Posts Tagged ‘church’

A Grand Weekend and a Giveaway result

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Hello to everyone! Just before I start, I want to include a photo which I have already posted a while back  on a blogpost called “Reasons to be Cheerful”. One of my reasons is llamas. I posted this picture. I want to show it again, because I think it is so fab – especially the cheeky grin of the llama on the left.

Aren’t they fab?!

Anyway, I hope you had a good weekend. I did (mostly) I was teaching on Saturday morning, as usual, but I’d forgotten that one of my students wasn’t coming, because it was school holiday. That’s fine – although as she’d only started the week before, it was a bit bizarre to already be taking time off, but there you go. So I had unexpected time to make spicy parsnip-and-carrot soup, and to watch a bit of the “Coronation Street” omnibus. On Saturday afternoon, I’m afraid I was very indolent…I caught up with my other blog, dozed, read, went for a very short walk (Mr D warned me of being strenuous in temperatures of -8°. Apparently one’s blood vessels around the heart contract. I certainly did feel woozy when I got home, but that might have been what we call “sugar bonk”. I felt better after a cup of fruit tea and a couple of chocklits!).

On Sunday I went to church, for the first time (here) since Pentecost 2011, and (anywhere) since Christmas. The service was at Les Sarraix, which is a small village with a tiny Methodist chapel. We have a service here, once a month in order to use the chapel and stop it falling into complete disrepair. Also, I think there are elderly members of the congregation who live in the area and who can no longer manage to get to Thiers every week. Les Sarraix is about half the distance from here, as Thiers, so it’s easier  get there than Thiers from St Just as well. People were quietly glad to see me…I did understand the sermon – not the subtle nuances of the language, but certainly the basic message of each of the points Patrick was making. But I did find my thoughts wandering everywhere during the prayers…Lack of concentration can strike in any language, I know, but in England I would have been able to hear the prayers and mind-wander; in French, I can do one or the other! I’m glad I went, and I’ll probably go to next month’s service at Les Sarraix, but I’m not “there” yet in my Christian life (wherever “there” may be). I turned down the request to lead the Good Friday service this year as well – I don’t think I’ll be in the right place for leading a service, though possibly, if there was one service that I could lead in my current state of confused mind, I think the Good Friday one would be best!

Then on Sunday afternoon, Mr D and I went for a walk to La Cascade de Somewhere-I’ve-forgotten. I took along half a bag of bird seed that I had (I’d used up the other half last Tuesday, stopping at all the Motorway Aires (rest stops) between Clermont Ferrand and home, and leaving piles of bird seed for the wild birds.) and we left little piles of seed on various tree stumps and rocks in the forest.

When we reached the Cascade it was beautiful – parts were totally frozen, and in other parts it was frozen over the top with the water still running underneath. This photo shows the frozen waterfall:

whereas here you can see the water running beneath the ice:

I love the patterns formed, as the water has gradually frozen around the edges of the hole.

I wasn’t intrepid: I’ve always been a cautious walker, due to weak ankles that are likely to give way at any moment, and since my accident in Sept 2010, my ankle and knee have not been as strong as they were. So, even though I had my walking stick with me, I wasn’t going far – I think it frustrated Mr D a bit,  as I struggled to climb up the side of the waterfall in the photo in order to see the main cascadze. The snow was slippy, the terrain was rough, my knee was hurting and I went all pathetic. I started to whimper (literally!) so we gave up, and slid back down the steep slope we’d just climbed.

Here’s Mr D being intrepid

And, I do have to add, my fears about my ankle was justified: on the way back, on flat terrain, it just gave way and I ended up on the snowy ground. I came down quite heavily on my dodgy knee, which is now a bit swollen again, but it’s not very painful today, thank goodness. I put an ice pack on it yesterday evening, and I think that helped.

Today I’m not teaching – it’s school holidazys and the module I teach is on a break for two weeks. I pick up a former student for three hours a day tomorrow, but for today I’m chilling at home, catching up with blogs and cooking for Danièle who is coming for a meal tomorrow. I do have a bit of preparation for Jean tomorrow but not much.

So, having promised you the Giveaway result, I tried to import an image of the random generator thingy that I used, but couldn’t, so you’ll just have to trust me that the number it came up with was number 10. Comment 10 belongs to Floss. Floss has already received a bookmark from me at an earlier date, so I’ll send her the cards (it’s OK, she lives in France, so the postage won’t be too great!) and I’ll randomly generate someone else for the bookmark. Back in a tick.

Randomly generated number 5, who is Caroline.

Thank you to everyone who commented, and I hope that you’ll continue to read my blog. I may do another for 250 posts (if I remember!!)


Mayonnaise Cake

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I’ve already posted these on Ship Of Fools, but thought they deserved a (slightly) different audience:

275g SR flour
225g caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
200g mayonnaise
4 tbsp cocoa
225ml boiling water

1. Mix together flour, sugar & baking powder
2. Add mayo and mix till it resembles breadcrumbs
3. Dissolve cocoa in water & then add to mix with the vanilla essence
4. Put into a greased, paper-lined tin
5. Bake at 350°F/180°C/GM4 for 1 hour
6. Leave in tin to cool.
7. Suggested frosting: 2 tbsp cocoa dissolved in a little water/ 75g soft butter/225g icing sugar.

150g plain flour
5g baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches powdered cloves
0.5 tsp nutmeg
180g runny honey
100ml milk
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Add everything else
3. Beat to a runny batter
4. Pour into a greased baking tin
5. Bake for about 45 mins at 180°C/ GM 4

This works with ginger instead of the other spices (or as well as the other spices)

And when I didn’t have honey I used Dandelion Jam (but I’m guessing that’s not very common elsewhere!) I think golden syrup would probably work as well.

I’ve added raisins to one cake. They sank to the bottom, but were very nice. Lumps of crystallised ginger could add to the gingeriness if you make it with ginger.

I’ve made both these and really like them – but I find that if you tell people that the mayonnaise cake is made with mayonnaise they tend to go a bit iffy about it. Make sure you don’t use mayonnaise with added garlic or mustard!

On another subject: the sermon went OK. People were very kind – I don’t know if they really did “get something from it”, or whether they were just being encouraging. But, of course, those most deeply affected may well not be saying anything. Thank you to Ian for his comments too.

There’s another Englishwoman who, I think, has joined us at church – joined us, rather than just visiting. Her French (envy, envy) is much better than mine. But she has been in France 4 times longer than I have, so there’s a bit of an excuse for me! Hopefully I’ll get more of a chance to talk to her sometime soon.

Ha! Talk about hypocrisy…

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I’ve been asked to preach on 21st February – AARGH! Just realised that’s like, next week – and am looking at the texts to get my ideas in order. And how ironic it is that the main Gospel reading (for us in the Eglise Reformée – possibly different for You guys elsewhere) is Luke 12: 1-12 Which talks about hypocrisy and fear. And leads me on to thinking about wearing masks of saying “Yes, I’m a Good Little Christian” – and preaching! – while actually having doubts about It All.

I think I will probably include that in the sermon – after all, it’s a good illustration, and I don’t worry about admitting that I have doubts. It just seems ironic that it should have turned up now. Maybe God’s trying to tell me something!

Goodness. She’s actually thinking about something.

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

I’m not sure quite what I want to say about this. It was one of the readings at church today. It used to resonate so strongly with me: yes, it was Jesus’ “Mission Statement” (I did my LLM training in the 90s when “Mission Statements” were all the rage. I still think of this passage in those terms.) but I used to see it as mine as well. And as that of all Christians.

And now? Well, I feel more like the luke-warm ones that were so eloquently spat out of the mouth of God in Revelation. I don’t seem to be able to take hold of that statement from Luke 4 and feel that it’s “mine” as I used to. I’m wimpy and weak and wibbly in my faith – but mostly, I’m apathetic. As long as it doesn’t cost me anything I’m happy to go with the flow. I have lost the fire – though to be honest, I don’t think I ever did anything much more than smoulder, even at my most enthusiastic…

And perhaps the most worrying bit is that: I’m not sure I really care…

Bits ‘n’ Bobs

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

I’m starting a new ESL class tomorrow. In a bid to find some interesting ice breakers I searched t’internet and have found a couple I look forward to trying out. One of them might well be fun – put the students into pairs. Give one 2 minutes to communicate as much information about themselves as possible to their partner – without speaking. Then the partner must introduce the other to the class. I wonder what misconceptions we might end up with….

“This is Pierre. He eats cats.”                                                                                                                                          “Non, non, I said I like cats!”

The other I often play is “Truth or Lie”. I give them three facts about myself, two are lies and one is the truth. They have to ask me questions to guess which is the true fact. Then they do the same with the group (or a partner). I wonder if you can guess which is my truth from these three (I always use the same three. I’ve made quite a good little “back story” for my lies!)

  • I have met Johnny Depp.
  • I have ridden on an elephant.
  • I have paraglided from the top of Puy de Dome.


The weather here is grey and dull and November-y. Which is hardly surprising, it being November.


We had a feline visitor in church today. We were worshipping in the little Methodist chapel that we use once a month, in a village some 20 km from Thiers, where the main Temple is. As we arrived there was already much hilarity over the young cat who wanted to come in.The yoof were trying to chase it away. We started the service, and as latecomers arrived so too did the cat. It slunk in as the door opened, and then started trotting brazenly around. When it jumped on the communion table Matthias, our Pastor, took it by the scruff and ejected it, but within seconds its loud plaintive meeowing and scratching on the door forced him to allow it back in (with the proviso that if it jumped on the table again it would go out.) We gather it was hungry as its meeows became louder as it trotted around. I cuddled it for a while, but it wanted to explore. Finally the yoof were given the task of finding its owner, while I plotted how to smuggle it home if it was still around at the end of the service. Which it wasn’t, as the yoof had fulfilled their task. Dammit!


Honey and peanut chicken tonight. I wonder how that will turn out. I cooked an amazingly brilliant Spicy carrot soup. It was similar to my Spicy Coconut-and-Butternut-Squash soup, but (huzzah!) with ingredients that are more easily found in France than Butternut squash.

I’m using my Wagamama cookbook to cook for friends on Friday evening. Some of the ingredients are beyond finding, but I’ve got some reasonable substitutes in mind (e.g. Gewurtztraminer in place of sake). Others (Ramen noodles, lemongrass and Wasabi paste) are usually findable in the enormous Géant hypermarket or La Grande Fraise Marché (Does that translate as “The Enormous Strawberry”? Or maybe I’ve got its name wrong.)


And finally, some photos from the Cider making on 24th October. I look forward to trying the product at a later date.




On to Puy de Dome

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

So I told you about our day out on Saturday – now howsabout Sunday?

I was preaching on Sunday morning (yes, in French. No, it’s not that clever because my very good friend, Daniele, always checks my French for me and makes (loads of) corrections where necessary.) and T wanted to come. Mr D suggested he came down to Thiers, where church is and picked us up (Mr D doesn’t Do Church) Then we could go on to have a picnic at Puy de Dome. This was considered to be a Good Idea, so I asked Daniele & her husband Paul if they could give us a lift to church, explaining our plan. She obviously thought it was a Good Idea too, as on Sunday morning she picked us up, asking if they could join us for said picnic and walk. With pleasure, I replied.

So after church (preaching went fine. I mispronounced Israelites, apparently, but no other clangers) Mr D and Paul spent 10 minutes with a map planning where we were going to eat and how to get there. While T, D and I chatted with people coming out of church.*.

Off we went and reached our picnic destination. Mr D produced the perfectly fine picnic he’d packed: loaf, cheese, tomatoes, quiche, packet of biskits, fruit. Danielle then unpacked hers: tabboluleh, hard boiled eggs, bread, mayonnaise, cheese, wine, fruit crumble. We shared, and had a splendid time.

Then we set out on our walk. Daniele and I chose to do a flat work round the bottom of the Puy de Pariou, while Paul, T and Mr D went for the up version. IMG_0221 This is what they climbed (but seen from the other side and from above.) The line down the side is a flight of steps, built because of erosion – and the crater is indeed a volcanic crater.Daniele and I met them at the foot of the steps and strolled back to the car through the woods. We then drove to Puy de Dome – iconic peak of the Chaines des Puys – of which I don’t have a photo! However, here are some views from the top:

IMG_0228 IMG_0219 (this is Clermont Ferrand, where I work)

IMG_0220 Ha! I’ve done this from this very mountain top. Great fun, but… Remind me to tell you about it, sometime!

IMG_0218 This is the Temple of Mercury at the top of Puy de Dome. There is a rather ugly telecommunications tower behind it. As T said, as Mercury was the god of communication (was he?!) it seems rather apt that it is placed there!

After we got back home to St just Daniele and Paul came for a takeaway pizza from the restaurant next door. Another thoroughly splendid day.

* When I first came to France and was looking for a church, a good friend said he hoped I’d find a church that was “slow to empty”. I wasn’t quite sure I knew what he meant, but having found this church, I do now! Everyone is so friendly and you can’t sneak out very easily. There is much cheek kissing, both before and after the service, and wishing each other “Bonne dimanche, bonne semaine!”