same?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fits and Starts

Original post written very early this morning...

I'm currently word processing this blog entry because my laptop simply refuses to connect to the internet, in the wireless fashion that has revolutionised the way we use our computers, mine has a mind of it's own and as soon as I start to do something useful with my internet, it dies. There is no rhyme or reason, and as described above, it comes in fits and starts, lulls me into a false sense of security and then quickly – without any hint that it's going to disappear – the wireless connection drops dead.

I thought as soon as the house had calmed down, people had stopped moving around and the laptop was in a 'hotspot', as my Dad calls it, the internet would remain accessible for as long as I needed it... but no.

Anyway, what I want to really say has be prompted by The Brits (or The Brit Awards) and Take That (as well as a bible passage – but that's afterwards!).

The Brits, a celebration of music, funnily enough, from British bands and the occasional international band/artist. All great music (mostly – I still don't rate The Ting Tings or Amy Whiney much) and normally a live performance from some of the winners. This year, Duffy scored big time, as did Kings Of Leon. I'd tell you what they won, but I haven't got an internet browser up that works and I haven't been listening to the radio all day, like I used to, nor did I sit in front of the TV last night, voting my heart our and making careful notes! Anyway, Duffy performed live (that girl needs to sort out her intonation), so did Girls Aloud (live vocals to a backing track) and various other bands (I think KOL are in there as well as The Pet Shop Boys), I know I've missed some out, but I only skipped over them all to see Take That... and oh boy was I disappointed... I don't know what their excuse is, but Gary and the boys (or Mark and the boys as Sara Cox calls them) decided to mime 'The Greatest Day'. So so sad... I was looking forward to hearing their real voices.

I have been thinking about Live music and concerts for a long time, I'm a big fan of Radio 1's Live Lounge and I absolutely love hearing an artist to something really funny/amazing to their own or someone else's songs. Dizzee Rascal changing The Ting Tings (yes I know I've just slated them, rude boi) or Maroon 5 totally acoustic (what a voice Mr. Levine). I also love it when an old classic is turned into something completely different – think Take That on their come back tour...

So why mime? One of the biggest group around and they mime. Here's hoping they've got something extra up their sleeves for the summer. After all, you pay so much money for a show, and if the band ends up playing exactly what is on their latest album, what does that prove? It steals a personal identity from the members of the band who create that sound... sticks them in a box with the rest of the 'gigs to forget'. This year, I'm hoping Girls Aloud, Boyzone and Take That deliver something really special at each of their concerts.

Ok, so having half term means I spend a lot of time reading and studying. Yesterday I opened my bible notes after having several conversations with different female friend about worries and God gave me this

'Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you'

The whole passage is 1 Peter 5:6-11. The whole passage is full of advice, the whole book is. It was written for Christians who lived in a pagan society (sound familiar?) and were struggling with keeping their faith. Definitely would encourage you to read it in a day, its really easy, there's not a lot of text, but it will take time to sink in.

I don't think I have many worries at the moment, I'm not stressed out by much... but I know people who are. I know people who are really struggling with decisions at the moment and I've got to give them to God firstly, pray for them, for God to work with them and look after them before I do. Difficult, but worth it.

Lots of my prayers have been answered really blatantly recently, leaders have turned up when we've needed them, weather has cleared so I could travel, I'm grateful for all of these and in hindsight I can praise God for the things He gives us instantly. A good couple of eye openers bringing me back to trust and love.

Monday, February 16, 2009

You actually can't stop the beat!

Way back in October I wrote about how I'd become absolutely besotted with a Sky 1 programme 'Hairspray: The School Musical', you can read that post here.

Last week, I got the opportunity to see the West End version of the Broadway musical, which has been turned into a movie most recently. It's only 5 years old, bless its heart, and I think, thanks to Zac Efron and Nikki Blonsky, the theatre was packed for a Wednesday night.

Before all of that though, Karen and I met in Westfield to have a wander and a chat. You have to see this place to believe it. Sadly no photos (I did check my phone before I started to blog!) but it's way better than Cabots Circus (sorry, Brizzle fans). For a start, there's no chance of getting too cold - it's all under cover and the food court is amazing (though I couldn't take advantage of it cos I wasn't feeling hungry!). It only takes me an hour and 20 to get to, so I think I'm going there next time I head to London (hopefully with someone very special in tow! KAY!).

After walking around for what seemed like an age Karen and I headed back to the tube station and got to the Shaftesbury Theatre with about 10 mins to spare (which is the best time to arrive at a theatre).

Karen warned me that I wasn't allowed to heckle the actors this time, after my little episode at Never Forget where I got the whole audience shouting out stuff after I said something out loud to the actor who plays Mark. To be honest the theatre was huge, so my voice would've been lost very quickly.

It was a brilliant show though, the set was really simple in a good way, the actors played there parts really well, although Michael Ball (in drag!) took a long time to get to being a woman rather than a man playing a woman (which is why I love John Travolta) and Ben (playing Link) did over do it a bit at the end (yes, I know Link doesn't get the dancing thing first time around, but he is quite savvy!).

So the men were difficult to get, but all of the women fell into their roles really well. I know the movie almost backwards, so was really reserved about seeing it on stage. I wasn't disappointed though and I'm glad I got to see Michael Ball again. Now I can't stop singing... all I have to do is buy the album!

It's half term world right now, so getting to work is a lot easier and I don't have to clock watch when I don't go into school.

This week I'm also going for dinner with the Bridal Party for my best friends wedding. Hopefully the four of us will be able to do a lot of work together and get the whole outfit and colour issue sorted! Looks like a lot of my Saturdays are going to be taken up with dress shopping! Yeay!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


If you've not got a clue what the title is about I suggest you type in Len Goodman to youtube or the BBC and have a watch of Strictly Come Dancing at some point.

At the end of my week of holiday, I managed to get back to Billericay, after driving in the snow for a good hour. This was in preparation for the follow days activity... Mum had decided to spend money on tickets to see the Strictly Come Dancing Tour, little did we know, or I forgot that level four means we're 'up in the gods' (which has become a phrase to use when talking about high seats in concert halls), which means and you'll see by the photos below that you're so far away from the action that it becomes hard to be involved in whats happening.

But before we got to The O2 there was some travelling to be done... so from Billericay to London, the main attraction at the moment is the 2012 venue. This is what it currently looks like.

You can just see the white zigzag of the stadium structure. It's going to be an interesting three and a half years, until the whole of East London is taken over but tourists and athletes. Then after that... who knows, we get a different report every week about what the legacy of the games is going to leave behind, what the stadium and surrounding villages and buildings are going to be used for. This week there's talk of it being a school and sports academy (I think with talk of the school actually being in the middle of the stadium... but I wasn't listening properly). The local football clubs won't spend any money to buy it, because it's being purpose built for the athletics. Some less local purpose built venues are up in arms because the planning committee have said that they would spend £42 million on a new shooting range (is that the right name?) overlooking a place that is already available (but at a cost of £30 million). It's a strange thing to be going though, especially with a recession.

And if you want to know what 'up in the gods' looks like while you're in the O2 here's a picture for you...

There's not much to be seen, but I can assure you that there are four judges, one couple and a presenter as well as a band down there!

It's crazy! Fortunately, my cousin and nan were found tickets so that they could be closer to the action. However, we tried to join them at half time and the woman on the information desk was the least helpful person I've met in a long time. So here goes my mini rant...

Your tickets get scanned as you go into the venue, so that the O2 know who have turned up and who haven't. Therefore, by the half time whistle, you'd think that they would know who's arrived and who hasn't... and therefore can give some unsuspecting people a chance to sit somewhere different... but the policy states that the tickets had already been purchased, so there was no chance for my mum and I to join the others on the same level. If you haven't turned up by half time, it's very likely that you're not going to turn up at all, so why not, knowing that we'd already been split up, let us sit ner each other?

I resigned a little too quickly from that fight, but went away really angry, knowing that I had a good point under my belt if I'd have stayed a little longer.

We missed out on the atmosphere, being too high up and far away. It just doesn't carry well when you can't actually see the faces of the people who are dancing, but still it was enjoyable, though I would push to get level one seats every time I go to the O2 now. Even if the website says sold out!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lots of the white stuff

Here they are in order of creation...

Boris - looking a bit like a girl, but for a first attempt its not too bad.

Casper - our second attempt - we tried to go bigger than Boris, but it didn't quite work, so we ended up with a pile of snow and Kay gave it a face and a name.

And this is our third attempt and his name is Andrew - just because he is as tall and as skinny as my younger brother!

All fun, not too cold, but lots of snow fell while we were creating them. It was really cold, but we layered up and went out. Snow is a lot more fun when you're with someone who is incredibly excited about it all! (Kay's 24, she got the day off work and I've never seen her so excited!)

So now we're warming back up again and taking it slow.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get home and then go into London for the Strictly come Dancing Tour!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Taking a walk

Through Bristol town centre, also taking a few photos of the unusual things I've seen while I've been here...

Namely this...
This is a shot of the Harvey Nichols store in Cabot Circus at the centre of Bristol... yes that is a mannequin with its arms stretched wide, wrists at a funny angle and the others posed in a oh-so-stylish model like way... ridiculous. I had to stand off-centre cos there was a man watching me. I'm sure there is an ironic or biblical point to that...but as it stands all I can think about is scarificing all your worldly possessions to follow Christ.

This is the second photo I took...

This is a picture of one of the 'main streets' of Cabot Circus... you can clearly see that the roof isn't all one piece, so in my opinion, you could be dry one minute and wet the next if you're walking through. It's like the developers either couldn't decided what to do or didn't have enough money... All in all it's a strange and expensive experience (£3 for up to two hours of parking - so I didn't stay long), but its a shopping experience none the less, and a chance to spend some time looking at all the shops... even if I've not got enough money to buy! Some of the stores, like H & M (one of my faves) have a smaller store in Cabot Circus and a large store in another part of town... I don't know if that's a marketing ploy (i.e. come and see our store in CC, if you can't find anything you like, go to our bigger store and spend money there!) or just not very joined up thinking.... I thought there would be more of an opportunity for bespoke stores, but I guess the rent could now be excessively high (how else are they going to get the cost justified?) for small businesses starting out.

Still its shopping...

Finally here's a picture of the linking bridge, between the car park and the shops

Bottom left is the path, its a wonky bridge, so I took a wonky picture! (It's meant to be arty!) Again, in my 'I'm a member of the public' opinion, it's poorly designed. If you take a proper look at it, you'll notice that there's a gap between the sides and the roof. While above you is covered, there are gaps where sidewards rain can get in an soak you if you're walking across. It's a sturdy structure, so no chance of it being closed in high winds, but people might not park because they don't want to get battered by the weather!

Speaking of weather... driving in snow storms and wet conditions yesterday was interesting! I got in the car after stopping at Reading services and it started to absolutely chuck it down! I've never driven in snow like that, I hope that I don't have to do it again too soon, but I'm getting some motorway driving in!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Staying away

Because of the weather, because of the snow, because of the cold, I am at home tonight. Not the start I thought of when I planned a week away from work and away from Essex. I was really upset this morning, I woke up to an inch or so of snow, but then it started again and hasn't stopped since. We must be on three or four inches now... I've been watching the news, keeping an eye on the road reports, and the railways... there's no chance I'm getting out of here for at least another 12 hours.

So while I'm able here is a collection of photos that I have taken... first off, the traditional snow photos
The back garden
The front of the house.. yes the milkman still managed to do his job today.

Yes, I find it ridiculous that all the schools in Billericay were closed. When I was 4 we had worse snow than this and I still went to school...the snow was up to my waist and I remember being in school before being sent home. I agree with BBC London today... we're in a culture that is so worried about health and safety that eveything just stops, it is easier to be closed than to risk injury... we've been through world wars, and we're worried about a little bit of snow. London came to a grinding halt. It's crazy... I wanted to be in Cheltenham tonight.

Secondly a photo that has been a once in a life time opportunity.

Yes, look closely, this is no ordinary £1.83, but the special design for 2008. It's never been done before in bristish coin history as far as I'm aware. The £1 coin is the picture of what the other 83p should look like! Pretty!! Now there are regular coins in circulation, so its becoming harder to do this, thankfully I have people around me who love to do something until its done!

There are no more photos!

So the holiday isn't going well... I'm not where I want to be!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Cold Weather

Yeah, it's 10pm... so I'm watching the news and already the cold weather and snow have affected the roads and rail links across the country. We knew it was coming, we've had fair warning... why then is there disruption?

Last night before things got too cold, we had our first ever mingles night at Christ Church, well, not quite, we ended up in the pub and I knew everyone there! But never the less, we got to spend time together, we got to chat, drink and laugh... Hopefully this won't be the last time we meet, so keep your eyes peeled for new dates and events!

Tomorrow, I take my first proper, full week away from work, away from Essex. I'm not going to training, I'm not going on an organised retreat, I'm just going away. So to Cheltenham tomorrow, Bristol on Tuesday and Luton on Thursday...

Of course I'll tell you how it goes... you don't need to ask!