Monthly Archives: September 2012

22 years ago I worked on a nightmare project at Kingsnorth Power Station in Kent.

The one thing that kept us sane was mad trips to a Restuarent in Gravesend called “Fully Air Conditioned”. Or at least thats what we thought it was called because of what it said on the door!

Who’d have thought a few years later most of us there would have sampled real chinese, in real china.

We must have spent thousands of pounds in the Fully Air Conditioned over 6 month project and 5-10 of us there each time.

Well this evening I was in Gravesend taking Caroline to Tae Kwon Doo and what did I SEE?

FULLY AIR CONDITIONED. It is still there. Happy Memories.


Monday was my day off, and my goodness did I need it. The last 2 weeks were very full on. In fact the last 2 months have been full on.

Last week was a bit busy, but I did manage to finish my last essay on the Thursday, just in time before a call to go to a hospital visit.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve taken 6 Sunday services, 2 midweek communions, many other meetings and pastoral visits, so I needed my day off.

However, I give thanks, that I am allowed a day off, as I know there are many who don’t get one at all.

So in the morning, a quick visit to the dentist, a little bit of retail therapy. (A new black leather belt to go round my cassock, actually paid for via a gift card given to me for running a bible study in Keynsham last year).

Then to the sea front for a luxury toasted tea cake, and a filter coffee, admiring the view, breathing in the fresh sea (well estuary really) air, and soaking up some autumn sun.


Finding I was enjoying this, I thought, where else can I go, how about Leigh-on-sea, how about a visit to the cockle sheds. Monday’s special was Dressed Crab Salad – that sounded nice and healthy. I ended up sitting on the beach front, looking at the sea for an hour, eating a Rhubarb & Custard, watching the people, resting my brain.


My boss says, I must find the right work life balance, and not feel guilty having a day off. So today, I enjoyed my day off, guilt free.

It’s synod today. Started well with a good hymn “And can it be!”, some discussions and now a comfort break…

Many presentations, and slide shows, but worthwhile.

It’s surprising though how tiring it can be just sitting and listening, I was worn out at the end of the day.

Anyway the highlights were:-

  • Fruit Cake
  • Anne’s Holiday Slides from the Church in Hong Kong
  • Fruit Cake
  • The presentation by CVM (Christian Vision for Men)
  • Oh, did I mention the Fruit Cake……

Take a look at

Last night I discovered the woods that are between Rayleigh and Hockley, apparently I can cycle to Hockley from Rayleigh through the woods.

Anyway, last night I went out with a very lively, and noisy group of young people from Hockley and Hawkwell youth club. There was much running around, screaming, games, rounders and even a game of “Zombies” – interesting…..

It was wonderful to be with such a lively group of young people. I look forward to getting to know them and their leaders.

I had to laugh today, one of the Methodist ministers I met earlier, was relating the tale of going into school where her son attends to help teach in RE, and specifically to relate what a minister does. Her son wrote in his exercise book, in answer to what does a minister do? – they go to meetings!

This week so far has been a week of meetings!

District Induction on Monday – good though to meet some of the important people. (Especially good to meet the lovely man that looks after the District Grants – apparently there is money available for grants for mission – put me down for a bucket full of that).

Monday Evening – Stewards meeting at the manse, on the new sofas. New sofas were approved as comfy. (I like the idea of people coming to me for meetings!)

Tuesday – Staff meeting – but that was good, first proper opportunity to meet all the circuit staff. Highlight = Ruth’s fairy cakes. (Diet postponed)

Tuesday evening – circuit meeting 2 hours in pews designed by Easyjet or Ryanair.

Wednesday – back up to Stansted to the District office for the Probationers meeting, meeting the other Probs, supervisors, our boss, and Probationers Secretary.

Wednesday evening – wot no meeting. Collapsed in front of TV, then after guilt had fully settled in – back into study and chose some hymns for Sunday.

Study day tomorrow – must finish the essay.

Sunday morning came round and this was the first time I was allowed (and authorised) to preside at a full communion service on my own! Wow!

The service was at Hockley & Hawkwell Methodist church, and I know how supportive they are, so I was not worried about that. My mother-in-law and father-in-law were in the congregation, plus some friends that had come up from Hanham. Not worried too much about that either.

So what was I worried about – the immense privilege of being able to do this, to be there and preside over the Lord’s table, and commune with ‘my’ congregation for the first time, and share Jesus with them. And in my ‘welsh’ way – wanting to do it ‘properly’.

Having been brought up in a semi-high Methodist tradition at Hanham, and Treforest, Mid Glamorgan Mission, all our minister have fully togged up in black cassock for ‘Sacrament’, and so I suppose in my sub-conscience I relate that with ‘properly’. Then I’ve spent 2 years at Wesley College with Jonathan so that’s probably pushed me higher up the candle than some of my friends.

There has been a lot written in the Methodist Recorder recently about what is right and proper for Mr Wesley’s preachers to wear. Mostly since 1st September, for services I’ve been wearing suit & clerical collar, but this didn’t seem right for communion.

At the Christian Resources exhibition I’d tried on a Cassock, and of course my family and those that were there with me all laughed! A great help. On a trip “up north”, I’d even driven past the place where they were made, so I called in a tried it again, and was measured up, but did not place an order. Finally, having received so many gifts when I left the NESB Circuit (Midsomer Norton, Farrington Gurney and Horizon Methodist Churches) and from my long term friends at Hanham Methodist, I plucked up the courage and ordered one. Hoping it would arrive in time for my first communion. It did arrive in time – but in Bristol! We were not sure about consigning £400 of cassock to re-direction so it was hand carried up in time for the welcome service.

My friends insisted that I tried it on. Here is that photo…..

The thing is though, it’s not about what I look like, it’s about doing things properly, and if in my head, for me that’s wearing a cassock, then that is what it has to be. (No criticism intended of my colleagues and friends that don’t, I have no problem – it’s a personal choice).

Funny thing, is that Jesus just said (and I paraphrase badly), ‘whenever you drink of this cup – do this in remembrance of me’, no instructions about cloths, non-alcoholic wine, cassocks, little cups, wafers or anything. Just to remember Him, and the sacrifice of love that he made for us.

Anyway, back to the story, full communion, full service from the Methodist Worship Book, me roasting in my cassock, me stepping on the edge of the material 3 times and nearly tripping up!

But communion went beautifully, and it was wonderful to be able to place the bread into people’s hands and say “The body of our Lord Jesus given for you.”

I even managed a shorter sermon. All done and dusted in 1hr 7minutes. Congregation all smiling, no incidents, no spilled wine on the beautifully laundered cloths. Drank my coffee and ate my biscuits with a huge sense of relief, satisfaction and thankfulness. Praise God from whom all blessings flow…..

Saturday was the circuit welcome service at Highlands Methodist, they did a grand job.

The pre service praise music was led by a BB Officer Dave Spaull, and the “Prof” from Greenbelt. Keith Norman was fantastic on the organ, bringing a whole new life to some of the Hymns we sang.

Rev Bryan Tolhurst led the service and Rev Anne Brown the district chair preached.

Anne reminded us that the fire of the Holy Spirit needed to be re-kindled in us, and she linked this to the cauldron at London 2012.

With permission, her is a portion of her sermon, where she reminds us how we should support new ministers:-

“At the beginning of a new ministry there is a sense of excitement and anticipation as we are fired up to work together, supporting and encouraging each other and our leaders.The circuit steward is soon going to ask you if you will welcome your new ministers, offer them your support and prayers as you join together in the work which God has called us? Your response is meant to be ‘with God’s help we will’ not ‘if we must’ or ‘do we have to’ or ‘it depends on whether I agree with him/her’ or ‘if I feel like it’. Friends – I encourage you to recognise the power God has placed into our hands – rekindle the flame within us and go forward in the confidence that Peter had as he accepted the charge from Jesus, as Paul and Timothy showed in their ministry.And may we not only attempt great things for God but may God through us enable us to be his witnesses today as together we share in God’s mission.”

Friends and family came from Bristol and Burnham to support us, and this is a photo of all who came from the “far west”.

Thank you everyone, I feel well and truly welcomed.


It was a Thursday, it was meant to be my study day, but all sorts of meetings have been planned prior to anyone knowing when my day off or study day was meant to be.

Anyway, to fit in with the new fitness regime, I decided to have a car free day. (As suggested by Philip Richter fro STETs). As horses are no longer standard issue for one of Mr Wesley’s preachers, and as Highlands was a few miles away, I had to cycle.

A few years ago, when working for Metso, they had a “bike to work” scheme, so I’d bought a tax free bike. i did manage to cycle the 6 miles to work a number of times, until I fell off. I fell off rather dramatically on the edge of Bristol docks near the industrial museum, slid along my face on the concrete, too close to the edge for my liking. It’s taken nearly 3 years to get the courage back to ride again. After all, they kept telling me Essex was flat!

I set off for highlands (8.4miles round trip), at 7pm for a 8pm meeting, not know how well I would do. I got there in 22 minutes. Not bad considering my doctor has me diagnosed as “clinically obese”! Sat through the meeting, and then in the dark at 10pm, I had to set off for the return trip. It nearly killed me! The pain in my legs was quite severe coming up the hill that the garden centre is on. (Whatever that road is called!)

Got back to the manse and had to get Caroline and Jessica to show me warming down excercises.

Anyway, I’m sure it will get easier, as I ride more often and stretch the muscles, and hopefully lose a bit of weight.

(I have cycled a number of times to Rayleigh – but that doesn’t count as it’s only a mile. I’ve made it once to Hockley & Hawkwell and got lost on the way back – I’ve now got a mount for the Sat-Nav on the bike).

I wonder if I could be sponsored to cycle to all the churches in the circuit in my first year! Or do I just set that for myself as an interesting challange?

Back to work today. Started off with a whistle stop tour of the circuit with a colleague.

Absolutely amazed at the diversity of this area. There are some huge houses, BMWs everywhere, and then just down the road will be an area of poverty, and large numbers of homeless. I need to reflect on this. Espescially as we now find ourselves living in a large 4 bedroom house.

Later did my first baptismal visit, really lovely couple, and ended up sitting on the decking outside looking at stones with the future baptisee!

Bit of a panic this evening as I realised i’ve got 3 services to prepare – so get on with it.

Anyway following seeing the cycle path from Shoeburyness to Leigh, we set off tonight to cycle it, me and Jessica, with Caroline as official photographer, support vehicle, and purchaser of ice creams half way. The gnats were out in force tonight so extra protein to keep us going.

Jessica’s fund raising is going quite well, and I have really been pleased to see how my friends and engineering colleagues have responded. Take a look at

Jessica has also a blog now –