Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Life Isn't/Life Is!

Machu Pichu
photo by the daughter of a friend

I just finished reading a novel recently "Addition" by Tony Jordan. As well as being an authoress she is also a molecular biologist. However that's nothing to do with the story. It's not the story that I wanted to post about but the last paragraph.

"Many people miss their whole lives you know. Listen,life isn't when you are standing on top of a mountain looking at the sunset. Life isn't waiting at the alter or the moment your child is born or that time you were swimming in deep water and a dolphin came up alongside you. These are fragments. Ten or twelve grains of sand spread throughout your entire existence. These are not life. Life is brushing your teeth or making a sandwich or watching the news or waiting for the bus. Or walking. Every day, thousands of tiny events happen and if you're not watching, if you're not careful, if you don't capture them and make them count, you could miss it.

You could miss your whole life.

I like this and I am sure everyone has their own interpretation.

A very Happy and Blessed New Year to all. Barbara

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Secret Nuclear Bunker

Secret no more! The week before Christmas we made our second visit to this once secret place. I did not have a camera on my first visit as I was not blogging at that time and it is only about 20 minutes drive from home so thought you might like to come and visit with me.

That Pylon on the horizon is all that one can see from above ground. I think the stark Wintry day adds to the mystery, don't you.

We have parked the car and are walking through the woods

And here we are. This tiny anonymous bungalow is all that one would have seen when it was still a secret place.

Through the door of this rural bungalow nestling in the Essex countryside we discover the twilight world of the government of the Cold War built in 1952.
Behind the blast screens that protect this bungalow is the entrance to an amazing labyrinth of rooms, on three levels, built into a hillside, encased in 10 feet thick reinforced concrete and 100 feet underground.
This is where devolved central government and military commanders would have run the region had the UK been attacked and nuclear war broken out.
Built in great secrecy and under strict, military security the local villagers and contractors alike knew nothing of what was concealed in this hillside or how it would be used.
There could have been up to 600 personnel, possibly including the Prime Minister, organising the survival of the civilian population in the aftermath of nuclear war.
It is now a museum and privately owned.

Here near to the entrance we see a German Doodlebug. This was an unmanned flying bomb that was rocket propelled and kept flying until it ran out of fuel. Nobody therefore knew where it would land. Alan who remembers these says it was real scary when you heard one overhead and then, when the sound stopped, you knew it was about to drop.

We entered the bungalow noting a screen that told us we were being watched and as there was nobody around we picked up an audio wand (this is not an escorted tour) and made our way through the 18" steel door and began to make our way down this sloping corridor.

Passing gas Masks hanging on the wall

We pass a communications room

And the BBC broadcasting centre and notice that everywhere is in darkness.
We will be seeing lots of wax works type 'models' as we go through which really does add to the eeriness of the place.
As we go through a door and walk through a very dark corridor we come to an area with several doors and are wondering which will be the best way to go when a guy comes down a staircase and informs us that the place is closed! Restricted opening in the Winter apparently. He was a maintenance guy and was on site working on something. Seeing my dissapointment he said we could stay and continue our tour and began switching on lights for us (Memories of our trip down the caves in Yorkshire - people can be kind) and disappeared again.

Some serious communications

And the telephone exchange

Part of the Scientific Advisors room

Military Operations Command centre where as we will see in the next photo they slept on the job

Life support systems, air conditioning (always kept at 60f) and water treatment plants

One of the senior staff bedrooms

The Prime Ministers bedroom where we see a John Major lookalike in bed!

Nuclear suits

Civilian Operations Room

Each government department had their own little space within the larger room

The Sick Bay - this body groans as we walk past

No privacy in the sick bay

The operating theatre

Body bags and coffins - what would they do with the bodies I wonder!

A dormitory, one of five built to house up to 600 personnel on constant "hot bed shifts".

The tour ends in the canteen which is now used as a cafe for visitors and where we meet the maintenance man again.

We were not interested in staying for tea, as Pilgrims Hall is nearby and we planned to take tea there, so here we are making our way out through the exit tunnel.
I hope you found this in teresting and not too scary.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas 2008

A very pleasant Christmas Day was spent with my family, and of course little Oliver was the star. Who needs entertaining with a bright and energetic two year old. My son came back over on Boxing Day for another turkey dinner and an afternoon playing Scrabble with his Mum. It has become quite a tradition for Peter and I to challenge each other to Scrabble at Christmas. It's fun but also quite a tough game as we both take it seriously!

Now of course Christmas is over in the physical world but it will never be over in our hearts. Having said that, the birth of Jesus would have meant nothing, if He had not been prepared to give His life for our salvation and hang upon the Cross at the age of 33 as an Intercessor for us.

So much in the garden at this time of year looks dead and faded and I do not usually photograph it except for snow and frost but as I looked around today with a photographer's eye, I realised that there is still beauty if one looks for it.

It is a much better time to see the fish too when the Water Lillies have died down and the Arrums are in the greenhouse. Only a net to keep the Herons out for the Winter.

And lastly a card I made for a wedding today.

Monday, 22 December 2008

The Glory of the Unlikely

Perhaps the great glory of Christmas is that in the birth of His only Begotten, the Lord revealed to us that He is the God of the "unlikely"...

For how unlikely it is that the King of the universe should be born in a stable normally reserved for the animals. How unlikely that the nation which had so long awaited her Messiah, should completely miss the fulfilment of her dreams, and reject her only salvation. How unlikely that this Messiah should live the great majority of His life in obscurity without the pomp and circumstance befitting Royalty. And perhaps most of all, how unlikely that such a One should die in shame and degradation, apparently discarded upon the trash heap of history, just another well-intentioned Zealot.

This is the glory of Christmas, a glory that fills the present as well as the past. For how unlikely that the humiliated is now the Glorified, and the possessor of that Name at which one day all will bow. How unlikely that Satan, who apparently destroyed Him, was and is the unwitting servant of the God who "works all things after the counsel of His own will." How unlikely indeed that tragedy should eternally breed triumph in the purposes of that One in whom all wisdom resides. And perhaps most of all, how incredibly unlikely that God Himself should deign to fill the seemingly marred, broken and useless vessels that we appear to be, that He might live His perfect, complete and loving life in us. How unlikely and how unspeakably wonderful that in our weakness, His strength is made perfect and that He actually needs us to be as we are that the glory of His Person alone might be revealed by us.

He is the God of the unlikely, the God who requires stables in which to birth His beloved rather than the pristine palaces we might anticipate. So let us expect to find Him there, in the stables of our lives and worlds, the circumstances, situations and people where we least expect Him to be. Indeed, let us see that the glory of His presence is most often in direct proportion to the appearance of His absence, and let us rejoice that Christmas above all proclaims that we have found the King of the universe in the most unlikely place of all....our own lives if we have accepted Him as our Saviour.

Here we are carol singing to the neighbours before returning to one of our homes for a Christmas buffet, after which we had a visit from Santa. I received a DVD of "Analyse This" and Alan received an enormous mug apparently for a 'budding gardener' depicting Santa battling with the weeds. Prophetic? I think not!

I never realised, that the man who always manages to inadvertedly appear in so many of my photos, is actually Father Christmas!

I do sincerely hope that all my blogging friends out there have a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Anniversary and Crafts

Yesterday was our 49th wedding anniversary and here I was forgetting to mention it! We did not do anything to celebrate but I did get to spend 10 hours (minus his 90 minutes asleep) with grandson Oliver as we spent the day visiting with our daughter Janie. We were to be going over for the day anyhow, but Janie had fallen at work the previous day and her company had insisted she stayed home to recover. She is fine and the baby is fine, just somewhat bruised.

My card to Alan
I have actually been making some greetings cards lately to replenish my stock

A few of the many Christmas cards in the making

I have also managed some knitting since finishing the Throw

And remembered that I did not show the 'man' scarf I made for Alan
some time ago

The Smoke Bush (Cotinus) finally shed its leaves in the wind this week but I managed to catch these pretty and delicate colours before it did. This bush changes through the most beautiful colours from Autumn through early Winter. It turns from deep burgundy to scarlet and then this mixture of pink and gold. Today it is bare deep wine colour stems waiting to be cut right back in the Spring.