Rectory Writings

29 August 2016

We have now been in our new home just over 2 weeks...

In many ways it feels like coming home (certainly being part of a village is what I know - I grew up in one 40 miles from here). I've already had more conversations with our neighbours here than I ever had in over 6 years at the old house!! People are just SO friendly and welcoming :)

I have managed to unpack, and largely organize on shelves, ALL my books (no mean feat one-handed, I can tell you!); but boxes and crates scatter the hallway and kitchen still  - it's quite a hazardous expedition across the house on my unsteady feet... 

And there are no pictures up on the blank walls ('That's the LAST thing on a very long to-do list!' according to my non-artistic hubby :/) And there are numerous glitches with doors (inner and outer), the central heating, the cooker, several windows... but I won't bore you with those!

I want to focus on ALL the good stuff...

The house itself is spacious and filled with light...

Morning light in the living room

... and the kitchen.

... AND surrounded by trees

I am woken each morning by birdsong (and the neighbours' geese :D), and I've had several excursions around the village on my trusty scooter...

... each time discovering something new and beautiful:

 a majestic horse-chestnut outside the village hall (look at that twisted trunk!)

the village school

even a tiny wood between the school and the church!!

But my favourite discovery so far is this view - I've made it my screensaver - truly we've landed in a little piece of paradise!

I'll share more photos, and stories, over the coming weeks, which I'll gather on a new page 'Rectory Writings'. I just know this Autumn will be a richly fertile time, as I begin building a new life here with hubby, and we adjust to our new, soon to be empty, nest (E leaves for uni on 18th September...)

14 September 2016

We've now been in our new home one calendar month, and it's been busy - village coffee morning (wonderful homemade cakes!); monthly church service (how I love the Book of Common Prayer)  the Book Group - we read this, not a great read, but fun to talk about; and my first ever W.I.  meeting (and no, I wasn't the youngest woman there!)

Yes, this is Village Life :D

But seeping into all this fun busyness are deep questions, ponderings, about Life, and Age, and Purpose... The pulling of the lens from the wide-angle, to tight focus, and back again...

For much of my life, the Anglican Church was a safe place, a sanctuary, a peaceful harbour in the wild sea of my mother's erratic moods... Its rituals and seasons offered a rhythmic stability, an anchored security.

But I became deeply dismayed by the Church's misogyny, bigotry and culture of judgement, and in my early 40s, I left...

And here I am now, a decade later, in this community where the Church is the life-centre, the meeting place, the gathering place... and I'm drawn to the warm comfort, the familiar Known, the liturgy of my childhood.

The immense natural beauty of this place, the warmth of the people, the fact the church building is left open, its treasures on display, in the trust they will remain there, where they belong...

Now, I'm not so naive to think all is loving and harmonious (a village of humans simply cannot be free from petty squabbles and envies), but I am a Romantic Realist and I have deep marrow-sense of coming Home...

I am older, hopefully somewhat wiser, and I'm still disturbed by many of the Church's attitudes, but as I prepare to inhabit an empty nest, I find myself contemplating this...

... and pondering these questions. For now only in the privacy of my journal, but I may share here sometime when I've unravelled my tangled thoughts...

23 September 2016

Oh my, how the days are changing, as we marked the equinox yesterday. Autumn is getting evermore confident that this is HER time...

So many neighbours have fruit trees and are keen gardeners, and already I have the dates for the Harvest Supper and the Pumpkin Weighing in my diary :D

The mornings are definitely chilly, and occasionally misty, but when the sun warms up we enjoy delightful afternoons and early evenings... Then it's totally dark by 7.30pm!! No wonder some leaves have already decided they're done for the year...

Molly-cat has created a new favourite spot, from which she can survey the comings and goings in the back garden - atop my art cupboard, nestled in one of E's artworks, which has yet to make its way onto the wall...

One exciting discovery I've made since we've moved here, is I have a second-cousin, who lives literally down the road! Her auntie is married to my uncle, and apparently we played together as children at my grandparents with our mutual cousins!! This is a big deal for me, as our family is pretty small, so any relatives I have, are dear to me :)

I invited F to come watch The Great British Bake Off with me on Wednesday (E and I used to watch it, and I knew I would miss her terribly if I were alone). Needless, to say, we missed most of the programme chatting and sharing stories (apparently her granddad used to work with my mum's dad...) and building connections...

I KNEW I felt at home here!

30 September 2016

This is going to be quite a long, meandering post, so you may want to grab a cuppa... I've been doing lots, and reading lots and thinking lots, so there's lots to share...

First the moon - waning, lying on her back - she greeted me the other morning before dawn... My granddad always called this a thumbnail moon - I've been thinking about him a lot lately, as I'm getting to know my new-found cousin, and we share stories of our childhoods.

We have settled into a lovely, easy rhythm of watching The Great British Bake Off with each other - the first Wednesday after E left, F came round to mine; this week I went to her's; next week, she'll come here again... I cannot express how comforting/natural/joyful this is. Having barely known our previous neighbours after almost 7 years, this is such a gift to me, and I am deeply grateful!! This wee collage sits on my desk - I think she looks like my cousin :)
by Cathy Cullis (2009)

The other week I bought this beautiful object - it's a vintage chaplet from France. I think it's olive wood, and it smells heavenly and is SO tactile - just perfect for meditation and prayer. I love its simple honesty...

On Monday, I started this course, and because I've been very busy with doctors' appointments, seeing friends, and going out places, I haven't really been able to engage deeply with the daily lessons and activities. The focus this week is the element of wind, and it so happens the UK is having VERY blustery weather at the moment! So, I have been thinking, in snatched moments, about the effects of the invisible wind... the swaying branches, the swirling leaves, the howling round the rooftops.

And how, it's almost impossible to 'show' wind in a still photograph, other than in a series, showing the in-and-out-ness of the curtain against the open window...

It is SO like breathing...

So I have, again, been pondering the questions at the end of this post, and 'seeing' myself as a feather in the wind, on the 'breath of God' - being light, being hollow, being spacious - open to wherever the wind takes me...

a favourite pebble on my altar

And accepting how very contrary it is to the autopilot ego, the 'need' to control, to navigate, to steer. These words have been going round and round my head as I watch the buffeting wind, and finger my prayer beads:

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
John 3.8

a beloved vase on my window sill

As part of the course, we're invited to make SoulCollage cards for each of the elements. I'm making a collage in my journal, so I have a little more space to work in, and here's the one for Wind.

And these are my intuitive responses to the questions we ask of the card/collage: 

I am one who... is wild and free, gentle and fierce, in your very essence, your body and soul
What I have to give you is... this message - Be all that you can be
What I want from you is... honesty, commitment, confidence to be brave
Does the card have a name? Trust Freedom

The answers were quite plain. Now the nest is empty, I am to celebrate the freedom, not just mourn the loss... I am to be like the Wind, blowing wherever I please, trusting in the freedom that is born of Spirit... 

Oh my!
7 October 2016

Five things I LOVE about living here...

1. The bright, airy rooms

dining room



No, they're not perfect - we desperately need more dining chairs, the kitchen counters need repairing, the conservatory is either freezing or roasting - but for a modern-ish house, the rooms are wonderful dimensions.

2. The transformation on a chilly evening

3. The one picture I have hung in the living room fairly glows in the fire- and candlelight.

4. The newly cleaned patio - I can now step outside without risking slipping 



5. The natural delights right here in our garden - look who visited today!

a blurry action shot bounding across the grass - taken through the glass of the patio door

straight up the tree (high zoom goes fuzzy)

what is he doing??

Silently I begged him to look round...

Never a dull moment living here :)
8 October 2016

The element this week in my course is Fire...

It's not a favourite element, as I don't like the sun much, or the desert; but it do appreciate fire's warmth, its colours, its usefulness...

Here's this week's SoulCollage:

And like last week, here are my instinctive responses from the collage:

I am one who... burns within, sparking your imagination, igniting your creativity, the long,                                slow, embers of your intuition.
What I have to give you is... Energy - the energy to do, to be, to act, to hope, to trust the                                 flame even in the darkest night.
What I want from you is... peaceful trust in the process, in the Truth that the flame is                                        eternal, it will never be extinguished - no matter how low it gets, it still                                    burns deep within
Does the card have a name? Love's Fire glows within and without


Then today we were invited to create a French Pantoum poem, answering these questions by free-writing, then underlining 6 phrases that were striking/interesting

What are you passionate about?
What makes you come alive?
What make your heart burn?
Where do you to invite the gift of fire into your life more deeply?

Listen to the Fire,
Feel its energy, its heat,
Its ability to express through Art,
Giving colour, shape and meaning.

Feel its energy, its heat,
Burning away cold injustice,
Giving colour, shape and meaning,
Help spread its warmth.

Burning away cold injustice,
Its ability to express through Art,
Help spread its warmth,
Listen to the Fire.

It's certainly not a fine poem, by any means, but it's an interesting exercise - gathering random words and phrases from a free-write, and giving them shape and form.

I think I'll play with it again in my journal for each of the elements :)

28 October 2016

It's been a long, ole week... this nasty cold dragging on, then hubby getting it... It's been a time of disappointments - not being well enough to go to the Pumpkin Social in the village hall last Saturday; nor to Oxford to see E and spend time with my dad and brother on Sunday; and not watching the Final of the Great British Bake Off on Wednesday with my cousin, as I was still coughing and sneezing...

But at least, I have managed to get out in the garden and take some photos... These beauties must have blown in from the farm next door, as we have no horse-chestnuts in our garden.

And I love these random flashes of red in the laurel bush...

... and the bright yellow of a fallen leaf.

The skies overhead may be a tad ominous, but there's plenty to keep me amused...

...not least, this decision...

I'm not a fan of fiction (reading or writing), so it was a real struggle last November to try and write a novel. I'm very proud of the fact I wrote every single day, producing over 44,000 words written by hand, but I knew I wasn't keen to tackle another novel...

And then I discovered the Nano Rebels who faithfully write throughout the month of November, but not a novel, instead they work on memoirs, travel guides, scripts (TV,  stage play), story-boarding, graphic novels... and I knew I had to join them :)

Last November I did enjoy the whole NaNoWriMo experience - collecting the badges, working towards a goal, being supported, and I realized I wanted to join in again.

This week, in-between coughing fits, I've been reading this book...

...and it's inspired me to just write random pieces each day, from 1 -- 30 November. And if I can keep up the required 1,667 words each day, I'll actually hit the 50,000-word target this year! 

I'll be writing it all by hand again - I just can't compose at the computer, and pecking at the keys one-handed is hard work. So I may be missing from the blog for a while, but I'll post the odd update throughout the month...

I'm now proper excited about November (usually a difficult, dark month for me, like January), and I honestly can't wait to get started!

Let's hope the head-cold's done its worst and left by next Tuesday :/

PS As I prepared to publish this post, I came across this quote from Christine Valters Paintner, which was too perfect to miss:

For most of us, we likely have a sense of what our inner truth is, but speaking it aloud, shouting it to the world feels like a whole other story. Speaking our truth takes practice.

Ain't that the truth??


  1. Ohhhhh my! Even a rambling stream! Be still my heart...

    Friendly people... Surrounded by trees... Morning light... A majestic tree, near the Village Hall... Gorgeous school building... Oh yes! You have found a delightful home. (With bits of things to straighten out of course. :-) But that is life!)

    No one can move home, and be all unpacked and put away, in 2 weeks. Relax. It will all happen. Just be very careful, getting around the boxes!!!!!

    I look forward to more lovely views and news, of your new home and your village. It will be like reading one of my favorite reads... British Cozies, set in country villages.

    Gentle hugs,
    Luna Crone

    1. Thank you so much for this lovely comment - indeed ALL your lovely comments both here and on my other blog - they mean such a lot!

  2. ooooh...your new home, and village, looks absolutely wonderful!! i hope you'll be very happy there. xo

  3. Ohhhhhh, it is here, that I left a comment!!!!!!!!!!

    Must check, if this post, is the same, as the post in your other blog.....

    Luna Crone

  4. Claire, your writings about your new home are lovely! I am so glad that I found them!

    1. Thank you, Grace! I felt a new home, a new phase of life (the empty nest) needed a new blog :)

  5. Just read through your beautiful words Claire, as ever sensitive and poignant. They brought to mind Derek Walcott's poem Love after Love , an interesting reflection on so many aspects of your situation...... x

    The time will come
    when, with elation,
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror,
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

  6. Your conservatory is a thing of beauty. I'm jealous.