Random bits going on in life

Having got back from New York most of the weekend was spent preparing for a preach I was doing in church on Sunday morning. I had been given the opportunity to share something from my heart about why and what we do in children’s and youth work. I am really grateful (particulaly afterwards!) when I get given an opportunity to share and hopefully inspire the wider congregation about what we do week in, week out. I also find it really helpful as it sets my heart and mind back on the central reasons as to why we do what we do.

Since then I have spent most of the time trying to catch up with work. Key things include:

  • The YFriday concert happening in a few weeks time
  • Activities and material for youth groups this week
  • My RE lessons for tomorrow afternoon
  • Dealing with some admin and background issues
  • Preparing for a preach at Doubt your Doubts, a town-wide monthly youth service
  • Dsicovering that a mouse seems to be living in my office!

Hopefully as life settles down again into a more normal pattern I can get back into the blogging.

New York – Days 5 and 6

Our last day in New York we spent most of the day shopping – it was good fun although we found that most of it was at designer prices which we didn’t want to payso we didn’t end up buying too much. However, I did manage to get a pair of smart trousers worth £50 for $19 – about £15 including taxes!

In the evening we went to an ice hockey match at Madison Square Gardens. Here is a cool photo:

Unfortunately the home team – New York Rangers lost 4-2 to the Florida Panthers. But at least it made Sam feel at home given he supports, the football team, Crystal Palace and they aren’t particularly doing well – 17th in the Championship at the moment! It was amazing to see how much other stuff they put in to their sports games. The game contains three periods of 20 minutes. The first period took over 50 minutes to play with all the player rotation, fouls, and adverts. It is so different to how sport is played in the UK. A really good night though.

On our last day Sam had to go back to work so Sarah, Hannah and I went in search of one of the Christian bookshop. We found quite an impressive shop where I bought a book and Hannah managed to get some groovy little presents for a couple of our young people!

We then travelled out to Newark airport to take our flight to Chicago only to be told that due to bad weather we would not be able to fly and would have to put ourselves up in a hotel for the night and fly the next day. After a bit of discussion they managed to find us another flight but it left JFK airport in less than four hours. We had the craziest taxi journey across the city driving at 60mph with the driver not wearing his seat belt, mobile phone in one hand, and eating with the other, using his elbows to steer us in and out of these huge big lorries. In the end we made it to the airport, sat in another huge queue, but did make it on the flight. In many ways it was better than our original flights as it was direct to Heathrow with no changes and we had a nicer plane to travel in. We also arrived in the UK just before 6:30am instead of the 10:00am we should have originally arrived at.

New York – Day 4

Today we got up really late which was lovely – I am now feeling tired but not sure if that is because I have now had so much sleep or too little! We spent most of today at Bronx Zoo which while not the best zoo I have ever visited was good fun. I think I got some real good photos but the best of the day has to be Hannah’s picture from the subway:

Hannah’s favourite animals were the chipmunks, which were just wild in the zoo not an actual exhibit, but we didn’t get a good photo of them because they are too fast so here are some other random animal ones.

We saw this funny thing and thought it could just be a huge bottle opener!

After the zoo we went shopping. Surprisingly Sam did the best out of us all getting several shirts and jumpers – yet he doesn’t even like shopping! Anyhow while doing on that we walked by the Rockefeller Centre:

New York – Day 3

On our third day we started off by taking the free commuter ferry to Ellis Island to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. It is amazing that the ferry is provided free of charge – that would never happen on this scale in the UK. It was cold and all of us, bar Hannah, decided not to take a coat – big mistake! Anyhow here is a picture of the statue: We then went on to Times Square – it is amazing to see how many huge video screens that exist in the middle of the city. We had lunch at Burger King which was nice except for the rude nun – we wonder why Christians and Christianity have such a bad reputation.
This was followed by a great trip to Central Park. As the sun had come out we thought we would take a horse drawn carriage trip around the park. It was really good and led by a random Irish tour guide. Well worth the money. Here are some photos of Sam and Sarah, and Hannah and I on the tour:

The park has some great views – I am sure my photos don’t do it justice but it is a great place which combines both views of the city but also of nature. And whilst the park is big the most striking thing in comparison with many UK city parks is that it is not flat. Anyhow here are a couple of photos.

We then went on to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum having gone past a whole load of others which where closed as it was Monday! We went in and the building is amazing but decided not to pay for the exhibitions as it was fairly expensive and we didn’t have too long.

New York – Day 2

Sam and Sarah live in the middle of Manhatten just a few minutes from Wall Street, and Broadway:

And here is the view from their apartment. Wow!

In the morning we went up the Empire State Building. The views were amazing. I especially liked this ‘arty’ photo with the light cutting across the image and the way the gold on the bottom right reflects on to the building behind it: Here is a picture of Hannah and I up the Empire State building:
New York has loads of skyscrapers but there are a few around the city that look like the one below – they look 2D or flat. They are actually parallelograms but they look really bizarre.

These are some pictures we took when on Brooklyn Bridge. The view was awesome but the photos aren’t great so I blame the camera! First a picture of the view from the bridge and then pictures of Hannah and I, and Sam and Sarah on the bridge.

New York – Day 1!

Hannah and I are in New York. We are visiting our friends Sam and Sarah. Sam works for Harper Collins and is out here working till Christmas and we thought it was too good an opportunity not to visit them during half-term.

Here are some photos from our first day – most of which was spent travelling.

First up here is Phil, Hannah’s brother who drove us to the airport:

This is the sunrise we saw as we drove:

And this is our view from the plane. We had seats by the window and because we were by an emergency exit we got loads of legroom which was great!

Busyness before a rest

Today has been spent preparing for and running our two lunchtime CUs that we are involved in and tying up loose ends in the work, such as those funding applications, before having a few days off. It is always so silly the way that we try and cram everything in just before we go away. When I was young the day before a big event such as a summer holiday or Christmas was always fraught with preparations and tying up the loose ends. It seems like it doesn’t change when you get older!

We did hear some great news today. My brother in law, Phil, got married in the summer to Liz, after they graduated from uni. They have both been on the lookout for jobs and then a place to live and Liz, has today been given a job working in a special baby care unit in Southend which is great as it means her and Phil will stay fairly close by so we can still go and see them regularly.

With it being half-term I won’t be posting for the next week!

School in local newspaper

One of the schools I regularly work in recently held a community tea so that the new head teacher could meet other heads, community leaders, church leaders etc. It seemed to go quite while and as part of it the Brentwood Gazette came to interview her and took a photo with some of her ‘key community volunteers’ which includes me! It is always nice to get publicity in the local paper – something that as churches we are not very good at doing – something we need to improve.

Doodle – arrange your meetings

I saw this on PastorHacks.Net and thought this looks quite useful. I have a couple of groups of people who meet with but we don’t have fixed regular meetings so it can be quite hard to get everyone together. Doodle sorts this out for you. As Bob Hyatt says:
1. Create a new poll with a title, description, your name, and possible dates and times.
2. You get a link to your new poll. Send this link to all participants.
3. The participants use the link to visit the poll and select suitable dates.
4. You use the same link to watch the poll’s progress and the result.

Check out Doodle!