Met a fellow Christian writer at Hexham on Wednesday. An absolutely lovely day. We talked and talked but then we hadn’t seen each other for six months, so we needed to catch up. We had planned to walk round Hexham but then I became lazy and was enjoying the talk and meal so much, that i didn’t want to move.

I also travelled on a train for the first time for six months. Many restrictions in place. I wonder when and if we will ever get back to normal. Pandemics may come and pandemics may go but the Cumbrian and Northumbrian countryside is still beautiful, with autumn colours just beginning to appear.

John Nash

Scrolling through the internet looking at trivia can throw up some interesting facts.

The Circular Cottages, a group of nine cottages in Blaise Hamlet, Henbury, Bristol, are cottages commissioned by the Quaker banker John Scandrett Harford for his retired employees. Their features included brick chimneys, dormer windows and some were thatched. Grouped round a green with a central sundial they were considered to be the first garden suburbs. These Grade 1 listed buildings were designed and built by John Nash.

John Nash was also responsible for the re-design of Buckingham House to become Buckingham Palace. He enlarged the existing building, into an imposing U shaped structure by extending the central block and two wings.

Has God planned our lives on the scale of small thatched cottages or an impressive Buckingham Palace? All we need to do is to be faithful.

Let the Bus have the Fuss

Anywhere in the Lake District is extremely crowded. Mind you, the foreign holiday-maker refugees would have found the weather a shock. No lazing on the beaches. After a number of abortive attempts I gave up trying to find somewhere to park. The bus drivers are paid to struggle with the traffic and have their own parking places.

Although I live near the Lake District I hardly ever go there, it’s always full of people and cars. The quietest months to visit are November and January, but I shudder to think of the ice on the roads. I long for foreign holidays to be resumed, then maybe I can visit my local National Park.

Using the bus was the correct type of transport. Like choosing the correct hero to follow in life. We need a hero who can never let us down.


Warm temperatures! Sunny spells! The weather forecaster obviously wasn’t in Grasmere when i was there. The only the sounds were the bleating sheep and the swishing of travelling cars along the seriously wet road. The only sights were, well not much, the mist was very low. The mountains were still there, like God. I don’t need to see Him to know He’s there.

But in this period of lockdown it was lovely to be in a different place, see different views and have my meals cooked for me. And I shared it with the mountains and God.

Encourage and Help

I was particularly struck by two Biblical readings I came across lately. Hebrews 3:13 ‘Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today.’ And also ‘Do good to all people, especially those who belong to the family of believers.’ Galatians 6:10

In these difficult days these were encouraging words. We are needing to settle in to the long haul of recovery.


Imagine the scene. After his fearless preaching Peter has been thrown into prison. He is guarded by four squads of four soldiers and bound with chains behind a locked door. Sixteen!

But this is no problem to God. What are the church doing meanwhile – praying earnestly. What a lovely word. My dictionary says to be earnest is to be serious, determined, with zeal. In a few verses we read that God has intervened, Peter is free.

Do we, do I pray earnestly, as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemene? Or are we, am I half-hearted, weak-hearted, and faint-hearted?

Gladys Aylward

Do you remember the film ‘The Inn of the Sixth Happiness?’ It used to be shown every Christmas.

It portrays the life of Gladys Aylward who was a missionary to China in the 1930’s and 40’s. She faced many dangers, was shot, faced an angry prison mob, as well as taking nearly 100 children over the mountains to safety during the Chinese war.

Known as Ai-weh-deh to the Chinese she continually risked her life to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to that country. With our modern problems and evangelists it is east to forget those who went before; those to whom we owe so much. Without their dedication and calling, Christianity would be so much the poorer today.

If you would like to know more about her life I have written her story and you can read it in my book ‘Gladys Aylward, a Life for China.’

ISBN 978 1 909281 49 3 available from www.piquanteditions. com and Amazon.

St. Kilda

St. Kilda abandoned! 90 years ago today St. Kilda, a small island 40 miles west of North Uist, Outer Hebrides was evacuated because life on the island had become unsustainable. After a particularly severe winter, an influenza epidemic had killed many of the Gaelic speaking residents, leaving only 36 to move to the mainland.

Tourists and a change in their religious practices had introduced elements which led to a different way of life which was not compatible to island life and a primitive culture which had lasted for 2,000 years ended.

Today it is the essential breeding ground for gannets, puffin, fulmar, great skua and kittiwake. It is a nature reserve managed by Scottish National Heritage.The island has the highest sea cliff in Britain and is also the home of the Neolithic Soay sheep.