Thursday, June 09, 2005

Food & Wine

We had a wonderful time at Ben & Helen's last night. They served up spicy chicken cous-cous with steamed asparagus spears and mushrooms, and green salad on the side, washed down with wine and followed by British strawberries and cream. (As it happens, I was offered strawberries with creme fraiche at lunch yesterday. Some days truly are better than others!) We had forgotten that Helen's sister Emma and brother-in-law Stu are staying with them at the moment, and so didn't warn Susie, who is shy with strangers. So she was quiet all meal; while Noah kept getting down from the table to explore upstairs...But after we had eaten - and after Ben had gone out to a meeting - Stu took the kids out into the garden, where Susie (4) impressed him by not only knowing what a Squirrel Monkey was, but knowing that they are yellow.

The community Ben & Helen lead are involved in a local neighbourhood festival over in Sharrow this weekend, Peace in the Park, a "hippy-thing" in Sharrow Cemetary. They will be offering Christian prayer for healing, alongside all manner of other spiritual therapies. I saw Ben this morning, and asked how the meeting - all the various healers planning together - went. He described it as "interesting": the first question one woman asked him was "Do you feel comfortable brushing shoulders with so many pagans?" Yes! (Apparently she didn't feel comfortable brushing shoulders with Christians.)

The thing I appreciated most about dinner at Ben & Helen's was that (like when they eat with us) the kids sat at table with the grown-ups and ate what we ate.

On the way home, we dropped in on Nick, Carolyn & Ana, who live two doors down from Ben & Helen. Carolyn & Ana visited Jo and our kids earlier this week, and a neighbour opposite brought Noah & Ana home: they (at 2) had crossed the road, between parked cars, following a cat; both mothers thinking they were playing in the back garden...[if my parents could skip this paragraph, I'd appreciate it] Anyway [they were both fine and] Nick said they didn't often get people drop by, and Ana works to a Spanish timetable in the summer months [i.e. late nights for small children; they lived in Spain for a year last year, and may well return at some point], and our children have a regular routine, which means we can break it from time to time without messing their little body clocks up too much, so, we were persuaded to stay for a drink.

And then on the way home, walking through Hillsborough Park, we stopped off to push Noah & Susannah in the swings and let them go down the slide...

This evening, we've been at a St Thomas' staff team social ahead of The Order of Mission Annual Gathering which starts tomorrow and runs over the weekend (after which we shall be off to America for a fortnight's holiday). We had a great time. I especially enjoyed talking with Paddy & Mary Mallon about their future (Paddy is on sabbatical, and retires later this year), and our possible future. Very exciting...

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