I'm Kristen and I'm living in Crawley, Sussex (hoping to return to my beloved Brighton 'n' Hove when my ME/CFS allows). I drink a lot of tea, ride a lot of buses, go in a lot of charity shops, draw, sew and knit (and attempt to crochet), take a lot of photos, spend a lot of time sleeping, read a lot of history books and follow Jesus Christ. <3
Mum and I were in Birmingham in June 2005 to go to the ballet. While we were out shopping in the city centre, I spotted this gorgeous couple walking along with arms entined behind them. They stopped to look in a shop window, which allowed me time enough to get a close-up, then carried on up the road...
My first Spring Harvest - quite an experience. Am still exhausted! Being an evening person, I didn't make it to any of the morning 'Big Start' worship at the Big Top, or any of the morning teaching/debate. I tended to rise later, watch the Big Start on the chalet telly then spend the morning wandering round the exhibition stalls in the Skyline, or out in Minehead. I took in a few afternoon seminars, and loved the evening celebrations in the Big Top - especially on the Sunday - taking communion with thousands of people was a very moving experience.
* 'Discovering' Mark Greene of the LICC (London Institute for Contemporary Christianity) - I already get the LICC's daily emails, which are usually really interesting - but I hadn't heard of him. I went to one of his seminars (on integrity and evangelism in the workplace), which was great, and really enjoyed the talk he gave at one of the evening celebrations. He's intelligent, funny and speaks in a language I can understand - and makes realistic suggestions for ministry and evangelism. Hurrah! (See Amazon: Thank God It's Monday by Mark Greene)
* The worship songs led by Graham Kendrick - including some new ones I grew to love.
* Going to see Adrian Plass ("Evangelist: Someone who has only had problems in the past.")
* Spotting Daniel Bedingfield in the wings of the Big Top just before Steve Chalke announced him and telling my friend (who hearts Daniel), who got terribly excited and tried climbing over the seats. (She later received a text from her bemused husband, enquiring, "So, how was David Bedington?") Daniel was there to help launch the Stop The Traffik campaign against human trafficking, which has been planned to culminate on the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. He also led us in singing Refiner's Fire (Purify My Heart).
Spring Harvest was a very emotional experience. It was bound to be anyway, but on Friday morning one of the girls in my church's group was taken ill and died - a fatal attack of sickle cell anaemia. She was only twelve. It's hard for us to understand why this had to happen but we know it was always part of God's plan.
Her funeral this morning was wonderful - sad but a celebration too, of her life here and of her new life. We heard how much she loved to be prayed for when she was ill, and to sing and dance in worship when she was well - and about how much fun she would be having now, dancing and singing in worship in Heaven. That's something for any Christian to look forward to.
So, am off to Minehead tomorrow to pop my Spring Harvest cherry. I have no idea what to expect really. Lots of chalets, lots of Christians and some crazy golf. And lots of seminars? I don't know... I have this silly idea it might be a bit too much like school - daft - I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience in all kinds of ways.
Our group organiser has emphasised that it isn't a competition to see how many seminars you can attend - and I fully intend to give the funfair my attention, eat chips on the beach and drink the occasional glass of red wine... it IS a holiday, after all!
Am sharing a chalet with a lovely bunch of lasses and am part of a group of about thirty from my church, some of of whom I know well and some not so well, and I expect we'll make a few new friends too.
I've already had my instructions from my (atheist) surrogate big bruv, Uncle Meat: "Remember to keep your eyes peeled for dishy blokes!"...
Tomorrow I'm heading up to Manchester, which I've not been back to in seven years. My dad's from Manchester and I was at uni there. I hadn't planned to spend much time with my dad's family - I didn't know them very well - but when I became desperately homesick, my auntie and uncle swung into action.
They'd come and pick me up any time I was feeling rotten, and take me to theirs and feed me, do my washing, let me use their phone, lend me stuff for my house - in short, they were surrogate parents to me while my own parents were 250 miles (and seven hours on a coach) away.
When I graduated, I went home, but after a year of mindnumbing tedium and bad jobs, I decided I'd take a chance on a life in Manchester... and ended up living with my aunt and uncle for nine months, until it became apparent (ie I found myself working in a callcentre) that things were not meant to be and I packed my bags and moved back down South to Brighton.
It's going to be so strange going back. A lot will have changed. The IRA bombwent off just at the end of my second year and the rebuilding of the bombed area went on long after I'd left.
I want to spend lots of time seeing my folks of course, but I hope I get the chance to take myself off on the bus so I can explore some of my old haunts. I'm quite a nostalgic sod anyway, and the time I spent in Salford / Manchester was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster... chronic homesickness, blossoming friendships, unrequited love, creative frustration (and occasionally creative abandon), and being toughened up and exhilarated by city life in equal measure.
Am back from a few days in Galway. My cousin's lived out there for a few years now, tempted across the Irish Sea by a smiling Irishman with ginger curls, a big guitar collection and an even bigger heart. They got married and had a little strawberry blonde baby, who is now 10 months old.
Galway City is lovely, if you ignore the obligatory depressing shopping mall. Leave that behind and explore the dozens of little independent shops, cafes and pubs closer to the waterfront. That part of town reminds me of the Lanes in Brighton, so I felt right at home. Across the Bay from there you can see The Claddagh (where the rings originate).
Baby wasn't well, so while she's normally very happy and independent, she was very clingy and wouldn't let her mum out of her sight, so our gadding about was somewhat curtailed. Still had a good time - lunch in Moycullen on the way out to Connemara to gaze in awe at fog shrouded mountains and boulder-strewn moors - via Oughterard, where the week before my cousin's wedding my mum had to be rescued from a cafe loo...
Have been meaning to write this post for months. In August I went to stay with my best friend from school. She now lives in the Medway area of Kent, and drove me out to Dungeness, to visit the cottage where the late artist and filmaker Derek Jarman spent his last years, and created an unusual garden full of found objects. I'd wanted to go for years - since getting hold of the book, Derek Jarman's Garden.
There was a wonderful surprise waiting for me a couple of doors down from Prospect Cottage - another garden full of found object assemblages, which I became really engrossed in and ending up loving even more than the garden I'd come to see (no disrespect, Mr J). I took loads of photos of both gardens and after I'd got them loaded onto Flickr I was contacted by another user, who told me that the garden was his father's - an artist called Brian Yale - and pointed me in the direction of more of his dad's artwork - I love it when stuff like that happens!
By the way, avoid the "legendary" Pilot pub for lunch - I knew chips could be disappointing, but hadn't realised they could ever be revolting. Ours tasted of stale cooking oil and we could taste them for the rest of the day... yeeuk.
Trip to Southampton to see the Gorgeous Blonde. She had to get her usual fix at Shakeaway - Yule Log flavour, wouldya believe?!
Sadly, the usual crowd of nu-metal kids usually to be found hanging out in the Bargate Centre were nowhere to be seen. Possibly at home washing their Korn hoodies. Having at least ten years on these kids, I have a little chortle to myself. I don't know why - when I was their age, me and my mates were suffering from the effects of grunge - all flowery skirts and big cardigans. What they now have in common with us then is Nirvana. These kids wear a LOT of Nirvana T-shirts. Sometimes I have to resist the temptation to go up to them and point out that they were about 8 years old when Kurt Cobain shot himself and why don't they let us grieve in private?! Their dress seems ugly at first - flares which Bez would find excessively wide, assorted ironmongery, quantities of eyeliner which Robert Smith would flinch from. But a lot of it is really beautiful. I was talking to a shop assistant in one of the North Laine shops in Brighton a few weeks ago, and kept being distracted by her hair and make-up. Pink spikes of hair interspersed with cute hairslides, electric blue eyebrows and glittery red eyeliner. Gorgeous.