A few weeks ago, I killed three bucket items in one weekend. On the Saturday we enjoyed a day at Newby Hall, celebrating the birthdays of some small friends. Often places like this are a bit devoid of activities for kids, particularly preschoolers – but not Newby Hall. Firstly, we headed to the play area:
After lunch, we made our way to the miniature railway. A small additional fee is charged, but was worth the novelty of a little trip through the grounds:
Finally, we enjoyed the water feature – several randomly spurting water fountains, in a space designed for kids to run, splash and play! It was a great day, something we would happily do again with the children.
Once our shattered offspring were safely tucked up in bed, we left them with a babysitter and popped off down the road to see our good friends Guy and Kanako. Guy is the head chef of Ambience – Yorkies, if you’ve never been, GO! Kanako cooks amazingly delicious food from her home country, Japan – and often cooks for Ambience’s infamous Japanese nights. It was this which was on my bucket list – we’ve never found a convenient date to go – but Kanako and Guy did one better, by inviting us round for our very own Japanese night! I’ll leave you to imagine the conversation, as it couldn’t be photographed, but here’s the food:
Oh my. Words escape.
I’ve been reflecting recently upon the seemingly insignificant moments which lead to strong friendships. Little did I know, when Kanako and her tiny baby walked into the Under 1s group three years ago that she would end up becoming such a good friend. Japan was the instant connector (my parents lived there for many years), but our friendship has gone deeper as we’ve explored faith together, and become members of the same church community. They are such busy, hard-working people, who still manage to make time for friends and family, and I have an awful lot of respect for them.
The final bucket trip of the weekend was Mass at All Saints North Street. What can I say about it? Probably nothing that you haven’t already predicted I would say, coming from an evangelical, low-church background. It was different, refreshing, contemplative, slightly heady, and an excellent chance to hone my rusty sight-singing skills. It was also a pretty challenging test of liturgical navigation, moving between the service book (which contained most of the liturgy), the music book (which contained music for all the sung bits of liturgy), the service sheet for that week (which contained the special chants for that day), and the hymn book (which contained the words to the hymns). It’s been a while since I read neumes and, being a geeky muso, this bit was kind of fun.
But would I make it my home church? I think you know the answer to that. Whilst the experience, as a one-off, was positive and largely enjoyable, I wonder how the church functions as a community. What goes on in the week? No one spoke to me – and, as the congregation was small and mainly over 60, I imagine I stood out like a salad at McDonald’s. So either everyone else was a visitor too, or they were regulars who didn’t feel it important to welcome a newbie. (I even sat in someone else’s seat – the hackneyed mistake of a visitor in a new church – and was made to know about it, too!) I wondered how this sort of worship experience enhances and inspires the Monday-Saturday of daily Christian living, or whether it is simply a Sunday ritual which has little bearing on reality. Thoughts, anyone?
Overall, an enjoyable bucket weekend. 🙂