Sunday, 24 May 2015

In the Footsteps of St Cuthbert

Waves crashing around the rocks at Amble.
Coquet Island is behind the rock
My visit to Northumbria at the beginning of May was shaped by its connections to holy places and people that played a part in the history of how we came to know Christ in Britain. We stayed in a B&B with a view over the bay including Coquet Island, where Cuthbert once lived as a hermit until he was persuaded to become bishop of Lindisfarne. We walked along the bay to Alnmouth, where the ancient church in which Cuthbert was ordained bishop has now been washed away.
 A highlight of the trip was a visit to the Franciscan friary at Alnmouth (which I had heard much about from friends who are members of the Third Order of Franciscans, following the way of St Francis in everyday life under vows but not in a residential community). We had tea and conversation with a range of people staying with the friars as a retreat house, before evening prayer filled us with a sense of peace and the presence of God. St Cuthbert in particular resonates with me, and I read much about him before my birthday trip to Durham a few years ago to see the Lindisfarne gospels.
One place remains to be visited on another occasion: the holy island itself, perhaps next Easter with thousands of other pilgrims.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Acomb Garden: Inspiration From Helmsley

View of newly planted wildflower
meadow, with hedge now starting to
grow and lawn laid!

 As the weather has improved, Acomb's community garden is starting to take shape as you can see in the photos here. Many hands made light work of planting a variety of flower seeds in the wildflower meadow on Seed Sowing Saturday in April, while leaves are appearing along the lines of veg (supplemented by any unsold plants from the church plant sale on 9th May, which raised a fantastic £850 for the charity Madalitso in Malawi - more on their stories here).

A couple of new fruit trees have been planted along the boundary fence which will soon come into leaf (though we'll be lucky if we get any fruit this year). A generous gift of turf has meant that Janette now has a good lawn within her new hedge (where a large patch of brambles once stood!) Apart from that, the patient work of weeding and digging continues, with a growing pile of bricks and other obstructions removed from the soil. It has been a very dry spring, so the garden team has been popping round at regular intervals to water different sections of the garden, especially to encourage areas of new planting (our best protection against weeds is vigilance and planting things we WANT to grow in their place!)