In the Church of England, after all the demands of Christmas, clergy are expected to take a week off work immediately after Christmas in order to rest and recuperate.
In our case, superman the Mhinisteir decided to take his holidays at a later date in order to allow the assistant curate to go away on their post Christmas break. I have often wondered why the assistant curate always gets the first choice when it comes to holidays🤐!
Anyway, the good news is as of today we are officially on our post Christmas break. Later this morning, we are leaving for our usual hideout and hope to be away for a few days.
I have yet to decide if I am going to continue blogging during this period but if there is a lapse you will know why!
It was reported in the most recent Church Times that a new Archbishop’s secretary for appointments has been found. For the uninitiated, the secretary of appointments is the one who manages the process for the appointment of bishops, deans, and other senior posts in the Church of England.
Some people within the Church of England are a little surprised by the appointment as the post which has been vacant for only about 2 months doesn’t seem to have been advertised. Furthermore they are irked by the revelation that it is an internal appointment!
Personally, I find it strange that in the Church of England, clergy have to apply for new positions; something which I am not familiar with because in Scotland the clergy receive what is known as a “call”. Meanwhile administrative positions appear to require no such applications.
I dread that what happens inside the Church mirrors the secular government!
In the latest Private Eye under Eye Classifieds, someone has advertised their services as a professional mourner. I had to read it twice! I think I know what a professional mourner does even though I have not met one before but is there a need for such a person?
I have often heard from the Mhinisteir as to how some bereaved families prefer not to turn up at the funeral service in Church or at the crematorium. The reasons given are usually family feud or simply too busy to turn up!
To hire a professional mourner appears to be just taking it a step too far but maybe there is a perfectly simple reason as to why there is a need to hire one!
In the same Private Eye, under Dumb Britain, I spotted the following:-
Tipping Point, ITV
Ben Shephard: Ciabatta bread originated in which European country?
As I type this, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry as that is the type of day I had yesterday!
Regular readers will know that the vicarage boiler has been down since last Thursday and it remains so. To add to that, we had an unexpected power cut the whole of yesterday. It started just before 10am and went on and on. The Mhinisteir had back to back zoom meetings and had to cancel all of them. He rang around the neighbours and mysteriously nobody had a power cut! However, a few of them reported seeing several power network vans in the village.
Without the little electric heaters, the vicarage grew very cold very quickly. I could no longer take cover under the electric blanket! The Mhinisteir contacted the power network people and was informed that there was a planned work going on of which we should have been notified a month ago and that the power will be off until 2.30pm that day. We did not receive ANY such notification! The villagers hadn’t heard of it either! If I had known of the power cut, I would have filled our thermos flasks with hot water and soup instead we found ourselves without any hot water or hot food.
The Mhinisteir suggested going out for lunch. Hot food and a bit of warmth sounded attractive and off we went. On our way out of the village, we saw the power network people working on the cables causing us to be hopeful that power would be resumed as promised.
On our way back, the power network vans had disappeared and we could see the lights in the village; things were looking up.
The first thing I did upon entering the vicarage was to turn on the lights. Lo and behold, there was no light!!!!!!! Oh dear!!!!
By this time, the Mhinisteir’s mobile had run out of battery, after plugging in the analog phone, the Mhinisteir phoned the power network people again. According to their records, power was restored in our area some time ago and so they were puzzled. Oh dear!
They promised to send an engineer within 3 hours. With the sun going down, the vicarage was getting even colder. About half and hour later, the doorbell rang. It was the power network engineers!!! Hallejujah!!!!
From the moment the Mhinisteir opened the door till they left, they were apologising profusely. This is what happened….. because the vicarage is on a dead end, they didn’t know it existed and so didn’t bother turning on our power again. This is the same reason why we were not notified of the planned work because as far as they were concerned we didn’t exist!!!!!! As to why most of the villagers were unaffected; it’s because the vicarage is on a hill and so we share the powerlines with folk outside the village! Baffling? I know.😁
Thankfully, power has been restored but still no sign of the boiler engineer. We really can’t go on like this for much longer as it is very disruptive and tiresome🙃🙃. We are both so tired with all the excitement and can’t wait for normal services to resume.
Today is the 4th day without heating since the vicarage boiler broke down on Thursday.
It has been a massive inconvenience but we are not miserable. It is amazing how the breakdown of something like the boiler can upset our routine. I thought it was just me who feels this way but the Mhinisteir is struggling too.
We were given 4 foot heaters by the heating company for which we are thankful but it is not the same and we are still cold. I have been spending most of my time in bed with the electric blanket turned on! I am only in my study to write this blog, after that I am going back to the comfort of my bed.
Thankfully, we have got hot water which means we can have our shower and do the washing up but we almost went without it as the engineer who was sent to us was new and so was not familiar with the way our heating system works.
Rural churches have very little or no heating so it was mighty cold in both churches yesterday. On top of that, the windows and doors were kept open in compliance with Covid19 guidelines. When we came back, we were even more cold!!!! 🥶🥶🥶🥶
As always our kind parishioners have been offering us their portable heaters but I think we are quite alright for now but we can’t wait for the heating to be restored.
Today is Epiphany, the revelation of Christ to the gentiles.
On the drive back home from church after attending the service to mark Epiphany, I was reminded as to what an important day it is for without the revelation of Christ to the gentiles, there would have been no hope for the rest of us who are not Jews. Unfortunately, my Protestant upbringing meant that we never marked Epiphany or any of the feast days.
Anyway, Epiphany also means that it is time to take down the Christmas decorations. As everyone else’s home, the Vicarage now looks bare without the decorations but it is just a matter of getting used to! I always keep the decorations to a bare minimum and even then I was exhausted taking them down.
Thankfully, today is the day the cleaners were scheduled to come and so they were able to clear up all the mess that I created while taking down the decorations.
I love letter writing and I also like receiving handwritten letters. There is just something special about them! Sadly, in this modern world, most people prefer to communicate via electronic means while some simply don’t bother! 😁
I love to look at beautiful handwritings and in order to improve my own handwriting, I started learning (self taught) calligraphy in 2019. There were no calligraphy workbooks for left handers so I just bought one that was for right handers and practiced religiously. Despite getting frustrated, I must say that I am super pleased with myself for having come this far with just the help of one book!
As you will see from the photo above, I have finally mustered enough courage to show off my work.
In terms of letter writing, the month of January is a busy month for me. The first two weeks in January see me writing thank you cards to all the people who gave us Christmas presents.
As we don’t send out Christmas cards, I spend the rest of January writing to people who are in our “Christmas” card list.
We stopped sending Christmas cards about 11 years ago when I realised through our own experience that due to the busyness of Christmas, the Mhinisteir and I often don’t have the time to read or appreciate the many many Christmas cards plus robin letters that come through the Vicarage postbox. It was also during this time that I discovered through casual conversations with parishioners that after all the hype of Christmas, January becomes a lonely month for most people especially those who live on their own. That is when the idea to write to people in January was born and since then I have stuck to it.
I am not sure what the weather is like in your part of the world but for us here in England, it has been very wet and miserable. It was raining on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and as I type this, it is raining again. All I can see out of the big windows in my study are great big puddles of water!
Despite the weather, the Church attendance on boxing day was good and after the service, I stayed behind to chat to a few people whom I don’t usually see. During that time, a couple of ladies approached me and after the usual polite greetings said that they hate people who dress well all the time but that they don’t hate me for which I should be thankful. I was quite shocked but thankful that my face mask hid my shock. I laughed and wished them a Happy New Year and went my way.
I have never had anybody say that to me ever before. 😬 Thankfully this incident is not going to change the way I dress.
We were late in going to bed on Christmas Eve. Actually, it was already Christmas Day when we went to bed at 2am; I was waiting up for the Mhinisteir to come back from the midnight mass. I always get very nervous when he has to drive in the dark especially during the festive period when half the drivers appear to be less than sober!
The next day, I struggled to get up for the Christmas Day service. Unlike the Mhinisteir, I wasn’t bright eyed and bushy tailed but at least I wasn’t grumpy after a nice warm shower. Just as I was about to enter into Church, a parishioner approached me for a hug. I had to politely decline. He was shocked and I felt bad but I had to act responsibly. I wish that he hadn’t put me in that situation in the first place but ……
While in Church, I realised that it was warmer outside than it was inside for I was frozen. After the service, folk were saying how cold it was in the church but that’s rural churches for you; poor heating and no loo😁. The service was lovely and I got to see the new baby; a young family who are regulars have had a new baby boy. They already have two other boys.
Back home, I struggled to thaw. After a bowl of warming soup, I decided to head to bed with Agatha Raisin and the electric blanket while the Mhinisteir went ahead with his home visits/communions.
A few hours later, I found the Mhinisteir reading next to me in bed! It also meant that it was time for our Christmas dinner which was pan fried turkey breast with rosemary and all the trimmings. I know that the Mhinisteir was exhausted as he also had a few deaths in the parishes in the run up to Christmas so I didn’t insist that he dressed up so we had our Christmas dinner in our old pyjamas which was a first for us!
In case you are wondering, we do have family whom we are very close to but unusually for us, both sets of our families are very busy doing good between the Christmas and New Year period so we don’t usually have a get together during the festive period. It is not something new but has been going on for generations. In fact, almost 50 years, the Mhinisteir’s uncle was returning home after distributing food and presents to the underprivileged when he was tragically killed by an errant driver.
ps: We have yet to open the Christmas presents that came from our parishioners. We hope to put that right this evening and after that I have to start writing thank you cards.
Last week, we received an envelope containing a Christmas card. Upon opening it, I found a £5 note enclosed in the card; It was from a parishioner. Miss JV is a 90 year old spinster who lives in one of our parishes. Every Christmas, she gives us a card with a £5 note enclosed.
As an OAP (old aged pensioner), the £5 must mean a lot to her as it can buy one many things. For the Mhinisteir and I, it is a very humbling experience.
Last year we bought a second hand book and attached her Christmas card to it so that in years to come, when we pick up that book from our library, we will remember Miss JV and her kindness towards us.
We haven’t quite decided what to buy this year but it will be something that will help us to remember the wonderful Miss JV.