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

Brazil and Other Stories

Willoughby Memorial Trust Gallery

23rd March to 20th April

‘Brazil and other Stories’
Paintings by Keith Andreetti

Keith’s Artist Statement

“I started painting five years ago just before I retired, but I have always had pictures in my head. I tend to think in stories and the paintings are really scenes from those films running in my brain.

I often wish that the world could be a bit more brightly coloured so I try to help it along. When I was a boy ‘Brazil’ always conjured up the technicolour jungles of my dreams.

Since I met Teresa I have visited her country several times and it is not all quite like that! Still my Brazil is full of macaws and jaguars and even in England the animals can mostly talk.”

From Easter to November, the gallery is open every day (except Mondays) from 12-5 p.m., but will be open on Easter Monday and Bank Holiday Mondays. www.willoughbygallery.com

Willoughby Memorial Trust Gallery 2016

Exhibition Programme for 2016

23rd March to 20th April
‘Brazil and other Stories’
Paintings by Keith Andreetti

27th April to 25th May
‘Elements’
Work by local textile artists group ‘Follow the Thread’

1st to 28th June
‘Summer Exhibition 2016’
Mixed media by Kim Wooldridge, Jilly Shore,
Janey Hill, Mona Storey and Anne Hall

6th July to 3rd August
‘Art and Clay’
Newton Art and Pottery Club members with both pictures and ceramics.

10th August to 7th September
‘Opposites Attract’
Collage artist May Jones and photographer
John Byford.

14th September to 12th October
‘A Changing Rural Scene’
Corby Glen Local History Society

20th October to 18th November
Open Art Competition
Exhibition of all entries

From Easter to November, the gallery is open every day (except Mondays) from 12-5 p.m., but will be open on Easter Monday and Bank Holiday Mondays. www.willoughbygallery.com

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 Youth Club: January 2016

It was lovely to see so many young people back after the Christmas break. We are busier than ever with 15-20 children attending each session.

We are open 7-9 pm Friday evenings at the Church Street Rooms, for children aged 10 years and above. (We are closed the last Friday of each month.) Entry £2, refreshments available.

Can you help us?

Do you have a games console or a computer that you would like to donate or sell to this very worthwhile cause? Also, any unwanted games for the Wii (age appropriate), please?

If you have any ideas for fund raising, we would love to hear from you. We are also looking for local businesses to sponsor t-shirts and a banner for the Youth Club. Please get in touch if you are interested.

If you can help, please contact Sam on 07967 098019.

Sam, Lou and Ann