I would like to send my prayers and thoughts for a most blessed and meaningful Christmas to all who read my blog. Lynn is putting the finishing touches to the 'stockings' for the girls and we are all going across the road to support the Anglican Church's Christingle service later this afternoon. Our dear brother and sister Jonathan and Becky from Portsmouth introduced us to a new song, the first line of which reads: 'Joy has dawned upon the world, promised from creation'. Lydia sang (and played) this song as a solo at our 'Carols by Candlelight' service on Sunday evening and I took 'Promise' as the theme for the short message I gave. So many promises are made, and broken. However, God will never break His promise. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promise God had made to mankind at the dawn of creation - His Son, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came among us to vanquish the sin and death that had entered the world with Adam and Eve. Of course, the promise doesn't stop there! God also promises us eternal life, with Him our creator, but it is a 'gift' that we need to accept. God will not force it upon us. If you are still reading, then I would urge you to consider your position in regards to eternity. Have you accepted this wonderful gift that God promised us from creation?
All of a sudden after weeks of slow painstaking work, the simple thing like the erection of a shed and fence has transformed our mess of a garden into something resembling civilisation! I resisted the temptation to buy any more building material in order to give myself an enforced rest over the Christmas period. Just as well, there is plenty to do with church activities over the next week.
Today we tried out out newly furbished van 'Phoebus' with a picnic at Bantham Sands. Bacon butties and tea all round were successfully prepared and consumed before we had a pleasant walk on the sands watching the surfers enjoying the blustery conditions. How they survive in the sea on a cold December day I don't know! We were in good company parked alongside all the surf dudes in their VW vans!
It has been a while since I talked about the 'wall'. Unfortunately we had to borrow more money to pay the final bill. As we cannot get a mortgage advance for 6 months (new rules!) we had to take a personal loan - very expensive. We are feeling the squeeze a bit but are enjoying God's wonderful grace in supplying our every need. As you can see from this pictures, the tidy-up work is progressing slowly, but is keeping me fit!
We had a great extended weekend in Portsmouth this weekend. The main reason for our visit was for me to attend the 'Top Table' dinner for Billy Monaghan, an old friend and colleague on the occasion of him leaving the RM Band Service after 33 years service. We here looked after for the weekend by Hannah and Dan and it was lovely to share some time with them and do a bit of 'jamming' with Dan; although I think it was a bit stressful for Julia (see picture). We also saw our Dan and Crystal and it was again lovely to catch up with them. We visited Malcolm and Dorothy for coffee, complete with nibbles - thank you both. On Saturday evening Lynn and I were invited to the Crossley home to celebrate a real American 'Thanksgiving'. It was a wonderful evening and we were delighted to meet up with Ian's and Cindy's sons Nathan and Tim, and Nathan's new wife Naomi. We all had to share some things that we are thankful to God for. On Monday morning Lydia and I took a short tour of the Royal Marines School of Music. I think Lydia was quite impressed.
Much has been happening over the past few weeks and I need to get a few pictures to post on this blog. The 'wall' has been finished and I have now had the astronomical final bill. Still, it is only money. I have been spending a lot of time putting our back garden back in order after the upheaval. We should end up with a more user-friendly garden. Sid's orchestra is rehearsing madly for our Christmas concert on 10th Dec. Sid asked me to do some arrangements for this concert and you can listen to them on the 'my music' link. They are arrangements of Jingle Bells, and O Little Town of Bethlehem - with thanks to J S Bach and Vivaldi. Last Monday Julia and I bused and trained to Salisbury to collect our van which has emerged from its chrysalis as a beautiful yellow camper van - pictures to follow. We are off to Portsmouth this weekend with a very full programme to look forward to. More about this later. Church keeps us very busy still but the boat work for the Harbour Authority is very quiet as we are out of season.
Friday night is 'Top of the town club' night, when we run two kids clubs for junior school age kids followed by the older early secondary school youngsters. The younger club runs like clockwork but the older club takes more work! We have a 'God slot' where we tell the kids about the wonderful love of Jesus, and they seem to enjoy this time. This week we had a 'crazy hat' week and donated our weekly subs to the Children in Need appeal. The photos show the hatted masses - spot the older group!
No, Lydia didn't have a breakdown, but the car we borrowed to get Lyd to Bristol did! Our most grateful thanks go to our friends Linda and Adrian who have very kindly lent us their car. Well the day had arrived for Lydia's last exam in 2008 and we had decided to make it a family day with a visit to Ikea (hmmm). So we set off at 5.30 am in appalling weather and arrived in Bristol at about 8 am. Then the battery light came on! A quick check in the users manual told us to switch off all electrical equipment and drive to a Ford dealer. As the light went off we drove to the exam centre and called out the breakdown services. Lydia's exam went well and a nice man in a very nice car drove us home to Dartmouth with Adrian's and Linda's car on a trailer. We gave the nice man a cup of tea and a piece of brownie before sending him home again. A day in the life of ....
We had our annual 'Light Party' at church tonight. While many kids dress up in Hallowe'en costumes for a bit of 'fun', we wanted to provide a place that our kids club could come to that would promote the light that only God can bring into our lives through His son Jesus. This is a serious matter, and what is now seen as a harmless pursuit is in reality promoting the forces of evil. Satan stands for deceit, darkness and evil. God is love, grace and light.
Today Dan and I went for a walk looking for bits of rock that Dan could climb. Unfortunately it was high water so many of the small beaches around our coastline were covered making access difficult; or rather, making the chance of Dan getting wet very real as what exposed rock there was, was precipitously growing out of the snarling waves. However, we found a bit here and there for Dan to do his 'spiderman' act on.
Well, after much preparation and hours of grueling study, Lydia has commenced her examinations. Last Friday saw Lyd and I starting the marathon trip by car, train and bus to an examination centre in Bristol to take the first of her RE 'O' level (yes, 'O' level) examinations. We repeated the journey this Monday take take part two and are looking forward to English later this week and next week. The journey started at 9am and we got home about 7.30pm! Why Bristol? You may well ask, but don't!
It was great to have a visit from Dan (son Dan) who will be 24 years old next Sunday - wow! You can see him above teaching Julia the finer points of chess, such as teaching her that rooks (castles) can move across the board as well as up and down. Dan has had a couple of job offers recently, to become a manager for Threshers and as a hospital orderly or something. But next month he will be interviewed for a place at Haven Banks in Exeter, to train to become an outdoor activities instructor. Life is exciting! The wall goes on - more about this soon; and we need to re-model the church kitchen to take the new dishwasher that we have bought. Oh, and Christmas is coming! This means we need to start looking at material for the Christmas family service. We have an interesting 'service' from Spurgeons called 'Sing like an Angel' that we are going to adopt.
Another week has sailed by with a spell of fine weather bringing out the yachtsmen, making the river work busier; but also giving the builders the chance to get the wall building well under way. It is a long job entailing unloading 30 tons of rock from dumpbags into buckets, then by hand up a few steps into a power barrow before being unloaded by hand into the gabion baskets that the wall is built with. Very heavy labour, but a chance for me to loose a few pounds and help keep the labour costs down a bit. Unfortunately, I have not really been able to take advantage of the weather to sail Jireh. She is now located in her winter berth on a pontoon in Dartmouth, making it very convenient to get out to her on the yacht taxi.
Monday 6th October will be Lynns and my 29th wedding anniversary, so we decided to celebrate it by having a meal together on the 'Res Nova' a floating restaurant on the River Dart. Now we very rarely go out together so this was a real treat for us. Having taken numerous yotties to and from the Res Nova whilst water taxi driving this year I have been able to ask what the food is like. Of course, it matters not to us what the food is like - just to gaze lovingly into each others eyes lovingly is celebration enough! It was an extremely wet and windy night, but this made it all the more cosy - until of course when we walked home and got caught in the rain. Anyway, happy anniversary darling (For Lynn).
A few blogs back I mentioned our garden wall that had collapsed. Well, our neighbours have now discovered that we are responsible for the wall so have handed over the work, and the costs, to us. The current tally is £14k, but we haven't had the structural surveyors bill yet, and we need to compensate our neighbours neighbour for letting the workmen use their garden for access and such. On the plus side our neighbours have said they may contribute to the costs, but we cannot guarantee this. These things really test your Christian charity, but I keep reminding myself that I need to act as Jesus would have: with patience and gentleness. Anyway, the work has begun!
Today I took our yellow Volkswagen T4 transporter van to a company who specialise in converting vehicles into motor caravans. Calypso Campers will have our van 'Phoebus' for 8 weeks, much to Julia's disgust as she will now have to walk to gym every Thursday. The company insists that their converted vans have names, and John, the manager said that the girls' name of 'Buttercup' was unsuitable for the T4, which is a very solid and dare I say masculine vehicle! Anyway, at least I won't have to put flower stickers on the side now.
Well, we now have a son-in-law! Hannah and Dan's wedding turned out to be a fabulous day with the sun shining brightly throughout. Jonathan's message for the service was a reminder that only Jesus can bring the real joy into a marriage that will give growth and balance to the love and giving of each other that is so essential to this divine institution. The reception at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park was a wonderful time to make new friendships and meet up with family and friends that we hadn't seen for years. You can even listen to Hannah's wedding march that I composed specially for the day on Phil's music link.
Lynn has travelled to Portsmouth for the week for Hannah's wedding preparations leaving me in charge of the girls for a few days. I thought I would post a few piccies to show that all is under control! As I write, Julia is busy cooking 'her' meal and Lydia is ... was practicing her clarinet. I have reduced a tree to fire-size logs and we are still praying about the garden wall. Things seem to be improving a bit and all should be under way by the time our eldest daughter is wed!
I have added a link to the 'Sibelius' web site where you can find some of my music listed. You will need to download 'Scorch', a free download from Sibelius in order to listen to the music. It is an interesting site with LOTS of music on it!
There are many reason why I love my wife, but one of these is because she knows what I am like! Lynn recognised that I needed a project of some sort to work on and suggested that I look at building a yacht again. Well, I don't need telling twice and after perusing the study plans of the Richard Woods designed 'Gypsy', bought some 10 years ago, I took the plunge today and bought the plans - much cheaper than expected as I bought them as a computer download. Anyway, buying the plans is the easy bit; I expect the building project will take about 5 years - which should keep me busy!
Well, the wall finally collapsed! Fortunately there is a good builder on the case but the financial damage is yet to be determined! The wall is not insured, but it looks as though we will be sharing the cost of repairing the wall with our neighbours below who own the property as a holiday home. The cost is likely to go into many £1000s. Never mind, there is no use storing up treasures on earth; and as Romans 8v28 says ".. all things work together for good to them that love God ..".
We have just got through the 2008 Dartmouth Regatta weekend where the crowds both by land and by sea seemed to surpass any previous years when we enjoyed this annual event. Julia, after much training with the Guides (with Jireh acting as safety boat) took part in a rowing race where her boat came 4th - well done Julia! Unfortunately for the masses, both the free-fall parachuting and the Red Arrows displays were cancelled due to low cloud. We had Lydia's friend from Portsmouth with us. Molly keeps Lyd busy on msn every night as they exchange important messages, so it was good to get them together to allow them to send important messages to their mutual friends! Also, we were delighted to have a brief visit from Hannah. This will be her last visit home as a single woman! On Saturday night we took Jireh out to watch the fireworks from whilst afloat on the river. Unfortunately, the same low cloud that cancelled the Red Arrows somewhat veiled the fireworks, but it was fun anyway. Things have quickly returned to normal although we have just found out that the wall that holds up our garden is collapsing; this sounds expensive!
Jireh, our sturdy Drascombe Lugger sailing dinghy has been called into action to provide a safety boat for the guides as they practice their rowing for Dartmouth 2008 Regatta. A mix of novices and more experienced rowers, together with yet another summer gale and blustery squalls passing through made for some interesting moments. But the girls did very well and are shaping up nicely. A few more practices should see them performing wth style!
I retired from the Royal Marines Band Service in 2007 having served for 33 years as a musician, eventually becoming a Director of Music and running my own band. After retirement, I took my family sailing in the Philippines with a view to sailing back to the UK via Australia. However, for many reasons our plans changed and after 9 years living in Dartmouth we have now moved to Totnes.I am married to Lynn and we have four children. Daniel and his wife Sara live in Portsmouth; Hannah is married to another Dan and they live with our grandchildren Sophia, Isaac & Elijah in Topsham. Lydia is currently studying in Lancaster and Julia is Studying Art at Totnes, due to attend University at Falmouth in 2016. I teach music in the local school and work part time for the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority, driving the yacht taxi. Between this, directing the local orchestra, various musical performances, involved with the local church and helping train the local Ten Tors team, life can be very busy.