A grace to sing

I’ve written some words for a Grace to use as a family.  We quite enjoy them!  Feel free to use them yourself but I’d appreciate my name staying with the lyrics if you post them on…

To the tune of “Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious”:
If you have found there is some tasty food upon the table
You should thank God joyfully as long as you are able
But if you don’t quite know the words to thank Him every day
Believe me when I tell you there is something you can say:
Super thanks almighty God for everything you’ve given
(x 4)
(Tune copyright The Sherman Brothers, Lyrics copyright H Brunning)

Friendship Maps – an activity with my children

We’ve had some fun creating friendship maps over the last couple of days so we thought we’d share our “How-To” guide…

How To Create a Friendship Map

131      First gather your supplies.  You will need:

A map – to a scale so you can fit your friend’s house and your house onto a single page (more comments about scale below)

A piece of white paper – we used A4 so it fit into the frame we already had

Some blue-tack

A pencil

Some colours – we used fine-line pens and coloured pencils

106 Check out your map.  Find your home and your friend’s home. Plot out the route you take from one house to the other. This is such a fun time to practice map-reading skills. Just because “everyone has a Sat-Nav” doesn’t mean maps are redundant. Perhaps that’s a topic for another post!

108 Tack your map to a window. Keep it smooth…

109 Tack your white paper on top of the map. Make sure your whole route is covered by the page. You may like to put the paper up at an angle to get it all in. This is totally fine, but make a note of “which way is up” – particularly if you want to add a compass rose later.

111 Carefully trace your route and any landmarks on the way. We thought about the landmarks we wanted to include – those shared with our friends (the park) or those we particularly enjoy about the area (the library).

121 Still using your pencil, have a look at your tracing and see if there are any other details you want to include. Sketch in decorations. We illustrated the library with a book, the cycle path with a bike, the Scout Hut with a campfire. Add labels such as road or place names.

122 Add some colour. This is the fun bit! For larger areas, we outlined in pen and coloured in with pencil. This prompted discussion about suitable colours for certain symbols – would the colour we chose for our shopping area suggest an allegiance with a particular brand?

126 Here are the final details going in.

Friendship Map a When you’re happy, go wild with your presentation. Mount the map – cut it straight or wavy. Add a title and a compass rose (make sure you know which way really is North!) Scan it so you can keep a copy of your hard work.  Then all that’s left is to present it to your friend. Hope they like it!

Another word about scale: If your friend lives close, a local map will be great.  A little further afield and you may like to use an OS map. Of course, if your friend is many miles away, you may have to use a whole country map. The larger the scale, the fewer small details you will be able to include.

I would love to know if you try this idea.

Can’t decide…

I have two ideas for a sticker in the back window of my car and I can’t decide which one to put up.  Either one of :

“Yes. I agree with you. 20mph feels like a ridiculously low speed limit. But please write to the council instead of blaming me … And until then, please take your nose off my bumper. Thanks!”


“Apologies. Since someone I knew was killed by a speeding driver, I’ve been a little more aware of speed limits.  So I’m afraid it’s going to take you a smidge longer than usual to reach the end of the next traffic queue.”


I have recently noticed another key difference between mental and physical illness – the direction of the sympathy.

If two friends hear that Fred has broken his leg, the conversation is full of concern for him – “Poor Fred.  Wonder how he’s coping? Hope it won’t take long to heal.  Must send him some fruit.”  Some concern may or may not also be expressed for Freda, his wife.

However, when two friends hear that Fred has got depression, the conversation hardly mentions Fred at all.  “Golly!” they say. “Poor Freda having to cope with a depressed husband.  It must be very hard for her.  It’s so difficult to care for someone with a mental illness.”

Too much of a film fan

I enjoy films.  I don’t think I’m fanatical but if film questions come up in quizzes, my friends think I will be able to answer them.  I can’t usually!  But there have been several times lately I’ve thought of film scenes as I have gone about my daily life:

A Knight’s Tale: where Roland describes Sir Ulrich’s tunic for the ball later by describing the tent behind him.  This was me recently when I was helping a friend turn old curtains into medieval style dresses

Ten Things I Hate About You: Patrick finally lets on where he was last year – “Milwaukee.  You see my grandad was ill so I spent most of the year sleeping on his couch eating cheerios.”  I relate to this every time I stay with my parents to support them through Daddy’s illness.  Although I don’t have to sleep on his couch … or eat cheerios.

New In Town: where Lucy’s new friend comes round with yet another bowl of tapioca – “When I’m stressed, I bake.”  So far this morning I have a loaf, a strawberry shortcake and a pan of ragu slow cooking. 

My daily smile

I am not green fingered.  Plants don’t thrive under my care!  Which is why the planter by my front door gives me a daily smile.  The small plant I brought home from I-don’t-know-where has done really well with very little input from me.  Every time I leave or enter my home, there’s a burst of happy colour.  Hurrah!

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Surprise surprise!

I was in such a dither about whether and how to celebrate my 40th birthday.  In the end, I left it to Karl to arrange something suitable.  What he and my lovely friends came up with surpassed all my expectations!

On the Saturday before my birthday we dropped the children round with friends while we had a lovely, sunny, breezy walk up onto the Cotswold Way near North Nibley to look at the Tyndale Monument.

Karl at the monument Happy dog The Cotswold Way Enjoying the hazy view

But that was just the beginning.  Karl brought me home and said we needed to leave for a meal at about 5.  I thought at this point that some of our friends would perhaps meet us at a pizzeria or something similar.  Perhaps the children would be there too as nothing had been said about picking them up…

As we wandered down a side road towards the Gloucester Road, I spotted some children playing by a tree.  I was a little surprised to see that one of them was my good friend Bix – one of my lovely Sunday School students.  A few steps later and, instead of carrying on down to the eateries of Gloucester Road, we were turning into the entrance to a church hall.  The charming doorman (Geoff) greeted us with a “Your table’s almost ready!” before leading me through the doors.

The glass doors soon showed up an amazing surprise.  Standing just beyond them were several people including, wonder of wonders, my GRANDMA!  How was she there in Bristol?  She is 96 and lives 100 miles away near Alton!

As that surprise subsided and I recovered from the noise of cheers and party poppers, I realised that there were lots of lovely friends.  And hay bales.  And an overhead screen with pictures of my life.  And beautiful bunting.  Wow!

I was truly astonished that so many fabulous friends had kept this secret and created a party that was perfect for me.  A barn dance!  What better way for my friends of all ages – from Benjamin (1) and Bix (5) to Grandma (96) – to join in?

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After a couple of dances I had to ring my mum.  With Daddy unwell, it was impossible for either of them to be there, but I knew she’d been in on it – many of the photos on screen were from her collection.  I rang her and my sister-in-law answered the phone to say that she was keeping Daddy company while Mummy had popped out for shopping but I could try again later.

Another dance or two and it was time for tea.  A marvelous spread provided by all the guests and with something for everyone.  Tables were quickly arranged across the dance floor and there was a wonderful hum of conversation over the yummy nibbles.

And then, in the middle of chatting to some of the guests, I had a tap on my shoulder.  I turned round and…


it was Mummy!  I said something daft along the lines of, “But I just rang you! You’re out shopping!”  That moment really was the cherry on top of the beautifully iced cake…

Talking of which, after Lisa read out some very kind words from friends about me and an impromptu band led the assembly in a memorable rendition of “Happy Birthday”, out came a huge and delicious cake covered in colourful smarties and ablaze with candles.

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It took more than one puff to get all those candles blown out!

Well what a splendid occasion!  I just loved it.  I was so thankful to all the conspirators for their very hard work.  There was lots of preparation, decoration and clearing up behind the scenes and one very happy me eased into forty-ness with lots of amazing memories.

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