What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Hurricane Gonzalo brings an End to Autumn Glory

It has been a most glorious autumn. Dry, bright, sunny, warm, long golden days. The trees have really been showing off.

We’ve had beautiful walks kicking through piles of pretty leaves

And making long shadows in the early mornings. Long legs, small dog!

All my spring bulbs are planted and our new garden has had a few extra weeks to get established before winter sets in for real.
Harvest was celebrated. This year I followed a rainbow theme on the Communion Table running the spectrum of red to purple in fruit, vegetables and flowers. It was only during the worship service I realised I had forgotten to cut open the water melon for the reddest of reds! Oops.


All the golden glorious-ness however came to a very abrupt halt with the stormy arrival of the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo which created such havoc in Bermuda. The heavy rain and wind cleared our avenue of trees of their leaves in a couple of hours.
Now the clocks have turned back. British Summer Time is over.
The hens rise after 7am in the murky dawn and tootle off to bed around 5.30pm.
Days are getting shorter. It’s less than 9 weeks to Christmas!


Lost and Found – Writing 101- Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. It is probably sung at least 10 million times annually.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction. Aged just 11 he joined his father in the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service, he became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology. Around the same time Newton joined forces with the abolitionist William Wilberforce and worked tirelessly for the abolition of slavery. Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773.

Yesterday I attended the Thanksgiving Service for the life of a very young man and the many mourners joined in singing this hymn.
The words “I once was lost but now I’m found” from this hymn rang in my ears, as I thought about today’s Writing Challenge. Of all the life experiences that you might think this lovely boy had lost out on. But of all the joy those who knew and loved him had found by spending time with him.
A young man, born very prematurely 24 years ago, who climbed high ropes, canoed and rode horses despite being limited to a wheel chair.
Who had many friends who filled the small country church to bursting, though he spoke very few words.
Whose days revolved around therapies and medication, yet had the biggest brightest smile and sparkling eyes to win over everyone who met him.
Who was deeply loved, cherished, protected, adored by his mum, dad, sister, grandparents, church family and carers.
Always missed, never forgotten.


Songs about a bird, a wall and a cross

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

My whole life is full of music. Our house is bursting with musical instruments of all shapes and sizes,melodies, rhythms, singing, scales. I have to check trouser pockets for stray plectrums before doing the laundry. When I go walking or running my steps are to the beat of personalised playlists on my Spotify account. My diary revolves around music lessons for both myself and my boys. A real treat is to a live concert whether classical or contemporary musicians. My children laugh at me because I frequently burst into song and they equally are astounded by my recollection of song lyrics from days of yore when Madonna ruled the charts and Sony Walkmans were The Thing. There are many childhood memories of musical shows my father sang in and countless repetitions of “a dog called Bingo” and “London’s burning” on the 114 mile car journey to visit granny. And on granny’s stereogram – Mantovani, or James Last LPs.
It’s hard to pick just three songs. But I am constantly reminding my family of the three pieces of music I would like to be played at my funeral service. Allow me to be open and honest with all of you out there in blog land, these are my choices, this is my life, my life choices, my faith, and someday my own funeral I am writing about here.
the Lark Ascending by Vaugh Williams
This is the most exquisite piece of music. Lyrical, melancholy, uplifting, soaring like the bird it was written about. When this comes on the radio I have to stay listening to the very last note, despite it being nearly 15 minutes long. I have never heard this played live however this may be a good thing as I would probably be a sobbing wreck by the end. You may not be aware that Vaughan Williams was inspired to write this music by a poem by George Meredith. How fabulous that a piece of writing led to the creation of such wonderful music. Choose your words carefully my fellow bloggers, you never know what you in turn may inspire.
Wonderwall by Oasis
I was too busy having babies to get into the whole Britpop 90’s thing but I loooove this song. I probably prefer the Ryan Adams cover of this song. I can’t really explain what the appeal is. I certainly am no fan of Oasis, and the lyrics are the usual tale of a guy appealing to his love, reminding her that he loves her more than anyone else ever could, that he is as much there for her as she is for him even when life’s journey is full of twists and turns. It has to be the guitar chords, an acoustic sound full of suspended and unresolved mostly minor chords.
in Christ Alone by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend
This is the most fantastic modern Christian hymn which takes the singer through the entire foundation of their faith in God. I particularly love the version where the words are echoed by the drama of the music, quietness describing Jesus in the tomb then quite literally bursting with sound at the resurrection.

In the final verse acknowledges that Christ has been with us from the start of our lives to the very end, through the journey of our days, through life’s twists and turns, ups and downs.
My soul like a lark ascending. God with me to the very end of my life, my Wonderwall.



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Giant Green Cabbage


It isn’t every Sunday morning I come home from church with a giant green cabbage. But today I did.
And what a whopper! Those are my favourite pair of summer shoes (UK size 6) beside this beauty, grown by “Pip” who gave us a talk on having faith the size of a mustard (or in this case cabbage) seed.
We will be enjoying the heart of the cabbage, the Gillybirds are tucking into the first few outer leaves, which came complete with a dessert of slugs.




I hope the Gillyboys eat their cabbage with as much enthusiasm as the hens did!



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At the Crossroads

Yesterday it turns out, was a Crossroads day.
For around four years, Gillyboy number two has set his heart on leaving home to study at a well known university. He has worked really hard, kept focused on his goal, prepared for interviews, identified weaknesses and worked out solutions. Yesterday morning, after a restless night for all of us, the results were out, and with fluttering hearts and trembling fingers, his dream plan for the next three years was made reality. It is a new path for all of us; for him, leaving home, starting a whole new adventure in another place; for us, adapting to life without him during term time, missing his wonderful music practices that can often take your breath away, those half empty coffee cups lying around, and long games of Pokemon cards (still at 19, bless) with his mates and Gillyboy number 4.
It’s very exciting, and daunting and we look forward to seeing what adventures this new journey will bring.
For around four years, a lovely lady and her family in our church fellowship have been learning to live with a terminal diagnosis. Yesterday she quietly moved on to a new stage in her journey. She has gone home, leaving an amazing example of strength and courage whatever battles are to be faced. She was always very open about her illness and its treatment, she had a wonderful ministry to others going through similar experiences, she was the go-to girl for organising rotas and finding church keys at the last minute within our congregation. She lived Life To The Full spending quality time with family and many friends with meals, coffees, cycle rides and badminton games, celebrations and holidays. Never angry or bitter, always directly spoken, a woman of strong and living faith, she faced her inevitable future with confidence and assurance. She prepared those closest to her for this outcome in the same manner. She was so encouraging to her children as they changed from their teens into the confident vivacious young adults that they are today, as they mourn her loss and move on in their journey without her beside them.
On Monday we will stand by them, and their father, her loving and beloved husband, as they give thanks for a wonderful life, a peaceful end, as she walks a new path into the Kingdom of her Saviour.

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Mrs Gillybirds toots her saxophone


Don’t say you weren’t invited!
If you are asking “whaaat?” Then follow the link below-
Steve Stockman’s Blog on the Gospel Message of Bruce Springsteen

I’m off to practice making sounds like only Clarence Clemons could…..


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Bad News Days


Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.

So says Fredrich Buechner.
It has been quite a week for terror, bloodshed, death, destruction, fear and inhumanity. Fires, earthquakes, war and rumours of war.
Ordinary people rush towards danger, queue to donate blood, push through fire and debris to rescue the trapped and wounded.
Peoples’ lives have been turned upside down in an instant.
There was a point when I just had to avoid watching any more bad news.

Growing up in Northern Ireland during the time called “the Troubles” our lovely green island made too many bad news headlines. Since my children were born we have moved into more peaceful period, and yet the ripples caused by bombings and murders to families spread on to this day.

And yet the beauty and the cruelty of nature is that the world keeps on turning, buds are bursting, April showers are sparkling in the warming sun, and hens keep on laying.

Today Colonel Saunders, who is still moulting heavily, has been badly pecked by the other hens. This can often happen, the problem being once a hen sees the colour red, ie blood, it can go into a pecking frenzy. To give them all a bit of space from each other they are free ranging in the garden. The Colonel is sitting apart very quietly, not scratching or dust rolling or any of her other favourite activities. I have sprayed her again with Anti Peck, and treated her wound on her shoulder, but she looks sad and sore. I did pick her up for a cuddle, but hens don’t appreciate too much handling and it was probably more to ease my distress rather than hers. Tonight I will keep her apart from the other two hens in the coop so she gets peace to sleep. I’ve consulted the chicken manuals, and there is very little else I can do.
Let’s hope she recovers quickly and tranquility is restored to the Gillybirds Coop.

As for the rest of the world we should never lose hope, and do what we can to make it a better place for us to live in.
The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it
Albert Einstein

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Unwrapping the Chocolate Egg

It never fails to make me smile that as shops are taking down the tinsel and packing away unsold crackers the day after Christmas, they are unpacking chocolate Easter Eggs. Apart from the store’s commercial reasons why are we in such a hurry to get that baby to the Cross? And what is the link with chocolate eggs?
For the Christian Easter is a celebration of Christ’s rising, but this holiday has pagan origins. The coloured eggs, cute little bunnies, baby chicks, leg of lamb dinners, and lilies are all symbols of rebirth and the lamb was a traditional religious sacrifice.
Easter falls in the spring, the yearly time of renewal, when the earth renews itself after a long, cold winter. The word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen’s Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit.
The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for a long time. A notation in the household accounts of King Edward I showed an expenditure of eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and coloured for Easter gifts. The first book to mention Easter eggs by name was written five hundred years ago. Yet, a North African tribe that had become Christian much earlier in time had a custom of colouring eggs at Easter. Long hard winters often meant little food, and a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize. Later, Christians abstained from eating meat during the Lenten season prior to Easter. Easter was the first chance to enjoy eggs and meat after the long abstinence.
Our oldest Gillyboy has been faithfully keeping off sweet things for Lent so he is eagerly awaiting unwrapping his chocolate eggs today.
After a week of deepest snow and freezing temperatures, we all long for winter to end and Spring to arrive with longer days and warm sunshine. Today, on Resurrection Sunday, I am celebrating the unwrapping of the grave clothes, the cracking open of the tomb and the victory of Christ over death.
He is risen!


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Easter Greetings

Easter greetings to you all from Mrs Gillybirds and her girls!
Bet you didn’t know there is actually a variety of laying hen called “Easter Eggers”. They are not a breed per se, but a variety of chicken that does not conform to any breed standard but lays large to extra large eggs that vary in shade from blue to green to olive to aqua and sometimes even pinkish. Easter Eggers vary widely in colour and conformation, and are exceptionally friendly and hardy, making great family pet hens.

They do look quite different to the Gillybirds, though they can come in any colour at all. I would love it though if they looked like this –


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lá sona naomh Pádraig

Even hens can celebrate St Patrick’s Day

It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to wish you all a genuine 100% Irish Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I know people like to drink green beer and eat all kinds of green food, but green hens are taking this fifty shades of green too far!
As well as it being a public holiday tomorrow, the Gillyboy’s school is playing in the final of the Schools Cup rugby against the local rivals, so we won’t be wearing green, we will be proudly wearing black and yellow and cheering them on


I had to include this cartoon, as a mother who can still recite large chunks of “Green Eggs and Ham” this made me LOL as the young folks would say!
Happy St Patrick’s Day one and all!


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