Thursday, 27 December 2018

The sound of feathers.

Of the many beliefs attached to Christianity one of the most common is a belief in angels.

Some people dismiss belief in angels as fantasy, fiction, a sign of mental derangement or even a form of curruption.

If you ask me if I believe in angels the answer has to be yes, most definitely.

Do I believe in winged human look-alikes with super ;powers? definitely not.

Angels abound in everyday situations, are on hand when our need is greatest, come to our rescue when we need them most and are almost never recognised for what they are.

One of the things which I feel most embarrassed about is my inability to do quite simple basic things, like wire a plug, fiddle with the appropriate knobs, buttons, keys or whatever on gadgets which are easy everyday tools for many people including most children.

I have no aptitude for such things and as a result am surrounded by small problems which to most people can be solved in seconds, but in my life loom ominously until they become major problems.

While my husband was alive he would automatically sort out my household demons with the greatest of ease and no fuss, since his death 9 years ago I have had to throw myself on the mercy of neighbours, church friends or indeed anyone in the vicinity in order to be able to see (light bulbs), watch TV (replacement remote controls), prune branches in the garden (use a saw). and dozens of other things.

In early December I had to change the router for my internet supply, call a plumber to repair a leak, have a new outlet hose attached to my tumble dryer. and have my Ipad re-vamped to accept the new router.

Without neighbour Mick, British Gas Maint plumber (name unknown), gardener Nick, and friend and husband of cleaner Dick I would have had a terribly stressed and angst filled Christmas, instead thanks to my kind, caring and generous flock of angels I had a peaceful and relaxed rest.

All of them offered help and would accept no reward other than thanks and when I said how very grateful I was each one in turn said "any time, just ask".

I'm not certain, but I think I may have heard the rustle of wings.

Sunday, 9 December 2018


Does this look familiar?

Well it should.!

This is my default self-portrait for this time of year, and once again I am enjoying all the multiple joys of the annual Advent Cold Virus.

Streaming nose and eyes, 'orrible' cough, sore throat, explosive sneezes loud enough to blow the roof off and last but by no means least hot sweaty body.

It would be so nice to experience just one Christmas period without my regular companion but it appears to think I am a welcoming host.

Like many people my age an effective immune system is a thing of the past and every virus looking for victims heads my way with the world's best sat-nav.

It is of course, the busiest time for St M's choir (probably where I picked this up), and should I feel well enough to venture out tomorrow (impossible) I would also have the 1st Reading in addition to a morning's worth of Advent singing.

Apologies have been phoned and a substitute reader found, and just to add to my joys I have had to call out a plumber - who can't come until Monday - to repair a leak in a pipe in the bathroom.

This, in turn, means that even in the unlikely event of the virus having moved on, I will have to stay home all day and cancel my Monday stint at St M's.

As this is the day when my cleaner normally comes there is yet another phone call to be made and new arrangements to be made.

All this when I feel like something the cat dragged in.

Deep joy.

If anyone ever discovers a cure for the common (Oh so very common) cold, they should be given the Nobel Prize.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Advent Again

So, here we are again, the first Sunday in Advent tomorrow, kicking off in usual St Mary's style with a morning Eucharist followed by the Mayor's carol service at 5.30pm .

In the morning the anthem will be "O thou the central Orb" (not a favourite of  mine, and in the evening we will sing my favourite carol of all time "Jesus Christ the apple tree".

I try not to complain too much about singing hymns I don't like because there is always a compensatory one to balance it.

Our Friday evening choir practice was hard work, with half the crowd of regular volunteers erecting and decorating the two huge Christmas trees which will greet tomorrow's congregation.

Singing over the racket of hammering and noisy instructions all added to the general chaos, but somehow, as it  always does, the music was worked through and the c hurch ready for Advent by 9.00pm.

There is something magical about the twinkling lights on the trees and the ring of Advent candles lifted on its pulleys so that it sits high above the chancel ready to be lowered for the first candle to be lit on Sunday morning.

There really is something to be said for ritual.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Another Sleepless Night

St Mary's as I hope not to see it this winter.

The temperatures are dropping, the wind is from the East Brrrr.

Tomorrow, or rather today, is not one of my St M's days and I am more than glad of it.

Going out in cold weather is not one of my hobbies so unless absolutely necessary I will stay warm and snug in my burrow.

It is building up towards the most hectic season in the church, and lovely though that is it is also a time when health and fitness need to be at their best.

We have already had our first carol performance at a local brewery which wanted us to sing two half-hour sessions on their Christmas Shop opening day.  It was a really warm and welcoming event and we felt appreciated both by the management and staff and the customers.  Quite unusual but rather nice.

It felt a bit odd to be commemorating the Armistice the following day, as though we had got our dates reversed, but the Civic Service was a good one and well attended.

Soon we shall have the Buck's Fire and Rescue Carol Service then all the usual Advent Services, so a lot of singing and more than ever a need to be feeling well.

For me, this time of year almost always produces some kind of virus to try to put a spanner in the works so sleepless nights are not a lot of help.

I was in bed four and a half hours ago, had a brief 15 minute nap and woke from a nasty nightmare, since then I have been reading for hours and am now (obviously) on the computer.

As it is now 4.20 am I probably won't sleep any more till tomorrow night, but at least I don't have to leave the house till Wednesday morning.

Insomnia is a recurring theme in my life but these days it is not combined with the need to get up and go to work next day.

There is brilliant moonlight outside and a ferocious East wind blowing the trees about and I'm gloing back to bed to read some more.

Good night/morning/day.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

There's No Accounting for Taste

The older I get the more fascinating I find the huge differences in the likes and dislikes of the people I encounter.

The cat enjoying a gherkin on the left is a classic  illustration of this phenomena.

Worldwide the chosen leaders of countries large and small. centre-stage or backstage in world politics, have such differing and varying ideas of how the world should be, that I am amazed any kind of agreement can be reached on anything at all.

Today's exhausting and confusing Brexit 'plans', have left me wondering if this is some kind of parallel universe.

Is this really what our ancestors worked so hard for, the right to vote, to have our say, to work to make this a better country, part of a better world?

I have always valued this precious right and exercised it whenever the opportunity arose but, now faced with uncertain goals, weak and indecisive leaders, political in-fighting at every level and conflicting information at every turn I am beginning to want to turn back the clock.

Not the sharpest knife in the box and with no great claim to intellectual clarity of vision I nevertheless always felt I had at least a loose 'handle' on any national political situation.

This is no longer the case.

I voted to remain in the EU and still feel it was the right way to vote, but that is no longer an option and the alternatives appear less attractive with every day that passes.

Listening to the amount of venom between the opposing factions I can't help but wonder just how well having got their way they will be able to manage an alternative system.

No-one stands out as a natural leader, though that doesn't stop the contenders bidding for the top job on a daily basis.

Are we to be treated to another dose of Barmey Boris, versus Jacob Reece Smug, exchanging verbal fisticuffs for a further 12 months or so while the Government limps on its directionless journey to economic failure?

Meanwhile over the pond the head honcho effectively proves that one man can single-handedly reverse centuries of evolution and civilisation and somehow remain in power.

At the same time the whole world is hurtling toward extinction burning up the environment and wasting all of its resources.

I can't help hoping to wake up and find this is a Terry Pratchett universe, or just a bad dream.

Now, if ever, is the time for a World leader to appear.

Any offers?

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


I have no way of knowing whether it 'just happened', or someone helped it to happen, somehow, but the problem of the invader blog appears to have been solved.

If anyone was able to remove it remotely I thank you.  If it was Divine intervention (unlikely), I am just as gratefull.

Sometimes i think i am the only surviving dynasour on the planet.

But, that won't stop me blogging/ 


Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Help I'm being stifled

If anyuone knows how i can clear aomeone else's blog from being superimposed over mine please let me know.

Currently "Medieval Church Art" is spread all over my blog and I can't get to my comments (if any) nor can i remove the intruder.

I shopuld add that the blog is one I read and enjoy, but not at the expense of losing my own.

I know virtually nothing about IT and haven't any hope of fixing the problem myself.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Is it too late?

This picture borrowed from Google is of a tiny surviving tree in a cracked and parched landscape.

For many, this Summer has been wonderful, hot and dry day after day, week after week.  For others, less so.

Never a lover of hot weather I have (at best) survived the months up until the end of September and am only now beginning to be able to breath and sleep more easily.

What has made this year so much worse for me has been the sight of our local trees gradually losing their freshness, leaves drooping, then curling and dying and even the trunks of some really big old trees losing colour and visibly fading.

I watered my garden as long as I could, but could do nothing for the poor trees gasping at the roadsides.

Like most gardeners and tree lovers I have rejoiced at the (very occasional) sight of clouds on the horizon, and like many of them have felt like crying as they, once more, passed us by on their way elsewhere.

Yesterday we had rain all day.  I am still recovering from my bug (see previous post) and had no intention of going anywhere, so welcomed the rare sight, praying for it to continue as long as possible.

On the bus a few days ago I saw, in a group of mixed large and small trees that some of the more recently planted ones were in fact dead.

Whether we will now begin to have more rain, it is after all October, I don't know, but I am hoping against hope that this will happen.

Apart from the beauty these lovely living things add to our landscapes, trees are the lungs of town and city and without their graceful presence we cannot survive.

Not once, among the glib meteorological tv weather reports and constantly repeated "another lovely day for the South", have I hear any mention of the terrible damage this 4 month drought has caused.

Surely I'm not the only one who is concerned for our precious greenery?

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Lifebelt Over Here Please

This is  how I feel and probably look too.

Got home from a normal Friday choir practice on 28th, thought, hmmm don't feel too good, headed up to the bathroom and fainted.

A split second later struggled up and thought, "I'm going to be sick".

TMI Warning

Was immediately overwhelmed by a tsunami of vomit and (simultaneously) diarrhoea.

Well I did warn you.  Those of  SQUEAMISH NATURE read no further.

This ghastly state of affairs lasted at fairly frequent intervals until early Monday morning.

Having sipped cooled boiled water for 48 hours  I thought I'd risk a cup of cool tea.  Mistake!

Later in the day I ate a ginger biscuit (stem ginger)  knowing ginger to be good for stomach problems. It took me 10 minutes to eat it (felt like a 2 course meal) and, wonder of wonders it stayed put. 

Since then the flood seems to have abated and (between 3 minute sessions of cleaning up the bathroom and washing nighties etc I have spent my time lying down or trying possibilities like a two-egg omelette made in the microwave so no fat would be involved (stayed put), and an occasional
cup of tea interspersed with boiled water.

Without exaggeration this is the worst I've ever felt, but thankfully living alone I have not had to inflict the more sordid aspects on anyone else.

Luckilly for me, I have the constitution of an ox and once the evil bug has departed am back to my version of normal very quickly.

Where it came from (or whom) I have no idea, perhaps someone is trying to tell me to give up choir.

I know you don't need to say it, "she doesn't post for 6 weeks and this is the best she can do".

One small consolation I've lost 6 pounds in weight.

No I am not reccommending it.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Blowing his own Trumpet

I know I am only one of many who are staggered by the monstrous conceit of Donald Trump, but I could not resist adding my ten cent's worth to the pool of condemnation.

We have been treated to so many public displays of supremely undiplomatic behaviour since he came into his 'Kingdom', that it seemed unlikely he would be able to add anything worse.

Yet, here he is, in our country, describing in tones of deepest sorrow his unhappiness with all things British.

He explains how he "told Mrs May how she should have approached the EU on Brexit, but she ignored his instructions".

The supreme arrogance of this most ridiculous public firgure is matched only by his level of self-delusion.

Does he really believe the rubbish he spouts or is it part of the by now, indisputable paranoia he has shown to the world since he became a 'world leader'.

Will he I wonder, continue to condescend to everyone else he meets on this official visit, even, dare I suggest, her majesty The Queen?

Or, will his preposterous behaviour be toned-down to a more socially-aware level?

The thought of him languishing in the Tower is the only thing which sustains me .

Monday, 18 June 2018


A love of animals has been a huge part of my life since my pet-free childhood.

This as anyone who has read me over the the past 6 or 7 years, has mainly shown itself in a total devotion to cats, then donkeys, horses, birds and all the wonderful world of animals with one or two notable exceptions.

I try to love all of God's creations (even those I hate/fear) but the dreaded arachnid brigade closely followed by small rodents has me (mildly) terrified, most of the time.

In my garage I keep a round plastic tub in which my supply of suet feed balls for the birds is kept.  Early last winter I took the lid off to grab a couple for the front garden feeder and nearly had a heart attack when a mouse leapt out and fled into a dark corner.

The lid rests on the top as the tub when firmly shut down is impossible for me to open with my arthritic hands. 

Realising that the mouse was probably trying to keep warm I replaced the lid gently and shut the garage door.

Since then, it has returned to its 'nest' every few weeks and now merely sits and watches me with huge eyes as I (very warily) remove a few suet balls at a time, gently replacing the 'roof' of its home.

Likewise with the ghastly eight-legged army which periodically invades my house, I merely open a window, grab my trustee (long handled) dust buster and loft it out of the window.

Killing anything with the exception of ants if found in the house, is something I would never even consider, yet my abject terror of the above-named two never grows any less.

Please don't send for the men in white coats, they are far too busy with world leaders to need to add me to their problems.

And And And I do know I'm weird.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Neither "Waving nor Drowning"

The past weeks have not been a total joy, however, I felt it was time to stick my head over the parapet again, just to prove I could.

The 'eye' problem is now resolved, three pairs of spec's in various places so I am never without their essential company.

A more pressing and longer-lived problem is a horrible rash on my arms and legs and various other parts of the body, huge and blotchy as well as a scattering of smaller spots.

They are itchy (though not unbearably so) and very very ugly.

They first appeared late last year, eased off a little in December and January and increased since then with no apparent cause.

Blood tests have proved unproductive and I am currently awaiting an appointment with the Dermatology dept of the localhospital.  Not holding my breath since waiting lists are long.

It means that despite several burst of very warm weather i have to remain 'covered up' or people will be expecting me to ring a bell crying "Unclean", or something similar.

That's my excuse for failing to appear in print  (self-absorbed or what?'.

Last week we had the annual quiz night with fish and chip supper, on Saturday 19th.  This unfortunately clashed with the 'close' annual BBQ.

Since i had committed myself to the quiz night some months ago there was no decision to be made, however, I miss having the chance to chat with all my neighbours.

The next day we had our usual Eucharist service - a very long one - an hour and 40 minutes, which left many of us wishing we could just go home and lie down.  This was not possible as there was an RAF Freedom of Aylesbury parade at which we sang Jerusalem.

This involved parading over the cobbles down into the Market Square to stand in blazing hot sun for over half an hour fully robed and al.ready with legs aching from the morning service.

It is an honour to take part in these civic services but I do wish it didn't always occur on the days when our long-winded incumbent decides to add endlessly to the morning service.  He has no concept of time whatever and nothing short of a fire alarm will stop him once embarked.

Right, that's the moaning out of the way, and something good to look forward to is this coming Sunday (Trinity) when we will be singing the wonderful "Hymn to the Trinity" by Tchaikowsky.

The clip at the head of this post is one of the many on you tube.

For me the alto part (really very low) is the most beautiful thing I have ever sung since joining St Mary's choir.

Sometimes there are compensations for the not so good days, this should be one.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

To Blog or Not to Blog?

It has been a while since I felt any inspiration to put any of my scrambled thoughts into print, but felt that perhaps I owed some sort of explanation to any readers i may have left.

Life has been more than a little trying in the past few months and I didn't want to pour out my moans and groans into the daily soup of misery most people have suffered this past Winter.

My Parkinson's has caused a loss of energy and the accompanying low spirits which would have made my writing a 'turnoff' for most people.

In addition I have had my second cateract operation and have not been very happy about the result.

My left eye (operated on last August) is my 'lomg-sighted eye and I have always used it to full advantage when out and about. 

The right eye is my short-sighted eye and i have always used it for any sort of close work and much more importantly, for reading. 

Imagine my shock after removing the dressing the day after the op on my right eye to find myself unable to read.

Neither library books, TV programmes, music (words and notes) nor any of the day to day purposes for which I have always used this valuable asset are now possible.

When I  had  my telephone post-op check-up I poured out my unhappiness at this turn of events adding that I had believed that the operation merely removed the cateract and replaced the biological lens with a clear glass one.  (That may sound niaive but was what I thought).

This it was explained to me was not the case as they apparently assess what they perceive to be the right level of magnification (or whatever) and use the appropriate lens.  Making the patient either able see well at close quarters or at a distance.

They had chosen to make my eye in essence, more like the left eye, and while the clarity of vision at a few feet is excellent I will now need to have glasses in order to read etc.

The consensus seemed  to be that the fault was mine rather than theirs for not making plain to them that I had always been able to read without glasses and would prefer to keep that faculty.

Since i had no idea what lay in store I cannot agree with that opinion but have to accept that from now on I will never again be able to simply 'look and see'.

For anyone who has always worn spec's the operation must be hugely valuable, for me it has cost me one of my senses.

It will be a few weeks before I can have spectacles made but meanwhile I am in limbo using a pair of spec's prescribed about 10 years ago for reading tiny print and never previously used.  Without them I would be unable to use the computer as well as all the aforementioned things.

Forgive me please for this long miserable diatribe, I'm sure this feeling won't last much longer and I'll try to be more cheerful next time.

Belated Easter Blessings to one and all.

Oh and the photo above is how I looked at 18 long before sight or anything else much, was a problem.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Balloon Birds

The awful weather we are currently experiencing has produced a garden full of enormously inflated and very hungry birds.

Anyone who has read this blog for any time will be aware that I am passionate about feeding birds.  All year long, and in bad weather almost continuously.

This is a very rewarding but also very expensive habit (I won't call it a hobby, it is much more than that) but there is a lot anyone can do without breaking the bank.

The colder it gets, the harder it is for their little engines to operate and thousands of birds die every winter from cold and hunger.

Their first defence is to puff out their feathers so they resemble little footballs.  Some of them tolerate any number of other species in order to have a share of whatever food is available.  Some sadly have few survival skills and need our help to get through the worst patches.

When I have filled all the bird-feeders and thrown out other odds and ends the next step is to search cupboards and fridges to see how to add to the feathery food bank.

In winter I always keep packets of shredded suet (I don't bake), and the largest cheapest packs of mixed dried fruit the supermarkets can provide.

Yesterday when the snow was really heavy I found a huge chunk of cheddar cheese cut it into small blocks and am feeding these (grated), a small handful at a time.

Whenever I eat an apple I leave at least a third of it which is also thrown out for the birdy banquet.

The bird-bath is frozen solid and will stay that way for a week or two,  but I pour a jug of lukewarm water on top of it a couple of times a day which stays liquid for a short time.

In the great scheme of things these are very small aids but may help some of our feathered companions to survive this bitter cold.

Please help if you can.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Under Siege

The picture on the left is a few years old but, today we have had just about twice the amount of snow pictured.

It has been getting increasingly cold for about 6 days and today it finally snowed.

Like much of the country we have had plenty of warning but it still somehow comes as a surprise that we can have so much snow so quickly.

Luckily for once, i had listened to the warnings and have done 2 or 3 hefty food shops. 

If it goes on too long it will inevitably show up the deficiencies in my planning but just for the moment, I am feeling fairly smug.

Having done my Monday morning stint at St. M's yesterday and shopped afterward I had thought all would be well for a few days.  I can cancel my Wednesday stint if need be but would rather not have to miss Friday evening's choir practice so am hoping it will be a bit better by then.

The TV forecasts are not promising (some even warning it may go on to the middle of next week) so we'll just have to hope they have got it wrong, or that the Siberian winds fail to meet the more Southerly ones which could cause mayhem.

At one time such Winters were the norm in our Island home,  but recent years have seen a slow warming up over the worst months and we have been taken by surprise.

As I speak it has stopped snowing and the sun has come out.

Really, is it any wonder that we as a nation are preoccupied with our weather?

I'll go and fill the bird-feeders while I have the chance.

Stay safe and warm folks, and spare some thoughts for those who have no such luxury.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Throw your money away if you must - but don't let yourself be robbed

This is not a joyful post despite the picture.

February is not my favourite month and i hadn't intended to blog again until I was in a better frame of mind.

This morning however, the latest attempt to part me from my bank balance made me so mad I thought I had better get it down on 'paper'as it were, before I imploded.

8.59 am phone rings and is answered warily (rather early, not bad news I hoped),

Mrs Barn-ez?

Oh no, I really can't bear it here they are again I really thought they were gone for good.

"Barnes" I barked.

"Yes hallo maam and how are you today?"

"Fine, whatdo you want?"

"You have recently asked the Telephone preference service for help with nuisance calls, and this is to confirm that from tomorrow morning you will only get calls from friends and relatives and people you want to hear from"

"Good, glad to hear  it"

Much more of the same then they  asked me to confirm that my address is ...... and then asked me to
confirm that my Visa card is in the name of Mrs Ray Barnes.

My antenna immediately snapped to attention "Yes" I replied.

"And it expires before 2021"

"Yes"  I rep;lied

Will you confirm on what date it expires?"

"No" I replied "If you want me to confirm the date you tell me what date you have"

"You must confirm the date" was the reply.

"Not on your life" I said, and put the phone down.

The prefernce service is a free service and no one will ask for any financial information at all but i thought I would just confirm what they had already said (they knew my name address and phone number, so  I wasn't giving them anything they didn't already have,

They still know as much as they did before and not a thing more.  Much good may it do them!!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Grace is my middle name

Anyone who has read my blog for more than 2 or 3 years will be aware that I am more than averagely clumsy, accident prone, an injury magnet.

This morning, house tightly shuttered against last night's howling gales I looked out, saw that it was dry (then) and opened the back door.

Big mistake,  It flew out of my hand, crashed back against the tumble-dryer wall outlet and there was an ominous crash.

I looked at said piece of plastic - or what remains of it from previous crashes - and could see nothing.  Not really reassured, the noise had been considerable, I poked around the back door-step and found a large triangular object on the ground.

To cut it short, it was a lump of my cat-flap old and yellowed but still in place ten years after the demise of our last cat.  I now have a dilemma on my hands.

Since it is set into the door do I try to find someone who can locate and replace it with a similar one, though I have no plans to take on another cat, or do I have to replace the door (double glazing as well)?

As it stands the door is now vulnerable to access by any large strong animal or even, I suppose a small skinny burglar. To say nothing of possible weather damage.

Enough for  one day I thought, went to get my shower, stubbed my foot (yet again) and now have a nice navy-blue toe.

It hurts, is swollen and is about the tenth time I have performed this particular trick.

Is a suit of armour the answer, or should I  carry on regardless but take our personal injury insurance.

Answers and advice welcome.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Prayer versus Performance

It is possible I may have raised this issue before but last Sunday's  eucharist reminded me forcibley that it is a very real bone of contention.

If, as I am, you are a life-long performer, old habits die hard.

Used to singing either as a soloist or as part of a group, member of a chorus or of a choir it seems normal to expect and receive applause after a performance.

Singing in a church choir is a very different kettle of fish, where music is an integral part of the service and some would say, a type of prayer in itself.

Therefore in the Anglican church the music 'happens', and is seamlessly absorbed into the liturgy with no recognition (at the time), though on occasions when we have sung particularly well, with a few compliments after the service.

On just a very few occasions - for example on Christmas Day - we have sometimes put in an extra item (The Halleluja Chorus) or something similar and received a huge volume of applause.

This is very heart-warming and is usually very welcome since this is after all, the culmination of a hefty programme of music over a lengthy and very tiring period of time.

Last Sunday, about one third of the choir turned up and for the anthem sang unaccompanied the work by Lully arranged by Bizet, known for choral purposes as "Far Away".  This we sang, though I say it  as shouldn't, very well indeed.

We were astounded by the reception, loud cheers and rapturous applause.

Although it was a lovely tribute it felt (for me anyway) completely out of place.

Which raises for me yet again, the old question.  Where does performance end and prayer begin?