Saturday, 28 November 2015

Advent Preparations...

20151128_141859 I do love my parish in Margate - there is just so much happening! Two weeks ago we had the Michaelmas Fair; this afternoon saw the annual wreath-making workshop for Advent.

I'm not the most practical of people, especially when it comes to greenery - I prefer experiments which go bang and things which burn brightly, hence my career as a Science teacher. But I do love to watch people being creative, and we had that at St. Austin & St. Gregory in bucketloads! It was great fun to watch people (of all ages) get stuck in...


And some of the younger participants had even dressed up for the occasion...


(...well, ok, maybe they were just dressed like that anyway!)

Oasis foam rings were provided for everyone who wanted to have a go at making their own wreath, along with candles, candle-holders and greenery. Lots of greenery...


Pretty baubles, gilded pine cones and other decorations could also be added. And for the dexterously-challenged, such as myself, extra wreaths were made up by the talented parish team of "flower girls" for sale after the blessing of wreaths on Sunday morning.

Kathy (in the purple jacket) told me that it was all much easier than it looked, and explained how she had been roped in to flower arranging in the parish. It sounded as if she was trying to encourage my own creative talents. Knowing that my wreath-making abilities are minimal, and being frankly far more interested in sitting around drinking tea, eating mince pies, chatting and taking photos, I had come prepared, and handed over some hard cash for one of the extra wreaths. Kay asked me if I minded baubles on my wreath. I explained that I positively welcomed baubles, but that, as I wasn't sure what my two cats would be likely to chomp, I would prefer not to have any holly berries. So I got a bespoke Advent wreath which I will collect in the morning once it's been blessed...


I thought that the Advent wreath for the church looked particularly elegant...


Meanwhile, the Crib was being set up in front of the Lady Altar...


... and, at least until Christmas, this is what the finished Crib looks like...



There are a few more photos on my Flickr page. The afternoon made a very enjoyable way to prepare for Advent. I can't wait to collect my wreath tomorrow!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Treat...

We are having a Solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at St. Austin & St. Gregory's, Margate. Mass starts at 7:30pm, so I shall have to race the schoolchildren to the gate at the end of the day, but it'll be worth it!

I think the music is something by Palestrina. It'll be a real treat to hear it in the setting and circumstances for which it was composed...

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Skies That Inspired Turner...

2014-11-01 16.19.00I had been told that Turner once declared that "...the skies above Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe." I always assumed that this was artistic hyperbole; after all, sky was sky. It didn't matter where you were, you had the same amount of sky, and, while it would change according to the weather conditions, it was pretty much the same everywhere.

After visiting Margate a few times, I realised that Turner actually had a point. The quality of the light is amazing, and unlike anything else I have experienced. I can't paint, but I do love to try and capture the moods and light with my camera.

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I took lots of photos during the Summer as I strolled along the sea front. But I was interested to see how the views would change as the wintry weather developed, and so, on a rather changeable day in November, I went out with my camera to see what I could come up with.

None of the photos have been edited or filtered in any way...

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You can see a few more over on my Flickr pages...

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Margate's Michaelmas Fair

We had a Michaelmas Fair last week at St. Austin & St. Gregory, Margate. I felt the urge to get back to my hobby, so took a few photos which, I thought, came out rather well.

Deacon Neville and his wife, Anne, did a grand job of trying to persuade me to buy some children's toys. I resisted, but the absence of a sale wasn't due to lack of effort on their part - I had absolutely no cash on me, as I'd spent it all on petrol for my new car!


Yvonne and Breda had a fabulous stall with various items of costume jewellery. I don't wear anything other than my crucifix and miraculous medal, but I was seriously tempted by some of the beautiful bead necklaces...


...and so, it would appear, was Deacon Ambrose...


I was rather amused to see that cats feature pretty much everywhere...


All the photos from the Fair can be seen on my Flickr pages.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Night Is Always Darkest Before The Dawn...

I'm praying that this is true because what little I'm reading right now (and it is deliberately a very little) about the Synod is very dark indeed.

For some reason, the phrase "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out" keeps coming to mind. I remember it from the book by Robert Graves, Claudius the God.

The Emperor Claudius realises that he has, by his attempts at benevolent rule, effectively scuppered all chances of a true Republic being restored, as all the evil, corruption and intrigues are hidden away. He determines to make those around him show their true colours by being unresisting and compliant. He will be "Old King Log," inert and unprotesting, as everything gets worse and worse before it just has to be overthrown.

It seems so very appropriate. I can't help wondering if there was something of this in the resignation of Pope Benedict. Some of the madder bishops appear to have been kept in check by their knowledge that they would be called out by the CDF and now, under Pope Francis, they appear happy to show their true natures.

In the book, Claudius's plan didn't quite work out the way he intended. In contrast, we have Christ's promise that he Church will prevail in the end - unfortunately we don't know how bad things will get in the meantime.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to pray that it's not an oncoming train.

Friday, 28 August 2015

It Was Only A Matter Of Time...

I explained a couple of posts ago that I had had a catflap installed in my new flat. The cats have been a bit reluctant to use it, because, due to the double glazing here, it is a little more "clattery" than the one in my previous place.

There is also a slight drop on the other side of the door, making access a tad trickier for my rather well-fed moggies. Both of them tried the plaintive miaow from the other side of the door trick,and, although I gave in once for each cat (it was pouring with rain on both occasions) I then hardened my heart, and waited for them to figure out the mechanics. I also provided an incentive by removing the litter trays.

Tonight, just three weeks after the installation of the catflap, Miaowrini brought home her first catch.

I thought it was dead, and so, obviously, did Miaowrini, as she laid it carefully on the floor in the front room. Just as I was about to remove the corpse, it opened an eye and fluttered its wings in an attempt to get away. I used a tea towel in order to scoop it up, and took a photo. Furretti had joined us, and the noise of two excited cats and one unhappy bird (the latter possibly calling for mum - it had a fledgling sort of look) was rather startling.

Having checked that there were no obvious injuries, I let the bird out of the front window, and it flew off. Miaowrini was not amused, and she is now sulking.

Does anyone have any idea what type of bird this was?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Happy Memories...

About a month ago, the Day With Mary team visited Margate. As my previous posts probably indicated (HERE and HERE) I love the Days With Mary - a full-on, no-nonsense, Marian pilgrimage fitted into the space of a few hours. A devotional whirlwind which picks you up, gives you a shake and leaves you enthused and encouraged in your spiritual life.

Mere words can't convey the experience very well - I make it sound as if it is all a complete rush, but it really isn't. The atmosphere of prayer and calm is amazing... but it's energising and uplifting, and exciting at the same time as well.

A picture speaks a thousand words - and you can see lots of photos here. However, a video clip trumps a picture every time...

One of the talks given by Fr. Finigan can also be seen:

And here is a link to a video of his sermon. On all the videos, the singing of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate is hauntingly beautiful.

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Tim.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Hunting Licenses Reissued...

Annuncio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus ostium kitti cattus!*

I have finally succeeded in having a cat flap installed in my bedroom door... this has taken much more time and effort than I anticipated because the door is double-glazed and I really didn't want to have a half PVC door put in. It would have been much easier from the cat flap point of view, but I would have lost an incredible amount of natural light.

Anyway, the cats appear rather unsure what to make of it all. Furretti was actually the first to venture out, but she decided that it wasn't that interesting, and promptly returned to her current favourite spot on top of my school papers for another nap. Furretti's favourite spot is nearly always on top of whatever I'm working on, preferably while I am working on it.

Miaowrini is much more fascinated by the idea of "the great outdoors". Because the cat flap is much bigger and noisier than the previous one (due to the double glazing) I have temporarily taken the door off to encourage exploration. Miaowrini has been going out for periods of 20 seconds or so, and then sits staring at the door. If I return to the sitting room, she immediately runs after me - as if she is only brave enough to venture out if I'm beside her. So it is probably just as well that I had to wait until the holidays before getting the cat flap.

I expect that the two kitties will soon get the hang of going outdoors again, and then it will be business as usual. In anticipation, I have started up a new version of the Kitty Kill Count... anyone want to start a book on how soon I get presented with my first seagull...?

*Yes, I know it should just be "cattus" not "kitti cattus", but I couldn't resist!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Supreme Catisfaction...!

I am feeling deliriously happy this evening. I have been an awesome kitty-whisperer and good Samaritan all at the same time!

Two weeks ago, my upstairs neighbours lost their cat. She was less than a year old, and had never been outside, though she had a habit of walking from the bedroom window over the roof tiles to the balcony. Unfortunately, one evening, she appeared to slip on wet tiles... only her absence wasn't immediately noticed.

Time passed, and I noticed that Kiara hadn't been found - and a cat basket with a towel, and a pair of her owner's shoes were left in the front garden, just in case she came back needing shelter. It really was a heartbreaking sight.

Anyway, this evening I was curled up in bed, settling down to peruse my Twitter feed, when a movement outside my bedroom back door caught my eye. There, looking in, was a black and white cat. I cautiously approached the door, but the cat ran away. I opened it, and sat down making encouraging noises, and, to my delight, the cat ventured closer.

Unfortunately, Miaowrini then spotted the new arrival, and made her displeasure clear, and the other cat ran away again. I managed to get Miaowrini out of the bedroom, and prevented Furretti from trying to come in, and promptly shut the door. I then sat by the back door and made a few more encouraging noises.

It took five minutes before she got near enough for me to stroke her cheek... but cats love to be scratched just under the jaw there, and as she pushed against my hand I was able to grasp the scruff of her neck and then shut the door so she couldn't escape. I then bundled her into a cat carrier and rang my neighbours to let them know I had found a cat.

The reunion nearly reduced me to tears...

Miaowrini and Furretti are less happy - they saw the interloper arrive, but haven't quite figured out that she's been taken back out, and are busy scouring the flat in an attempt to repel boarders. I am definitely in the dog house for daring to befriend another feline. Never mind - it'll all be forgiven once I crack open the tinned tuna...

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

More About The Day With Mary...

For another edifying and uplifting account of last Saturday's spiritual whirlwind in Margate, do pop on over to read what Annie Elizabeth has written. She also has photos of the processions and book stalls, so it's well worth a look.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Day With Mary Arrives In Margate...

My Summer holiday started in the best way possible - the Day With Mary team came to the parish of St. Austin & St. Gregory's, Margate.

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The Day With Mary is a real spiritual powerhouse - it's a bit like going on a week's pilgrimage to Lourdes or Fatima... squeezed into the space of an afternoon. I really used to look forward to their annual visits to Blackfen; fortunately, this year, they were able to fit Margate into their busy programme...

We started with prayers and the crowning of the statue of Our Lady, followed by a procession around the local streets with the statue and the recitation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Then we had Mass - a wonderful Missa Cantata, with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate chanting the propers, and they sounded awesome.

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Fr. Finigan gave a really good sermon, which will hopefully be made available on the DWM website soon. The thurifer and I both remarked afterwards that it really was a stonking good sermon, and ticked all the right boxes - which led to my proposal that we start giving out cards for "Sermon Bingo". First person to get a line has to shout "Church!"

Mass was followed by the Consecration of the Parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I found that particularly moving, especially when, in amongst the various groups of the parish, the Schola got a mention! Then, a break for lunch, and an opportunity to browse the extensive bookstall and the collection of rosaries, medals, scapulars, statues and prayer cards which the team had brought along. Due to the numbers attending, many people sat outside the church hall and a few more wandered around the presbytery garden. Fortunately the weather was absolutely glorious.

We returned to the church for Exposition, an outdoor procession of the Blessed Sacrament, a sermon given by a Fr. John Lawrence Polis, FI, the recitation of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, and a meditation on each of the Stations of the Cross, Then it was time for tea.

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Finally, we had the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, another sermon by Fr. Finigan, Benediction, enrolment into the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and conferring of the Miraculous Medal, blessing of any religious objects and the final farewell to Our Lady's statue...

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That last bit always makes me want to cry.

Seeing scores of people waving white hankies as a sign of their devotion brings a lump to my throat, every single time. I can't explain why it should be such an emotional moment. But I know I'm not the only one to feel that way.

I took a few photos during the day, and if you want to get a glimpse of what a Day With Mary is like, you can have a look at my Flickr album. If you hear that the team is visiting a parish near you, I would heartily recommend going - just for a part of the day if you can't find time for the whole thing. I guarantee you'll leave feeling invigorated, refreshed and encouraged in your practice of the Faith.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Margate Sands & The Beginning Of Summer...

At the beginning of the month I ventured out onto the beach near my new flat. However, the sunshine was deceptive, and a bitter wind meant that I had little inclination to walk very far, or to do more than admire the waves from a safe (and dry) distance.

I'd initially had all sorts of good resolutions about walking to and from the station each day, but the reality of having to leave the house at 5:30am in order to catch the train soon persuaded me that this just wasn't going to happen. I'd have had to leave even earlier if I wanted to walk in the morning, and I was generally too wrecked in the evening to do anything other than crawl gratefully into my car (or a taxi.)

It is now the end of May, and although the weather is a little changeable, it's getting much warmer. Margate was packed for yesterday's Bank Holiday, but today was considerably quieter, and I decided that it was probably a good time to take another little stroll along the sea front.

In order to provide motivation (my psychology background does occasionally prove useful) I left my car parked at home, and took a taxi to lunch at The Hoy, (just opposite the Turner Contemporary) where they do a really good steak. Admirably fed and watered (*ahem*) it was then time to meander homewards.

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I had originally intended to walk on the pavement beside the beach, but the tide was out, and the lifeboat launch area provided an inviting slope towards the waterline. The Harbour Arm end is quite deep when the tide is in, so the sand was nice and firm. I was fascinated by all the worm casts and ripples in the sand...

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As I reached the boating pool, I found that the tide had moved further in, and it was a case of retreating right up the beach to the promenade or taking off my shoes and paddling round the rocks. I gleefully opted for the latter, feeling decidedly "naughty" as I had no intention of removing my tights and would have wet feet (and no towel!) Paddling in the sea is something I haven't done for years! I can heartily recommend it...

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I reached the top of the slope near my flat about 45 minutes after I started off, and was quite amazed to see the distance I had travelled... You can just make out the Turner Contemporary building in the distance (click on the picture for a better view)...

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More photos can be seen on my Flickr page.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Thanet's The Place To Be...

It's all go in Thanet...

This evening I attended Mass for the Feast of the Ascension at the gorgeous Shrine of St. Augustine at Ramsgate. A simple Missa Cantata... except that the music was courtesy of the Victoria Consort, and it was heavenly! Their superb voices completely filled the church. If you can't get to Thanet, you can always buy their CD...

This Sunday, 17 May, the parish of Ramsgate (St. Ethelbert's) is hosting a viewing of the latest DVD from St. Anthony Communications - so new that it isn't even up on their website yet. Called Marriage: God's design for Life and Love, the film presents the Catholic vision and understanding of marriage and the natural law, the beauty and meaning of human sexuality, family, and of the gift of children, and it addresses the challenges we face in our world today.

The DVD includes presentations by stalwarts of the Faith such as Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Bishop Mark Davies, Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent, Just to whet your appetite, here's the official trailer...

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Noble Art Of Kitty Shui...

We've all heard of Feng Shui... but less well-known is Kitty Shui (pron. shoo-ee) which involves chasing cats out of empty spaces...

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