“I will be back on Monday”

Parting words to a new manager…

This week has turned the contents of my brain to the consistency of soft scrambled egg, – apparently brains are a little like set yogurt in consistency anyway! (useless factoid of the day) So far my achievements of the week include

  • finding a parking space and getting in on time
  • learning the names of all my team
  • being regaled by one member with Bride-zilla stories of her sister (I’m honoured)
  • having a melt down at 3.50pm (we leave at 4 on Friday) (sorted)
  • learning the space station technical printer and scanner
  • being given a Christmas parcel of all my new stationery
  • trying not to worry that I don’t have my computer set up or printer access and that I have to produce 15 meeting packs on Monday morning.  That is an acheivement because I’m too brain dead to worry!

oh and we are GOING APE team building, well how nice is that?  And Macmillan cake day was good. (I am amazed by the cake eating capacity of the young team)  I feel I am catching up on all the niceties of office world before the phones hit the proverbial on Monday.




For Jan

Early morning costa

Reading Richard Foster on meditation

I am the horse that fails the first water jump:

I think on my feet, eat like a starved student,

Read rapidly, and speed up when I worry.

I determine to work on


(until I get bored)

Wrapping hands round the coffee, the lights in here are a ring of broken teeth

I share space with office smart casual blues and tans

And the smoking, stubble chinned furry hood jacket man outside,

smiling on his phone, silver watch flashing in the September sunlight.

Ladder carrying workmen walk up and down looking important

no one’s in shirt sleeves today, the leaves are delicately grafting their Autumn reds.

The air smells of warm toasted breads – noisy with the hiss of the coffee machine and baristas

I feel like I’ve been let out of a cramped pen into light and air.

Looking up, outside I notice artwork, an aerial display of stylised swifts

Floating above the space.  It feels apt.

The Silent treatment

The countdown is on.  An email has arrived, asking me basic questions regarding my previous experience with silent retreats. (not much) and if I have any concerns (lack of structure I will admit to) An email duly comes back saying “thank you” and they look forward to welcoming me and will allocate a “spiritual director”.

I’ve asked Jesus to show me anything we might look at together – oh that might be my current fitful failure of a prayer life, or sad/angry/excited/happy with leaving my current job after 11 years – mixed feelings – or probably how challenging it is walking as a single person when you feel God says “my universe, my rules” to something you might frankly prefer as an alternative route through life.  Yep, same sex attraction whatever………

Which probably means that nothing like that will happen and I will show up, read the usual morning bible passage, go for long walks, stare at the sea and take time to admire its crash and foam, listen to my ipod in a wind lashed hidden corner of the estate and get tediously bored!

A creative collection of pencils, pens, oil pastels and notebooks are coming with me, and my camera.  The walking boots have been coddled with leather cream and wax after their Cornish salt battering.

I hope I get to talk to the lady who taught the journalling course I attended, as she’s responsible for the more creative riot that my neat and almost legible bible study/journal has morphed into.  I still have a notebook for the very orthodox chewy morning bible study notes.  Good to have a split personality.

I’m looking forward to the challenges that life is currently throwing at me from every direction!

Facing old books

Celebration of Discipline is a classic.  I first read it, avidly, bewilderedly, as a student.  I guess I must have gone back to it a lot over the years as my old copy was battered, musty and seemingly I have memorised bits of it!  I found it a bit too much, too intense.  It covered disciplines of my faith that really didn’t help – fasting, study, meditation, simplicity.  I was a new Christian, from a non believing background, with an unexploded bomb of emotional and relational junk waiting to go off.  I hadn’t a clue what Jesus meant half the time and the concept of grace was light years away.  I am still learning the basics of the good news of acceptance and grace many years later.

I passed the book on to a friend and was glad to be rid of it.  But it’s crept in the backdoor sneakily via Nathan Foster’s beautiful, honest books that I’ve already mentioned.  So I bought a second hand copy.  To see if I could relate to it a little better.  And so far, I’m struck by the clear, straightfoward “classic” simple prose.  The man writes well!  And he tells me straight away not to turn the work into rules and regulations.  All of which my teenage self must have missed.

I’m really looking forward to exploring it’s riches and rediscovering the gems of text and learning.  Watch this space…..

Glad to be (not so) grey?

Over the weekend I met a fellow clothes shopping hater.  Who is remarkably well dressed and stylish in my opinion!  But there’s a little bit of my soul that has decided it’s springtime.  Because I have had to buy a whole new “office clothes” wardrobe and I get to choose the colours.  Colour is one thing I am quietly passionate about – I joke that the new not-sure if it is pink or peach shirt matches my eyes but actually I really like it.  It took me 40 years or so to come to terms with pink in all it’s manifestations having had it forcibly bought for me by parent and grandparent alike.  Quietly rebellious I wore it and hated it until it wore out. It’s going to be interesting wearing non uniform grey…..

I’m never going to be someone who wants to stand out – I joked with a friend that I’d like to be wallpaper – to just blend in nicely.  But I am learning to be happy being me in so many other ways.  And a crisp raven black shirt and magpie wing blue jumper are something to enjoy.  All I have to do now is either to grow longer legs or spend an evening taking up petite length trousers by 4 inches.


A tour of beaches

A little tour of some of the finest beaches in Cornwall:

Hayle – braided rivulets, red, green, black surf kites, blue and green beach shacks and overall the soul cleansing wind. Car park pot holes and industrial/fishing industry wastelands make this my friends’ least favourite beach.  I quite like it really.

We arrive at Carbis Bay – a clean washed sweep of sand with way too much construction machinery being used on the sea front hotel refurbishment – we paddle end to end and I feel the headwind breathe life back into me after a tough month of job hunting.  I’m down here again one morning sitting on a log, thinking – that’s one of my favourite – and probably most annoying hobbies!  I tell my friend I think in shades of grey – she tells me she tunes me out -and to hurry up!!! Which I guess is fair enough.

St Ives: covenant keeping rainbows grace the walk and we plod into the teeth of the rainstorm.  Tucked away in a fortuitous rock shelter for lunch we hold it against all comers until a party of three take over as we leave it.  Waterproofs bluster and flap and my shorts have rising damp.  I’m soaked and getting cold – and far too lazy to put waterproof trousers on.  We search for seals and find only seaweed.  I can’t actually see anything – my glasses are salt caked and I nod to humour my optimistic seal-hunting friend. Another storming 11 mile coastal triumph!

St Agnes: our favourite walk of the week – Bronzed and blackened cliffs and the paddling windsurfers below us.  The cliff walks pickled in deep holes and adits,  Celtic solidity anchors me to the path in 60 mile an hour wind blasts but I feel pretty wind hammered and truly happy and grateful to be alive.  I try for arty shots and fail to capture what I can see as I can’t hold the lens steady enough. It’s such an interesting place – it’s hard to imagine such a tranquil spot echoing to mining and refining but the evidence is all around with metal tepees over the worst holes.

Praa to Porthleven

I’m “choughed” – rounding a corner I hear something that sounds like a jackdaw – or a jay perhaps – I see the black bird and puzzle – not a jackdaw – red legs, red bill oh I don’t believe it, it’s a chough!  I spent all our previous Cornish holiday looking out for them hopefully, and here they are.  The walk started with a three buzzard fly past and a kestrel wind-hovering.  At least there was a coastguard helicopter fly past and a couple of military type jets over St Agnes for plane loving Sandy

Rounding a corner, we find the path off the wall stile cuddled by cows – who are NOT moooving.  AT ALL.  So we wall walk in 45 mile an hour winds: precariously and uncertain for me – I am sure footed downhill and on rocks but truly hate heights and we are about 2 metres above the cows.  It’s a scramble and hang off the rock jump down.  Porthleven and bright sunshine beckon me for a cream tea and I can’t resist an ice cream either.  The walk ends with a fish and chip feast in the car park overlooking St Michaels’ Mount.  Sadly the fish is no match for two hungry walkers who don’t like to hang around. It’s a happy 12 miles this time so we deserve another film fix!  Thank God “Night at the Museum 2” won’t load except in German.  I’ve been threatened with it all week – Bond is far more fun.

Praa Sands to Marazion

Our last walk and it’s a confusing blur of beautiful paint box blues, aquamarines, jades, all the sky and sea colours I can’t find names for and deep foam flecked coves and inlets. I photograph the spray but I just can’t do it justice.  There’s a cake and tea shack and once again I have the breaking strain of a kit kat where food is concerned.  Oh well, Sandy’s tech (Samsung hiking App) tells me we are using 2700 calories a day.  Let’s hope she (Molly the App) is right.

We’re staying in a beautiful place – which ends as it starts, with some of the best fireworks over the bay from one of the local hotels.  I’ve learned I am useless with tech – the cooker in the rental makes me swear, I haven’t managed a really hot shower (no matter which way I turned the water on) and I am only dish washer trained because I threw a hissy fit strop and had to be shown how to use it.  Why I don’t learn to ask is beyond me.  Perhaps that’s my Autumn challenge – ask for help because I surely can’t figure out tech from random button pushing and cross hungry person manual reading – and I have a good friend who annoying can do all this with ease.

Four weddings & a funeral

Remember the opening words to the film? (ok, rhymes with duck, said several times for those who are way too young) Bit like the start of my last month.  So far it’s been four weeks, four interviews, one job offer.  I am the kind of excited that small children get on Christmas eve.  And also a little nervous – lots of change, lots of uncertainty, new colleagues – oh and not wearing uniform! For years it’s been “my grey shirt – or my grey shirt” today.  And the government even gives an allowance for washing it – a very nice thing really!

Yesterday I cleared the desk toys – construction hat pencil sharpener, squeezy C1 lorry, new C class vehicle and the CPCS squeezy construction hat.  They’ve sat alongside my “keep calm and keep swimming” mug and “cake” coaster for a while now.  In a couple weeks they get to go to a new desk where I hope they will be welcomed.  All except the squeezy stress lorry which has a new home where I see it will be appreciated.  I used to throw it at colleagues when they got particularly annoying.  Shame I can’t throw straight.

The timing has been so perfect. It hasn’t stopped me going to dark places in my head and uncovering even more layers of lack of trust and resentment.  It’s a warped place in there sometimes.  But I am grateful for the light I have had, clinging onto that has worked, along with the prayer and support of my friends and my church.  And the encouragement of the recruiters; however sales-y they are, their encouragement helped me believe I could smash it.