On Tuesday that just went by, I got to take The Loft (our teenage bible study group) to climb up to Ivinghoe Beacon and watch the sunset.
It was forecasted to be a beautiful evening and it definitely was! We were treated to a stunning display of God’s handiwork.
What I enjoy about what I do is the creativity that comes with it. God often pops little ideas into my head. I saw that it was going to be a good evening. I sent out the invites (texts) “God is going to show us something beautiful.”
Loaded up in our church bus and off we went.
For some of those young people – they had never been up to the beacon. it’s only 25 minutes away. (I am thankful for my wanting to explore nature that I have discovered lots of little gems in and around Milton Keynes. Thanks Dad! Runs in the family.)
So, it was great to take them out. I had the sense to not go with an agenda but let God be God. After all, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Psalm 24: 1)
And not to fill the moment with too many words. After all as the adage goes: “preach the gospel, if necessary, use words.”
(This blog may already be adding too many words…)
From the physical aspect – walking up the hill to taking in the beautiful view, to holding one’s breath at the sunset – just ending the day in a different way… we each had an encounter. We each had a moment.
As the brilliant quote from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty goes:
It seems I am making a habit of it – becoming an annual thing; visiting Cornwall at least once a year. On my previous two visits, the weather in Cornwall wasn’t been great – gloomy, wet and windy.
But in their own way, still an adventure nonetheless. Life in sepia and grayscale is still life!
So this past weekend (28 – 30 Aug 2021), I have the privilege of joining my friend, Chris on his incredible feat. (Chris is walking the entire Coastal Path. From Minehead to Poole. Over 600 miles of walking!!). The 3 days I joined him were simply amazing!
It seemed as if the coastline was transformed into something “Mediterranean” – it seemed so tropical and other worldly! (Is this really the UK?) The sunshine came out in all it’s splendour transforming the scenery for the 3 days!!
Here are the details of our route:
Day 1: Portwrinkle to Maker Heights – 18.63km Day 2: Maker Heights to Wembury Bay – 20.56km Day 3: Wembury bay to Bigbury on the Sea – 27km
Each day, I asked God for a theme. These are what I came up with:
Day 1 – Discovery Day 2 – The small things Day 3 – Focus
FRI After a good week of Holiday Club, I headed down to go meet Chris. (I am so grateful he invited me to join him for a few days.) In saying yes to the invite, a few months back, I didn’t realise I would be driving down to the Coast on a bank holiday weekend. I had to negotiate the manic traffic for 5 hours. Leaving Milton Keynes at 13:30, I finally got to Bigbury on the Sea at 18:30. I had arranged for Haris Taxis to take me from there to where I would be meeting Chris at the Finnygook Inn near Portwrinkle. (I felt like I was taking part in some Amazing Race to catch my taxi in time.)
Once I arrived, I put my bag down in the room and we headed for dinner. Having that beer (Tribute) was so welcoming after a fun and busy week plus the long drive down. Good to catch up with Chris and find out about his first two days of walking (his part II of his challenge.)
DAY 1 After a brilliant sleep, I opened the curtains to see the most amazing scene. The sun was about to rise. So I grabbed a cup of coffee and just sat there watching the sunrise. (When last had I done that? Just being present to the sunrise.)
We had some time to kill before breakfast so I headed down to Portwrinkle Bay and already then, my soul felt so giddy!
I decided that each day I would have my data off for the day time, so I really could be more present to my surroundings, just using my phone for photos.
I said the theme for day 1 was Discovery!! Can you believe after ten years of having my backpack, I only discovered on this trip that it has side pockets!!! (How cool is that?!) I remember years back when I got the backpack thinking that it was designed without side pockets to make backpacking easier when flying – easier to slip the backpack into the overhead compartments.
We started the walk with Chris’s ritual. 20 minutes of walking in silence thanking God for things. I loved this! (We should try this everyday, right?)
I am / was so thankful for many things. I will jot some down here: my health, my fitness, the adventure and wanderlust my dad instilled in my brother and I, the opportunities of my life, the second chances after the mistakes I have made, those open spaces of the coastal path. (What are you thankful for?) I loved the vast openness of the ocean next to us. My soul could breathe! The sea was our constant companion for three days lying to the right of us as we walked. “Sparkling like a thousand diamonds strewn across a blue blanket” (to borrow a lyric from Incubus.)
Earlier on day one we got to swim in the sea. I loved it! That was one of the things I was really looking forward to. For some part of that day we walked in a wooded area too.
When we got to Cawsands we stopped and had sausage rolls and orange juice. That was so needed after the previous stretch. I then swam for a second time.
There were a lot of old barracks and military buildings we discovered along the way. I constantly drank in the breath-taking views. My soul so quenched!
I liked the Maker Heights campsite. It felt very bohemian and earthy. That night, Chris and I visited the onsite bar for some beers. I also loved putting up my tent and was excited that part of the adventure would include sleeping in a tent.
At some point in the evening, I looked up and saw the canopy of stars. Day 1, a day of Discovery. Wonderful! Here is the photo roll of that day:
DAY 2 Starting the day, seeing the sunrise again. (What a treat, two days in a row!) Then putting down the tents felt so “wild at heart.” like. On this day, we rode two ferries crossing the massive bay of Plymouth. (Saves walking some of the boring town parts.) The Plymouth Sound is pretty impressive! It felt so Mediterranean! I also thought of Simon’s Town and Gordon’s Bay (similar vibe). We stopped for a coffee and bap at the Terrace. Nearby there was a swimming spot. I couldn’t miss that opportunity. So I swam out to a nearby pontoon and on the way, treading water, I looked back and just took in the remarkable view of the waterfront. The lighthouse standing tall on the hill. People all about enjoying the sunshine. (The bank holiday weekend was kind to us all!) There was a buzz in Plymouth about that dragon that would hatch and take flight…
I would love to see how Plymouth looks on a grey sepia day, because I think we were taking this all in with rose tinted glasses (tourist bias). But still, I think living by the seaside must be amazing. (One day, again…)
There was a point on this hike where we just looked at butterflies. I loved that. (Today’s theme being the wonder of small things!)
Near the end we got to speak to some friendly locals (Clive and Sue) – I love how these daily characters add to the adventure, yet, we more than likely won’t see them again.
On the theme of small things, I enjoyed picking blackberries along the way.
The second swim of the day was in Wembury Bay. I enjoyed that. After pushing 20km of walking it was nice to get in the cold water and have our bodies soothed (nature’s remedies.) Whilst I was drip drying on the beach, I liked how some locals (or maybe they were holiday makers) got me involved playing frisbee with them.
The B&B on this third night was so comfortable! It does seem that each day ends with a steep hill to the accommodation!! Here is the photo album of day two:
DAY 3 (Are you still reading this? Well done, you’ve made it this far!)
This day was tough! 27km walking in one day is quite a lot!! My shoulders were aching, and I had a blister forming under my toe. But I pressed on. The theme being: Focus!
In the morning, in our “quiet time” I did think of the phrase: “the symmetry of spiderwebs.” How beautifully designed are spiderwebs? The intricacy of them!!!
The day started with an expensive ferry crossing. £4 for literally 100 metres. But we had no other way to get across. I liked the variation of this day. Under the cool of the trees. Also we walked higher up along the cliffs (this is the type of Cornwall Coastal Path I walked on my previous visits) – where the sea is further below. Yet still so breath-taking!
Where we crossed by ferry it felt like a bit of paradise tucked into the coastline that not many people know about. (see the pics at the end of this.)
On our journey we met Chloe, the cowhand. We literally had to wait at a cow crossing. For 640 cows to walk by…
Another “funny” thing was how we built up the river crossing… (it would be first crossing without a ferry for Chris on the entire journey) – and then how low it was… hardly dangerous or wild at all!
At some parts on this day, we had less words – as were focused on the walk. Some serious steep bits toward the end of the day! But with those steep climbs come the great heights showing off stunning views!!!
Here is the third day in pictures:
— Another Cornish adventure done. Thank you Jesus!
This morning on the A402 between Swindon and Oxford, I noticed in front of me – a bridge that spread over the road. (Nothing unusual about that.) But on further inspection… I noticed something going across the bridge… But “in front of the bridge.”
– So “its” not crossing the bridge – It’s not my eye sight going weird
But in the foreground, there is also a telephone wire that crosses the road. On the wire, there is a squirrel crossing. Brilliant! What a clever little squirrel! How many of it’s furry friends have tried crossing the road on ground level and became roadkill instead?
(Does anyone else think about stuff like this? Or does anyone else observe and notice things like this?)
Disclaimer: This idea came to while I was sleeping. I woke up and wrote a very brief note of how the story could go. I wanted to write something very different.Something that you, the reader, wouldn’t expect. I just wrote and wrote till the idea and direction formulated in my head. I didn’t know how it would end… This it what came out:
It was an beautiful day! England has those, every so often. It was as if everyone “got the memo” that over there is where it’s at. The lake was the focal point. Maybe it had it’s secret claws in each person. The lake has two parts to it, the north part and the south. A road bridge goes over the middle. That day, I remember the sun was boasting it’s brilliance. The water was calm and glistened like diamonds. And there where people all over. On the south part of the lake, a family sat near the water’s edge, on a picnic blanket. It was a red and navy checkered one. That had an array of snacks to nibble on. Crisps, crackers, cheese spread, pork pies and some sandwiches. The two sons, aged around 8 and 10 kicked a ball on the grass nearby. The parents looked out to the ducks swimming in the water. On the other side of that lake, I saw what looked like a school group of young people, about twenty of them, all negotiating with kayaks. A lot of them wobbled their boats and had fallen in, unintentionally. Their shrills and laughter hovered over the water. Overheard, a flock of geese, flew over in that V shape. And in the reeds, hiding out of sight from most people, just left of the children hid a kingfisher waiting for it’s meal. I wondered if the disturbance of the water caused the fish to swim in the direction of the kingfisher.
Across the water, on the other side, I saw a middle age man, running. He wore a blue shirt, navy shorts and red trainers. There were other people riding some bicycles along the concrete path. That path encircles both the north and south lake. Actually, that path seemed like a busy motorway. Couples walking with their dogs, a few runners, some families on bikes and some babies being pushed in push chairs. All were taking advantage of the warm weather. On the north part, a lot was going on too. I saw a queue of people snake onto to the grass, all waiting to buy an ice-cream. The hum of the generator filled the air. As the children licked their ice-creams, their noise levels lowered. Further down from there, I saw an elderly lady sitting on a bench. She seemed deep in thought as she stared out to the water. I wondered what she was thinking. She did seem so content. A book on her lap. She wore a floral dress.
I held the remote with one hand. And grabbed my mug with the other. The coffee tasted so much better that day. I decided I would hone in and see what else I would observe. Change was coming. That was inevitable! But hopefully, the lesson would be learnt too. There was enough battery power and the microphone level was high enough. I scooped in. Being a summer’s day, no one was bothered. Besides we live in a land of robots.
“It’s a beautiful day!” she said leaning against him. They were both sitting at one of those picnic tables that had the benches attached. There they sat, with their backs leaning against the table as they looked out to the water. Some gulls scooped in and out as if they were planes at an air show. He responded, “Just like you.” squeezed her hand and leant in to kiss her. I had come in too close. He must have heard me, looked up and showed me the finger. I whizzed away quickly, but had heard him curse, “what the heck, that’s so creepy!”
“Don’t let it bother you. Probably some bored teenager.”
(How dare her to have insulted me like that! Did she know who I was? What I had created?)
Her boyfriend continued. “Surely, that’s not allowed. That’s way too close.” But I was done. I was out of there. Plus, how would they even describe me? I am like so many others…
But as with all good days, that one too had to come to an end. Everything must end. It was time. My second visit to the water’s edge would be lethal. For them. Not me. But it was needed. Society needs to know. What do they need to know? It’s simple really. Be kind with your words. Five little words. One small sentence. But they just didn’t bother with me. It was too late for them! The green mist was inevitable. Nothing would stop my plan.
Monsters aren’t created overnight. It takes time. It takes your hurtful words.
“Scar face Jerry” “Freak”
I landed the drone on my balcony. I had to charge it. For it’s next and final task. The vials were ready. The pack of eight would do. Once I dropped them, they too would drop like flies. Half an hour later, I started up the drone and head back to the lake. Somewhere near the middle of both the north and south lakes would do. Just to the right of the road bridge. I manoeuvred the drone to just three metres above the water. 3, 2, 1… The mechanical claws released. The vials fell. And I launched the drone almost vertically and full throttle in the air. (The plan was to let it go as high as possible and then lose connection and just drop.) I didn’t care. They wouldn’t catch me.
For three minutes, it seemed nothing would happen with the submerged vials. I hoped I had got the formula right. Then it came – the sizzling, the gas bubbling up from the water. A fine green mist started to spread over the surface of the water. One couldn’t see the other side of the lake anymore. One would think that such a terrifying looking mist would strike fear into those at the lake. That there would be screams of terror. There would have been. But that mist moved fast and worked it’s magic so quickly…
The birds fell to the ground with a thud. The children in the kayaks collapsed into the water. No time to even struggle in the water. The cyclists on the concrete path fell of their bikes, the wheels still spinning – the oxygen stolen from the riders. No more laughter. No more steps. Ice cream lay wasted on the floor. Everyone and every creature at the water’s edge and in the water… lifeless.
The green mist had worked.
The phone vibrated. Then there was a thud as it hit the ground. I woke up, looking for the green answer button.
“Hello” I said, groggily.
“Hey Jeremy, how you doing? Ready for the exam?” I slapped my cheeks to wake myself. I was sitting at my desk. In front of me, was my fish tank, algae lined the glass. It really was rather filthy. On the bookshelf above the tank were some books. Gorillas in the Mist was the first one on the left. A yawn sneaked out.
“You okay, you sound like you’ve just woken up?” my friend continued.
This part here. With You. Before the rush of the day. Is one of my favourite things. Sitting with Your words The ones that bring Life. Carefully penned. Etching in my soul. Filling the deeper places. Your whispers Your wisdom. Making me ready, for another day…
A day where words can come carelessly And too loudly… Words, trying to sell me things Words that curse Words, that add to the noise Instead of the soul. Some words may hurt too. Help me heal quickly, or make my filter strong So that I can keep my heart guarded.
I too, give you my words. May I speak well May I speak kindly May I offer hope May I offer encouragement May I use the right amount of words. Not too little Not too much.
I drive these quiet London streets Not many around before 8am. It’s as if your tar and lines and traffic lights get to yawn and stretch And rise and shine Before They awake And take to the roads And pavements Drowning out the quiet with the buzz of life. These quiet streets have a heartbeat. Waiting for another day Of buses and cyclists and pedestrians and laughter and coffee and conversation People for the first time And people who live here Shh, don’t wake them yet, you say. I am still stretching and besides, I haven’t had my cup of tea.
I am coming to your home With a hope of so much more than just the gift I’m bearing The words in that book, may they be sprawled upon your soul Bring peace and purpose in that God shaped hole I pray, I come in love As the spoken word drops upon your screen Tapping and rapping into your conscience
Filling that room Your mind and your heart A million little miracles Echoing Echoing Echoing
Their names keep slipping through my mind A memory like a sieve I welcome them, say hello and introduce myself They drop their names in return I try catching them, even repeating them as they say But like a game of ‘hide and seek’ They slip away Through my fingers Through my head
If God were dishing out super hero abilities My request would be to remember everyone’s name On the first time of meeting, “Hi, I am Darrel” What’s your name? <insert name>