Meet Goose

If you follow my blog, you may remember that last month, when we were staying in the Peak District, the farmer kindly gave me three goose eggs. Each one was the size of four chicken eggs. I wrapped them up in toilet paper (I didn’t have anything better) and we drove them home. After letting them rest for 24 hours, I put them into the incubator, and searched online to find out how to hatch geese eggs.

My incubator automatically turns chicken eggs, but these were much too large. Every day I turned them 180˚ an odd number of times (thus ensuring that they were never the same way up for two nights in a row). This is because the embryo can get stuck, and won’t develop properly. I kept them at 37.5˚C, and 50% humidity.

Different birds incubate for different periods. A duck is 4 weeks—though often hatch a few days early. A chicken is pretty much always exactly 21 days. A goose is anything from 28 to 35 days. After a week, I sat in a dark room, and shone a bright torch through the shell. Two eggs had the clear shadow of the yolk, turning as I moved the egg. One egg had tiny threads of veins, and when I turned the egg, the shadow of the yolk stayed still—fasten in position. Which meant I had one fertile egg.

Birds need a flock, so one goose would be lonely. Goose eggs are expensive, and I wasn’t certain that I would manage to hatch them anyway, so was loath to buy more. Instead I went on Ebay and bought some Buff Orpington chicken eggs. They should have arrived the following day, meaning they would hatch potentially at the same time. Unfortunately the annoying seller didn’t post them immediately, so they were about two weeks later than the goose egg going into the incubator (and therefore one week later hatching). But it was the best I could do.

After a couple of weeks, I started to spray the goose egg with cold water—mimicking the mother goose returning to the nest after a swim (not sure what the chicken eggs thought about that, as chickens are not known for their swimming). Only one chicken egg was fertile, so now I had two eggs, and hoped the hatchlings would be friends. After 28 days, I stopped turning the goose egg, and raised the humidity to 70% (which is not great for the chicken egg, but humidity is unlikely to kill it—they are only vulnerable to temperature change, and that remained at 37.5˚C).

After 29 days, nothing. After 30 days, nothing. After 31 days, I decided I would wait until the 35-day mark, and then chuck it away. After 32 days, I could hear very loud cheeping from inside the egg. After 33 days, a crack appeared down one side. After 34 days, the crack was a ‘zipper’ around the egg, and the gosling managed to push off the end and wriggle out. It was a poor little thing, very weak, and a chunk of fluff must have stuck to the shell, because it had a bald spot. It was also enormous!

Not a looker! Poor thing was exhausted after hatching.

I left it in the incubator to dry off, but when it started playing football with the chicken egg, I decided it was best to move it to the brooder. (Fancy name for a plastic box in the garage stuffed with hay, with a heat lamp hanging above it.) It had pots of water and chick crumb, and a mirror for company. It spent a lot of time chatting to the mirror. The following day was sunny, so I decided to put it in with the ducklings for a little while. As a social experiment, it was a failure. Even though they were separated by netting, the ducklings (almost fully grown) tried to push their heads through the bars to peck it. The gosling stood up, and raised its little stubby wings in a cute imitation of the scary pre-fight warning that adult geese do. I worried it might decide to go near enough to be pecked/killed, so put it back under the heat lamp with its mirror-friend. I will try again when it’s bigger.

Sometimes a friend in a mirror is safer than real life.

Hoping the chick hatches on time, and grows big fast so they can roam the garden together. I will keep you posted.

Hope you see some friends this week, and that no one makes aggressive gestures towards you. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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The Baal Cycle — a story from an ancient world

The Baal Cycle

Here is an ancient story, from Ugarite, a civilisation that has lots in common with ancient Israel. The characters of the story are referred to during the Old Testament, because this is a tale the people would be familiar with—you might have noticed references to Baal, this is his story:

The Canaanite’s God, El, created all things. He is an old man, with a long white beard (he sat on a throne, not a cloud—but the description sounds familiar…) There is a Heavenly Realm, and El makes Yamm the king of all the gods. Yamm is a seven-headed sea dragon, known for his pride and creating chaos, sometimes called ‘Lotan’ (There is bit of a fuzzy divide between gods and monsters in some of these ancient stories. I guess they were trying to represent the things they didn’t understand with images/stories.)

Two other gods, Athtar and Baal resent this, and Baal threatens Yamm.

Baal is a young god, the son of Dagon, and his wife is Asherah (a name you might also recognise from the Old Testament).[1] He is a warrior god, he often brings thunder and lightning, and is in control of both fertility and rain. (This is particularly interesting in the light of the OT story in 1 Kings 18.)

Baal goes to Kothar, who is the god of skill and wisdom, and asks him to make two magical clubs. Baal then uses them to crush Yamm. He’s helped by his sister, Anat.

So we have Baal—thunder and lightning, defeating Yamm—chaotic sea. Baal is less chaotic than Yamm, so this is seen as a good thing.

They have a feast to celebrate (as you do) and Anat goes to ask El if they can build a palace for Baal on Mount Zaphon. Kothar (the god of skill and wisdom—remember?) helps to build the palace.

When the palace is complete, they invite Mot, the god of death to visit. (I find this is interesting, as ‘mot’ is the Hebrew word for ‘death.’) Mot says he will come, but to devour Baal, not to celebrate. Baal is defeated and killed (but not permanently, so don’t make a cuppa just yet). Anat (the sister) then fights Mot (because this is what sisters do when their younger brother is beaten up) and she manages to get Baal’s body. She kills Mot, and scatters his body to the birds (though he pops up again later, so this bit is a little confusing). During this battle, Athtart, another sister (obviously one who doesn’t like Baal so much) tries to make one of her sons king, but they all fail.

Baal and Mot then fight again (don’t ask me how, it seems ancient gods didn’t really stay dead, even when fed to the birds). Baal is declared the winner.


I don’t feel the story has much traction as a bedtime story, but I found it interesting to see where some of the beliefs about Baal and Asherah came from. They pop up a few times in the Old Testament, because people tried to worship both them and God. The story seems strange/weird to our modern minds, but I guess the stories from every religion seem strange when you’re new to them.

[1] 1 Kings 14:15.

Thanks for reading. Hope you have a great week.

Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Wedding Days

A friend of my daughter was married on Saturday, and the bridal party used our house to prepare for the wedding. This was very exciting! We spent the week before the wedding tidying the house and garden (well, to be honest, I more moved muddles into rooms they wouldn’t use than actually tidied, but most of the house looked pretty by the weekend). We ordered some decorations online. Daughter bought some lace bunting, which was very pretty. (Husband muttered about it looking like a chain of thongs, and tried to rename the kitchen ‘the knickers room’ but we ignored him.) We bought big bows, and bunches of flowers, and it was all lovely.

If you know about weddings today, you will know that this involves hairdressers and make-up people, as well as a florist and photographer. As there were eight bridesmaids, the hair and make-up experts arrived about 9:30, for a 4pm wedding. I realised that fainting bridesmaids would not be great, so had prepared pastries and fruit for brunch, and salads for lunch. I enjoy feeding people.

The bridesmaids arrived, and the air filled with hairspray and chatter. The tidy rooms were filled with bags of stuff, and a rail for dresses and a lot of shoes (I am pretty sure there were a lot more shoes than people.) I moved a plant in front of the incubator so the eggs wouldn’t be disturbed. The goose was due to hatch, but it didn’t make an appearance.

The bride has a small dog, so youngest son and partner arrived to dog-sit during the wedding. Husband spent most of the morning washing his car. This pleased me, as he had washed it the day before (apparently) and I hadn’t liked to mention that it was still very dirty. Him and son then fixed white bows and ribbons on the front. This took them longer than you might think, but it looked good by the end. All the blokes then went off to the pub for a long lunch.

I cleared up my bedroom and bathroom for the bride to change in—how exciting to see a wedding dress hanging, and a veil spread over the bed. They had a steamer, and set to work steaming the dresses to remove the creases. This is new to me, and I was terrified it would end in disaster, so left the room.

Mostly I kept out of the way, letting the young women discuss hair products and beauty tips (I know more about animals and babies). The flowers arrived—always beautiful—and we put them into the garage to keep them cool, and I prayed they wouldn’t fill up with spiders. The bouquets were in small pots of water, so before the wedding party left, I dried the stems on old towels.

A baby arrived to be fed by one of the bridesmaids. Later, I saw another bridesmaid holding her, and suggested that as she was full of milk (the baby, not the bridesmaid) she should beware of vomit. Bridesmaid clearly thought I was mad, but took the tea-towel I offered anyway. A few minutes later, I helped her to wash baby-sick off her gown.

There were a few photographs, and then it was time to leave. The bridesmaids drove off—I found their bouquets where they had left them, and put them in the boot to take to the venue. The bride and her sister sat in the back of Husband’s car, and it was all very lovely. Husband wore a nice suit, my mum was stationed by the roundabout in town ready to wave, the sun was shining, and my part was finished. I travelled with Daughter and her fiancé—and the bridesmaids’ bouquets.

The wedding was at Hever Castle, which is a beautiful venue. I felt they could have done better at keeping the castle visitors separate from the wedding party, but no one else seemed to mind. There were lots of flowers, and a string quartet, and the lake shimmering in the sunshine while the couple said their vows. Two people promising to love each other, and be faithful for the rest of their lives, is always moving. There is something distinctly right about a wedding.

I hope you have something lovely this week. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

No duck-poop in sight!

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The Coronation of King Charles III

Hello, I hope you are enjoying the coronation weekend. In church this week, the service was introduced by the composer Richard Stilgoe (because he ‘knows’ King Charles). He said how both Charles and his late mother, were genuinely funny. Apparently, at a tea party with Queen Elizabeth, she picked up the teapot and poured everyone’s tea, commenting, “You see, I not only reign, I also pour!” Mr. Stilgoe also observed that if we decided to change from a monarch to a president, no one would be better qualified than Charles to take the role.

I was introduced to Prince Charles a few years ago. He might not remember.

We had a fun time on Saturday—Mum came for coffee and croissants, and we sat and watched people arriving for the ceremony while Husband made sarcastic comments. Our personal motivation was to get ideas for possible wedding outfits, as we have several weddings this year.

Orange seems to be a popular colour. There were a few big hats too—which in my view, is rather a selfish thing to wear to a ceremony where everyone will be vying for a view of the main event. I especially felt sorry for whoever was seated behind the soldier wearing the very tall helmet. Obviously he had no choice, given that it was his uniform, but can you imagine the person sitting behind him when he arrived? Not what you’d be hoping for.

Some of the words were very moving—that Charles promised to serve rather than seek to be served, and that he vowed to reign before God. The ceremony was full of pomp and tradition, and there were lots of symbols that I did not understand. Especially the single glove. The Coronation Gauntlet, which I think represents ‘holding power’ as it’s used to hold the sceptre. I imagine it would be very irritating to wear a single glove, though Michael Jackson seemed to manage.

But I have to be honest, some things I found irritating. Firstly, some of the people attending did not bow/curtsey as King Charles passed them on the way out. Now obviously, some people do not recognise the monarchy—and that’s their choice—but I assume they would not then be at the ceremony. So for those attending, learn some manners, and if the monarch passes you, even if you realise at that moment that you will be on telly in your new frock—have the good manners to dip your head in respect.

Then we have the ‘Not My King’ protestors. Honestly! Get over yourselves. You have every right to not agree with the monarchy, every right to lobby your politicians, and to try to change the law. But to spoil an event that millions will enjoy? No, you need to stay at home and read a book. I’m not sure myself, if given a vote, which way I would cast my ballot—but I do respect all the people who believe the monarchy are good for the country, who serve and respect the king and for whom the pageantry is important. Personally, I dislike most sports, and would certainly not be excited by a parade of the England football team. I slightly resent that my taxes pay for the police who are necessary to keep order at football matches. But I would not go with placards and inflammatory signs and try to disrupt the parade; I do not have that right. It is both rude and ignorant, and it makes me sad that we think that ‘free speech’ means we can be as rude as we want, to whoever we want, when anyone disagrees with us.

When I am monarch, I shall make good manners obligatory.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend (and do try to be polite). Thanks for reading.
Take care,
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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The Frying Pan Experiment

I have several frying pans. One is a very expensive heavy pan, a Christmas gift a few years ago from my mother-in-law. It was perfect for a few months, but then every time I used it, the food stuck to the base and burnt—and it was a nightmare to clean.

I bought a couple of decent (but cheaper) pans from Lakeland. The instructions said they could go in the dishwasher, which was an added bonus. They were perfect for a few weeks, but then every time I used them, the food stuck to the bases and burnt—and the dishwasher never managed to get them properly clean.

Recently, I bought a heavy cast iron pan, which came with copious instructions (which I ignored). It was great the first time I used it, but then the food started to stick to the base and burn, and it was hard to get it clean.

You will notice a theme here.

Nothing seemed to make them better. My mother’s tip was to heat a clean pan with salt, to a very high temperature, and then wipe out all the salt and oil the pan. This improved things temporarily, but then the same problem started to occur. (I think the ‘salt method’ is good for thoroughly cleaning all the tiny pores in the metal.)

I dug out the copious instructions that arrived with the heavy cast iron pan. It said, very clearly, not to use detergent when washing the pan. I have heard this before, and seen chefs on the telly who claim to have never washed a pan in detergent. It seemed like a silly idea (because surely they would be less clean, and therefore more likely to stick). Discussed it with Husband (who does the washing up). He also thought it was silly, but eventually agreed we would try it, for a short period, as an experiment. He muttered a lot whenever there was a pan to wash.

For several weeks, we have not used detergent to wash the frying pans—just lots of very hot water and a plastic brush. I have designated one pan for ‘sweet’ food (pancakes) as the smell of onions and garlic tends to linger. But, to my surprise, food no longer sticks in the pans (unless I do something stupid like not use enough oil or get distracted and leave things to burn).

The experiment has worked. So, if you have a frying pan that sticks, I suggest the following:

  1. Wash pan thoroughly, and dry.
  2. Put salt into dry pan (enough to cover the base). Heat to a very high temperature, then scrape out while hot. I use paper towel to do this, and tip the salt onto a plate until it’s cool enough to go in the bin. (Be careful, because it doesn’t discolour when hot, so it’s easy to burn your fingers.)
  3. Rub a little oil around the pan if it’s cast iron (so it doesn’t rust).
  4. In future, wash frying pan in very hot water. DO NOT use detergent.

You’re welcome. Feel free to share the tip.

Hope you have a good week. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Continuing Our Mini Break in the Peaks.

The forecast looked bad, so we left home at 8am for our morning walk. Beautiful sunshine, with dark clouds looming over the hills. We went down into Lower Bradfield, where there’s a Post Office selling coffees, and several smart-looking modern buildings, including a public toilet. There are not many public loos in the Peak District. There was also a small commemorative plaque, above what looked like a toilet, in memory of Mary Ann Smith, who was ‘God’s Gift to Man.’ Not quite sure how to read that—was she incredibly beautiful, or was it written ironically by the angry wives of Lower Bradfield? I feel there’s a story here, but not one I managed to find.*

We then followed a footpath up the hillside, and walked across the moors. We didn’t see any other people, but there were grumpy sheep sleeping on the heather in sheltered places near the stone walls. Lovely windy walk.

As we walked down the lane, towards the cottage, we saw a dead ewe, with a tiny lamb shivering next to her. Another lamb, marked with the same red number 10, was attempting to follow a ewe who looked completely disinterested. I assumed the mother of the twins had died. When we got to the cottage, we went to the owner, to ask him to phone the farmer. It’s too cold for a tiny lamb to survive for long on its own.

We had brunch at The Schoolhouse. I am assuming this was once the school, now turned into a busy cafe, with a smarter area upstairs for meals. We had Eggs Benedict, which was absolutely perfect—freshly baked bread lightly toasted, a generous slice of moist bacon, poached eggs covered in hollandaise sauce. When you’ve been on a long walk, it’s perfect food. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

In the evening we ate more delicious food. There’s a restaurant on the edge of Sheffield: Rafters, which serves taster menus. We had a six-course meal (the courses were tiny, beautiful, and delicious.) It’s an unusual place, as usually restaurants selling ‘posh food’ have ‘posh staff’ and you worry that you might make a mistake—and I always feel that really, they would prefer someone posher than me to be eating the food. But Rafters had normal people, wearing jeans and white shirts, who were efficient and friendly. The other guests all wore casual clothes too, so it was another perfect dining experience. And the seats were comfy—I do like a comfortable seat!

This morning we left home slightly later—I was tired. The weather wasn’t as good—not terrible, but cold with a slight drizzle. We walked from the cottage, up into the hills behind the farm. There’s a ridge of rock sticking up over the hill, and streams bubbling out from the ground. It was a pretty walk, through fields of cows (who ignored us) and past sheep, who watched us suspiciously. We saw the sheep farmer, and asked about the dead ewe we saw yesterday. He said the number 10 twins were fine, it wasn’t their mother who died. The dead ewe probably had lambs inside her. He said most of the ewes in the field were lambing, and he checks each day to see what has been born. Apparently it’s healthier than lambing inside because you don’t have as many germs, but more risky when the weather is as cold as it is at the moment. But his sheds are full, so the remaining lambs will have to take their chances. Farming is difficult; hard work with brutal results if the weather goes wrong. I love seeing lambs in the fields, but I’m not sure I could cope with the loses.

As we arrived at the cottage, I noticed some eggs by the road, and an honesty box. Next to the cottage are beautiful white geese, and I rather fancy trying to raise a few in the garden. The eggs were a mixture—brown ones which were obviously chicken eggs, and some large white ones, which I am really hoping are goose eggs. I bought six and will incubate them when I get home. Really, really hoping they are goose eggs. (Or dragon eggs, that would also be fun, but I understand that is unlikely!)

Hope you have some excellent food today. Thanks for reading.

Take care.

Love, Anne x

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*I later discovered that the water fountain originally had ‘WATER’ written above ‘GODS GIFT TO MEN’ but a naughty person had removed it. Made me laugh.


Dale Dyke Reservoir

The weather was grey but dry, so we decided to walk up to Dale Dyke Reservoir. We followed muddy footpaths around Agden Reservoir (this area has a LOT of reservoirs—it’s a good place for water birds). The track rose over a grassy hill, with sheep begrudgingly moving out of our path, and then we saw it—first the steps of rushing water from the overflow channel, and then the reservoir itself, glinting under the grey sky, stretching across the valley.

As we drew near, we saw a strange stone, like a mini gravestone, marked with CLOB, and I wondered whether it was the grave for a dog with a strange name. But then I read the board next to the path, and it took on a new significance. Dale Dyke Reservoir was built to replace another, larger reservoir—which in 1864 burst through the dam, rushed into the valley below, swelled the rivers to Sheffield and killed hundreds of people. We read the story.

Accounts of the incident vary slightly, but it seems that on 11th March, 1864, after several days of stormy rain, a local man, William Horsfield, crossed the dam on his way home from work, and noticed a crack. It was fairly small, but big enough for him to notice, and the dam was new—only recently finished. I wonder what he thought at that point. Did he have a sense of fear, knowing the reservoir was new, it hadn’t been there for years, it wasn’t yet something familiar, something he assumed was permanent. Was he frightened, or merely interested? Did he assume all would be okay? Maybe not, in an age when bad things happened more often, perhaps he was instantly concerned.

One of the dam builders, Mr. Fountain, was still in the area, so William told him, and they both examined the crack. Mr. Fountain thought it was probably nothing to worry about, but just to be cautious, he sent for the main engineer, Mr, Gunson, who lived in Sheffield. (To be accurate, he sent his son—sons have always been useful.)

By the time Mr. Gunson arrived (Sheffield is about 8 miles away, and I am guessing they travelled by horseback) the crack was bigger. Water was beginning to spill over the embankment.

Suddenly, a huge gap opened—30 feet wide—and the water began to gush into the valley. At this point, there was nothing anyone could do to prevent tragedy. The men scrambled to safety as the dam gave way, and 700 million gallons of water swept towards Sheffield. There was no time to warn anyone, no telephones to contact people, nothing they could do but watch in horror.

The water raced along the valley, swelling the rivers Loxley and Don. The River Don ran through Sheffield, and an area called The Wicker was badly flooded. The bridges were choked with fallen trees, destroyed mill wheels, carts and debris. People stood on bridges to watch, unable to stop the flow, helpless. About 250 people were killed.

After walking to the reservoir—which looked placid and innocent when we were there, we decided to visit Sheffield. Great-Grandpa Todd was a vicar in a church there, about a hundred years ago, and we were interested to see his church. It just so happened, that his church was in Wicker, next to the river Don, right where the flood water had been worst. We saw the church, and the river, and on the opposite bank, there is a memorial to those who lost their lives. Some of them are unnamed, just ‘servant, male, aged 27’, or ‘infant, 2 days old’. Some names were of people later found alive. Some people died later of their injuries.

It’s thought to be one of the worst man-made disasters in the UK. It reminded me of Aberfan, the mining town where the slag-heap slid over the school and killed the town’s children in 1966. Except I had never heard of the Dale Dyke disaster—perhaps because it was so much earlier. But the local people have not forgotten. In 2014, on the 150th anniversary, they commemorated the occasion. There were talks by historians and civil engineers, and the local brewery produced a beer named ‘Dam It,’ and they produced a CD of ‘flood songs.’

It is difficult to understand who was to blame for the disaster. Locals blamed the Sheffield Waterworks Company, who commissioned the dam in an attempt to provide clean water to the city. They were not held accountable at the later inquiry. Nor was Mr. Leather, their engineer (though interestingly, his uncle George Leather was the engineer for another reservoir that collapsed, near Leeds, killing 81 people). Maybe the reservoir was too large for the engineering of the times. Maybe (as claimed by the company) there had been unexpected earth movements (though I would’ve thought that their engineers/geologists should have checked for earth stability before building it—but maybe these things couldn’t be predicted in those days). Hard to know. I don’t know whether having someone to blame would help the grieving survivors. 

I do wonder though, how William Horsfield felt afterwards. Although he took immediate action, although it was in no way his fault, did he torture himself with regret? There was time to fetch the engineer from Sheffield, which means there was time to bang on doors, to try and warn people—even though at that point, they didn’t think it would breech. But should they have warned people anyway? Should they have risked looking stupid, of raising a false alarm, of causing unnecessary panic? What would we do? Remember, no one knew what would happen, it remained an unlikely possibility, right up until the time it happened—but would that have been a comfort to poor William? I suspect not.

Today, there are several, smaller reservoirs in the area, feeding water to the city. They look peaceful, places to walk to when on holiday. But water camouflages danger with gentle ripples and inviting cool blue calm. Once the restraints fall, the chaos can begin.

Thank for reading. Have a safe week.

Love, Anne x 

Photos a mixture of my own, from information boards, and the Daily Mail website.

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Mini Break in the Peak District

Easter Away Trip

I am writing this in a tiny cottage snuggled in the hills of Lower Bradfield. You might remember that in January I attended a conference for Old Testament Study in Sheffield, and Husband kindly drove me and rented a cottage in the Peak District? I stayed in the cottage for just one night, and was sorry to leave, so when we realised we had a week free after Easter, we decided to return. 

We arrived on Easter Sunday, after lunch with the family in Cambridge. The cottage was warm and comfortable, and after unpacking we strolled up the steep lane behind the house. It was dusk, and an owl was hunting in the fields, swooping over the lane. There was the trill of curlews, who rose above us, warning us not to stray near their nest. Sheep watched from behind stone walls, their lambs snuggled under their legs. In the distance, hills rolled away, dotted with stone buildings and steep fields, up to the moors. It’s a open place, a place where you can breathe, and it feels weird that it’s only half an hour from Sheffield.

Monday morning, my Ocado deivery arrived at 8am. Perfect timing for breakfast. The delivery man was exceedingly grumpy, and told me he had worked all weekend, and no, he had not had a nice Easter. I felt slightly guilty as I unpacked my order. I seem to have ordered a lot of cakes, so won’t be losing any weight this trip.

We walked across Agden Nature Reserve to Canyard Hills. Muddy footpaths, twisted trees, a reservoir in the valley. I wished I hadn’t gone for a long walk a few days before Easter and given myself blisters. I blamed my walking boots (which I left at home) and was stomping along in wellies. Husband hardly mentioned it. We walked for two hours. There were beautiful views—and big black clouds. We got home just before it poured with rain.

It was still pouring after lunch (ate some cake). We went for drive to Castleton—which we both remembered but couldn’t remember why (we are at that age when we can spend a happy half hour trying to remember things). Then we drove through Winnats Pass. This was spectacular, we turned the corner, and there it was—steep rocks rising on either side, tiny streams bubbling down to the valley. The road was single-carriage, and there were lines of cars waiting to pass, so I recommend you don’t visit in peak times. But definitely plan to visit, it’s amazing.

We had dinner at The Plough in Lower Bradfield. It was a ‘pubby’ sort of pub (as opposed to a ‘gourmet’ sort of pub) but after a nice glass of Merlot I decided it was lovely. We chatted about the day, and managed to remember when we last visited Castelton, and I bored Husband with interesting details about the theology book I am currently reading. A good day.

Tuesday, I got up at 6.30. At 9.30 we left the cottage and walked to Lower Bradfield on the footpaths. I was still in wellies. It was okay. The walk was very pretty, we went up the hill to High Bradfield, and the old church with dragon gargoyles and sheep grazing in the graveyard. Then back down, along pretty footpaths under trees and over rivers, to the village. There’s a new cafe, which advertised brunch and coffee, but it was shut. (Apparently it’s always shut on Tuesdays.) Walked back to the cottage for coffee and toast (and more cake).

I spent the afternoon reading my theology book (by a chap called Leo Perdue, about Wisdom Literature—very interesting). Sounds of fighting wafted upstairs. Husband was in the sitting room, watching a cartoon. 

We decided to drive to a cheese factory advertised on Google Maps. We found the lane (very narrow) but not the factory. I think it must have closed. Drove into Hathersage, and I bought some walking boots in one of those outdoors shops that smell of sensible clothes and waxed jackets. These boots fit better than my last ones. And they have pink laces, which is an additional delight.

It was pouring with rain again. We drove home via Snake Pass, but it didn’t compare to Winnats. 

Dinner at The Plough again. We had asked to sit in the same room, but they either forgot or decided to ignore us because they were busy. We were seated in a very ugly room, full of people who seemed to know each other. I ordered fish and chips, and the portion barely fitted on the plate, it would have fed three of me. Especially as I was already full of cake. A pleasant day, but not as perfect as Monday.

I hope your week is fun. And you have cake.

Thanks for reading. Take care.

Love, Anne x

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Hello From My World

Hello, and how was your week? I thought I would give you a quick update from my house. This isn’t really what I want to write about, as really I want to tell you about what I plan to write for my thesis. But I can’t. I’ll explain why in a minute.

Firstly, if you had Mother’s Day last weekend, was it lovely? I had lovely gifts from my family, and no one forgot this year. (I never assume…) I cooked dinner for my mum and mother-in-law, and it was all very pleasant.

I used it as an excuse to use the last of the turkey dinners from the freezer. Due to various off-spring changing their plans/announcing they no longer eat birds/incompetence on my part, I ended up with several turkeys, of different sizes, this Christmas. They all went into the freezer, and the last one has now been defrosted—which always takes longer than expected—and cooked.

Last Sunday was busy, because it’s also the day my daughter and her fiancé moved back home. They are currently between selling/buying houses, and they are living here for a while. Mostly this is brilliant. It’s the first time since Kia died that the house hasn’t been horribly empty. When I pop out, I now can shout through a bedroom door to my soon-to-be-son-in-law and tell him that I am leaving. And when I am home, I shout that I’m back. He probably can’t hear me, because he’s busy working, but I like having someone to tell. To be honest, Kia probably never understood when I told her these things, but I just liked telling her.

They did move back with more stuff than I was expecting, even though all their furniture has gone into storage. My house is rather full. But I like having a full house, empty rooms feel wasteful.

The cage by the pond is also very full at the moment. When Kia died, the local fox soon realised the garden was accessible again, and started to visit, so I have kept the ducks shut away (even thought they could be back on the pond now). They seem quite happy, but the cage is incredibly muddy as they spend all day transporting wet mud from the end with puddles to the rest of the cage. Ducks are mucky creatures. There are a couple of nests, in corners where they think I won’t notice them, and I think they must be almost ready to hatch. Depending on how many hatch, the cage will definitely be too full. And I can’t bring the ducklings into the garage this year, as that is full of daughter-stuff. Ah well, I shall decide on a plan when I know how many hatch.

Last year’s hatch.

I don’t have a huge amount of time for duck or daughter sorting, as I am preparing the proposal for my thesis. I want to tell you all about it, but I have to be careful—apparently ‘self-plagiarism’ is a thing. If I write and publish something, I cannot then put it into the thesis. So I can only tell you snippets, and nothing in academic language. Basically, I want to look at why the Leviathan, which is clearly not a crocodile (because it breathes fire/smoke) changes Job’s attitude in the Book of Job. What does it represent? I’m reading lots of books by scholarly authors, and have discovered ‘monster theory.’ Who knew that was a thing! Apparently, all cultures have monsters, and you can learn a lot about cultures, and what they valued, by examining their monsters. In a time/place of physical uncertainty, the monster might be extreme weather-monsters, or lions; before medical advances, the monster might represent disease; when there were warring nations, the monster might be violent. I wonder what our monsters today might be—loss of control? Racism? Mental disorders that result in unpredictable violence? The films/books we read seem to have lots about psychopaths and historical racism at the moment. When I was a teenager, there was lots about evil spirits/demon-possession (with films like ‘The Exorcist’). You don’t see so much about that now, maybe our monsters are changing.

The other thing you don’t see so much of now are—complete change of subject coming, so brace yourself: some of the sweets I ate as a child! My mum is doing a jigsaw, and on the back are photos of sweets from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I will leave you with them—how many do you recognise? Fruit gums have always been my favourite, though I am also keen on a bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate.

Hope you have a good week, that has a manageable amount of stuff, and no monsters. Maybe there’ll be some sweets too.

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

What is an ‘Evangelical Christian’? And Are You One?

What is an ‘Evangelical Christian’?

A Church — Not necessarily an evangelical one, I have never been inside.

Before I went to college, I would have described myself as an ‘Evangelical Christian.’ Now I’m not so sure. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the term meant—I assumed, as it contained the word ‘evangelical’ it meant that the person thought it was right to ‘evangelise,’ in other words, to tell other people about God. However, depending on who you speak to, it means different things. And sometimes it’s used as an insult in the Christian world. Shocking! Or maybe not…

There is a handy (if not scintillating) book that defines what ‘evangelicalism’ means, using seven points.[1] If I am honest, I have been aware of these within churches I have attended, and they’re not always good. What do you think?

  1. Conversion. To be a Christian, evangelicals tend to emphasis a moment in time when you committed yourself to God. They talk about ‘repenting of your sins’ and ‘changing direction’ and asking God for forgiveness. I too think this is an important step, though I’m not so sure it happens only once, and certainly not necessarily at the start. I also don’t think there’s an ‘in’ and an ‘out’ and until you have ‘prayed the prayer’ you are definitely in the ‘out’ club (if you see what I mean!) Things are fuzzier than this, in my experience.
  2. Assurance of Salvation. This means a belief that Christ becoming human, living, dying and rising again is all that is necessary for salvation. It slightly contradicts point one above (in my view). Now, being sure you have been accepted by God is important, but I’m not sure that everyone gets there all at once, in a single leap. Nor am I sure that we agree on what ‘salvation’ is. People talk about ‘going to Heaven when I die’ but (as discussed before) that’s what Plato taught, not the Bible. Again, I think things might be fuzzier than sometimes presented. I also worry that ‘assurance of salvation’ is most often used to point a grubby finger at the person who we are ‘sure has not been saved’! Comments such as: “Oh, he was ever so kind, and he’s not even a Christian you know,” tend to be revealing.
  3. Biblicism. Evangelicals tend to say they believe the Bible is the ‘Word of God’ and available to everyone, but then go to great lengths to explain every contradiction and to teach things the way they believe them. Whilst they might be right, they might also be wrong, and maybe a little more caution is called for. It’s easy to find verses in the Bible that support your beliefs. The KluKluxKlan did it, so did the fascists. I think that using the Bible to learn who God is, is great. I think using the Bible to make rules for other people is not so great.
  4. Prayer. Evangelicals believe that prayer is important—both private prayers and prayers in church. The early evangelicals taught that prayer should come ‘from the heart’ (which I agree with) and therefore pre-written prayers, and especially liturgy, are not really prayer. (This part I disagree with.)
  5. The Cross/Penal Substitution. This goes back to point 2., that Christ died to save us from our sin. This is a huge concept, and I don’t think we really understand it, so I won’t comment. I do believe Christ died, and I do believe that somehow that repaired the relationship between God and us. But I don’t know how exactly, and I am suspicious when others seem very certain about concepts which seem to me to be beyond human understanding.
  6. Holiness. When we are saved (see point 1.) it will affect the way we behave. The ancient Methodists believed it was possible to become sinless. The ancient Baptists believed holiness should be pursued through behaviour. In the 1870’s the Keswick Convention was set up, to try and decide this issue. They stated that ‘sin is perpetually counteracted.’ (Keswick is also home to an excellent kitchen shop, which is unrelated.) All I know is, I am not perfect, some terrible people do some really good things, and some apparently ‘holy’ people do really bad things.
  7. Mission. After conversion (see point 1.) a Christian will be dedicated to God’s service, hoping to convert others. Sometimes this can feel like ‘scalp-hunting’ if done badly. At best, it’s the sense of having something special and wanting to share it with others.

Unfortunately, the Church is made up of humans, and none of us get it right. God is very patient with us. I find it helpful to step back, and look at what defines the things I believe, and then to decide whether they are really the things I believe, or if they are simply unquestioned teaching.

[1] Peter J. Morden, ‘Evangelical Spirituality’, in Andrew Atherstone and David Ceri Jones (eds.)  The Routledge Research Companion to the History of Evangelicalism (London: Taylor and Francis, 2018).

Thank you for reading.
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