Tuesday 30 April 2013

Living on the Edge

"Living and accepting our own reality will not feel very spiritual.  It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence.  Thus most run toward more esoteric and dramatic postures instead of bearing the mystery of God's suffering and joy inside themselves.  But the edges of our lives - fully experienced, suffered and enjoyed - lead us back to the center and the essence".

Richard Rohr, 'Everything Belongs: The gift of contemplative prayer' pp.17-19

Sunday 28 April 2013

A beautiful Saturday walk: Rosudgeon to Perranuthnoe

Yesterday was the best day of the week, I got to hang out with my dear friend Letty, who I haven't seen in way too long.  Her sister, who lives in Penzance, showed us a beautiful walk along the coast.  You can see this area in the distance from our living room window, but had no idea it would be so lovely.  
Ahh the joys of exploring!!

a lickle update

Hey.  Sorry it's been a while - again.  You'd think I'd have loads of time on my hands seeing as I'm only working about 10 hours a week at the moment, but somehow another week has flown by.  I'm not even sure what we've done, apart from me beginning to teach myself the violin(!) and some more meals with friends.  Yesterday we had an especially lovely day with friends, walking and talking and eating.  See here for some photos.

We both find ourselves needing a lot of sleep, I think we're still adjusting to quite a big change, even though it hasn't felt at all stressful.  We've also been down to the Job Centre in Penzance a few times, which is often exhausting by the time they've handed you a billion forms to fill in and tried to explain how everything works.  We don't even know if we qualify for assistance as we left our last jobs by choice.  But we've decided to try jumping through all the hoops for now, as any help at all toward paying next month's rent is going to be appreciated!

Yep, we're 'living on the edge' in that sense, but it makes life feel more like an adventure... (well perhaps for me, I don't think Mr Q would phrase it that way!).  God's said He'll provide so here's an opportunity for Him to do so.  And we always seem to get by, so sure everything'll work out OK.  But yeh, hubby is finding it strange not having a job as he's worked his pretty little bottom off ever since he arrived here from South Africa 10 years ago!

Anyways, this is a bit rambly but thought I'd inform you of some interesting things I've learnt about Cornwall this week, all linked to tin mining.  I'm not sure of the absolute truth of these facts, perhaps you know more...

  • Apparently, Cornwall used to be covered in trees!  It's hard to believe as there are barely any trees anywhere, and the land appears as it's been rugged for centuries.  But yeh, we were told yesterday that they were all cut down because of the mines.
  • There are old mines everywhere, in fact some say that Cornwall is basically hollow under the surface.  It's not uncommon for people to fall down old mine shafts (SO STICK TO THE PATHS, KATRINA!) and even for whole rooms or houses to disappear into the ground.  Apparently it's very hard to get house insurance here. Haha!
  • And last fact of the day, one of the towns near us (can't remember which one, sorry!) was at one point the wealthiest town in the British Empire because of the mines and trading here.  Now Cornwall has got to be one of the poorest regions in the UK.  Crazy.
Ok so the facts were a little vague BUT I plan to find out more and I'll fill you in with more exciting Cornish knowledge in the coming weeks and months.  I know you're excited.

Bye for now!

Monday 22 April 2013

The Joyful Consequences of Not Doing Life Alone

One of the main reasons that we decided to up sticks and move to Cornwall is that we knew we weren't going to be doing it alone.  I did that when I moved to Spain, and it was hard hard hard. Last May we met a bunch of people that we immediately felt at home with.  We could imagine spending a whole lot more time with them.  We found out about a bungalow becoming available right next door to these people.  Yes, we are kind of in the middle of nowhere, but currently there is a couple living in the house next door, a lady in the caravan on our drive and a couple in the caravan on the other drive.  It's like a mini campsite! Haha!  And most days there are visitors to the House of Prayer (more on that another time), which is in the garden next door or to one of the houses/caravans.  We are not alone.

And it's bigger than that.  Being a follower of Jesus means being part of a world wide community.  It's pretty amazing to meet people on the other side of the world (Bolivian farmers, teenagers in rural north-east Brazil or Zambian children, for example) and to be able to connect on a deep level despite our obvious differences.

What being part of the Church - in the big-people-sense, not the old-building-in-the-middle-of-the-village-sense has meant for us in our first few weeks is this:

  • I've already lost count of how many meals we've eaten together with other people - both in our home and in other people's.
  • There was food in our cupboards when we arrived, and there are people who know and ask about our search for work and how we're settling in, etc
  • I get hugs from pretty cool old ladies on Sunday mornings who barely know me
  • We've met with people every day, we've never spent a day entirely alone.  Meaning that we've barely had a chance to feel lonely.  
  • Llewellyn has learnt how to ice cakes and has shared said cake and played games with old people in Carbis Bay  (The local council asked churches to get together and provide a social gathering for the elderly in the area)
  • We both helped serve food at a 'marriage course' evening, where couples have a chance to sit down and talk together about their relationship and learn more about each other
  • Tonight we're cooking for 15 people!
  • We've been given lifts, advice, useful contact numbers and even money to help us get sorted in our new life
  • We have enough furniture in our house, bearing in mind all we brought with us was one armchair!
  • We've ended up in the houses of strangers and have been welcomed, prayed for and encouraged
  • Llewellyn has already had opportunities to play guitar with others and in front of people, and I've written and shared a couple of poems
And all of this in under 3 weeks!

All this because people love Jesus and therefore love and are generous to others  (not just towards other people who follow Jesus, I must emphasise).

I'll admit, yesterday I did feel a bit wobbly because even though we've met all these wonderful people, I realised that we still don't know anyone well, and no one knows us very well.  And that can be tiring, and perhaps awkward.  And makes us miss friends back in Brighton.  But that's all part of the journey, isn't it?  Getting to know and becoming known.  And sometimes it's hard, and sometimes it's uncomfortable, and it definitely takes time, but it's worth it, I think.  I know.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Can't quite believe it


Guess who's got a job?  Meeeee!  Woo hoo!  I'm pretty, no VERY happy.  Partly because it means there's more chance of us being able to pay the rent next month (gulp. all part of the adventure, no?!) and partly because it's just the kind of place I wanted to work.  A small cafe/restaurant in Penzance serving good coffee and tasty fresh dishes - mainly fish.  Everyone who comes in seems to enjoy it and plan to return.  And the couple who run it are friendly, relaxed and only a little older than me.  Can't quite believe it!

Actually there's been several can't quite believe it moments.

Like, can't quite believe how many people helped us move and showed us love and support as we left Brighton.  Especially can't quite believe how much certain people did for us, even accompanying us on our move, shifting loads of boxes and looking after us in our first week in Cornwall.

And, can't quite believe this little bungalow on top of a hill is for US. All this space just for the two of us (and whoever comes to visit!).  A front garden, a back garden, a spare room, lovely kitchen AND the best view ever!

Can't quite believe that people have been waiting for us to return to Cornwall for months, praying for us then filling our cupboards with food and welcoming us warmly.

Can't quite believe we were given a car this year, AND it made it all the way to Cornwall, AND it's still going, being used every day now.

Can't quite believe we had all the money we needed for the move and everything it entailed, enough to not stress about it.

Can't quite believe that I only cried once during the whole moving process, and remained pretty unstressed the whole time, and didn't fall apart, and didn't have to up the 'happy pill' dose.

Can't quite believe that soon we're going to be able to surf.

Can't quite believe how brilliant my husband is, how he was uncomplaining through a toothache, and tooth removal even though I know he was in a lot of pain; how he is willing to do any job to provide for us; how he is already off helping make cakes and hanging out with old people; how he is patient with me and loves me even though I snore in his ear all night with my silly blocked up nose.

Can't quite believe how beautiful this land and sea is.

Can't quite believe that we've been so blessed.

Because it's not that we deserve it.

I know God is good and He loves to bless us.

but I also know life is shit sometimes.  And stuff doesn't always work out the way we plan.

So right now, for all this almost unbelievable goodness, I am ever so thankful.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Crazy Cornish Connections

Who would have thought that our first paid job in Cornwall would be cleaning the very same caravan that we stayed in on our honeymoon a year and a half ago - the first time that we came to Cornwall together, when our lives were still very much in Brighton?

Let me back track a little.

Brighton. May 2011. We go for dinner with Becky, a friend from church.  We're engaged and we talk about honeymoons and how we don't really know where we're going to go.  Becky suggests her parent's static caravan in Cornwall, calls them then and there, gets us a good deal and before we know it, it's arranged.

Gwythian Bay. September 2011.
We stay in said caravan, sheltered behind the sand dunes of a beautiful golden bay.  We have an amazing week exploring the land, and we imagine living down Cornwall-ways, but reckon that's just because we're on honeymoon and on holiday and that everyone probably thinks that.  While down there, we see Becky, who has now moved to Cornwall herself, who tells us about a House of Prayer.

Brighton.  October 2011.
We didn't have time to visit the House Of Prayer whilst on honeymoon, but we look it up when we get home, and see they want volunteers, and think: hmmm maybe we'll do that some time.

Brighton.  March 2012.
We apply to volunteer and before we've even had a response we get a message from Stephanie who has recently moved to Cornwall and has met us a couple of times at church events and she is so excited about us coming and thinks we're moving down for a few months.  We tell her no, just a couple of weeks.  She says the last people who came to visit ended up staying.

Castle Gate (near Penzance), Cornwall.  May 2012.
We rock up to the House of Prayer, not really knowing what we've got ourselves in for.  I am sick, Llewellyn is sad, it's been a tough few months.  We're in a caravan again, smaller this time but with an amazing view.  We meet a whole lot of lovely people.  We pray, we get creative, we walk, we rest, we surf. We think we could picture ourselves living here.  We hear about one of the bungalows becoming available in a few months.  We think about it more.  We talk.  We suggest it and receive excited responses from the people we've been hanging out with.  Stephanie might have been right.

Brighton. June 2012.
We return, rested and more ourselves than we have been for a while.  We tell some people about our thoughts of moving to Cornwall.  Some don't say much.  Some don't want us to leave.  Many encourage us.  We decide we'll go for it, sometime in 2013.

Castle Gate, Cornwall. April 2013.
Almost 10 months later, and we make the move.  We're here.  In the bungalow on top of the hill with a beautiful view and a caravan in the driveway.  And the people we met down here used to clean the caravan we stayed in on our honeymoon.  And suggest us for the job.  And we take it.  And we chat with Becky's parents who own the caravan.  And they have some good stories about the different places they own that we will clean.  And we have another connection in that they worked at the same school in Zambia that my parents did, only a few years before we went there.  And a previous head boy from that school is currently staying in one of the other places that we cleaned yesterday...

yeh. so.
Many connections.  Coincidences, perhaps.
perhaps not.
either way, I don't think it's a mistake that we are here.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

A new day

The sun rises on our first morning in Cornwall

and blesses our new house with golden fingers

and makes the sea a startling blue that beckons you to dive in

Monday 1 April 2013


When you get out of bed early for once because the sky through the living room window where you are sleeping due to the bedroom being full of boxes is actually BLUE instead of grey and its even earlier than you thought because you don't realise the clocks have gone forwards but that's OK because it's Easter Sunday and you want to mark it in some small way and so you pull on your jeans and the grey woolly coat you bought in Cornwall and recently rediscovered in the loft and you grab your camera and walk briskly down the street to the sea and you are glad the tide is out because you can sit right on the end of the groyne and walk on the sand and there is a whole lot of space waiting to be filled with voices and faces but right now  most of the city is enjoying a lie in and only one or two dog walkers interrupt the morning and you wish you brought gloves because your fingers are going numb but you don't care that much because you get to take some pretty good photos and you sit up high above the waves and swing your feet and talk to God about how you're grateful

When a friend offers to cook quiche for lunch because it's 'moving day' and once the van is loaded the guys go to a pub for meat and beer so more quiche for us and more catch up time for us and we take the freshly cooked still warm cheese and spinach tart with blankets down to the beach and we shelter from the wind beside the wall and sit back against it with the sun in our eyes and the quiche tastes so good it disappears in seconds and we feel the warmth of the bricks at our backs and the warmth of the blanket on our laps and we feel the rumble of the water underneath our feet and I think soon I will exchange pebbles for sand but at least the sea will still be there and although I love sand I think I might miss the pebbles a little and I think I'm going to miss hanging out with this friend that I've known for so little time and yet feel so comfortable with and I think for all of this I'm grateful

When you get to hang out in a beautiful flat on the 8th floor on the sea front where the blue spreads out like a blanket in front of the windows that span the whole front wall of the living room and someone has built a special window seat that you've always wanted to sit on and you sit on it leaning back against the cushions with some random concoction of a herbal tea in a mug in your hand and music you've never heard before plays in the background and the sun streams in and you feel warmer there than you have in months and you shut your eyes and imagine summer and you feel like you could stay there forever and you feel sleepy and despite not liking them that much you think perhaps you are a bit like a cat and right now you fancy curling up for a cat nap there on the cushions in front of the window beneath the sun and above the sea and you are grateful

for all of these moments