Tag Archives: Fiancé

To Boldly Go

So, back in October, seemingly so long ago now, Fiance took me to my first ever Star Trek convention, Destination Star Trek London. Some of you will remember my previous post,Make It Sew (or should that be knit?), written in the run up to the convention when I was trying to knit myself a jumper with the Enterprise on the front. This is available to read here: http://wp.me/s2oAJc-290

The night before we went to London Fiance surprised me with an early birthday present, a red uniform t-shirt dress. This gift, which was two months early, cancelled out the necessity of finishing the jumper that weekend.
The following morning we were up fairly early checking our bags and making our way to the train station. I still managed to forget to take the charger for my mobile phone, but decided it didn’t matter because family had Fiance’s number if there was an emergency. We traveled to Kings Cross on the train then had to get the Underground to Bank then switch onto the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) for the remainder of the journey to the Premier Inn at Beckton, only a couple of stops on the DLR from Excel, the huge exhibition centre where the convention was being held. We went and checked in, left our bags in our room and headed back onto the DLR to go back to Excel. When we got there we had to work out which of the many halls we needed for Destination Star Trek London. There were people wearing a variety of different firefighters uniforms from around the world, there for a competition to exhibit their life saving skills and we tried not to get too caught up in them but to follow the Starfleet uniforms we saw instead. Excel was so big and down the middle of the halls ran a huge foodcourt with dinner options from all over the world. We found out where we needed to go to get our goody bags and presigned photos but the queue was really long so we decided to grab dinner before joining it. We headed for the pie stand and got steak pies but didn’t notice the cutlery on the side by the bin so attempted with some level of success to eat the pies with our fingers. After we ate we joined the queue for our goody bags. We each got a presigned photo too. Fiance got Ethan Phillips, Neelix on Voyager and I got Vaughn Armstrong who played Admiral Forrest on Enterprise among many other roles. After queuing there we went to join the queue to go in. It felt like we had waited for ages when the door was opened. Going in and seeing everything, the merchandise stands, the themed coffee areas (Klingon and Federation) and the booths for photos and autographs I was in awe, and also trying not to lose Fiance in the crowd, there was a bridge set you could buy a ticket to have your photo taken on and there was the museum with props and costumes from the films and different series. It was all so enchanting and unlike anything I had seen. People in a variety of costumes were everywhere and trying to identify them became a game. We went to the ‘Federation’ coffee bar and ended up with a coffee and a Romulan ale which I believe was a mix of spirits and soda water with blue colouring (in the Klingon coffee bar they had the same thing but red and sold as blood wine).

When the time came we joined the long queue to get into the next door down which led to the part that was sectioned off to be like a theatre where the five captains would be presented and the convention would be officially underway. We soon got in and found our seats. I think it was a guy from CBS playing MC and he introduced the guy who would present the section with the five captains. It was a captain of a different sort, the actor John Barrowman who played Captain Jack Harkness on Dr Who and Torchwood. It was great to see William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks and Scott Bakula up on the stage. There was a bit of a Q and A and the banter and witty answers made the audience laugh. It was interesting to see the relationship between them, especially Shatner and Stewart who had filmed together. After that we headed back to the hotel on the DLR.

mulgrew stewart

On the Saturday morning I knew I was going to have my photo taken with Scott Bakula, who played Captain Jonathan Archer on the most recent series, Enterprise. He also played Sam Beckett on old family favourite, Quantum Leap so I was looking forward to the photo. Fiance and I both put on our uniforms before we went down for breakfast. Fiance wore his fleece over his uniform but I was proud of mine and didn’t cover it. That was a slight mistake as having got beans with my cooked breakfast and then a big mug of coffee I tried to sit up to the table so I wouldn’t spill beans down the uniform, caught the central table leg and sent the coffee flying down myself, all over the uniform. It burnt slightly but I was more concerned that I had coffee all down the uniform. I managed to get another coffee and eat my breakfast before going to try to dry the uniform off in our room. There were works on the DLR so there was a bus replacement service. We worked out where to catch it and headed back to Excel to start the second day.

The atmosphere was buzzing again as people milled around looking at the stands and the museum or joined the queues for drinks, autographs or photos. Fiance bought himself a ticket for a bridge photo and I already had the ticket for my photo with Scott. There were some talks from the central area from people like the producers and the guy who did the original models of the Enterprise as well as the costume parade/contest. Some of the actors were doing Q and A sessions in a separate area and the captains had their Q and A sessions in the theatre space we had been in on Friday evening. We hadn’t picked up the free tickets for the actors Q and A sessions on Saturday and the captains Q and A sessions would have cost money. We listened to Ronald D Moore and Ira Behr and the model guy. We also went to some of the Trekmate hosted discussions about the best episodes in each series (Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager and Enterprise). It was interesting for me as at that point the only series I had watched the whole way through was Deep Space 9.

We had a free ‘in person’ autograph from Marianna Hill included in our ticket price. Marianna played Dr Helen Noel in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode ‘Dagger of the Mind’ and has appeared in a wide variety of other roles outside the Star Trek franchise. She was running late to the convention though and we seemed to spend a lot of time waiting for her. It did give us time to purchase photographs for her to sign and also to decide on one other autograph each that we would pay for. Fiance chose Walter Koenig who played Pavel Chekov in The Original Series and the films featuring The Original Series cast. I chose Connor Trinneer who plays Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III on Enterprise.

The crowd gathered at the entrance to the queue for photos with Scott Bakula was large and the event stewards were trying to control it, somewhat successfully, with a system using the numbers on our photo tickets. By the time I had pushed through enough of the crowd to hear what was happening my number had passed so I pushed further to the front and showed the steward my ticket. He waved me through to join the line. There were some Oriental Trekkies in front of me in the line getting excited and giggly then a guy in the Enterprise uniform with a stuffed toy dog to represent Porthos, Captain Archer’s dog. The queue was not moving that quickly and by the time I had snaked my way along it to the table where we were asked to leave bags I was getting quite excited. I left my bag safe with the event staff who were manning the bag/photo pick up area and waited for my turn. I was called in to the photo area and was a little disappointed that Scott Bakula was in everyday dress, I think it would have been good if he had been in uniform. He asked how I was doing and I said pretty good then he put his arm around my shoulders, the photographer took the photo twice and then my turn was over. I waited a few minutes for my photo, collected my things and headed back to find Fiance.

On Saturday afternoon we participated in breaking a world record for the most people in Star Trek costume in one place. We queued for ages and had to fill in forms so they could register it officially. It was so much fun though seeing everyone in the outfits, some in Starfleet uniforms, standard and dress spanning the franchise from The Original Series to the first JJ Abrams film, and others as members of the other races featured in the franchise. One person even turned up as Balok’s puppet from The Original Series episode ‘The Corbomite Maneuver’ which was impressive. When the doors opened we all filed in and were counted, then we waited as they tried to get every single person in the building that was in costume to come down to the theatre space. They started to tell us how close we were at the point where we needed about twenty to break the record and the anticipation was almost as exciting as the moment they stopped counting down and told us we had broken the record. We broke it by 23 people in the end.world record

After the record-breaking we had dinner at the food court and then waited for the ‘The Next Generation 25th Birthday Party’ to start. Once the doors opened it took a while for the party to get going but eventually the music and the atmosphere made it seem more fun. There were dodgems but the queue was always so long that we never got to go on them but the DJ and the music were good, especially when he played Star Trekkin’ (Across The Universe) and everyone tried to join in. The best part of the evening was when some of the stars of the shows proved that acting is not their only talent. Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko – DS9) and Chase Masterson (Leeta – DS9) sang some jazz songs, Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather – ENT) performed some hip hop/rap and then Dominic Keating (Malcolm Reed – ENT) came on to do some comedy which wasn’t that funny so that’s when we left.

As we headed back to the stop for the replacement bus service I suggested that Fiance and I could wear our Star Trek uniforms for the evening celebration part of our wedding day. I could imagine myself dancing away in my red uniform t-shirt dress.

On Sunday we made sure we got there on time to pick up as many tickets to the free Q and A sessions as we wanted. It was great and we spent the morning in three sessions, Brent Spiner (Data), John De Lancie (Q) and Walter Koenig (Chekov). Spiner and De Lancie were funny, showing their comedic sides and Walter Koenig was a little more nostalgic although with a few humorous points. It was interesting hearing some of the stories.

The next session was probably the funniest. It was with Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat – DS9), Jeffrey Combs (Brunt and Wayoun – DS9 Shran – ENT) and Casey Biggs (Damar – DS9). They were so funny playing off each other and messing around, I’m not sure how many questions were answered but it was an entertaining session.

We got lunch in the food court and had another wander round the museum section before we headed back.

Our next session was with four of the actresses, Arlene Martel (T’Pring – TOS), Robin Curtis (Saavik – Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar – TNG) and Martha Hackett (Seska – VOY). It was especially interesting to me to hear the debate one question started over the presence of strong female roles in Sci-Fi. The conclusion seemed to be that there are strong female roles in Sci-Fi and especially in the Star Trek franchise but it would be good to see more.

The next session was my favourite as it was with five of the Deep Space 9 cast members, Rene Auberjonois (Odo), Nana Visitor (Kira Nerys), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Andrew Robinson (Garak) and last but by no means least Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko).  As these were the characters I knew best I loved hearing the stories of what happened on set and whether they got to have a say in the plot lines for their character. Some of the stories were of personal memories and they touched a little on their personal lives now. It was a bit odd to see Cirroc all grown up and hear him talking about his family as I had kind of fallen for his character Jake Sisko.

Next up was Michael Dorn who played Worf on The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 and in four of the films. His stories were also interesting and it was good to see the man beneath the make up and his character is a Klingon and has the characteristic head ridges.

The last talk was the Enterprise guys, Connor Trinneer, Dominic Keating (who on the ticket was billed as Michael) and Anthony Montgomery. They were nearly as funny as Alaimo, Combs and Biggs had been but a little more on the ‘naughty’ side. This was the session that had the most ‘spoilers’ for me having not watched the entire Enterprise series at that point. It came as somewhat of a shock to hear that ‘Trip’ was going to die.

enterprise qanda

After the Enterprise Q and A there were no more and nothing else especially exciting to do. With one last stroll through the museum we said good by to Destination Star Trek London and headed back to our hotel. We had dinner at the hotel that evening and watched some TV and the following morning jumped back on the DLR and headed home.

It was a fab weekend and we had a lot of fun together. I would definitely go to another convention if the opportunity presented itself. For now I’m going to enjoy discovering more about the world of Star Trek with Fiance 🙂

P.S This post was started back in March and took a fair amount of stepping away and coming back, so much so that Fiance is now Husband and I have watched the rest of Enterprise and also just finished The Next Generation 🙂

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15/03/2013 · 11:52 pm

Standing on a Road I Didn’t Plan.

I can look at my life right now and quite confidently say had you asked me 5 or 10 years ago what my life would be like on February 8th 2013 I wouldn’t have described anything like the reality. I used to be a real dreamer before life got its teeth in. I would probably have told you that I saw myself married with a baby, probably a boy called Martin, and quite possibly still on maternity leave from a full time job that had provided handsomely for us to save  little nest egg toward the overall cost of raising Martin and any siblings who may come along. I would have probably told you I couldn’t see myself living anywhere that wasn’t a quiet village within the catchment area of a good Christian school.

Life has an uncanny ability to take your dreams and plans and twist them or tear them up and destroy them. Sometimes along the way it has felt like even the dreaming was foolish and I was deluding myself. There have been times when I thought I would end up on my own for the rest of my life, although I didn’t ever believe that was God’s plan. Many times I got impatient and prayed angry, impatient prayers demanding to know why I was stuck in a rut. I remember one particular evening where it really felt like God was holding out on me.

My previous church had traveled from York to the Lake District for the first of two away weekends, the B-on-Fire Weekend (the second was at a similar time the following year). We all arrived across Friday evening, having dinner when we arrived and sorting out who was in which dorm. We enjoyed a time of fellowship that evening and it was great to be together as a church family. We shared time on the Saturday too and some of us went out and walked up some of the big hills and mountains. I went up one of the big hills, Cat Bells, with my sister and two best friends (who I really miss right now). We had a great sense of achievement and another member of our church group took a photo of us at the top. After the exertions of the day and all the time spent together I decided to find a quiet place and have a few minutes to myself. I remember I sat in a stairwell and thought back over the day and reflected on what I was going home to the following day. Home was okay but it felt lonely at times and the monotony of stacking shelves five days a week had worn me down. I wanted a better job, a partner who would love me and a hope at least of having a family. I sat on the stairs telling God that if I was going back to life exactly as I had left it I would rather not go back, but that wasn’t an option. When JLW found me I must have been there 15-30 minutes and I had tears running down my face. She tried to get me to talk but I was so upset I couldn’t at first. It took at least 5 more minutes and LCT joining us before I managed to sob out that I didn’t want to go back to my life the way it was. They prayed and LCT said that all the pieces would fall into place.

The following year when we were there again I had changed my job and moved to lodge with IndysGrandma but I still slipped quietly to that stairwell again because my job wasn’t secure, lodging didn’t feel like a home and I was still single. I went and prayed and cried all on my own that time because JLW and LCT had some fairly big issues of their own that, unbeknownst to me, were kicking off while I was in the stairwell. The pieces weren’t in place for me or for my friends right then.

Over the years I’ve watched my friends as the pieces have fallen into place for them but not for me. I have tried so hard not to covet their partners, children or lives as I see them. I’m sure that JLW’s life isn’t always as great as it seems to be and that everyone has their struggles at times. I just look at where my life has gone in the 5 and a half years since the tears in the stairwell that first year and see a mess. I’d love to be married right now to an amazing man and be expecting my second child, a sibling for my 2 year old, in about 5 weeks.

I’m unemployed, not working even part-time and that makes me very frustrated and often quite down. Life at home has been difficult because both of my parents have been out of work for health reasons so we’ve had financial struggles. Church can be difficult, walking into what feels at times to be a very middle class environment where I don’t always feel at home.

There is however one gem, one shining light even when I’m down and church feels like walking into a room full of strangers; my fiance. We’re often at church together and sometimes having him there makes the difference between whether I stay or walk straight out. He makes me laugh at the most ridiculous things even when I’m down and his arms are there if it’s really bad.

In eight weeks I will marry my own amazing man. We can look forward together to spending some time building our relationship stronger because although after 2 years it seems quite strong we recognise we still have some building to do together. In about a year we’ll start to think about adding a little one or two, although we’re not planning on calling a son Martin. We’re starting to make my dream a reality. Still there’s a piece missing, I’m still trying to find the right path to the right door that leads to the job God has in his plan for me. I try to believe it’s there somewhere and it will happen one day when I’m not expecting it, but for now it’s hard sometimes to keep the faith and knock at the doors.

Where will I be in 5 years? I don’t know. I think I’ll be happily married, hopefully with at least one child. I hope I’ll have a job, even just a part-time one. I might be playing with my creative skills and selling things I knit or decorating cakes or something. I might even find someone who’ll pay me for my writing. Only God knows and He isn’t sharing that information with me. I’ll try to live each day as it comes and not worry about tomorrow.

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Happy 2013

So, it’s been a while since my last post. A few things have happened, one or two I’ll touch on here, others deserve more time and their own blog posts.
The jumper with the Enterprise remains unfinished, but I don’t feel bad about that. The sense of urgency to finish it quickly left when Fiance gave me an early birthday present. I’ll blog separately about the present and the convention.
For the past couple of months my hands and knitting needles have been kept busy knitting dolls to raise money for Kidz Klub York and I still have two or three left to complete. Again I think there’s a separate post to be written about this.
I’m sitting here now, playing with writing a post on my new smart phone, my legs draped over Fiance’s lap, The Rock (as in the Nicholas Cage/Sean Connery film) providing a backing track. It’s nice to be in my fiance’s flat on New Years Day, just chilling out before he goes back to work. In 95 days we’ll be in a bar in town celebrating our nuptials with friends and family. We’ve got a lot to do before then. There are people making suggestions and trying to help, for which I am grateful as so much of this wedding wouldn’t be possible without the help of others. I hope we can remember that the day we get married is our day and our friends and family can help it to be the day we want. I’m still confident that the wedding day I’m imagining can and will be the one we have.
So, that’s the biggest thing I’m looking forward to and planning for in 2013.
I’ve noticed people are reviewing the last year in a lot of blogs etc. I can’t remember enough to say a lot but there were some highlights I can share:
Finishing up my time as a Parish Assistant/Intern at my church- I had a great 11 months on the core children’s work team, rather than as a somewhat peripheral volunteer. It was good to see the inner workings of the children’s ministry. I learnt some things from my year, about children’s ministry, church and myself that I’ll carry forward and hopefully use in the future. It was good to be on the team but taking a back seat, a step away from Sunday children’s work has allowed me to learn some things too.
Being on a different team at New Wine 2012- this challenged my view on change and pushed me out of my ‘comfort zone’. I thought the age of the children I worked with in those cowsheds year after year was part of what drew me back. For six years I had worked with 10 year olds who would have sensible conversations about what they were learning, I thought that was important. I discovered that a bit of fun and real nonsense can teach 6 year olds the same things. Some of the ‘little ones’ in my group seemed to understand every bit as much as the children 4 years their senior did. I believe we made a difference in those lives and that the ones who asked Jesus to be their friend will follow him for the foreseeable future, as the 10 year olds do.
First real holiday with Fiance- our trip to Wales was so much fun, even if we were almost blown away in the night. Camping together, being on our own for those few days without any agenda or real plans was fun and spontaneous. We might plan better next time and invest some money in a tent better made to withstand British weather but I wouldn’t wish away the evening with the dolphins and the rainbow at sunset for a dozen windproof tents. I’ll remember that for a long time.
Destination Star Trek London- there’s so much I could say about that weekend and will in a future post but it really was the most amazing weekend of 2012.
Christmas- this year we hosted my family for Christmas at Fiance’s flat. As Christmas is just 2 days after my birthday the whole weekend blurs into one. Lunch with JK, the pantomime, church, lunch with Fiance, Brother, Sister, Mum and another friend, midnight mass in a cathedral (not to be repeated) and then Christmas Day waking up to share my morning with Fiance, Fiance picking up my family, Dad being discharged from hospital before dinner, gifts, laughs and LOTR Monopoly.

2012 was a pretty great year but what with my wedding, friends having babies (including a set of twins) and a new Star Trek film I think 2013 looks like being pretty awesome. Hopefully finding a job I love will be the icing on the cake.

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Make It Sew (or should that be knit?)

Twenty posts in now and you’re hopefully starting to get a feel for who I am and what makes me tick. Hopefully for those of you who thought you knew me there hasn’t been anything that was a major surprise. I had expected that I would write more regular posts but sometimes when you have a choice between sitting in the spare room writing and being in the living room with your fiancé watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9 you have to choose your fiancé and the sci-fi that somehow manages to sneak up and get under your skin.
I wasn’t into sci-fi really before I met Fiancé, I had caught the odd episode of various Star Trek series, sometimes watched sci-fi films and could name a few of the crew of the original Enterprise (Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Sulu and Chekov). I guess I was one of those people who had decided that they could take or leave it. It didn’t inspire anything in me and I didn’t feel I had any connection to it. I preferred real life stories, films about things that actually happened or were at least based in historical fact. I think that I found it difficult to connect with sci-fi because it meant buying in to someone else’s imagined world and I was quite happy to explore my own imagination.

When Fiancé and I started dating I soon found out how into Star Trek he is and I was fairly resigned to the fact that it was something I would tolerate like I ask him to tolerate my interest in sport (which I now realise is nowhere near equal). Fiancé would show me his Trek DVDs and at the beginning I was just enjoying the fact that we were together sharing that time and that experience. Sharing quality time is one of my big things, if you know about the 5 Love Languages mine is definitely quality time. So for a little while the DVDs were an added feature of our spending quality time together but after a few I started to get to know some of the characters and to identify with certain character traits and yes, if I’m honest, I developed a little, tiny crush on Captain James T Kirk.

We continued watching episodes Fiancé thought would be good ones to share with me for a little while. I don’t quite remember when we decided to start going through whole series from beginning to end, maybe it was Firefly and if not Firefly then it was when Fiancé introduced me to Babylon 5. We have watched all of Firefly (not difficult to do) and the first 4 seasons of Babylon (after which I am reliably informed it is rubbish). We’re up to Season 5 of DS9 and I have been watching Enterprise on my own and am 4 episodes into the second season. I have to remember to check the clock before I press the play button for the next episode of DS9 because I’d end up watching all night. I enjoy watching it now and identify with most of the characters at different points.

A week tomorrow I will be going to London with Fiancé for a Star Trek convention where all 5 captains will be appearing. I’ll be having my photo taken with Scott Bakula, who plays Captain Jonathan Archer on Enterprise. He was also Dr Sam Beckett on Quantum Leap. It should be a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to spending the weekend away in London with Fiancé. I don’t know if we’ll have time for seeing the sights or for shopping but I’m finding that doesn’t matter too much, the ‘sights’ I’m most excited about seeing are the stars of DS9 and Enterprise whose characters I feel like I know.

In preparation for our Trek weekend I have been making myself a jumper. Fiancé bought me a knitting pattern booklet on eBay. It has patterns for 5 Star Trek jumpers and I’m knitting the one with Enterprise on the front.

It’s not too far off finished but I ought to get back to it. I’m looking forward to wearing it in London.

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It’s just I’m not sure I fit in here. There’s no one I can really talk to.

Take a deep breath. Try not to over think things. Remember why you’re here.

New situations, rooms full of new people, places I haven’t been to and sometimes places that I have can almost literally petrify me. If you have met me and I have started a conversation rather than waiting to ‘speak when spoken to’ you can probably count yourself among the honoured few. If I have divulged a secret or shown you a glimpse of who I really am you can count yourself honoured indeed.

I wear masks, not actual physical ones usually, the figurative type we can all put on. Sometimes they get me through the door into the new situation, the room of new people or the place I have never been. If there is a chance I will observe and adapt. I do have a generic ‘go to’ if there is no opportunity to adapt.

I remember walking into my current church for the first time four years ago. I had been at my previous church for eleven years and that church had become like family. Changing churches was a big deal, at that point it was like a child leaving home. We, Brother, Sister and I were leaving our safe, cosy church where everyone knew everyone (I left small out of the description) to walk into this new, unknown church. We knew it was a much bigger and, boy did we hope, younger church. We were changing churches partly to find other Christians our age. The first service I went to was a family service and as we approached the building I reminded myself of the three things at the top of this post. I think it was remembering why I was there that got me through the doors. Once through the doors things were okay, there was no fuss or anything. In fact for most of the service no one spoke to me, which was a good thing. I liked that no one pounced on the new people and I could just enjoy church without having to speak to anyone new. After a few weeks of only speaking to my sister’s friend and her parents who would kindly give us lifts for the evening service however I was starting to miss the people I could talk to and wonder if I was in the right place.

Brother had quickly found out about a congregation that met in a bar on Wednesday evenings called Conversations. I thought I would try it and see if it might have what I was looking for. I guess I needed it to be somewhere I didn’t feel invisible or anonymous but I could still keep the mask on. That is what it was. I went and was welcomed by someone who genuinely wanted to know who I was and found out more that evening than people in the central church congregations had all month. There was still a background to fade into, but as I watched I hoped I had found a place to fit in, to make friends, maybe even to belong.

It took a while to settle in to Conversations and I was mostly happy to just sit back and observe as I tried to work out who might be a friend and perhaps ultimately a confidante among this new group of people. It was still difficult for me because although I was in a place where the congregation was small enough that everyone noticed me there were only one or two people who made an effort to find out about me. I guess it got to the point where I was there and felt like part of the furniture but at times felt as though this still wasn’t quite where I belonged and couldn’t really say that I had real friends there, probably more acquaintances. There were some people I met occasionally away from the meetings on a Wednesday and we had a prayer group but I still never really found a person to really confide in.

When I met Fiancé at New Wine he was another new person. I was unsure at first whether we would even talk never mind making friends or anything more. I guess that being with people I had known for a while at the pub in Lincoln gave me a little bit of confidence although I don’t remember saying very much to him then except to ask what he did for a job. After New Wine he started to come to Conversations and I started to notice things about him that made me interested. I started to make sure I sat at the same table a him and I listened whenever he spoke. I guess I fell for him by degrees, a little more each week until around Christmas time, 4 months after we first met, when I realised that despite some family things that were going on I couldn’t keep him out of my mind. I prayed one night that if he was the one God intended me to have a relationship with that he would ask me out, the next day I received a text asking me to go to dinner.

Fiancé and I have been together for a year and eight months now. We’ve been through some tough times and some happy times together already. I think we’re a good couple and fit well together. We spend our time together and share our lives with each other. In April Fiancé will become Husband. He is one of my best friends and my confidante. I know that I can talk to him and usually he’ll listen.

Sometimes though I miss my friends from my previous church still. I might want to talk to someone about Fiancé or our relationship, to ask for advice from someone older and wiser or just to have a girly chat about the things that don’t interest Fiancé. Conversations doesn’t meet any more and the people I met there are becoming little more than facebook friends. I wish that there were someone that is a regular part of my life now that I could talk to but most of the ‘friends’ I have right now who I see every week do not fit the bill. I sometimes long to sit down with friends who have moved away or that are too busy leading their own active lives to see me every week and pour out how life sometimes makes me feel. Maybe my prayer life isn’t what it could be, but even then there are some things you want a discussion or real conversation about and it doesn’t always seem like that is possible with God. There are times when I still feel alone in a room full of people.

 

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Any day spent with you is my favourite day. So today is my new favourite day.

This summer has been one made mostly of long, lazy days. Perhaps it hasn’t felt much like summer with the weather we have had and the days where staying in was definitely preferable to going out. Due to limitations I have not seen some of the people I wanted to or done some of the things I thought would be good to do this summer. Despite that fact though summer has been good.

I have had the chance to spend time with people, sometimes people I have had little time for this past year. In the middle of carrying out my role as Children’s Ministry Parish Assistant and living away from home I forgot to make time for my family, for sitting in the living room with my parents and siblings and sharing time together. Okay, a lot of the time we don’t really ‘do’ anything but of all the simple things in life I enjoy I think just being with my loved ones is my favourite.

This year summer has meant something extra to me, not just the usual week away working with the children at the New Wine conference I attend every year. This year I had time to spend with my fiancé making memories. He was not at New Wine this year and although I missed him while I was away there was no time in the busyness of working with the children and spending time reconnecting with good friends for me to dwell on how much I wished he were there too. When I arrived back and he drove me home from the train station I realised that my week without him had been missing something and that something was him.

Nine days after I returned from New Wine Fiancé and I set off for Shell Island in Wales. It was about a 4 hour drive from where we live in York so we stopped for a little while in Chester. The drive was okay so far as drives go and when we got to Chester we parked the car and went for a walk. We peeped through the peepholes in the big iron sheet that is acting as the cathedral door while the real doors are away being restored and then we walked the full circuit of the Roman walls there, which were adapted into a promenade around the city by the Victorians. We sat and ate pasties on a bench in the town centre besieged by greedy pigeons. When we continued our journey it did not take long for the road signs to start appearing in Welsh and English and we followed long winding roads under mountains and across to the north-west of Wales. Shell Island is a pretty camping area, it’s big enough to accommodate many families and their tents or motor homes (caravans are not allowed on Shell Island). There is a harbour to the north end and a wide clean beach beyond the sand dunes to the south. We could choose any spot for our tent so long as we were at least 20 metres from neighbouring campers and not on a ‘No Camping’ area such as the top of the cliff. Our first attempt at choosing was not very successful we realised, as the wind tried to rip the tent from our hands. We moved and found a spot that was more sheltered from that particular wind. After we got the tent up and had sausage and beans for dinner we went for a walk.

We went down to the sand dunes and walked through them to a point near the car park where we could sit and look out over the sea. The sky was just starting to turn orange as the sun thought about setting and the breeze though cool was refreshing. We sat cuddled up to each other talking about how it was our first ‘real’ holiday and wondering if when in years to come we take our children to Shell Island we will remember the first time we were there as a couple. We watched the people who were just packing up or walking dogs on the beach and enjoyed just being there together. As I was looking out at the sea thinking how beautiful the location was and how wonderful it was to have Fiancé there to share it with I saw a flash of the sun off a dark fin and wondered whether it could be… and there it was again and I was sure as its friend came to the surface beside it and disappeared too. There were dolphins swimming in the bay below us. I had only ever seen dolphins on the TV or in the movies before although I once thought I caught a glimpse of a minky whale that caused great excitement on a ferry crossing to the Hebrides. I watched the dolphins playing for few moments and then Fiancé looked over to the left of us and saw that the setting sun had painted the hint of a rainbow on the clouds. It felt truly magical to be there in that moment with Fiancé, like God had placed his seal of approval on us being there by blessing us with the dolphin sighting and the rainbow.

 

The next day we drove through some of Snowdonia National Park and eventually found ourselves at the base on Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. Although we had arrived too late in the day to climb the mountain and the train rides up were both fully booked and too expensive standing at the bottom and looking up to the peak that was shrouded in cloud made me think of how small we really are and how big God must be to have created the earth and everything in it, to have placed everything in just the right way that these natural structures tower over the engineering feats man has achieved. Although we did not climb Snowdon we did walk a little way up its foothills to discover a pretty waterfall. I found it tiring walking up and would have turned back and missed the beauty of the fall if Fiancé had not been there, striding ahead on his long legs. When we reached the viewing point and crossed the mountain rail track we could see and hear the beauty and the power of this Welsh waterfall.

When we walked back from the waterfall and realised we would not be able to get the train up Snowdon I suggested we might like to try the train I remembered from my previous holiday in Wales, one that took you down one side of the lake at Llanberis and back again. We went across and got our tickets and I bought a Slushie while Fiancé had a Cornetto. We boarded the train when it arrived and rode around the lake. On the trip back we got off a stop before we had got on as we had seen that the National Slate Museum was at that stop. Although the museum was closing an hour and a half after we arrived we were still able to see the film on slate mining and to look around the houses that were set up as they would have been when the slate mine there was thriving. We went and saw the water wheel that powered the machinery in the workshops, harnessing the power of the water from a stream like the one that made the waterfall. I bought a few thing from the gift shop and we walked back around to where we had parked the car.

That night the wind was terrible and kept us awake, Fiancé especially. In the morning the tent was battered and nearly collapsed on me while I slept so we cut our time at Shell Island short. We packed up as quickly as we could and headed away from Shell Island. We remembered that a friend had mentioned a place that did cakes and ice-cream in a little town called Harlech that we would drive through so we stopped off and bought flapjack for our breakfast. From there we were unsure whether to straight home or try to find somewhere to stay. As Fiancé was quite tired finding somewhere to stay seemed to make most sense. As we drove in Caernarfon in the rain we noticed there were two reasonably priced places to stay, a Premier Inn and a Travelodge, right next to each other. We were relieved to have found somewhere and Fiancé went to get us a room while I sheltered in the car. We got our room and headed straight for the bed to catch up on some lost sleep. After some sleep we felt more human and went for a wander in Caernarfon. We had some dinner and went to the castle gift shop to finish off my gift buying. After a night in Caernarfon we drove home by the scenic route as Fiancé’s sat-nav was not working properly. It was an interesting journey but we made it home in one piece.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget certain parts of our holiday, but most of all I won’t forget spending those days just with Fiancé away from all the concerns of home life. And although, yes, every day spent with Fiancé at the moment is pretty good as we learn more about each other and share in the adventure that is preparing for marriage, those days in Wales will be favourites for a few months yet.

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It’s that time of year again.

It wasn’t terribly surprising to find that there was not a Disney quote to go with the subject of this post, well at least not on the face of it. Perhaps a little deeper digging might have found one, but the idea is not that I spend all night looking for a quote to go with a blog post I haven’t written so I decided to prioritise the post over the title.

Summer is sweeping in and soon the children will have broken up from school and will be everywhere. I look forward to the summer still. It’s a different anticipation now than it was when I was still a kid and summer meant six weeks off school away, mostly, from the bullies and able to just be me. For the last six years, and again this year, summer has meant eight nights under canvas spending seven days as part of a children’s team at New Wine North and East summer conference.

The dreams that creep up on me somewhere around March are usually the first indication that somewhere in my subconscious I am already beginning the countdown. I have a tendency to dream that something’s not quite right, either I can’t find which cowshed I’m supposed to be in or I’m really late for team time and miss the important stuff although I know the normal layout of the Newark Show-ground like the back of my hand by now and haven’t ever been late enough to team time to actually miss anything. Even with the dreams it takes a while for my conscious thoughts to catch up with my subconscious.

July, the month of preparing and more often than not some element of panic. For the first few years I knew I had my gorgeous Eurohike Paint Your Own tent that had been lovingly decorated for me by my best friends in my house group, a snuggly warm sleeping bag and a big backpack that matched to carry everything in. I even went so far as buying a camping chair in the same fabric as  the sleeping bag and backpack. The main panic was the paperwork, where had we put the essential letters that had the tear off part that was our ticket and conference badge? Even after no ticket year and the wait in the information office which ended in relief we would still panic when the paperwork was mislaid. Two years ago a very sad time came; after years of being used for one week in the summer and being put away perhaps a little carelessly my beautiful distinctive tent that had a double skin so never leaked had succumbed to damp and mould and really was on its last legs. I borrowed a friend’s tent last year and got leaked on so the slight panic is in the hope that Fiancé’s tent won’t leak when I borrow it this year.

Looking back I have so many memories of great things that have happened at New Wine. Besides my love story starting there (which I will tell another time) there have been so many great stories of what God can do in the lives of these children. I’ll never forget the evening the kids left the venue late because they were all chanting ‘Jesus’ over and over, or the girl, Siobhan, who arrived at my group in Boulder Gang deaf but went home at the end of the week hearing after the kids prayed for her.

Every year I make sure that as we pack down on the Friday night I have made a list of every child that was on the register for my group. These lists go into the back of my journal and I try to remember to pray for the children from one New Wine to the next.I have the lists from 07 – 10 in front of me as I write this and I can remember children even from as far back as 2007. Some of them you don’t forget quickly and some will stay in your memory forever. From 2007 there are three boys I can still picture as if I last saw them yesterday.

Kids and what God does for them and through them are I guess at the centre of my focus every year at New Wine and as I go as a children’s worker that is only right but what then of the amazing people who are there for the team? Every year so far I have gone to New Wine leaving something not quite right at home. One year a very close friend and her husband were separating, other years I have been out of work and had to scrape together the train fare. I cannot pretend that there has been a year yet where I have been happy to get onto the train/into the car at the end of the week. Perhaps, as this year I’m leaving Fiancé at home I will be happy to come back. There are some pretty awesome people, well they have to be awesome for me to have felt so comfortable with them, who are there for the team members. They are our team pastors. For the past 3 years I have been able to talk to my team pastors without the usual clamming up and not being able to say what I wanted. God has worked in life at New Wine and these people have helped massively. Claire, Panda and Becki have all listened and prayed with me as I told them virtually the same story and felt like I was a stuck record waiting for the needle to skip. I guess Claire opened the door a bit, Panda was great at helping me step through and Becki went above and beyond. Becki’s pastoring last year led to me going to see the lay pastor at my church and working through the issues with him. Thanks to Becki and the lay pastor I don’t think the same issues are going to be as pertinent this year. Maybe they’ll be there in the background but there will be much more important things for me to want to pray about.

Whatever awaits me in the week after I watch my housemate get married I know that I have awesome team leaders and hopefully an awesome team pastor who I will be able to talk to. This year I am going to working with a younger group of children with the challenges that will bring but with God’s help and the support of my team, the team leaders and the team pastor I know that whether the challenges come from the children or from somewhere within me I will be able to handle them, although I’m not expecting that this year’s team pastor will be as willing as Becki was to bring a cookie to my sick tent.

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