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Showing posts from 2015

'Fear not,' said the Angel...

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It was a beautiful night with a New Moon in South Tawton, Devon, England. And the world was about to change forever…


An angel stood outside the magnificent 15th century granite and thatch, Church House, which has been at the heart of the South Tawton community for more than 500 years.
Okay, she was there a bit earlier than the moon because it's still daylight, but that was a lovely picture to start off with. And, anyway, she was deep in prayer before our story started, wondering exactly what words to use when she spoke to a young lady later that evening. Did you know that the most common phrase in the Bible is 'fear not?' There are 365 mentions of the phrase — one for every day of the year. So, the angel thought to herself, 'let's go with the flow. "Fear not" is as good as it gets.'

Now this was not just any old angel, it was the Archangel Gabriel, the messenger between God and humanity. Wisely, she went up the steps so she could be seen properly and…

"About as Much Use as a Chocolate Teapot" — Exeter Christmas Market no. 2

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Being a chocoholic, I've never quite understood that phrase. It might not do as a teapot but it's still chocolate and that's always useful.

Of course, it's the time of year for chocolate Santas, snowmen and reindeer — although the latter look rather worryingly like ear-amputated leftover chocolate bunny rabbits at Easter with different wrapping. We're fairly used to chocolate in odd shapes and sizes by now.

But a chocolate monkey wrench? A chocolate paintbrush? A chocolate slice of mousetrap cheese? A chocolate salami? Why? Why? Why?

I don't know why, but I know this stall from The Amazing Chocolate Workshop  stopped me in my tracks at Exeter Christmas market. It was almost impossible to believe that they were selling chocolate. Luckily, one of them gave me a morsel to prove it and it was delicious chocolate. Gluten-free, 65% delicious chocolate.

Oh, and if you look carefully at the picture above, you'll see they actually do sell chocolate teapots. Dammit,…

Exeter Christmas Market (1)

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I only went into Exeter to get a late Advent calendar and some Christmas cards from the cathedral. Shopping per se wasn't on my mind but hanging out in St. Peter's is one of my favourite pastimes and any excuse will do. I've always loved their Christmas cards.

Not this year, however. Three really dull designs and not one Advent calendar left by 3rd December. But there was St. Gabriel's chapel to sit and pray in, as well as the lovely lady chapel and no visit to the cathedral is ever other than a delight.

Even better, a school choir was rehearsing I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day which, oddly, I'd never heard before and which took my breath away. You can listen to it here. Particularly apposite with the government's decision to bomb Syria.

And, all around the Cathedral, Exeter's Christmas Market glittered and assailed my senses. That was something else I'd not come across before, simply because we've only been here for three years and I managed to…

Weirdest — and Sweetest — Car Park Ever.

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There was a time, and not so long ago either, when, if you were a vegan, you couldn't have the treats that the rest of us take for granted. Maybe that's what made so many vegans so cross with the rest of the world?

It's always interested me why those who care so much for the planet and its creatures are often willing to psychologically attack humans who don't share their beliefs. Obviously, they believe that we are all wrong but there are good ways and means of educating us and blaming and shaming isn't one of them.

I once had a former student tell me I was the personification of evil and she was recycling all my books because she had found out that I ate meat. She added that she would have burnt them but she was a good woman and wasn't going to add that pollution to the planet.

She may well have been a good woman although I'm always suspicious of those who actually tell me that, just as I'm suspicious of those who say 'I'm coming from the hear…

Sedona 2015. No. 2. Horsin' Around on the Trail Ride

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The first thing I want to do every time I go to the States is go riding. There's something really special about riding Western-style that suits me. When I lived in Montana I had a friend who let me exercise his quarter horses anytime I wanted… Ah, bliss.

I've ridden regularly since I was nine years old so, when we headed for Sedona, I wanted to go riding but I didn't want just to trail along nose-to-tail on a bored horse with more than a dozen other people who'd rarely ridden before.

Here, I'd better specify for American readers that I'm referring to what you call 'horse-back riding.' Just 'riding' doesn't cut it over there and for some reason, even with the 'horse' bit added, you guys want to know which part of the horse you need to get onto. But I digress.

I went onto Trip Advisor's Sedona section and asked if anyone knew of anywhere which could help and got a bit of a flea in my ear from one contributor who wanted to know wha…

Sedona 2015. no.1 Sedona itself.

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I was going to start by telling you how we got here but that would be daft. What you most want is to see lovely pictures and read fun stuff. So, the story of our November 2015 trip to Sedona simply has to begin with those.

I'll sneak the 'Getting There' blog in second or third having, hopefully, lured you in with the sheer beauty of the place.

VisitSedona.com waxes lyrical about the area in a way that will make the average undemonstrative Brit (my husband) reach for the vomit bucket. It says, 'Sedona exists at an impossible intersection of soul-nourishing wilderness and pampered luxury … start with scenery that makes your heart leap. Sedona nestles among a geological wonderland. Multi-hued formations jut upwards from the high desert floor, creating a vivid, mesmerising setting that changes hourly with the light.'

The annoying thing is that (apart from the pampered luxury bit, which depends entirely where you are staying) they are right. It's bloody beautiful to…

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

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A couple of years ago I took a comedy course with a company called Mirth Control in Bath. It was the
best of times and the worst of times because I was learning the art of comedy with some fabulous people while awaiting a diagnosis on the life-enhancing dis-ease.

The guy who runs Mirth Control is called Geoff Whiting. He's both a comedian and a comedy agent and he puts out a weekly form on the internet for any comedian telling them what gigs he's offering at what price, when and where. That's any comedian — not just comedians for whom Mirth Control is the agent.

These gigs vary from open mic (no fee) to headlining (varying amounts according to what the market will bear) and they also include car shares wherever possible — a car share for an aspiring comedian is very important if we are to get to as many gigs as we want to while we learn the craft. Comedians travel up and down and across the UK all the time chasing their comedic destiny.

Geoff also offers gigs abroad in Eu…

Crucifixion.

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Many years ago, my friend Rachel who's a Greek/Theology scholar amongst other things (including keeping bees which I think I admire even more) said this:

"It's not the crucifixion and the suffering that are the key, it's the death. Once you agree to die then resurrection is a done deal."

As she has a Virgo moon, she'll probably correct the sentence as I'm paraphrasing :-) but can you get the point?

I always got it intellectually but this time (with a few hiccups and still some moments of backsliding) I'm beginning to get it in my soul.

It's been somewhat of a journey because there's so much hanging on the cross to let go of, and I've just had a brilliant session with my friend and healer, Deb Rowley, which has helped, yet again. If you don't know Deb and need some help, find her here. She is the real deal.

We all get crucified — whether it's divorce, bereavement, loss of job or a health crisis or something completely different. So…

Loving The Little Life

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I've struggled a little with this entry because it's about a time when I really was down, both emotionally and physically. I could tell you loads of stuff about the negative effects of chemo on my body; I could relate more stories of nurses and the hospital which might not be entirely positive … but I simply didn't want to so I avoided writing.

And it's a relief to realise that's okay. I thought I had a kind of duty to plough through the whole sorry story but I don't. If I have any duty at all it is to enjoy today.

Today, Lion the beagles and I went to Scorhill Stone Circle on Dartmoor. It was the first time I'd been there since September and it was one of my dreams once I got better and could walk again. The picture at the top shows Biggle and me walking in the autumn of 2013 near the stone circle and the second picture was taken today, in virtually the same place, looking in a different direction, on my return to this wonderful part of Dartmoor.

I manage…

Creating What We Fear

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The Theory of Absolutely Everything is that we are not only connected to God (whatever our perception of God may be) but we also are God. That's the whole message of mystical Christianity — that Jesus came to show us who we are not who he was, exclusively.

So that makes us creators. And the oft-quoted Law of Attraction tries to make that clear.

But what often isn't clear is how our underlying fears; our inner demons — the ones we chew over or return to repeatedly — are creating too.

And together with that is the conditioning we learnt in childhood of what we deserved and what we didn't and all the pain that we may have held in from those days in either to support our parents or through fear of their reactions. All those are creators too.

I only told my mother a few weeks ago about some bad times I had at school. She had no idea as I'd never told her. I didn't tell because she was unwell and unhappy when I was young and I didn't feel I could burden her. So I to…

Love and Support.

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It's important to write that I'm okay at the moment — in fact I'm waiting to hear if I'm in remission or not. The dis-ease has retreated massively, if it hasn't gone completely, so, apart from the incredible journey of my body repairing itself after being systematically poisoned for six months, all is well. This blog is currently covering what happened towards the end of last year.

You may have noticed that there's been very little mention of my family — and very little about my friends. That's because, as Aslan said, 'I tell no one any story but his own' and revealing stuff about people I care about without their permission is off limits really. I do have a family and friends, honest!

What I will say about my family is that despite my 'weirdness' in their eyes (you should have heard the deafening silence round the lunch table when I told them I was being ordained!), they were totally supportive of my 'weird' decisions all along. An…

On God

Would a loving parent ever give a child a story to read that didn't have a wonderfully happy ending? No. Never. But they might add, "Whatever you do, don't stop reading at the scary parts!"
Mike Dooley, Notes from the Universe.

Grace in Unexpected Places.

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It was a strange sensation lying in hospital with lungs full of fluid and, never having spent a night in hospital before in my life —let alone in the emergency unit — seeing for the very first time what life 'inside' was like. I had no idea how it would be but the first night was pretty surreal. I couldn't breathe without oxygen. I couldn't lie down because then I really, really couldn't breathe and I couldn't sleep sitting up. Some people can sleep on aeroplanes and trains but I'm not one of them. All night there were new admissions going on and other people, far sicker than I were crying out with pain. I prayed for us all and felt a total hypocrite because I didn't know where God was any more.

Nothing I'd believed to be true had turned out to be so. Nothing. I was out of options. Even out of faith. Where was that loving God that I'd felt was beside me during all my comedy and my happy life? The one who had supported me through all my inner ex…

Down into the Dark Days.

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After Edinburgh, I was on a roll. I felt really happy and confident and after two years of eating astonishingly healthy food, healing, counselling, homeopathy, journeying, Shamanistic work etc. etc. I was feeling on top form. In fact three of my therapists were entirely confident that the root cause of the lymphoma had gone and it was only a matter of time before my body reflected that.

I had another VEGA test on my immune system in September and it was still doing incredibly well. Cathy, the tester, said, 'all the anger has gone from your eyes,' which was another lovely sign.

So I was happy. I thoroughly enjoyed doing an hour's comedy for Naked Dragon in Chertsey and did a pretty stonkingly-good talk at the Meta-Health conference in Birmingham about the dis-ease and what I'd learnt from it. And driving up to Brum from Devon, I asked God to tell me just how well I was … and a car pulled out in front of me with the registration number MW 999 WEL.

Being so confident and…

The Book of Job

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I haven't posted about the life-enhancing dis-ease for a very long time now. More than six months in
fact. Wow. I've posted a lot about life and travel but it's all been stuff from the past, which I enjoyed doing very much.
And, to be honest, I've been more concerned about getting back to writing for a living.
But a friend recently nudged me about writing about dis-ease again and now I'm stronger, I think that maybe I will.
You see, dear reader, it's been a pretty tough six months. And no, that hasn't been reflected on my Facebook page because I do still believe that I want to speak only of that which is good in my life — because where you focus is where your energy is. My very dearest friends have all known what has been going on but when it comes to getting down and dirty in the really gritty stuff, I'm very Scorpio. I'll tell you how I survived it, what I learnt from it and the deep joys I found even in the very worst of it, but I won't spl…

The second worst chat-up line in the world.

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We didn't do a lot in Cooktown while we waited for the tyres to be shipped up to us from Cairns
because back in 1989 there wasn't a lot to do. In Cairns, they had described the people of Cooktown as 'ornery' which didn't mean awkward but seemed to mean, hem, parochial and with rather closely-related families. I have no evidence of that being true at all.
At the mouth of the Endeavour River, it was the gateway to Australia's gold-mining region and now it's thriving with a bitumen road from Cairns but, when we were there, the road was rough and the greatest prosperity seemed to come from the shrimp boats.

It's a tropical town and the hostel where we stayed had its fair share of giant cockroaches and cane toads so we spent much of the time resting and reading in the local pub where we ate crocodile (which tasted like slightly tough fishy chicken) and kangaroo (which tasted like slightly rabbity chicken).  To our great surprise, after 24 hours, they starte…

Cape Tribulation

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Sarah and Pete arrived in Cairns the next day with a sturdy 4x4 to take us north into the Daintree National Forest, Cape Tribulation and beyond to Cooktown. The name of the Cape is, perhaps, a suitable warning. It's where Captain Cook's ship, Endeavour, hit the reef and, as he said, 'the start of all their troubles' (mostly sickness from there on).
Australia is full of things that really, really want to attack you and quite frequently kill you. There are the legendary spiders for a start — the funnel-web, the redback, the mouse spider, fiddlebacks, tarantulas and even the trapdoor spider whose bite can give you lethargy and nausea if nothing worse.
There are taipan snakes, brown snakes, the, the box jelly-fish (those will kill you, soon as look at you at certain times of year), death adders, cone shells, the blue-ringed octopus and sundry other fearsome beasts.  The sand flies on the beaches aren't much fun either.
And that's not even mentioning the saltwater …