Friday, 30 September 2016

The Journey

Well here I am with one more week left before I make the sailing and journey up through England to home. The prospect of a relaxing night onboard the ship is a pleasant one, the long drive is always the same, sitting on a motorway for hour on end.

It is all worth it because of the good journey around this part of France in the glorious sun. I have two more stops to make here on my way towards Zeebrugge so the journey is far from over. 
ir trek
All this gal of journeys reminds me of one of my most favourite of tales. Apologies to those who have heard it before.

Two monks were making a journey as a pilgrimage. They had sworn a promise to make the pilgrimage in silence. So day after day the pair walked in silence merely sharing the agreed few words before retiring for the night.

On the day I speak of things were going as normal. The two were progressing. About an hour into there journey the came across a beautiful young lady. She was dressed in a beautiful Kimono. She was standing looking at the road before her. The river had broken its banks and the road was flooded with muddy water.

One of the monks on seeing her plight went to her and spoke to her. he then lifted her into his arms and carried her through the mud and water. He gently set her on her feet and carried on his way.

All that day it became obvious that his fellow traveller was not happy with him. At the end of the day he asked him what was the matter. His friend said to him. We have vow of silence, not only did you speak to that beautiful girl but you lifted her and carried her. 

Ah said the older monk. But I carried her only a short way. You my friend have carried her all day as a heavy burden.

We often encumber ourselves with burdens that we can easily set aside. We weigh ourselves down with unneeded hindrances.

Have a good day.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The dead gambler.

This morning while out walking I passed a cafe on my way towards the woodland walk I was going to take. Sitting outside at two tables were some groups of men playing chess. They were taking it very seriously concentrating very hard. There was the occasional sound as a move was made but apart from that silence was the name of the game.

This brought back memories of the tale of the five Irishmen who were playing poker. During the game one of them fell from his chair dead. The other four carried him over with great dignity and laid him on a bench. The"y stood for a moment in silence and then returned to the serious business of the poker. 

As the game progressed one of them at last said that somebody had to go and tell the wife of the deceased. They cut the cards to decide who would go with the news. 

Gallacher drew the short straw and was tasked with going and visiting the wife. The others told him to be discreet and gentle. Gallacher told them he was the very height o discretion. 

On arriving at the home of the deceased he said to the wife, "Jimmy has lost £500 and is afraid to come home."

The wife responded, "Tell hime to drop dead."

Gallacher says, "I will just go and tell him that."

Be aware of what you say and what you wish for. 

Have a great day.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Five Surgeons

Yesterday I watched some French runners racing along forest trails and woodland paths. The same trails and pathos I have been walking this past week. I have over the course of the week broke into a run such is the feeling such places arouse in me. 

Sadly the competitive days are gone but it was good to mingle with them again and feel part of it all.

I often feel sad that my running days are to all intents and purposes at an end. Thankfully with my new ankle walking is still well within my grasp and becoming more and more a part of my daily life. Thanks to the skill of surgeons who can fit new parts and keep us active.

This reminds me of the five surgeons who were out together for a meal. As the enjoyed the meal and wine the conversations also became more and more amusing. The surgeons began to discuss their favourite patients.

The first one preferred accountants he said, because when you open them up all the bits are numbered and mistakes are difficult.

The second said he preferred electricians because when you opened them up everything was colour coded.

The third preferred librarians because everything  Was in alphabetical order.

The fourth preferred builders. They do not mind if there are a few bits left over when finished.

The fifth said the were all wrong. Politicians are by far the best. They have no brains no balls no guts and the head and the ass is interchangeable.

Oh thank goodness we can be grateful for those who keep us well a hearty and able to enjoy life to its full.

Have a great day

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Red Donkey

Today I was out walking enjoy the fruits of the earth. In one walk I sampled wild blueberries, grapes, walnuts and brambles. I came home feeling very lucky I am sure I had already consumed at least two of my four a day. 

The wild life was good also. Pheasant, partridge and grey heron to name but a few. I even had a conversation with a donkey, I could swear his he haw was a response to my talking to him.

This reminded me of the story of the young lad who bought a donkey from a an old farmer. He paid the farmer £100 for the d When the old farmer heard this he saidonkey. The next day the farmer arrived to deliver the donkey. He looked glum and told the boy that the donkey had died.

The boy asked for his money back. The old rascal of a framer told him it was not his fault his donkey had died and he had spent the money.

The boy said ok leave the donkey and I will raffle it off. " You cannot raffle a dead donkey," said the farmer.

The boy sold three hundred tickets at £1 each making him a profit of £200.

When the farmer heard about this he asked if anybody had complained. He said only the person who won the donkey and I gave him his £1 back.

There is a question in there about honesty i am sure, but this is a true story of a boy who later went on to own one of the biggest companies in the united states.

But maybe that also fits with some ethics.

One way or another have a good day and do not talk to too many donkeys and certainly not dead ones.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Its on the Wall

I had a bit of a let down today when I got to my next site in France. Nothing at all wrong with the site a beautiful bit of France. Some lovely scenery and walks. But hey my water system had stopped working. 

Before I say anymore the painting above is a little marvel of nature. Here is a tree that in some way or other has been badly damaged either by nature or just humanity . But it has struck back and survived in spite of all. nature giving a helping hand to the weak.

This reminded me of  a cafe I once visited. I was there having an expresso, my desire. People were coming into the cafe  ordering coffee. The thing was they were ordering three coffees one for each of the two and then they said one for the wall. A man came in and ordered two coffees, one for himself and one for the wall.

The waiter delivered the order of a coffee and charged the person for the two. He then stuck a slip on the wall. 

The next time I visited the cafe on my morning walk I saw the same thing happening again. people ordering coffee and sometime a croissant. One for themselves and one for the wall.

But this morning an old dignified gentleman came into the cafe. He looked at the wall and took his seat. When the waiter arrived he ordered an expresso and croissant, from the wall. The waiter spoke to him kindly and served him his expresso and croissant. Then he reached over and removed one of the papers from the wall.

An old poor man had what he desired and no dignity lost. 

This was the people of the village looking after their own in every sense of the word.

I felt so moved.

How wonderful it would be if every cafe had just such a wall. Yes now and then some person would abuse the system but does that make it less value to care for others.

Have a good day.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Minister and Taxi Driver

The thing about life is that there is only ever one certainty and that is that it will not last forever. I overheard a man yesterday who did not seem to believe this.

He was one of those you meet now and again who just have nothing at all in life to learn. It seemed he was a master of everything. He was a master builder, an expert in everything French except for speaking the language. I listened in silence keeping my counsel.

He had a wonderful habit of saying, " I can tell you this as a certainty."  He then went on to pontificate.

I remember once meeting a group of people who were one hundred percent certain that they were going to inherit a place in heaven after death. It really must be wonderful to be so sure of such weighty matters.

This reminds me of the story of the minister and the taxi driver who both arrived at the pearly gates at the exact same time. There they stand, the taxi driver in his bright coloured shirt and sun glasses, the minister in black suit and dog collar.

On giving his name and Peter consulting his notes says to the taxi driver. You are welcome in. Here is a silken robe and a golden staff.

On checking up on the minister he also invites him in but gives him a cotton robe and a wooden staff.

The minister says in some annoyance, " How is it that he a meagre taxi driver gets a silken robe and I get a cotton one. He gets a golden staff and I a wooden one.?"

Simple says Peter, " When you were preaching most people were sleeping. When he was driving most people were praying."

There are no certainties in life and only arrogance will let you think otherwise.

Have a great day.

A Little Challenge.

I walked this this morning just enjoying the countryside around me. The little canals the ripples made on the water as the fish jumped to catch flies. The hen with its six very little chickens three pure white and three black. Made me wonder what colour the cockerel was? I am sure somebody will enlighten me.

It is Sunday so here in France the cyclists were out in large groups out for the long Sunday cycle. Of course there were also the runners. This is when I find it very difficult. I just want to run with them. I remember the old motto I had when I was running regularly, "thou wilt not pass." 

I still find it difficult not to rise to a challenge.

So just to help you join me, here is a little simple challenge for you. Life is about finding the balance. We often think this is very difficult but nature has its simple balance and all we have to do is learn this.

So here is a little challenge, simple.

Sit down, if you are sitting at your computer lift your right leg off the floor. Now make circles in a clockwise direction. Clockwise just nices little circles. Now while doing that. With your right hand draw the figure six in the air before you.

You see your foot goes anti clockwise try and stop it doing that! Not so simple.

It is in fact harder to fight nature than to go with it. Easier to be in harmony than in constant conflict. Why is it so hard to learn that?

Go on try the little challenge and have a good day.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

A Red Bike

Went out walking this morning before the sun had broken through. There was a morning chill in the air. As the sun came through I passed this little bridge over one of the many canals in this area. The weeping willow made feel almost magical.

Now this is what I was wanting I heard myself think now all I want is the sun. As if almost on command it appeared. How would life be if we got everything we desired. It was the Buddha who remained us that all suffering is caused by desire.

Young David was a lad full of desire. His birthday was fast approaching and what he dispersed more than anything was the amazing bike he had seen in the cycle store.

He expressed this desire to his mother. She thought here was the ideal lesson to give him the opportunity to consider his ways and maybe even make amends.

She suggested that maybe he should think about his behaviour. She told him this and suggested he write a letter to God explaining his desire for the bike and why he should get it.

He began. "Dear God. For the past year I have been a well behaved boy. I would really like that red bike." He thought about it and tore it up.

He began again, " Dear God. I have been a fairly well behaved boy for the past year. I would really like that red bike." Again he read it and tore it up.

He began again. "Dear God. I have not been a good boy at all this last year but I would really like that red bike." He was considering making promises he might not keep. Instead he tore it up.

He put on his shoes and jacket and left the house. He told his mother he was going to the church and she agreed. As he left she was thinking maybe it had worked.

David entered the church and looked around him. He was alone. He saw a statue of Mary. As quick as a flash he lifted it and hid it under his jacket. He rushed home and went straight to his room.

He got out his paper and wrote. "Dear God. I have your mother. If you want her back I want that lovely red bike.

So you see desire does lead to suffering.

Have a good day.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

John loves math.

I was always hopeless at math and today I discovered I still am. Ah well a bit late now to make changes and try to learn.

It is is because of this I felt very sorry for John.

He came home from school looking sad and down. His father asked him what was his problem? He said he got a fail in math and a punishment task.

His father asked him why. He said the teacher asked me what is 3x2. I said six.

She the asked me what is 2x3.

His father said what is the f............... difference.

John said that is exactly what I asked.

Have a good day and do not count on too much.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

A Little Dot.

Water Music.

Well, here I am one day before leaving. Tomorrow I hope to leave in the very early hours so I will not be here tomorrow morning and until I arrive at a spot with WIFI I will not be able to post a blog. 

I hope that you will continue to read when I am able once again to post.  These last few days and maybe even the last two weeks I have  been doing a considerable amount of reflection. My early days as a butcher, my time at university then my work as a minister and chaplain and finally may days as a teacher.

I am now retired and able to just up sticks and head off to see places new and meet new people. I always laugh when I watch and listen to retired people on quiz shows who always seem to have to define themselves by what they were and not what they are. I wonder what I would say I was if I had to define myself? I hear myself screaming at them, "No you are not a retired teacher you are just retired." In fairness I suppose they are correct. But being retired does make you redundant. It merely makes you something else. 

During my reflections on my teaching I smiled so often at the many laughs I had with students. Of course I wound them up it was all part of the teaching process. I always loved when we had a new intake of fresh young students new to being in higher education. 

My first meeting with them often involved in a getting to know each other. The students all came from different schools so did not always know each other.

So one of my first lesson was, tell me something that you found exciting. it was surprising what they came up with.

On one such lesson one of the lads asked if he could show us what it was that he found exciting in the last few weeks. He said he wanted to show it because he was not exactly sure how to tell it. 

So with a marker pen, he made a small dot on the whiteboard and stood back to look at it, saying nothing. 

Puzzled, I asked him what it was, because it looked like a full stop. 

"It is a full stop, or a Period," he said.

"So what is so exciting about that?"

I don't really know,"  he said,  "but last week my sister said she was missing one. My mum fainted, my dad almost had a heart attack, and the boy next door left to join the army."

All pretty exciting over just one missed full stop if you ask me.  

Hope you have a great weekend and I am back on soon wifi permitting. 

Friday, 2 September 2016

The Marriage.

It seems that most who read my blog in the mornings do not mind the odd morning where the story is just a bit of humour to start the day. it certainly helped my day yesterday also. I was able to find the time to complete my pastel and put a mount on it and frame it up. I also managed to get some of the other pending tasks completed in preparation of my heading off for some more time in France. 

It really does feel a bit of a cheat clocking out and heading off to I hope warmer climes while workers are in my home tearing out the old bathroom and building a replacement. I feel guilty of not being around but they assure me it is the best thing to do allowing them to jus get on with it. 

So I was remembering the little story of yesterday about the bride in white and the groom in black.  I wondered how they're wedding worked out. Over the years I have conducted the weddings of a great many couples, many of whom I still see as happily married.

There was a couple, like many others, that approached the wedding day with some in-trepidation.

As the big day approached, they grew very apprehensive. Each had a problem they had never asked or shared with anybody, not even each other.

The Groom-to-be, overcoming his fear, decided to ask his father for some advice.  " Father," he said, "I am deeply concerned about the success of my marriage. I love Mary, very much, but you see, I have very smelly feet, and I am afraid that my future wife will be put off by them."

"No problem," said his father , "all you have to do is wash your feet as often as possible, and always wear socks, even when going to bed."

This seemed like a workable solution.

The bride to be, overcoming her fear, decided to take the problem to her mother. "Mother ," she said, "when I wake up in the morning my breath is truly awful."

"Darling," her mother consoled, "everyone has bad breath in the morning."

"No , you do not understand. My morning breath is so bad , I am afraid my new husband will not want to sleep in the same room with me."

Her mother thought for a moment and said, "Try this. In the the morning , get straight out of bed, head for the bathroom and brush your teeth. The key is, not to say a single word until you have brushed your teeth. Not a word, her mother emphasised.

She thought it was certainly worth a try. The loving couple were finally married in a delightful ceremony conducted especially for them. 

Not forgetting the advice they had both received, he with his perpetual socks, and she with her early morning silence, they managed quite well.

Then about six months into the marriage. Shortly before dawn, the husband woke up with a start to find that one of his socks had come off.

Fearful of the consequences, he frantically searched the bed. This of course , woke his wife and without asking she says, "What on earth are you doing?"

"Oh, no!" he gasped in shock, "You have swallowed my sock!"

Have a wonderful day and remember not to put your foot in it. 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Just a Little Laugh.

I did not manage to get any more of my pastel done apart from the last little house and some of the grass to the fore of it. I do so want to get it finished today and I have so many things that have to be done today. 

So I thought I would begin my day with a little laugh at some short remembered stories from the past.  Just three little ones to start your day. 

The first one is a story from a wedding told by the other. They were attending the wedding of her brothers daughter. Her daughter who was at her very first ever wedding squeezed her mothers hand and whispered to her mother, " Mum why is the bride only wearing white?"

The mother thought for a moment and gave the answer, " Because white is the colour of happiness and this is the happiest day of her life."

Without a thought she replied, "Then why is the groom dressed in black?"

Now I dare you to answer that one. 

The next story come from morning worship. 

An old couple were sitting in the middle of a centre of the church pew. The old lady turned and whispered to her husband during the sermon. 

"I have just let off a silent fart. What should I do?' 

The husband looked at her with a twinkle in his eye and said, "Turn on you're hearing aid."

And the last one.

A young boy came home from school with a bleeding nose and a bruise on his cheek and a cut on his lip. He had obviously been in a fight and it looked very much like he had lost. 

While his father was cleaning up the cut ha asked his sone what in fact had happened. 

Well, dad it was like this. " I challenged David to a dual and gave hime the choice of weapons." 

"That seemed very fair," said the father.

" Yes, but I did not know he would choose his big sister." 

I hope you have a great day I am hoping for a productive one. I have a big choice. Do I go out and walk before the rain comes in, and then finish my pastel? Or do I finish my pastel and go and walk in the rain and get wet? I suppose the answer lies in what I find to be the most important.

One involves only me the other involves my wife and her lifelong friend for whom the pastel is intended , so I guess I do not really have a choice.