Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Lovely Couple of Days

Yesterday a coachload  of us from St Mary's went to see the Induction of our lovely Fr Shane and Micaela into their positions in their new church in Surrey.

It was a really lovely service, great ceremony, great liturgy and great music (in which three of us from St M's choir took part).

We accepted the invitation to do so with alacrity since it was a chance to be 'part' of the service.

The downside, there's always one isn't there? was that by the time the coach arrived back in Aylesbury my left foot and ankle were more than twice their normal size.

I considered it worth a very little suffering in order to enjoy the happy welcoming atmosphere of the new parish.

There were a few familiar faces, one being our dear David Cloake and his wife Jo. with just a chance of a brief word.

My swollen hoof was in bed by 1.30 am and I was awake and got up by 5.20 am, so not a lot of sleep, but as another good day was in prospect baggy eyes were not important.

Today Chris our wonderful choir mistress and music director and I went up to London to be measured for new choir robes (our current ones are not the same colour as the rest of the choir) and the 'same as the rest of the choir ones are now on order - after a 2 year wait.

That done, we then went walking to see how we might fill in the next few hours and make  the most of a day in the Capital.

We found ourselves admiring the architecture of a nearby building which proved to be the 'Supreme Court' and was moreover, open to the public (free of cost) and with a cafe and loos within.

Some two hours later we emerged into the very hot sunshine having enjoyed every second in the beautiful building and decided to walk along the embankment for a while.

It is some 20 years since I last did that and I was amazed by how many things had changed.  New buildings, new monuments (the Battle of Britain one being particularly fine), and of course we watched the London Eye as it slowly turned with its cargo of tourists.

River boats were busy on the somewhat smelly waters and the Thames was more like Venice than London.

By now, we had both had about enough walking and headed back to the 'tube' then caught our train from Marylebone.

We both agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the day, and for me the two days were the nearest thing to a holiday I have had for about five years.

So the price, a foot like a tree trunk is a small price to pay, and anyway, I have been lying on the sofa with my feet up on cushions on the arm, so well above my head, and watching - yes - of course - the Jewellry channel.


Friday, 23 August 2013

Please Lord let it rain.

I  know half the country would say "mad woman, what is she talking about" but those of us who can't cope with hot humid weather and whose only sightings of rain clouds have been the ones on their way elsewhere will surely join me in supplication.

Or maybe not.

It is after all Bank Holiday weekend and we along with many others, will be having our annual BBQ in the close, so no, maybe those involved would prefer this stifling airless humid horrible heat to continue.

A housework day for me, this Thursday has seen me do a massive shop, taxi home and not one finger lifted to do any other thing.

So overwhelming is this heavy thundery heat I decided to lie down, had just drifted off to sleep when the doorbell rang.  Staggering down to open the door, eyes half-closed I was faced by two hot, red-faced lads with ladders,

"Window cleaners love", they announced.

"Oh OK" I muttered reluctantly, then hastily realising what a rare sight they were, added "you look hot, would you like a cold drink?"

Ten minutes later all windows gleaming they departed and I decided since i was thoroughly awake now to venture out the front with secateurs.

My front garden is ablaze with Hibiscus, Roses and Day Lilies, and there are literally hundreds of bees and butterflies all over those and the white Buddleia.

Funnily enough the bees buzz a bit angrily but never attempt to sting while I cut out all the brown dry tails of the Buddleia, and the butterflies do a mad dance all around my head then settle again once I move on.

Really the only insect currently causing me any problems (probably speaking too soon), is the odd wasp.

Perhaps they hate the heat too, but for whatever reason, they seem always to be in a rage and only too happy to remind you they are around.

The sky is a leaden grey-white, not a hint of blue and I think we may get a thunder storm if we are really lucky, but me, I'm going to lie down again.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Knowing Your Limitations

Early this year in a fit of insanity, (one of many), I agreed with Constantina our lovely (tame) iconographer at St. M's to do an intensive, five day course later in the year.

This last week was the week in question.

Today (11th) being the fourth anniversary of John's death I felt I wanted to be fully occupied with no time to think.   My wish was granted!

Starting at approximately 9.30 am and concluding at approximately 4.45 pm each day, the 'killer' course took over my life, well, a week of  it anyway.

For someone with no hand skills, little hand-eye co-ordination, ageing eyesight and no patience whatever, this was something of a challenge.

Those who know nothing about Iconography might be surprised to hear that this is a very exacting art form.
Combining a very very slow process of reproducing a traced image, layer by slow painful layer, then re-applying each individual detail only to once again cover it with an egg-tempera wash and starting again, seemingly from scratch, it is tiring in the extreme.

The materials used are all natural pigments, expensively ground from mineral deposits and can change the appearance of one's work in seconds if not applied with great care.

Sitting. cramped and bent over, feet in one position for hours at a time might sound easy, but at my age, and with all the usual age-related swollen feet, leg and aching back and neck problems that aged flesh is heir to lunch-time should have come as a welcome relief.

Our intrepid leader however, having first fed us right royally, had other ideas, and drove us out into the mid-day heat, leading us (Maria Von Trapp) style, on a longish safari of the surrounding area each day.

Needless to say, returning to try to paint tiny details with shaking hands and dazzled eyes only added to the (excrutiating) pleasure.

Starting and finishing with prayers each day I found myself able to (endure) enjoy the experience more easily than might have been supposed.

Each of us, and there were three (four on the last two days), had chosen a different subject to portray - I use this word deliberately, since one does not paint an Icon, but apparently 'writes' one., and the subject were enormously varied.

My choice was Joseph, husband of The Virgin Mary, deliberating on the news he had received.

The finished item is not greatly like the beautiful original, but is, I feel, my best effort to date.  Unfortunately I am even less skilled as a photographer than I am an artist so the picture does not do it justice.

A colleague, friend, and fellow (sufferer), sorry, student, took some very good pictures with her phone but I was not able to down-load them properly so will not include them here.

A good exercise in discipline, but not for the faint-hearted, I would not say for certain that I will never again attempt such a thing, but it seems unlikely.