Thursday, December 29, 2005

rubbing it in

Ok, here goes.... I spent most of the afternoon sitting on a bench by the beach at Oriental Bay in a strappy top, short skirt and sandals - complete with sunblock, sunhat and sunshades (the shirt stayed in my bag, well, 3 out of 4 isn't bad). I'm not sure if the lads picked that bench before we saw the girls in bikinis on the beach below us or not... I am however prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt as it was the first empty one we came to!

When I got home I caught up with a few blogs and emails and came across a reference to the weather back in Britain which being me I duely checked out.

Now have a look at the webpage - the article lead paragraph says 'Snow has brought disruption to roads and railways in eastern parts of England and Scotland.' And just where in the rest of the entire thing is there any mention of how bad or where the snow is in Scotland? Even the Scottish pages of the Beeb website don't elaborate. So is this yet another case of the British media being just a teensie weensie bit biased (for a change) towards the south east of England (even the north only gets mentioned because of the footie being cancelled) or is it a case of no-one really batting an eyelid north of the Watford Gap about it having snowed, after all it is winter for heavens sake.

People wonder here why I am constantly correcting them about the difference between England and Britain (I haven't lived in England for over 12 years...), it's no wonder really that the world outwith British waters doesn't have a clue when the British media is so constantly and consistently biased.

On a totally different tack, you know how (or probably don't if you've never been there!) in Scotland they say pew-geot for peugeot cars not purr-geot as they do in England, well here you get sub-a-roos not sue-ba-roos (Subaru), weird....

Monday, December 26, 2005

biblical conundrums

oh rats, forgot my glasses, apologies in advance for any typos... well so much for that early night, got all tucked up and brain went into overdrive so I pulled on my jeans and came over to try to empty out what is chuntering round and see if that helps, if not it's back to good ol' Julian of Norwich again.

Whilst shepherds washed their socks by night
All watching ITV
The Angel of the Lord came down
And tuned to BBC

Well that is the version we used to sing at infants school, leastways when we could get away with it - our headmistress Miss Lines (no seriously, it really was her name!) wasn't overly impressed altho' you'd think that a bunch of 5-7 year olds having such a grasp of sociological issues should have been encouraged not chastised. For those of you not in the know ITV was (then!) the only commercial television channel in Britain, BBC being the licence fee funded non-commercial channel. My age group in particular is divided into those who were allowed to watch ITV complete with 'sellies' (adverts) and those who weren't. The theory being (from those parents who decided that their children should only see BBC) that the BBC programmes were superior to the 'American rubbish' (no offence intended!) and whatnot shown on ITV and that it was downright immoral to aim sellies at children. At the time I wasn't impressed any more than Miss Lines was with our carol adaptations as I never got to see Rainbow or Tizwaz, nor later in my school life did I see Dallas, Dynasty or Dangermouse. Educationally deprived by this I most certainly wasn't but it didn't half leave you out of things at school when everyone else was acting out Lassie or Champion the Wonder Horse and you didn't have a clue what was going on (at least it spared me from having to decided who was the better looking in Dallas/Dynasty tho'... the right answer apparently was either John James or Michael Praed, depending on which week it was - by 'eck I don't half remember some useless gubbins). So anyway you see, the idea of shepherds (being a low socio-economic group!) watching ITV and the Angel of the Lord preferring they watch the more educational etc BBC says rather a lot about the predominantly middle class, entirely white (as far as I remember) infants school I went to and the social mores of the mid seventies... now maybe I should have written my dissertation on that, it'd've been far less harrowing than the actions taken around the allegations of satanic child abuse on South Ronaldsay and their social policy implications...

But I am digressing... (for a change) what had my head spinning was trying to get it around Matthew 22.41-46. Yes, ok, I'm still on Matthew - give me a break, I've spent most of the last last week working my way through a Gospel study group book in time to pass it on at Summer Gathering (If you're reading this Jonathan I'm nearly done and Llyn has promised to lend us some other stuff I'll bring with me if he gets it to me on Sunday!). But back to Matthew... believe it or not the tangental thinking above wasn't that tangental as it is back to the 'born of David's line' bit which is in one of the original verses of 'Whilst shepherds watched their flocks by night' (that took some concentrating to type... kept wanting to put the socks back in). The bit in Matthew I've just read is about whether Jesus is the Messiah or not and (or?) David's decendant. The same bit appears also in Mark and Luke but the rotten translators have just used the same text for all three so apart from the additional info that it is referring to something in Psalms (which I haven't read since I was about 8 yrs old and therefore can't remember - and 'somewhere in psalms' is far too vague for me to start looking for it!) cross referrencing doesn't add any clarity.

Now maybe I'm just being thick but I've read it several times in two translations and 3 Gospels and I still don't understand it. If there is anyone out there with more of a theological head on (that isn't fuzzied with festive excess!) who can explain what the dickens is meant by it I'd be extremely grateful as this whole decendant of David (but theoretically not Joseph!) and the Messiah/David thing is something that hasn't made sense to me since at school. Maybe Matthew 22 vs 46 'No-one was able to give Jesus any answer, and from that day on no-one dared to ask him any more questions.' sums it up nicely - maybe they were all as flummoxed as I am and decided that if you were going to get answers like that sometimes you were just better off not asking the question in the first place!

I think I need to change my bedtime reading to something less challenging...

Friday, December 23, 2005

home sweet home

ok, due to popular demand...

8 Moncrieff Street
Mount Victoria
Wellington 6001
Aotearoa New Zealand

NOT Australia, no longer Edinburgh, certainly no longer Wardlaw Terrace and yes I will still be here next Christmas!

For those of you with WGYF address lists my address here is on it! For once I was organised in advanced but no-one sems to have noticed, ah well....

Thursday, December 22, 2005

techie help needed!

ok, I'm determind to learn how to do this before the year is out as I know it is one of those 'it is easy when you know how' things...

How do I put embedded links in my text?

See, told you it was something easy, so easy in fact that assumes you know how to do it and doesn't include it in it's help pages! They obviously hadn't reckoned on folk like me managing to blog...

I know the majority of you reading this know how, so can someone put me out of my bamboozelled state please?

ta very muchly =)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

an embarrassment of riches

My boxes arrived yesterday - two of my stuff, one of WGYF stuff (eek, must phone Jimmy and see what he can get to Australia YM for me) and one of Fran's.

Two boxes - just 5 cubit feet of stuff and yet it feels like an amazing array of goods, half of which I'd forgotten I'd packed to come here. Do I need it all? Well some of it yes, definitely - my clothes were becoming increasingly seasonally inapproriate and come winter I'll no doubt be grateful for the extra jumpers and my fleece. But the majority of the rest are luxuries really - ok so my camping mug & plates will be useful and my quilting stuff saves me buying more material here. But the only things in the boxes that I will need that I couldn't have easily replaced are my Quaker resources (and yes I do count my Winnie the Pooh books as essential items for any Quaker residential event).

Some stuff I sent over as I knew I'd use it and as I had to pay to either store it or ship it I might as well have use of it, but other things are purely decorative and of sentimental value only. But, it has to be said, the flat now looks far more like home, more 'me' and less like a place furnished with all the things that everyone else was throwing out and replacing with better stuff (and in some cases it is is fairly evident as to why!).

What struck me though as I unpacked the contents was that on top of this I have another 16 cubic feet of stuff in storage back in Edinburgh - and that was after I had cleared out fairly ruthlessly, or so I thought. Also, having got used to so few clothes I now have what seems like a ridiculous amount - sure some of it is for seasons to come but I'd already forgotten I owned so many t-shirts.

My consolation/conscience salve is that I'm not likely to to be buying anything additional that isn't replacing worn out goods, with the exception of a few books and cd's (I've been very restrained - so far....), for the next year or so at least as it doesn't make economic sense let alone ethical sense when I'm not really earning. I'm tempted to pack a bundle of it all away again before I get used to having it, and then in a year's time open it up and ring the changes!

humbugs (& turkish delight)

proper black and white stripey ones - jar full of 'em in the earthquake cupboard!

interesting Jewish site about Christmas - possibly with an axe to grind but none the worse for it

disgruntled cinema goer last night when leaving 'Narnia' muttering about religious nonsense - er, hadn't they read the book first? Why had they gone to see it?

I must admit I had huge reservations as to what they would do to the book but I'll let them off the occassional tweak of dialogue and the scene setting air-raid as all in all it was pretty impressively well done. Oh I could wax lyrical for pages bout it, Cookie and I were like a pair of big kids at the end being all excited - I think Fran could just about own up to knowing us though by the time we left the cinema! One of the many books that really did need to wait for special effects and costume etc to reach their current amazing standards. Another jewel in the crown for Weta and yet more stunning New Zealand scenery - the thing is will they film the other 6?

Ah well best get on with the day - just another day in Paradise! Well; Middle Earth, Narnia - where next? Pern? If Peter Jackson is twiddling his thumbs now King Kong is out maybe there's another project for him - altho' if he want's to do The Hobbit first then that's fine by me!

Oh and I'm finally off to see Harry Potter tonight... =) What a week!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

O tannenbaum... - some likeminded (Quaker) thoughts on Christmas


And a bit of background info on Christmas trees -

Just to explain that I'm not totally bah humbug about the whole kit and kaboodle of Christmas, I love the way it does kick people into gear and get in touch with each other, and yes I'd far prefer to get a round robin generic letter than a card with no message other than 'love from....'. I'm not the world's best correspondent (especially since I stopped having essays to avoid writing and having lectures that were far better spent letter writing through and then reading up on the subject later) and I do appreciate the annual boot up the derriere to get my act together, even if half the time (ok, make that most of the time) it is usually a case of happy January, or even March by the time I get them out! But to me it isn't about wishing someone a happy Christmas but saying hi, I'm still alive, how are you? Christmas is just a convenient hook to hang it all on.

Having spent so many years working for a Rudolph Steiner organisation the passing of the seasons, the religious festivals and their symbolism is something I became very aware of. Even then I questioned the northern hemisphere bias of the christian calendar (as I've said before if you are going to adopt pagan festivals stick to their seasons not their calendar dates!). I have found myself drawn far more to the pagan roots than the re-interpretations; the changing seasons, phases of the moon, the equinoxes and solstices are still with us and are not dependent upon someone believing in them (unless Terry Pratchett got it right after all...). I love how the Maori New Year - Matariki ( links in the rising of the Seven Sisters and all the rebirth, fertility & crops and remembrance associations of many of the old British customs, and the fact that it is brought into modern life in a meaningful way. I'm really looking forward to being here for it.

In the meantime though I'll try to get the rest of my Christmas cards posted off to wish the recipients a happy January, keep plodding on getting my head around the teachings of Jesus and not worry too much about when his birthday was. Oh and if anyone can explain to me why the carol goes 'born of David's line' when the churches would have us believe that Joseph (the descendant of David, rather than Mary - who if I've got this right was a descendant of Benjamin, hence king of kings - bringing two royal lines together) wasn't the father that would be grand - maybe there was a subversive carol writer out there trying to sneak things through.... in which case where was the continuity editor? Probably off to the bach for the christmas holidays....

(ps - yes I can spell, well most of the time, bach = kiwi place by the sea, usually a second home, anything from an empty plot of land, via a shed with a long drop loo to a flash summer house!)

Friday, December 16, 2005

sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits...

Yesterday evening was glorious, after deliberating as to whether I should do some of the many things on my to do list I was kindly persuaded by Pamela (the artist who has a studio round the back of the QMH) to go for a walk instead.

One of the joys of living here is Mount Victoria being on my doorstep (well, down the road, round the corner, up a bit, up a bit more...). So many paths to chose from that I seldom do exactly the same route twice in a row. Last night I followed yet another new path - up to the lookout on the top, well up to my lookout - the 'offical' one was somewhat busy so I headed up to the trig point and sat leaning against it looking out over to the hills beyond Wellington to the west and north. I was filled with an incredible sense of calmness and the ability to just sit and watch the world go by; no spinning head chuntering on at 100mph, no worries, no feeling of 'ought to be doing...' (even if I should!). It was great - an oasis of tranquility in life.

I'd been pondering on the way up (and I'm begining to think I may qualify for Marion's asthma research after all - all will be revealed next week...) about astrology, well to be more specific Carpricorn women. I know a ridiculous number of them and have recently discovered a couple more. Looking round there are two things that strike me about the ones I know (self included!) - firstly how many of them are single/divorced (I can think of about two who aren't and both of those are on their second, or more, long term relationship), and the other is how many of them dedicate so much of their lives to their faith (including working lives) and even the ones in fairly mainstream professions tend to be singled out as being the 'human face' of them, the ones who actually care about the people rather than just the number crunching or whatever. I've kind of got used to being single now, and certainly to living out my faith. So maybe I should just accept that this is what life has in store for me and get on with it? It was with this thought that I had arrived at the top of the hill, the sense of calmness I found there makes me think that for once I might just have hit upon what life is trying to tell me the easy way (albeit via a very steep path!).

Welly watching

Flatting, tenting, draughting, some random combination of letters I now can't remember... ok, just when I think I'm getting my head around kiwi english something comes along and throws me again - all I can say is thank heavens for people around like Ruth who can not only translate but still remember what it is like to be completely flummoxed. Okay so the first two examples are fairly obvious really, sharing a flat with folk & camping but draughting got me - apparently it is slipstreaming on a bike behind another rider or a vehicle, the random letters were what they call a 4x4 here (altho' they don't need spray on mud in these parts! If you are just as confused as I was still it's those big off road vehicles which in Edinburgh are usually used to take the kids to fee paying schools, do the monthly shop at Tescos and show off to the other mums as to how much money you appear to have... cynical? moi?).

We had the first 'big' shake courtesy of mother nature since I got here on Tuesday - not that I noticed; several of us were totally oblivious to the fact (and no we hadn't drunk that much wine), sitting tucking into a rather fine selection of grub in Zing when Ruth's phone went off, twice. Once from hubby up the hill checking she was ok as everything was rattling there and then once from a friend who had been working late on her own up on the 15th floor of an office block where it had been felt big time. She must have broken several speed records coming down the stairs and along the road and deserved every last drop of the long G&T waiting for her when she reached us - somewhat more shaken and stirred than her drink.

We were all feeling rather smug about being nice and 'safe' until we started looking around at the rather large plate glass window we were next to, the enormous loudspeaker suspended above one end of the table and large pendulous lightfitting over the other, at which point we decided that we were just rather glad it hadn't been felt where we were and that all things considered we'd got off lightly. More to the point Marion and I were due to go shopping the next day to stock up the Earthquake kit so we would not have been impressed if a big one had struck us before then! It was all the talk of Midweek Meeting, altho' one more elderly member was mightily relieved to find the seven of us hadn't felt it either as she was beginning to wonder if she was losing her marbles! Anyway, if the big one comes there is now enough food in the cupboards to feed 3 people for up to a fortnight, but unless you are careful by day 10 it's cold baked beans only.

It is all decidedly bizarre walking around town - today must be the hottest day here since I arrived. But every 100 yards or so along Lambton Quay there were buskers playing Christmas Carols about snow and midwinter, people wandering around in Santa hats and tinsle and some decidedly taste free decorations (blue reindeers? Er, hello...) adorning various shop displays. No, no, no, no, no... it is summer, wrong solstice!!!!! Do they just not get that Christmas is a pagan midwinter festival hijacked by the roman church to get people to celebrate Christ instead? We should be having Midsummernight's Dream, bonfires, well dressing... bah humbug. I have enough problems getting Christmassy in the depths of winter, just as well Quakers don't go in for it in a big way!

Maybe I should stock up on mincemeat and whatnot now though ready for when it really is time for mincepies, mulled wine, rich fruit cake (but no marzipan if you don't mind), pudding and custard - ie when it is cold, dark, blowing a gale and you are trying to find ways of keeping warm and not on a day when the newly surfaced pavement on Elizabeth Street, whilst it looks very smooth and is a vast improvement on the potholes, is actually too hot to walk on!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Longing for a lie in

Ok, I am finally appreciating why having two Resident Friends comes in handy at times, it isn't the work load, it is the timing. As you will have probably gathered if you either know me or have been reading this blog long enough I am soooo not a mornings person (Past Times used to do a great nightshirt with the Oscar Wilde quote on it - 'Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast' - if they'd done it it anything other than white I'd've been sorely tempted but if there is one thing I'm worse at than mornings it is keeping white things clean - especially at breakfast time...). It has been a very long week for me - early mornings every day and another one tomorrow despite my best efforts to write the morning off; now had there been two of me I could have taken it in turns to get up early!

To be fair what I need more are several decent nights sleep which I haven't had anything like enough of - the weather is doing very strange things - northerly winds veering southerly on the weather report recently was worthy of the Shipping Forecast, I mean what was the wind trying to do - reverse park? Lots of people are complaining of sleeping badly which is comforting in a way as I can at least feel as though it's not just me, but some of it has been my head whirling away at gale force speed refusing to shut up and let me sleep - which I can't really blame on the weather. However someone suggested repeating a medatitive mantra and it seems (so far...) to work. Seeing as I can't take 'ooommmm' seriously (I blame Dad for pointing out that a poster Mum had years ago of ooommmm written out in circle also said wwwooooo, or was it mmmoooo - but anyway you get the drift!) and I don't actually know any others poor old Julian of Norwich must be well fed up of me by now as 'But all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well' is in danger of being worn out....

Anyroad - time to try it out again methinks otherwise that 8am phone call from Kenny about filling in a missing signature on a form is going to be horribly soon.

I get to be Lucy again!

Cheers Liz - went to check out the Narnia 'which character are you?' on having seen you mention it on your blog and I too was Lucy, which I was rather chuffed about as when I was at infants school (6/7 yrs old-ish) we used to play 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe' in the playground because our teacher was reading it to us in class, and I got to be Lucy then too. I can remember that Susan was Susan (well obviously!) and Harvey was Peter but can't for the life of me remember who was Edmund - we must have had half the class playing because we ran out of characters so Laura was a bunny rabbit...

As I said to Kate there has been so much in the last few weeks or so that has reminded me of school days and things I haven't thought about for ages. We were checking out Friends Reunited entries (having gone to find someone's surname so we could both sleep that night) and discovered amongst other things that our parents need to update their entries, but what struck me was how many memories and faces came back vividly just reading through a list of names. It amazes me sometimes what I do remember (considering how much I forget - like what I walked into the room to get or to the shops to buy). I mean of all the things to remember why oh why after nearly 30 years do I remember us deciding that Laura could be a bunny rabbit?

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Why is it that something designed to avoid painful mistakes can cause so much emotional pain and draining business sessions?

Why is it that the less you want to say something the more you realise you have to?

Why is it that when you feel like you are the worst possible person in the world to be saying something the finger points at you and that little voice inside you drags you kicking and screaming into the arena?

Why is it I can't get hold of those who understand what on earth I'm talking about?

Why is it that I can't stop worrying and trust that if it was truly spirit led then it'll be ok, eventually?

Why me?

And why is it that I think I know the answer to the last one and still don't deal with it?

Friday, December 02, 2005

shooting feet

I can't help but feel the latest kidnappings in Iraq are shooting the people of Iraq in the foot - they are the ones who are losing out by taking away the work of the four peaceworkers.

The small world that is Quakerism means that yet again the 6 degrees of separation theory gets stripped down to 1 or 2 and that there are those I know and love anxiously waiting, hoping and praying for Tom, their Ffriend and mentor. The wonders of technology mean that many of us are aware of this and in turn are holding them in the light.

The quote in the heading of Tom's blog ( I guess sums up why he and the others are there, and why many go out into such situations - to be patterns and examples. At the UNICEF meeting I was at on Wednesday again the issue of setting patterns and examples came up, it is all very well telling people what they can't do, we need to show them what they can, and how different life can be, and that actions often speak louder than words.

There is always a risk in living out ones faith, as Oliver Kisaka said when he addressed us at WGYF - you can be acceptable to god or acceptable to man, not both. Being acceptable to god means you will be unacceptable in the eyes of man. Patriarchal langauage aside here (or maybe not, depending on whether you think women would be more understanding!) it is a harsh challenge to face, personally I don't think it makes us unacceptable to all people but recognise that usually living/acting true to your beliefs will make us unacceptable to some, often the majority. But are the kidnappers acting true to their beliefs? Are they being true to their understanding of god? And where does that leave us? It is often said that fundamentalists on opposite extremes are divided by a very thin line. Maybe both sides need to hear why they are each doing what they do, find a common ground for dialogue and work forward from there, no doubt the peaceworkers have the skills for this, if they are but given a chance.

I hope that the faith that took the peaceworkers out there sustains them through this, and those who are anxiously awaiting news.

Wellington quotes

Wellington quotes 1
Originally uploaded by annadunford.

Around Wellington waterfront are a series of quotes from various authors and whatnot about Wellington. I love them, I have a tendency to collect quotes and have them stuck up around the house, some in a wee book I carry round with me and a larger one I've built up over the years. The idea of them being scattered (seemingly literally in the case of this one!) around for you to come across to me is just great.

I've taken a heap more pictures of the waterfront which I'm gradually uploading to Flickr - I usually come back that way when I've been into town. It's like coming home through Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows or along the canal - a haven from traffic and a totally different sense of space and environment just a stones throw from the city centre.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

sums that don't add up

Did you know that I went to a Mathematics and Computing Specialist High School? No? Really? Funny that, neither did I.... I've got their website open now and am listening to what I am assuming is the school orchestra play - someone please tell me we sounded better than that... ( now I know we murdered March to the Scaffold (all it was fit for if you ask me) and Symphonieta was never going to sound good no matter how much we practiced (it was supposed to 'stretch us' - out of 10 flutes in the section only 3 of us could get the highest note and even then not all all once... I reckon they just didn't want to take us back to London that year) but we did a pretty good L'Ariessienne and Saturday Afternoon got us to the Royal Albert Hall!

But anyway, as I was saying - Mathematics and Computing specialist school? Cough, spluttter and other untypable noises... well all I can say is that it must've changed somewhat dramatically since I was there. But then it ought to have, in fact most of the teachers have probably retired and some have probably gone to meet the great homework marker in the sky. Yup, I have to face up to it, it is now 20 years since I started 5th year (the final year at that school). Twenty years? 20 years, two zero, two decades, no, it looks just as bad no matter how I write it - gordon bennett how the devil did that happen? (or should that be Andy Bennett given the name of my form teacher for two years?) I think this is one of those left brain right brain things, you know - kitchen calendar vs pocket diary - one part of you knows something and the other part refutes all knowledge of it. I had all this 'how long ago?' business with the Pilgrimage earlier in the year and you'd think that logically speaking if it's 18 years since I went on QYP '87 I'd have worked out it'd therefore be 20 years since I started 5th form and come June 20 years since I sat my O levels. But no, brain cannot compute (nor do mental arithmatic it appears, see what I mean about a specialist Mathematical School...) - I think I'm in denial....

It has brought back some very mixed feelings. School was far from being 'the happiest days of my life' - an expression which is probably responsible for a fair few teenage suicides. Life can get better honest! Music and computing were what saved my sanity at that school - hanging around the music block and science labs at breaks in the last couple of years or so of that school were the safest space I had there and I really appreciate those who were there with me for being there.

I was in the first ever Computer Studies class at that school (and those of a techie disposition who regularly bail me out probably find this hard to believe) - we studied a 2 year course in two terms, before school started, lunchtimes and after school finished and two of us got A's (yes, me - my only A grade out of 10 subjects! The fact that every single essay question that came up I knew back to front and the logic problems in it were my forte is beside the point, oh and Dad claims credit for the programming bit). The teacher we had wasn't exactly my favourite though and after he left suddenly at Easter under a cloud of allegations including the words store cupboards and young boys he fell off the bottom of the scale. On and off over the years I've wondered about it all, I'd often felt my presence in that class was tolerated by him more than anything else and it looked good to have a girl in it for pc sake (and it is probably why I studied so hard, to prove him and the physics teacher who thought I could be doing better things with my time - the aforementioned Andy Bennett - wrong. I had acquired a habit of doing things to prove people wrong, that a girl 'could do it thank you very much' and hopefully one of these days I'll remember I don't have to any more but hey, that's probably another posting!). When the word got out about the what the teacher was accused of (and from what I've learned since which added the words scout hut to the equation, I believe it wholeheartedly) I and some others got really worried - he used to give some of the lads a lift home from computing on the nights we stayed on late and if he did or said anything to them then... ye gods - goodness knows what we would have done mind, we were uspet enough about the lad who blew the whistle on him (who has my undying admiration and respect for having done so). None of us had the nerve to ask the lads in question or mention their risk to anyone and that still bothers me - in the same way that several of us knew one of our friends was being physically abused by her father but we didn't know who to say what to.

I've done a lot of work with teenagers through Quakers over the years and one of the things that gets covered again and again in training is dealing with disclosure of abuse. Only once have I known of it happen at an event I have been at (disclosure that is not abuse I hasten to add) and thankfully I know very little about that as I wasn't directly involved, the only reason I'm aware of it is one of the girl's friends came to me for support having spent several hours being the support giver and had exhausted herself emotionally. When I was at school I hadn't really got going with my involvement at residential Quaker events, that was just starting in my final year there, but I know that had they come along a couple of years earlier then that is where I would have said something; in a safe space, away from anyone who knew the people involved, people who could tell me it was ok to tell someone at school and maybe help me work out what to say and who to (which is what I needed to hear) without me feeling as though I was doing something wrong by voicing my fears. Childline didn't exist then and I'm not sure I'd've rung it anyway with it being concerns about my friends not me.

I've been asked to represent Friends at a seminar on Wednesday run by UNICEF on the campaign to repeal Section 59 of the 1961 Crimes Act which would basically give children the same rights as an adult not to be physically assaulted, at first I tried to pass the buck, I studied Child Abuse at uni and struggled with it. But life has brought several other sexual and physical abuse survivors across my path since school, no-one else can go to represent Friends and I feel I owe it somehow to them all to help Aotearoa New Zealand catch up to where the various Children Acts have got Britain now to protect the rights of the child. Had the Children Acts been in place when we were kids my friends might have had a better chance, and provision would have been in place to ensure that concerned school friends could say something knowing it was ok. Can't say as I'm particularly looking forward to it though.

Dear Santa...

I heard this read out on the radio the other day and loved it, as did the presenter who posted it on his website. I'd give you the link but can't guarentee how long it'll stay there so I've cut n pasted it below...

Dear Santa...

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my two children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground and figured out how to attach nine patches onto my son's boy scout uniform with staples and a glue gun.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes: I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy. If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mummy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.

It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back.

Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet. Yours Always, MUM...!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

'and the rain came down and the floods went up...'

(...but the house on the rock stood firm! Obviously learned something at Wooldale Juniors after all.)

Well I hadn't planned on blogging anything tonight, just popped over to print off my polenta cake recipe for Judith and then the heavens opened - yes I know it's only a few yards door to door but it's the sort of rain that soaks you in seconds and if the rest of the day is anything to go by it'll stop again soon. Hopefully we won't have any floods, especially as we're heading up the coast tomorrow morning to Kapiti Meeting so Fran, Jonathan and I can do our WGYF performance again (one showing only this time, but a bring and share meal thrown in!). Unfortunately this means Fran collecting Ann and I at 8.45am - who on earth decided that 10am was a good time to hold Meeting for Worship? Having said that Jonathan and I have just been discussing the idea of a pre-Meeting discussion group (altho' Meeting here doesn't start until 10.30am and as he pointed out it takes me seconds to get there)

After we'd done the last round of WGYF feedback (both matiné and evening performances!) I hit on the idea of having a bible study/discussion group which would be for those who are new to it, haven't read it for years and/or those who struggle with it rather than for old hands who know and love it well.

So much of what the main speakers had to say at WGYF was bible orientated, we had a bible quiz one night which left me simply in awe of the extent of the knowledge of so many - Leslie reeling off, in order, the books of the old Testament without faltering or appearing to draw breath was impressive to say the least. So where did that leave those of us who probably hadn't really read the book since we stopped having Religious Education lessons at school, and didn't have any sense of affinity to it? Well oddly enough for me, and several others, it left us curious, wondering what we were missing out on, prepared to give it another go - on condition that no-one was going set us any homework or expect us to necessarily go along with what it said.

Two of the things Jonathan mentioned in his bit about the speakers (well there was no point Fran or I doing that bit - we missed half of them!) was Oliver Kisaka saying how if you haven't read the bible you are uneducated and Deborah Saunders refering to Elijah and Elisha (oops - had to do a quick Google search to check how to spell Elisha... needless to say I haven't read that bit yet!) and saying how she was like Elijah to us as Elisha (preparing the next generation of prophets/speakers basically). Now I heard Oliver say that bit about being uneducated and admittedly bristled a bit at first but then as he elaborated I understood what he meant, he wasn't saying if you don't know your bible inside out or don't believe it you are uneducated, but if you haven't even tried reading it all how can you speak against something you don't know? Don't reject something out of hand when you maybe only know a small part of it - I guess it's like me not wanting to read any more Thomas Hardy having done Return of the Native for A level English (how can a book take 5 chapters for someone to watch a horse & cart to get from one end of road to another with nothing else happening in the plot?) yet everyone I know who studied Tess of the D'Urbervilles thinks he's fantastic, if I gave my opinion of Shakespeare based purely on Anthony & Cleopatra (another A level torture zone) you'd get a very different story than if I waxed lyrical about The Tempest, Midsummer's Nights Dream, Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing or Twelth Night etc etc etc (all I can assume is that Ant & Cleo must've been written on a very bad hair day...). I tried at various stages through the WGYF planning to read more of the bible, especially each time I heard Sheila speak so enspiringly about passages that spoke to her condition and seemed pertinent at the time but I never got very far (my excuse was that I was waiting for the chapter & verse references from Sheila...). But post WGYF I have tried, I really have (as I think I have said in an earlier posting) to make a concerted effort. I tried just dipping in and out but got frustrated with a lot of the language in the Old Testament (why oh why does everything seem to be riddled with double negatives?) and plumped for working through the Gospel of Matthew instead as simon had referred to it as the 'Quaker Gospel' and thus the one I reckoned I'd have least difficulty with! I found when reading it I'd come across bits and want to ask someone about it, or even just say - hey I like this bit! or, in some cases - what the dickens is that about? or if that means what I think it means that I don't hold much truck with that. But as it tends to be bedtime reading I can't imagine anyone being too chuffed with a phonecall, and also once tucked up in bed all cosy I'm not about to pad across in my jammies and start typing in a cold office! Hence the idea of the discussion group... I did think about Deborah's comment about learning from your elders and the whole Elijah/Elisha thing but figured that in this case we were probably best trying to muddle through on our own - after all those of us who got put off it by people knew it inside out and who tried in varying degrees to ram it down our throats (either from the pulpit or the front of the classroom) are probably happier in a group where we're all coming from a slightly sceptical and/or 'uneducated' position. A case of 'what canst thou say' about it.

We may all end up still sceptics at the end of it, but at least we'll be better educated ones!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

George Fox House (ie chez moi), Wellington

George Fox House (ie chez moi), Wellington
Originally uploaded by annadunford.

Well I've finally remembered to take my camera out for a walk or two and have uploaded some pictures taken around where I'm living so those of you who don't know what it looks like here already... there are more to come but it's bedtime (well it was about half an hour ago...) so the rest will have to wait a little longer - check back via the Flickr link on the right in a day or two!

ps - there are few there from my last few days in Edinburgh including one in Greyfriars post curry!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

what's in a name?

Today I bought some zucchini plants for the garden, dithered over an eggplant seedling but decided it'd never survive the wind and forgot to buy some soy milk.

So what?

Nothing really, except that I'm used to courgettes, aubergines and soya milk.

Monday, November 21, 2005

pins and needles

I have finally twigged why I have this seemingly unreasonable aversion to the idea of acupuncture... years of my Granny Dunford making me summer dresses which involved trying on half made items full of pins and alterations being made whilst wearing them, half the pins going into me as well as the material (Dad is bound to say I'm exagerating about half, but believe me at the time it felt like it, and anyway he wasn't the one feeling a live voodoo doll even if I probably didn't know what one was at the time).

What brought about this stunning revelation? Well today I am feeling ridiculously proud of myself and wishing I could ring up Granny to tell her (I'm about 14 years too late for that). Quite where the sudden burst of creative energy and inspiration came from I'm not entirely sure - one minute I was sitting on the sofa reading a book, the next rifling through a pile of old bed linen that had been set aside for dust sheets...

There is only one duvet cover in the house for my bed (being double, all the others are single) I am assured that as washing dries so quickly here, and anyways there's a tumble drier now in the garage, that one is quite sufficient as it can be off the bed, washed, dried and back on again the same day. Now this assumes that I remember to put the washing on early enough, that it doesn't get left out in the rain and that I remember to bring it in before bedtime - so far my track record is not looking good. So I had been wondering about making a duvet cover out of some of the odds and ends of bedding that is kicking about in a cupboard - stuff that never gets used as none of it matches etc (which when you are running a bed & breakfast matters more than I'd worry about usually). I'd been decidedly uninspired on the duvet making front but had found some 70's print sheets and pillowcases which were they in better nick would probably fetch a fortune in the retro shops in Edinburgh, great material (honest!) but not exactly what I want to wake up to every morning (nor big enough once you'd cut out the worn patches) so they'd stayed in the cupboard.

As I said where the inspiration came from I've no idea - the book I was reading was set in the 50's and year 2000 (one of those flashback plots) so I can't even blame that - but I got the idea for making a top out of some of the material. Having not done any sewing in terms of clothes for about 15 years or more, and never having made a top in my life, not to mention being totally bereft of patterns I had a go first cutting up an old plain white pillowcase using a top I had as a guide figuring that if I stuffed up it wouldn't matter. Voila (several hours later) a sleeveless top that fits, even has darts in (and this is me who can't even plait my hair looking in a mirror managing to put pins in without drawing blood) and whilst the material has seen better days it doesn't look that bad and might even get worn in public! Feeling somewhat emboldened by this success I tried again with some print material, it's pink and flowery - yes, you did read that right, the kind of thing I'd never have been seen dead wearing for so many years that even Mum gave up trying to persuade me to go for something more girlie. But sadly my pale pink blouse that I've worn sooo much over the last three years has finally given up the ghost due to the less than gentle breeze blowing the washing on the line and I was feeling deprived of what probably amounts to the only really girlie thing I owned. So now I have a (get this!) fully fitted halterneck top - darts back and front! I've never had one before 'cos I'm the wrong shape for the ones you buy in the shops, I never seem to go out far enough in the bust or in far enough at the waist. Ok so I now have a rather impressive collection of fine scratches on my back which looks like Banjo has been sleeping on top of me again (my cat back in Scotland for those who don't know and might have been getting worried!) from trying to get the thing on and off whilst still full of pins, but hey they'll heal (hopefully before I try wearing the top outwith the house...). Well that should sort out some of the stripiness of my suntan anyway, or at least add some interesting variations.

I'd been thinking about having a go at making my own clothes after being so impressed with Alice's 'plain clothes' at WGYF. I'm not sure I'd go completely for the traditional style (similar to the Amish) but lets face it if I'm making it it sure aint going to be fancy (and one of her bonnets sure would keep my hair out of my face in the wind - and today it is enough to put wicked witches in danger of being squashed by houses). The white top when worn with my long grey skirt does make me look as though I have gone down that path (but I don't think Plain Friends tend to go for hipster waistlines) and I've been asked often before when wearing that skirt if I 'have to wear it' because I'm a Quaker which makes me laugh as it was bought in the cheapy clothes shop in Dalkeith - hardly a hotbed of puritanical thought or practice.

But as another part of my personal commitment to simplicity was to not own any more clothes than I need I'll probably not be making anything else for a while, unless of course I can figure out how my grey skirt was made in which case I could be tempted...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

from ostrich to oven

Now my day started off as in a way that meant the 10,000 or so miles twixt here and archipelago where the majority of my life has been lived seemed totally insignificant. A phone call with my brother preceded by one to Si & Susie to plan our rugby tactics - the buying of rugby 7s tickets that is, don't worry I haven't succumbed to being a kiwi that much - didn't feel that much different from being in Edinburgh in many ways.

Then a trip to the shops - I have tried for years to buy 'local' goods, round here that means some rapid recalculations in terms of food miles I can tell you. But so much dairy free and wheat free stuff that is 'local' to here is made in Australia which brings up another issue - boycotts. Now I've nothing against those in the USA (well, the ones who didn't vote Republican...) but I've been trying to avoid buying goods from there 'on principle' cos let's face it as a country their politics are um, well let's just say they don't speak to my condition. Now I'm here with ooodles of Aussie stuff on the shelves and well, I'm not exactly John Howard's greatest fan either... boycotting Australian goods has never really arisen as an issue for me before as I've tended to rule them out on the food miles front so now I've a whole new set of deliberations to deal with (I gave up and bought something that had been packaged by the shop and didn't state country of origin - a cop out I know but I figured it had less packaging!)

Then home for lunch and listen to the news on the radio whilst I awaited the repair man to arrive... an article on the rural report about the Ostrich & Emu Standards Board! Ok, they did say that it was fairly new and finding it's own way along as it went but even so... hardly the Milk Marketing Board. Then my repair man turned up - to fix my oven. Now as far as I'm concerned my oven works perfectly well thank you (now I know how to isolate the automatic timer thingy which makes it sulk), but the front right hand ring had two settings, off or on full blast (and the darned thing is electric so it stays hot forever). But no - I had (yay, 'tis fixed!) a faulty thermostat in my oven - he even corrected me when I said 'you'll have come to fix my cooker' - nope, it's an oven - so that's me told. I'll add it to my list of kiwi words to remember....

There are a whole load of language schools here - teaching English to foriegn students. I do wonder whether anyone tells them that just because you know kiwi English that doesn't mean you'll necessarily be able to make yourself understood in any other theoretically English speaking country. I'm surprised the EU haven't managed to put restrictions on it yet - after all if Champagne has to come from the Champagne region in France and now Feta cheese has to come from Greece (Cheddar Cheese seems to have escaped so far, altho' there certainly used to be a very nice cheese place there - it's in Somerset (England) for the benefit of you furriners...), how come English doesn't have to be well, 'English' and German to be 'German' instead of what they pretend is German in Italy and Switzerland just to lure you into a false sense of security about knowing the local lingo (and quite probably to justify all those teaching hours of it in British Schools when everyone knows far more people speak Spanish, and the weather is better there not to mention Latin America being far more exciting - sorry Germany, no offence intended.)The thing is though, how would you define 'English'? To hear someone from Somerset, Yorkshire, Northumbria, Merseyside and London all talking they sound as diverse, if not more so, than hearing a Canadian, a US citizen, an Aussie and a Kiwi (altho' by saying that I've probably just blown all chances of getting Residency here!) . As for Ireland, Scotland and Wales; well that's a whole other ball game!

Anyway as Dad has just pointed out via Skype 'tis my bedtime. So, good night all, buenas noches a todos, la bonne nuit tout, gute nacht alles, καλή νύχτα όλες, Pō mārie ki a koutou katoa!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

religious language

ok, I'm looking for some help here (or am I just being curious?) - I'm doing the Britian Yearly Meeting Quaker Youth work course and have come to the exercise on religious language. It gives a list of words and asks you to put them in order starting with the one you have most difficulty with, then ask others to do the same exercise and see what discussion come up.

You aren't allowed to put them in equal placing! I've put my list as a comment so you can't see it straight away... I'd appreciate it if you'd have a go, I will ask some people here as well but I'm intrigued as to what others in the blogosphere think too!

The words (as they appear on the worksheet) are:

God, spiritual, faith, religion, worship, testimony, inner light, Jesus, Christ, Allah, Buddha, divine.

I'm happy enough to get anonymous contributions =)

Monday, November 14, 2005

how do you measure success?

I'm sure that someone in the academic sphere has come up with something suitably full of elitest jargon with many syllables (look I studied Sociology at uni, I know how bad these things can get...) which explains how you can measure the success of an event, but as I have no desire to delve back into academia to find out I'll have to rely on good ol' commonsense and the university of life - experience - for an explanation instead.

Well to be fair in this particular instance I was bailed out from having to answer the question myself - even though Elizabeth said pretty much word for word what I was about to, the difference being coming from her it carried more weight!

The question was unsurprisingly enough after our feedback about WGYF - about it's enormous cost financially and environmentally (all those air miles). How can we measure the success of the event? What do we have to show for it? Did Friends worldwide get their money's worth? Will those of us who were were lucky enough to go repay our debt to the Society and society?

The answer I had, and Elizabeth voiced (yay for travelling Friends!), is look at the '85 event participants - then look at their contribution to Friends worldwide over the last 20 years. Sure WGYF can't take all the credit but from talking to several of those who were there I know that in their cases it can certainly take the bulk of it.

Reading the emails that have been circulating around since WGYF I can already see the difference it has made to many lives. Lifestyle decisions being made, commitment to Friends (at least one person has since become a member already), an openess to following leadings and go where the spirit guides them, to bringing more spiritual discipline into their lives (or at least thinking about how to try), to finding ways of living out the testimonies rather than just talking about them and to exploring our own individual spiritual journies in more depth. Even just watching the use of language of some people change within and since the event is a revalation in itself - the acceptance of certain words and phrases into people's vocabulary (including my own)as we began to understand the meaning behind the words rather than what we assumed was meant by them has been an indication of the success of the event. This is before I even get on to mention the experiments with unprogrammed worship within the programmed traditions and the increase in bible reading amongst those who didn't (and probably still don't) call ourselves Christians

We were never going to change the world in a few days - it will probably take years to be able to look back and see the fruits being borne and possibly we will never quite know how much can be directly attributed to WGYF. But was it a success? Ask me again in five years time, but I believe the answer will be a resounding 'yes!'

being a good sport

Having been asked over the last couple of days a few times where was I from originally (as in where I grew up) I have been rather careful how I've answered - Holmfirth, 'Last of the Summer Wine Country' is fairly safe... if clarification is required it is currently a good idea to know if the questioner is a rugby league fan or not before replying 'near Huddersfield' given the drubbing the All Blacks just received there from Great Britain... just as well it is a sport I'm fairly indifferent to (altho' my loyalties may well get tested when they play Scotland at rugby union)

However I am into my cricket and am rather miffed at there being no online audio coverage of the Test matches in Pakistan - I know TMS is on long wave but coverage doesn't reach quite this far! Bah humbug (and it isn't even Christmas... yet). Anyway at least England are putting up a good show so far - altho' they'd probably do even better if the commentators didn't get so excited with their glowing predictions as soon as things look anything other than dismal, it's practically guarenteed to mean the loss of another wicket. Sod's law Trescothic got out just short of a double century (again). Ah well. Si/Bri/Ken/Net I hope you're managing to watch some of it for me =)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

pootling along

The Meeting here seems to be divided into two groups - those who are worried I've got too much to manage on my own and those who are worried that I'm bored and lonely!

Well I'm certainly not overworked as Resident Friend altho' today has been one of those days for the phone ringing and visitors - hardly a problem though, I still managed to crash out after some gardening and read my book for a while. As for lonely well I managed to eat out at various houses three nights in a row last weekend! Hardly....

I'm far from lacking for things to do either - I still haven't managed to find time to catch up with some of my local rellies or make half the phone calls I've been meaning to since I got here. The days are nicely complete without being rushed, overly full or stressful. It is how I always imagined retirement would be! Yay, I've fancied the idea of early retirement for years, in fact probably since I started work and it kept getting in the way of things I'd rather do instead =) However the realistic practical streak in me knows I'll need to earn some money again at some point and I have started keeping my eye open for some part time work. It'll take me a while to get something as the only clause I can get an addition to my visa is the 'they can't find a Kiwi to do the job' one. There's a handy 'Christian job watch' website here which covers not just actual church jobs (anyone fancy being a Ministry leader in Taupo?) but also those within Christian organisations - including care work, youth work, administration and fundraising etc. As I'm here on a missionary visa (!) it seemed sensible to start with the church groups as I've a better chance of persuading Immigration that I'm 'qualified' and have relevant experience not only of the practical tasks but the 'religious background/live church connection'. Must admit though it does feel a bit strange! Whilst I'm far more comfortable with the 'christian' lable these days I'm still not so sure about 'Christian' yet... (a bit like conservative and Conservative!)

Anyway some more random kiwiana for you

jug = kettle (I'll put the jug on...)
(out in the) wop wops = back of beyond, out in the sticks/woods etc
oh and Hokey Pokey ice cream! Basically ice cream with little balls of barleysugar in it, a local phenonomen and one which no doubt keeps the dentists busy. It is nice, honest, (there is a dairy free version!) but incredibly sweet.
Matariki = the Maori New Year which is in June (Pipiri) and is tied to the rising of the constellation Matariki (Pleiades, Seven Sisters...) - ie it is in the middle of winter, when celebrating New Year makes sense (coming out of the darkness, rebirth, Persephone and the underworld etc., all to the tune of the can-can of course... hmmm, not sure about that one but it sure sounds good played on steel drums! Do you remember that Kate?) Anyway, as I was saying it makes far more sense and I'm all for the move here to make it into a national holiday instead of the Queen's birthday (well she's got two).

The strawberries in the garden have started to ripen (but it's November...) and the beans are shooting up, so are the weeds... I've been helping Marion & Quentin with their garden and went round yesterday to do some more strimming of the jungle to find there had been a chainsaw massacre out the back - half the decking has gone and a load of the bushes! Their french windows now open out onto a 7' drop... however believe it or not (and if you saw it you'd wonder) all it means is that the long awaited renovations have finally begun so it was a case of setting too on the front garden to make room for rescuing the currant bushes out the back that are in danger of being crushed to death by a mountain of lavender bush now unceremoniously dumped across the path to the compost heap (and pretty much everywhere else thanks to the infamous wind). A mulching machine is to be my new toy next week - hopefully one that works unlike the one Shirley and I battled away with last year which needed more pit stops than Herbie on a bad day (and definitely had a mind of it's own).

Well I guess it isn't everyone's cup of tea (mmm, time to put the jug on...) as a way of life but I'm getting quite attached to it!

Monday, November 07, 2005

WGYF continues

I've just been looking at the photos from WGYF Africa on the FWCC Africa site ( ) which somehow had far more impact on me than reading the blog entries did ( ). Maybe it was because now I could see John, Rachel, Grace, Raul et al there and finally knowing what Bainito looks like after all the email correspondence we had and hearing his voice during phone conferences etc.

I've been thinking about WGYF a lot recently. Fran, Jonathan and I are doing three feedback sessions in the next few weeks for Friends here in Wellington (a matiné and evening performance on the 13th!) and up the coast after Kapiti Meeting (27th). Plus of course we said a bit about it already at Wanganui. I've been reading a lot of what other people have written lately and have started to realise just how 'sheltered' my own experience of it was - due to having admin team meetings every morning I was spared deep and meaningful discussions over breakfast (phew, me soooo not a mornings person...), most lunchtimes I managed to meet up with at least some of my mini support group whose main task was to distract me from WGYF for at least half an hour a day and in the evenings I usually ended up with interesting but not challenging conversation as we ate.

Not having got to any workshops where the major issues that 'divided' us were discussed (such as those around homosexuality and in particular FUM's discriminatory employment policy on this) and having a basegroup that whilst diverse was made up of such gentle and open people - with no sense of judgement being present - I found that the only challenges were internal, not within face to face discussion. Many of these challenges were brought about from ministry in worship, content from the main speaker sessions and the occassional seemingly by the by comment made by individuals around me. But I dealt with them in the silence of worship, lying in bed at night and sometimes sharing in the safety of my basegroup or with someone from my 'own' tradition, and in some cases they are still there fighting for headspace and time for reflection.

But I suspect that to an extent I sheltered myself. I wasn't really feeling up to anything controversial and half the time I felt as though I was hardly there but as if I were watching the event from some disembodied plane. My role had always been to ensure that it happened, to enable other people to have these challenging experiences and discussions. I look back and often I can't quite remember how my days were filled, but they were - to the brim!

For the feedback sessions I've to think what were the highlights for me of the event. Each and every 'moment' that comes to mind seems to be accompanied by floods of tears (and usually Louisa magically appearing with tissues!) - not tears of sadness but of joy, of just too much emotion; such as when Benny spoke of the Bridges of Love in worship one morning, as I reached the crest of Pendle Hill and saw the flag on top and people streaming up towards the gathered crowd, and holding hands between Thomas and Eleni as we sang 'Shout to the Lord' on the last morning when the lines below hit me hard as being not about 'the Lord' as in the image I had discarded at school as being, well just plain silly (old man with a beard sitting on a cloud some place) but being about those who surrounded me in the hall

'I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love you, forever I'll stand.
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.'

Just thinking about it all now is enough to know that sharing these moments is probably going to need hand holders and tissue providers again and is where I'd just love to have my mini support group back!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

QYP 1987-2004

I wanted to included this in the previous post but it seemed to lose me half the text if I did, oh well this gives me room for names =)

So, QYP'ers from 1987 - 2004 who were at WGYF...

1987 - Rosie, Ute & Anna
1989 - Mike & Ana Gabriella
1997 - Anke & Barbara
1996 - Karen
1998 - Emilano, Anneke, Christina & Aidan
2000 - Louisa, Hanna, Johanna, Anna
2002 - Ruadhan
2004 - Amy-Jean, Jane, Tamara, Geoffrey & David

looking back

I guess I really ought to work out how to link in files so things like this don't become such long posts... anyway, I was asked to write something by the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage committee about how the pilgrimage I went on affected my life for them to use as part of the fundraising and preparation for QYP 2006. (Sometimes knowing so many Quakers internationally comes back to haunt you!) I had a go at writing something, no idea if this is what they were looking for but it's what they got =)

Quaker Youth Pilgrimage 1987 to WGYF 2005
Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears.... so started one of the journal entries written by by three of us in the bathroom at Quaker International Centre in August 1987 as we dyed the hair of two of my fellow pilgrims – if I remember rightly we managed to adapt a pretty hefty chunk of the speech, whilst not exactly spiritual development it certainly improved my knowledge of Shakespeare – probably the first time in my life I'd looked at any outwith a classroom situation! As we'd been to see Midsummers Nights Dream that week in Regents Park it had a certain continuity of theme – my English teacher would have been proud of me if I'd told her (and it might have made up some for the Monday afternoon lessons I'd fallen asleep in after various Quaker weekends away!)

In August 2005 two of us who wrote that journal entry were again together for a major international Quaker event along with Ute Caspers who had been one of our leaders that year. Rosie and I had worked alongside each other for years within (the British) Young Friends Central Committee (as it was then called, now YFGM) but this was the first time we'd been together again in an international context, and in the last year of us both being 'officially' Young Friends.

The World Gathering of Young Friends brought together 32 pilgrims spanning 17 years of pilgrimages. There having been 32 pilgrims in '87 (including leaders) there seemed a symmetry to the number. I'm not entirely sure though that Rosie, Ute and I really wanted to know that the youngest participant of QYP 2004 at WGYF had been born the year we'd gone on ours, but again a certain symmetry. Throughout WGYF I was reminded time and again of our pilgrimage as we revisited the 1652 Country sites, took replica photographs and had the same British English/American English 'you call it a what?!' conversations all over again with the added twist of Australian/New Zealand/Canadian versions thrown in for good measure.

There was a sense for me of having come full circle being back in the 1652 Country for WGYF, whilst not quite where my active involvement with Young Friends started it was still very early on for me and certainly my first experience of the differing branches of Quaker theology and practice.

Did QYP '87 change my life? Did it affect my spiritual journey? It was hard to answer that aged 17 when I got home and had to report back to Monthly Meeting and the trusts who funded me – just how do you process such an intense 4 week experience and put it into words? Once again I'm finding the same problem post WGYF – 'here I am but where are my words?' - ministry from an impromptu Meeting for Worship of younger Friends at the FWCC Triennial 2004 comes back to me time and again. But maybe those first three words are the crux of it 'here I am' – I'm still with Friends, I spent 5 years attending YFCC serving as an overseer and on outreach committee, I've been doing Quaker youthwork since I got too old to attend as a young person, I've served on numerous committees within the Monthly Meetings I've lived in, and served as an overseer again. I've worked for FWCC Europe & Middle East Section and was the administrator for WGYF, I've been on the wardening team at Edinburgh QMH and am now Resident Friend in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. So often I've heard people despair about the lack of young people in our Meetings and how many drift off in their teens or after YFCC/YFGM, but I am still here, and putting my faith into action, letting my life speak and living adventurously!

The pilgrimage helped instill into me a sense of belonging, not only to British Quakers (I became a member within a year of the pilgrimage) but to the worldwide family of Friends, and that has always been important to me. I'm not entirely sure that I really grasped the extent of our theological differences on the pilgrimage having been far more aware of the more personal level of our diversity but the fact that I can't really remember now who was from what tradition (with a couple of exceptions) probably says more about the way we accepted each other as individuals rather than seeing each other as 'programmed' or 'unprogrammed' Friends.

This openness and acceptance was even more apparent at WGYF and was coupled with an intense desire to learn from each other about our different traditions and share our beliefs and experiences. I'm not entirely sure that I would have been ready for WGYF at 17 or 18, mainly because it was far too early on in my Quaker experience to have gained enough confidence in what I did believe, nor had I learned how to sufficiently put it into words, that was to take another 15 years or more. However the pilgrimage helped me understand what the peace testimony meant to me (we visited Germany pre reunification and went to Bergen Belsen, an experience that will never leave me) and it gave me a good grounding in Quaker history. Some of the poems and quotations we shared in our nightly epilogues are still dear to me and have profoundly shaped my thinking. But maybe what was most important was that it fueled the 'fire in my belly', the strength of my commitment to Friends, and the desire to share that and help others gain it experientially for themselves. I knew I had been extremely privileged to attend the pilgrimage and felt what I can now call a leading to become an active part of our Society, giving not just receiving.

There is a quote that I will always associate with the pilgrimage and that became fundamentally important to me then. It has constantly remained something to aspire to, and I suppose as such has shaped both my spiritual and temporal journey through life as I have gradually built up to being able to live up to it. I feel incredibly blessed by the opportunities I have had in recent years that have given me a sense of having finally got somewhere towards fulfilling it.

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one. (George Fox, 1656)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

bible bashing

Ok, I need to find a new bible... I've been trying really hard to get into the habit of reading it to get a better understanding of where so many of those at WGYF were coming from and after having had various 'good starting points' recommended to me.

However there are only so many doths, untos, wherefores and verilys I can read without expecting the Patrician or the City Watch to make an appearance along with the Temple of Offler and various Small Gods - Terry Pratchett has a lot to answer for.

I know I found the Message Bible almost cringeworthily American at first but I'm rapidly warming to the concept, altho' I still find it hard to get my head around the bible including words like 'cute'.

Hmmm, wonder what I can find in the Meeting House, the one in the house is no better than my own. I'm remembering fast why I found it all such hard going at school....

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Apparently there was an earthquake just off the north coast of South Island yesterday registering 4.8 on the Richter Scale which was felt in Wellington and in fact there have been about seven of them in the last 24 hours if you count the aftershocks. Can't say as I noticed but Fran did as the flowers on her coffee table went in for a burst of synchronised waving without any wind to assist. There's a website (isn't there always?) where you can look these things up -

It was a rather salient reminder to get a bit more organised sooner rather than later. In fact Fran and I sat after tea and swapped emergency contact information, something we had realised we needed to do when at Wanganui and discussing funerals! Whilst I do have family over here none of my friends here know any of them yet and 'Emma in Taita' really isn't going to help anyone looking her up in the phone book (needless to say we've all got different surnames...) and Carole & Brian seem to keep moving every 6 months anyway. Various committees in the Meeting are going to be looking at this as many of us live thousands of miles from our next of kin and no-one locally would know where to start to find them.

Marion and I have been discussing earthquake provision etc over the last few days - basically we are supposed to be able to fend for ourselves for at least 3 days in terms of food and water, and possibly for up to 2 weeks. The earthquake kit in here has tins of spam, meatballs and macaroni cheese - I'm a dairy intollerant vegetarian! We're going shopping... meanwhile I've padded out my own kitchen cupboards with a few extras. It's all very strange trying to get my head around such things but it is important. After all, the damage in New Orleans was as bad as it was because maintenance had been slack on the levvies - as they hadn't burst in 300 years no-one thought they would and people weren't prepared. Apparently the local civic defence point is the school at the bottom of the road and a quick sprint (ahem, more like breathless scramble) up Elizabeth Street onto Mount Victoria would put me clear of the worst that can hit the city, so relatively speaking I'm 'safe' here.

Abi who was at both the Triennial and WGYF lives near(ish) Jakata and whilst he escaped the effects of the Tsunami his house was badly damaged by the earthquake at Easter. Fortunately he and his family were all ok. But it brings it home, these things don't just happen on the news, they are real people whose lives are affected and with the string of natural disasters we've witnessed over the last few months I'm not taking my chances. Wellington is due a big earthquake at any point in the next 50 years or so - I guess it's like taking your brolly with you so it doesn't rain!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


check out - I discovered this on the bottom of Pam's emails, looks great, plan to explore it and get bookcrossing - and it gives me the perfect excuse to go and buy at least one book as there is no way I'd pass on those I've brought with me!

gotta dash... Meeting for Worship starts soon and I haven't bought the milk yet.

Friday, October 28, 2005


no, not the sort you get when microphone is too close to a loudspeaker but that which I was asked to write for those who organised the event at Wanganui.

I've been home four days now and I still haven't quite got my head around it all. Obviously the big thing for me was seeing so many people I'd not expected to so soon, and also getting to know many others within the YM, and usefully for me - being the kind of event it was - there were a fair few 'weighty' Friends there (I don't mean overweight, it's a term used to describe those whose ponderings/spiritual insights etc tend to carry extra weight as they are seen to be somewhat more 'advanced' along the path of Quakerism than others - when you don't have an official heirarchy you still end up needing to be able to describe the nearest thing we have to one!).

We were asked at the begining to write down 6 things on little post-its about why we had come, what we hoped to get out of the event, our concerns, what we'd like to take away with us etc. If I could remember all the questions properly I might be able to answer better whether I got what I expected!

What I didn't expect when I arrived was to end up helping with two of the sessions but I guess that's what happens when you let Marion volunteer you to go to something (she didn't tell me she was on the steering committee until I was there!). I ended up giving a short spiel on how the internet is (positively) affecting the growth of Quakerism across Europe and introducing the online Meeting for Worship which we all joined in with for 15 mins using a data projector (see the link on the right of you are interested). Much to my relief this was a great success despite (perhaps because of?) so many people's initial sceptisism.

This session came about because the day before Marion had invited me to join her and 'others' to go for a walk and coffee in free time, what she neglected to say was that the 'others' were Sue and Quentin who were helping her plan the next days sessions! So as we sat by Virginia Lake hiding from the fierce rays of the sun under a big brolly we discussed 'new growth' within Quakerism. Sue, referring to someone who had been quoted earlier that day, said how this person (sorry can't remember her name - Winifred something...) had said how 'God doesn't travel by post' (I happen to disagree with the quote but that's by the by...) But what about the internet? Does god travel through cyberspace? Well me and my big mouth... not only did we end up with the online Meeting for Worship but also in another session with me talking about the WGYF email list which has enabled the various conversations about spirituality, theology and more temporal issues continue long after we've all left Lancaster and quite often between those who never even got to meet when we were there.

The latter bit was within a session where Fran, Jonathan and I were a panel of 'Young Friends' and were asked questions which had been semi discussed (and organised!) the night before (don't you just love advanced planning techniques?). Now being up there as a Young Friend is something of a thorny issue for me. I've been the Young Friend for about 20 years now and to be quite honest I think it's someone else's turn BUT.... on the other hand so many of my friends are still within the age range, I socialise with them, have been living with them, working for them, still apparently look as though I am one of them (mistaken for 25 again!) and I have much in common with them in terms of way of life etc. and I'm not quite ready to fall off the top of the spectrum completely - I guess I want my cake and eat it! Altho' one of my ways round the issue of late has to become the one in the background who bakes the cake...

I still don't feel as though I've quite come up with what Merilyn was wanting from me in terms of feedback, whether those who stayed to the end of the six days got a nice little form with tick boxes I don't know, I usually hate those things but right now I'm thinking they might be more preferable!

Windy Welly

Well Wellington is certainly living up to it's windy reputation today - spare a thought for Sascha, he's about a third of the way across the Cook Straits right now and doesn't like ferries - boy is he in for a bouncy crossing...

So I've survived my first B&B guest, altho' a German gap year traveller who heard of Quakers whilst WWOOFing and wanted to find out more presumably isn't likely to be my typical guest! Thankfully I had Marion and Peter round for tea to help bail me out on the explanations front the first night. I know I've done this kind of thing (the explanations that is) countless times before but somehow being here, and also being post WGYF where so many of my answers have been thrown up in the air and haven't quite landed yet, made it feel like I was starting from scratch again.

I went exploring the Southern Walkway through the Town Belt to M&Q's yesterday and was very proud of myself for not getting lost despite not having taken the map. OK, so it is pretty well signposted and all I had to do really was walk to the top of Elizabeth Street and turn left and/or up each time I got to a junction of paths but none the less it felt like an achievement.

It's amazing walking through the bush (woods - I was quite disappointed last year to discover that bush=woods, I'd kind of imagined something more dramatic - like the set of Crocodile Dundee, you know - deserty scrub kind of thing...) , you'd never know you were so close to the city. At the bottom of my street - Moncrieff Street - is Elizabeth Street, turn left and after several games of Pacman (see earlier post!) you are in the city centre in about 3-5 minutes. Alternatively turn right on Elizabeth Street and in 3-5 minutes (depending on how fit you are!) you are in the bush. Every so often you are treated to spectacular vistas either inland or across the bay and towards the Rimutaka mountains. I'm gradually remembering all the native trees I learned on previous trips but the flowers are mostly new to me as of course it is a different time of year. There are carpets of what looks suspiciously like Wandering Jew and it quite possibly is, after all I've got Spider plants growing in the garden! The Wild Garlic is familiar though, by sight and smell.

I'm obviously not as fit as I'd thought I was as the up and down path left me decidedly in need of a sit down and cuppa before I tackled the weeding at the other end, I must confess I came back via the road which is far easier but not half as nice. However that way I do get to cut through the Basin Reserve (cricket ground). It is such an oasis of calm, bizarrely located in the middle of what is in effect a busy roundabout (or should that be 'squareabout' considering the shape?) altho I suspect the Basin Reserve was built long before half the roads surrounding it. I must say though if I knew some of the big hitters were playing I'd be decidedly wary of driving or walking around there knowing they are more than capable of knocking 6's over the stands!

Today's random observation - none of the kitchen sinks here seem to have overflows, nor does the bath which means I am having to rapidly readjust my bathrunning techniques - at Glendevon Road it took so long to fill you started it off and then went and did three other things in the meantime, knowing that if you did get distracted for too long it wouldn't flood, now not only does it actually fill quickly I also have to catch it in time....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ministry of Magic in Wellington?

Ok, so they had a Minister for Middle Earth here whilst Lord of the Rings was being filmed but maybe they have a Minister of Magic too... so far I have found Tonks Avenue and Minerva Street here. Has Scrimegour been deposed or has he had an incredible shift in politics?

There seems to be some kind of cover up going on here - the Wellington inner city bypass construction newsletter (which was about as exciting as the contents of the other postbox got...) reckons Tonks Avenue is named after the Victorian entreprenuer Kate Tonks yet they have moved numbers 1, 3, 5, 12 & 13 Tonks Avenue to new locations... locomotor house? I guess I'll eventually get my head around the fact that here you can not only move house but move your house!

random ramblings

If you manage to check this out before they change the website you'll see Krissy in her new found role as Kubuntu girl! (who wants to be a vet anyway?) With Kubuntu programming courtesy of Jonny Riddell - well ok so most folk call him Jonathan these days but there are too many of those in my life not to differentiate... oh heck, must get to the shops still and get Jon(athan)'s pressie having wished him happy birthday by Skype (my) this morning/(his) last night, and text Jonathan to say happy birthday for today... confused? How do you think I feel?! Whilst on birthdays - happy birthday Aidan for tomorrow, well my tomorrow, your day after...

The post has just arrived - with a Christmas stamp on it. Now far from it for me to be a party pooper but isn't October just a teensy weensy bit early? Or does this mean that if I'm to send snail mail for Christmas I need to get my head around it now??? Ok, advanced warning - Christmas as far as I'm concerned will now be happening in January... well at least that is an improvement on this year - my midwinter festive season circular went out in February/March and I couldn't even blame it on being in the wrong season - altho' I did spend Christmas day on a plane apparently running along a few hours ahead of the tsunami. Scary thought to think that some of those who got off the plane in Bangkok having flown with me from London could have been wiped out less than 24hrs later.

It was fantastic to spend this last weekend with so many of those I was with at the turn of the year at Summer Gathering in Ngaruawahia, I really didn't expect to see some of them again so soon. There's heaps from Wanganui still floating around in my head needing to crystalise before writing about it so I'd best leave that for another time and see if there is anything in the other post box - what is it with outside postboxes anyway? I suppose you don't get drafty letterboxes in the door that way but you get wet going for the post if it's raining and the post gets damp if you aren't there to get it straight away...

Friday, October 21, 2005

off to Wanganui!

Or Whanganui... it seems to have both spellings around but it is usually both spelt and pronounced with a 'W' not a 'Wh' - which leads to various leg pulling comments from those from elsewhere about the locals inability to spell/pronounce. (by the way 'ng' is pronounced like the ng in sing)

Anyway Wanganui is where the Quaker Settlement is ( has more info) and there is an event being held called 'Tending our Meetings' which I didn't expect to be going to having just arrived and whatnot but then Marion rang yesterday late afternoon to say did I want to go? Apparently she'd been chatting to Merilyn at the Settlement and they seemed to decide between them it'd be good if I could be there. So, Esther and Martin will come in and open up the QMH for me etc and Fran and I head up the road this afternon, coming back on Monday - it's Labour Day here and thus a public holiday and a red letter day on the calendar... and despite all this it still didn't register until yesterday afternoon that it was OCTOBER 24th and therefore Jon's birthday, ho hum - your pressie will be late - again (sorry...)

So now I'm all excited as there will be all sorts of people there I know who I wasn't expecting to see until Summer Gathering, however this does mean I've got to blitz the QMH and Quaker Centre today so best get a move on....

Thursday, October 20, 2005

some random kiwiana...

(for those not used to British English either the Kiwi version is on the left!)

chippies = crisps
chilly box = cool box
jandals = flip flops
dairy = corner shop
domain = park (as in flowers, trees, grass etc not cars!)
kumera = sweet potato (and you can buy kumera chips at the chip shop)

The pedestrian crossings sound like a Pacman game

Postage depends on how big the envelope is, not how heavy it is

The $2 coins are similar size to our 2 pound coins (just discovered there is no pound sign on the keyboard!) and the $1 dollar coins are like our 1 pound coins - unlike Australia where they are the other way around. You can put the notes through the wash and even iron them if you feel so inclined and they'll still survive and spend.

Nastursiums flower in spring, so does lavender, instead of late summer/autumn (or quite possibly as well as!)

In Te Reo (Maori) wh = f and all words end with a pronounced vowel.

The clocks changed last weekend so we're currently 12 hours ahead of Britain - but now I don't know when they change in Britain, but when they do we'll be +13 hrs them and GMT!

Kiwi Marmite is worse than Vegemite (in my humble opinion!), well what do you expect from a company called Sanitarium?

Avocados and asparagus are ridiculously cheap compared to British prices, oh and Dad, they have Red Desire potatoes in Commonsense - so you'll be ok!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

siesta time...

Ok, so I'm maybe not quite over jetlag yet - a siesta is seriously called for, had to resort to reading the displays on the walls to keep awake through Midweek Meeting for Worship - thankfully only half an hour long - as I didn't have anyone sitting next to me to dig me in the ribs if I became in danger of dropping off either to sleep and/or my chair...

I'm managing to remember to put on sunblock - although if I don't remember to do it early enough I head off down the street looking like the Witchery tours guide who dresses up as a vampire as my sunblocks starts off white so you can see where you've put it! Well I guess better that than ending up with streaky sunburn.

One thing I hadn't expected was to be ahead of the game on the environmental front - Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting has a strong environmental stance yet the Quaker Meeting House (QMH) here doesn't have a policy on using eco-friendly, recycled, energy saving products etc and recycling is up to the whim of the RF. I've already asked for a compost bin (there's a garden here) and will ask about the other things when I meet Premises Committee in a few weeks, might just sneak a few changes through as stuff runs out although I guess it'd be best to check with the treasurer! At least I got in to her good books by being able to do them =) The relief on her face when I said I'd done bookkeeping was huge. Looks like between us we'll be changing a few systems... just as well I like doing that kind of thing and have the experience from Edinburgh QMH to draw on. Thankfully altho' there are two 'accounts' (the B&B scheme and the QMH/Quaker Centre bookings) it is all one currency unlike JWP - running 'petty cash' in over a dozen currencies and reconciling exchange rates changes each month was not my idea of fun.

Anyway I'm struggling to focus so best crash out for a wee whiley, and there was me being all proud of myself this morning for having got over jetlag quicker this time - that'll teach me to get cocky!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

back at last!

Sorry it's taken me a few days but I'm now just about organised and settled in to my new home here in Wellington.

I'm not entirely sure that I've really got my head around the fact that I'm not just here for the week again, especially with spending the first couple of days at Marion & Quentin's, my usual Wellington crash pad! But last night I slept at George Fox House (what they've re-christened the Friends Centre) in what is now my bed... all very strange.

It is good to be back, not least because of the sunshine - something I hadn't seen for about a week before leaving Edinburgh. Wandering around town yesterday, doing some shopping and basically re-orientating myself I had to keep reminding myself that as this time I wasn't going to have to move on again so soon remembering properly where things are really would be a good plan rather than just 'well it's around here somewhere' and hoping if I meander around long enough I'll get to where I need to be. The big New World supermarket and Commonsense Organics (Real Foods isn't a patch on this place!) are all of about 5 mins walk from where I live (ok, probably 10 with heavy bags) so I'm well chuffed about that as I can stick to shopping in dribs and drabs as I feel inspired rather than having to do a big shop and lug it all back/scrounge a lift, which reminds me I need to pop back down the road soon and get some veges (as they spell it here...)

I got to Meeting on Sunday which I was very impressed with myself for managing as none of M&Q or Fran were able to go for various reasons so I needed to be up and out on me ownsome, slowed down somewhat by my sore ankle (I twisted it trying to get my heavy bags onto a bus at Auckland airport - don't worry Mum, it's ok now and after all Marion is a doctor!). The first two people I met coming up the road were Jonathan and Llyn who I know (I earned serious brownie points from Llyn by remembering his name - he was most chuffed!) and there were a fair few others I remembered from Summer Gathering and previous visits here, I do need to have a read through the book of members though and put names to all the familiar faces.

We've had glorious sunshine since I got here, but it still gets nippy in the evenings, a reminder that it is still spring not summer and as Krissy will point out to anyone who will listen they just don't do central heating here so I've been glad of being reunited with my microfleece jacket I left here (intentionally!) in January.

Anyway, best toddle off, we've a funeral here this afternoon so need to make sure all is in right ordering before Holly arrives to set stuff up - first full day here as RF, have to start on the right foot (albeit carefully, that's the one I sprained!).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

it's all in the stars

I've just been drinking my cuppa out in the back garden gazing up at the stars, wondering if this will be the last time I see them this way up for a while. Trying to creep as far down the garden as I could without setting off either of the next door neighbours movement sensitive spotlights I could just manage to pick out Cassiopeia, the saucepan (ok, then the plough/big dipper, haven't you read Swallows and Amazons?) and Orion through the light pollution haze of Edinburgh. Some southern hemisphere stars will remain familiar if not their orientation (altho' I was told Orion isn't standing on his head as I reckoned, he's breakdancing...) and I find the Southern Cross a lot easier to locate than the Pole Star! I love stargazing, but there never seem to be quite enough (warm!) clear nights for me to ever get beyond knowing about half a dozen constellations. Somehow they never quite look the same in a book as they do in the sky, I need someone saying 'see that one there, no, up a bit and to the left, then go right and there's another two in a line...' etc.

Stargazing always brings back many memories of people and places. Time and again I remember watching the stars towards the end of the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage when I was 17 and Karin saying how now matter how far apart we'd be when we went home we'd still all be looking up at the same stars, it used to make the mile long walk up the farm road home from 6th form college far more comforting on the dark winter evenings.

At Summer Gathering last year (NYFSG – a Quaker teenagers event) Robin talked about how basically we are all made of stars (cue the Moby track as we entered the next mornings worship!) and the miracle of creation being that we and, everything around us, is made up of so few basic elements, with such tiny differences in our genetic makeup and atomic structure. Pretty mind boggling and impressive when you think about it.

I found my horoscope that Jo did for me a few days ago when packing – reading it through it seemed so contradictory in places that a sceptic would make mincemeat of it, yet if you take my life as a whole rather than just where I am now you can see the different eras represented; the stay at home, nest building, seeking comfort in permanent surroundings me of 10 years or so ago, and the globe trotting, no ties, following where the wind blows me me of the last couple of years. I like to think that the future holds something somewhere in between the two - hmmm, how about settling down in Aotearoa New Zealand with trips back to the UK every couple of years visiting various friends and family in between on the way... it has a certain appeal it must be said =) However that would require a work visa, a paying job, residency etc so no point counting chickens before the eggs have even been laid!