Monday, July 31, 2006


With two of my close friends out here reaching various stages of applying for (Quaker) Membership today and spending half the morning replying to an email about my own faith it felt like it ought to go here too... apologies to those who have heard it before!

My faith is something I've only really started to feel comfortable talking about since at the Triennial (Jan 04) and I'm not entirely sure what made the difference, but I know a lot of it was finding myself amidst a whole bunch of people for whom it was perfectly natural to talk about god, jesus, faith etc as if they were discussing the weather or latest gossip! It gave me a chance to really discover what christianity meant to some people, it being a baby I'd thrown out with the bathwater in my teens if not before - the final straw being one of my RE teachers ('Dr Snuggles' - remember him Kate?) who took nearly as long to teach the Acts of the Apostles as they took to happen in the first place.

At the Triennial I began to understand that actually we believed a lot of the same things, we just used different words to describe it. I don't think I'll ever see Jesus as anything other than a historical teacher who had some good things to say (as have plenty others) but the original christian message has far more meaning to me now I've started to put the time into understanding it. It is the churches take on it I still don't like with their narrow views of the world and faith.

The peace testimony has caused difficulty for individual Friends since it was first written - hence the need for Fox's advice to William Penn about his sword - 'wear it as long as thou canst'. Originally the peace testimony was specifically against war rather than being the overall pacifistic stance we now associate it with. Being against war is far easier to live than making your whole life a positive act of peace! I try to live it and probably get far easier circumstances to do so than many. I do wonder though how well I'd do in a more challenging situation - could I still live my beliefs?

My faith has become increasingly important to me - years ago I would have said it was Quakerism that was important and glossed over the actual faith bit, it was being part of something with people with similar views and values that mattered. Now it is more a case of my faith being important and Quakerism being the context within which it makes most sense to me.

One of the aspects of Quakerism that appeals to me most is the concept of faith as a journey; that there is no right or wrong path to take, there is no set goal to reach but it is what you learn along the way that is important - being continuously open to new learning and insights throughout life from wherever it might come.

Last year I first came across the term 'continuous revelation' (cheers Rachel S!) it being the concept that god didn't stop talking at the end of Revelations as many churches would have you believe. I struggle with the personification of god but do believe very much in listening to that 'still small voice within'. However I'm as likely (sometimes more likely!) to be able to hear it sitting up on a hillside or down by the waterfront as in Meeting for Worship.

Listening to that voice has become such an integral part of my life now, and yet I still question it at times. Admittedly usually when it gives me the answer I'd like rather than the one I don't want, I find it hard to believe at times that my wishes are in tune with the universe! There's a part of me that still expects the hard option to be the one I ought to take, quite how such a calvinistic thread got into my thinking in the first place I'm not sure but it sure is taking some unpicking...

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Part of what made it such a great holiday was some of the conversations we had including touching on something that has become somewhat of a serial conversation for me with several people on sustainability.

Moving to the other side of the world changes a lot of perspectives - what is 'local' for a start! Being so isolated geographically here (it's a 3hr flight just to Australia) it means anything that isn't produced in country has come a long way which isn't so great environmentally. I've tried for some years to keep an eye on my 'food miles' (thanks to an NYFSG talk - not sure how much the young people took in but I know a few of us staff changed our shopping habits!) - ie how far food has travelled to get to your kitchen cupboards and the economical and environmental impacts of such purchasing. What was local in Edinburgh (like Isle of Bute dairy free cheeses) now have to be shipped half way around the world for me to buy them here - not good. Even the Aussie ones have come a fair distance and lets face it they don't taste as good, so apart from the occassional UK block of dairy free cheese as a treat I now tend to eat far more organic, locally produced goats & sheeps cheese instead - even though when in Scotland I was becoming increasingly vegan. I also eat far more eggs here as they too have travelled far less distance than other protien options available to me. I'm discovering more and more NZ grown lentils, split peas etc though which is a vast improvement on them coming in from Turkey!

It's not as easy being vegetarian here as it is in Britain, lots of stuff is still cooked in beef fat and you still find it in biscuits and things like oven chips, hash browns etc. Pastry is often made with lard (not that I should be eating pastry anyway) and options are often more limited when eating out. It's not quite 70's Britain in terms of shopping even if it is in terms of public perception in many ways as large supermarkets do stock soymilk and tofu etc as well as a reasonable organics/wholefood/free from... sections. I know several former British vegetarians who having come here have gone back to eating meat/fish saying they'd rather eat good locally farmed meat/fish than yet another quiche which is probably made with lard, won't have vegetarian cheese in it and quite possibly has ham lurking at the bottom anyway. Of course it depends on where you chose to eat but generally works canteens have a long way to go yet!

Supporting local business/farmers, and not the multinationals makes a small nation economy more viable. Shipping goods in requires extra packaging, oil for transportation, added costs which result in either more expensive products on the shelves or poorer working conditions and wages at the point of origin. I can't see me personally ever moving over to eating meat or fish but as long as the farming methods are sustainable and not cruel I don't have a problem with others doing so. I was helping herd cows last week (after a fashion, and accompanied by a pukeko and a piwakawaka a fair bit of the way!) - yes they'll end up on someones plate but those cows are loved and whilst they weren't so happy about the knee deep mud at one point along the way they get a good life - not too many of them, plenty space and good grazing and farmers who care. I can cope with that.


Something strange is happening to my life - when I got up this morning I checked the (Australia v New Zealand) rugby result before the (England v Pakistan) cricket, all very strange... anyway the right teams won in both!

I can't believe a week has gone by already since we were all sitting watching the All Blacks game in Kaitaia - well ok, I'll rephrase that, most people were watching the game - Sarah, Ryan and I were singing 'Little Bunny FooFoo...' for half of it!

As anyone who has checked out my photos will have realised Karl bunked off uni and came with us in the end =) I had such a fantastic time up there. The days we went to Matai Beach and the Ahipara sandhills were so reminiscent of childhood holidays with my cousins. The 'well there used to be a path' scrambling through bush and scrub Tailby Tours were far much more of an adventure than a more straightforward route would have been and a lot more fun than your bog standard tourist option. For me it's far more about who you share the journey with and the fun along the way than actually getting someplace. It didn't really matter where we ended up. Sharing stories of childhood and having the boys with us on the sandhills just reinforced the sense of connecting those physically and chronologically distant parts of my life.

I've had a great fondness for Northland since I went there with Si & Susie two and a half years ago. It's where I first fell in love with this country, a love that has deepened no end since then. You'd think being in the southern hemisphere it'd be the south of the south I'd feel drawn to most but there's a stubborn streak in me (!) that is determinedly northern, no matter where! It was so good to be away from the city, especially after Auckland. I do like Wellington a lot but 'my Welly' is basically Mt Victoria and the waterfront - the rest might as well not be there most of the time, what makes Welly special for me is the people. But up there being surrounded by rolling countryside (my favourite terrain - up and down but not too steep), native bush, windswept coastline and yet in a place big enough to have food in the shops I can eat (as a dairy & wheat intolerant vegetarian!) was wonderful enough in itself. Combine that with four generations of Tailbys and warm weather (yes! Boy does it feel cold back here...) and holidays just don't come much better really =)

So many memories to bring home with me. Can't wait to go back, altho' I really am going to have to get more competent on a pedally bike if I'm to get around up there without relying on lifts!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

back again

Well for the first time ever I came around the corner to see the lights of Wellington ahead of me and thought 'oh, Wellington...' rather than 'Yay! Wellington =) '.

The tugs that have been gently working away on me over recent months have grown stronger and the next steps are seeming clearer. Don't quite know how things will all work out (no big change there then!) but there is a clear sense now of it being more than wishful thinking and a bigger picture is beginning to emerge.

But meanwhile I've got my work cut out for me over the next couple of months here and I need to focus on that - children's sleepover, facilitator training weekends, Summer Gathering planning, JYF Camp.... oh and 5 days of helping childmind and a weekend workshop to attend in Christchurch. I'm going to have a my work cut out for me living in the present without dreaming about the future!

Photos slowly appearing on Flickr (be warned - there are lots!) - including the quilt I made for for Sarah & Karl, they don't quite do it justice but you get the general idea...

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Where to start?! Other than by wondering if there is anywhere nearby that can develop my film onto CD this afternoon... despite Liam & Dylan 'borrowing' my camera I didn't quite finish the second film so it would probably make sense to wait and get both done in Kaitaia. Not sure what I've got pictures of entirely - Liam (who turned 9 yesterday) has taken some pretty good shots on my camera before but I'm sure half of them this time were of the floor or people's backs!

Various people have been asking me what kind of wedding was it going to be, to which my best answer was 'a Sarah & Karl one' which kind of ended up being about as accurate as you could get! There were readings from Quaker Faith & Practice during the ceremony, their vows were given to each other without the 'repeat after me...' stuff (in choked up voices - at which point Liam stole the show in his pageboy outfit by reaching up and patting Sarah on the shoulder which was sooo cute, even by his standards!!) and then the speeches etc were very much of the Maori tradition in style with contributions in Te Reo then English and each followed by a waiata (song). Mim (as bridesmaid) managed to wangle getting everyone to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Liam to be her waiata though which seemed a cunning plan and a half if ever there was one =) Karl's whanau were amazing with their waiata - can't quite imagine any of my family being able to produce multiple contributions in harmony and without songsheets at the whim of whichever family member had gone up to speak.

The 'traditional' speeches were followed by an open floor session where anyone could go up and say their piece (and then sing which resulted in a distinct bias as to which side of the family got up!) which reminded me in many ways of how anyone can give ministry at a Quaker wedding. Whilst my Te Reo is far from enough for me to be able to understand all of what was being said, thanks to helping M&Q practice their mihi's I had a pretty good feel for the structure of what was being said, who was being given thanks to, recognised, remembered etc. The haka performed by Karl's cousins was amazing altho at one point I had to try not to laugh out loud (which would not have been appreciated!) as I got a fleeting image of Aidan flapping his arms around trying to copy Jonathan at WGYF!

The importance of family/whanau was stressed time and again and Karl's Uncle Karl showed a powerpoint presentation of old photos from both sides of the family (which raised a few laughs and great embarassment to certain family members!) and spoke of how those branches are now entwined.

The way the wedding was organised, with different branches of the family taking on responsibilty for the various tasks - the hangi, the cake, the amazing greenery (sorry - never did take any pics of that), setting up, catering there, clearing up etc etc etc it really was a whanau event which I was made to feel very much part of by everyone not just Sarah who has considered me part of their whanau for a while (whether I wanted it or not I think was what she said!). Karl & Sarah sang after Karl's speech the first verse and chorus of a song which brings a lump to my throat at the best of times (thanks Leith!), I don't think they could have picked a better one for the day....

Give Yourself to Love (Kate Wolf)

Kind friends all gathered 'round, there's something I would say
What brings us together here has blessed us all today
Love has made a circle, that holds us all inside
When strangers are as family, loneliness can't hide

You must give yourself to love
If love is what you're after
Open up your hearts, to the tears and laughter
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love

It was a day I'll certainly not forget.

Monday, July 10, 2006

off again!

I head off to Auckland and Kaitaia for a couple of weeks in the morning.

For those of you to whom it means anything I'll be staying with Margaret, Robert and wee Benjamin for a couple of nights, then looking after Auckland Friends Centre (busman's holiday...) for 4 nights then up to Kaitaia with Sarah who will have just got married on the Saturday (which is why I'm going up in the first place!).

So yes, I get to run off with the bride! Poor old Karl has to go back to uni on the Monday so we're off to play with the boys and chill out for a week, just what we need =) (Sarah and I that is, probably not Karl!)

Not sure what internet access I'll have whilst away but be prepared for a photo bombardment on Flickr when I get back, and no apologies whatsoever for the probable predominance of the three youngest Tailbys! Believe me it'll be an improvement on the photos I've taken this weekend (which I'll spare the general public!) of the toilet and shower facilities at Silverstream where the next Summer Gathering will be held - the things we do for Quakers sometimes...

So fingers crossed for clear skies and views of snowy mountains as I go up the Desert Road instead of the usual rain and cloud....

Thursday, July 06, 2006


As we were cooking tea last night I commented to Marion as we discussed our various methods for 'weighing' out rice (a double handed scoop from a sack, a mugfull or 8oz for 3 people!) how the method I use (the mugfull - which turned out to be exactly 8oz!) often reminds me of Simon who taught me that handy tip one YFCC many moons ago. I'm blowed if I can remember his last name - used to go out with Tasha, not that that'll mean much to many, if any, of you... I guess it shows how our lives move on with time - altho' as we are talking about 15 or so years ago it probably isn't that surprising!

But anyway my comment led to a discussion of how all kinds of random things remind us of different people and it left us wondering what kind of everyday things remind others of us...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Considering it'll be a couple of weeks at least before there's a photo available on Flickr those of you who haven't seen it already will just have to wait to see what the excitement is about as I'm nowhere near finishing my film... yeah, yeah, I know, but I like my film camera and many of you know what I'm like with getting to grips with new technology. I only found out how to get the number setting in text messaging mode the other day and I've had my phone 2 1/2 years... and that was because someone took pity on me whilst watching me trying to type in a top-up code and told me.

But anyway, I've finished it! The big quilt I've been working on for the last 3 months and I'm dead proud of it. So Orla's now get's bumped back up the pecking order - when did you say the christening was Lucy?!

Apparently the Amish always deliberately put a patch in their quilts the wrong way round to remind themselves that only god is perfect, well god certainly isn't going to feel threatened by my ability to create perfection as I could point out several oops's in every quilt I've made so far and this one is no exception. However it looks fine if you don't study it too carefully =)

So, Orla's quilt - well I've got the material all stacked up, and even a design I've finally decided on (which will probably evolve as I make it - I sew like I cook, I start off with a general idea of what I'm making and see what happens!). It's taken me ages to find something I'm happy with but I think I'm there thanks to the loan of a book from Marisa.

Now here I am, a Brit in Wellington, being lent a quilting book by an American F/friend (also living here) who happens to be a friend of a F/friend (Rosemary, who I know from the Triennial and WGYF) in Arizona where Marisa lived before coming here.....

The book is by Rowan Yarns who are based in Holmfirth - where I grew up and whose mill I remember visiting as a kid with Dad when they weren't long set up....

The design and layout of the quilting book was done by my Dad.

As Alex would say - 'Only in New Zealand...'

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Well I don't know officially how cold it is out there but it can't be far off freezing, and foggy too to boot. Apparently they've had frosts in Auckland which is next to unheard of so so much for me heading to warmer climes! At least it should be warmer in Kaitaia when I get there. After having been caught out more than once by 'unseasonable weather' in this country I'll be packing for pretty much all eventualities!

I've been keeping an eye on the weather a bit more than usual of late as the Desert Road seems to be closed by snow rather more often than I'd like to be hearing about given I'm getting the coach up to Auckland. Pretty as it might make the mountains look I'm sure, I'd rather be confident of safe passage.

Anyway I've still got another 10 days to go before I head north, and as a week is a long time in politics it's certainly a long time in meteorology too so I'll not worry about getting there just yet.

I'll be back in Auckland again in August but I'm not chancing it again - I'm booked on the plane, I'll make it up to the environment some other way.

(Update - it was 4 degrees centigrade this morning - just checked! Don't know what that is in old money but flippin' cold, especially considering the distinct lack of such things as central heating, double glazing and insulation.... )