Manspreading, Wine o’clock and Awesomesauce?

Every year, and sometimes more than once a year, the Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of the new words that have been added to its august, learned and respected pages. I was really surprised to find that it was only in 2015 that the word ‘declutter’, as a noun, a verb, and almost every other part of speech, was added to the OED.

‘Decluttering’ has been a major feature of our family life since the middle of last year. It was almost as though, with the news that we would be moving from Sussex to Lincolnshire, and the beginning of all that inevitable ‘decluttering’, the OED decided to give the process that was about to dominate our lives its very own endorsement.

Of course, ‘declutter’ was not the only new word to be added to the OED in August 2015. There was also ‘manspreading’, ‘cupcakery’, ‘wine o’clock’ and ‘awesomesauce’. As I write this, I am desperately trying to think of a way in which these words could be used to improve and enhance my way of communicating with the people I meet every day.

When I travel on public transport I often encounter ‘manspreading’ (apparently, this is the way that men (!) spread out on a seat that is meant for two people so that they do not have to share the space). However, I struggle to think of a reason why such rudeness and selfishness needs to be dignified with a special word of its own.

I am not sure why I would ever want to describe a bakery that produces cup-cakes as a ‘cupcakery’, although I can think of the odd time when the phrase ‘wine o’clock’ might be useful!

I wonder if anyone has any idea what the last of the new words in my list means? ‘Awesomesauce’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the gravy you may be pouring over your roast dinner, nor is it a description of the latest culinary trend to emerge from the kitchens of all those celebrity chefs that grace our televisions. No! ‘Awesomesauce’ is simply another word for ‘excellent’.

It seems strange that my curiosity to discover when the word ‘declutter’ entered the English language led me down such cluttered and unnecessary by-ways.

Of course, there is nothing new about this level of obfuscation! It is so much easier for us to wrap things up in fancy language than to acknowledge the reality of our lives in simple (and frankly honest) terms.

In St Luke’s gospel we read of the call of Levi the tax collector. Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire used local collaborators as vehicles for raising the funds they needed to finance their occupation of much of the known world. Those tax collectors were the pariahs of the societies in which they lived and worked. They would definitely have been guilty of ‘manspreading’ if there had been such a thing as public transport. However, in just two verses of Luke’s gospel, we read of how someone who had definitely taken the wrong path through life turned all of that around.

Luke tells us that Jesus said to Levi: “Follow me.” Then we are told: “He got up, left everything, and followed him.”

Now isn’t that the ultimate example of ‘decluttering’ one’s life? There are no long and fancy words, no new words had to be invented. There was no rushing to the ‘cupcakery’ to get a few provisions for the journey, and no need to wait until ‘wine o’clock’ to find the strength to follow that ‘awesomesauce’ call from Jesus.

On 15th May the Church will be celebrating the Feast of Pentecost (it used to be called ‘Whitsun’). The Church will be remembering the moment when God sent his Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us on our journeys through this life. The Holy Spirit did not come with a load of fancy trappings. The Holy Spirit came ‘pre-decluttered’ as a beacon to guide us into the life that God calls us all to lead.

I pray that you will find the strength to declutter all that stops you living your lives to the full, in the strength of God’s Holy Spirit. Amen.

Revd Stephen Buckman

Stella’s May

Button to chin till May be in,
Cast not a clout till May be out.
[Best wait!]

If you change in June you change too soon,
Change in July? You’ll catch cold bye and bye.
Change in August if you must,
But be sure to remember, change back in September!

The ancient sages were nothing if not pessimistic, and who can blame them, the weather lately has change from one hour to another!

One saying I have found, as I said earlier, very reliable So many fogs in March, so many frosts in May. So watch out, for March has had many mists and fogs, some in the first weeks when Buchan has a cold spell: 9 – 14th May.

On a cheerful note – When Mulberry tree begins to shoot, the last frost has gone. Have you a mulberry tree?
(There are Mulberry trees in the gardens of Grimsthorpe Castle – Ed)

May, the month of flowers – yellow buttercups, cowslips, dandelions, laburnum, blue speedwell, ground ivy, bluebells, dog violets. The horse chestnut pyramids of bloom, may blossom, apple and cherry blossom, mountain ash, lilac all scent the air.

The second Sunday was Chestnut Sunday when the horse chestnut trees were in bloom. This was celebrated by the Quakers in memory of the Pilgrim Fathers. In Lincolnshire, we have Tulip Sunday and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is 24th – 28th May.

I miss my walks in the woods and fields but it is amazing what you can see from the kitchen window. My long garden is full of wild life occasionally disturbed by cats or my dog, but the birds seem to understand the dog will not hurt them and ignore her completely, feeding within feet of her.

I have a flock of sparrows – about twenty which swoop in twice a day for food, they love sunflower hearts. This morning, I watched a tiny mouse which came to feed under the feeder.

Later, what I thought was a mouse turned out to be a wren amidst the snowdrops in the border. I am sure we have far more wrens in our gardens than we ever see.

If I am late feeding the birds, a robin comes to the window to remind me! It sits on the dustbin under the window looking in!

I have a pair of robins although I cannot tell the male from the female as their plumage is the same. Sometimes they come together to feed. One morning she fluffed out her feathers whilst he serenaded her. His head was held back, all his feathers were flattened and his tail elevated so that the tip pointed forward.

He sang and sang, swaying to and fro. His audience stood motionless and watched. Then he fed her with some mealworms from the feeder.

Robins do nest each year in my garden. The maximum recorded lifespan of the robin in the wild is eleven years, so although few achieve anything like that, I hope “my” robins will be around for a few more years.

Blackbirds also nest in my garden only yards away from my window in a jasmine shrub on a wall.

What a dull world it would be without our birds and their songs.

This is the weather the cuckoo likes,
And so do I!
When showers betumble the chestnut spikes
And nestlings fly
Thomas Hardy

May 2nd and 30th are the two Bank Holidays this month, so I hope the weather is kind especially then.

We have a new moon on the 6th and a full moon on the 21st May. May 5th is Ascension Day and May 15th is Whit Sunday or Pentecost. Trinity Sunday follows on May 22nd.

Gardens now demand our time and lawns require regular mowing. How good it is to be out and active, but also to find time to sit in the peaceful surroundings of nature and relax.

When did you first see this year swallows, swifts, house martins or butterflies or hear the cuckoo??

Stella’s April

April with its sunshine and showers
Gives us rainbows and many wild flowers.

This morning early the house was lit up by the beautiful red eastern sky, but not a good sign, for rain was sure to follow – and it did.

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,
Red sky at morning, shepherd’s warning.

The Bible version, St. Matthew chapter sixteen – When it is evening, you say “it will be fine weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning “it will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.

‘Rain before seven, stop before eleven.’
‘April weather, rain and sunshine together.’

Sometimes a prolonged winter seems to turn into summer overnight – ‘When winter meets summer it foretells a hot, dry summer.’ ‘The weather in the second half of April foretells the summer.’

Flowers on some trees often go unnoticed, but the flowers on the blackthorn which dominates April, tiny white flowers, cover the hedges like snow. Later they are scattered like confetti in the grass below.

If it blossoms before the leaves appear it will be bitterly cold, possibly with snow – Yes, SNOW! But whenever it flowers expect a cold spell – Blackthorn Winter.

Alexander Buchan forecasts a cold spell
11th – 14th April.

Bluebells are at their peak by the end of April in most regions. A member of the lily family, they are sometimes called wild hyacinths. Enjoy them while you can and reflect on the fact that the sight is unique to the British Isles.

Nowhere else do they form such bold swathes of misty blue, the long dangling bells are a bright, shiny blue.

When they are all in bloom, the trees will look for a few weeks as if they are growing out of blue lakes. Bluebells are found on railway embankments, under hedges and on patches of waste ground – usually where these places were once woodland.

Spanish bluebells, which are a different species, have been introduced in this country and in many places now grow wild. They have more violet-coloured flowers and a straight stalk.

They also cross easily with our native bluebells and gardeners are being discouraged from planting Spanish bluebells. We want to keep our own distinct flower.

There is so much to see and hear in April.

Look out for the first swallow – it is said to be good news if you see one before April 16th. Aristotle said “One swallow does not make a spring, nor does one fine day” but both are very welcome.

The house martin too returns to our villages, the nightingale to woodlands and the cuckoo to fields and woods. More colour is added to our gardens by the butterflies – the orange tip is a common April butterfly.

The bumble bees are also very active collecting nectar and pollen from spring flowers. They are all queens at this time of the year and rear their first broods in their nests underground.

We have a New Moon 7th April and a Full Moon 22nd April.

April 23rd is St. George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s birthday. St. George is the patron saint of England – so often forgotten unlike St. Andrew, St. Patrick and St. David, patron saints of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

April 21st is the 90th birthday of our Queen;
April 21st – 24th is the Harrogate Spring Flower Show and April 24th is the London Marathon.

Peter Harrison R.I.P. once sent me this poem he called ‘Spring’ to cheer us up:

An April sky o’er violets blue,
Bright kingcups of a golden hue,
Shining beside a shady brook,
That murmurs through a mossy nook.

A hedge pale green with budding may,
A willow wren, who at his play
Takes music from the joyful stream
To put to song a fairy’s dream.

A curlew’s cry at early dawn,

A blackbird on a dewy lawn,
The speckled jewels in a thrush’s nest,
The fresh spring breeze that blows from the west,
Oh the beauty and joy of the world at its best.

Jesus himself came near and went with them …

Having journeyed through the forty days of Lent, and having celebrated the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, we now find ourselves in the fifty day season of Easter. During these days the Church is bedecked in white and worshippers are invited to revel in the joy of that greatest moment in the history of humanity – the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

One of the great joys of this season is the opportunity we are given, through the Church’s cycle of readings, to share in the sheer joy of the disciples at finding all of their despair turned into unimaginable and indescribable happiness. Of course, as with anything that seems too good to be true, the time immediately following the events of Good Friday are met with uncertainty, even doubt. However all of that apprehension is set aside as it becomes obvious that Jesus really has risen from the dead. Those who found the empty tomb wondered, quite naturally, what had been happened to Jesus’ body. Thomas, having missed the disciples’ first meeting with the risen Jesus, doubted that it could possibly be true. Indeed, it took Jesus himself standing before Thomas and inviting him to inspect his wounds to convince the doubter that he was the one who had got it wrong. The whole post-crucifixion narrative in the gospels is one of people coming to see that Jesus is indeed risen.

The Church’s pattern of readings is planned on a three year cycle. I mention this merely as an aside to explain why this year we will not be hearing one of my favourite readings from Luke’s gospel. In Years A and B of the cycle we hear the account of two people walking the seven miles from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus. They had not heard of Jesus’ resurrection and were still desperately sad that the authorities had executed the man who they had seen as their Lord and their Saviour. As they were walking along and discussing the tragic events of the previous couple of days, the gospel tells us that: ‘Jesus himself came near and went with them.’ It is those wonderful words that have always resonated with me in this post-resurrection story. In those few words, contained within this simple account, is the heart of the Easter message. Jesus did share in the harsh reality of our earthly lives two thousand years ago, but he also transcended the cruelty of our human frailty in order that he might give us the hope, comfort and joy of his presence in our lives for all time.

The disciples were scattered and in despair, the travellers on the road to Emmaus were disconsolate and puzzled by what had happened, and Thomas doubted. And yet, all of that unhappiness and misery was turned to inexpressible joy when Jesus conquered the powers of this world and rose from the dead – for each and every one of us!

Wherever you find yourself on your pilgrimage through life, remember that Jesus himself has drawn near, and is waiting to walk with you. Jesus is waiting to hold your hand and lead you into the joy of his resurrection. And, if you find it difficult to walk with him, then let him carry you through those dark times – his loving arms are strong and accepting of all.

I pray that as we journey together through this joyous season of Easter you may be able to say, with Thomas (who once doubted): ‘My Lord and my God’ as you experience Jesus himself drawing near to, and travelling, with you.

Revd Stephen Buckman

Open Daily …

One of the first things I noticed when I moved to Corby Glen was that it is difficult to find the church. In most towns and villages throughout the country the Parish Church is marked by one or more signposts pointing the curious in the right direction. Sometimes the sign bears the church’s name, and sometimes it simply says ‘Parish Church’. Of course, that isn’t necessary when the church sits on, or next to, the village green but here, in Corby Glen, that is not the case. The Church of St John the Evangelist sits at the end of a cul de sac; it is not particularly visible from any vantage point in the village; it sits there, open daily, unmarked and yet ever present.

At this point in human history, some may ask why the Parish Church should be signposted. Some may choose to think of it as a pretty, historic building that is there to enjoy as and when it is convenient. For others it is a useful oasis of calm in the turbulent rollercoaster ride that we call daily life. For another group, the Parish Church is the natural and convenient place in which to mark the great landmarks in their lives – christenings, weddings and funerals. For one significant group it is a spiritual home – somewhere to go and rest in the presence of God.

The role of the Parish Church in the lives of our communities is steeped in history. Every person in our country lives in a Church of England parish. The system of registering births, deaths and marriages began in the parish system. That link still exists today. Every person in this country has the right to be baptised, married and sent into the nearer presence of God from their Parish Church. Whether you are a church-goer or not, your Parish Church is always there to serve you, and those nearest and dearest to you.

The benefice of the Corby Glen Group (Bassing-thorpe, Bitchfield, Burton-le-Coggles, Corby Glen, Irnham and Swayfield) is greatly blessed with six beautiful and historic churches. They are all so different, and yet they all possess a sense of having been valued and loved for hundreds of years. Every time I step into one of our churches I have a great sense of having been passed the spiritual baton for the comparatively short time I will be the priest here.

As part of my role as your parish priest I go to the church at least twice a day and pray. I go at 9 o’clock every morning and at 5 o’clock every evening to say Morning and Evening Prayer. In doing that I am very aware that I am joining a pilgrimage of Christians who have been saying their Daily Offices (as those points in the day are called) in those places for centuries; I am also joining in a non-stop cycle of prayer that is going on throughout the world today and every day. When I make those visits to the church I am praying not only as a part of the universal church, but also as your parish priest – for you and for all those issues that are so relevant to all of us as we live out our days in this community.

Of course, that responsibility to pray on a daily basis is not mine alone – it is a duty that has been laid upon all of us. At this point in the Christian calendar there is a particular emphasis on prayer and reflection. As we journey through Lent, we are all called not just to take part in some sort of ‘holy diet plan’ by giving up chocolate or alcohol or whatever. Rather, we are called to make some small sacrifice to remind ourselves of the plight of so many in this world who have nothing and, at the same time, we are called to take up something that helps to alleviate the terrible deprivations that are experienced by so many.

Now – I realise that we all have lives that are rooted here in South Lincolnshire but there is still some-thing we can do. Something that is already being done, and something that is free and open to all. We can pray. We can all take that short walk, even though it isn’t signposted, to St John’s (if you live in Corby Glen), or to whichever church is closest to you, and spend a few moments in prayer.

And how do we do that? Well, we push open the gate that is open daily; we pass through the door that is open daily; we sit in the presence of the loving arms of God which are open daily; and we simply ask for His love and peace to pour out on us, and on this troubled and divided world. That’s it! That is all that we are called to do!

At the end of this month the Church will be celebrating the greatest feast of the year – Easter. The Church will be remembering the moment when Jesus Christ was not only crucified by the political powers of his day, but also the moment when he overcame those earthly powers by rising from the dead. We will be celebrating a moment when God made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. That once and for all-time act of self-sacrifice has laid open the love of God for us all, each and every day of our lives.

I invite you to take that unmarked road to your Parish Church; to go through the gate and door that are open daily; and to say thank you to God for all that is good in your lives and, at his invitation, to lay your troubles at his feet so that you might know the true joy and peace that can only come from God.

Revd Stephen Buckman

Stella’s March

March Many Weathers

January brings the snow – well it did!
February brings the rain – will it?
March brings breezes loud and shrill,
Shakes the dancing daffodil.

When March comes in like a lion,
it goes out like a lamb.

This is probably the most well-known weather saying, and when March does arrive with roaring winds, how we look forward to a mild departure!

March is still Winter until the 20th, the Spring Equinox which is also Palm Sunday, reminding us that Easter Sunday is only one week away on March 27th. The weather in March does influence the coming months as many sayings tell.

March winds and April showers
Bring forth the May flowers.

Fogs in March – Frosts in May.

The fogs and mists in March come with the east wind blowing off the North Sea. Once the wind gets easterly in March it often stays there until May when it brings frosts. This saying is very reliable I have found.

Summer Time, when we put our clocks forward one hour, is also on Easter Sunday, 27th.

In our mild autumn last year we saw daffodils, daisies, snowdrops and other flowers including geraniums and various garden flowers.

March really does welcome the flowers – pansies, snowdrops, aconites, crocus, daffodils, primroses, violets and wood anemones or ‘wind flowers’ – delicate white flowers hanging from dainty stalks, closing their petals at sunset.

On the hedgerows the white flowers of blackthorn look like snow, but the gardens are bright with yellow forsythia, mahonia and purple-red daphne.

The birds are searching for nesting sites, and while the redwings, fieldfares, and snipe begin their journeys northwards, the wheatear and chiffchaff return to our downs and woodlands.

Our faithful friends are getting their bright spring plumage. Once extinct in England, red kite were released in the Midlands in 1995.

 

Now they are a common sight over our villages. As they feed on carrion they are not a threat to game birds. These beautiful birds with red forked tails are easily recognised as they hover over the countryside.

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed.
And from the elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.
Edward Thomas

If you want a short-term weather forecaster look for the mole. When it starts to be active and you see fresh molehills, then you can expect a week or so of warmer weather.

Field mice scurrying about, on the other hand, are a sign of bad weather to come; they are storing food.

March tends to be one of our driest months and we remember

A peck of dust in March is worth a king’s ransom.

March has several special days starting with St. David’s Day, March 1st, celebrated by the Welsh. March 6th is Mother’s Day, a day that certainly should not be forgotten. March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, said to bring warmer weather and many Irishmen wear a bunch of shamrock in their buttonholes in honour of their patron saint, Patrick.

If March comes in all stormy and black
She carries the winter away on her back.

Well, we must wait and see, for this is not always true!

Frogs and toads have made their journeys to the ponds of their choice, to leave their jelly coated egg-spawn. The bats, hedgehogs and the rare dormice are still fast asleep and will not wake until the end of the month, or the beginning of April.

And the spring arose in the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

                                                P.S. Shelley

What are you giving up for Lent?

For eight years I taught in a girls’ school, and for six weeks of each of those years I used to hear students regularly say to each other: ‘I have given that up for Lent.’ In no other place I have ever heard so many people use those words with such consistent regularity. I am not sure how many of them knew exactly what they were saying. I often wondered if they even knew what Lent was. Nevertheless each year, on Ash Wednesday, there began the regular use of that phrase: ‘I have given that up for Lent.’

This year, because of the strange way in which the Church’s calendar sets the date for Easter, Lent begins early. Ash Wednesday, the official first day of Lent, is on the tenth of February. If I was still teaching in that school in Sussex I know, that from the morning of that day, all those students would be denying themselves of something because they had given it up for Lent.

Since those days I have become more aware of how often people do say that they have given something up for Lent. I often ponder on whether they realise that Lent is, historically, so much more than an annual dieting opportunity, or an annual period of detoxification. That, of course, is usually what is at the heart of all that self-denial. All those students were usually denying themselves nothing more than chocolate, or sweets, or some other fattening substance; all those other people were often denying themselves of alcohol. If only they knew that they were getting it wrong.

Continue reading “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Stella’s 2016: February

February Filldyke, be it black or be it white;
But if it be white, ’tis better to like.

Writing this in December, I keep thinking ‘Where is Winter?’ Record temperatures over December and Christmas have extended Autumn. Winter officially starts 22 December.

February was the time when farmers cleaned out ditches and dykes ready for the inevitable rain – or snow. Many people in the north of England have been flooded so many times this Christmas, suffering greatly from the terrible damage – we feel for them.

Continue reading “Stella’s 2016: February”

Corby Glen Christmas Tree Fund: January News

We would like to thank everyone who has supported the Christmas Tree Fund in 2015. We had a great year of fundraising events, and The Big Lunch, Sheep Fair, Christmas Fair, Christmas Party, Rounders Day, Wrapping and Packing Night and Christmas Eve. We were lucky enough to have fantastic support from local businesses and residents who’ve helped us raise an amazing £3,000 this year.

Without the great work of the committee, local businesses and volunteers, which is growing into a fantastic team, we wouldn’t have been able to put on such a magical Christmas Eve and Christmas Party for all the children, so Thank You. This year we had an incredible 140 presents to hand out and 50 hampers to deliver. Great achievements for the volunteers that made this happen.

Thank you for the lovely letters we’ve had about the hampers; thanks to the playgroup, kidz club and parents – the children did a fantastic job of decorating the boxes this year.

Let’s hope 2016 is just as successful for the Christmas Tree Fund. If you would like to join us, have any ideas or feedback then we would love to hear from you.

Once again thank you for all your support in 2015 – let’s see what 2016 has in stall for us! Watch out on all the boards, facebook, the Link and posters around the village for the events in 2016. We will keep you as up to date as possible.

We’ve been supporting the Parish Council in getting the funding application for the new and revamped Play Park. Both applications have been handed in – now it’s just a waiting game so fingers crossed!

If we get the funding, then we have to try to raise £2,000 as part of the project in getting the WREN funding. If you can help or know of any way in helping us raise this money then we would love to hear from you. This is only if we get the funding we have to raise this money and it needs to be before June 2016 in hope to have the new play park in 2016.

Please contact us about anything on Corby Glen 0690

Congratulations to Penny Hedley Lewis

In the New Year’s honours list was the following:

Mrs Penelope Ann Hedley Lewis, President,
British Red Cross, Lincolnshire Branch

Honour: MBE

For voluntary service to the British Red Cross

Congratulations, Penny! We are all proud of you.

The Link Team