Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

What do you think about as you return from your holidays? As we drove away from the Channel Tunnel, heading back to the Vicarage, last week I was remembering (as always) a poem by Laurie Lee that I learnt by heart when I was at school:

Home From Abroad

Far-fetched with tales of other worlds and ways,
My skin well-oiled with wines of the Levant,
I set my face into a filial smile
To greet the pale, domestic kiss of Kent.

But shall I never learn? That gawky girl,
Recalled so primly in my foreign thoughts,
Becomes again the green-haired queen of love
Whose wanton form dilates as it delights.

Her rolling tidal landscape floods the eye
And drowns Chianti in a dusky stream;
he flower-flecked grasses swim with simple horses,
The hedges choke with roses fat as cream.

So do I breathe the hayblown airs of home,
And watch the sea-green elms drip birds and shadows,
And as the twilight nets the plunging sun
My heart’s keel slides to rest among the meadows.

Kent was certainly beautiful to look at. Our front drive not so much… (and more on this tomorrow too).

Rocky tells us this was originally left blocking the drive

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Every year the Vicar helps out on a CPAS Pathfinder venture (known as ‘camp’ even though we don’t use tents) in Devon, and I join him there with the kids. A great time is had by all learning about Jesus and having a fabulous holiday. This year I have volunteered to help out with the bookstall. They have one every year and I noticed last year that the selection of books was tailored more to the upper age of the camp and to the more literate kids.

A diverse range of children come along to our camp, from 14 year old clergy kids from the suburban Home Counties to 11 year old barely literate unchurched youngsters from the inner city. And I think it’s a real challenge to find books that will suit them. I’m currently hunting for recommendations and have bought a small pile of books to review from our local CLC bookshop.

In my review pile are the following:


  • Deadly Emily by Kathy Lee (the Queen gobbled this up in a couple of hours and very much enjoyed it)
  • The Shock of Your Life by Adrian Holloway (recommended by the CLC manager)
  • Afterwards I Knew by Christine Farenhorst


  • Jesus Rose from the Dead by Catherine MacKenzie
  • Friends First by Claire Pedrick and Andy Morgan


  • For Girls Only! Devotions by Carolyn Larsen
  • No Girls Allowed Devotions by Jayce O’Neal
  • The Manga Bible by Siku
  • Esther: God’s Invisible Hand by Helen Clark

I’ve had a couple of recommendations which I’ve not managed to pick up: Hannah MacFarlane’s books and that old classic, The Chocolate Teapot by David Lawrence.

I would love to have an appropriate book for every Pathfinder this year. So I am asking around for recommendations. Have you found any good Christian literature recently? I’m not just looking for books either – how about journals, booklets or dvds?

If you’ve done youthwork, or have kids between the ages of 11-14, give or take a couple of years, or have any ideas at all, I’d love to get your recommendations. Have you run a bookstall on a summer camp? What sells well to younger teens? I’m especially interested in books that will appeal to boys, who I know are often not keen readers. All help gratefully received!

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What do Vicar’s Wives think about as Autumn half term looms and Christmas will be upon us any minute? Summer holidays of course. We need some thoughts of warmth to keep the chill from our bones as we resist switching the central heating on for one more day… and one more day… and one more day.

Actually, it’s cheap deals on summer holidays that are the key factor, so we have now booked our Eurotunnel tickets, using the marvellous bargain of quadrupling the value of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. And we have bought a new tent! This is most exciting, as the last one saw us through seven seasons and was finally consigned to the campsite bin as we left for home this summer. The three broken zips, combined with extreme dampness and the world’s largest birdpoo meant that we felt that we’d had our money’s worth and were ready to start again.

The special thing about our new tent, besides the increased floorspace that it offers us, is that it is made by a local company, Wynnster, who are part of the Khyam group. Last week we ordered the tent and were able to collect it in person from their warehouse just down the road from our local Ikea. So we were able to combine tent collection with a cheap bonus lunch out.

Our new summer lodgings

I rather wish the weather was better so we could try it out now, but we are not hardy campers, so we’re waiting until 2011 until the Vicar and I can have a really good argument about how to erect it.

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Amid all the snow chat over the last few days the Vicar and I received a warming summer YouTube clip reminding us of the CPAS Pathfinder Venture that we’re involved in every year. Over the last few years we’ve taken 11-14 year olds from our church youth groups away on these week-long holidays and had a wonderful time, as you can see from this vid. The Vicar appears as a lion tamer in one shot and the Queen can also be seen looking short in the stage performance.
There is usually a reunion for the leaders and campers in January, but ours was sadly cancelled because of all the snow. So some of the leaders ventured out into the snow to make this trailer for next year:

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At our previous church, the Vicar and I were involved in regular holiday clubs. We’d have around 25 kids from the church and church school attending and a team of about 10 from church leading and helping. Most of our holiday clubs lasted just a day, although we sometimes did a three day one. They were lots of fun and a great opportunity to teach kids about God and bless parents with some child-free time.

We would have around three clubs a year, depending on other church events and energy levels within the church family. You can do five days of 4 hours without Ofsted having to inspect you (oh the joys of government control). And you can do 2 hours as many times as you like.

The church here has a weekly Kids Club, but hasn’t really run Holiday Clubs before. It’s one of the things on the Vicar’s To-Do List, but not at top priority, as the church family are already really stretched by the regular activities.

But at Coffee, Cake and Chat, the coffee morning I recently started for school gate mums, there was a suggestion that we all get together with our kids in half term. People don’t have lots of space in their houses or gardens round here. If you have a few friends around it gets really squashed. And we mums like to be together as well as the kids, so the Church Hall is a perfect venue.

So I proposed a DIY Holiday Club. I volunteered the Vicar to do games and a talk type thing. We all agreed to bring food for lunch, and noone needed CRB checks as they all came with their own kids.

So yesterday, from 11am-2pm we had nine kids aged 4-9, 3 toddlers and about nine grown-ups (some came and went). It was terrific fun. We learnt a memory verse, we played relay games in the churchyard (thank you Vicar), we sang loud songs, we made bedroom door labels and those folded paper ‘fortune tellers’ (but with kind Christian sentiments…mainly), we ate a wonderful lunch and enjoyed ourselves enormously.

I think the kids were even happier than this

I think the kids were even happier than this. The mums certainly were.

I am so grateful that we’ve landed up here, with such a great and energetic group of mums. And a holiday club sorted with minimal effort. The next one is now high on the To-Do List.

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On Wednesday, when we had an enforced day of holiday because of the public sector strike, Wonderfriend came round to play with the Queen. I was able to keep the two big girls and both my small boys occupied for a good part of the morning using a great present sent by Auntie Icklesis. I had to draw the figures but they did all the colouring.

From left to right, Wonderfriend, the Queen, the Joker, the Engineer

From left to right, Wonderfriend, the Queen, the Joker, the Engineer

So many thanks to Auntie I and to the inventors of Paint a Puzzle. Now we only have to do something similar on the other side!

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