Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
God was once dead, but no more will a mere man be able to bury the Alpha and Omega of all creation!
Hallelujah, for the first time in a few years, with the exception of the Arizona Christmas, we are facing Christmas day with all the Bells being sound and jolly!! Debbie perked up yesterday and ate a single bread bun!
Yesterday we celebrated with Anne`s father, John, and Iris - Ruth taught everyone how to gamble using a new card game Kings that requires a bucket of pennies (Mallons watch out - she`s a bad influence on children!). We ate Duck confit that we had brought from France. John brought his new paparazzi camera and took thousands of photos, including some for my portfolio as he has volunteered me as a speaker for a Methodist church mission in Kirkby Stephen in 2007. We'll see if the photos put the Minister off!
Today I am meeting up with my Uncle Mike in Barnard Castle to exchange presents and Dugald, my brother is visiting and we are having roast turkey in the evening.
Christmas day will be buffet of leftovers and Boxing day will be fillet of beef with some Angus the Bull cabernet.
Will be busy at work this week as have to prepare for a meeting in January where I have been summoned to the House of Lords to meet with Lord Carlisle to comment on the draft Mental Health bill, all this is in addition to preparing for an exam on Toyota Management theory ....ho hum! Still this does mean that I`m on for the trip to Seattle in March (could be close to the holiday in Arizona!!).
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Happy Christmas everyone. I wonder what crazy things are happening in your neck of the woods. Here in Guisborough as I sip a cup of coffee ground in our faithful Siemens coffee grinder given as a wedding present I am chuckling madly to myself. Why? Well how come people seem to eat so much more than at other times of the year - I mean the number of people remains the same yet the supermarkets are absolutely mad this year. They are only closed for 2 days at the most this year and yet yesterday the queue of cars to get into the Sainsbury car park backed out into the main road and as far as the exit road from our estate, blocking people getting to work!! Our neighbour Cliff who is the shop manager had to call in all the staff to cope with the frenzy. Meanwhile our intrepid shopper Anne reports that inside the shop it is like Soviet Russia - the shelves are bare. There were no frozen chips at all, fresh parsnips all gone etc thank goodness there is still some vintage champagne left!
So not only are we facing a chipless christmas but as usual at Christmas time in the Bell household "All is not still, apart from the mouse, as the sound of Debbie vomiting fills the house!" Yes the Christmas lurgy strikes again - Jonathan has just recovered, as has James, but Debbie has a horrible virus and hasn`t eaten for a couple of days. So I was woken up by the gastric noises last night as well as Ruth coming in at 3.30 am from her Clubbing festivities in the Boro'!! Still the coffe is good and I`m off to Lewis and Cooper's in Northallerton to shop for stocking goodies.
As we prepare our feasts I am giving thanks for the christmas truth that "the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God with Us).(Is.7:14)"
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
lots of love x
Friday, December 22, 2006
Well we reached the milestone of 21 years of breakfasts together on the 21st of December and I planned a romantic secret break. Anne knew nothing, other than we would be going away on thursday afternoon - the destination was Middlethorpe Hall just south of York. We arrived in freezing fog to be greeted with the news that we`d been upgraded at no extra charge to the Deluxe Suite in the main house! It seems that when I ordered the 12 red roses to be in the bedroom that the staff took notice and felt that as it was a special occasion ............. So we had a huge bedroom (see pic) and adjoining lounge with open fire and christmas tree! I took some champagne and glasses to have after the session in the Spa (oh yes!) - chilled au naturel on the window sill. Dinner was sumptuous - Cepes risotto, venison on a bed of red cabbage, Queen scallops with cauliflower puree, and roast lamb cutlets with a mini lamb shepherds pie, we had the New Zealand Champion Pinot Noir to wash it all down - pudding for Anne was a chocolate delice with guinness ice cream, caramel tuile and malt sauce. Then today Anne had a surprise Luxury pedicure treatment.
So now, I can relax for a few years!! Normal service will soon be resumed! Happy Christmas to all!
p.s. After massive english breakfast followed by four pancakes with maple syrup this morning we are now ready for an evening curry.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Ruth's 19th Birthday pictures:
Here is flatmates Katie and Clare putting up paper chains they made for the cunning surprise party they threw me at midnight.
Here I am sporting the "very surprised to be suddenly dragged out of bed look". In case you miss it, I'm pointing out the cake.
Blowing out the candles.
Later on, my friends and I before we head out to celebrate.
Me, Clare and Libby.
Libby, Zoe, Katie and I at The Basement.
Libby, James, Jess, Katie, Jack and I at Attic.
Zoe, Clare, me and Louis with a drink that I later spilt on Clare!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Last Saturday I was at the best heavy rock gig for many years - Thunder touring their new album.
and this week I`m down in Scarborough to see old favourites Budgie who also have a fabulous new CD which I have bought autographed by the band, next week we are going to see Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra with Lulu as special guest.
Monday, November 27, 2006
So where did Subway decide to pioneer their second drive thru sandwich experience?
London, Paris, Barcelona, Vienna perhaps???
No - hahahahaha it is in Guisborough!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
The solution is to stop the crime by turning NHS staff into dealers of free heroin!! Oh the stuff of genius!!! Debate that one over a church BBQ.
Meanwhile back at the ranch I was phoned today by a chappie asking me to be available to meet some american bigwig next week for a two day power conference (including a saturday!) with a couple of other "really important people" to discuss innovative ways to introduce change management processes into health care systems. This involves working with Toyota and will involve a 2 week trip to Japan next year! Is it just me or is this really odd???????
I think I have died and gone to crazyland as some sort of penance!
I am consoling myself with a lovely bottle of Louis Latour Chardonnay which is my personal drug of choice!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Our friend Bernard Bakunda stayed with us this weekend and we held a fund raising day at our house with a bouncy castle and a Body Shop christmas sale for Rhema Junior schoool in Kampala.
Bernard started this to provide education for children orphaned by HIV/ AIDS in Nakulabye slum which located 2 km from the Kampala center on Hoima Road. In his words: "The VISION STATEMENT of the school is to provide Bible- basic education from Nursery to Primary 7 and to equip children with skills that will help them earn a living there after.
The MISSION STATEMENT is to lay a Biblical Foundation in the lives of these little children in order to transform the Nakulabye community.
THE FOUR MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT ARE:
1. To help at least 500 children by the year 2010 from Nursery to Primary Seven.
2. Raise one foster parent per child to provide school fees, uniforms, Books and pencils for a child.
3. Construct good class rooms for the children and a place of meeting.
4. Set up a skills training program of the children so that they can be trained after the 7 years of primary education.
KEY ACTIVITIES AT SCHOOL (now there are 200 children)
1. Beginning with prayers and Bible stories every day.
2. Providing basic education as recommended by the ministry of education.
3. Raise foster parents for each child.
4. Build good classrooms and place of meeting for children."
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The Times reported today that Newcastle University were applying for a License to implant a human skin cell into a bovine ovum. Newcastle United fans were left wondering whether, with their team languishing equal bottom of the Premiership, that their chairman was behind the whole scheme. The suspicion remains that Eleven Human-Cow hybrids have been turning out for Newcastle United recently, judging by their speed and mobility on the pitch dressed in black and white.
However it is in fact a serious attempt to clone an embryo that would not legally be judged as human under current law, would be harvested at 6 days and "killed" at 14 days with a view to seeing whether stem cells could be used from the results.
We had a debate at the Bell Dinner table as to whether this was a very clever attempt to get round embryo research laws or indeed a valid way to harvest stem cells for future research targetting numerous serious diseases. Ethically this is a mine field (with a herd of Friesians grazing all over it) that needs some thought. Is an embryo grown from a human skin cell in a bovine egg human? Is it wrong to use stem cells from this source to alleviate suffering?
It is an issue which requires prayerful consideration.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
To play: click on the title of this blog.
Oh, and Nigel don`t let Sue even try this game as you won`t see her for weeks! (She won`t beat me anyway!!)
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
James has just returned from a Halloween walk in the Woods (in the dark by moonlight!) where hidden around the Branch Walkway were various people in costume ready to leap out at unsuspecting children. He encountered skeletons sitting on the fence, various witches, people swinging devils by the tail blocking the path, he was chased by zombies and a "man with no face" and the worst (best) was a doctor who was disembowelling someone and throwing the guts at the children "it was only bits of pumpkin Dad!"
NOW THATS HALLOWEEN!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
So we are back in the land of autumnal cold. The Orne was having an indian summer whilst we were there, and walking in the woods in shirtsleeves spotting mushrooms was the order of the day.
We found a fabulous cider farm where James played on the old stone press and I was shown round the barn - I ended up buying 12 bottles of the demi-sec after a two hour tasting in the sun with the owners.
We went to the local market as usual and Anne chatted up the various french men including "Fred Pizza" (yes he makes the pizza!).
Highlights of the trip this time included the morning when I leant out of my dining room window to look out along the street and I was hailed by two older french women down below. I went down below to see what they were on about and it turned out that they thought I was the local Gynaecologist who`d made an appointment for them to be seen down below! It was an easy mistake to make as he has big blue double doors as well as us. Anyway I was delighted to direct them along the street to his offices and I felt as if I`d just become a local.
Scott and I cleaned out the drains fronting the house onto the street which led to another conversation with the neighbours, the other neighbour Jean Claude gave us some of his apples and Anne made a great Tarte Tatin.
We closed the week with a great meal out at the Auberge Clouet round the corner where Anne had the largest Oysters you`ve ever seen and Angus had an apple sorbet in a lake of calvados.
There is loads to do in the house still and we will need to go over as often as possible to keep up with stuff but so far it has been great fun.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
We met up (without Ruth) with the Kiwi cousins and David and Sarah at the french house. Islay and Faye were doing a european tour with their parents Scott the Aussie vet and Fiona (Anne`s big sis). For now here are some pics of James flanked by Faye on the left and Islay on the right, and also the three Rhodes siblings Anne, David and Fiona enjoying fizz.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
A depressing text which can come to dominate the mind as I reflect on what is going on around us.
So many of our friends are currently struggling with major stresses ranging from bereavements of parents or friends, divorce, family illness and severe work pressure.
We all know we should sleep more, exercise more than once in a blue moon and eat more healthily (well I do one of the three thanks to Anne and Debbie and their salad obsession).
The solution is not the above, however hard we try!
"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Philippians 3:8.
The last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming for me and I have been forcibly reminded that if I want to cope in my own strength I am going to suffer stress related conditions. Even worse I have realised that my personal aims have been seduced away from the basic fact that ALL THINGS are but loss compared to the excellency of KNOWING the one person who is my all in all.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
An update from newcastle university! After a week of non-stop partying and no sleep, myself and my flatmates (Clare, Laura, Jess, Charlotte and Katie) took our duvets into the sitting room and had a girlie night in with pizzas and cheesy films.
Highlights of the week include the fairground rides at the beach party, judge jules, a trip to asda and the freshers finale pub crawl.
On saturday we walked into town and tried on silly hats in Accessorize. In the middle is Katie from Liverpool and on the right is Clare from Northern Ireland.
And finally, by special request, Gregg from flat a throwing up into a bucket after too much vodka, as flatmate Laura tries to look the other way.
Lectures start tomorrow!
Sunday, October 01, 2006
So we survived a 450 mile round trip in two days - crossing the Yorkshire moors to Humberside via the Humber bridge and then down through Tennyson country to Norfolk and the Fens.
BUT the gorgeous weather did not hold out into the second day!! I was perturbed to see animals being led from the fields two by two as we were still 20 miles south of the Humber bridge - the skies turned black as pitch and a biblical deluge fell on us! My Arizonan cowboy boots betrayed their fancy Dan origins and filled with water, closely followed by gloves and the seat of my pants! Only 120 miles to go, soaking wet with a 70 mph wind blast pushing the water into your chest. Crossing the Humber in the rain and wind was exhilerating - how we suffered for our art. Funnily enough it was one of the best bits of the whole trip. We had to defrost in Helmsley for a pot of tea and caramel shortbread `cos we are well `ard bikers.
Whilst I was away James learnt to ride his bike properly so he joins the biking fraternity. We are celebrating with the weekend curry tonight.
Also Anne is thinking of getting a 125cc and learning to ride so she can come on these mad trips - maybe West Coast, Norway, South of France!!
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The conference was a bit poor in terms of content which was a shame as I had to console mself in the arms of Paris - Brasseries (no not brassieres!) and bars, restaurants and ice creams and finally chocolate.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Who is this super hero?
Rosemary, the telephone operator? ...No.
Penry, the mild-mannered janitor? ...Could be!
Well actually no again, I am just reporting that (after weeks of ambivalent vacillatory activity!) I decided to go for interview yesterday and was subsequently appointed as Clinical Director for Adult Services for our Trust (Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust) which provides services to County Durham and Darlington, Hartlepool, Stockton, Teesside and North East Yorkshire.
We are heading for the new NHS business environment and intend to be amongst the earliest of the Foundation Trusts in about 18 mths time when we will all be reconfigured again!
So I have supped from the chalice of power and will be drinking from the goblet of domination. Nothing tests character more than ultimate cosmic power but I don`t think I`ll be affected at all as I rule over the petty lives of those minions that will be at my complete beck and call ........ Ooooo hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahaha!
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Anyway we are heading off this weekend to various places - Ruth and Nana to London for a girlie shopping weekend, Angus to Paris for a long weekend of conferencing til wednesday, Anne and Debbie to York and James and Jonny wherever!!
At the weekend I did my first ever abstract canvas as a part of a contribution to the church`s art exhibition - I used textured paint to get a rough base and then laid on top of that a combination of aerosol acrylic gold and black followed by two types of metallic flakes and then a number of inks in the red/brown range, more gold on top and finally laquering the lot to seal it together. I loved doing it and if time and inspiration allow, will do some more.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Well over the summer big things have happened avec Les Cloches. Ruth got her results and was relieved to get all A's so she can go to the height of cultural and footballing excellence that is Newcastle Uni to do English literature! We are very pleased for her and this means she is not too far away. She subsequently got her accomodation confirmed as being in the flats in Richardson Road which was not her first choice by a long chalk. She moves in on the 24th September.
Jonny meanwhile got his AS level results which is kind of halfway - he like his sister is demonatrating a severe attack of artiness and has an A in the bank for Art, B in English and C in Psychology. The way it works these days is that you get each paper marked and reported separately - Jonny got A`s for English apart from one D on an essay which he obviously answered completely wrongly so he is redoing that module next year and you keep the A`s in the bank. Similarly in his psychology he is redoing the weaker result in the coming year so expectations are for an A in art, A in English and B in psychology come next year. Both America and Soul Survivor were immense for him this year and his faith has developed as a result. He has some great stories to tell so ask him directly! He plans to take a year out and work in America in the church for a year from next summer.
Debbie is turning into the fashion icon of the family and has had a great summer both in New Wine and with us in France - she loves all cheeses (even the most french stinky ones) and will eat all kinds of fish but almost no meat any more.
James is becoming super sociable mostly with those older than him - he enjoyed his cousins and his new friend Evie and surprisingly loved french food and wanted to eat from the main menus rather than the menu enfant!
Monday, September 04, 2006
Well we`re back from a wonderful two and a half weeks of french culture and house decoration with my mother and brother and his two girls!
I`m sitting here sipping a Kir, and a bottle of Muscat is chilling in the fridge for later as I reflect on the culinary and linguistic adventures we have recently experienced.
Part of getting this house is the challenge of becoming more fluent in french, and we had a great conversation with the carpenter when we were commisioning him to build us a fitted wardrobe in our bedroom - he turned and asked us why we wanted a shelf at the top? Anne replied in her best french that she wanted to keep her blankets there. Unfortunately she thought that by saying blankets in a french accent that he would understand! What he heard was "blanquettes" which either means "stew" or sparkling wine!! He laughed a lot!
Anway we have decorated most of the upstairs bedrooms now and I varnished the floors in the dining room and Ruth`s bedroom. The roof leak in the utility has been mended (par moi!) and the railings have been scraped and rustproofed and painted, the oil for the central heating has been delivered (courtesy of the Bretaux brothers) as well as a corner sofa and chairs. Paintings have been put up and we have engaged Serge the electrician to put up the chandeliers!!
As well as all this we got out and about discovering this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere called the Poisson Vivant where we had a 3 and a half hour lunch. It is a charming little place run by a young couple near to Flers about 40 mins north of us. She is spanish and Anne taught her how to fold napkins into Lilies with 8 leaves. We had two meals there in the end!
We also went cycling on the VeloRail, swimming in the fabulous leisure pool at Flers, calvados tasting, and beach lounging near Mont St Michel.
Culinary highlights were goats cheese ice cream, Creme Brulee of Foie Gras, caramelised apple crumple with calvados and anything from the local markets (see pic!).
We still have yet to visit the northern coast, Falaise (William the Conquerors birthplace) and I have been promised a tour of the Loire with my Uncle who knows some wine producers there. So Giverny, Bayeux, Camembert etc are all to come!!
For family news see next postings!
Le Baron x
Thursday, August 17, 2006
They ruled that staff shouldn't use these horrible words but the outrage has been so severe (even from southerners!) that they are backtracking faster than an italian tank in WWII (a historical and faintly racist joke!). If you want to read the original Times article click on the title of this blog.
Well we all cheated, by going on the UCAS website Ruth confirmed she has got a place at Newcastle to study English Lit before we have actually got her results! So she must have got an A at least!!
So we go off to France today with happier hearts as she can now rack up her £33,000 debt which is the average for a three year degree these days!! We are all delighted.
She has also had some of her artwork chosen to be displayed in the Corporate office of Corus, so we are doubly pleased in our arty talented daughter.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Well we`re off to Normandy on thursday to carry on developing our little piece of La France profonde as the parisians call our area. Apparently it is not deep France, so much as "backward france" according to the sophisticates of the capital.
I`ve just discovered that the american poet and painter Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962) was interned in our little town of La Ferte-Mace during the end of WWI. He also died in the year of my birth which continues the sensitive and artistic link to Normandy very neatly I think! He published an account of his imprisonment in 1922 called the Enormous Room.
So suitably enlightened (if you want more you can click on the blog title above!) we are very excited about our trip - we are gradually getting more amd more done. This time we have some lights to put up (chandeliery things), floor varnish for the stripped floors, radiator paint, sanders, rugs, a Lloyd Loom bedside table, a Parker Knowle chair and footstool all courtesy of a good trailer.
We are also living the rock star life where you get an entire wardrobe established in one`s second home doncha know - this will be very helpful should we choose to fly from Teesside to Paris for £30 return without any luggage which will be our future mode of transport for quick trips.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Well my my, look away all men as a new feminine hygiene product is making news! The MoonCup!! I enclose details of the official website - just click on the title of this blog entry as it is linked!
The picture will let your imagination do the rest. We have discussed it over our Summer Berry Compote as a family and would be interested in your feelings as to whether you are tempted, particularly if in public conveniences!
So onto the news - re NE1 - Anne reports that over 1000 christian teenagers came to do community projects, staying on campsite at Herrington Country park near Sunderland and unlike all the other similar events e.g. Soul in the City where they had to have a campsite project to cater for the stragglers and refusers who stayed in their tents - there were no drop outs at NE1!
Despite there being no drinking water on site in the middle of a heatwave all went well - one of the bus drivers who transported the teams to their projects around the region was so impressed by the whole event and the teenagers themselves, that He became a christian. At the end of the week every sponsoring church that was running a project took groups of teens to the final BigTop concert event which was fabulous. We had 30 come from Saltburn and 18 responded to the evangelistic appeal.
Meanwhile there was New Wine North where I did one seminar shared with Michele Guinness called The Genesis Curse:The Origin of Gender Wars, then in the evening we did a 2 hour fringe event with strolling players, poems , stories, jokes , music and a film clip all intending to challenge our prejudices further about the opposite sex. At one point I apparently morphed into Jack Dee and improvised stories from our honeymoon!
My second seminar was interesting as I had to do it from the main stage with one of those radio mikes round my ear and a bank of lights shining in my face - I`m glad I didn`t know it was apparently on the radio as well. It was reported as going well but I was strangely dissatisfied, it was also the anniversary of my Dad`s death and the newspapers had headlines "In the name of the father" as Tiger Woods had just won the Open Golf and dedicated the win to his deceased father. I am feeling a challenge to reveal God`s glory not just wisdom and am meditating on what that means and how to co-operate with it!!
Anway no pictures as Jonny had our camera all the time in America and we still haven`t seen the pics - he has now gone off to Soul Survivor and we are about to go to France for a well earned break in Normandy leaving Ruth home alone to get her Exam results on Thursday re University!!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Well here is my most successful plant this year - the warm weather has led to three gigantic flowers to sprout out of our Triffid at the front of the house. Hilary kindly stood by it for scale!!! Still don`t know what it is as I`m an ignorant gardener but info would be welcome!