The rain is back

The rain is back.  We had a few dry days over the weekend but it’s been raining loads for the last 24 hours.  We got a few floods last week and this is a picture I took after the rain stopped.  It is of a house on my running route.  You can see the ‘field’ next to the house!  It’s not as pleasant to be in the rain as the sun but there is something stunning about it in Montenegro – the rivers fill and burst, you get loads of fun driving/running through massive puddles and when the sun breaks through you get some amazing skies.

 

I’ve tried a new routine this week.  Last week I spent 5 or 6 days trying to plan and write my sermons and ended up getting a bit bogged down and frustrated.  So this week I did a lot of research on Monday and have deliberately avoided studying and writing on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They’ve been fairly relaxed days with some good highlights.  But tomorrow I’ll begin writing in earnest.  The theory is that I’ll be raring to go and will write quickly and efficiently!

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Update from Montenegro

So I finally led my first two services in Montenegro yesterday.  It was strange being stood there responsible for proceedings.  I was pleased with how they went and how I had prepared and how I responded to different things that happened.  I have also learnt some lessons for next week, the most challenging being my sentence construction!  It seems the way I write in English can make it difficult to translate into Montenegrin.  So this week I’ll need some lessons in English grammar before I can even try to resolve that problem!

The weather turned last night from days of 20+ degrees to thunderstorms.  I went running in the rain this morning – one of my favourite past times but certainly guaranteed to get a few looks from passers-by here.  People try to stay out of bad weather when they can.

Other than that it looks like we’re almost beginning to get a routine which is important otherwise your time gets sucked away.  Week 3….here we go….

 

Extreme Weather Conditions of Solihull: Part 5

My series on the immoderate meteorological events in the suburban conurbation that is Solihull has come full circle.  It is almost two years since ‘The Great Drift of 07’ which led to 17 members of the Womens Institute being trapped in John Lewis for at least 15 minutes.  Since then I have written about the floods, freezing fog and drizzle that have inflicted these brave people with hardship.

And today is no different.  Certainly not as bad as the Great Drift but there were at least 2cm of snow covering the pavement this morning.  Understandably there was pure disgust at the school gates.  What were the council thinking leaving it up to individual schools to make a decision about closure!?  It is very dangerous out there.  I expect there will be no bread left in the shops by the morning and it is only a matter of time before the water pipes freeze up. 

It looks like we’ll have to go to Starbucks to keep ourselves nourished and warm.  The staff of this rock of society always manage to get into work.  Which is good because we wouldn’t want the profiteering at the expense of Ethiopian farmers to stop, would we?  Or prevent some of their well earned revenue from reaching the good cause that is the Israeli Arms Fund as they had to spend a lot of money this Christmas.  I heard they sent a lot of presents over to their neighbours in Gaza over the festivities this year.

You know how easy it is to get carried away with spending during the holiday season so can I urge you all to dig out your snow shoes and a ski poles and make your way to your nearest Starbucks lest the evil stop.

Extreme Weather Conditions of Solihull: Part 4

What a dull and dreary day it is!  It took me one hour and fifteen minutes to drive to work this morning because everybody gets scared to pull out at roundabouts when there is a little bit of rain.  Hmmm at least it’s not snowing.  Us Brits are hopeless drivers in the snow.  You get 2mm of slush and you’d think the world stops spinning on its axis the way we all behave.

Sitting in the car watching the drizzle and the groups of small children huddled together as they try to make it into the school gates really made me want to be back in Junior School when, on a day like today, most of my time would have been spent creating an impression of the weather outside through the medium of pastille colours on white paper.  Ah those were the days, those worry free days.  Of course I did really worry, particularly if I couldn’t find my pencil sharpner, or I had to ask Mr Deakin if I could go to the toilet, or who I would end up partnered with in country dancing.  But at least after the chill of prancing round the school hall in my pumps I’d have the reassurance of being able to return my grubby fingers to the pastilles and staring out the window at the lamposts that had been turned on at half past two to help us get home in the daytime darkness.

Extreme Weather Conditions of Solihull: Part 3

It really is bloody cold.

I rushed through the chilled air in no time dodging washing baskets and avoiding stubbed toes as I made it from snug bed to steaming shower in less than ten seconds.  As the almost scalding water massaged my tense neck muscles I began dreaming of a time that was…

…it was a Saturday morning, and I was stood in the garden, in a t-shirt(!), and I was comfortably warm!  Oooh how I long for those mythical days of spring and summer to return.  But not yet, I am resigned to winter, with thoughts of a sun that brings warmth to the skin fuelled only by a slipping memory.

For me it is a life of crisp fresh morning strolls to the station.  The sharp air filling your lungs and stimulating your senses provoking reflections on a life that is saturated by traces of a Being whose creation gets right inside you.  Breath in.  Breath out.

Extreme Weather Conditions of Solihull: Part 2

Terrible things happened in Solihull during the recent bad weather.  I have used this blog to summarise them:

– The church BBQ was cancelled.  The day of the BBQ was actually gloriously sunny but the fear of God had been struck into church members that the lawn might get muddy marks on it if walked upon.

– The youth group leadership team spent a week at the Lickey Hills working out how best to start a brand new community should the West Midlands be totally flooded.

– My grass got so much water and sun combined that it has very quickly got to the stage that I cannot bear to face it with the lawn mower.

– Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council have given up on trying to fill in the potholes.

– Ladies everywhere are freaking from going an even pastier white from lack of sun.

– Solihull Wellies Incorporated saw its 3 month profit returns increase by 452%.  They are now the fifth biggest employer in Solihull behind Indian Railways, Tesco, the Chinese Army and SAC (Silhillians Against Chavs Ltd).

– Three gerbils and an elderly cat were drowned.

– I got bored of the weather.

As you can see, all in all, it has been a traumatic time for all of us.  I hope you don’t forget us now that the media spotlight seems consumed with Gloucestershire.  Just because its not on telly doesn’t mean we aren’t suffering.  The post is out so don’t send food parcels or drinking water.

Unfortunately for myself things are about to get much worse.  I am about to go to Newday, a big Christian festival for young people.  Last year the porta-showers were so bad someone found a poo floating in one of them.  I’m getting ready for itchy feet syndrome again.  If I don’t catch cholera, see you in a week.

Nathan’s adventures in Montenegro: Part 4

My projected aim and outcome for this blog is to take you, the reader, on a Rolla coaster ride of cultural adrenalin rushes to rival any thrill seekers experience to be found at the pleasure beaches of Blackpool, Cleethorpes or even Brighton.  I do not pretend, however, to give you such metaphorical heights, speeds and g-forces akin to a day out at Alton Towers…

 

Death rituals

Yesterday morning Rada’s dad’s uncle died at the family house 2 hours drive into the countryside.  By early afternoon his body was on display at the Kapela by the city crem and family and friends have travelled from all round to pay their respects by filing past the open coffin and giving condolences to the immediate family.  I am going later today so I am going to see my first ever real life dead body.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  The funeral is going to be tomorrow back at the family house.  They don’t hang around here.

 

i-Night

There is a ship in port in Montenegro called Logos II.  It is a Christian missions ship and there has been a team from the boat working with the church here in Rada’s town.  The culmination of their work was an evening of culture exhibitionism at the city hotel for any of the townsfolk who wished to watch.  I particularly enjoyed the Malaysian lady doing the Mexican frilly dress dance, three white men playing African drums, the life-story of a former US druggie and the top quality but highly Western dramas portraying humanity’s rejection and reconciliation with Christ.  I must admit the Korean Wave-Your-Fan-Around Royal Court dance was a bit of a let down.  Overall the crew hit the mark very well and after an impassioned preach from Pastor Stan it was obvious that quite a number of the onlookers were seriously challenged about what their lives were all about.

 

7.30-9.30am…everyday

If I hear one more smoker clearing their lungs out so they can breathe when they get up in the morning I really am going to pass out.

 

Wet hair and bare feet

If you ever come to Montenegro do not try and go anywhere if your hair is moist or your feet are without apparel.  It is believed that a cold wind on wet hair can lead to paralysis.  I have been subject to the wrath of disgusted Montenegrins far too often.  I now dry my hair. 

 

Birthday Cake

The cake made for me by Rada’s auntie consisted of boiled apples, sponge, cream and some sort of strawberry jelly.  It was gratefully appreciated.

 

Relatives from afar

A car-load of relatives have just turned up from Serbia for the death ceremonies.  They had travelled through the night since they hear the news.  All is going well and it is great for Rada to see them after so many years.  However, the houseful of people is a bit overwhelming for Anya and I think I kissed a man I shouldn’t have kissed.

 

A round of drinks

There is this beautiful tradition here that if the waiter/barman knows you he may buy you a round of drinks.  Well Rada, her friend Goca and I were in a bar the other night and the waiter paid for our first round of drinks despite Rada’s aggressive protestations.  A few minutes later a whole new round was served to out table!  And we were still less than halfway through the first drink when a third round appeared!  I had to make it look like I thought he had gone too far but to be honest I was in paradise.  There were six beers and three glasses of wine on the table and I knew Rada and Goca weren’t gonna have three each!  Unfortunately, Rada’s brother and two friends arrived and “helped” me finish them off. 

 

Anya

My daughter just passed wind for four seconds non-stop.

 

Ratko

Rada’s brother has asked me to arrange a fake marriage for him so that he can come and live in the UK.  If anybody wants to offer let me know.

 

Post-mortem of death rituals

As I said at the start of the blog I have just been to give my condolences to the family.  However, I was gutted to discover the coffin was unusually closed so I am yet to see a dead body.  Nevertheless it was weird.  The coffin was in tiny chapel by the crematorium.  I entered and went in turn to each member of the family, who spend the entire day stood around the coffin, and said “I’m sorry” and shook their hands.  Then we gathered outside and chatted for well over an hour.  The whole affair is very much a social occasion and I think this is good.

 

It appears that I cracked a good, and appropriate, joke when I said, “at least that’s one less relative to visit!”  Looking back that could have seriously backfired on me and I could have ended up dead myself.  As it happens everybody thought it was very funny.