Wednesday, November 28, 2007

yorkshire sculpture park

I'd wanted to go for ages, but never got around to it, but on Monday I went to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, just up the M1 from me.

Some friends of mine from church had been telling me how great this place was, in particular some of the stuff by Andy Goldsworthy. He does some amazing work with natural materials, wood, stone, plant stalks. There were four really big rooms, each with some construction using one of these different natural substances. One of the rooms had this massive screen made out of twig/stalk bits from blackthorn bushes (from which we get sloes....mmmmm....tasty sloe gin), all held together by spiky bits from blackthorn bushes.

Another room, my favourite, had been created into what I imagine it must be like inside a beaver's lodge. It was like a large cocoon of logs, all lying on top of one another, making a remarkably warm, cosy space. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

The room was huge, initially really dark, to the point that you couldn't see other peoeple who were stood around the side of the room in the shadows.

I found it really breathtaking, it looked stunning, it smelt really good, it felt so warm, and was just incredible to think about the effort needed in putting it all together.

The rest of the park was really good too, the weather was good for walking, especially considering what it has been like recently. My friend and I had lots of conversations about 'what is art', and we spent an awfully long time watching a heron, which was so still, and so perfectly positioned, that we felt sure it was some sneakily placed sculpture. Eventually, after at least ten minutes, it moved. But just because it was a real heron, that moved and everything, does it make it any less art? was a really good day, and if you get the chance to go there, I would take it. The Andy Goldsworthy stuff is only there until the beginning of January, but well worth a visit.

every so often you realise the journey is worthwhile

No, I'm afraid I'm not talking about something deeply profound, just football!!!

On Saturday I went down to Milton Keynes to watch Chesterfield. It was a fantastic game, which the BBC's report really doesn't do justice to. Both teams played some brilliant attacking football, which made for an open, and thoroughly entertaining game.

By the time it got to stoppage time, Chesterfield were leading 2-1, but it still felt like anything could happen. And it did. The Chesterfield fans were all standing at the end where MK Dons were attacking, the MK Dons fans were therefore, on the whole, at the other end of the stadium. MK Dons were attacking, about two minutes into the four minutes of stoppage time which had been announced. One of the MK Dons players managed to get the ball into the back of our net, the referee, with the help of his assistant, quickly ruled it out for handball. All the MK Dons fans, down at the other end thought that a legitimate goal had been scored. They all started cheering, thinking they had salvaged a draw from the game. Also oblivious to the referee's actions was the stadium announcer, who having assumed that the goal had been scored fairly, pressed the button to start MK Dons goal celebration music playing (Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis).

So imagine the scene, the MK Dons fans are singing and dancing along to the catchy "der de der, der de der, der de der de der de de" chorus of the aforementioned song, and having realised the comedy of the situation, all the Chesterfield fans starting singing and dancing along too. After a good ten or fifteen seconds, the stadium announcer realises what has happened, and sheepishly faded out the music, the MK Dons fans bring their celebrations to a swift conclusion, but the Chesterfield fans all keep singing even louder, dancing more exuberantly than before, until breaking down into hysterics, at what has possibly become one of my all time favourite football moments.

The 220 mile round trip was most definitely worth it.

Oh, did I mention that MK Dons were top of the league....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

and something else i've been meaning to do for a while.... start getting my fruit and veg delivered, through on of those organic fruit and veg box schemes. This is the website of the company I've started using.

A good friend of mine has been suggesting I start doing this for a number of months now. I put it off over the summer, knowing that I would be away, and not about to use stuff up.

One thing that I've noticed pretty quickly, is that with the produce being organic, it hasn't been treated with preservatives, therefore, you need to use it up a bit more promptly. This is no bad thing really. Made some soup today, and my freezer now contains various curried vegetables.

I know it is probably a bit more expensive doing it this way, and I can't help but feel just a bit pretentious doing this, but I'll see how it goes. I'm looking forward to 'being forced' to use vegetables that I don't normally cook with.

Richard writes here about his experience at the River Cottage shop. While I enjoy getting my food through one of these box schemes, I can't help but wonder if what I'm actually doing is buying into some 'middle class guilt relief exercise', whereby I feel better about myself because I'm buying organic food, and not from a big supermarket......I don't know.....I think I could probably over analyse this too much.

why did i ever think it would be any different

I mean really, whatever made me think that England would pull it out of the bag tonight. I mean they even got our hopes up in the second half, coming back from 2-0 down, to equalise at 2-2, putting us within touching distance of making it to the European Championships. But no. They had to blow it.

I shouldn't be surprised really. After all, what gives us the right to think that we have the right to get to these major championships. We're England. That's all. Nothing more, nothing less. We're just one country, whose professional football infrastructure has sold out to major corporations, looking to make a quick buck from our beautiful game.

I could go on, but I'm guessing the smattering of people who read this blog don't read it for intricate football comment. I'm off to watch Chesterfield away at MK Dons on Saturday, with our Australian and Hungarian centre backs.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

joining stuff up

So I've been doing this course that Sheffield Diocese run, called 'The Art of Spiritual Direction', which follows on from a course I did last year called 'Discipleship and Spiritual Direction: Listening to God, self and others', or something like that anyway. One of the aims of the second course being to equip people with the experience, confidence, and tools to better accompany people in some form of 'spiritual director' type relationship. The course is really good, and over the last 18 months of so it has been very good to have these regular quiet days, where I've been able to spend time praying, reflecting, and learning. But that's not really what I want to write about today.

Each day on the course begins with a prayer exercise, which is then followed by a time sharing in groups of 3 (triads - not the chinese mafia sort however). One of the things that emerged in my sharing was this feeling that parts of my life don't feel particularly joined up at the moment. There are all these thoughts going round my head, questions and doubts about God, about youthwork, about life in general, and then there's this youthwork practice going on in my day to day live, me living out what I believe, and what I believe I am called to do at this time. But these two areas seem quite disjointed. There seems to be no relationship between the two.

I have come to realise that while I was doing CYM, and then when I was doing my Masters degree, I really relied on the structure those two course gave me which provided me with the space and opportunity for my actions and beliefs to interact with one another. For my theology to inform my practice/life, and my life/practice to inform my theology.

In a similar way I fear that when I come to the end of the course I am currently doing, that the joined-up-ness of my spirituality and life may also become a little less joined up.

The day after I had been on my course, last Friday, I went to 'The Youthwork Conference' in Southport. Now truth be told I wasn't much looking forward to the conference bit, more the going away with my friends/other youthworkers from Sheffield. The conference was ok actually. Andy Flannagan was 'leading worship' - I really like Andy, he was with YFC back when I was, and there's something about his music, his sincerity which resonates with me - so that was pretty good. But to be honest none of the talks or seminars really grabbed me. Apart from one on the Sunday morning, which I decided to go to. It was by a guy called Andrew Smith who works for Scripture Union/Youth Encounter. He works for a project bringing together Christian and Muslim young people. It sounds really good.

And as I was sat in this seminar, being challenged about my views, being invited to participate and share my views, I realised how much I had missed this level of stimulation, and this invitation to participate in these kind of discussions. It really energised me. Without doubt it is the one thing from the weekend that has stuck with me.

So all in all, what I'm trying to say is this: that I thrive when I have the space and opportunity to engage my brain in some thinking/academic type stuff, that I've not felt as though I have that opportunity at the moment (maybe something to thing about as I contemplate my future), and that I hope this blog, and interaction with others on blogs, may provide some of that space, opportunity and stimulation that I need.

so here goes.....again....

For a little while now I've been wondering what I should do with this blog. Over the last few months, maybe even a year now, my inclination to write anything has been somewhat limited. In part this has been to do with my laziness. In part it has been to do with the way in which facebook has been taking over my life. I've come to realise that I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, but a lot of that time is not used very well. Interacting with people by 'poking them' or taking endless personality quizzes really does very little for me. That's not to say I don't enjoy those things, but its short term, slightly self indulgent, unhealthy like a McDonalds burger type enjoyment.

In recent weeks a couple of incidents have helped me reflect on this use of my time, the fact that I could be using it better, and that fact that using it better might actually stimulate me and satisfy me a little bit more.

In short what I'm trying to say is that I've decided that what I'm going to do with this blog, is, for the time being at least, start writing on it again. Hopefully with some regularity. goes.....again

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

greenbelt 2007

Yesterday I booked my ticket for Greenbelt 2007. Am looking forward to it.

I've been to Greenbelt for the last two years, though in previous years I've been semi-responsible for young people there, well, at least for their travel arrangements. This year I'm going just for me, though obviously taking advantage of the discount for church leaders :o)

In the past I've tried to do too much whilst at Greenbelt. This year I'm really looking forward to hanging out with various friends, old and newer, who I know are going. If you're gonna be there, or want to come along as well, then feel free to comment....

currently listening to.....and wondering.....

....the new Crowded House album. And I rather like it. 'The Best of Crowded House' has been a long time favourite album of mine, though I've never really listened to their individual albums.

I'm certainly not disappointed with the purchase, only disappointed that I bought it at Tesco, rather than the now sadly deceased Fopp. I know, I know, but its just cheaper at Tesco. And Fopp isn't open in the middle of the night allowing me to make impulse buys.

As I said, I've liked Crowded House for years. Their 'Best of' album has been one that has accompanied me through life, the songs evoking a wealth of feelings within me. Some good, some not so good.... Every time I hear a Crowded House song on the radio, I'm repeatedly annoyed when the following song is not the next one on the 'Best of' album, but rather some other drivel that really can't compare to sometimes soothing, sometimes haunting track I had hoped for.

Another recent purchase was Mark Ronson's 'Version'. Unbeknown to me I'd previously listened to, and very much enjoyed his reworking of 'Just' by Radiohead on 'Exit Music: Songs with Radio Heads', another excellent album which I'd thoroughly recommend.

It kind of feels like I've not brought that many CD's recently, which may be a good thing. I can't help but wonder if I'm getting stuck in a rut, or maybe it's more like settling into a comfy chair. Maybe listening to too much Radio 2 is taking its toll on me. I've just become concious that I listen to a few albums time and again, mainly from a similar genre, rather than going out and listening to new, different, maybe more challenging things.

I'm not sure that this is an entirely bad thing, maybe I don't want music to 'challenge me', maybe other areas of life are challenging me, but then again maybe other areas of life aren't challenging me and all areas of life are settling into a bit of a rut....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

the weather

Yesterday things all got a bit mad. The weather in Sheffield, and the surrounding area, was horrendous. Unfortunately, three people died as a result of the weather. Two of these deaths occurred in Sheffield, one of which was in our local park.

I didn't know the lad who died. He lived in another part of the city, went to school in another part of the city, but was passing through my area on his way home from school. When I heard on the news that an incident had happened in the area, and that a young person was involved, my mind started racing. I started picturing the many young people who come to our youth club. I went down to Millhouses Park and spoke to one of the policemen there.

Although I discovered it wasn't one of the young people I know, some youth worker friends of mine do a lot of work in the school where he was a pupil. Please pray for them and for the school, and of course for the friends and family of Ryan Parry, the boy who died aged 14.

It's all just a bit weird. I know that people die across the world every day, and I know that young people die across this country every day. But to have it happen so close to home, in a place where so many people go to have fun, where I go to have fun, it's quite a shock.

Elsewhere in Sheffield there has been lots of flooding, homes and businesses ruined, people left stranded, without electricity etc etc. At the moment there's still the potential of a reservoir breaking through a dam and flooding over villages and the M1.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

and once again....'s been nearly a month since I last posted on here. This is becoming something of a habit. Sorry.

I'm not tempted to give up this blog altogether, cos although I'm not massively motivated at the moment, I think I could be again in future. I know that in the past the blogosphere has been a source of inspiration, comfort and community to me, and I think it can be again.

Life just seems so manic at the moment, I just feel so busy. Partly cos I am busy. I was doing a prayer exercise on Sunday with some of the older young people I work with, and as I thought about where I'm at, and what I need at the moment, I was aware how much I need time and space to rest, reflect and to be me.

Thankfully, the other week I booked to go to Taize again. I'm not yet sure if I'll go for one week or two. Two would be bliss, and I'd be tempted to do another week in silence. But we'll have to wait and see.

This weekend at church is our 'Arts Festival'. I'm helping lead an all age art workshop kinda thing all day Saturday. This morning, and a v creative lady from church were constructing the basic erm, structure, or a corporate sculpture kind of thing we're gonna do. It's on the theme of letting our light shine out, as the Body of Christ, acknowledging the different people we are, but recognising the beauty that comes in that difference. It's gonna be a big dome shaped lantern kind of thing, (Yes I'm using 'kind of' a lot, but that's cos its all still in the process of coming together.....) to which anyone and everyone can stick different coloured tissue paper. Underneath we'll put some source of light (candles may yet prove too much of a fire risk). I'll try and remember to put some pictures up in due course.

Right, that's about enough for now methinks.

Who knows, I might even blog again soon.......

Thursday, May 24, 2007

once again....

.....I seem to have slipped from my blogging habit. Truth be told, I've been lured into the wonderous world of facebook (I'm not going to link to it, if you don't know what it is then it's not very difficult to find).

I quite like facebook, though it is a bit weird linking to people who you kind of thought you'd probably never have any contact with ever again. And it's also a bit weird you can see some of the conversations people have with each other.

Last night we had a bbq followed by a data-projected viewing of the Champions League Final. Alas Liverpool couldn't repeat the result from two years ago, and lost. Ah well.

Went to see The Gentlemen later that night. I happen to be friends with some of these guys, but seriously, they are excellent, and you should check them out if, by any chance, there is someone reading this......

Monday, April 30, 2007


It was always likely to happen wasn't it. Well, at least since we lost the ability to play for a whole 90 minutes. That's right, the mighty Chesterfield F.C. are not quite so mighty any more.

At approximately 3.45pm on Saturday afternoon, things looked good, Chesterfield were beating relegation rivals Bradford 2-0, and our near neighbours Rotherham (already doomed to relegation) were beating Cheltenham 2-1. Chesterfield were relying on Rotherham to do us a massive favour, and keep our hopes of staying up alive, by beating Cheltenham. But it wasn't to be. Despite Chesterfield going on to win 3-0, Cheltenham pulled it round, and beat Rotherham 4-2, meaning that they stayed up, and we slipped to the 4th tier of English football.

Oh dear.

Oh well.

Bring on Mansfield.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

no promises, but.....

.....I'm gonna try and get back into blogging.

I know, I know, it's been a while, and who's to say I won't get bored and stop again, but I'm gonna give it a try anyhow.

Just in case you were wondering what I've been up to recently, well.....I've just started work again after having been away on the Costa del Skeg (aka going to Spring Harvest). Had a really good time. Have come back feeling refreshed - refreshed due to the having had a break, but also refreshed by some of the things I have heard said at an (evangelical) event such as Spring Harvest.

The theme of the week was one people - one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. There was some really encouraging stuff said, in particular about sensible (imho) attitudes towards agreeing to disagree, as well as about what we can learn from the way other religions practice, and acknowledging that all people are flawed, all people are different, and that all people are made in the image of God. It just felt right to me - it felt as though there was a new level of openess, of honesty of acceptance. It felt good.

A couple of weeks ago I also went to see Faithless at Sheffield Arena. They were excellent.

In less good news, it looks very, very, very much like the mighty Chesterfield F.C. are going to get relegated, thus making them not so mighty.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

how come i'm posting at this time again?

So it's really time I was going to bed, but strangely I find myself blogging again. Oh well.

In short, the films I have been to see of late are The Last King of Scotland, Rocky Balboa and Black Book. All three very good in their own different ways. Some more detailed reviews will follow, but now I'm just planning on going to bed.

Tomorrow I'm going down to St. John's Nottingham, to share some thoughts on the field of youth work with the Under-Graduate Course Committee of the Centre for Youth Ministry. I was a year-rep on this committee throughout my time at CYM, so going back as a field-rep is all a little it bizarre.

I shall post some of what I share once I have shared it, and once it has been fully committed to paper.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

in the middle of the night.....

Annoyingly my car alarm is being rubbish at the moment, so I'm awake in the middle(ish) of the night. Oh well. At least it works.

I know it's been ages since I've been on here. Sorry. To those who have been concerned about my well-being, I am able to report that I am well. Just been a bit busy, and not massively motivated to post on here.

The last month has been pretty good. I'm slowly getting better at giving myself time off - I've been on a retreat for a weekend, and been to the cinema three times this month. If I were feeling particularly motivated I'd post some reviews, but I don't want to push it.

A guy has just been out to sort out the alarm, as best as he can do. So now I'm going to go and hopefully enjoy an alarm free night....until the morning, at which point my alarm clock will be very annoying.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

a christmas baptismal hymn

Last Sunday (the 31st December), we had a baptism at church. During the service we sang a really nice song, to the tune of Infant lowly, infanf holy - it was a Christmas baptismal hymn:

Lord, we meet you,
Christ, we greet you,
born a child and yet a King.
Round your cradle,
in the stable,
we would each our praises bring.
From above us, you come near us,
show you love us, ever hear us.
Now to you we glory sing.
Now to you we glory sing.

Saviour Jesus,
now be near us
as we bring our lives to you.
In our children
may your love sing.
May they know your promise true.
Water flowing, Spririt sending,
faith a-growing, Love unending.
Take their lives and make them new.
Take their lives and make them new.

In their growing
keep them knowing
of the wonder of your love.
Root their living
in the giving
of the Saviour from above.
Living Jesus, stand among us;
ever with us, go before us.
In our lives your Spirit move.
Let us all your loving prove.

(Leith Fisher)

Now I know this is meant to be a Christmas baptismal hymn, but I just thought is really sums up my thoughts on what I hope for the young people with whom I work.

Happy New Year

Well I guess this post really does what it says on the tin. Thought I'd wish you a Happy New Year. So there you go....