Friday, December 28, 2007

Early adopters pt. 2

Following from Andrew's post that Dyson Airblades are being rolled out across the US, I can now report that they are now being seen across the 'Mild West'.

However, I'm not sure that everyone in Bristol quite 'gets' the Airblade, as this sign, found in the Gents loo at Cribbs, attests. I've also seen people try and dry their hands in an Airblade as if it were a regular 'blow-dryer' - needless to say it took them ages, and they probably got their cuffs wet.

Not the sharpest 'Blade'

And we're all working on our grammar too... presumably when one uses the dryer, one's hands come out drier?

Early adopters pt. 1

People who try brand new things can sometimes run into teething problems with said products, simply because they are so new and the products have not been tested in all the situations that life can throw at them.

Unfortunately for Reuben, his parents a) have cameras (or friends with cameras), and b) aren't ashamed of capturing his early attempts to figure out how to live in the world with grace and poise. Having said that, he's so adorable, that he shouldn't be too worried about this picture (thanks Ralph) of his latest escapade in his Moses basket.

Muslin headgear

Monday, December 17, 2007

... the time came for the baby to be born ...

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Christmas story has taken on new meanings for me this year. I first became familiar with Chapter 2 of Luke's gospel when I had to read it at my school's carol service, or perhaps our church nativity service, in Nairobi. Which was a long time ago. And it was fitting that as a child I suppose I related most to the childish sections of the story: the hard-to-pronounce-words; shepherds "washing their socks" and "tuning to BBC"; sheep and cows.

And growing older, my focus hasn't shifted further than digging into the more esoteric details of the story: how shepherds were ranked in the first century Jewish society; how Luke nailed this story into the timeline of history with mention of Caesar and the census; how angels maintain their 100% record in Scripture of being absolutely terrifying to behold; how the shepherds got 'in' on the kingdom by being a bit cheeky.

But then the time came for me to become a parent - a father to a son - and changed this story forever.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A new life

Reuben came home on Thursday afternoon, and since then we have all been adjusting to our new lives. We've had an amazing amount of support from family and friends, and it has made a huge difference in the last few days, so thanks to all who've sent good wishes, said prayers, made yummy food, and given gifts. We've been so inundated with flowers that we've even got a beautiful bunch of flowers in our bathroom (which we both quite like actually).

We had our first family outing on Friday - to the Southmead Hospital Registry Office - and Reuben is now 'legal'.

Saturday was a day of rest and friends popping in. We also 'fine-tuned' the nursery a bit more, now that it's had some proper use; Myrtle the Bear had a close call during one nappy change, so we now have some tissues close to hand for any spontaneous water-features.

Today was a leisurely Sunday. Having brought the Christmas tree in from outside (thanks Matt), we've begun decorating it, and I've also found time to blog and post some new photos.

Looking around

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Reuben Jack Arthur Hope

A good grip

7lb 11oz at 12.46 pm. Both he and his mother did exceptionally well, and are comfortable in hospital right now.

(edited 09.12.07 with correct birth weight)

Monday, December 03, 2007

We're still waiting...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Response and recognition

I love this simple explanation of what worship is: a never-ending flow between these two states. I'm not sure where it comes from (I heard it on Sunday in Andrew's reworking of Mumford-on-Nathan-on-Revelation, if you follow) but I'm certainly going to use it from now on.

Response and recognition:

Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How to invite yourself round for dinner.

1. Talk with friends (in person) about arranging dinner, but leave things tentative (because your wife always has the final say).

2. Leave your mobile unanswered, so that said friends have to leave a voicemail invitation.

3. Forget to delete voicemail.

4. After suitable passage of time, lend mobile to wife.

5. Sit back and watch her resurrect the old message by responding with a hearty "Why yes, we'd love to come round!" to slightly bemused and very lovely friends.

6. Enjoy your dinner.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Choc-tatics

Ethical dilemmas come in a sorts of shapes and sizes, but a particularly chewy one to resolve is whether or not it is acceptable to take your favourite chocolate from the lower tier of a chocolate box before the upper tier has been eaten.

Top tip: take from the lower tier anyway, but transplant a chocolate from the upper one as a replacement! I suppose one has to be reasonably careful to ensure that the replacement chocolate 'fits' the gap, but who says that ethics aren't good news?

And just in time for Christmas too, eh?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The road to Hull

Mrs Hope and I drove to Hull yesterday to be with some good friends from the States and Ukraine. As Mrs Hope is now two and a half weeks off her due-date, we made sure she had her hospital bag with us in the car. Actually, she made sure she had her hospital bag in the car. She also made sure she packed the car seat. (I'm still figuring this stuff out, as you can see.)

So I went to strap said car seat in - to get some practice at it. But I couldn't.

So - aware of not being aware of what is about to happen, but unable to do anything tangible to address it, but actually ignorant of everything but the car seat - I got cross with the car seat. Thankfully my wife gently guided me through not throwing it away, and took the wheel as we drove to Hull.

Reflecting on this later, I realised the issues below the surface of the car seat. I don't feel in control of being a parent. It brings up a whole bunch of fears about being a 'good dad' and a 'good husband'. And a 'good dad and husband' ought to be able to fit a car seat, right? Funny how a device meant to keep a baby safe and secure in a risky environment brings this up.

So now I am trying to figure out how to fit two car seats...

Monday, November 12, 2007

In memoriam: Anne Hope

Granny Hope

My dear Granny fell asleep today. I was able to say goodbye to her a few weeks ago, in a few precious minutes of her still being with us. She was delighted to see me, Nic, and my big bro' Charlie, but she was so close she was almost transparent. Mercifully, she was quite comfortable right until the end.

We would stay at her flat in Edinburgh at the beginning and end of every holiday (as well as almost every half-term), book-ending our journeys to see our Mum and Dad in Kenya, and then Dubai. She went to all our 'Parents Evenings', keeping a close eye on how we did at school. She did the best afternoon teas.

Bye Granny - lots of love, and see you soon!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What a great idea!

I love everything about this game:

- that it feeds hungry people
- that it's about words
- that it's sponsored by big multinationals (inter alia, iTunes)

So far, in about three minutes of playing, I got to vocab. level 43. I'm okay if the words have a latin/greek root, but normally stumped by other types. Great fun though!

If you're an individual - play it.

If you're a company - advertise on it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

How much tax do we pay?

One Holsten-Pils-branded bottle of beer at a certain hotel bar on Pembroke Road cost me £3.20.

Six bottles of Becks alcohol-free beer at Oddbins on Gloucester Road cost me £3.00.

How much is a pint these days?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Brownie roulette

There is sometimes a need to clarify what a statement does not mean, as occasionally even a careful and thorough explanation as to what it does mean will not cancel out the fantastical and oddly-fascinating imaginings that were sparked initially. But I won't do it in this post.

Last night was Hallow e'en, and gangs of miniature witches, ghouls, ghosts, and serial killers roamed the streets of Bishopston in search of free sugary snacks. Normally we don't like to participate in the 'celebrations' of Hallow e'en but, Bishopston being Bishopston, you'll never meet more polite or well-groomed creatures of the underworld than can be found in our neighbourhood. Growls and snarls were clearly and crisply enunciated, threats were followed by 'please' and booty carried off with 'thank-you-very-much-have-a-nice-Hallowe'en' and I'd venture to say that even the dirt under their fake fingernails was clean.

Mrs Hope prepared a tin of chocolate brownies for the marauding hoarders, and made a tiny pumpkin into a lantern to indicate that we were open to receiving visitors. To spice each visitation up (but more likely a feeble attempt restore some sort of balance in the power struggle that I experience when held to ransom by kids on a sugar-high), we decided to trick our 'trick-or-treaters'. Each time the tin of brownies was raided, we gave a warning that one brownie had been laced with pepper. Without fail, the once-eager hands became more wary, and one or two of the smaller nightmarish visitors flat-out refused (until they gently reassured that there was nothing to worry about).

But on one occasion, a ghastly warlock gagged and choked that his brownie was indeed peppery; shortly afterwards we heard a gentle thump of a 'peppered brownie' being thrown back against our front door in disgust. Such is the power of suggestion.
Strawberry Lips and Candy Kicks

This news warrants a post all by itself! The wonderful Casey Odean has begun blogging here. Credit is due to the unsung sister who persuaded her to graduate from LiveJournal to Blogger.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Just one of her many qualities

Not only is she's a cracking cook, but she gets home before me and also needs to eat more often than me. (And whereas I can't do anything in a messy kitchen, she excels at cooking around, on, and in mess.)

She makes me packed lunches - I am so spoiled!

She's got a great belly-laugh. I've really begun to notice how often she smiles (and not just her crinkly eyes, because when she smiles, all of her smiles), and how much she laughs (and how it infects others too). Of course, right now she's got a great belly too, but that's because of the wee man.

She is a much better driver than I am - she asserts that in an alternate reality, she would be a drift-racer, but I think it's not happening because we drive a 10 year old diesel estate. (*ahem* - Speed Choice workshop notwithstanding.)

She is definitely an 'early' person: early mornings and early evenings. She goes to sleep to me reading, and I am often woken by a belly-laugh induced by her reading.

She's stuck by me through all the stupid things I've done, laughs at my clowning around, doesn't mind that the tide of my hairline is definitely on the ebb and even thinks I'm handsome.

She adores shoes (wears her latest purchases in bed sometimes), has a great sense of style, lets me iron my shirts (because I'm fussy) but is always ready to lend a hand (because she's kind).

She's also one of life's 'spillers'.

She's my lovely wife of four years next month.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ladybirds

There seems to be an enormous number of ladybirds around at the moment - which is fun, because they are beautiful, and look funny when they fly around. I fear for them with the approach of cooler weather, but I'll enjoy them while they're around. Once or twice a day one flies into my office and requires some assistance in getting out again. My favourite has been a black variant with two large red spots, but have seen orange/black dots and yellow/black dots too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

She

... beat me to it.

It was rather funny.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Update

Belfast was great, the wedding was great, the England result was great (for the English) and poor New Zealand are wondering where it all went wrong. My hunch is the Frenchies grew wicked facial hair and the ABs just couldn't deal with it. Continuing the rugby analysis: Fiji were outstanding in their exit, whereas Scotland were largely ineffective in theirs; SA were brutally efficient in their victory, whereas Argentina strangely hit and miss in theirs.

Mrs Hope continues to blossom, the Wriggler continues to live up to his moniker, and I've taken to walking into work (rather than cycle on my 'good-as-new-bicycle'!) to make use of the time by listening to podcasts. Flavour of the month - Dallas Willard on Leadership and Spirituality.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Le Weekend plans

We're off to Belfast for the wedding of our dear friends Estelle and Jon on Saturday. Hurray!

We're going today and coming back Monday to make it a long weekend. Hurray!

It's the quarter-finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Hurray!!*

Mrs Hope will be thirty-two weeks pregnant after the weekend. Hurrah!!!

* subject to suitably sympathetic wedding/rugby arrangements, of course.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Apricots

I've uploaded the last batch of photos for last year's Via course - covering the third term after the trip to Ukraine, through to the end of year retreat (when it just rained) and the final party.


Monday, September 24, 2007

You know work's going slow when you blog twice in a day...

As prompted by my wife's ultra-keen competitive edge, did you see that Wabbadabba was featured on Radio 2 recently as Steve Wright's web-site of the Day. (The actual article can be found here.)

The premise of Wabba is very simple: just search and win, then refer friends from your account and win what they do (a la pyramid scheme). With the recent surge in popularity, prizes are expected to increase in volume. Tips from the Wabba-blog are:

1) get into the habit of using Wabba as your normal search engine,
2) search in the morning (when less users are on the site), and
3) get referring; not only do you boost your chances of winning, but as more and more people use the site, the bigger and better the returns all round. Apparently, some users are reaping the benefits of having a hundred or more referrals...

So, here's Mrs Hope's referral link to get you started... (oh, she owes me now!)
What is wrong with a broom?

There is a guy outside my office with a leaf-blower. The ground is wet because it is a) England, and b) late September. Leaf-blowers do not work on wet leaves that are stuck to the ground. How do I know this, you may ask, as I do not own and have never used a leaf-blower. I know this because he has been going over the same patch of car-park outside my window for the last three-quarters of an hour. What's wrong with a regular broom?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Back-to-school blues

Have been feeling a bit down now that summer is over and there is a bit of an unbroken stretch of work until Christmas. It could be something to do with both Mrs Hope and me being poorly over the last week - sickness in the body does affect the spirit - and neither of us sleeping well (Mrs Hope due to her 'condition' and me, in turn, due to Mrs Hope's insomnia).

I do remember that BTSB always wore off once one got into the rhythm of term: school work, friends, sports and other activities. There was also the novelty of being one year older (after summer holidays that is), and working that out in the complex hierarchy of school. I'm not sure any of that now applies, but here's hoping that some sort of rhythm develops so I can fall in with it. A small step in that direction is the reinstatement of Sunday nights being devoted to ironing shirts - a ritual seemingly as old as time itself. There is comfort in the sight of smooth, crisp cotton shirts neatly arranged in the cupboard, the smell of steam, an hour devoted to the familiar routine of 'collar, cuffs and sleeves, right panel, back panel, left panel, yoke', a chance to catch up on a podcast or two. So away with you, BTSB, and pass the collarbones, I've finished the last one.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On-line

We’ve now got broadband at home. Mrs Hope changed our landline carrier to TalkTalk, and they offer a package of free calls (including free international calls) and free broadband. So I am revelling in the novelty of surfing the web from my bed (though it's more tutting in frustration at the creaking pace of the iTunes store at present).

So will I see you on Skype soon then? Perhaps not. TalkTalk provide a ADSL broadband service over the copper wires installed by BT. Broadband speeds are "upto 8 Mbps", depending on local usage levels and proximity to the 'local BT exchange.' Perhaps we're miles away as it's crawling tonight. Roll on the promised crackdown on broadband suppliers being woefully inaccurate with their purported high speed access.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

'Mum' is no longer the word

My Apple addiction was not helped by the announcement today that the iPhone is coming to the UK in November.

Small comfort is found in that I switched to O2 this summer, so there is a minute chance that I could 'upgrade' my handset at the end of my contract. I doubt it though.

Also of note are Steve Job's comments at the end of the Macworld article announcing that they are already working on the 2nd and 3rd gen iPhones, and planning for the 4th gen already. So while November will be a fantastic opportunity, perhaps there is some benefit in (being forced) to wait a while.

Delayed gratification is just too hard.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How low can you go?

The sweet chariot is swinging pretty low after England's weekend's loss to SA. Even my magnanimous gesture of support wasn't enough to ward off a pretty humiliating loss for the English. My tuppence is that what happened on Friday evening was the result of something that had been going on for a fairly long period of time and, no matter how earnest efforts might be in the present, they typically aren't enough when the weight of three years' worth of habits come to bear. Just like the rest of life then. I love sports metaphors.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Gotta love it, sports fans!

There's a whole weekend's worth of international rugby on this weekend, so I'm looking at one game tonight (Eng v SA), maybe all three tomorrow (NZ v Por, Wal v Aus; Ire v Geo), and then possibly just the one on Sunday (Fra v Nam).

I think I might support the underdog tonight - yep, I'll be rooting for the depleted English team to upset the confident South Africans. Only this once, mind.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Skipping...

hand in hand down the street in the dark with your pregnant wife is a great way to cheer yourself up after a crappy day.

She is a wise and selfless woman (and just a trifle out of breath).

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Salcombe to Falmouth (Road) in two days

Mrs Hope and I have just returned from our week in Salcombe. It was week of fine weather, comfortable accommodation, and great friends. We preferred South Sands to North Sands, but loved Mill Bay most of all. The house we were in had all kinds of beach gear imaginable, the pick of the crop being (for me at least) a skim-board. The final day at the beach proved a good day skimming - I now sport a bruised knee and toe (a real first for me) as testaments to my efforts.

Returning to home in Falmouth Road (oh what a joy it is to sleep in one's own bed!) and we have just had our annual street party. Although the road was only cleared of cars by 10am, the kids were zipping up and down on scooters, bikes and trikes well before then, and have only just stopped now, at 10pm. It's been lovely to get to know people a little more, and I'm certain that there'll be a few more occasions to stop and chat now that the ice has been broken. It's funny how we're often wary of striking up conversation in the city, even with people we live in close proximity with. Having said that, I only knew half a dozen people by sight before today - maybe we really all just come home and close the door on the world outside.

Oh, and the Rugby World Cup has started too. Fantastic.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A new lease of life

For the past four weeks or so my trusty old bike has been below par. However, £100 on repairs later, and it’s as if I have a new bike to play with!

I bought it from a friend (not a good start you might think!), but it was heart over head. Both us hail from Edinburgh, and the bike is from the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative (although it was just a 'shop' when I was last there...). So I was won over by the discreet ‘edinburgh bicycle’ logo on the frame, a nice reminder of my roots, and fairly distinctive down here in Bristol.

I am no mechanic, and my mechanical steed bore seven years of labour with the minimum of maintenance done on her. I have shared some memorable moments with her; most notable perhaps when I had her stolen, and had to steal her back. As time took it’s inevitable toll, the teeth on the front chainset (the cogs where you pedal) had worn down to such an extent that the chain was slipping when I pushed down too hard. Which made it slightly tricky to move off quickly at junctions: push down and - slip - nothing!

A day in a repair shop and I have replaced almost all of the transmission - new chainset, rear cassette, and chain - plus new gear and brake cables. My tires are also inflated to the correct pressure - no more dragging around the roads for me - and the gears change sweeter than I’ve ever known. Now, if only I had the legs and lungs to go with it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

shiny metal objects

one of the joys of surfing the internet is that you can stumble across minature worlds you previously didn't know were in existence.  the danger is that you become so engrossed that you can't leave that world... before you think this is getting weird take a second to remind yourself of the title of this post - shiny metal objects.  

so, passing through the wardrobe of the gadgeteer, took me to the narnia of edc reviews (edc stands for every day carry btw) and the holy grail of the atwood prybaby.  this is just the tip of the edc iceberg, which is linked to other icebergs, each with their own strange, yet fascinating, take on what's really important in life. 

so if you too are wholly devoted to custom-made knives, tools, sheaths, etc. you might want to visit the amusingly named moore cutlery. and if your devotion borders on obession, perhaps the ever so slightly alarming t.a.d. gear is more your cup of tea.

so, does anyone have a prybaby i can try out?
crossing the bar

we're off to
salcombe for a week's holiday this saturday. a new acquaintance of mine mentioned this tennyson poem in passing and i looked it up just now. i like it.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

with friends like these...

on tuesday we received a postcard from seven friends of ours, comprising three separate families we know. each family wrote a message (some managed two), and one family's correspondent didn't even bother with writing anything, but did some colouring instead.

is there a better feeling than that of knowing your good friends are also good friends?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

fed up of facebook?

mind how you go with this one - those more easily offended may wish to just stay on the digg page, as there's a gentle nod towards toilet humour through the link.

Monday, August 20, 2007

odd ads

there is an advert around bristol at the moment (noticeably on bus stop shelters) for shower gel of some sort. it features someone enjoying themselves as they're splashed with water and segments of limes. which is odd, not only because limes can hurt, but also because the shower gel is supposed to be scented with lemongrass.

they do taste/smell different, right?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

does your left hand know what your right is doing?

we're dipping our toes in the freecycle waters.  our ikea t.v. table (or t.v. storage 'solution' according to the manufacturers) has been loafing in the general-dumping ground that doubles as our study, and mrs hope has had enough.  since we moved the t.v. to the cellar last winter, the table has been taking up a large area of floor space, gathering lots of dust, and doing nothing more useful than being somewhere to put our cheeseplant.  

our message will hopefully appear on the bristol group's message boards shortly.

if it works out, we also have a t.v., DVD player, and VCR player sitting quietly in the cellar...

Friday, August 03, 2007

call me a glutton then...

so we're off to bude for a few days of holiday, and we're staying in ... yep, you guessed it: a tent!

see you in a few days' time.  (you can call me on my new phone though... i did mention i had a new phone, didn't i?)



industrious inactivity (cont.)

and today it was my turn to be busily unproductive as my new phone arrived and, in true gadget-loving-boy-style, i invested*/wasted** large amounts of time getting used to it*/fiddling with it**.

* my version of events
** mrs hope's version of events

Thursday, August 02, 2007

industrious inaction

my quest for a mobile phone continues.  having selected a handset suitable for my needs, which my advisor approved of (a nokia 6300 as it turns out), i then hit the market looking for a cheap deal.

taking my own advice, i aimed for an independent dealer of good repute, who could not only set me up with the right contract, but whose enticing 'free offers' weren't hedged with too onerous conditions.  i ended up with dialaphone; although i'm not getting a completely free deal, the deal i chose offered a reasonable amount of cashback with no 'turn around seven times, touch your nose if there's a full moon, send in your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bills' hoops to jump through.

not that it went smoothly of course.  as i contentedly meandered through the slick online sales process, i was unable to print out the terms and conditions of my contract.  and it wasn't because i used safari 3 beta as my browser; i had actually switched to using camino because safari hadn't let me complete any text boxes initially!

senses appropriately sharpened, i then spotted some fine print on the final 'confirm your order page' regarding my precious cashback.  apparently it would take the form of amazon vouchers... err, not exactly what i wanted at all, or had been advertised along the way.

fortunately a phone call to their sales team sorted me out, although i did have to plump for a slightly different deal.  however as the royal mail continues on its course of industrial action, my phone remains in 'dispatched' limbo: apparently somewhere in transit from dialaphone to me, and frustratingly out of reach of any tracking system.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

is there such a thing as free line rental?

so i’m trying to track down a new mobile phone (that’s cell phone for my u.s. readership) as the blessing of having a work mobile for the past four years has now passed.

now there are hundreds of wonderful sounding deals available. as operators compete for loyal customers (when i say ‘loyal’ i of course mean ‘tied into a 12 month contract’) they are prepared to dangle lures of all shapes and sizes in front of people: half price line rental for x months; free iPod nano; free Wii; free nintendo DS; free iPod shuffle; auto cashback; free line rental; minimal line rental; the list goes on.

this article offers some sound advice in making sense of the deals.

three points from the article, and one from me for free:
  • choose the right phone. this is where i need mrs hope’s objectivity to balance out my male gadget-addiction. the old ‘nice-to-have’ vs. ‘need-to-have’ tension; answers on a postcard please!
  • work out the cost of the entire contract. yep - sit down with an old fashioned pen and paper, and do the sums. you may find some of those half-price rentals aren’t as cheap as they first appeared.
  • pay close attention to any special terms and conditions relating to the free offer. are the t’s and c’s easy to find on the website? warning bells should ring if they are buried in small print. take thorough notes, and use a diary to warn yourself of applicable deadlines.
  • check out the company’s reputation among existing customers. a quick search through financial advice forums should give you a reasonable idea of how reputable your potential phone supplier is in following through on their promises.
personally, i'm leaning towards established household names at the moment.  but i'd be interested to hear if anyone has had a positive experience with one of these zero-cost-lots-of-hoops deals (as i have my eye on a really slick phone i can't quite justify to mrs hope!).

Monday, July 16, 2007

all apart from the sleeping on the ground bit...

we've just returned, like drowned rats, from three days camping on the gower peninsula in wales.  the weather was ... mixed.  we pitched our tent on thursday night and it began to rain in the wee small hours (ask the local hedgehog population why i happened to be awake at the time) and continued to rain until saturday morning.  not a drizzly rain, not showery rain, but an incessant, driving rain that crept in the seams and vents, and soaked through clothes in minutes, that ran from your waterproof jacket onto your legs.

it stopped for saturday, and began again on sunday morning - just when we had to break camp and return to bristol.

sincere thanks must go to ralph and rach for their huge tent though - it made being stuck inside for 18 hours straight bearable.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

echoes of the future

click on 'post options' (bottom left of thetext entry box)

locate the 'post time and date' details (bottom right of the box)

mistakenly assume that the date format is british (dd/mm/yy)

enter 8th july 2007, and hey presto, you've posted in the future, because the format is american (mm/dd/yy)

p.s. 'how to do pathos' has been recalled from the 8th august to it's proper place of 9th july.  i clearly made another mistake when i posted in august... if i'd been awake it would have been september!

Monday, July 09, 2007

how to do pathos

i quite fancy a rambling blog entry here, so if you're after the answer to the above, skip the next few paragraphs and head straight for the pellucid summary at the end. ( you'll miss out on the back-story of postal dvd-renting, how the TV licensing people make you feel really trustworthy, and a teeny film review.

a few years back, i signed myself and mrs hope up for postal dvd renting - with screenselect i believe.  we had cash to splash in those days, and enjoyed the novelty of wondering what film would be chosen, from our shortlist, for our viewing pleasure.  screenselect briefly masqueraded as sainsbury's, or tesco (can't remember now), and after riding on their coat-tails for a few months, got swallowed up by LOVEFiLM and hiked their prices up.  whereupon we checked out - as we weren't watching that many films anyway.  also, in my attempts for selecting the coolest shortlist of films possible, i had a staggering 60 or 70 films on it which meant we were getting some rather obscure art-house titles instead of mrs hope's preferred blockbusters.

having ditched our subscription, we realised that our TV licence was up for renewal at the end of the month. after a brief evaluation of how much TV we were watching ("I'm a Celebrity..." had just sucked us into its candy-floss-world-of-tat once again) we decided to ditch the TV, relegating all related equipment to the cellar in case the lovely TV licensing people came to call.  a month later, while we were still recovering from the shock of no TV (we'd gone cold turkey - not even watching the final of Celebrity after our licence expired), a sturdy brown envelope dropped through our letterbox... a check-up from the TVL folk.  although they trusted our disclosure that we had got rid of our TV, they clearly were into giving people second chances...

"Our experience has shown that a small but significant minority of people who tell us that they do not need a TV Licence, are found to require one when visited...  we hope to identify all such evaders and we can also ensure that those who, like yourself, legitimately need no contact from Television Licensing are not troubled unnecessarily in the future."

judging by the excuses they receive from some members of the public, who can blame them for their graceful approach!

dvds on the laptop were the solution we came up with, and having been pestered by marketing emails from LOVEFiLM, we relented and renewed our subscription. last month we watched the 2004 remake of the manchurian candidate, which i new was about mind control stuff, but have always thought it was based in china (from the title?). i was really sucked into the story by some wonderful actors and sensitive direction.  liev schreiber, denzel washington and meryl streep were spot on in how they worked out their characters.  the only flaw in the film was the scratch on the dvd that caused a glitch during the polling scene - not sure there could be a worse place to have an interruption - but even that didn't prevent the film building to an appropriately dramatic finish.  how to do pathos?  liev schreiber. 
pysched!

according to the PersonalDNA test, i am a:
hover your pointer over each colour to gaze into my soul; i'm amused that my 'stereotypically-feminine' traits out-score my 'stereotypically-masculine' traits by 72 to 68!  

this is one of the neatest interfaces for a personality test i've seen, and by far and away the best presentationof results. also, has the fantastic possible response to the statement: "I always notice what people are wearing", of: "People wear things?" 

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

cottage fallout

the log fire was every bit as impressive as i'd hoped.  it was enormous and, aesthetic reasons aside, we had a fire going for most of the weekend to dry clothes (not everyone was as sensible as i was in staying indoors... odd).

other striking features were:

(i) the gargantuan house spider that lodged above the bathroom mirror; 

(ii) the record player that came with johnny cash and bob dylan's complete catalogues, miscellaneous 80's hits, and welsh choral music - there is something about vinyl that gets you involved in the music (especially when some of the group had never seen a record player before);

(iii) second breakfasts and second dinners - which meant one could dispense with lunch and get away with cake and biscuits all afternoon quite comfortably.  first breakfast was also optional for the early-risers of the group (unsurprisingly those who also thought venturing 'outside' was a good thing); and

(iv) the amazing amount of dust that was in, on, around, and under, everything.

Friday, June 29, 2007

june averages

rainfall is up.  my blogs are down.  f*cebook numbers are rising (although mrs hope and continue to maintain a luddite attitude towards it and make do with just our blogs).

we're off to snowdonia this weekend with our housegroup - risking inclement weather, although i hope this risk is balanced against the log fire that the cottage boasts.  so it'll be your typical summer weekend break: board games in the lounge as the rain comes down outside.

Monday, June 25, 2007

your local bv website, now available in lime green...

yep, catch it while it's hot folks (and proving you don't have to be on f*cebook to get the latest news), 'cos the bv website has just relaunched in attractive new plumage.

huge thanks to mark and kenny (and matt).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

ukraine pics

some pics to give you an idea of what we ate and drank in ukraine: fine coffee, dried salted fish, and raw quail eggs (with a little dash of salt).









Thursday, May 17, 2007

back in bris

i'm back in bristol after three weeks in ukraine. it was a good trip with the via team, and teams from bristol vineyard, hull vineyard, and vineyard community church, maryland.

mark's posted a bunch of pics on bubbleshare, and i'll try and update my flickr account at some point (although these will just be duplicates of the bubbleshare ones by and large).

the trip was really varied in terms of what we (via) got up to: helping at a training/equipping conference, visiting orphanages, and helping local churches.

one outstanding feature of the trip was that we often knew next to nothing about what we were to do the next day - as a result it felt rather cobbled-together and patchy in terms of 'activity' and 'effectiveness'. however, the more i reflect on this, the more i see how this forced me to abandon my expected outcomes (which were usually based on measurable productivity and progress!). instead, i was then free to examine each moment for what was really going on - often the real action was relationship-focussed, either within the team or with friends we'd just met. this valuable investment of time and energy might have fallen by the wayside had we been able to create, and stick to, a rigid agenda ahead of time (and inevitably outside of the actual context).

this is recognised with hindsight, and it sounds much easier than it was to live through: i was frustrated and felt pretty useless as an 'organiser' for most of the time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

amber and natasha - my two favourite nieces

amber getting stuck in to some yoghurt



natasha, looking much more chipper than in february



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Extreme tapas

the only rule is there are no rules. a great way to spend an evening in experimental cookery - all dishes were extreme, although some were more extreme than others.

the line-up was as follows:

Tim “the Heston from Preston” Cole
Roquefort and chocolate shavings.
Lapsang-souchong poached salmon, wasabi ice-cream, spinach in garlic and ginger.

Phil Horrocks
Prawns, mango, and chilli flamb├ęd in Cointreau, on a pancake of rice noodles.

Nicola Hope
Avocado, cardamom, and lemon souflette.

Mark “Mr Chips” Garbers and Kate “Mrs Garbers” Markey
Potato fudge.

Seb “Sea-Bass the Show-pony” Denno
Pear and cinnamon pasta parcels, with strawberry sauce and brandy cream

Andy “Off the” Pegg and Tone
Warm mango, papaya, mandarin, and basil soup, with coconut cream.
Warm grapefruit, raspberry, rosemary, and turmeric soup with coconut cream.

Jacqui “the Wasabi Assassin” Chan
Pork and water chestnut stuffed lychees in chilli chocolate.

Thomas Hope
Official taster, papparazo, and general layabout who kept dashing upstairs to check the Man United score.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

disconnected?

april has arrived and there's an accusatory hole where all my intended march posts should be. ach well - sic vivitur.

we have an allotment. it was alloted to us at the beginning of march, we were up there and wielding a spade in anger for the first time on monday. the ground will bring forth potatoes, spinach and strawberries.

seedlings for the garden (or slighlty-slug-free-er allotment) are: camomile, sunflowers, night stock, sweetcorn, poppies, and chives. the sweetcorn and sunflowers are doing extremely well in the weak april sun.

at the risk of lowering the tone of this blog, i have found human urine to be an extremely efficient accelerant for our compost heap. rest assured i first found a discreet method of collecting and delivering said accelerant to the compost bin before conducting any further research.

recent meditations: "i am the true vine and my father is the gardener..."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

life

top three sensations of being alive today:
  1. the comforting feeling caused by the smell of my wife's hair when i hug her;
  2. the chilly feeling an ice-cold drink causes as peristalsis eases it down into your stomach;
  3. the welcome warmth of the sun on your back after a dreary winter.

God is good.

Monday, March 12, 2007

noise and silence

i have come to think of silence not so much as the absence of words, nor even the absence of noise, but the presence of something greater, like anti-noise, peace, or shalom. just as dark is the absence of light, noise is the absence of silence; the presence of the lesser is the absence of the greater.

noise is, or is that which provokes, the inappropriate word, inappropriate thought, or inappropriate image. merely keeping my mouth closed does not address the clamour of the old man. merely getting rid of one's t.v., radio, email, or extraneous diary appointments are just cutting off one's sinful hand, or gouging out one's sinful eye. they're a bit like only washing the outside of the cup.

anti-noise is the inner poise which allows self-control. peace guards the heart and mind. shalom is enjoying the presence of the eternal sabbath in the midst of temporal work and striving.

Friday, March 09, 2007

another back post

dallas willard quoting william c martin's The Art of Pastoring:

"If you fill your [diary] with important appointments, you will have no time for God. If you fill your spare time with essential reading, you will starve your soul. If you fill your mind with worry about budgets and offerings, the pains in your chest and the ache in your shoulders will betray you. If you try to conform to the expectations of those around you will forever be their slave. Work a modest day, then step back and rest. This will keep you close to God...

One's [diary] tells plenty about one's spiritual formation: it reveals volumes about the pastor's spiritual condition, values, fears and ambitions. It tells who your bosses are, who your lover is, how much value you place on your soul.

If you're working more than 50 hours a week, you're not doing it for God, no matter how eloquent your rationalisations. Take a long prayerful, meditative look at your [diary]. Who are you trying to impress? God? Give me a break! The congregation? Possibly. Yourself? Bingo. Now cut some big chunks out of each week for family, rest, meditation, prayer and flower-sniffing, and when you've done that you'll be more sensitive to the path of God."

and while we're still reeling from those blows, willard follows up with this statement of c. s. lewis:

"Only lazy people are busy."

by way of the briefest of explanations, willard comments: "if you are unwilling to exert yourself to take control of your time, you will constantly be torn to pieces by the demands of others."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

the next big thing?

how about completely getting rid of email?

we got rid of our telly, video and dvd a while back (although we do still watch dvds on the laptop ocassionally). this has forced us to be more sociable in watching telly - last night mrs hope and i went to a friends to see liverpool progress in the champions' league.

you might think it odd to get rid of email in an attempt to be more sociable - but he's got a point about receiving a proper letter. maybe this is the next step...
who taught you?

i found this out on the web today: "when gardeners apply salt to slugs, they set in train a process called exosmosis, whereby water moves from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration through a semipermeable membrane - in other words, the slug's cell walls."

so i guess a slug's skin is not waterproof, and salt draws all their moisture out, and they die from dehydration. the debate still rages as to whether they feel anything as they writhe and shrivel up and slime everywhere (apparently it's got something to do with needing a cerebral cortex to experience pain.)

anyway, it was my big brother (whom i want to be like when i grow up) who taught me how to salt slugs when we were kids in nairobi. good times! thanks chuck.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

new contact

had a ride home this evening from an old friend (okay, a long-standing youthful friend) who is a fresh blogger and now also a new contact of mine. there you go timmy - old, long-standing, youthful, fresh and new - it's all about you bud.
disciplines

a discipline is something that i do - within my power - to enable me to do something else - which i cannot do by direct effort alone. like having a prayer rock! a prayer rock is a fist-sized rock that has the following rhyme attached to it by a pretty ribbon.

"I'm your little prayer rock
and this is what I'll do.
Just put me on your pillow
'til the day is through.

Then turn back the covers
and climb into your bed,
and, whack! your little prayer rock
will bump you on the head.

Then you will remember
as the day is through,
to kneel and say your prayers
as you intended to.

Then when you are finished
dump me on the floor.
I'll stay there through the nighttime
to give you help once more.

When you get up next morning,
clunk! I stub your toe,
so that you will remember
your prayers before you go.

Put me back upon your pillow
when your bed is made,
and your clever little prayer rock
will continue in your aid.

Because your Heavenly Father
cares and loves you so,
He wants you to remember
to talk to Him, you know."

Monday, February 26, 2007

faith

now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.

faith is confidence, borne out by experience.

experience is essential for faith. but faith is a gift? how can we have confidence in something we have no experience in? how can i be confident in God's goodness if i have no experience of his goodness to me? maybe that's where the gift part comes in.

if most of us come to confidence in God because we hear the kingdom being preached, and we hope for the experiences of the kingdom to be true in our lives - that is 'faith'. and sometimes the kingdom is beyond our sight - the heavens are closed to us for the time being - but our certainty in their reality is never in doubt - that too is 'faith'.

experience plays a large part in our confidence in God, and building confidence in God. he calls us to do that which is impossible - to stretch out our withered hand, to raise our paralysed body up from our bed, to wake from the sleep of death and come forth from our tomb. we may hope for it, but if we are not sure that our hope can be realised, we do not attempt the impossible. our healing may lie beyond our powers of sight, but if we are not certain that it lies there, we do not reach for it. but our imaginations are not adequate substitutes for confidence.

what have we experienced of God? what experiences have given birth to solid confidence in his reality? have you the confidence of your past hopes being realised, or that which you have not yet seen being truly there?

for it is from this confidence that you now act. if your actions are not 'good fruit', don't beat yourself up for your sin, nor blame God for hiding. look for your confidence - where have you put it? is it in your abilities, your appearance, or your standing before men? you will surely know from your actions where you put your confidence. and as for God - why, his address is at 'the end of your rope'. when you get there, with no more tricks up your sleeve to pull, no more confidence in anything of the world or your natural abilities, you will find him... waiting for, and worthy of, the mustard seed of confidence that you offer him.
blogger interrupted

my change in weekly routine has cut my internet access down considerably. i now have roughly one day a week when my trusty PowerBook 'abides' in the interweb 'vine'. but, despite all outward appearances, i continue to think on other days of the week. thanks to the folks at hogbay software, i'm able to jot down my thoughts on the wonderful writeroom.

my only continuing niggle is the unpolished feel they have, but hey, life's too short. as a result, i'll shortly post one or two thoughts that have been fermenting over the last few months. you'll be unsurprised to know i've been reading a lot of willard and oswald chambers recently.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

photo update

i've just uploaded a burst of recent pics onto my flickr account. to explain such an 'ecclesia':

- me reading in our basement in front of the washing machine. yes, i know it's odd, but it's a habit left over from days when i had to use a laundrette. actually i am normally hypnotised by the action of the machine cleaning my clothes and meditating as follows: is there enough detergent? is there too much detergent? how grey will the water get? is that my old shirt in there? will it get that stain out? is there enough detergent?

- burns night at estelle's. i had the honour of giving the address to the haggis, that great chieftain o' the puddin' race.

- hayling island (various). mrs hope and i spent a week at the vineyard national leaders conference at hayling island (which is near portsmouth). we had a wonderful time with old friends, had the pleasure of meeting and making several new friends, the pleasure of celebrating God and his goodness with our vineyard family and the privilege of hearing wise and challenging words from our extended church family. we also had time to indulge my interest in glorious old war machines like HMS Victory, who is in dry dock at portsmouth's historical naval docks... makes me want to watch Master and Commander again!

- dancing girls in plymouth. the saturday following the conference, we travelled down to plymouth to help out at a Great Big God kid's event. part of the superiority of children's worship to adult worship is found in the acceptable involvement of your entire body with worshipping God. these girls led the way with great aplomb, and i managed to catch them in rehersal.

- latte at clements. this past weekend found us on the beautiful causeway coast of northern ireland. we were with our immediate network of via centres (and affiliates) for a teaching weekend. it was wonderful for us to gather together with our fellow travellers on the way, to hear and to share encouraging stories and experiences. we had most of a day to while away in belfast city centre. i learnt the appropriate expression for my low temperature was 'foundering', and then had the not small pleasure of this latte to alleviate this.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

search engines, searching questions

wabbadabba has arrived... what it does or how it works i don't know. i guess it promises a little silver lining to your otherwise routinely cloudy web-searching. and yes, i have sold out by posting this on my blog - i want a 42" plasma screen too!

Monday, February 05, 2007



welcome natasha!

i have recently become an uncle for the second time - hurrah for my big brother charlie, his wife juliet, and their first daughter amber! natasha is a star - she decided to be born on charlie's birthday so that i won't have to remember an extra date - how considerate!

Friday, January 26, 2007

spring is round the corner

after a long absence, i saw a blackbird in our neighbours' garden yesterday. today i saw a pair of blue tits. i have filled the bird feeder with fresh seeds in anticipation of spring.

Friday, January 12, 2007

covenant thoughts

do we have an imagination adequate for covenant? or has our image of covenant been so eroded by today's stories that we can no longer even drum up the energy to imagine a world where faithfulness is a virtue, and keeping a promise is honourable?

so instead we have a tarnished and tin-plate concept of relationship: something to furtively strip-mine whatever we can lay our hands on before proper disposal (or, nowadays, recycling).

covenant thoughts - god and us (because he started it all!)

god has covenanted to be with us. we cannot grasp this. in his presence a small, but significant, part of us gibbers in primeval fear that, this time, we really have blown it and, this time, he will reject us. we conceal, rather than reveal, ourselves because we cannot imagine that we could be in a relationship in which 'rejection' and 'divorce' are not viable options.

yet we fail to keep our part of the covenant if we hide. covenant requires us to present ourselves to god - dirty, fearful, deceitful as we may be. our responsibility is to take him at his word.

covenant thoughts - marriage (because maybe my feeble imagination can comprehend something of my relationship with god through my relationship with my wife?)

i have several responsibilities in my covenant relationship with mrs hope. one in particular has recently struck me with it's importance: my duty to disclose my baggage to my covenant partner. not for my sake, but for our sake.

in resolving to be open about my baggage with mrs hope, i enable us to reinforce our commitment to one another. i will not go elsewhere with my baggage. mrs hope will not reject me. separation is not an option. by being open with each other we declare we will work through anything and everything no matter what.

covenant thoughts - church (because god uses the metaphor of marriage for his relationship with the church - why can't we?)

what if we committed to one church community for life? what if we gave up our supposed right to ourselves as individuals (or individual families) and joined ourselves to a church community for life? what if all major life decisions were evaluated, from an interdependent viewpoint, with our church community?

what would it say to the world about covenant? about relationships? about courage? about sacrifice, the meaning of success, or living life to the full? about contentment, the 'poverty' of finiteness, self-control? and what would it require from us?
all done

finally finished my links. i have used a section of code which needed adaption for my site - you may have noticed the code was even in use whilst unamended for a short period of time.

no more changes for a while now.

Friday, January 05, 2007

almost done

finished the tweaks for the moment. have only my links to include, but would like (somehow) to have them unobtrusively tucked in, rather than dominating the page like last time. don't have anything meaningful to say, just posting in sheer satisfaction of the latest changes. that's alright, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

transitions

moved my blog from the old blogger to the new (google-powered) blogger. a few teething problems getting comments up and running but seems to be okay now.

i'll get my links (and all the other gubbins) back up soon.