Friday, June 30, 2006

It's just like being in the future

So my webcam has arrived and i can now chat to v over the internet. It's amazing to think we're actually thousands of miles away. but it's nice to see and hear her.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Last fm

So I heard about this a while ago from ben askew. Then i saw something about it in some music mag or other and thought I'd check it out. So now you can see what music I'm listening to with this handy little chart thing in the side bar. It can also recommend other music from monitoring the kind of stuff i like to listen to. I'll see how it goes....

My last fm profile is here

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Just a quick note

Siobhan has updated her blog about her experiences in Kenya. As ever it is well worth reading.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pray without ceasing

pray without ceasingSo I mentioned a while ago i would blog about pray without ceasing. It is a prayer initiative from the methodist church, which was launched at last years conference, inspired by 24:7 prayer. The idea being that people will be praying day and night for about 14 months and to be a time to explore different ways of praying and being with god. Each district within the connexion have taken blocks of time within this period and recently it was the sheffield districts turn. Our circuit was given a 24 hour period to fill and a number of churches around the circuit set up prayer rooms. As part of our 'alternative worship service' (awe), at broomhill methodist, we set up a room for a prayerful reflective session which would take place just before the 24hr 'stint' began. the room would then be left for use during the following day. The room was split into a number of 'stations' with a guide leading from one to another, at each station there were various things to consider, for praise, worship, forgiveness and prayer, all of which were effective in their own right. We made use of paints, pipe cleaners, powerpoint, looping videos, banners, candles and all manner of other items. It really was a special time praying in there, and it's difficult to describe how fast time goes, and how all the different ways of using creative ideas is condusive to prayer and spending time with god. There were many positive comments from people who utilised the room, from people of faith and those of none. Which I find encouraging.
That evening I went to another church, wesley hall, where another prayer space had been curated, and getting up around 0230 i spent a good hour and a half in prayer, it's a great time to pray! then back to sleep before getting up around 0630 for work. I hope it is a venture that we can try again in the circuit.
There is a photo set on flickr with more pics from the event.

Going down in rock history!

Delgados - Peel sessionBeen doing quite a few bits of things in town today, including preparations for my upcoming trip to Israel. One of the things on my to do list was to go to fopp and purchase the Peel Sessions album by the delgados. This is definately the album of the year, all their music is fantastic and to have all their Peel stuff in one place is just great. Twenty-nine tracks over ten years, including some covers, all magnificent. I also bought some more music, which is always the problem when I go into fopp, and I shall probably speak more about the other purchases later. Once home I started listening to the music and began reading the sleeve notes to the Peel Sessions. I always enjoy reading Stewart's words, he has a great writing style and conveys humour throughout. One day i look forward to him publishing the diary he wrote for the release of the Hate album. Anyway, as I was nearing the end of the sleeve booklet so I came across a name check to me! Over the years I've been a regular on the message board and have enjoyed chatting with stewart and alan barr at various gigs, but here it is, my name in 'rock and roll' literature!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Football thoughts

japanese fans
I really enjoyed some of the carnival atmosphere that was generated by the fans, particularly the tunisians who seemed to be on every street corner in munich, singing, dancing and waving flags. There was nothing threatening about their behaviour. Likewise these Japanese fans we met outside the stadium at kaiserslauten were in great spirits, and these fans seem to continue to cheer no matter what is happening on the pitch. Unlike the tense england fans, who if aren't berating their openants are berating their own team, tension only broken by the scoring of a goal. I did miss the match of the day analysis at half time, watching matches in germany resulted in some odd half time moments, including the use of borris becker as a pundet interviewing franz beckenbaur! (Though i get back and itv have shane wharne to talk about australia - what next...)
tunisian fans
Whilst waiting for the game at the stadium in munich there were numerous loops of adverts on the big screens, one from fifa showed ppl from around the world playing football, with the slogan football unites and intimating that it was the solution to all the worlds political woes. This in addition to an advert for the official world cup 'hymn' and the following mass throngs coming to 'worship' at the stadium, made me wonder if they are trying to make football some quasi-religious experience? No doubt a full stadium and remarkable football, especially the euphoria of a late winner can really move a person and lift their spirits, but does it really promote worldwide unity, something i consider to be a kingdom value. Yes a lot of people speak the language of football, and yes it is easy to play with people from all cultures and backgrounds. But it also seems to promote this inate tribalism, that I particularly note in english fans, but am sure is present the world over. Phrases like 'our boys' and 'us' and 'them' mean that sometimes the football team embodies the kind of nationalism where one considers their nation to be superior to another. This is also seen at local level in national football too, and it is this aspect of football that increasingly bothers me, especially when i hear some of the chanting directed at opposing fans. It seems to be full of narrowmindedness, and not at all the all-encompassing unity that fifa would have us believe football embodies. I'm not against passionate support, but when it comes at the expense of decency towards other nations, or even our own players then it just highlights the flaws in the religion of football. I'm not saying that any faith has this issue sorted, and I often wonder why such tribalistic nature seems to exist, what I long for is a world where everyone is equal whether jew, gentile, free or slave, male or female, straight or gay, all loved equally by god.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Swollen uvula

My hayfever has been playing up, it is always bad at this time of the year, and the resulting stuffy noses usually result in me breathing through my mouth when I sleep. Whilst on holiday this method of breathing resulted in a sore throat and the development of a huge ulcer of penny-like-proportions next to my now swolen right tonsil. Today this pain has now been accenuated with a resultant swollen uvula, an afflication that i am not altogether unfamiliar with, hence knowing it's name. For those of you asuming from the name that it is some part of the genitalia, it is actually the dangly thing at the back of the throat, the thing often used as a punch bag in cartoons like tom and jerry. My uvula often swells when I am under the weather, or I have a bad sore throat. The first time it was so huge it kind of sat on the back of my tongue causing me to want to swallow all the time. It was awful, and I was sent to the day rest beds by the doctor when he saw it back in my student days. Anyway, it seems that the cure is to drink cold drinks and also gargle with dissolvable asprin, as asprin has an anti-inflammatory effect. So that is what i hope to do today.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

world cup holiday

So since my last post I have driven almost 1,800 miles in my little fiesta. It has been great and we all had a good time, with the weather being absolutely superb throughout. The journey started early on saturday morning from chris' house in hemel hempstead, taking an early ferry from dover. It was just like travelling on a duck pond, and the sky was a lovely blue, so nice that we spent the journey sat out on the deck. A little nervous about travelling on the opposite side of the road to wat I am normally used to, but it was with ease that I made the transition as we headed to our first campsite just outside calais. It was a great campsite, with really friendly and accommodating staff, who I could communicate well with my pidgin gsce french, even asking if they would be showing the football, to be shown into the bar and greeted with a huge plasma screen. The england game vs paraguay was ok, at least we got the win that was required, despite a relatively poor performance. Another early start on the sunday saw us leave at 6am, and travelling across france and into germany near saarbruke to campingplatz clausensee, a six hour journey, that was a comfortable ride, though expensive on the toll roads. This campsite was our favourite, and it was a shame that I never paid attention in german lessons that we had to rely on the staff's english to communicate. Even chris, our most highly decorated german speaker, having at least a gsce, would usually speak in english when his services were called upon, much to our amusement. Not only did this camp site have a huge plasma screen for our football televisual delights in the air conditioned restaurant, they were also serving bitburger, a beer, in special glasses. These glasses came with an embossed shirt number, and should a player with corresponding shirt score in the match whilst you were drinking, then you got the beer for free. Adding an extra bit of excitement to the games in which we were just neutral viewers, and also enabling us to become familiar with a number of players. The great Golmohammadi being a fave of mine as this number 4 shirt wearing Iranian defender was the first to react in a crowded six yard box to convert a loose ball after a corner against mexico. The site was also close to Kaiserslauten, host of one of the tournament stadiums, and it turned out that australia were playing japan at the stadium on our free day. The camp site had put on a coach that we took to the town, and enjoyed the atmosphere in the fanplatz. There was a real carnival atmosphere, with local radio dj comparing various warm up acts pre and mid game. Including a set of football tricksters from japan, demonstrating incredible ball skill and balance, and at half time some scantily clad pop duo causing great adulation from the mainly male viewers. The aussies went wild after the dramatic turnaround of a 1-0 deficit to a 3-1 victory, with huge amounts of dancing and singing to aussis songs post match, including some AC/DC!

Three nights were then spent in ingolstadt at the azur campsite that we termed the mosquito dump after being bitten all over whilst watching the brazil match in the tv marquee. This campsite was chosen mainly due to it's location which we used to travel by train to munich and nurnberg. In munich we watched the tunisia vs saudi match live in the stadium with the tickets procurred earlier this year. There was a great atmosphere, and the stadium really is quite magnificent, both from outside and within. Situated on the second tier above the goal, we felt close to the action and a great vantage point for three of the goals. Dissapointingly the saudi's conceded a late goal, as that was the team I had picked to cheer. They had such a great chance fora victory.

In Nurnberg we took enjoyed the atmosphere from within the fanplatz, which was fairly tense throughout the match, and the crouch goal seemed to have more of a sense of relief then celebration, though I was able to complete a bit of a crouch robot dance.

A last night in campingplatz clausensee, broke up our journey and it was nice to see the familiar friendly faces, before setting off for the final leg back to england on saturday. Of course leaving time to watch the matches on tv. There are plenty of pics in my flickr set. Spending a week in europe watching football and enjoying temperatures in the 30s, what a great time.

Friday, June 09, 2006


This is a trailer blog - so things to look forward to:

1. A blog about the circuits involvement in pray without ceasing, which was amazing with some really inspirational prayer rooms.

2. I'm off to germany for some world cup shenanigans, there'll be 4 of us cramped in my car as we travel thousands of miles. Should be fun, and we have tickets for saudi arabia vs tunisia - excellent. If i get chance i'll drop a line, otherwise you will have to await my return.

Something in my eye

Took v down to heathrow, and was pleased to make good time considering the time of day. It took about 3 hours via the M40, so were ready to check in just after 6pm. Unfortunately the computer system was down, and we had to wait, and wait, and wait. It took them ages to get sorted, and just when they were going to do the procedure manually, the system came back on line again. Despite being one of the first to be waiting around, as there was no orderly queue, we soon found ourselves being pushed back, sometimes by particularly underhand tactics. For example, one guy sidled up to the guy in front of us and began chatting with him like they were best friends, using this to gain an avantage and push ahead of us. This whole nonsense meant that v had less than an hour before boarding time, and so there was no time to grab a bite to eat together. After paying for her extra baggage we stood at the bottom of the escalator that went up to the departure lounge, said farewell, and I watched her ascend (though there were no angels sounding 'a la mount of olives'). It was a sad moment, and i think i had something in my eye.

Back to the car, pay the astronimical parking charge, and head back home. As I still hadn't eaten I called into hemel hempsted and met up with chris for a bite to eat before continuing home.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Today will be quite sad

This afternoon I will be driving to Heathrow with v, as today she returns to canada. It will be quite sad, as it may be some months before we get to see each other again. After a really bizarre meeting (which I never blogged about at the time) we became really good friends, enjoying each others company a lot. It's been great having her around, and we've managed to do some really fun things together which has really lifted my spirits. She's great, but her home calls her back. I'll miss her a lot.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mission training day

As regular readers may remember I am travelling to Israel/Palestine with highway projects to help with their mission initiatives amongst palastinian arabs. On Saturday I had a days training, and I found the whole day really exciting. Not only the anticiaption about going, but also the slight fear about going to a completely different culture. Learning about some of the cultural dos and don'ts that will be essential for me as I stay with some palestinian hosts. The work sounds like it will be fairly exhausting and also fairly 'off the cuff' as no full itinery is yet available for our work with young people in Reineh. This is a town adjacent to Nazereth and Cana, so no doubt Christ would've travelled through it on the way to a certain wedding feast. We will mainly be working alongside a number of agencies promoting reconciliation between palaestian arabs of differing faiths, listening to their stories and helping run fun activities to keep them amused. On our days off we also get chance to visit Jericho in the west bank, on the edge of the dead sea, travel on the sea of galilee and to the mount of the beatitudes amongst other things. I'm sure it will be a truely rewarding experience. During the worship at the training event I got a real sense of God in the place, an almost physical presence as we sang. So I trust that God too, is excited about these continued projects, and not just the impact it will have on those we meet, but also the impact they will have on us, particularly as we engage in conversations about faith. There are still places available on some of the september projects to Jordon, but if you can't make that I recommend you check out the highway projects website and perhaps apply for one of the missions next year.

It was also a really sunny day, and me and chris purchased a tent for our germany trip. In the eve I went to see x-men III with v, though we were disappointed with the disjointed storyline. Such a shame as the other two films are really enjoyable, and you can read so much allogories into the way that the mutants are treated in these films. They could be any oppressed member of society that society wants to 'cure' be that gays or asylum seekers.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Peter Crouch(ing tiger)

Went with v to see my m+d on tues as my cousin was around too. Started watching the england match and then headed over to scott's to watch the second half. We were chatting about our upcoming trip to germany whilst watching the match. However the highlight was when peter Crouch scored and did this weird robot dance celebration:

It was hilarious. I checked technorati and it seemed that people were going crazy over the dance. It seems it is a dance he performed at some charity party hosted by David Beckham, and some footage was circulating on t'internet, so he parodied himself.

What a star, this guy is brilliant, not only does he look like some gangly giraffe when coming onto the pitch, but he can actually play pretty well and score great goals. I hope we see more of the dance during the world cup. I know for one, I shall be recreating the moves whenever england score!