Dear Readers

Saturday, 27 August 2011

| | | 1 drops in the ocean
Thank you for reading my blog.  It is nice to have the freedom to get my thoughts out through this medium and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing.

The main purpose of this post was to inform you that I will be away for a while (again...I can't stay still this summer!) on a cycling trip with a good friend of mine, so there will be an absence of posts for the next week or so.  When I get back I will tell you all about my adventures...

So long, and see you all in a week or so!  (Oh yes, please pray that we have good weather for the week and smooth travel, and no punctured tyres/other accidents!)

Love to you all and God bless,


Heart of Clay

Thursday, 25 August 2011

| | | 4 drops in the ocean
My heart
Is like a piece of clay

Once stubborn
And hard under Your fingers

Gently molded
Into a vessel of Your design

To a malleable consistency

Until finally
It is a finished work of art

Flawless in every way

In the kiln of fire

Ready to be filled

Because I love blogging so much

Monday, 8 August 2011

| | | 8 drops in the ocean
I've decided to do two posts today :)  This is a piece I wrote last year when I was at home, animal-sitting while my parents were away.  It was very quiet...
I don't really know how one is supposed to go about writing poetry, but in a way I don't really mind.  It means I can go wherever the words take me...

I stand
Absorbing the silence
The sound of a million nothings.

The trees
They loom,
Dark figures
Against an expectant sky,
Heavy with anticipation.

A leaf
By the noise of a moth's wingbeat
Cutting through the air like a haphazard glider.

The silence,
Drowning out the multitude of thoughts
Whirring like a tornado through my mind.

The traffic
Persistent, weary
Never ending and distant mumblings of civilisation
Hurrying about its business, another world.

A speck
Of water
Falls, quickly soaks into the dusty ground
The trees heave a sigh of relief

Time is lost
The seconds are years

Orange light
Piercing my thoughts, the silence gone.
Everything as it was left, chaotic.

The clock
It ticks
Reminding us
Of the ephemeral nature of life

Through my fingers,
My mind drifting into oblivion,
Thoughts merging into one:

Love song to God

| | | 1 drops in the ocean
As surely as my heart beats,
I know that you have your hand on my life.

As surely as I hear my thoughts,
I know that you have thought out your plan for me.

Just when I think you are absent,
you remind me you are still behind me, and before me.

Thank you for your unending grace,
When I fall down, you pick me up again.

You pour out your blessings and mercies onto me,
Even when I do not deserve it.

When the clouds obscure my view,
You still shine on me.

Lord, I want to know you,
To see your face.

You are my heart's desire,
My hope.

Be always with me,
Never forsake me.


Carbon neutral blogging...

Sunday, 7 August 2011

| | | 3 drops in the ocean
Hello folks!  Just a quick post...

A fellow blogger just posted about a scheme which is detailed here - at, whereby for every participating blog, a tree is planted to help replenish rainforests.  I love the variety of species found in rainforests, so I'm going to do my bit and help to make sure they still have a habitat.

Currently the project is replanting in Plumas National Forest, Northern California - an area that was badly hit by fire in 2007.

You can read all about the project and how you can help on the website, but anyway I will keep it short and sweet...

So from now on my blog is officially Carbon Neutral.


Hope you've all had a good weekend,


What an honour...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

| | | 2 drops in the ocean
Hello to all my lovely readers!
I have been extremely privileged to have just been given an award by Alexa, of the wonderful Illiterations blog, which I highly recommend you check out as Alexa is a talented writer who always makes me laugh/think...!

So, thank you very much, Alexa!

The award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, and the rules are as below:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

And now...for my five top picks!  And I'm having a (very) hard time many good blogs!
I would like to pass the award on to:
  • Alex, a budding young artist and poet at art-poems-stories.  I always enjoy her poignant and expressive artwork and poetry to go alongside it.  Keep up the good work, Alex :)
  • Nancy, at My Story.  Her beautifully written poetry speaks to my heart and brings a smile to my face :)
  • Just Me, at Just My Stories ...what can I say?  More beautiful writing...
  • Nikki at Christian by Association , because her writing always challenges me and makes me think.
  • Taylor at Penned by Taylor , Great blog, and thought-provoking writings!  Keep it up!
So thank you all, congrats, and thanks again, Alexa!

    Adventures on the high seas...

    Thursday, 4 August 2011

    | | | 4 drops in the ocean
    The last couple of weeks I was sailing aboard the Wylde Swan for the tall ships cruise in company 2011.  It started in Greenock, on the West coast of Scotland - when I arrived it was a beautiful sunny day, the tall ships looking resplendent in their dressing of flags and multitude of masts and yard-arms.  Crowds of people swarmed around the stalls by the dock, leaning over the railing to get a closer look at the ships, which had come from all corners of the world - Russia, Estonia, the Netherlands, Columbia...

    Here's a few snippets from my log (edited slightly)...

    Monday 11th/Tuesday 12th July
    So having wandered round the stalls several times, got sun burnt, and bought the customary bag of fudge and other very sweet and sticky things, it was with much excitement that I boarded the Dutch ship Wylde Swan for what was to be an action-packed 10 days.  After a red arrow display, fireworks (and a cacophony of hooting from the ships' horns), and plenty of (interesting) games to try and learn people's names, we left Greenock amidst cheering from the crowds, much chanting and Mexican-waving from us, and a lot of general good spirit.

    At last, we were at sea.  We sailed out with the foresails and topsail, me getting thoroughly confused at the sheer number of ropes.  We sailed down the Mull of Kintyre, the sun blazing and the cliffs looking scenic.  There were about 26 of us trainees - mostly from Scotland, but a handful of people from Holland and Belgium.  Most of the crew were Dutch, and although the official language on board was English, there was a lot of Dutch banter going on between members of the crew!  They were, however, very friendly, and great fun.

    Wednesday 13th July
    Our next stop was Campbeltown, a small village tucked away almost on the end of the Mull of Kintyre.  We got the ship's tenders out and, having figured out how they were rigged, had a 'race' (although it wasn't much of one, it was flat calm).  The following day was spent in Campbeltown, as the ship was hosting the launch of a new brand to promote marine activities in the west of Scotland and Ireland.  I won't say much about that...(the fancy food they did for it was good, though...)  Having had to represent the trainees at the event and look decorative, I was relieved to be able to go ashore and have a wander round, before making use of the local free internet access...

    Thursday 14th July
    A pleasant sail to Oban today via the Sound of Islay, and for the first time got full sails up.  We moored alongside the pier, at which point 5 other boats decided to moor alongside us.  Had to go up onto the bowsprit to help furl the foresails - an arduous task, however we only had to redo one of them, which I gather was pretty good going!  Some small dingies decided it would be fun to zoom round in circles directly below us.  Shortly afterwards, headed ashore as a group and danced the night away in the local ceilidh (Scottish country dancing) house.  Lots of fun and hilarity had, especially on the part of the Dutch/Belgian trainees...

    Friday 15th July
    2am departure from Oban, however we were all sound asleep - no night watches tonight.  By the time I awoke we were well past the Sound of Mull and Ardnamurchan point, and just at the bottom of Skye.  Hoping to be in Ullapool tonight, as some of the trainees are swapping ships.  Motor sailing most of the day, with topsail, schoonersail, inner jib and outer jib up.  Pleasant surprise when a pod of dolphins came to say hello, jumping acrobatically in and out of our bow-wave.  Had the usual 'happy hour' of cleaning up the ship, before volunteering to climb up the foremast with two other trainees and one of the crew.  Slightly disconcerting on the way up, as the rigging was oscillating vigirously in the wind, and we were sailing at quite an angle...however we made it onto the lower yard-arm for the topsail, and sat and enjoyed the view, and took some pictures.  Got into Ullapool eventually, and we were serenaded by the bands playing in a huge marqee on the pier.

    Saturday 16th July
    Day spent in Ullapool.  Free breakfast rolls were provided for all the crews, as well as a local folk group playing for us... Shortly afterwards we headed out for an island-hopping cruise, which was pleasant, if a bit grey.  We were dropped off on one of the islands, where we climbed to the top and admired the view... This was followed by skiff racing in the harbour, our teams coming 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, and a tug-o'-war, which we did well in, winning two of the contests!  Meanwhile the Wylde Swan took trips of punters out around the harbour...

    Sunday 17th July/Monday 18th July
    Another breakfast on the pier before sailing for Stromness, Orkney at 1100.  Cheered off by all the folk of Ullapool.  Surprisingly rough sea outside - despite never being seasick I took a cautionary seasickness tablet, just in case!  What followed was 24 hours of being tossed about in the Minch/Pentland firth.  I was on the 12-4 watch, the first of which was very wet, and quite cold, but passed quickly.  Got an early sleep at 8pm, then was woken for the 0000-0400 watch by my watch buddy.  On arrival on deck, we were greeted by one of the Radio Scotland guys, who decided it would be a good idea to thrust a microphone in my face when I had just woken up...!  Interviews and watch handovers complete, we got down to business, watching the sails, updating the ship's log, and playing games of 'who am I?' to while away the time.  Slept from 4-8am, then decided it would be worth getting up for breakfast.  Was glad I did as the cook had made a rather interesting 'porridge', but with rice, which was surprisingly tasty.  Showered then slept some more before my watch, and eventually we got into Stromness around 4/5pm.  The evening was spent bbqing on another tall ship, and disco dancing...usually it is quite a job to get me on the dance floor (unless it's Scottish ceilidh dancing), but somehow they managed... oh yes, and a singalong, accompanied by a digeridoo player and a guitarist.

    Tuesday 19th July
    They let us lie in till 10:30 this morning!  Then it was off for a tour of some of the well-known sites of Orkney, including Skara Brae (which I had seen before, but it was nice to see it again), the Ring of Brodgar standing stones, and Skaill House.  One of the locals who had been roped in at the last minute gave a great commentary, which, being into archaeology, I found quite interesting.  When we arrived back at the ship, we had a brief dinner, then had to go ashore for four hours while trips were taken out... At a slight loss as to what to do (all the shops were closed), we hung around, ate some chips, and chatted.  We didn't have to wait long.  Round the corner came a guy on a unicycle, juggling with fire (and eating it), and making fun of the passing traffic.  He was followed by a clown (on stilts), who proceeded to make balloon-animals for us...  Shortly after that we discovered that two of the others were busy entertaining people in the local inn (on fiddle and accordion), so we all trundled down.  I even ended up playing (somehow)... So when we got back to the ship, and the crew thought we must have been bored out of our socks, they were pleasantly surprised to find that we had actually had quite an entertaining evening...

    Wednesday 20th July
    08:00 start this morning, bound for Fair Isle.  12-4 watch consisted of setting forestay sail, inner jib and schoonersail.  Rough weather again - took a seasickness tablet just in case!  Heeling at a spectacular angle... Got into Fair Isle about dinner time.  Food fantastic (again).
    Cliffs of Fair Isle

    Thursday 21st July
    On anchor watch from 1:30 - 3:00am.  Consisted mainly of updating the log, keeping an ear out for alarms, and of course making sure that we were staying within our anchor radius, and not moving.  It was very peaceful, save for the beeping of instruments in the corner of the navigation room.  So at 0200 and 0300 we duly recorded visibility, sea state, wind speed and direction, and pressure.  Headed for bed at 3, and shortly afterwards, the engine was started and we set off for the Shetland Isles.  Got about 3 and a half hours sleep before being awoken for breakfast in the pantry, which I reluctantly got up for, before going back to bed and promptly being woken up again by the shrill strains of our newly composed ship's song eminating from above, which was to be sung at the crew parade.  Had to get up anyway for 'happy hour' (this time washing the decks), then volunteered to go up the mast again and help furl the topsail, thinking it would be nice to get a bit higher than before...
    When we came down, we were just approaching Lerwick.  We were all ready for our lunch and helped ourselves to the (delicious) chicken/salsa rolls (I really will miss the food on this ship), while we thawed out.  The crew parade followed at 3pm, and we all busied ourselves adding the finishing touches to the 'swan' head, and donned the ship's t-shirts and lifejackets (which clashed beautifully with the t-shirts).  We paraded down the main street (adorned with all the ship's flags, too), accompanied by Vikings, Romans, African drummers, you name it, they were there.  The prizegiving followed, and we all cheered when Wylde Swan won a well-deserved prize (to do with being one of the most welcoming ships in the host ports).  The crew party followed, and after dancing, hog roasts, and more dancing, we got back to the ship and crashed out...

    Friday 22nd July
    Time to say goodbye to the ship... having packed, all too soon it was time to say goodbyes, and lots of hugging ensued.  I managed to pull myself away in time to catch the bus to the airport...
    One thing is for certain, I thought to myself, I'm doing this again.
    So, till next time, Wylde Swan!


    Wednesday, 3 August 2011

    | | | 0 drops in the ocean
    "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." ~Albert Schweitzer

    I just came across this quotation, and it happened to sum up my thoughts at that moment exactly.  (well, almost).  You see, I was thinking about relationships (again).  I happened to have just reconnected with some old friends on facebook, who I haven't been in touch with for a good few years, now.  And with that, old and precious memories were rekindled within me, and a flame burst into life again.

    We all have people in our lives, who we interact with to various degrees.  Some of these interactions are life changing, others not so much.  The degree to which we interact with certain people I think determines who we are, our values, and our actions.  You see, whether we realise it or not, we are under the influence of somebody all of the time - as it was once very adeptly put in a song.  When I think of these interactions between different people, an image comes into my head.  An image of threads, reaching out, from heart to heart, some more than others, some connections stronger than others, some failing, some being cut off.  I wonder, if we could see all the connections between people, maybe it would look like a beautiful and complex tapestry, a web of intracate threads all woven together.  Or perhaps like the invisible strings that hold the universe together.   When we meet a stranger for the first time it is like these threads are cautiously reaching out, finding common connections and then attaching themselves.  Like a mother connected by the umbilical cord to her baby, we depend on other people for our nourishment and sustenance in difficult times.  The friends we choose depend of what kind of sustenance we get.  Choose wrongly and we may end up with a very uncomfortable case of indigestion.

    We are relational people.  We need to be connected.  As anyone knows, to be alone for an extended period of time is extremely difficult.

    As Christians we share a special connection within the church or body of believers.  The Connection that holds us together and sustains us, and the head of the body.  To be cut off from Him is to lose our source of nourishment and strength.  To be cut off from each other is to be isolated from the body, to be amputated, to put it more graphically.  We need the veins flowing between us to be functioning at our full potential as a church.

    A thought I wrote a while ago, but have just decided to publish...