Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallow's Eve

Pumpkins were reduced at Waitrose this evening and we bought one for 62p. Here it is after some expert carving from me and Poppy...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Eating out

We went for a meal at the Rivergarden Chinese Restaurant this lunchtime. We looked around and thought that maybe there is enough seating to cater for 150 people at a time and that between 12.00 and 2.15pm the restaurant is filled to capacity. We estimated that people spend on average 45 minutes over their meal which means that 450 people eat during that time. Add another 150 who fall just outside those times and that means on a weekend lunchtime they cater for 600 people. With adults paying £5.99 for their meal (let's say there are 500 adults) and children of 10 and under charged slightly less, this means they are taking over £3000, probably closer to £3,500.

The taste of the food was quite frankly disappointing. The flavours have all been "dumbed down" to suit bland English palettes and the experience was less about the experience of taste and more about the art of cramming as much in to get your money's worth. This dining experience is becoming the new MacDonalds replacement: it's convenient, you know what to expect and there's something there that the kids will enjoy. It's just that little bit more upmarket than sitting down and chomping on a Big Mac, but only just. With the cattle market feel and the pile it high tasteless food, I think Maccy D's is a suitable comparison.

The one part of the all-I-can-eat Chinese I enjoyed was the Teppanyaki. Although probably more about giving a different slant to a well known cuisine, gathering raw ingredients and having it cooked in front of you in minutes is more about the food and gives the best buzz out of everything on offer.

I'm hoping that next time, we might try the Jun Shon (floating Chinese restaurant) where we might end up spending more, but feel like we're eating food that a Chinese person might actually eat.

Friday, October 28, 2005


My reason for studying is now all too clear and impressing itself on me. I have a new job which depends on me holding the qualification. This means I have until mid May to do four essays and complete my 11 competence folders. These list in detail the evidence needed to prove that the theory and skills needed to do the job are being used by me in my every day work. Providing the evidence in some cases is not hard (deciphering the jargon to actually uncover what is wanted IS hard!) Actually pulling all these bits of evidence together and tying it all together with the necessary bits of information is the tricky thing.
I agree with Sparkles that knuckling down to work is the hardest thing of all. Especially when there's blogging to be done... *sigh*

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Neopets is heavenly

helsalata got their Neopet at

This is my eldest pet BeastiRibs. He started life as a quiggle but has been through many transformations since then. I like him as a starry cybunny. On Neopets, you get to feed your pets, play games with them and buy them stuff.
helsalata got their Neopet at

This is Blue_Berry_Hopper and I have recently adopted him. By zapping him at the lab ray, he turned from a plain blue quiggle into a faerie quiggle. How very cute! ;-)
helsalata got their Neopet at

This is MonsterChops4Eva and this pet likes to read books. He used to be a lupe but is now a robot acara.
And last but not least is...
helsalata got their Neopet at

...Mudbush! He's another adopted pet and I can't remember what he started as but I quite like the fire poogle look so he might stay as he is.

More on Neopets later...

Monday, October 24, 2005

I can officially announce that I have a new job!

I went for the interview last week and it is still for Norfolk Youth and Community Services but it is for a different District and a higher level. But it is still part time and closer to home which is all good. I will be sad to leave my old District in many ways. I've been there for four years and found it a good place to learn the ropes and I've made some good friends along the way. In contrast however at Norwich District I will have a laptop and a camera phone. I'm sure I'll get along just fine! ;-)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Just impressive!

I was really impressed on Thursday night that one of my youth club regulars spotted a t-shirt and asked whether he could customised it. As his nick name is Owl, I suggested that he did his trademark picture as a design on the front. He did...

Sometimes it's great being a youth worker!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Johnathan Rice

I went to the Arts Centre last night to see Johnathan Rice (and no I don't mean Damien! ;-)) If you want to know more there's a good review on Joolian's blog.
His band were called Death Valley and they looked like the unlikeliest bunch of wierdos you could have in a band. There was, most impressively Farmer Turnip who was almost as broad as he was tall. He wore a furry trilby hat, a pinstripe jacket and had ruddy cheeks (due to a lifetime of outdoor activities no doubt) and a scraggy tuft of facial hair in the chin region of his face. Next was Eighties Woman on the bass, who looked like she had battled with anoerxia or maybe even a heavy drug addiction but she still knew how to dance. Finally was Jeff on the drums. Sure, he was balding but he gave those drums a real pounding. They really couldn't have been a real band could they? Surely JR just suggested down his Cornish local that he was considering doing a tour and wondered if the barman knew of any suitable musicians? "Why not ask Farmer Turnip? He may spend from dawn til dusk as a man of the land but when the night falls, he's a demon guitarist fit for any band!" Not only was Farmer Turnip in the pub that night but Eighties Woman and Jeff. The rest they say is history.

All joking aside they churned out an impressive performance, however unlikely they looked. Johnathan was a surprise. He was boyishly good looking with an Americanised Scottish lilt. He seemed a little nervous and yet the same time was quite commanding. I liked his dialogue. He was talented for sure but what made him more talented than the support artists? Or the band? Why did he warrant a gig, a record deal? During the support artists (Lisa Redford and Somebody Rose) I thought why did they want to be solo artists? The thing I don't like about solo artists is they can produce a really "thin" sound. Both were excellent guitarists and had great voices but they couldn't produce the depth of sound or atmosphere that a band can produce. The quality of the songs too seems a little thin, almost as if writing in conjunction with others automatically broadens a song. Is it conceit that makes a person believe they can or should persue a musical career on their own? Have they tried with others and found compromise difficult? I don't really know the answers. All I do know is that Johnathan Rice has something. He can pull it off as a solo artist but I was glad he had the sense to have the band there too. See him if you get the opportunity, just don't have a mobile phone conversation while you're in the audience!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I was tagged... Mark Tuma and the 5th line of my 25th blog was:

to participate in this exciting new game of internet egg hunting! All you

Ah! The heady days of easter egg hunting! I guess I'd better tag Joolian and Lou. Game on...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Not at all fine and dandy...

I learnt this evening that my very good friend Zak Carr died on Sunday as a result of a very serious biking accident. I worked with Zak at Wymondham Leisure Centre and that's where he met Bev who became his wife. He was always full of energy and a real zest for any task that caught his imagination. He was a world class sportsman and was completely focused almost to the point of obsession with training! I loved him becacuse he was like a brother-crazy, silly and bouncy like a puppy. I remember when he came to my house so that I could make Bev a huge Valentine's cake made from muffin mixture! He was a good friend...and I shall miss him.

Just the cutest!

Stella washes herself and then "forgets" to put her tongue back in. Here is the evidence. Pretty impressive picture taken with a humdrum camera phone.


Here I am at 5.42 am, unable to sleep. Been awake since 4am thinking about what I have to do. Believe me, there's lots to do! Sometimes getting up and coming on the computer helps me to feel sleepy again but I'm running out of time. If I go back to bed at 6, I'll only get an hours kip. Hey ho!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"New" Ways of Being With God

What goes around comes around they say. On Paul's site he has a very interesting piece about using a rosary as an aid to prayer: this is Paul's site and this is the guideline on praying through the rosary.

I am thinking that focusing less on church as worship to God and finding good habits like this to pick up on means that I can keep my sanity!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Time for some honesty...

Well this is what I was going to post the other day when I couldn't. I think the ideas are still in a state of not being very well thought through so bear with it.

I feel that church (my experience of it) isn't what worshipping God is all about. I know there are some inspired ways of worshipping God that are developing but I really don't have time (until I finish my course) to pursue them. I find giving up the majority of Sunday morning invasive and unhelpful. I do find going in the evening when Julian wants me to sing OK but this is usually in conjunction with having been in the morning, which in my head is the waste of a day. I am quite happy with regarding Sunday as a sacrifice for God (ie giving up things I'd rather do to do something I don't particularly want to do) which could be regarded as a form of worship. I don't grumble about it (apart form here but this is about being honest and sorting out the thoughts in my head). But the bottom line is it isn't inspiring me to know about, praise or appreciate God.

My problems are these:
The non-participative nature of a church service You turn up, sit on an uncomfortable chair, stand up when you're told, listen to a guy talk, chit chat at the end. What if when I'm welcomed at the beginning of the service with "We believe that Jesus Christ is the saviour of the world. Let's stand to worship him", and I want to say "Well hang on a minute?" And for some strange reason I have a growing dislike of having to sit or stand. Hmmm. I think also I have disagreed with things being preached recently and then there is no right of reply or clarification but more on that in a minute. I turn up, it's there in front of me, I go home. On occasion a song or a word will bring me close to God but not enough to justify the time I spend there or to carry on that relationship through the week.
The bible as the focus of a service This is something that I'm finding really hard to own up to so go easy on me but I am finding the bible less and less useful as a tool for understanding and worshipping God. Most of this is my own fault. I am reading lots as part of my course and I enjoy to read for pleasure so then I don't particularly want ot read the bible after that. I know that if I made the effort and made space in my day to read it, then it would become a habit and God would speak to me through it which would in turn encourage me to read it more. But actually I don't want to for the reasons I've stated above. Maybe this will change when I have finished the course but I doubt it. I am struggling with certain passages but that's Ok because if it were all laid out on a plate for me it would be too simplistic and wouldn't have enough colour and depth. Difficult passages in themselves aren't necessarily putting me off but I don't really want to read them. I guess it's laziness, not really liking the language, not really enjoying the content, not seeing the point, not having the time or making the time... This leads to:
The sermon Well sermons are usually based around a bible passage and that really isn't a very good place to start for me where I am at the moment. Sometimes the preacher will relate the passage to modern life which is fine. If they are a good preacher then they will have good communication and presentation skills and I suppose whatever they chose to talk about would hold my interest for a certain amount of time. SO is it that I want to listen to someone charismatic (in the secular sense) who will hold my attention about any topic or is it that I specifically want to listen about Paul's 2nd letter to the believers at Corinth? And because services can be so formulaic, we have to have this theme expounded for 20 minutes in order to get our money's worth. I sometimes sit there and think "You made that point at the beginning and you haven't developed it any further. WHy am I still sitting here listening to you?" And this isn't just poor preaching, it's conforming to a tradition. We have 20 minutes to fill: the older congregation like it because it makes them feel secure that they are getting "meaty" teaching, it's just short enough so that the MTV generation will be able to maintain concentration. Any less and the preacher is a little inexperienced and not really up to scratch. Any more and the preacher is just a little too over zealous which we can't have as well.
And then we have the content. Sometimes this is relevant to my life, sometimes I am told a story and how it was relevant in the past, sometimes I am told what the original Greek word was that was used. Fascinating. Fine. But necessary? This is what I'm exploring.
Stand up, sit down song sandwiches I guess this is an issue I have with my church in particular but as I am trying to explain my issues I guess this needs to be in there. Some people have an issue with songs anyway. I am fortunately not one of these people. I find I worship God and can focus on His nature by singing my worship to Him. A single song in isolation is fine. It can mean so much but when we have a yoyo effect of song, words spoke at us, song, amusing "kids" slot, song so kids can go out, sitting down song because it's quieter, prayers, song, preach, song to end, it just becomes a sandwich filler. Songs, I could say more about sung worship but I think this is enough to tell you about my beef with sung worship in services.
Being with people who I don't like, can't relate too and don't include in my life This is a double edged thing! I quite like being in a community with a wide difference in people attending but do I like that for the wrong reasons? I like it because then I can home in on people who I feel comfortable with, people who have similar life experiences as me, people who I can relate too. I haven't discovered yet if this is wrong but I am made to feel as though I should be talking to that man over there. I should be making him feel welcome. I should find out and remember his name. I should know that he has suffered a bereavement and offer him lasting comfort and support. I should invite him to my home and entertain him. I should feel a warm glow of reaching out to someone and showing them the love of Jesus and have that love return to me by benefitting from his wisdom, his offer to babysit and new friendhip from an unexpected source. BUT, I'm shallow. I don't want to talk to him. He scares me. He smells. I don't know what to say to him about his sad loss. There are a million resons and excuses I could make. I know I should talk to him but I don't. I also think that being a friend and maintaining meaningful contact with the friends I have is difficult enough. If I add more people to the "list" of people that I feel guilty about never contacting, what sort of friend am I?
PrayerI find praying to order quite difficult. I guess we all do. In church my mind wanders.
The End of the Service This varies. I often have a series of people I "need" to talk to. I guess this is to avoid having to phone them later. As I rush by this smelly old man or that new lady there I can shut them out resolutely because I know I "have to speak to X". I reach X but they are deep in conversation about not really anything that sounds of any importance. I smile as people pass by, just avoiding enough eye contact that makes them feel they have to stop and chat to me.
Sometimes I have no one I should be speaking to so I either wait to speak to someone who likes my company, make polite conversation with someone sitting nearby or focus on a few people I "should" go and chat too. Sometimes new people or just "new to me" people.
I know this is meant to be hard. In some respects, I enjoy it. But in other respects, when you don't want to be there anyway, this nicely tops off a crappy morning.

Anyway, that's probably enough...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I tried to blog yesterday, honest!

For some reason I couldn't. But I no longer want to discuss what I would have discussed yesterday which is a shame because it was mighty fine! Never mind. I need to blog because it is October and I haven't got an entry for October, so here we are> I will talk about Lost.

Lost is gripping! I started off a little sceptically as it was like a serialised disaster movie but it has developed really well into a genre breaking series. It's thriller, survival and character study all rolled into one. We are drip fed a little information at a time about the characters lives, leaving you wanting more.

Any other fans out there?