Saturday 16 December 2006

Christmas Arrives Early

I went to visit my mother and stepfather this afternoon. My sister and her husband also came over - we're not meeting up for Christmas itself, as my sister will have rather more pressing matters to attend to...

The baby has moved round, and is now wherever it should be with only three weeks left. So thank you to everyone who said a prayer. It would appear that my nephew/niece resembles me: it got very excited when my sister started to eat chocolate cake! Nice to know we already have something in common!!

My sister and brother-in-law also gave me my Christmas present: they started off with a long explanation of how they thought it would be useful for me, especially with me being a teacher... that confused me - it sounded as if I was going to be given a supply of chalk rather than my usual present of perfume (I always ask for Dior Poison or Hypnotic Poison as I really love the smell, and I get through bucketloads of it !)

In fact it turned out to be a COMPUTER ! I was completely stunned. I have been warned that this is a combined birthday and Christmas present for the next couple of years!!

It is ever so exciting: my old computer is pretty near to death: the CD drive doesn't work, the on-off switch has just snapped within the last week, and the monitor is getting darker and darker, and takes nearly five minutes to warm up. The computer is so old that I can't get broadband, and it still uses Windows 95, which means that practically nothing new will run on it.

The advantage of having an obsolete operating system is that none of the viruses, worms and other nasties out there can cope...

Anyway, I have spent an hour or so connecting everything to check that it works - the computer is technically second-hand, as someone had returned it after a week, but the system has been re-booted, and it's got its warranty (and protective plastic strips still on the front of the disk drives)... I gather that my brother-in-law was able to get a good deal on it because of the "used" status. It also came without a monitor, but another friend had given me her old monitor (which wasn't that old, but the speakers were meant to be attached to the monitor and the attachments had snapped off) and it turns out that it's the same make as the new computer...

So, everything works. I haven't got as far as getting the internet up and running yet (I'm a bit tired, and I suspect I'll need my wits about me) and I need to download all my useful files and folders from the old computer before I can clear it out and put the new one in its place. I also need to get a cable, because the broadband connection is in the sitting room (along with the tv and phone) and I really want the computer to stay in the spare room (I've got a phone line in there, but not broadband) - but these are minor glitches !

In case anyone is interested: the new computer is a Packard Bell iMedia MC 2459. It's got a Pentium 4, 524 processor, and an 80 GB hard drive. Yum yum!!

Friday 15 December 2006

Your Prayers Please

I was chatting to one of my friends this afternoon (Max's grandmother) and she told me that her younger son (who's doing A levels) and a friend of his were involved in a horrible accident yesterday. A car swerved to avoid another car, and drove up onto the pavement, hitting the two boys. Her son is rather battered and bruised, but thankfully not badly injured. His friend was less fortunate: he is in intensive care, on a respirator, and he's had his spleen removed, but there might be more internal bleeding.

Please spare a prayer or two for all those involved.

Pilgrimage Planning

It is that time of year again... middle of Advent, so it's time to organise the Parish Pilgrimage. Somehow or other I ended up with this job last year, and, after failing to make a complete hash of it, I'm in for Round 2!

We go to Lourdes for the May half-term holiday, Monday - Friday. Rather than paying an exorbitant amount for the privilege of fitting in with whatever the official tour operators decide you should do, we organise the whole shebang "in-house". This is actually much easier than it sounds.

A small group of us went on a recce before the first "home-grown" Parish Pilgrimage and we identified a lovely three-star family-run hotel almost next door to the shrine. It's a great place - with lots of dark wood panelling straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, only without the dead bodies - and so we go back each year. The hotel staff are friendly and helpful, and are happy to arrange coaches to and from the airport. We go half-board, which allows people plenty of time to explore during the day, rather than forcing them to rush back to the hotel for lunch. And finding a good place to eat isn't exactly rocket science...

Arranging Masses and other religious activities is pretty easy as well. There are a few ghastly modern-type chapels which we avoid like a dose of the plague, but if you are willing to be flexible about times, it isn't a problem getting the chapels you want. The only restriction is that you can't book a small parish group in until after April, as the big Diocesan (and other organisation) pilgrimages are given first priority for obvious reasons.

The Torchlight Procession and the Blessed Sacrament Procession happen at fixed times each day, and the International Mass (held in the imitation-underground-car-park... oops, sorry, the St Pius X Basilica!) is on the Wednesday morning. The Stations of the Cross, a visit to the Baths, a tour of the town in the footsteps of St Bernadette, a video about the Apparitions and the opportunity for Confession all have to be slotted in around the times of Masses, so the final programme can't be sorted yet.

The most difficult part is booking the flights: unless you can charter a plane, you are pretty much at the mercy of the airlines. Full details of each passenger are required, and it is almost more trouble than its worth to change a name at a later date, so this can be a bit fraught. Prices seem to vary on a daily basis, and they go down as well as up, so booking early isn't always cheaper... though at least you're guaranteed a seat.

Anyway, the notice has gone in for this week's newsletter, and the Booking Form has been given to Fr Tim to photocopy. So now it's just a case of wait and see...

Thursday 14 December 2006

First Knight of the Catholic Blogosphere

Fr Tim over at The Hermeneutic of Continuity (I can almost spell it without looking now!!) has proposed that stalwart of the Faith Movement, Dan (also affectionately known to many as Cooperman) should be voted in by acclamation as Knight of the Blogosphere.

Absolutely brilliant idea. Vote now. At the moment the votes stand as 27 for and 0 against. I suspect that anyone who votes against this excellent suggestion will be cast into the outer darkness, and only let back in when they have bought ten pamphlets and a magazine from Dan's stall at the Faith Student Conference... and read them...

Wednesday 13 December 2006

Blogging Debut

As I scrolled down my blog checking a few things (basically trying to figure out what subjects I want to burble on about next) my eye was caught by a new blog on the block...

David, over at The Fullness of Faith, put up a link to my blog. I hadn't spotted the name before, and as the link list is the blogging equivalent of one's ears burning, I scooted over to investigate. He's a convert to Catholicism, and he also had to make the difficult decision to leave his ministry as an Anglican Vicar. So far, David just has an introduction up (but I love his choice of picture: Jesus giving Peter the keys.) It will be interesting to see how his blog develops...

More on Babies

I put up a post last week explaining that some friends of mine had recently had their baby, and that the doting grandparents had assured me that the baby was gorgeous...

Well, I went round for dinner on Monday night, and got to see the baby for myself. He is absolutely scrumptious, and has got to be the most placid and well-behaved baby I have ever clapped eyes on. He submitted to being passed around among his young aunts with hardly a gurgle. And I got to cuddle him for a bit, which was great. I need the practice, as my own nephew/niece is about to arrive.

The poor little chap got the hiccups, which shook his whole body, and left him looking a little bemused. I didn't manage to get a picture - though I still can't get photos to upload, which is beginning to irritate.

Anyway, Max is an absolute stunner!
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