Monday, 31 October 2016


One of my appointments as a Salvation Army Officer was Blackpool where I lived for two years from 1988-1990. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit I am thankful, especially when I have the chance to meet up with friends.

My first few days spent in Blackpool this year was at the Blue C Hotel in North Shore attending a workshop with Crafter's Retreat led by my friend Elizabeth. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and even had a Christmas Dinner and and a Boxing Day Lunch even if it was only October!

Here are just a few of the cards I made over the weekend.

There was also chance to look at the Light Tableaux along North Shore. I have to say that there are not many places that I feel safe to be walking by myself at midnight!!

On Sunday afternoon I made my way to the South Shore to spend some time with Allan, Eileen and Sonia. The next few days were spent in many different places including the Promenade viewing the Glitter Ball, the Big One and yet more waves!! We also visited a Garden Centre and enjoyed a lovely Indian meal!!!

I left Blackpool on Thursday and travelled to Rochdale to spend time with some more good friends who I have known for over 20 years. During my time with Lisa and Peter, Lisa celebrated her birthday at the Milon Indian restaurant in Oldham, where she was given a surprise of an indoor firework, a dessert and a rendition of Happy Birthday by the staff.

And so with the last week spent at home catching u with the laundry, installing a new computer and spending a couple of days at mums helping her with a few things, my Sabbatical comes to an end.

I am grateful to the Salvation Army for giving me this opportunity to take time out, spending time to understand more about myself and the God I serve. I thank God for all the lessons I have learnt, and all the people I have met who have enriched my experience over the last few months.

The New Forest, Wimbourne and Sunsets

I feel very privileged to have made some really good friends in many different places during my time in ministry. After a few days at home after Lee Abbey I made my way to Walkford on the edge of the New Forest, to spend some quality time with some of these friends.

There was opportunity to visit Wimborne with them it was good to be able to visit the Minster and take time to look around the town.

Saturday we had an outing into the New Forest, there was an opportunity to visit a couple of local craft fairs, and see some New Forest ponies.

Sunday I took the opportunity to worship at the Christchurch Salvation Army.

The next few days I spent time visiting Christchurch,  Lymington, Highcliffe, and even discovered a place I  hadn't visited before, Hurst Spit probably not the best name for a such a beautiful place!!!

I have to say that one thing amazes me whenever I have the opportunity is seeing the sunrise and sunset.

I took the opportunity with the ideal weather conditions of watching the sunset over Bournemouth, it was absolute amazing, the colours were stunning.

The next part of my journey takes me to Blackpool

Lee Abbey

On arriving back from Canada, I had exactly 48 hours to recover from jet lag, before my journey to Lee Abbey in Lynton Devon. 

The next part of my Sabbatical adventure was to participate in a Spiritual Journalling course at Lee Abbey, a Christian Retreat house.

After a six and a half hour journey I arrived at what would be my home for the next five days. The first shock was to realise that there was no mobile phone signal and no broadband connection, plus no TV!!! It was really strange having to use a pay phone!!!!

The Spiritual Journalling course was led by Becky Widdows, it consisted of 7 sessions, including some theory and some practical work. The course was really inspiring and I learnt so much, I hope to be able to put some of what I learnt into practice in the coming weeks and months.

There was quite a lot of free time, which allowed for times of recreation and rest.

Lee Abbey is set in some beautiful countryside and it was good to have time to enjoy it.

On Wednesday there was an opportunity for a walk through the woods down to the beach, and then there was time to toast marshmallows over the fire.

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Some of the time on the beach I spent watching the waves crash on to the shore,then the time came to walk back up the VERY steep hill to Lee Abbey!!!!

Spending time at Lee Abbey was an enriching experience where I learnt a lot about myself and my personal experience of God and my faith in Him.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

October Itinerary

Here is the itinerary for the third and final month of my Sabbatical.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Canada Week 2

Saturday commenced with a tour of Victoria on Vancouver Island. We visited some interesting places and saw many parts of Victoria. The highlight for me was watching the seals at Oak Bay Marina.

Later in the afternoon we had some free time, and spent time in the centre of the town. We visited the Canadian Parliament Building, we spent time down by the harbour, and some time in the shops in the town.

Sunday included a visit to Buthchart Gardens, the flowers and displays were absolutely stunning, and the weather was amazing, hot and sunny. We spent 3 hours looking around the garden.

From there we made our way to the ferry, which took an hour and a half to reach Vancouver,  and then we made our way to the Inn on the Quay Hotel for a two night stay.

Monday commenced with an 8 hour tour of Vancouver. This included visits to Chinatown and Gastown. It was was interesting to learn that all the parts of the Gastown Steam Clck were manufactured in Croydon.

In the afternoon we continued our tour with a visit to Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park.

Tuesday, once again cases were packed and loaded on the coach, there was a lot of travelling to be done as we made our way to Kamloops.

On the way we stopped at a Cafe called Rolly's where I had the best cup of tea throughout my stay in Canada, as very often the water in not boiling hot and so the tea doesn't brew properly. As we left the cafe we could hear lots of birds singing, they were in a tree, there were lots of them but I did manage to get a couple of photos.

In the afternoon we visited Sun Peaks Ski resort, although a lot of the shops were shut as the season had not commenced it was good to have a look around.

As we made our way to the hotel we saw a beautiful rainbow.

Wednesday we travelled to Salmon Arm, once again we stopped for a Cafe break!! I decided I need ed to get some exercise and so walked around the block, as I did so I saw a Salvation Army Shield, on further inspection it was the local Salvation Army Corps, I went in and introduced myself. It was good to meet the officer and listen to the work they are doing.

We then travelled to Last Spike, this was where the last spike was placed to conenct the Canadian Pacific Railway from the east to the west coast. We also had the privilege of seeing some Bald Eagles.

From there we travelled to 3 Valley Gap, which has a hotel, a gift shop, a lake and an attraction called Ghost Town. After enjoying some refreshments, I discovered that we could visit  the 'Gost Town for 5 dollars. Although I only had half an hour I decided to take advantage of this, the Ghost Town is similar to Beamish, with lots of Olde Worlde shops and businesses.

We then travelled to Revelstone and spent an hour in the town before making our way to the hotel for an overnight stop.

Thursday was our last full day in Canada the day was spent travelling as we made our way back towards Calgary. On the way we visited Lake Louise, although it was wet the lake was stunning.

From there we travelled on to Banff where we had the opportunity of shopping for gifts and souvenirs.
Then we travelled on to Canmore for our last hotel stop. The views from here were amazing!!!

Friday morning, and we were all packed ready for our journey home, but there were two more stops before the flight. The first was to the Olympic Park in Calgary, this was where Eddie the Eagle participated in the Winter Olympics.

The final visit of the holiday, was to the Cross Iron Mills Shopping Mall, our driver encouraged us to visit the Bass Pro Shop, just to look at the scenery!!!! It was amazing!!!!!! There were wild animals of every description.

And so the holiday ends with a flight back to Gatwick. There was a bit of turbulence, but all in all it was a good flight. As we came into land it was good to see the coast, and then in the distance Gatwick Airport.

And now the next adventure begins on Monday morning as I travel to Lee Abbey in Devon for a course on Journalling. A time of learning, retreat and rest.