Monday, July 31, 2006

Cars

We are counting our blessings this morning, as my husband`s aunt and her daughter were involved in a car crash last night.

The car is in a mess, but they are okay and had only minor injuries, Glory to God.

Makes you realise how close the Grim Reaper can be without us even guessing......as Fr Seraphim Rose famously said, "It`s later than you think...."
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House-Selling

This weekend we have had two sets of folk viewing our house.
Even if they haven`t offered to buy the house, it sure is nice to see it clean and tidy (well, as tidy as it can be with the kids home for the holidays!)

I just wish I didn`t find it so stressful having my home and possessions on display. I am steadfast that I will not take down the icons or the lampada, and my DH agrees with me.

If God wants us to move, He will send a buyer who isn`t put-off by the icons :-)
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Basil Strikes Again

Basil the pup has had his stitches removed and is back to his normal crazy self again.

This morning I found him chewing lumps out of our only rug.
Sigh.
So that`s been packed away out of his reach. He even had his favourite chewy bone next to him while he was demolishing the rug, which made it seem worse.

I could have felt more charitable if he hadn`t had anything of his own to chew, but this was just wanton destruction......... Grrr !
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Morebath Revisited

I have just finished reading Eamon Duffy`s superb book "The Voices of Morebath: Reformation and Rebellion in an English Village."

The village in question is Morebath, in the wilds of Devon, which was served by one parish priest for an amazing 54 years, and the parish saw the changes from Tudor Catholicism to the rigors of the Edwardian Prayer Book Reforms and back again under Queen Mary.

It makes almost heart-breaking reading in places, particularly when the parish was demanding a return to immediate baptism for those newborn infants whom they feared would not survive long enough to reach each Sunday`s scheduled public Baptism services, due to the high levels of infant mortality.

We are fortunate that we believe in the grace and mercy of God to cover those little ones who might for some reason die unbaptised, and I can think of no Orthodox or RC priest who would not hasten to baptised a child in such danger of death, but the new - and rigidly enforced- Anglican church could offer no such consolation to the parents.

Imagine the distress of a family who are told that their ailing newborn child could not be baptised privately and immediately, but must wait till Sunday..........Lord, have mercy.

A sad but fascinating picture of life in an isolated community. And even better, most of the obscure English quotes have been transliterated, which was a major hurdle in reading his "the Stripping of the Altars" where the accounts of Morebath are also featured !
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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thoughts on Sunday

Hi Magda !
Thanks for stopping by.
For some reason, I was - and remain - so deeply moved by these things on Sunday.

I smile each time I recall them, reminded so intensely of the enormity of the blessings God has given and continues to give me, despite all my unworthiness.

I look at the innocent faith of my children, and the need to nurture that faith with every fibre of my being, to give them a foundation of sure belief and conviction to sustain them during their lives.

I look at the need to set them a good example, which I am painfully aware that I do not do very well sometimes:-(

It is truly a fearful and wondrous thing, to be a parent.

May God grant us all grace and help to raise up our children to the very best of our abilities !
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Eeeeewwwww !

The dog is poorly today.
He had an upset tummy, the products of which emitted a noxious enough odour to wake me up this morning and come hurtling down the stairs. Unfortunately I was not in time to avert disaster, so while Basil was busy being ill in the garden, I was busy cleaning up the deposits in the house.
Yuck.

Took me 45 minutes to compeletely clean everywhere and eliminate the vile smell. Then of course I had to go in the garden and clean up all the horrors outside before any of the children managed to step in it.
Ho hum.

I phoned the vet for advice, and ws told to starve him today except for water, and then give him fish, chicken and boiled rice for the next three days. Ouch. He is going to be eating better than I am for the next few days, LOL.

Out of curiosity I asked how much it would cost for the vet to come to the house, as DH is working away at present and I am transport-less for the time being.
Cost is £52 + consultation fee(another £20) + the cost of any treatment or medication given.
So the chance of having any change out of £100 is minimal.
I am glad we have pet insurance, but nevertheless, there would still be an excess of £30 to pay.

Gulp.
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Prayers for Peace

I have avoided posting about the desperate and precarious situation between Israel and Lebanon because I simply don`t feel I have enough knowledge to justify making comments about it.

The suffering innocents of all religions - and none- in that region of the world are in my prayers.

Make God grant peace soon.

Lord, have mercy........
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Sunday Joys

The incense swirling dreamily in the sun-lit little chapel, and DD4 standing entranced and enthralled as only a four year-old can be, her finger outstretched, tracing the outlines of the incense...........

Hearing her whisper "I want to light a prayer!" and taking her to the candlestand, where she whispers a prayer and oh so carefully lights a candle.......

Watching her stand motionless for most of the service, close to her godmother, observing everything that goes on; and her godmother helping her to make the sign of the Cross at all the appropriate moments (something she does still sometimes get mixed up, especially as she is left-handed)..........

Seeing her stand as close to the Holy Doors as she can from the time of the Great Entrance onwards, in her eagerness to receive the Holy Gifts with her godmother...

Watching our Priest solemnly cense and bow to every single member of the congregation gathered in the small chapel, especially the children....

Smiling at the seamless interchange of the cantor from English to Welsh to Greek at various parts of the service, and hearing my young ones respond in all three languages..........

These were some of the small joys of Church on Sunday, culminating in the privilege of receiving the Most Holy Mysteries with my daughters and my church family.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Church Impotent..........

Dave Holford has a brilliant post about the Protestant view of the the Church Triumphant ( or as they see it, the Church Impotent ).
Well worth a read !
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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Basil

Basil the dog has been duly emasculated, and so has my wallet.

The cost of removing his testicles was £95, plus £6 for worming tablets, £22 for microchipping plus £5 refundable deposit for his enormous plastic ruff to stop him attacking his stitches. He goes back in just over a week to have his stitches removed.

He was wobbly after the anaesthetic, but pleased to see me and be back home. He seems to be fine now, but boy, does he hate that ruff collar........ and the fact that he can`t go for runs till after the stitches come out, but has to just have short walks on the lead.
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Zombie-fied

We actually had a respite from the hot weather on Thursday, when the temperature went down to 25 degrees, but it was still oppressively stuffy and hard to breathe whilst indoors.
Friday was back to insanity level heat, and even with the bedroom fan on all night, I still haven`t had anything like a good night`s sleep now for over a week.

I feel like a Zombie.......
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School`s Out For Summer

Yesterday was last day of school for our young ones till 7th September.

We were extremely sad to bid farewell to one of the staff, Mrs D, who is retiring to go live abroad. She is a truly lovely person and both the young ones are extremely fond of her.

The parents hosted a surprise party for her in school, and so the two youngest classes and parents had a picnic in the school grounds under the shelter of the big trees. It was great fun, but bitter-sweet.

Mrs D has been at the school for 26 years, and we will all miss her. The Head gave a super speech about her, and loads of photos were taken, including one of the two classes she has taught in the last two years, all sitting surrounding her on the grass.

May God grant her Many Years !
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nature Notes

I was thrilled to hear the sounds of ducklings cheeping when we walked past the pond earlier this week. Despite the floods a while ago that killed the swans` eggs, the great-crested grebe pair have raised a young one, and the moorhens have raised three young.
Surprisingly, there are no other youngsters on the pond this year.

And no rat sightings at all, either :-)

The dog has eaten all the green apples from the tree, and is trying to strip the unripe plums form that tree too, so he is under strict supervision when he goes in the garden at present. Funnily enough, he doesn`t attempt to steal the raspberries which are ripening nicely at just his level, LOL.

Aforementioned dog goes to the vet on Thursday to be neutered. Considering it is a simple enough job, we will be £95 worse off. Goodness only knows what they charge to spay a bitch, which is in all fairness a much more complex procedure..........
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sweltering In The Heat

Officially, the maximum temperature for our area was supposed to be a scorching 34 degrees C today.
After the girls and I had trudged home in what seemed like relentless heat, out of curiosity I got our room thermometer and put it outside in direct sunshine.

I was so surprised at the result that I even took a photo of it, but I can`t post it as the dog has eaten the camera USB cable :-(

It registered in excess of 48 degrees C in direct sun at 3.45 pm in my back garden, folks ! It was 36 degrees in the shade............. no wonder we were struggling as we walked home today. I know these wouldn`t be accepted as "accurate" readings for meteorological purposes, but in reality it was unbearably hot here in Blogtown, regardless of what the "official" temperature was recorded as.
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The Stripping of the Altars

I don`t think I ever got round to discussing the Eamon Duffy book, "Stripping The Altars" which I read a while back. I read it quite quickly, and it was a fascinating, though at times difficult read.

It was obviously inteneded to be a scholarly read, and some quotations were in Latin, with no translation provided. I have a smattering of Latin from school, but some of them defeated me.What was even more embarrassing was that some of the medieval English quotes I struggled with, and I have studied Chaucer and many other medieval writers in the original in University....
Actually, I fared better with the Latin on the whole, than I did with the English - go figure !

It has inspired me to really pick up my Latin studies again; I would like to be able to read St Benedict`s Rule in the original Latin, for instance.
There is a brilliant online Church Latin course here which might be of interest. I am working my way through it slowly, and looking in charity shops for old Latin prayer books and in the - so far vain- hope that I might even find a Latin bible :-)

Anyway, I digress. The Duffy book is really interesting, and so very sad in places. It must have been desperately confusing and heartbreaking for so many people, to find their churches and services being altered, and cherished customs thrown out of the window, so to speak. It made me think how I would feel if I was suddenly told one day that the Oecumenical Patriarch had decided that XYZ were no longer essential parts of our belief, and that all our icons were to go, and that none of the Dormition Paraclesis services were to be held , etc.etc.

The confusion, disruption and sadness could only be imagined if all the wonderworking Icons were to be publically burnt and the pilgrimage churches pulled down. All this happened in England, so it is no wonder there were revolts in Tudor England during the Reformation.......
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Lingerie Adventures

It started off as a simple item on my shopping list today : Buy new bra.

I would imagine this is the point when many of my female readers will begin to laugh in solidarity........................

I have always had difficulty finding a bra that fits; ironically,the only time I have ever been able to get one to fit was when I was breastfeeding, and Mothercare had brilliant bras. They fitted and they were COMFORTABLE too.

Armed with the information culled from a newspaper that most women wear bras which are the wrong size for them, I dutifully googled for websites with bra calculation sizes. I visited two different UK sites and was a tad perturbed to find that one site said I needed an A cup, the other site said I needed a D cup in the same size. I normally have a C.

So today I went shopping. I thought it was going to be simple, but it proved anything but...........

Very few of the ones I liked were in either of my supposed correct sizes, but eventually I managed to find one in each cup size. When I tried them on, with one I couldn`t breathe (which I happen to feel is sooo important!) and the other was obviously the wrong cup size :-)

So I tried on two more bras, in different sizes, in increasing desperation before I gave it up as a bad job and went home to brood.

I think the only option is to go back to Mothercare in our nearest Big Town and buy from there, which feels ridiculous when DD4 is nearly five years old and I am definitely not pregnant , LOL.
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Crazy Britain

If any of you still think that Britain is a sane and normal country, read this over at Dave Holford`s Blog.

Like Dave, I shake my head in utter disbelief that this could happen.......
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Bad Dog

Yesterday, Basil was officially declared a bad dog.

His crime ?

Unprovoked jumping up in the air before launching himself at speed to try to lick his unsuspecting victim`s face. As he is now six months old, of large build and physically quite imposing, it is no laughing matter, especially when he ignored all call backs by me in favour of greeting people very physically on the beach not just once, but twice in a very short space of time.

This is the first time he has wilfully ignored a callback ( I always reward him for obedience to callbacks), so he is now offically a BAD DOG.

The first couple he tried to lick to death were NOT impressed, and I don`t blame them; the second couple just laughed and said "Ah, he`s only a puppy!" - which of cours ehe is, but now he is developing a mind of his own, and I need to know he will be instantly obedient when he is loose in a public place.

Aaagh.

I will be booking him in with an obedience trainer forthwith, but have any of you got any ideas?

He is such a great dog, apart from this habit of jumping up to greet people.If it had been a child or a frail elderly person, he could have done them serious harm, and I have no intention of risking it.
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Anglican Modernity

One day this week, I popped into one of the very few churches that is still open for private prayer during the week.
I had cause to be thankful for a blessing received, and just wanted to mark the moment, so in I went and prayed quietly and lit a candle.
Votive candles were only 10p each (yay!). There was even an icon there.

On my way out, I met an elderly lady who remembered me from the congregation a great many moons ago, and she asked me what I thought of the changes to the layout of the church. I did try to be tactful and positive, but I had to say that I had left this denomination to become Orthodox and that I very much appreciated the liturgical stability this involved.

She told of frequent liturgical change, all in the name of progress and modernity and attracting the youth, whereas the reality is that of a very rapidly declining congregation which is predominantly over 65 years of age.As she pointed out, if nothing is done to reverse this trend, within twenty years this parish will be dying on its knees.At present there are only a tiny number of people my age in the congregation and I`m 42!

This year, there were only a handful of youngsters receiving Confirmation from this parish, whereas when I was in Confirmation classes, there were at least 30 of us there, and the adults had separate instruction!

I felt so desperately sad. The priest in charge is a good man, but keen on modernity to an extent that the liturgy and language are frequently updated, including the Lord`s Prayer, so any unsuspecting visitor about to recite the familar and loved version (and which is still the one taught to my young ones at their school!) will be heading for public discomfiture.

There is a nave altar, but it has always been the case that the Communion is distributed from the High Altar Communion Rail. Recently, the priest in charge decided to have everyone receive Communion form the Nave altar.
This provoked quite marked rumblings of discontent form the congregation, and my stalwart lady told me that she said to the Priest, very firmly, that if what he proposed was going to make a difference to increasing and retaining the numbers of youngsters attending, she would be all for it, but if it wasn`t, could he please just leave this sacred moemnt the way it was. Needless to say, the matter was dropped and the congregation heaved a sigh of relief and continue to Commune at the Altar rail.

She is also a member of the Mothers Union, and she told me that this respected national Anglican church group has rewritten the prayer said at every meeting no less than three times in the last five years "to update it". How on earth can anything need updating so much in that time-frame?
Lord have mercy.
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

St Benedict and St Scholastica

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St Benedict`s Day

Today, the Western Church celebrates the feast of our holy Father amongst the Saints, Benedict.
In Europe, traces of St Benedict`s influence can be found everywhere, with remains of, and current monasteries widespread.

For those of us with a literary interest, Ellis Peters` monastic sleuth Brother Cadfael was a Benedictine :-)

The life of St Benedict was written by St Gregory the Great and can be found here

A lovely painting depicting scenes from St Benedict`s life can be found at the National Gallery website

Holy Father Benedict, pray for us !
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Frustration

I wish there were more, user-friendly books in English about the practicalities of learning and living Holy Orthodoxy ..................................

I am becomingly increasingly frustrated at obvious wonderful books that I would love, appearing on EBay, but they are all in Russian.
Like this and this and this one in Ukrainian.

Is it just me?
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Heart Sink

A propos the news that the Anglican Synod has passed a resolution to formally allow the elevation of female priests to the episcopate, my heart sank.
This action has meant that the Anglican communion has now officially placed itself way beyond reach of unity with either the RCs or the Orthodox church.

When will they wake up and realise that instead of pandering to the whims and eagerly demanded "rights" of some of its most vociferous members, it should be more concerned with handing down the Faith *without* watering it down to make it acceptable to society ?

No-one ever said Christianity was easy. Sometimes it is very hard , but that doesn`t mean it should be made easier..................
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Open Day

Saturday was an open day at the local RC convent`s retreat centre, so out of curiosity, I simply had to go visit :-)

There were loads of visitors, and I was warmly welcomed by one of the sisters. The gardens were lovely, and the retreat centre was homely. The sitting room had a variety of videos, including Sister Act, which did make me chuckle.

I made a special point of visiting the Chapel, which was, shall we say - austere by Orthodox standards. There was a statue of Christus Regnat on the wall above the altar, and no crucifix at all in the chapel that I could see, other than that shown in the mini-stations of the Cross around the walls. A few statues, and a tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament with a vigil lamp burning before it.

It was very cool and calm and clinical, and I found it very hard to pray there.It just seemed like any other room in any ordinary house, except that we have icons dotted around in every room in our house, and my eyes automatically turn to them when I pray.

I think I am starting to get disorientated without icons, LOL.
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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Cousin Guy

Heartfelt thanks for your kind prayers for my cousin.

I am pleased to let you know that he is doing much better now, although his blood sugar levels are still unstable and way too high for comfort.

He is on five doses of insulin daily, and the hospital discharged him after 48 hours because they needed the bed for someone else :-0

Considering he was described as in critical condition when he was admitted to hospital, I am incredulous that they have discharged him, particularly with all the health problems that uncontrolled diabetes can cause.

Sometimes it seems the National Health Service is more like the National Neglect Service..................
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The Convent Completed

Well, I don`t know whether the series ended with a whimper or with a bang !

I did find it very satisfying, though possibly most non-church folk might have found it rather tame...............

The "particular friendship" between Angela, the high-achiever and Victoria the atheist poet finally became a bone of contention with the nuns, who felt it was being unhelpful to the two concerned to spend all their free time solely in each other`s company, and also to the other two women.

We saw a fascinating meeting of the nuns, the result of which was that Angela and Victoria were confronted by one of the nuns who said they felt that although the two were enjoying being together, it was hindering their spiritual journey intended to take place in relative quiet and solitude, and that the two were excluding Iona and Debi by their particular friendship. They hotly denied this, but Debi bravely spoke up and said that she did indeed feel lonely and excluded by their actions.

I do think the nuns could perhaps have spoken about this much earlier than the last ten days, for it to have had more effect, though. Angela and Victoria were vehementally vocal and indignant on the "diary camera" about this, but did moderate their friendship somewhat, and guess what, that is when they began to make some progress.............

The nuns also spoke of how difficult they had sometimes found the experiment, with their home being taken over by women, some of whom quite often made no attempt to take on board the beliefs and values held so dearly by the nuns, nor to abide by the rules designed for the smooth and harmonious running of the Convent.

Iona the free spirit singer who had found it so very hard to deal with the structured day and services, began to see the immense value in sticking to something you may not always want to do or find conducive, and told of feeling that she needed to worship God even if she didn`t feel like it.

Debi, who had struggled so bravely with issues of her abandonment as a child by her mother, and her subsequent feelings of worthlessness, finally was able to forgive her mother, and come to terms with what had happened, and felt able to go up for a blessing during the daily Mass with a free heart.

Angela, after initially picking a quarrel with Debi over her previous refusal to go for a blessing whilst Debi had such anger and resentment in her heart, found that she needed to live in the present, to stop judging everyone else and their progresss by her own workaholic "must achieve" standards, and decided to stop wasting time doing things of no value and spend more time with her parents whilst she still had the chance to do so.

Victoria also found comfort and stability in the routine, and accepted that she did now believe in a Supreme Being, though not necessarily the God the Poor Clare nuns believed in. She also said how much she loved her husband, and spoke of her dream to live with him in the country, and have a settled life with some children.

They all spoke so lovingly and warmly of all the Sisters, whose unconditional - but sometimes tough-love - for them was so obvious.

I really enjoyed it. I hope it gets to you soon, Ian !
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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Icon Quiz

I found this Icon Quiz over at Beliefnet, which was rather fun :-0
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Family News

We had some bad news last night.

One of my cousins, Guy, has been under the weather and losing huge amounts of weight over the last few weeks. Yesterday, his brother frogmarched him down the doctor`s. A jolly good thing too - his brother saved his life, literally.

The end result is that he has been diagnosed with severe insulin dependent diabetes, and his blood sugar was 37mmol.

37 !!

He is lucky he didn`t go into a ketoacidotic coma..........needless to say, he is in hospital having whopping amounts of insulin via IV infusion to stabilise his condition. Prayers would be much appreciated.
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4th of July

Happy 4th of July to all my readers across the Pond !
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Monday, July 03, 2006

Hot Dog

At 2.30pm today, it was 30 degrees in the shade chez nous.
It is too hot for comfort.

The kids are sulking, the dog is sulking and I am sulking.

By the time the girls and I had walked home from school, we were all scarlet-faced and desperate for ice-cold drinks.
Phew!
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Jottings.

I realise that I have written very little about myself recently.
There isn`t much to report !

When walking home from school, I say as much of the Orthodox morning prayers as I know by heart. I continue to try to recite the Benedctine Daily Office in part at least, most days. If I can manage to say Lauds and Vespers, I am pleased. When I have more time, I add a midday office and compline.
Weekends everything tends to go pear-shaped,but I am now making strenuous attemts to remember/motivate myself to say Lauds and Vespers, come what may.

The key is undoubtedly self-discipline / motivation.

It is just so easy to conveniently "feel too tired" to recite Vespers, yet I miraculously find the energy to stay up to watch "House MD" or "the Convent" !

It is precisely when I feel too busy or stressed or anxious or tired to pray that I most need to do so, in order to keep a spiritual anchor for my life as well as to sanctify my day by engaging with God in prayer at various times.

I am loving using the Psalms in prayer! I have also bought a copy of Maureen Girard`s "Orthodox Prayers for Everyday", which gives the lay fixed texts of the daily Hours, plus morning and evening prayer and preparation for Communion prayers in one handy and slim little volume.I use this some days as well as the Benedictine prayers.

Each time I read St Benedict`s Rule, I am struck by how sane and wise his advice is, even now. The eternal Truths never change, though, do they?
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Heatwave

It is so hot here at the moment ! Yesterday was 30 degrees, today is supposed to be 31 degrees. It is hotter here than it is in Rio, apparently !

When I walk the girls to school at 08.25 am, it is scorching hot already.
DD1 and I took the dog for a walk today; we were out of the house by 08.55 and it was almost unearably hot until we got to the beach, where there was a slight breeze.

Basil had the right idea, as he plunged straight into the sea to cool off.
I rather wish I had joined him, now :-)

I`m hoping it will cool down a little, as the younger ones have their school Sports Day events on Wednesday, and they are going to really suffer in this heat.......
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