Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Summer Wanderings: Bikes, Buddhists Bunting and Birds

Welcome back to the blog after the Summer break. And what a Summer it was this year! Sun, sea,  soggy sand, (which Mr GP had to pull me out of!) and...silliness. Well, not the last, but  I had to find something else beginning with the same letter. Here's a quick tour of what I've called the Summer of the volunteer.

Souvenir from LEL 2013 - Control Eskdalemuir

First off, we caught two  trains  and a bus to  the wilds of Eskdalemuir in Scotland to join the doughty team of volunteers supporting thousands of cyclists riding the LEL London-Edinburgh London cycle event. How do you begin to describe such a mammoth undertaking? Mr GP rode in this four years ago; this time he wanted to experience it from the other side. We'd deliberately chosen this remote location, because of it being one we'd passed through several years previously on our Durham-Iona walk. Also due to to the nearby presence of the Samye Ling Buddhist monastery and Tibetan centre: a wonderfully peaceful place to wander round between shifts; the fact that they have a great coffee shop is neither here nor there... I'll keep you any  longer, but in true Blue Peter style, pass you on to something somebody else made earlier -  by Peter, a fellow volunteer who captures the whole experience far better than I ever could.

Siloth on Solway - Milennium mosaic
From there we hurtled back down to Carlisle and out to sunny Siloth on Solway. What a discovery there, too! Simple, honest to goodness unspolt seaside with wonderful views from  the Solway back over to Scotland in one direction and towards the 'proper,' Lake District in the other. Somebody told me that you've not visited the true Lake District until you've been to Keswick.

Home Comforts: A little corner of Greenbelt 2013

Then on  - for me at least - to Greenbelt Festival where I was volunteering again  in one of the worship venues. I've said before my personal experience of the festival  seems to alternate between one good and one bad year. 2010, good, 2011, less than positive, 2012 much better. 2013? I'd say it was the year of change and challenge - for many of us, I'd guess, as we came to term with the challenges of a re-configured (because of the damage done to the racecourse during last year's floods) and much smaller site. Apart from the inevitable noise pollution which was unavoidable with several major music venues Big top and beer tent all located up one end of the festival village, and the loss of several much-loved venues to the downscaling, I rather liked it myself. It seemed much cosier and less intimidating to this dyed in the wool introvert, whilst as a hard-working volunteer I found that with the smaller distances between locations, I actually managed to get to more than one talk this time round. Sue Pickering's first talk on the Friday evening on the spirituality of ageing, Hopeweaver's creative morning prayer, Steve Chalke, Abbot Christopher Jamieson's breathtaking session on contemplative prayer - I was stewarding for this one, but it was so popular that we had the doors open. I'll never forget standing there watching what must have been over 300 people, deep in silent prayer, some I guess, for the first time ever,  whilst the hullaballoo of the festival was all around them. Plenty other memories too - many of them came with the volunteer experience. A classic being helping to steward a long, long queue of folk queuing for the Goth eucharist whilst a silent eucharist was being held just across the hallway. Surreal isn't in it!

That pesky 'inner parrot!'

Finally, last weekend, I'd a great time introducing some groups to the Sybil MacBeth colouring prayer methods as part of a series of interactive workshops over the county border. Pictured here is that pesky 'Inner Parrot,' (inner critic), who played a walk-on part being ceremoniously binned at the start of each session! I fancy he looks suitably  subdued now, don't you? 

So, on with the autumn with many changes forecast in my little corner. Fasten your seatbelts now...


  1. Wow, what a summer! Puts mine in the shade... And welcome back. Can't wait to hear more of what you've been up to. LOVE the ceremonial binning of the Inner Parrot (may pinch that some time...). Any pics of the Goth Eucharist? I'm intrigued! Hope autumn brings you as much to reflect on.

    1. I bet there'll be some on the GB website...will have a look. Missed it myself as I was busy with the silent eucharist people, though I did meet a Goth vicar when I was sent over to beg some extra communion wafers; we had so many folk wanting to take part that we ran out!

  2. Good to hear that you have had an interestingly challenging summer. One day I might make it to Greenbelt. Maybe...

    I like the idea of the "inner parrot". I imagine the inner critic more as weaselly weasels who insinuate themselves into corners. But your parrot does indeed look subdued. So he should be!

    1. Hi Dormouse. Maybe one day - you never know...

      Yes, 'he,' could equally well be the weaselly weasel, slimy snake or grumbly gremlin. I bet we've all got our favourite images.


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