Tuesday, 30 August 2011

All creatures great and small

I apologise if I upset you by saying one can have too much of a good thing. I have to confess to having had a surfeit of Mrs Alexander's hymn, "All things bright and beautiful". The trouble is it pops up so often as the people's choice for weddings, baptisms and even funerals. You'd have thought the days when it was staple diet of school assemblies were long gone - but of course the significant factor is that Grandma and Auntie Flo like it. ("Morning has broken" and "Lord of the Dance" took over as assembly fodder and often appear as choices, but increasingly I found couples asking for my suggestions - dangerous!)

Anyway, although I'm surfeited with the hymn, I agree with the sentiment that nature is the gift of God. Talking of creatures bright, beautiful and small we've been enjoying the company of our grandchildren for the bank holiday weekend. A highlight of their time here was visiting their aunt's horse, Dave. He is large. So grooming him was an interesting exercise!

He's a gentle giant, and so two of the girls rode him in the exercise yard. I'm amazed at the understanding that Rachel has with Big Dave. I suppose it's what all good riders have. There was an item on Countryfile on Sunday of "horse whispering" an Exmoor pony colt - very gentle and patient - and impressive. It looked a bit more like what I think our relationship with animals should be than the rather brutal behaviour often portrayed on screen. Hopefully it's a thing of the past. It's not what "dominion... over all the earth" means, though that's sadly how it was misused in the past.

On Sunday morning after church we visited the local rec - what a good facility such things are! Every local authority should have some. The girls had a whale of a time.
If this photo had a sound track, it would be full of screams about going too fast and falling off - not from Dad (well, not much)! I enjoy having family here.

It also does me good to spend time with friends. On Wednesday we had lunch on the roof of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, or rather in the dining room of the terrace there. It was beautifully sunny and warm. We were there with our good friend Elizabeth and her son Dominic. The menu was in keeping with the main exhibition about ancient Greece, excellent Greek cuisine, including Jane's and my first taste of squid.

Then we came to the desserts.... Melopita: honey cake and fresh figs. Very nice it looked too! But then came the wasps. Not just a couple, but Sennacherib's hordes. Amazing how quickly news had got round the wasp community in central Oxford! Our waitress was equally swift, and decisive. "You're going inside," she said, removing our plates. And so we followed her with the glasses and napkins. Miraculously, the wasps chose not to follow us.

The great thing about these particular friends is that they understand our situation perfectly, as Elizabeth's husband, Tim, who died in 2007, also had PLS (the slow sort of MND). For example, Dominic was very aware of my practical difficulties, and unembarrassed by them. We share a Christian faith, but more than that just get on very well personally. It was just one of those special times, which make you aware of how much love and care - and laughter - there is in our troubled world.

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