Saturday, March 31, 2007


It all feels a bit strange here at the moment. A bit of a limbo period. It's like I've mentally moved out but not yet physically .

This place doesn't feel or look like mine any more, sure there are still the marks of me having been here - various creations of mine such as framed photos, flax weavings, patchwork etc are around but there's John & Alan's stereo on the book case, my books are all gone, it's disconcertingly tidy... and the orange, golds and russets have been replaced with blues - ok so I did that before they arrived (to match the new curtains) but my head hasn't got used to it yet, and they just aren't really my colours. Plus I'm back in my old room, now a guest bedroom!

Also I don't have a key for 'my door' anymore, just the 'guests door' - when John & Alan went out earlier they locked it behind them (as I can't!) and it felt really bizarre. A bit like when I got home last night and they'd locked it before going to bed (thankfully I still had a key for it then!) - yet that same morning I'd come through to make breakfast and noticed Julian had dropped his suitcase off before I'd got up, he'd just let himself in the unlocked door and then headed off without waking me up (cheers Julian, I need that lie-in!). I've not locked that door except for when I've gone out further than the dairy or Post Office for so long now, it just doesn't occur to me to, despite living in what amounts to the city centre. But some people just don't live like that. I guess owning nothing worth nicking makes such a cavalier attitude to security somewhat easier but there's a large part of me that's always found the 'fierce feathers' story of early Friends amidst the American Indians really inspiring and for many years I've hankered after an opportunity to put such faith into practice. I did to some extent at various times in Edinburgh, but usually unintentionally!

Altho' I've various goodbyes to do and a list of things I still want to do in Welly before I leave I'd quite like to just be on my way now. I'm itching to start the next phase of life, to move on and see what happens...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

where, what and why

I'm going to have to write some new blurb for the boxes on this blog soon as I've only a few more days to go now as Resident Friend!

The kitchen vinyl goes down tomorrow, the new carpet the day after and then John & Alan arrive the day after that... what was that about the renovations just getting finished and I'd be leaving? Well I'm not so sure about 'finished' just yet, there's all the decorating to be done still but at least most of what is left to do is cosmetic now.

Apparently Marion got her knuckles rapped (in a Quakerly fashion of course!) for there not being more of a 'leaving do' for me - in fact she and various other Welly YFs weren't here for it as they were in New Plymouth for WOMAD - but as she said the other day it doesn't really feel like I'm leaving, and anyway I'm not one for a fuss being made! Given that my response to Llyn when he said he was going to have to leave before the speeches was 'so am I!' I'm not exactly complaining that it was a somewhat low key afair =)

I'm not sure when I will be back in Welly again but I know I will be, it'll make a change to pack up and leave here though without the gut-wrenching heartache and sense of near panic which accompanied my two flights onwards to Aussie in 2004 and 2005, had it not been for those meeting me at the other end I doubt if I'd have managed to get on either plane. But this time it feels like it is time to leave, to move on, to follow the call of the north that has been constant and persistant for over a year now.

When I came to Wellington I knew what I was coming to do but not why, this time I only know where I am going - the what and why are being equally elusive this time around - the 'what' being presumably a bit more than feeding the chickens, keeping Cammi company and looking after the house and garden! But maybe not, maybe this really is just genuine 'down time', time to catch up with myself, my quilting (can people just stop getting engaged/married for a bit please?! And Lucy - you aren't planning that fourth child you've always talked about just yet are you...?), and have time to just wait and listen for whatever next comes along.

As to the why I came to Wellington in the end? Well, I'm not entirely sure that I'll work that one out fully for some years yet but I'm getting there - however I think that's for another post!

Monday, March 26, 2007

temporary reprieve

Well today the postman brought me my letter from Lothian & Borders Police telling me I wasn't listed on their database and therefore have no charges etc - woo hoo, clean bill of health =) I also managed to pick up my medical forms, bloodtest results and x-ray - I have no TB, nothing abnormal in my bloodtests and 'nothing of significant concern' in terms of my general health (altho' I do appear to have a hernia which has been there for years and finally explains the shooting pains I get with bronchitis each winter!).

So in theory that lot coupled with some banks statements and my passport is enough to keep Immigration happy until October. Apparently they won't throw me out of the country even if it takes longer to process than the 27 days I have left on my current visa as I've asked for it in plenty time - now they tell me!!! I'd been quitely panicking about that one and wondering about a quick trip across the ditch to see Mez and Kylie... much as I'd love to see them I'm quite relieved I can head north in a couple of weeks without having to worry about it all.

Now I just have to work out what on earth I'm supposed to be doing with my life after Sunday when I hand this place over to John and Alan....

.... suggestions on a postcard please.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

'...instead here we are in a silence more eloquent than any words can ever be'

Today was somewhat unusual for Wellington Meeting. A whole hour without verbal ministry.

I wouldn't quite describe it as silent as there still seem to be a few creaky chairs that have slipped through the net and there was a veritable choir practice of stomach rumbling going on. But there was a depth to the worship today that is often missing.

It feels rather ironic that the Hearts and Minds Prepared session tomorrow is on ministry, altho' exploring it in all forms, not just verbal. Tonight I'm speaking to the SOYFA group (Slightly Older Young Friends Acronym... just don't ask!) about being Resident Friend, the ministry of service.

I'm far better at service as ministry than verbal ministry (which I find giving such talks to be an extension of), which is just as well, but I had hoped for something inspirational out of this morning's worship to give me some more idea of direction for tonight. Law of sod and all that, usually I'd be far happier with an hour of silence! However my heart and mind were on a different path this morning and whilst helpful in some ways not much use for tonight, so I'll just have to hope I can be somewhat more focused on the matter in hand during our YF worship!

'if language were liquid it would be rushing in...'

Making phone calls on mobile/cell phones here is pretty expensive unless you have one of the silly minute plans, so most folk rely on text. Having never got my head around predictive texting combined with a decidedly Yorkshire/Scottish attitude of wanting to get as much message in as I can for my brass (money) I end up using a fair bit of txt shorthand.

However I find myself continually flummoxed as I realise that words that are obvious to me aren't so obvious here, some people like Marion and Fran would get most of them given our Scotland and Newcastle overlaps in life but even then there's no guarentee and I'd certainly not expect them to understand 'Zummerzet' speak.

Classic example, when Jon and I were trying to meet up a couple of years back he texted me 'wer b 2?' Were be to? being perfectly understandable to both of us (Where are you? Somerset dialect). D'you think I could use that to find anyone here? Other than when Mum & Dad were over as the advert says 'Yeah right...'

Owt (anything), sumat (something), t'.... (the), gan yem (gone/going home), drukit (drookit - drenched), thysen, ursen (yourself), awa (away), wi (with), a' (all) gie (give), awfy (awful).... the list goes on. So, next time I use them in a text you'll know what I mean won't you? =)

I guess that's what I get for absorbing so much of the language that is around me over the years.

Friday, March 09, 2007

another thing ticked off the list...

Well the Wellington Flickr Photography Exhibition is now open! It seems a long time ago now that a bunch of us met up at the Paramount to start putting this together, hard to believe most of us didn't even know each other before then given we've been in pretty much daily email contact for the last few months! My inbox is going feel remarkably empty once we've taken it all down again...

It's amazing what we've managed to achieve given that none of us had mounted an exhibition before - events organising, project management etc yes but an exhibition no. All kinds of decision making needed done that was way beyond that which any of us expected. Considering we were a rather random bunch of people who volunteered rather than being carefully selected we somehow ended up with a fantastic breadth of skills, contacts and ideas that incredibly managed to cover all bases - no matter what came up someone on the team managed to find a person/solution to deal with it.

Yet again I'm finding myself in that state of semi-disbelief that we actually managed to make it happen, and to a standard well beyond everyone's expectations except perhaps our own. As with WGYF, Summer Gathering etc I'm reasonably sure that if any of us had any idea as to just quite what we were letting ourselves in for we'd have thought twice about committing to doing it, although this time everyone's really keen to do it all again next year!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

double dose

I've just written my theoretically monthly Resident Friend report for Monthly Meeting. In reality it is the first for several months, what with my parents visiting, Summer Gathering organising, being ill and then it simply getting missed off the agenda (and me quietly letting it stay off!) it just hasn't happened.

I was pulling together a few facts and figures for it.

2005 - Bed & Breakfast guest nights 190, income about $4,200
2006 - Bed & Breakfast guest nights 501, income about $8,950

This could explain where the year went! (I arrived mid October 2005). I never did get my 'quiet time' through the winter - quieter I'll grant you but still more guest nights per month than my predecessors had in most busy summer months.

So what happened? Well about 30 bed nights or so were various YFs staying here because I was here but otherwise I'm not sure it was because of me! Well maybe it was... but more because of my inability to say no (that well known Quaker trait...) which has seen Friends double up and share rooms, sleep 'marae style' on mattresses on the Quaker Centre floor and there be days when the sheets were barely dry on the line before they were back on the bed.

Some may say I've made a rod for my own back and I should just say no to people and get some time off (I've just had three weeks solid of guests) but that to me isn't the point. There are just four guest beds here in two twin rooms and a pile of mattresses in the Quaker Centre. I’ve tended to have a ‘there’s no such thing as no room at the inn’ policy. Sure fitting 8 round the table for breakfast can be a squeeze but we've managed 14 YFs in here for dinner before now (at which point we did finally concede that the table wasn’t big enough – but we’ve regularly had 10 round it before!). There have been some amazing conversations over breakfast on those mornings as a blitzlike camaraderie kicks in, and usually I get a hand with the dishes! Cancelled ferries and planes (this is Wellington after all…), family crisis and typical Kiwi last minute spontaneity are usually behind the overflow into the Quaker Centre.

The long awaited renovations finally started in October and are still going on but people have been warned that they’ll have to take the place as they find it and everyone has been remarkably adaptable and 'regulars' have enjoyed watching things gradually change and take shape.

There are a number of Kiwi Friends now who are ‘regulars’ and this has given me a wonderful opportunity to develop an ongoing friendship with them and it creates a space for 'serial' conversations to occur. The B&B aspect of the work brings me into contact with a wide number and variety of Friends from up and down the country and across the world. As something of a compulsive networker this feels like a job made in heaven! My years spent working with FWCC Europe & Middle East Section, for the World Gathering of Young Friends and attending the FWCC Triennial in 2004 means there is seldom a YM where I don’t know or know of someone. Having the International list of YMs to hand, not to mention several address lists, and knowing where to look on the Internet has enabled several people to find Friends in future destinations.

For many Wellington Young Friends GFH has become somewhat of a drop-in centre, for others I’ve been someone who is around during the day when most people aren’t so I get phone calls asking ‘how windy/wet is it, do you think I should drive in or get the bus?’ from those out of town; I get to be a courier staging post, left luggage department and occasionally lost property collection point.

One of my favourite passages from Britain YMs ‘Questions and Counsel’ (which preceded the current ‘Advices & Queries’) has always been No 29 – How can you make your home a place of friendship, refreshment and laughter, a peaceful place where God becomes more real to all who are there? Do you recognize the needs of each member of your family and household, including your own?’

To me that is what being Resident Friend here has been about – my family, my whanau here is most definitely made up of those from what I would consider my ‘iwi’ of Te Hāhi Tūhauwiri - Quakers. My household are those who pass through the doors for however long or often that might be. Do I look after myself? Hmmm, well some reading this would argue not, but I do try! And I do make sure I shut the door between my space and the guest bedrooms when I need to. But above all it has most definitely been a place of friendship, refreshment, many tears and much laughter. As for the rest, well you’d better ask those who have passed through the doors...

Having GFH here is in my eyes Wellington MM's gift to the wider community of Friends. They may not see many of the guests at Meeting for Worship; many are unaware of the way this place has become the focal point for a growing and increasingly strengthened YF community. They themselves may not take part in the networking between Friends that goes on over breakfasts and whilst making a cuppa in the hallway - yet knowingly or otherwise they benefit from the added cohesion this brings to our YM and wider international family of Friends, fromt he way it makes possible for Friends to attend committee meetings far from home as they stay here between flights, buses, trains and ferries, from the way having a Ffriendly base offers nurture and a peaceful, easily accessible haven to Friends in need of a place to stay. It is a form of outreach to those friends and relatives of Friends who stay here, it is a living witness to our caring for each other.

John & Alan who take over from me in April get the usual RF stint of a year. Having 18 months has been hard work at times but above all a blessing rather than a burden. Twice the expected work with half the usual number of bodies to do it has been a challenge, and one that I hope I have managed to meet without too many hiccups. In October last year I was very glad I'd got longer - a year just didn't seem like enough, but now I'm feeling ready to move on and take on the next challenge, whatever that may be.

(some of this post previously appeared in an article in the NZ Friends Newsletter - so apologies to the few of you who may well have been getting a sense of deja vue... I'm fairly sure I've not posted it here already!)

when the music stops...

Another goodbye today - this time Mel heading for China to start uni. Bridie left for Aussie last week, Fran (G not H) heads off on her OE next week and not going quite as far Daniel left for Nelson a few weeks back... not long now and I head up north and Alex heads back to Britain (but only temporarily you understand, he is coming back... or else I think there will be a search party sent over to retrieve him - Jo has already suggested if necessary we use the YF funds to do so).

So Welly YFs is going to look a bit different this year! Luckily it won't seem quite as diminished as it might appear as there seems to be quite an influx heading this way and it even looks like we may have (dare I say it...) some new recruits who have started coming to Meeting. With Hannah in the backflat now too maybe YF dinners will head to the other half of the building once I've gone. Marion & Quentin's place is back in action again and after the huge numbers at their Pancake party I'm sure a few YFs for a potluck will barely seem like a get-together!

One thing is for sure though, as they say in Thailand, it'll be same same, but different...