Category Archives: Greenbelt

Catching Up and Journeying On

All ready for

All ready for pilgrimage!

Coast Path, Devon. I thought I’d got this one the right way up just now; never mind – it was some walk!

Arrival at Exeter Cathedral.

Since then, we’ve had the drama of the dog and the nectarine stone, I’ve spent a fortune at the dentist (only I could manage to break a tooth on a Greenbelt bacon butty), the gippy festival tum is under control,the eye infection is getting that way. You’d not guess from all that griping that I actually had a Good Time, would you, but – don’t faint – I did!

And now? Several new challenges for the autumn – all very exciting in my usual quiet, Miffyesque kind of way. Keep Calm And Carry On.

Ehrm. I’ve been away too long. It doesn’t seem to want to publish links. OK – see my Growing Greenpatches blog for my Greenbelt musings.

That still small voice

A wee bit of cross-posting from my other blog where I’ve been pondering my total failure to remain serene in the midst of chaos. “If you can keep your head when all around you…” One of my thoughts as I lay awake spectacularly unable to find that ‘place within myself,’ (to quote from a workshop I was at last week) was “B—– —! How ever am I going to cope during Greenbelt?” Where on earth am I going to find my ‘quiet space?’ I do love the rush and bustle of the festival and it is only for four days, but at the same time find it draining. And I’m stewarding for the first time this year, albeit in one of the quieter (well, I hope it’s quieter) venues. St Clare, Francis, Ignatius and any others you can think of – come to my aid! (Yes, I have moved higher up the candle since I left oldchurch, haven’t I ?)

Autumn Leaves

There’s a distinctly Autumnal feel round here today, hence I’m indulging myself with an old favourite . In our case it’s not only autumn leaves drifting by our window, but sprinklings of ash, following from an unscheduled bonfire in the next street. Around 10.45 pm yesterday, we were about to lock up when we noticed a burning smell. Thinking it might be another electrical fault; the dishwasher blew earlier in the week, we tried to track down the stink. Then Mr M looked out over the garden and spotted flames nearby. Thinking it might be a fire on the old school building site, and being an over-fussy Mummy (OK, I’ll admit it, a nosey so-and-so as well) – son was at a friend’s birthday do just up the road – I made my way up the street to find that the fire was much nearer than we’d thought. Down a nearby cul-de-sac, sundry neighbours,mostly in their night things, were out on the street watching a clump of trees burning away merrily. Thank goodness it rained yesterday, otherwise it could easily have spread further than it did. As it was, the flames were only ten feet or so from the nearby houses.

Any old how, the fire brigade arrived, doused the remaining flames and hosed down a couple of cars that had got covered in ash and embers. Nobody was hurt, damage was minimal, which was the main thing, and the general thought was that the fire had been caused by somebody chucking a cigarette end down in a nearby alleyway. So – quite a frisson of excitement for our neighbourhood – which is normally quite peaceful. Still I will admit to a smidgeon of disappointment at the fire brigade. Though lovely, the fire brigade weren’t quite the hunky chaps I’d anticipated. Pathetic, I know. I blame all those episodes of Fireman Sam I used to watch with the children when they were littlies.

Never mind, all cleared up now. Some of the nearby cars and gardens have a delicate sprinkling of ashes, but the rain will soon clear it away.

The photo above, of course is entirely unrelated. I’ve done all my Greenbelt catching up over on my other blog – here, here and here but thought this snap was suitably Miffy-themed so deserved a place on Musings.

It’s been a mixed experience for me again. Looking back GB seems to have fallen into an alternating pattern of one good, one bad, one good, one bad for me. Actually let’s now say more ‘mixed,’ than ‘bad’ per se – as long as I can learn from the experience and I’d say I have. A couple of encounters, there and elsewhere recently have underlined the importance of letting yourself be seen to be vulnerable and when appropriate, saying things as they are for you. So, beginning as I mean (hmmm) to go on, I’ve been back to a piece I was struggling to write, have rehashed it in the light of GB, completed, and sent it off. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of a reception it gets.

A new hobby

Way back during those long, dark winter evenings, I blogged about the joys of choosing a tent for Greenbelt.

As I have difficulty folding and unfolding your average deckchair, I’ll need to practice in the comfort and privacy of my back garden before I try and pitch camp in full public glare.


So, to the moment of truth…yesterday, when I tried out my super-duper easy-pitch tent for the first time. Replicating that GB ambience went by the wayside, though I did aim for authenticity by wearing 4 layers of clothing and draping my sleeping compartment with enough fleecy blankets to kit out an arctic expedition. And a very good night I had, too.

This morning…not so good. I’d no trouble ‘popping’ the tent up; but folding down…well, let’s just say that in the time it took to upend it, my cosy green caterpillar-like abode transformed into a huge, threatening amorphous mass, billowing round the back garden like a barrage balloon. It unleashed in me (and in Mr M) dark forces that no amount of watching instructional videos on Youtube could purge. And there are no shortage of them, believe me. To wrestle the sodding thing into submission requires arms the length of a gorilla, and the strength of one too.

We, or to be truthful, Mr M, managed in the end. Barrage balloon is sitting there in the study, neatly packaged into its 26″ disc…biding its time….

Hmmm. 🙁

Looking back and looking forward:archive Musings

What was the Miffy household up to on 6 April 2010? Not blogging here, that’s for sure. So, in the first of an exciting new series/desperate attempt to put the muse back into my musings, I’ve decided to have a retrospective look through the ‘Musings Archives.’ April 6 not being forthcoming, let’s peek at the next day’s post.

On 7 April, Spring had sprung, we were busy getting terribly excited over thermal base layers, hydration systems, and other such cutting-edge items for our upcoming walking trip. They must have all come up to scratch as we survived to tell the tale, as our saga of blisters, mud and fluffy bunnies proves.

We were also pondering the perennial Greenbelt question: To camp or not to camp?

Much the same as now, actually.

Though this time round, I’ll spare readers the Chaucerian ramblings.

A complete disgrace

Yes, I’m so lazy I even pinch other blogger’s post header ideas! 😉 I Am Another Blogger who suffers from serial procrastinitis and acute inability to put finger to keyboard, even though I’m hardly lacking in topics to blog about: contemplative prayer, art journaling, spiritual direction, CAP Close The Gap campaign, Richard Rohr, Greenbelt, Green churches, pilgrimage, back exercises, pilgrimage planning (hence back exercises), Franciscan tertaries, mystics, ornamental cabbages…Life on Mars…

Is there no hope for me?

Summer Days

We’re back into the wool-lined boots after a few flakes of snow fell this morning. It’s still not too early to start making travel plans, of course; today saw Mr M get on the phone and my good self hop down to the station as we began to sort out the fine details for our next major ‘expodition’ later this Spring. By the time I got back – he’d got to the Scottish borders as far as I could make out. Meantime, my estimation of the amount of clobber needed with us seems to be getting smaller by the minute, in direct correalation with the state of my back. At the last count I’d whittled it down to one set of clothes on, one off with a possible third sent ahead of us. Yes, and this does incude undies. Looking on the bright side – at least the smell will deter would-be predators!

Looking even further ahead – Mr M won’t be able to do Greenbelt this Summer. If I go at all, it will have to be solo. So, I’ve spent a number of happy hours online checking out tents suitable for a creaky-boned Miffy of uncertain age, that are a) simple to put up, and, more importantly, from what I can glean from reviewers, even simpler to put down. It was only as I watched the last few seconds of one Youtube demo where a nice young man appeared to be wrestling with what looked like a large black binliner, that I realised he was trying to put it away, not up. As I have difficulty folding and unfolding your average deckchair, I’ll need to practice in the comfort and privacy of my back garden before I try and pitch camp in full public glare.

Cold nights, green fields and windy interludes

 Greenbelt 2010 007

I guess I must take the prize for the “Greenbelt post blogged so long after the event that it’s but a hazy memory” award. My excuses are pretty feeble: the principal one being the necessity of putting my photos through the boil wash – aka Flickr before they’d load on WordPress, the lesser, my usual attack of Miffyesque procrasinitis. To be fair, life since the Bank hols has been quite full, with a number of to-ings, fro-ings and new experiences, which I may write about on my other, Greenpatches blog.

So, Greenbelt, my third, and in many ways the best experience so far. Year One, of course, being all “Ooh, look! Shiny!” New things, new people, a breath of fresh air at a time when to say I was experiencing problems with the institutional church was to make the understatement of the year. Year Two – well, let’s say, after Year Two, I seriously considered giving it all a miss. This time – all round positive, after the teensiest wobble on arrival. But no more than teensy. After being dispatched down the hill to buy emergency sustenance for Mr M, and finding on my return,that our Nice Next-Door Neighbours had helped him put up what must have been the world’s largest awning (about three times the size of the van!) the only way was up!

The reasons for the change? Well, I’d say – firstly, people, contact with. It’s become increasingly clear that the freedom of being a free agent, not tied down by obligation to a particular church group or organisation has its disadvantages. In 2009 I felt (despite the ever-steadfast Mr M to go back to) desperately lonely at times. I’m sure most folk have had the weird experience of being part of a crowd, yet simply not connecting with them; the more animated and ‘together’ they appear to you, the worse it feels. Then the worse it feels, the less you feel like being sociable, so the more isolated you become….. You get the picture. And there are only so many ‘worthy’ seminars and events I could go to before becoming thoroughly Greenbelted out!

Thank goodness for fellow ‘Seabirds,’ then! This time round, unlike previous years, I didn’t have much to do with the First Order Franciscan brothers and sisters, it was fellow tertiaries who made the difference – organising several get-togethers, (in the Beer Tent, naturally!). Not to mention bumping into others around the site. (On one occasion being recognised by the profession cross I was wearing). This gave me a few set points and a structure to the weekend. I’d also thought to contact the folk from last year’s course beforehand and did manage to bump into quite a few of them. Such little things help – like getting a text first thing on Saturday to saying ” Good morning – we’re meeting at such and such a time and before that we’ll be at…” or more amusingly, during one talk “We’re sitting however many rows ahead of you and to the side… ” Then there there were brief encounters with one ‘Ship’ couple who recognised us before we did them and with whom we were able to talk this and that , and bewail the shortage of beer in the Jesus Arms. (Thank you, N and D). P, whom I don’t tend to think of as a Ship person anymore, whose frenetic texts made me laugh,and who helped me in the annual Wandering round the tea tent looking lost trying to recognise the group I’m looking for routine. It was great to chat to Truthsign again,also, and thanks also to TG and FM who popped round the back of the paper canon during the Peace at the Sunday morning service, to say hi.

We planned in some lighter stuff this year, like Late Night Twist on the Friday evening, the Big Sing on Saturday and one of the art workshops. Apart from one of the excellent Richard Rohr talks (which I’d not originally intended to go to ), most of the weightier stuff was left to the later part of the weekend. I nearly forgot the audience with James Cook and Tom Hollander of ‘Rev,’ definitely in the well-worth waiting (and did we wait!) for category. Somebody said the BBC was filming on site. I’d love to know how they’re going to work that footage into a new series.

Betty Blue, our trusty hired campervan was a welcome refuge during the small amount of time we actually spent in her. We weren’t half cold though! My record on layers one night was four (vest, top, long-sleeved thermal baselayer, fleece) plus thermal base leggings, cargoes and three pairs of socks. Topped by a woolly shawl over my sleeping bag. I’m putting a hot water bottle down on the list next year, even if we have to fill it up in the grandstand loos.

And talking of ahem…”facilities,” the only cloud over the weekend as far as I was concerned, and even then it didn’t spoil it,was ongoing tummy problems. My fault – not watching what I was eating. There are only so many variations one can have on plain mashed potatoes. By the Monday night I was so bored with bland food that I cracked – and had some fish and chips. Big mistake! Should you have been in Soulspace early that evening and noticed a pale-faced demented looking woman rushing up and down the stairs twixt the panoramic restaurant and the entrance foyer, or sitting, doubled up in the final Dave T LTQ popping Gaviscon like there was no tomorrow, that was Yours Truly. A colonoscopy since has shown I have diverticulosis; I’ll spare you the details (TMI). Suffice it to say, it’s not exactly the most glamorous of complaints. Bring on the mashed potatoes.

Another happy discovery: The YMCA 24 hour cafe, (wonderful scrambled eggs on toast).

So, altogether, cool beans…as Ms M would say. Though maybe ‘beans’ isn’t the best choice of words, under the circs.


Woken up on Monday morning by my own resident Victor Meldrew giving his unvarnished opinion of the meteorological abilities of the BBC. Monday’s forecast – sun; Monday’s weather – rain. (Sometimes I think it’d be less angst making just hanging a strip of seaweed up outside the back door, and probably as accurate.) We’re not such a boring couple that the weather is our only topic of conversation; still, with Greenbelt and Reading festivals coming up, I’m sure we’re not the only people with an eye to the skies at the moment.

Never mind, I’m prepared for anything. Mr M has (reluctantly) agreed to bring along a jacket and I’m still hoping to persuade him that trousers, not shorts are A Good Idea. Son, who is still recovering from a nasty cold after his epic French camping trip, has actually asked to borrow one of my woolly base layers for Reading. Luckily (for him), I managed to rake out a suitably innocuous black fleecy top. (For one horrible moment I thought he might have to make do with one of my lacy black M & S thermal numbers. I’m sure he’d prefer to catch pneumonia!)

Looking forward

Belated Easter greetings to everybody. Spring has sprung, and, as always, the Miffy household begins to plan its travels – of the four, two-wheeled – even the two-footed variety. Who would have thought that one could get quite so excited over thermal baselayers ( vests and long johns to the uninitiated!), dry bags, hydration systems, and, I’m ashamed to admit, that new-fangled ‘Shewee!’ (No, I’ve not yet plucked up the courage to ‘practice in the shower’ as per the user instructions). Shudders.

However,’The best laid plans of mice and men’ etc… Our Greenbelt arrangements have had to be tweaked suddenly, and yesterday saw us doing what we said we’d never do again after fifteen years or so of camping en France with the children. No, we’re not dashing off to buy the best Millets has to offer; that would be a step too far! But (if current negotiations are successfully negotiated) we should be staying on site for the first time. All will be revealed in due course, (don’t get too excited – or my stylish purple striped baselayer combo will be a sad let-down to all concerned). Let’s just say we will be following true wibsite camping tradition. And, with luck, I’ll have a refuge in which to down umpteen Nice Cups of Tea and contemplate my (purple-striped navel) until the cows come home.

As I said…the best laid plans.