Monday, 30 May 2016

This works for me, but everyone to their own taste!

An interesting combination of flavours, but not a good mixture for Liz.
Now the cheese on the left is really worth trying. Vraiment excellent! And the pate de Breton also tastes very good indeed.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

The removal of trees to the left of the Fielders Ground Cricket Pavilion in Cromer Road, Hornchuch, looks like an act of vandalism to some local residents. A beautiful view has been destroyed, perhaps forever. And what have we in its place? An eyesore, with an ugly new wall and a car park under construction.

Has this splendid view gone for ever? It seems so, sadly.
 This photograph was taken in May 2012.

This cluster of trees, on the left, once graced Fielders.
These photographs were taken on 11 July 2010.

And what do we have today, in the name of "development"? Paved by good intentions, no doubt, plenty of good intentions. And which path is paved by good intentions? I do so miss the lovely trees and bushes!

The Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi, resonates. A paradise has been paved and a parking lot is now under construction. The trees have gone, but they won't be in a tree museum!

It is a beautiful morning. The birdsong is uplifting. The verdure around Fielders gladdens the heart, but the new development does not.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

O the magnificence of May, please enjoy my photo essay

May is a magnificent month, my favourite by far. We have two Bank Holidays in May and so much more to be thankful for.

All taken today, on this lovely morning, Tuesday 17 May.

Rejoicing in the beauty of May, magnificent Spring weather this morning.

O what a beautiful morning, O what a beautiful day. As I hear the birds singing merrily and look out on my garden with the lovely fruit trees, I rejoice in the magnificence of May and the beauty of this day.

Thank you Mum, born in 1918, for bringing me into this world at such a lovely time of year...when the days are long, often warm, bright and sunny. Mum had a December birthday and she missed out with Christmas being so near, and money was tight after WW1. There were times when I had long evenings, light and bright, to enjoy my birthday presents and play out in the warm weather with my toys. Happy memories and a very happy childhood, despite serious illness and heart surgery. I rejoice in the NHS and the care of consultants, doctors, nurses and hospital staff who helped me through the valley of the shadow of death. Sir Thomas Holmes Sellars did a great job. It was a shame about the suturing of his juniors, who did not do such a great job. The great man apologized to my mother for the poor standard of suturing, which left me with 64 ugly stitches. Providence kept me alive. I would not have survived in many countries.

I intend to enjoy this special day. It is so lovely outside. I'm going out now to walk in the nearby wood. Hallelujah!

Monday, 16 May 2016

Reflections on the Baptist Assembly 2016, Oxford

My wife was the main delegate for our church. It was her first time at a Baptist Assembly, though she has attended the Essex and now the Eastern Baptist Association events.

The arrangements and Assembly registration seemed to be well planned. The car parking at the Park and Ride and the special buses to the King's Centre went very smoothly. Oxford is a beautiful city, the City of Dreaming Spires, but we drove through the ugly industrial estate to our venue, which was once a factory complex. It is modern, clean and well cared for. The facilities are good, though the air conditioning (needed at this time of year) was unsatisfactory. The meeting hall/open assembly (Cotswold Hall) area was stuffy and unpleasant. It was a joy to get into the air conditioned conference centre, where the musicians greeted us with loud songs. The saxophonist, flute and piccolo player in the music group was very talented. He was playing the soprano sax skilfully.  Very impressive indeed. He played the tenor sax later, and it was great. The balance between the keyboard and the singers did not seem right from where we were sitting and sometimes the sound system did not perform too well. The same could be said about the right overhead screen. I wondered whether or not this venue was big enough to accommodate everyone. There were clearly not enough seats for the final session. The air conditioning seemed to be turned off for the afternoon sessions and people with breathing difficulties struggled. Fortunately fresh air was near, by the bike parking area and small yard.

The delegate packs were put together with care and considerable thought. The project leader and team should be congratulated on what they achieved and the successful running of the programmes. Well done!

The guest/keynote speaker was the Reverend Didi Oprenova, Minister of Sofia Baptist Church, Bulgaria, and Vice-President of the World Baptist Alliance. It is always challenging and encouraging to hear about Christians and ministries in times when and places where persecution and political pressures have been experienced and overcome. Inspiring One Another was the theme, as Baptists Together exists to grow healthy churches in relationship for God's mission. Yes, we are on a mission from and for God.

Reverend Rupert Lazar was welcomed as the new President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. He has presence and seems to have a winsome personality that will help him in his year of office. May the Lord continue to equip, empower and encourage him in all his efforts, endeavours and enterprises.

Baptists should be genuinely pleased, some would say proud, of their missionary history and culture.
The Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) strategy for 2016-2020 looks positive and well planned. The future is uncertain, they do things differently there, but one can sense tremendous hope and commitment so that there will be significant achievements, success and sharing the Gospel of salvation, full salvation, in Christ Jesus, D.V.

Usually I include photographs of my visits to the Baptist Assemblies, but this year I kept to the no photography policy. I sympathize with those who voted against this policy with their fingers on cameras, smart phones and other devices, to record digitally those who were commissioned and fully accredited.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

People may not wish to hear this but UK lives are at risk

There are illegal entrants to the UK who are smuggled into this country and they become involved in criminal activity. Some manage to get here with false documentation and fake identities. Immigration officers are concerned that some serious international gangsters, terrorists, organized crime bosses and crime syndicate foot soldiers are gaining entry into the UK. We should be worried. Because some of these undesirable immigrants end up in our prisons. Fact. I should know because of my former employment.

The cost of looking after these criminals in category A prison accommodation is huge. They are not all immigrants, you may say, because some of them are linked to home grown criminal elements. One day, and I pray it is not soon, one such motivated group will cause havoc again. It has been close to happening over the past decade, and we should be grateful to God that disasters have been averted by alert and active agents who are able to monitor terrorists and prevent destruction.

The naive and stupid call to bring all those in the "Calais Jungle" and all who seek sanctuary here quickly without adequate, necessary and thorough security checks, which would put UK lives at risk.

Now the immigration services and those dealing with asylum applications are under enormous pressure. Over 100 asylum applications a day are allegedly coming in to the Home Office. I intend to look into this matter.

I have heard Baptists complaining about the bureaucracy and the delays, and some of these asylum seekers and "overstayers" sharing their problems. But they must remember that they are or would be guests in a country that believes in law and due process. Unfortunately illegal entrants do not, and some are prepared to get involved in activities that put UK lives at risk.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

All I want is the truth...about Nigerian corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari is right to say that he is embarrassed by Prime Minister David Cameron's comments about fantastically corrupt Nigeria. The corruption in Nigeria is embarrassing. It is well known, well documented, well developed and well established. Nigerians who travel throughout their country tell me about it. Take a good look at the independent corruption index. Go to Nigeria and experience the very creative and clever ways that officials, police and merchants use to supplement their income. Bribes, cash to get things moving and dodgy deals are part and parcel of everyday life. Corruption in high places, in the health service and in church ministries is sadly making the people suffer.

And the President has now faced facts admitting that Nigeria is corrupt.  Perhaps certain wealthy Christian ministers living in London will return to their Nigerian homeland where they are desperately needed. Perhaps some of their money will get back to Nigeria. It is certainly needed in the ante natal and gynaecological clinics. Too many premature babies are dying in Nigeria.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Kemi Snow Castle and Hotel in March 2016: Wow!

Kemi Snow Castle was amazing. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life to see such beauty, artistic skill in snow and ice. If you get the chance then go there, but what I saw in March is gone for ever. It has melted away. But the photographs, the memories, the precious moments remain with me. I am so very glad I went to Kemi, North Finland, in March 2016. It was worth every penny. It was an immense pleasure to visit the beautiful Kemi Snow Castle. It had the wow factor for sure! You have to see it to believe it. The photographs do not do it justice at all.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Peace in Aleppo, Syria?

The peace talks offer some hope, but words are cheap and the suffering continues. Air strikes hit hospitals, and corrupt politicians look the other way; some pass by on the other side. They don't want to get involved. They talk about peace and security, as will certain people in the last days.

Peace may come to parts of Aleppo, but it is a sad peace. It is the peace of the graveyard where the dead rest and strive no more. In a sense the Assad regime and ISIS/Daesh are bringing people nearer to God. They are murdering the innocent and acting as merchants of death and destruction. In Aleppo the voice of truth has been silenced. We have the silence of the grave.


River Stour