This weekend we were supposed to be running a Youth away day at Asheldham Centre, down on the Dengie. However, it was cancelled due to lack of numbers which has given us an unexpected Saturday to do nothing.
However, Saturdays doing nothing are not really possible with a toddler, so we have done some lovely things and had a splendid day! Let me tell you how it panned out - and it's not done yet!
Andy was Street Pastoring in Chelmsford last night and despite a not too busy night, didn't get in til 4.40am - so M and I kept quiet this morning, having a leisurely breakfast and watching Angelina while also ploughing through a few new library books and doing some drawing.
Andy stirred around 10.30am - just as M and I were about to go off out. I had found a new Garden Centre advertised in a local freebie magazine which had a farm shop and animals and a shabby chic style Christmas shop! It seemed like a nice cheap and lazy option for a beautiful autumn day and when Andy heard what we were doing, he decided to join us! We were delighted to make a great find, just 8miles away from us!
Growing Together doesn't seem to have a website but it is in Smythe's Green near Layer Marney, just west of Colchester. They have a great selection of plants and bulbs, a fabulous farm shop with local meat, fish and groceries as well as scrummy cakes which you can eat on site with a cuppa - always a winner! They also house a variety of animals - ducks, hens, pigs and all in all, it was a fab 2 hours! We love Barleylands, but it is expensive for how long it keeps M's attention and while M isn't even 3 yet, she is perfectly happy with viewing animals and getting her hands dirty here, rather than a purpose built entertainment venue for kids! Long may it last!
On the way back, we popped in to Oasis Christian bookshop in Tiptree, got a couple more Christmas pressies (I did well yesterday and am pretty confident I'll be shopped out by end November!) and then bought some chips from the chippy to bring home for lunch. Yummy - M declared 'this is my best lunch ever' - her father's daughter indeed! She didn't like the mushy peas tho!
I've chilled out with some chores at home this afternoon while M napped - including wrapping some parcels to send to friends with new babies and some gifts to go to the States in time for Christmas. I've also got ahead with the roast dinner for this evening, while Andy has headed out for a small but significant event in Maldon this afternoon.
Stephen Carter is licensed/installed as the new Rector of All Saints Maldon this afternoon and his arrival is the beginning of the transition for us into our new church and season. From tomorrow, Andy will be dividing his time between All Saints and CGC Maldon, getting to know Stephen and preparing for us to move fully as a family in January. In order for Andy to progress on the journey of discernment and selection for ordination, we need to be in an Anglican Church and we need to have a 'recommend' from the priest there! So welcome Stephen and family, and we look forward to getting to know you and pray God's blessing on you as you begin your time in Maldon. It is good to see, from his newsletter linked to above that young people and children are a priority for him...reassuring as parents and with our other hats on!
I'm grateful today for extra time - just to be and to think at what is a time of much change in our lives. M has been great company the last couple of days, her insightfulness into things we forget to or no longer notice is often a real awakening. It's crazy to think that in just over a month she will be 3, we have nearly been in Maldon for 4 years and I am now in the 4th academic year of my job. God has really been doing so much - settling us at the right time, enabling us to deal with many aspects of uncertainty that have been present, drawing amazing people into our lives and at the right time is now moving us into a new 'place' with a new worshipping community, but still in a place that we love and surrounded by people who love us. That is the crux of the church - it is the kingdom of God and it doesn't matter what building you are in, or who leads you or preaches to you or who you affiliate yourself with, it is the seeking of God and of his loving community that will make a difference to those around us.
I leave you with this quote from the brilliant and irrevent Archbishop Cranmer blog:
Being Anglican can be one of the most difficult Christian paths to follow: one often feels that one is neither one thing nor another; as was once observed, that one is somehow 'crucified between the two thieves’ of the Puritans and the Papists; suspended between doctrinal fanaticism and superstitious ritualism.