Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Thursday, 22 February 2018

I Believe; Week two.

2 . I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth

This is the fundamental statement from which all others lead, without this basic belief in the Creator God, the Father of all things, Almighty powerful beyond our imagining all the rest are just stories.   This needs to come at the beginning of any statement of faith, just as the whole Bible starts with the basic statement “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth”   

This shows the essential truth that God is independent of creation, existing before any physical matter, before the beginning of time or the universe, God was.   The existence of God the Father is the foundation of all that is created, He made it out of nothing, it is through His will all the things in the heavens and on earth are, they exist through His creative act, and they have no power over, or against Him.   He is almighty.

The creator God revealed in Genesis is very different to the pagan gods, those gods would struggle with creation, attempting to shape it, contending for control over chaos.   The God if the Bible is different, through His sovereignty He creates matter and without struggle or difficulty shapes it to His will.

1.  Do we have to be creationists to believe in the creator God?

2.  Why do we call Him the Father?

3.  We seek to be in relationship with the Creator God, what does this mean for the relationship we have with his creation?

As I have said before this was designed as a discussion course, to ask questions rather than provide answers, for me that first question was a Biggy! When I first became a Christian I could not reconcile my basic scientific understanding with a literal reading of the beginning of Genesis. I think I have now understood what God is telling us through those verses, but that would make a very long post, maybe something I could come back to another day.   For me the answer is no, but I do know people for whom it is an essential to believe that every word of the Bible is not only true, but (quite different) accurate.

Monday, 19 February 2018

My Office Today

Like most of these posts I am stretching the point a bit. This was actually what I was doing yesterday.   Most of the afternoon was taken up with rehearsal and then the concert in the evening.

It was a very challenging concert for the orchestra, and the shape of the Church coupled with the size of the orchestra meant we had a slightly unconventional lay out.   Rather than being stuck at the end of the Brass behind a pillar I was in front of the brass on a lower tier just behind and to the left of the bassoons. This actually worked really well for Elgar's First Symphony ~ the main piece for me ~ as much of the time I was playing with the bassoons rather than the trombones.

We also played Sibelius' Lemminkainen Suite, including the Swan of Tuonela with the Cor Angles Solo played beautifully by my friend John, who you can just see in front of me in the photo.   I am firmly of the opinion that in any family of instruments the larger ones always sound nicer.  The Cor Angles definitely supports this assertion!

After my last few rather introspective posts it's good to be able to recount some positive activity, and to make the evening even more special I had three very special guests at the concert, my Daughter, my Wife and her friend all came, and at the very least were polite enough to say they enjoyed it.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

What Next?

I am in the strange position of having to face up to a few life changing decisions at the moment, in some way these decisions are a reflection of a bigger question, how do I want to live the rest of my live.   What sort of a live do I want to live.   I suppose some of this is the realisation of quite a bog birthday looming later this year, when I was forty I had just become a parent, when I was fifty I decided that it was high time I started to work out exactly what my gender miss match was all about.   Now I am approaching sixty I have questions about my body, my profession and my education.

Amongst other things I revisiting a question I thought I had settled over forty years ago. At that point I could think of no subject I wanted to study for three years, and what I saw of the student life as modeled for me by both my brothers simply did not appeal.   Instead I decided to join the workforce at that point my plan had been to work my way up, getting professional qualifications on the way, and enjoy a nice suburban lifestyle, with a nice suburban wife and family, paid for through my nice suburban job.   In short I was expecting to have a life in a world that was rapidly disappearing.   The jobs I anticipated doing no longer exist, the qualifications I achieved (AIB part 2) are irrelevant and equally extinct.    It took me about 3 years to work out that retail banking was boring, repetitive, and was never going to satisfy me.   The next job was also accounts based (in those days before PCs my dyslexia prevented me doing anything word based)  I enjoyed working for that Company and expected it to be a job for life ~ alas the 80 were the time when such things just disappeared.   The office I worked in is now a restaurant I can't afford to eat in, and the Company no longer manufactures in Britain, and at least has had the decency to drop the tag line "The Great British Radial"

Maybe that should have been the point to look at this but I thought I couldn't afford to take three years out of earning.   Now I am thinking if I don't do it now it will be too late, and I will have missed what could be my last opportunity.   A few years I ago I did Theology course through the C of E and thoroughly enjoyed it, at that time I had planned to continue the studies, but other matters, like earning a living, supporting a family and then transition all got in the way.   Now I am considering the implications of dropping my business and going to university to study for a degree in theology.   This would mean that after leaving I would still have three years before state pension age in which to try and earn a living. ~ There is a lot  to weigh up, not least how would I cope in a learning environment? and would I be able to manage exams?

What I need to find is a source of information and advise, if I were still at school I would be able to go to a member of staff, but a s a potential (very) mature student who can I go to?

Friday, 16 February 2018

Fast Action

So two days into my Lenten fast and I'm already getting innovative, last night I had failed to plan what I was going to eat, and of course I know that failing to plan equals planning to fail; but I had laid in a decent stock of supplies appropriate for my new meat free diet.

I have some frozen vegetable lasagnes, cauliflower cheese grills (I really like these!) mushrooms leeks onions and of course a good stock of rice, pasta, couscous and all sorts.   I had also bought myself some oats to make some flapjacks when I get a chance.   Having had a late lunch it was a bit late when I realised that I needed to get myself something and I had little inclination to spend much time. I looked at what I had and started wondering ~~~~~ wondering about mushroom porridge!

The oats were left on the work surface next to the mushrooms and sort of thought, if Heston can do snail porridge why not mushroom porridge!   At first I thought I was going mad but the more I thought about it the better I thought the idea, a little research and I came up with this recipe from The Food Medic


Serves: 1 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 5 minutes


·         40g of porridge oats

·         175-200ml of water or milk*

·         1 free range egg

·         handful of kale, washed

·         handful of mushrooms, sliced

·         1/2 leek, sliced

·         30g of feta (optional)

·         ½ teaspoon dried thyme

·         Pinch of salt and pepper

·         Splash of olive oil or 1/2 TBSP of butter


1.      Fry the mushrooms and the leek in olive oil or butter in a small frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2.     Place the oats and the milk or water in a pan over a medium heat. Add a tiny pinch of salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring to a steady simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent it from cooking too quickly.

3.     Reduce the heat and crack the egg into the oats, stirring until combined. Add the kale, mushrooms, leek, and thyme, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.  If you like your porridge runnier, simply add a splash more milk or water until you’ve got the consistency you like.

4.     Spoon the mixture into a bowl and crumble feta on top if using. Serve immediately.

Well I actually used half and half milk and water, cheddar instead of feta and I didn't have any Kale or anything to use instead, I still went ahead and gave it a whirl.

I'm not at all sure that it was a total success, indeed I don't think I will be repeating the exercise I felt it lacked piquancy and could have benefited from more contrast in texture, but I'm glad I tried.   I will be looking forward to a mushroom pasta tonight and leek risotto tomorrow. Maybe I'm missing some of the point and shouldn't really be enjoying my fast ~ after all it is meant to be sacrificial.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

I Believe; Week one

This is my promised Lent study on the Creed, the basic Christian statement of belief.   I originally wrote this as a group study for a discussion group, as this first part is very much an introduction it is also the longest. The general principle is to encourage discussion and contemplation of what we truly believe.

 1 Introduction
What is a Creed
During the first century the early church spread throughout the Roman world, as the Church grew the first leaders died out and the connection between believers and the first evangelists grew weaker, there was a practical need for local churches to have a basic statement of beliefs. As false teachers began to bring in strange new ideas, Christians needed to know "Just what is it that we believe?"
Some of these churches had a few books of the New Testament, perhaps some copies of Paul's letters or one of the four Gospels. But none of the churches had all the New Testament. They needed a standard to judge whether a teaching was truth, or heresy.
The early Christians also realized that new people didn't have to know everything before they could be baptized and accepted as believers. How much should they know and accept before being admitted into the church? This was another reason that early churches wanted a brief statement of what they believed to be most essential.
Churches in different cities and regions made their own lists, which had many points in common, since all the churches had traditions tracing back to the apostles in one way or another. The small differences were eventually eliminated as church leaders discussed these things with one another. They shared not only the scriptures they had, but also their statements of faith.
When Christianity became a legal religion in the fourth century, this process became easier. Churches throughout the empire agreed on which books should form the New Testament, and they agreed on several basic statements of faith.
Why the “Apostles Creed”
The Apostles Creed is probably the oldest creed in current regular usage, dating from at least the middle of the second century it forms the basis of the Nicene creed, developed at the Council of Nicenaea in AD 325.   It is a statement of the foundational believes of all Christians.   Being truly ecumenical it predates any separation of the Church into West and East or indeed any other denominations.   The tradition in the early church was that it was written by the apostles on the 10th day after Christ’s ascension, however it is more reasonable to consider that it was called "Apostles" not because the apostles themselves wrote it, but because the Creed was believed to be an accurate summary of what the apostles taught.   Whilst the true origins of this creed cannot be exactly known Irenaeus describes a creed at least very like the Apostles Creed that had been in regular use for some time around AD 200, and there is an early Latin version recorded in the writing of Tertulllian about the year 220.   The word Creed itself comes from the Latin Credo literally I Believe.
How was the Creed used
The Creed was useful in several ways:
  • The Creed was a public statement of faith, a standardized way in which new people could confess their faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The Creed anchored Christian faith to a tradition, to make it difficult for people or churches to be led astray by strange doctrines.
  • The Creed was a preaching and teaching tool, giving an outline for further discipleship.
  • The Creed was memorized through frequent repetition, which helped the many believers who could not read.
  • The Creed provided a doctrinal basis for different churches to accept one another, and to reject those who did not accept the basic truths.

The earliest church leaders also wrote short creeds, perhaps as baptism ceremonies. These eventually were recited by congregations in their worship services.   Just as we use the Apostles Creed to this day.

1.  Is it still relevant to modern churches to have a creed today?

2.  Why is it something we share with other denominations?

3.  Is it still important to memorize a creed?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Another opportunity to sell!

So today is Valentine's Day, the florist hasn't arrived yet, and my post has not been full of cards, actually the postie hasn't been yet, and may well not have to.

I am not expecting to receive any card, flowers chocolates or any of that stuff, I just get a little exasperated with the various media, news and social, all the adverts and stuff which put so much pressure on people to be part of a couple. I know that a lot of it is simply so they can sell more product, but none the less it does very much feel like those of us who are single are being excluded.

It does feel as though this is just another commercial opportunity to shift stock that nobody would buy any other time of year, Flowers in February, Chocolates, and of course naughty knickers ~ ahem sorry, I mean lingerie!

I will be going out tonight to see a friend, and I know that tonight is meant to be for romantic couples, for being all lovie and all that, but I also know that we will not be part of that whole couples thing ~ I suspect that now I will probably never again be part of a couple ~ oh well at least I am now me.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Decision made,

Today is Shrove Tuesday

I have made a decision

I am going to fast

I will be giving up meat for Lent! For me this will not be easy, it will be sacrificial and it will be challenging. I am quite sure I will still eat well, but I will have to think more about what I am eating and why I am not eating as normal, why I am choosing this form of self denial, and imposing this level of self control.   Because of this I will be following some traditional Shrove Tuesday practises, I will be feasting today, in order to get all the meat out of the kitchen ~ actually since I have about five meat meals in the freezer I think they can stay there, and I'll just finish up the bacon for lunch.

I will also be starting another series, a few years ago I put together a lent course on the Creed, each week I will post a part of this course, please feel free to discuss, share use or ignore as you choose. I am choosing to fast, I am choosing to share my faith, because Christ choose me, He choose self sacrifice in order to allow me access to the Father, that I could share in His holiness, He life and His inheritance ~ I suppose that not eating meat for a while is the least I can do.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Fast Forward

Gratuitous photo of Courtney Lawes
Given the title of this post, and the date I would excuse anyone for thinking that this might be about this afternoon's Rugby, specifically about the skills and fitness of some of the big forwards.   Certainly I am in awe of some of the modern players, players like Itoje, Lawes and Moriarty, all playing at Twickenham today, gone are the days of big strong men (Donkeys), who's sole job is to push in the scrums, jump in lineouts and win the ball for the clever boys (the Girls) to play with.   The game has changed a lot since my day, and I will be enjoying every moment of this weekends big games.

No; recently I have been thinking about Lent, what it means to me, and how I should be responding.

In quite a few previous years like many other Christians I have fasted by denying myself something I want to consume, often I have selected alcohol as the item to be given up.  It would be pointless to give up chocolate, or biscuits as this would be too easy, I like biscuits and chocolate, but to not have them for a few weeks would not be difficult, it would not represent any form of self denial, and therefore it would not be a sacrifice.   For me the point of the Lenten fast is to deepen the understanding of sacrifice, and through that to build up to the great sacrifice of Good Friday, and then the victory of Easter Sunday.   To me this means that any fast needs to be significant ~ it also needs to be achievable!

I add the last bit because quite frankly I'm not sure that I will be able to deny myself any alcohol for all of this coming Lent.   It is Ash Wednesday this week, the beginning of Lent, and during this period I have five concerts, four Pride events, one support group meeting and of course the rest of the Six Nations!   Quite frankly I'm not sure I can do it ~ maybe I should be looking to something I could manage without but that would still be a sacrifice.   Lying in bed this morning I was considering giving up meat for Lent.   I'm quite sure that my daughter would approve of this, I'm also quite sure that I could do it, and that it would represent some serious self denial.

Last year I ended up not making a Lenten fast, and I do know that it made Easter feel a lot less  significant, I know that it made this period of the year no different to any other.   As an incidental I also noticed that my seasonal weight loss came a lot later in the year!

Maybe I should be thinking about adopted self control as a permanent live style choice; maybe I should follow the advise of Alan Franks, the Vicar of Ambridge and give up complaining.

What I do know is that I need to join a Church, I can't carry on visiting a variety of local churches, I need to make some sort of commitment; and that, for now, will be my Lenten project, find the Church that I am meant to be part of, and get back into the habit of regular Sunday attendance.

Monday, 5 February 2018

My Office today

Well not actually today, I took these photos on Tuesday last week.

My main job was to make some corrections to this frame I had put up in the Autumn for a rambling rose. I had hoped that two up rights with wires spread between would do the job, but soon found that some bracing was required.   I think the final erection is visually quite satisfactory as well as practical.

While there I felt it only reasonable to do a bit of tidying up. This is the patch to the left of the frame in the photo above, clearing away the old ferns and dead growth reveals new fronds and shoots coming through ready for the spring.

Of course we don't have to wait for the spring, there is plenty of interest in the garden at all times of year, certainly at the moment a little investigation will always bring rewards!

This was the first week this year where I managed to work every day. By Friday I was totally exhausted. I had planed to go out and meet a friend but fell asleep on the sofa

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Feeling excited about a workshop!

I recently wrote here about some plans we were developing to an exciting new plan for Brass Banding in Croydon. I left it all a bit open but now I can reveal quite a bit more about what we are doing.

One of the Stanley Halls
The plan is to have an extended workshop for all comers. We will be running our workshop on the afternoon of the 3rd March, I am so pleased that I can now start telling everybody about it, we have just had the venue confirm, so now I can start serious work on the music we will be working on.  The Stanley Hall in Croydon have been around since Victorian times after being built and donated by local philanthropist and architect William Stanley.

They are a great local community asset, that has recently been taken back into community management, for the community.   I have played in the main theater on a number of occasions and even used to go to weight watchers in another room, but this will be a first for me, for the Band, and I suspect for the Stanley Halls.

My next project is to work out the program, there are a couple of pieces I would really like to work on, the problem is knowing what level to pitch the program at. I want the music to be challenging for everybody, musically satisfying, but not so difficult that people thinking of getting back into Brass Bands or who are less experienced will be put off.   I certainly want to include some music by Goff Richards (Stage Centre) and Eric Ball (Suite Gothique) I think we could do with a good contest march, and maybe something a little simpler by musically interesting like John Carr's Four Little Maids. I also hope to have something new ready by then as well.

We have created a Face Book event for this workshop, which can be seen here Please take a look, see if you fancy it and sign up.

This should be fun, challenging, and a whole new venture!