Month: August 2013

Oh the pretty….

On a whim, because it’s a Wednesday evening (on the feast of St. Augustine no less), I’m sitting here playing with Google Maps. The new Google Maps.

It’s probably not properly new anymore, of course, as I’m one of those people who waits suspiciously when it comes to new stuff (unless it be books) and only jumps in once a safe amount of time (and/or others’ experience) has passed.

But jolly jolly oh my golly, I like this – particularly impressed by the rendering when you change to a perspective view in Earth.

Right. Off to plan another cycling jolly.


Stift Heiligenkreuz

A Cistercian Abbey near Vienna.

I don’t know it. I think I’ve met one of the monks once.

But that doesn’t matter. What is of import for this post is to state the following: I have no idea who Brother Photographer is, but I want his camera. Also his house and church and choirstalls etc.


Stift Heiligenkreuz choir eveningFrom



Brielle is a town on an island in the Netherlands, and a couple of weeks ago a friend and I cycled there.

I probably could have taken more photos of the journey, but on the way there I was too busy looking around at the scenery (or urban landscape, depending on which bit you’re referring to) and on the way back I was too tired!















Town mouse and country mouse

Ladybird books! My childhood was full of them. Great stuff.


Brought up in a small-middle-sized city, it’s a good thing I never had to answer the question as to whether I was a town or country mouse. I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out and would have probably been given detention for the smoke coming out of my ears as I tried to decide.

To my mind there are pros and cons of both; my problem is that I still never seem to be able to choose. There is comfort in the anonymity of living in a large city (living in the wrong country for that one then), but with a large population (density) comes a lack of space and silence needed to empty your heart in order to let Christ reign in it.

Going up, whilst not to a city per se, but to the outskirts of a conurbation, led me to gingerly classify myself as ‘country’. After all, I spoke with a slight accent, thought the city smelled weird, and stopped and watched every time a large aeroplane whizzed overhead. Nowadays I speak with all manner of accents, but I still watch planes.

Life in a city can be draining. There is always noise – kids playing, youths up to no good, general traffic, ambulances, police helicopters, ice cream vans, urban music festivals, local fauna – and unless you are some sort of nocturnal (and perhaps not even then!), you have little hope of being able to experience silence.

Not that country life is a quiet, relaxed bliss, of course; life outside city boundaries can be very hard indeed. Rural communities often suffer higher crime rates than their urban equivalents. There is a much less visible poverty problem.

On balance, though, I would still hold with my self-assessment as being on the country side of things. Not by much – the convenience of urban life holds attractions for me – but enough to make it declarable.

Depending on how tired I am, you might hear my home accent slip out.

Depending on how tired I am, you might hear my home accent slip out.

However bumpkin I might be to some, though, I now have enough traits that would surely mark me out as one of those stereotypical folks who commute around and have little to no idea as to what life in the countryside is like, let alone how crucial it is to all of us.

Like killing chickens, for example:

And simply because there is a Part 2, and not posting both parts would leave me twitching:

It took me a few attempts before I could watch the first and make it to the end, and it really wasn’t so bad as some part of me had feared. But my whole advance reaction (if that makes sense) give me pause.

Whilst I don’t have the links to hand – nothing some thoughtful googling couldn’t fix, I’m sure – I recall reading articles about how kids these days don’t know much about where food comes from. There are almost clichéd tales about people expressing a mild sense of horror at watching a cow being milked. Being honest, though, I read such things with an attitude of ‘Well, I knew that all along, so I’m not part of this! Nur nur! Pesky city slickers.’

Well one’s arrogance is all well and good until you meet the boundaries of your own experience, which is what happened when I (tried to) watch that first video. All my intelligence says that that hen was never a pet, and that creatures (and by extension all the world’s resources) are entrusted to use – prudently – for our own needs (that sounded awfully liberally flower-power, didn’t it? Wasn’t my intention), so to kill it for food or some other good reason is a good thing. But that didn’t prevent the feeling of my insides knotting itself up at the anticipation of the inevitable.

(These are also the insides that love the smell of roast chicken)

Perhaps I’ve become more urbanised than I had realised.

Excuse me. I’m off to learn how to farm.

Language, Timothy!

My limitations are so frustrating (to me).

Back as a minion in the school system I was good at French. It might have had something to do with my teacher (on whom I had a mild crush, let’s be honest), but in general this was a subject I could just do. Not like that twice-weekly two hour torture session that was PE, for example. Even metalwork was better than PE – but then in metalwork we actually had a forge and our teacher actually let us use it. My school was quite cool like that (or maybe my teacher was just nuts) – I’m not sure we’d be allowed to work with white- and red-hot metal these days.

But anyway. French. Yes. French I could do. Until I was halfway through the A-Level and decided that actually (Further) Maths was going to be my bf and he was a bit jealous.

A few centuries pass and I start learning Dutch. Which is a somewhat different language, characterised by verbs that go in funny places, sounds that remind you of someone vomiting, and a plethora of small words which aren’t really definable but are, nonetheless, pretty essential.

Recently my mate JJ has got me hooked – and I mean hooked, it’s almost like he introduced me to crack – on Duolingo. I’ve dived into French. How hard can it be, anyway?

Oh my jolly goodness how hard can it be. Verb conjugations are giving me a headache. The contortions I put my fingers through in order to get the accents, the circumflexes, the cedillas (I can no longer be bothered to even check if I spelt ‘cedilla’ right, which should tell you something)…oh my word.

So I take a break and look at Twitter, where the police (!) retweet something about when teenagers ‘chilling out’ becomes a public nuisance. And I shoot off a reply with my usual brand of sarcasm, having checked the grammar and syntax in the blink of an eye (it was correct, too).

Let’s be clear. A language I’ve been speaking for less than ten years is something I’m now more proficient in than a language I began when I was ten. If that doesn’t say something for the value of immersion in the process of language acquisition, then I don’t know what will.

Oooh I’m really ghetto now!

This post is for my own amusement and not much else, so you’ll forgive the tone 😀

Hur hur durrr!

Fr. Blake in Brighton is a priest blogger who, I reckon, just likes to wind people up more than anything. You can’t really blame him much, with Bp. Conry as your boss.

Brighton is, shall we say, not the greatest place to live by most people’s standards. Oh, I’ve heard it’s great if you’re into the homosexual thing, and sometimes you get a glimpse of the terrific seaside resort past it once had – oh and who can forget the party conferences?! – but Fr. Blake seems to mainly see the druggies and the beggars, and he blogs about them quite a bit.

Which is a good thing, to be sure. I don’t know how the influence goes between him and his parishoner Mr. England, who seems rather more preoccupied with these ‘vulnerable groups’ than Fr. Blake. Mr. E.’s blog time seems much more dedicated to tales of the unfortunates in Brighton, but perhaps that just proportional, as Fr. B. blogs quite a bit about liturgy and Pope Francis too.

[Aside: It’s horrible to say so, but someone should note that Mr. E.’s standard of written English surpasses that of Fr. B’s by quite a bit.]

Anyhow, Fr. B. wrote a post about the poor. His comments, and how he responds to other people’s comments, remind me of a Cafod motto I heard years ago – the Preferential Option for the Poor.

Which is all well and good, until he responds to someone – in a now edited comment, but I’m not so old as to not remember what I read, lost though it may be to the internetz – that he (the commenter) is, effectively, DAMNED.

It’s a priest’s job to tell someone when he’s in danger of damnation. But telling someone he’s actually damned is pretty rich – not to mention that whilst a person is still alive here on earth, the jury really is still out on the matter.

Oh woe ye (that is, me!) when you submit a comment calling him out on this. He just deletes it. My ego is crushed! My poor poor ego! Whahahahaha!

It’s ok to poop next door to a church building. It’s ok to interrupt Mass and then take your cap round for a collection for yourself, never mind the fact that you’re interrupting worship. It’s ok to poo-poo someone who might take a more nuanced view of ‘Give without counting the cost’ (oh, so a monolithic government can overtax its population and we’re not to count the cost? Ok). But heaven forbid someone call you out on your mistake in saying someone is DAMNED, Reverend Father.

Ah well. It’s cucumber time. When there’s nothing else to do with your blogs, take the mick and have a go at people.

Yeah, it annoys me a bit. I could and should offer this annoyance up. I don’t like people being bullied (online), but I’m not perfect in my reactions.

But Fr. B’s a grown man and I’m sure knows what he’s doing when he proclaims someone DAMNED. And people say SSPX sermons can get hairy.

Mea culpa

After a dry spell and my blog-conscience being appropriately pricked, I finally have stuff to blog about. Only I can’t.

What I would like to blog about is how a friend and I went on a bit of an epic bike ride yesterday and how it was awesome (if exhausting), with some lovely scenery, cycling through some enormous tunnel, going round and round in (admittedly very picturesque) circles trying to figure out where to go next, and then relaxing and paying a visit to a martyrs’ shrine.

That’s what I’d like to do. Unfortunately gubbins here forgot to put sunscreen on and now her upper arms and shoulders are being Very Angryâ„¢ with her about it. Ahem.

So I’m going to crack open the Really Nice Body Lotion and pamper my skin a bit. This really is my own fault. Oh well!