Summer Holidays:August 2014

September 27, 2014 in Dean's Blog

Summer HolidaysWe spent our summer leave together back in the UK (though Tricia made a trip to Australia to see her family in July). Over the month we travelled over 200 miles in a car that I’d hired from Heathrow on arrival visiting family and friends. Expatriate holidays at home can be quite a challenge and inevitably you don’t see everyone you would have liked to. It is a reflection of our finitude and perhaps gives us a longing for heaven, when we are not bound by time.We headed north–west to Cheshire stopping of for lunch with Peter and Teen in Wolverhampton and while staying with my sister were able to see my niece and her husband back from Uganda and Clare and Oliver Ramsden (ex-Hong Kong and Bahrain).

Summer HolidaysFrom Cheshire we headed further north and west to Bowness-on-Windermere. We stayed with the retired local doctor Summer Holidaysand her husband and had a wonderful view of St Martin’s Church, where I’d been Rector from 1989 to 1998. It was lovely to catch up with several friends from that period – life’s journeys are full of joys and challenges and after the morning service I had the opportunity to share something of our life in Bahrain and to give a taste of the life and mission of St Christopher’s.

I did the same in Selkirk in the home of another retired doctor and his wife with whom we stayed, the church family of Summer HolidaysCarol Byers, who was just sending off her final essay to complete her theology and ministry degree. We have since heard that all is complete. As she started this course in Bahrain, with the support of many friends in the community, she wanted to pass on her thanks to the community here. She has written: I feel so blessed. What a journey, and it is only just beginning.And I have encouraged her to go and see the Diocese and ask “What next?”


Summer HolidaysWe got together as a family for a week on the Norfolk Broadst and en route were able to stop off for a cup of coffee with Viv Buckle in her home in Suffolk seeing their lovely new home and meeting their lively puppy, Honey.

Our home for a week was a Gold Gem which was a little crowded for six people for the two days we Summer Holidayswere together, but we managed and there was always the opportunity of walks and evening meals out in a pub and when the weather was fine, which was most of the time, travelling on the roof was a possibility. The maximum speed limit was 6mph and in parts 3mph, so you have to adjust to the rhythm of life. Eddie Askew, the former International Director of the Leprosy Mission, wrote of going Slower than Butterflies after aholiday on a canal boat and though there were no locks on the Broads to slow the pace of progress, we became very aware of the state of the tide and its impact on the flow of the river and had to slow ourselves down.

Summer HolidaysFrom the relative peace of the Broads we joined several thousand people at the Christian Arts Festival,Greenbelt, in the grounds of Broughton, a stately home outside Kettering, Northamptonshire, though it is much more than an arts festival now, encompassing all sorts of areas of life in a whole range of different media. Tricia and I, somewhat wimpishly, rather than camping stayed in a nearby Band B and commuted, but it saved us begging and borrowing a tent, sleeping bags and all the other paraphernalia required for camping.

There was so much going on at the same time in the programmethat you have to pick and choose. Two items relating to Summer Holidaysour region that I enjoyed were BethlehemUnwrapped which involved building a wall like that around Bethlehem on the side of a London Church at Christmastime, and a session on Scriptural Reasoningin which Muslims, Jews and Christians tackled a subject expounding from their own Scriptures and engaging in respectful conversation with others.


We heard some excellent speakers – Desmond Tutu’s daughter Mpho Tutu (though she reminded us all that she does have a mother, Leah!), John Bell from the Iona Community, Brian McLaren an author/ speaker from the US – and enjoyed a variety of untypical festival food: tartiflette, Tibetan curry, Thai noodles from the stalls.

From Greenbelt we went to visit my mother, who is in a nursing home near Havant and I was able to feed her lunch on two consecutive days. She didn’t speak in the time that we were there, except an initial recognition that it was me, but we looked at old photo albums together and I hope that in revisiting old memories, it triggered happy memories of family times together.

Summer HolidaysOn our final weekend in the UK we hired some wooden cabins in the Lee Valley, a river that Summer Holidaysrun downs to the River Thames in London, to celebrate Philippa’s birthday and for a family w/e. It was here that the slalom canoeing took place in the London Olympics and we watched some spectacular white water raftingWe hired some bikes one morning and cycled along the canal and we had a round of golf. We lost lots of golf balls, but in the end found many more than we lost!

Summer HolidaysOn the day before we returned to Bahrain we visited the Making of Harry Potter, near Watford, aSummer Holidays birthday present that the girls had bought Tricia, and for more than three hours we were caught up in the magical world of Hogwarts, as well as the Muggles’ Privet Drive. The exhibition is very well put together and the way you arrive at the entrance of the Great Hall is very dramatic.

The make-up of the visitors is very international, an indication of the worldwide appeal of Harry Potter. It is certainly highly recommended if you have Harry Potter fans in the family.



Eid Mubarak – A surprise arrival

September 17, 2014 in Dean's Blog

I went to bed on Sunday night thinking Eid was going to start on Tuesday – that was the consensus at coffee after the Eid Surpriseevening service, but the crescent moon must have been spotted. I woke up early on Monday morning and there was none of the usual queues of labourers piling into buses, but the cemetery- my regular early morning circuit- was unusually full of cars and people. Reading about this, there is clearly considerable debate among Islamic scholars as to whether this practice is appropriate for Eid.Here are two opinions

  • Eid is a day of celebration! How is going to the graveyard reflective of that? .
  • Praying God to have mercy on the deceased and to forgive them their sins is highly encouraged, particularly if they are close relatives. Therefore, visiting the graves of one’s parents and other relatives on the day of the Eid or other days and praying for them is an act worthy of praise.

National Evangelical Church Telugu Christian Congregation 44th Anniversary

September 17, 2014 in Dean's Blog

I was invited to join the special service to mark the anniversary of what is Kumar’s and Nazir’s Church in Bahrain. Among several others, I was asked to bring greetings which seemed an opportunity for some pastors to give a sermon although there was a guest preacher as well so a service, which had begun at 6pm, was still going strong at 9.15pm.

It was good to see Kumar, who supervises our cemetery, looking so smart in his suit and leading a prayer for a congregation of over 300 people.


Unexpected Call

September 20, 2014 in Dean's Blog

Unexpected CallI had a call recently from Colin in Cumbria. He was ringing concerning the grave of his best friend, Private Brian Holroyd, who had died and was buried in Bahrain in 1959. I went off to the Christian Cemetery in Salmabad, armed with my camera, but could not find the grave in the War Grave section, but then went to look in the Old Christian Cemetery. Colin was delighted not only to see the grave but to see that the cemetery was kept in such good condition. I sent him several photos and encouraged him to think about coming out to Bahrain in the season of Remembrance, at the time that the Chelsea Pensioners will be coming. I am also exploring the possibility of getting some sponsorship to cover the cost of his airfare. I feel sure that there will be many people who would want to contribute towards his visit.


Jon Lavelle’s Ordination

September 13, 2014 in Dean's Blog

OrdinationFollowing on a week later was the Ordination of Jon Lavelle as Deacon by Bishop Michael. Jon has now joined the staff as curate and it is a joy to have a new colleague. The St Christopher’s Cathedral community came up Ordinationtrumps, as they always do, in organizing a reception that fitted the significance of the occasion. Karen, Jon’s wife who is likely to have to complete her contract with Zayed University produced a youtube    which, if you want to get a feel for our new curate, is essential were delighted to welcome several overseas guests including the Rev’dDr Peter Sedgwick, Jon’s Principal at St Michael’s Theological College, Llandaff and Andrew Butteriss, the College Site Manager. Peter preached at both the Ordination Service and at Evensong the next day.

In addition to the Ordination two Diocesan meetings were arranged, as they are so often are in this to reduce the costs of Ordinationmeetings which always involve airfares. One was to reflect on Our Common Life to reflect on the distinctiveness of the Anglican Church in this part of the world and a brief financial plan for the Diocese flowing from decisions made at the Diocesan Synod; this was held in the Golden Tulip Hotel, where some of our guests were staying. The second was a Vocational Advisers training session in the Deanery on the Sunday morning.