Friday, 1 February 2013

Signing off

Today I am signing off from this blog as The Curate and I have reached the end of his journey as a curate. I started this blog to help me make sense of the second half of the journey to become a full time curate in the Church of England and a curate's wife. It was a journey that I had not expected to make twenty seven years into our marriage. I thought we would be working hard at our respective careers, enjoying fine wines, foreign travel, life in the country and visiting our sons - where ever they had settled in the world. But life isn't that predictable! 

When my 'unchurched' husband found God, - or God found him, our life's journey started changing and I discovered I was powerless to stop it.  I soon realised I could leave him or go with it. I decided the latter and there have been many times, even during this curacy, that I have regretted staying on the bus. But I have also been stretched and squeezed, shaken and churned and, I hope, shaped into a better person.

'The Other half' blog was suppose to record the second half of The Curate's curacy and my acceptance not of his new role, but my own. This is because life is different when you live with someone who has a collar round their neck! Our situation had been eased by the Bishop moving us to a second curacy where I could continue my work as a learning support teacher. It came with a price. 

 We squeezed our belongings into a much smaller house. The lack of space added stresses that we hadn't anticipated. We didn't dare sell any furniture as we were due to move again at the end of the curacy. My commute to work was a stressful start and end to the day. I will never understand road planners that design roads with three lanes merging into one lane on a commuter route! The saving grace of all of the problems was that we were living on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. Dartmoor has been a great joy for both of us and our sanctuary when times were tough.
And times have been tough. This second curacy has taught The Curate and I so much about the importance of being inclusive, understanding and welcoming...and how difficult it is to restore the trust of people when mistakes have been made. It is not The Curate I hasten to add - curates are allowed to make mistakes as a curacy should be a safe environment to learn and grow in. But The Curate has been in the position to feel the hurt and pain of people who have felt neglected, rejected and unaccepted by 'The Church'.

We thought we were going to a parish church that was centred on the community. We looked forward to living within the immediate community who might only use the church for weddings funerals and Christmas, but who saw the church as their church. The reality was that our neighbours didn't want to have anything to do with the 'happy, clappy' place. It was a sobering realisation and to find that The Curate was judged to be 'one of them' even before he had had a chance to speak to anyone.

I have learned a lot about church traditions and a lot about myself! I realised that if I worked during the week I (like many people) was not prepared to spend Sunday mornings being talked at in church. If the music on the radio is not up to scratch - I turn it off or change channels. Fortunately there were a number of churches in our locality and I have enjoyed the timeless simplicity of rural churches and the bustle and superb music of our town church. So I ended up where I had the best fit and not where I expected to be. The Curate - who has been sent far and wide to small moorland parishes and has conducted the services in town - has experienced such warm welcomes and we both find these places the most difficult to leave behind.
This other half of The Curate's curacy has not been the easiest and we have both learnt much about ourselves, our relationship, our work, our vocations, our passions and our vunerabilities.
So much has had to go unwritten. At times we forgot how to laugh and we seemed to be sinking in a sea of stress. Some how we survived - someone threw us a lifeline,- we bobbed up in our life buoys. God just held out his hand and we had to remember to grasp it.
If you asked me now if I enjoyed being The Curate's wife - I think I would be honest and say no. I would never have chosen this route through life. I do know it has been good for me - like a medicine that doesn't taste good at the time but it might be making me better!

On Sunday The Curate takes his last service and a week later we move to Dorset. The Curate will be licensed as The Rector of six rural parishes and I will be following him 'Up the Rectory Path'. Please do visit me at the new blog and I will share the delights of Dorset and the ramblings of a rookie rector's wife - although I still can't promise any scones or flower arranging. (I shall remain The Curate's wife - one never likes to accept growing up!) I hope I have provided some hope for any other reluctant curate's wives - you can come through it - just broaden your shoulders and hang on - I'm sure it will be worth it!  Thank you for your generous support - I do so value your comments and I hope you will explore 'Up the Rectory Path' ( clicking here should take you there or use the link on the sidebar) with me. I look forward to sharing another beautiful part of the UK with you.
The gang coming with us to the Rectory

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A little snow time

On Friday the Met Office gave out a rare red weather warning for severe weather over much of the UK. Here in the South West we were going to be on the very edge of the amber warning and we were probably more likely to see rain than snow.  I really wanted to see a snow covered Dartmoor before we left the area and I wasn't to be disappointed. The highest areas were covered in a freezing fog but we were able to enjoy the views across to the moor despite a rather gloomy sky. Unlike the rest of the country, our winter scenes were very short lived - by lunch time, large areas of green could be seen again. I still have a pair of sledges that have not been unwrapped yet! In other parts of the country people suffered with power loss and icy roads. Travel was disrupted and hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed.The snow did not bring the delights that we had been able to enjoy.
 Oh yes - and someone else thought it was very exciting to be outside in this snowy world
- Tess!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Dartmoor reflections

Northmore's Cross
I will miss Dartmoor when we move. I can't believe how much the rugged, wild landscapes have got under my skin. The Curate and I have retreated there when times were tough. We could stand and stare at the outstretched country below us and remind ourselves that whatever was troubling us was only a moment in time and time passes. And so it did - and we learnt so much during this second half of The Curate's curacy.

We have discovered so many different faces to Dartmoor. We have seen the changes with each season and experienced the seemingly endless rain that we have all had this year. What was new for us, was to see how it affected those who lived and worked on Dartmoor and how it was such a threat to their livelihoods. The Curate has been drawn into farming families at times of funerals and he has had glimpses of the farming life that has been passed down from one generation of the family to the next. Quad bikes have replaced ponies and paperwork has halted bartering. TB testing dominates life for weeks at a time but the essence of life in a remote moorland farm, remains the same.
Riding round Fox Tor Mires
Riding across Dartmoor has given us yet another view of this wild place. I never thought that I would be able to ride as much as I have done and I have met people who have shown me parts of  Dartmoor that I would never have found on my own in the short time we have had here. Earlier this week we rode beside the Fox Tor Mires - this is an exposed area of treacherous boggy moorland that you do not cross. It said that it could be as deep as twenty foot in places. There you will find a granite cross which is said to be the tomb of a wealthy Saxon Lord, Childe the Hunter. The Mires are said to have been the inspiration for The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arther Conan Doyle.   We were making our way up Hand Hill to see one of the smallest crosses on Dartmoor - Northmore's Cross. It is just 11 cm tall and is placed on a triangular granite rock in 1982 by Mr Northmore  who had farmed the area for years. He was marking his appreciation of having lived and worked in the area.

Dartmoor has certainly become a very important part of my journey alongside The Curate. The landscapes, the wild skies and the people, have all made creases in my life that will not be ironed out. It has taught me that my heart is in the countryside and I now need to explore this as we begin our new life in Dorset next month.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Ending the year at the beginning

litter tray training failed at first
I had forgotten the chaos an eight week old puppy can bring to the household. The Collie's daughter - Tess - has been with us for 5 days now and we are exhausted - the Lakeland and the Collie included. As 2012 comes to a close, The Curate and I are slowly packing up the house - ready for our move in just over a month and Tess is very much a part of our new life. 

The Collie is not too impressed with his daughter so far and keeps giving her little growls if she over-steps the mark. This then send her across the room emitting high pitched howls and you would think she had been ferociously attacked. We are learning that she is a drama queen! Tess is learning to give the Collie a wide berth! The old Lakeland seems to give a deep sigh and has no fight left in her - so Tess ends up in her bed sometimes with the Lakeland - sometimes on her own. 

Second Night
Third night
The six pups have all been re-homed now and a sister and two brothers have stayed in this area. Three of them will be meeting at the puppy socialisation classes and in other places. The Curate took the service in the local church this Sunday and discovered that Bessie - a sister of Tess was also attending church in a basket! Her owner was sure that Bessie recognised The Curate's voice and was listening attentively every time he spoke! ( The Curate did puppy sit with me from very early on.) 

Tess cannot go out until she has had all her jabs but she has made her first trip to a very watery moor inside The Curate's jacket! She was very keen to join the other dogs and explore. She will just have to wait for the moment. 

So we end this challenging year by looking forward to pastures new (- which are a lot drier hopefully ! )

May it be a peaceful and very happy New Year.
(with very few noisy fireworks this year please)


Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas 2012 in pictures that I might have missed.

The spring bulbs' green tips, determinedly pushing their way upwards, through sodden earth and into the grey, rain-laden world.

The chatter of two sons, catching up, making up for their busy lives separating them by time and distance.

The silliness of sticky notes stuck on foreheads, trying to guess the famous name written on them!

Every seat filled around our dining table.

The church memorial plaque, lit by flickering candle light at midnight mass, reminding us of the  abbots that once belonged in this space ;- 
AEfmaer, Lyfing, Ealdred, Sihtric,Wymund, Osbert.....  long forgotten names.

The Lord's Prayer recited as one low reverent voice of 400 worshippers like the abbots chanting vespers in a dimly lit abbey.

The single star standing sentry to the almost full moon throughout the Christmas night.

The clearest, joyful bird songs cutting through the darkness on early Christmas morning.

The single rosebud determined to be there for Christmas Day despite being battered by the heavy rain.

Two sons, kneeling at the altar, not together, but at the altar rail - in two different churches, in two different settings.

The sunlight lighting up the silver, snake like water trails on the sodden moor, as we make our way to the rural church on Christmas morning.

The warm hugs and welcome by familiar members of the small ancient rural church which is freshly decorated with flowers and candles.

The Curate, resplendent in gold stole, standing confidently ready to take the morning service.

My world travelling son receiving communion from his father for the first time.

The laughter and shared double act of The Curate and the church warden at the end of the morning service marking The Curate's last service at this place.

 All Christmas Blessings!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Preparations

and not forgetting 7 week old Tess - who joins us the day after Christmas Day

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Christmas garlands and fairground rides

The Curate and I have been visiting lots of the local places of interest - you know the ones that we always say we will visit but never get round to - until we have visitors ....or we know we are moving. We visited Cotehele this morning which is a wonderful Tudor house situated on the River Tamar in Cornwall. Each year at Christmas, the Great Hall is decorated with a sixty foot dried flower garland - made from flowers grown in the grounds. It is a spectacular sight in a spectacular setting.


 The other place we visited was Dingles which has old fairground rides set up in two huge barns. I have to say that we thought the old wooden rides, with their bumpy, clattery motion and fast speeds were more exciting ( and scary!) than we remembered - maybe we are just getting old. We managed to make ourselves feel quite sick . All in all, it was a wonderful distraction from work for The Curate and a lovely day out for me.