Monday, 28 March 2011

The price of tea.

Saturday I attended a conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster. Walking past the lines of police to get to and from Charing Cross station was most of what I saw of the demonstration. Although by the time I walked back through Trafalgar Square, there was a strange atmosphere brewing, people standing around waiting to see what would happen next. Seeing so many police, there were 4500 on duty in Central London, I had a number of questions. Who is paying for all this? Are there any police on duty in the rest of the capital? Where do they (the police) live? This is important because they are after all normal human beings and yet when you see this fluorescent clad mass guarding the famous buildings in Whitehall and Parliament Square (and seemingly most buildings in Central London) they felt like a different type of human, from a different planet!. They didn't feel like neighbours or part of families. It was reassuring that when I did speak to one of 'them' she spoke English and was very helpful and friendly. That was a relief! The conference was called 'Everything' and was a great day. I do need to report (see previous blog) that it did not have any sport so it could be called 'everything minus sport'. Seriously the day was very encouraging, I felt reassured that I am playing a small but important part in being an agent of community change in my part of the world. Anyway back to the subject of this blog - the price of tea. I have a theory that the more expensive the price of a cup of tea, the worse it is! I love tea but my wife loves coffee hence we go to 'specialised' coffee shops (naming no names). The price in these shops is disgusting (for what is just boiling water on a tea bag with a dash of milk) but the taste is even worse. However the best cup of tea is the one I make at home, which costs only a few pence to make. This is not just a theory, it is factually true! So on Saturday outside Westminster Abbey I had a pre-conference brew, the cost was £1.25, which is a better price than I expected for what is a tourist trap, and the taste was pretty good. But it was not in the same league as the 75pence cuppa that I had today in a small cafe near the Premier Radio studios, very close to Millbank in Central London. There is very little better than a proper cup of builders tea (minus the 2 spoonfuls of sugar). I was there because I was being interviewed for a radio show that is hosted by Steve Chalke. I was a little nervous although probably more about getting there on time, hence I was early and had tea. The interview was lovely, more like a chat in a cafe, talking about how we had got to 6 houses and how people's lives have been changed. It was fun and the 12 minutes flew by, Steve and his team were great. When it is broadcast I will post it on the blog. Tomorrow I am back in Central London for the CSJ Alliance conference which should be a very interesting day. Amongst the speakers is Frank Field MP who has the rather concerning job description of 'poverty czar' within the Coalition! I will, of course, be looking for the cup of tea that tastes divine! The cheaper the better!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Photos of Chepstow Trip 2011

This Peacock is able to fly/jump up to the top of a very high tree. It lives in the grounds of the building we stay in. Last year someone asked me to call the RSPB to help the bird get down because they thought it was stuck.

Matthew and Pearl showing us how it should be done.

This is a 'roofless' chapel that provides endless photo opportunities. This photo includes nearly all the group who went.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Everything and a bit more

We had a really good time last week, it was the 3 day project trip to Chepstow. The weather was great and we managed to get out and do lots of walking in the beautiful Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. I will post some photos when I get them. As I suggested in a previous post there are usually a few who don't make it at the last moment, so on this trip we had 2 no shows but we still took 20 of us.

So now back in the office I am planning what is happening next at the JRP. So here goes.

This Saturday a few of us are attending a conference called Everything which is all about how do have the biggest influence we can have on society believing that God is much bigger than and very concerned about how his Kingdom affects all aspects of life. So on the advertising blurb there is focus on the media, the arts, medical and social change but personally it does seems to be missing something! Sport! How does the wonderful world of sport fit into Everything!

Next up is a Feast/JRP afternoon out on Easter Monday (25th April in case you were wondering). For the first few years of the project we did this regularly but during the last couple of years we have not done this sort of trip. Basically it means this, we reduce the crime/street drinking issues in Catford by taking them to a park away from Lewisham. On a serious note these are memorable occasions that people talk about for years. For some it is the only time they leave the city. You are very welcome to come and join us. Swanley Park has a small railway running around the park, and we will be providing a drink (tea/coffee only) and a piece of cake.

And then on Saturday 30th we have the Social Action Conference which I have blogged about before and I am really looking forward to the day. Please book in by emailing

Another one to mention here is Encounter Camp which this year is in June not August. So the dates are 20th - 24th June. Letters/flyers are going out this week and I am hoping we will take a group of over 25. Encounter is a weeks camping (or stay in a caravan for extra money) in a remote location 8 miles from Evesham, which happens to be my birth place. Encounter is a mixture of worship, teaching, hanging out, sport, fun for those who are overcoming life controlling issues. Knowing that God can do a far better job than I of turning lives around, the week is really about people encountering God and being changed. I am hoping that the weather in June will be better than most of August weather we have endured for the past 4 Encounters.

One final event is a fundraiser on the 3rd July when we are planing to join up with the North Kent Bikeathon and raise some money by cycling through Kent. The Rotary Club of Catford, who just this week sent us a donation from their Christmas collection, organise it brilliantly with the best treats at the staging posts. If you want to get involved and raise some money for the JRP, email me and we can arrange your entry for the Bikeathon 2011.

If you have read all that, Thank you!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Chepstow 2011

This morning I am going to Chepstow with possibly 20 others involved in the Jericho Road Project for a 3 day escape to the countryside. I say possibly because I never quite know who will actually turn up on the morning. For all those who do make it, it will be a great trip - the weather forecast is fine, the place we stay in is nice and this year we will get to do walking and archery! Well I must go and pick up the minibus.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Why I love the Welsh!

Happy St. David's Day!

1. There are the most beautiful beaches in Wales. Barafundle in Pembrokeshire is consistently voted one of the top beaches in Europe but I could list ten more superb beaches in Wales and I am sure there are many more that I have not yet discovered. The Beaches in Wales tend to be beautiful, non commercial, great for families to play with good surfing opportunities.

2. The mountains are stunning. Almost where ever in the principality you go there are Mountains; North and South but even in the middle. Snowdon is the most famous but there are many superb days out in the wild of Wales. Cadair Idris is worth the petrol money every time, Bristly Ridge is the best scramble I have ever done and on Pen y Fan, I had the best snow conditions I have had on a mountain.

3. My beautiful wife. Next week Rebekah and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary and I enjoy each year with her more than the previous one. She is wonderful, my best friend and I am so grateful to God for her.

4. Great place for holidays. Since a very young child I have holidayed in Cymru and I have loved it ever since. And now my children have the same affection for the place as well.

5. Way they promote themselves. I have discovered that the Welsh have a fascination with being the biggest , oldest, best ... in Wales. I went to a museum in the Gower (or as my Welsh friend Tim insists I went to a museum in Gower - there should not be a "the" in front Gower) which claimed to be the oldest museum in Wales, the Tesco's in Swansea claims to the biggest in Wales. And on the radio recently a hospital spokesperson was talking about the snow but started with " we are the biggest in the whole of Wales". Enough said

6. Patriotic fervor. This especially applies to the National Sport of Knocking the English down to size. Even if the Welsh team are not playing the Welsh will celebrate if the English lose. You have to admire their tenacity.

7. The Millenium Stadium. The RFU managed to build a fantastic stadium that cost them maximum £100million whereas the English FA managed to build a fantastic stadium at 10 times the cost. Also because the English FA took so long to get the job done they had to use the Millenium Stadium for quite a few years.

8. The Alarm. I know at this point I run the risk of losing all credibility but I really like the band from Rhyl. Simply brilliant gigs full of passion and energy but never losing their Welsh-ness. The only Welsh language album I own is an Alarm album.

9. Talyllyn Railway. A narrow gauge railway that runs for 7 1/2 miles from the coast into the Mountains. Loved it as a child, worked on it as a teenager, love taking my children on it now. It is the perfect antidote to the busyness of life in London.

10. It is described as God's own country! This is according to my Father-in-law although if you listen to my friend Drew Land, Texas is God's own country. Perhaps we should check and see if they are both proper countries first!

Happy St. David's Day