Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nice News

On a happier note, our beloved parish priest and his wife are celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary this week.
God grant them long life, health, happiness and Many Years !
Mnogaya Lyeta !! Chronia Polla !!
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Creepy Crawlies

Yesterday I was privileged to witness a miracle.

It was only a spider, in my garden, busily spinning a large web, but it was amazing !
A miracle of creation, creating a thing of beauty for us bystanders and a thing of immense practicality for the spider, being both food trap and storage larder.
I could wax lyrical at length about this, but we are dealing with an infestation of creepy crawlies of a rather less interesting nature - the dreaded headlice have come to our house.

The girls have only been in contact with other kids at the local library last week, so I imagine it happened then.

The only things I hate more than wasps are headlice.

We have used our trusty essential oil shampoo, conditioner and special comb, (which does actually remove lots of eggs as it is so fine-toothed) but the problem is Abby`s hair is really thick, making it difficult to comb effectively without driving her nuts.
Today I found one large louse and *6* teeny -weeny ones which have just hatched out.

The only cure is combing three or four times a day for the next two weeks, for every member of the family, to interrupt the life cycle by catching the little blighters before they get mature enough to breed and lay more eggs.

I repeat - uuuuugh.

I know headlice are also part of God`s wondrous creation, but I really can`t get as enthusiastic over them as I can over spiders :-)
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Saturday, August 27, 2005

EBay Update

Regular readers may remember the problems I was getting with one seller.
"Input Appreciated" on July 4th in the Archive tells the whole story :-)

The book did eventually arrive, so I emailed the seller to tell her, and to ask her to send me a Paypal invoice for the cost of the book plus half the original airmail cost, as we agreed , so I could pay her immediately.

She replied by saying that she didn`t feel it was fair. (We had both agreed this amount, remember !)

She said she was going to be out of pocket, as she had paid for the airmail postage and then the surface mail postage of the same item, and then PayPal had refunded all my money (even though it was because she had broken the terms of the agreement and I had not received my book airmail within 28 days as per Ebay rules).

I give up.
I had waited 15 weeks for a book I should have received in less than 2 weeks, with non-stop excuses, prevarications, and whingeing from the seller. I *had* paid in advance immediately, until she failed to deliver it and PayPal and EBay auhorities became involved and refunded my money.
I emailed her immediately and said that we had agreed this amount (luckily I had kept all my emails as proof) and if she was not happy with it, I would return the book.

I waited a few days, did not hear from her, so I marched to my local post office and paid to send the book back to her the way it had come to me...the cheapest possible surface mail. So she will get it in about 15 weeks, I suppose, and she is now out of pocket by the full airmail cost and the surface mail cost, because of greed and reneging on an agreement.
She has since had a string of complaints lodged against her in her Ebay feedback, by other people.

This is the only time I have had problems or unpleasantness buying from Ebay, and it makes me feel really sad.

I don`t feel very happy having done it, but I don`t see that I had much choice in the matter. Not to mention the fact that everytime I looked at the book on my shelf, and I remembered the seemingly endless hassle that buying the wretched book gave me :-(
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DD4 got out of bed on the wrong side yesterday. She was generally grumpy, and by the time she had speech therapy at 11 am, she was in full swing of grumpiness.

I will draw a discreet veil over the tantrums and almost complete lack of co-operation. I am sure you can all imagine it adequately :-)

And last week`s session was so brilliant.
The only bright side was the fact she was very clearly articulating her displeasure
were a few of her comments .

This is still progress, I assume, as a few months ago she would just have been screaming at the top of her voice and lashing out.
Today she was just shouting clear sentences.
Oh, the humiliating joys of parenthood.......
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Freaky Weather

It was so cold this morning when I woke up that I was shivering.
I have been wearing a sweater all day; we have had torrential rain, plummeting temperatures and gales.
Yet about 3.30pm, the wind dropped, the rain stopped and the sky has cleared to reveal sunshine. It still hasn`t warmed up enough for me to abandon the sweater just yet, though :-)

We have got away lightly compared with much of middle Europe, where there have been terrible flash floods affecting Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Seriously freaky weather.
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The Waiting Game

The Archbishop`s representative has been, interviewed a whole bunch of folk and has now left us in order to make his report to the Archbishop.
Now, we just wait, and continue to pray....................
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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Overheard Conversations

I was in the supermarket on Saturday, in a long queue at the checkout.

There were two young men in front of me, having an earnest and fairly quiet conversation, which with the best will in the world, I couldn`t help but overhear, as they were about 6 inches away from me.....
They were discussing a friend of theirs who had just been diagnosed as having Chlamydia.
Yup, they were discussing this in the supermarket, and mentioning his name :-0

It ranged from speculating where and when he had contracted the sexually transmitted disease, how he was tested and the treatment, and who else he may have given it to.
No-one who knows me could call me overly prudish and narrow-minded; heck, I am a qualified midwife and have tested women for all sorts of nasty STDs, and taught family planning, but it really wasn`t the sort of conversation I wanted to listen to in a supermarket queue, clutching groceries :-)

The good point was one of them turned to the other and said " ah well, like it says on the T-shirt - If you don`t wear a glove, it isn`t love. He should have used a condom."

At least they had that much sense, even if chastity hadn`t even entered their world view.

I was profoundly glad I didn`t have the young ones with me, as I would have hated to have had to field questions about chlamydia, and condoms in a supermarket......
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Akathist Resources

Many of you may already know about this, but if you are looking for an Akathist to a particular saint, try the Orthodox Wiki at !!

There is even an Akathist for the Dormition of the Theotokos, which I wish I had known about before the Feast :-)

I have been praying the Akathist to St John the Wonderworker for our parish during the present troubles, as he faced problems once.............
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Some Happy News

Abby has had another session of speech therapy on Friday and is making definite progress. She was able to sit at a table,concentrate, work with, and listen to, the Therapist for 30 minutes, and she is speaking a lot more now.

Her sentence structure is becoming more complex, and she is learning new words all the time.
She is also speaking more clearly, which is great.

That, despite the rest of the hassle at the moment, is a great relief and a blessing.
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Mistaken Identity.

DH went to town last week.
Nothing new in that, but he decided to pop in and see our eldest daughter, who is working a full week in her role as assistant Manager of a Charity (Thrift) Shop , rather than her usual one day a week.
She has been delighted to be given such responsibility and the chance to earn extra money :-)

So, DH duly goes into the Shop, to find no DD1.
Puzzled, he waits patiently for any signs of life, but nothing.
Absolutamente nada.

Worried at such apparent dereliction of duty by our beloved eldest child, he leaves the shop and glances at the sign, only to realise that he was in the wrong shop, and the Charity Shop where DD1 does in fact work is actually next door...............

So, he looked in the right shop, to see DD1 hard at work with a shop pretty full of customers browsing, and he decided not to interrupt her.
Beng a jolly good sport and able to both take a joke against himself and tell it to others,he came home and told me, which gave us both a good laugh.

I relate it to you at his suggestion :-0
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I haven`t really had the heart to blog this week.
We are facing a major problem in our parish, which is a great grief.

We belong to X (insert ethnic description of your choice) Orthodox Archdiocese, and we are only a fairly small community, worshipping in three different locations within our huge parish boundaries.
Our priest, Father A, is a good and loving man, committed to spreading the Gospel of Christ to as many souls as possible, regardless of their ethnicity. He believes, as do most of us, that there is no ethnicity in Christ.

But we have a faction in the community.

Probably most communities have a faction, but this one, ironically, is an unholy alliance between disgruntled members of X ethnicity and an English speaking person who is a fanatical X-ophile.

We have always had a chunk of the Liturgy celebrated in X language, as there are several members of that ethnicity in our parish, and Father believes in making peple feel as at home as possible. Sometimes it is a token amount if we know that person speaks good English and can understand what is going on, sometimes it is a lot of X if we have many visitors who may not understand English too well.

We often also use language Y to a certain extent, for those of the congregation who hail from that part of the world.

Some members wanted more X language used.
Lots, lots more X, in fact.

We have many second generation X members, whose families are English speaking and they have said they don`t want more X language as they and their families can actually understand the Liturgy in English far better.

However the tiny but highly vocal faction insisted on more X, claiming it would attract large numbers of nominally Orthodox non-attending members of that ethnicity.
Father, being a reasonable priest, listened to their requests and turned one Liturgy a month into X Sunday, when the desired language was used liberally.

Guess what ? Attendances dropped quite markedly. We were not getting more members from X ethnicity turning up, in fact it was the opposite.......
It was given a six month trial period, and when it obviously was bombing out, Father wrote to all members and said it was not going to continue.

To say there was rebellion in the ranks was an understatement.
The ringleader of the faction caused non-stop discontent and dissent, broadcasting opinions to any who would listen and petitioning the Archbishop with repeated multiple accusations and complaints against our priest.
That was hurtful enough, yet the Archbishop did not uphold that perosn`s complaints.

Now, however, this group has separated itself from the parish, and set up its own commmunity, publicly advertising its services and done totally without the blessing of the Archbishop.
A liturgy has even been held by a priest from abroad without the knowledge of our priest or the consent of our Archbishop.

Call me a party-pooper, but this is schism pure and simple................

Matters have come to a head, and the archbishop has launched a formal investigation which will begin next week.
Please, please, pray hard that this may be resolved according to God`s will for our parish.

This trouble has been caused by literally a small number of folk, whereas the overwhelming majority of members support our priest and his mission work.

Lord, have mercy.

We need all the prayers we can get.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hot, with Shivers.....

....................of apprehension !
It has been scorching hot today.
The little ones and I had dental appointments today, with mixed outcomes....
Abby , who has a whole host of dental problems due to genetics, was fine and had a clean bill of health :-)

Helen needed one filling urgently, and a few more bits of minor work. Our dentist reassured and coaxed her through having a large filling in her back tooth without local anaesthetic, on the grounds the injection was actually going to cause more discomfort and yucky numb feelings than a quick filling, and he was right. She was really really brave !
I need two fillings, so Helen and I have another appointment at the end of the month.
Doom, doom, doom.
I think I need a stiff drink :-)
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Dormition News

I hope you all had a blessed Dormition feast !
We did; with a 9 am Liturgy and a fellowship meal after.

We didn`t leave till almost 1pm, but we did have a special service after Liturgy when my eldest daughter (my baby, still!) was offically made a catechumen with the name of Tatiana, after St Tatiana the Martyr of Rome :-)))

It was a happy and Blessed Day !
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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Speech Therapy

Abby had a session of speech therapy on Friday, which went well.
She needs to develop listening skills, as she relies a lot on visual cues to decode what is going on , which obviously affects how she relates to the world around her.
She is making good progress but it is going to be a long haul.
At least we are now getting the much needed professional help !
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And to round off, a photo of Shakespeare`s birthplace ! Posted by Picasa
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This has to be the prettiest Public Library in Britain.......... Posted by Picasa
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The building with the flagpole is the ancestral home of Mary Harvard, whose son later founded Harvard University in the USA. Posted by Picasa
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Interior carvings above the North Door of the Guild Chapel. Posted by Picasa
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Inerior of the Guild Chapel, with mediaeval wall paintings. Posted by Picasa
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Opposite our hotel in Stratford is the Guild Chapel and school, which Shakespeare is believed to have attended. Posted by Picasa
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The "hide" in the main chapel for liturgical goods. The wood has been stained to make it obvious for visitors ! Posted by Picasa
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The altar in the main chapel Posted by Picasa
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A 17th century Breviary, possibly the one used by RC St John Wall Posted by Picasa
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17th- century embroidered vestments. I was amazed this photo came out as well as it did ! Posted by Picasa
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A window from the large Chapel, showing the RC priest St John Wall saying Mass Posted by Picasa
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This is the rear view of the building. As I said, it is huge...... Posted by Picasa
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Harvington Hall

The best bit of our Stratford trip was undoubtedly our visit to Harvington Hall before we even got to Stratford :-)
It is a medieval and Tudor moated manor house and it is huge and wonderful.
I only took a few photos, but we hope to go back again soon and I will take loads more.

Two RC Saints are associated with Harvington; St John Wall, a priest who served the local Roman Catholics at the time of the Persecutions, and St Nicholas Owen, a diminutive man who was a skilled carpenter . Nicholas Owen created many priest`s holes in the area including some of those at Harvington, and when he was arrested in 1606, he was tortured to death in the Tower of London but never divulged any secrets relating to the hiding holes he had constructed nor of any of the RC families or priests of whom he had met.
One of the hiding places amde by Nicholas Owen was so cleverly hidden that it was only found in 1896, when the Hall was virtually derelict and about to be restored.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he layeth his life down for his friends"
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

St Herman of Alaska

Today we commemorate the canonisation of St Herman of Alaska .
Holy Father Herman, pray for us !

Troparion - Tone 7
Joyful North Star of the Church of Christ,Guiding all people to the Heavenly Kingdom;
Teacher and apostle of the True Faith;
Intercessor and defender of the oppressed;
Adornment of the Orthodox Church in America:
Blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ
For the salvation of our souls!

Troparion - Tone 4
O blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
North star of Christ's holy Church,
The light of your holy life and great deeds guides those who follow the Orthodox way.
Together we lift high the Holy Cross
You planted firmly in America.
Let all behold and glorify Jesus Christ,
Singing his holy Resurrection.

Kontakion - Tone 3
The eternal light of Christ our Savior guided you, blessed Father Herman,on your evangelical journey to America to proclaim the Gospel of peace.
Now you stand before the throne of glory;
intercede for your land and its people:
Peace for the world and salvation for our souls!
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Return of DD2

DD2 has now safely returned home from the hazards and excitements of Birmingham, none the worse for any of her adventures, and has brought a Birmingham friend home with her for a week, so her father told me on the phone this morning.

Quite what the Birmingham friend will make of quiet,sleepy, suburban Blogsville, (pop 18000) I don`t know :-)

We`ve never yet had a tornado hit our town though ;-)
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Praying for Others

One thing I have wondered, but never got round to asking my priest, is how long one should continue to daily commemorate the departed in prayer .

Being a keen genealogist, is it still appropriate to commemorate those family members who reposed maybe three hundred years ago ?
Or should the limit be more arbitrary ?
Should we continue to pray for the reposed, even though they may have died a thousand years ago and may well have entered into the joy of the Lord ?

What about praying for people we did not personally know, such as politicians, but may have disliked what we knew of their "public face" ? I know I *should* pray for them, but is it actually morally wrong NOT to pray for them ?
Questions, questions.......
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Lessons from "The Sound of Music"

I am not ashamed to admit that I *like* the film The Sound of Music.

When I went to Austria, I went to Salzburg and "did" the Sound of Music tour. It was great fun.
My daughters have enjoyed watching the film when it has been on tv, and last year I bought the DVD.
I have only watched it two or three times, though ;-)

Many years ago, I bought Maria Von Trapp`s autobiography and thoroughly enjoyed that too.
Surfing the Web recently, I was thrilled to find that the loving descriptions of religious customs in Austria briefly mentioned in her autobiography have been considerably expanded to form a book, Around the Year with the Trapp family, which is available on the Web (minus sheet music and illustrations, but a good read nevertheless) here

It details many sweet and pious traditions which could very easily be adapted for use by Orthodox families.
Obviously references to the Rosary and Feasts of the Sacred Heart, modern "apparitions" of the Mother of God and pilgrimages to such places, etc are not relevant to Orthodoxy at all.
There are also some liturgical customs described which would also be customary in the Western-Rite Orthodox Church but unfamiliar to those of us in the Eastern Rite.
If in any doubt, Ask Yer Priest !

I think it is nice to have godly customs which will form part of our children`s childhood memories and which may hopefully be passed on to the next generation in turn.
I particularly like this one, which I will introduce this year to our family ! Obviously it means just choosing a handful of saints from which each family member will then choose one, being as we Orthodox have an awful lot of Saints to choose from :-0 ............


"After our first gathering around the Advent light, and the singing of the first Advent hymn, an air of expectancy spreads over the family group; now comes the moment when the mother goes around with a bowl in which are the little cards with the names of the new saints. Everybody draws a card and puts it in his missal. This saint will be invoked every morning after morning prayer.
Everyone is supposed to look up and study the life story of his new friend, and some time during the coming year he will tell the family all about it. As there are so many of us, we come to know about different saints every year. Sometimes this calls for considerable research on the part of the unfortunate one who has drawn St. Eustachius, for instance, or St. Bibiana.

But the custom has become very dear to us, and every year it seems as if the family circle were enlarged by all those new brothers and sisters entering in and becoming known and loved by all.

And then comes another exciting moment. Once more the mother appears with the bowl, which she passes around. This time the pieces of paper contain the names of the members of the family and are neatly rolled up, because the drawing has to be done in great secrecy. The person whose name one has drawn is now in one's special care.

From this day until Christmas, one has to do as many little favors for him or her as one can. One has to provide at least one surprise every single day--but without ever being found out. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of joyful suspense, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps you will find that somebody has made your bed or shined your shoes or has informed you, in a disguised handwriting on a holy card, that "a rosary has been said for you today" or a number of sacrifices have been offered up.

This new relationship is called "Christkindl" (Christ Child) in the old country, where children believe that the Christmas tree and the gifts under it are brought down by the Christ Child himself.The beautiful thing about this particular custom is that the relationship is a reciprocal one. The person whose name I have drawn and who is under my care becomes for me the helpless little Christ Child in the manger; and as I am performing these many little acts of love and consideration for someone in the family I am really doing them for the Infant of Bethlehem, according to the word, "And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me." That is why this particular person turns into "my Christkindl."

At the same time I am the "Christkindl" also for the one I am caring for because I want to imitate the Holy Child and render all those little services in the same spirit as He did in that small house of Nazareth, when as a child He served His Mother and His foster father with a similar love and devotion.

Many times throughout these weeks can be heard such exclamations as, "I have a wonderful Christkindl this year!" or, "Goodness, I forgot to do something for my Christkindl and it is already suppertime!" It is a delightful custom, which creates much of the true Christmas spirit and ought to be spread far and wide."
End Quote.

There are also many recipes for Austrian dishes, which I really must get round to trying out.
It is a book to treasure, ponder, adapt, and above all, USE.
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Monday, August 08, 2005

Return of the Harrassed

As you may gather, our holiday was not the wonderful de-stressing experience we had hoped for :-)
It does not qualify for the the title of "Our Family`s Holiday From Hell" (remind me to tell you about that some other time !) but it was possibly the runner-up.

Abby seemed under the weather when we arrived. Nothing major, just grumpy, disinclined to walk (and of course we were now pushchair - less, so either DH or I had to carry her almost everywhere, and at three and a half, she appears to weigh a ton once you have carried her for more than a hundred yards or so.) She didn`t even perk up visibly when we took her to visit her beloved Ragdoll shop.
She picked at her food.
Then she developed a rash all over her arms and back.
Then she said her teeth were hurting .
She just wanted to spend most of her time lying down, though she did enjoy going to the great children`s park.

I didn`t feel wonderful either - low-grade temperature, slight headache and feeling a bit sick.
The night before we left, I went to the shower and found I too had THE RASH.

I was glad to get home.
I think the only one of us who really had fun was Helen, who continues in robust health at the moment.
On Sunday DH developed a splitting headache and THE RASH .....

DD1 is avoiding us like the plague in case she too gets the dreaded bug.
I don`t blame her either :-)
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I`m Rich !

Well, not me personally, you understand.
I was rather surprised to find myself on Google today. I haven`t done anything noteworthy or illegal, I hasten to add....but I did find myself listed on an online Blogmarket game, and according to them, I am a mildly valuable commodity.

I did not depress myself by looking at what my other blog-friends are worth, but you may want to have a peek yourselves :-)

On the other hand, I am sure it would be extremely good for my humility index to see that I am a worm and no man, so to speak , LOL.............
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Laughing Out Loud

Last night, when DH phoned home, (he works away part of each week) I told him about DD4`s pushchair.
I expected roars of laughter.
After all, from the time DD3 hit the age of 3, he said she was too old for a pushchair, and DD4 is now 3 years 9 months... :-))))

Instead, there was a perturbed short silence, then he said
"But how are we going to manage when we go to Stratford ? We`ll have to carry our shopping and stuff instead of loading it on the pushchair ! What part of the pushchair snapped ? I`m sure I can fix it when I come home on Wednesday......"

I`m sure I detected a note of desperation there, folks :-0

I will let you know if he does fix it just to last this trip away.

I am **NOT**, repeat **NOT** buying another pushchair !

(Famous last words)
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Monday, August 01, 2005

Metal Fatigue

To stave off cries of boredom from the seven year old, I took the girls to town this morning to visit the Library and sign up for the summer reading scheme, The Reading Voyage.
Each child gets a fold up chart and when library books are returned, the child is given different sets of stickers each week to decorate the chart.
Simple, fun and effective. They even have to "rate" the books they have read.
This is the third year DD3 has done the scheme, and is looking forward to this year too.

We also visited one of the local charity shops, where they sell cheap small toys (20p each) and books. Today, we bought four small toys, and as books were only 10p each, we came home with eight.
Child heaven in our house :-)
I was specifically looking for a KJV/RSV Bible, preferably with Apocrypha. Times were when bibles in charity shops were ten a penny, but I was surprised only to find one battered RSV version and no less than ten copies of the New English Bible. Maybe people are hanging onto their KJV for grim death, now it is getting more difficult to find any half-way decent translation which does not contain "revisions", sanitisations ,deletions and gender inclusive language......

We missed the bus home, so we walked home . It is a 40 minute walk each way, so Abby was quite glad to collapse into her ancient pushchair about halfway home. She even fell asleep, and I was just congratulating myself on a successful morning when Metal Fatigue happened ........the long-suffering pushchair gave up the ghost and disintegrated.

Luckily we were only about 100 yards from home, or I would have been carrying a heavy sleeping toddler - or even worse, a tired and grumpy rudely-awakened toddler ! the rest of the way home.
Even better, I now have good reason to get rid of the pushchair and explain to Abby that it is broken. She does not accept that she really is getting too big/old for the pushchair !
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