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Essay Writing

(To the tune of ‘Donkey Riding’)
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Were you ever in Bristol town
Where balloons all fly around
Get those ideas written down
Writing one more essay
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Hey ho, away we go
Essay writing, essay writing
Hey ho, away we go
Writing one more essay
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Were you ever bored and tired
Drinking coffee so you’re wired
Feeling totally uninspired
Writing one more essay
.
Hey ho, away we go
Essay writing, essay writing
Hey ho, away we go
Writing one more essay
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Were you ever round the bend
No sign of this essay’s end
Who said deadlines are your friends?
Writing one more essay
.
Hey ho, away we go
Essay writing, essay writing
Hey ho, away we go
Writing one more essay
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~ ~ ~
[this goes some way to explaining the lack of content in the blog in the last few weeks - regular service will be resumed one day...]

Churches and Sustainable Communities conference (part 3)

This week I am reflecting on a conference I attended at the weekend, see part 1 and part 2 for more information.

Sir John Houghton

After lunch we had a short, informal session with Sir John Houghton who is a highly respected climate scientist, former head of the Met Office, founding member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and president of the John Ray Initiative.  He has recently published his autobiography, In the Eye of the Storm, which is a great book.  It gives a fascinating insight into the development of meteorology, a discipline which exploded through the second half of the twentieth century with the development of computers and satellite technology.  Sir John was at the forefront of the field all the way through those changes and the book charts his journey as he faces storms of public opinion, bureaucratic obstinance and powerful vested interests. Read the rest of this entry

Churches and Sustainable Communities conference (part 2)

Yesterday I began a mini-series of blog posts reflecting on a conference I went to at the weekend exploring the role of Churches in developing sustainable communities and today I will continue by reflecting on the second session on the subject of “Community, Church and Transition”.

Transition

One of the biggest movements in sustainability at the moment is the Transition Network which is a network of villages, towns and cities around the world, all trying to increase their community resilience.  This involves recognising that fossil fuels are going to continue to get more and more expensive and that communities of all sizes need to be more resilient against fluctuating oil prices and consequently food prices, resource availability etc.  Although Transition initially began in response to the challenge of Peak Oil (the idea that global oil production has reached its peak and is now declining and any future extraction is going to get more and more expensive and dangerous), they are beginning to move away from that narrative towards a wider response to the threat of climate change but the principle remains the same. Read the rest of this entry

Churches and Sustainable Communities conference (part 1)

I’m fairly sure the first rule of blogging is to choose your topic and stick to it.
With that advice in mind, and with apologies to anyone who follows this blog for recipes, or for bread, or for songs, or for sermons, or for anything else that I’ve posted on in the past I’m now going to throw yet another topic into the mix!

More and more the focus of my thinking is turning to environmental issues, and in particular the theological/spiritual aspects of the current crises ( intentional plural!).  I am in the middle (or, to put it more realistically, near the beginning…) of writing my dissertation on the different images we can use to think about how humans relate to the rest of the natural world – are we ‘stewards’ or ‘priests’ or ‘masters’ or simply ‘creatures’?  I will probably write a bit more about that another time but for now I want to share a few reflections on a conference I went to yesterday. Read the rest of this entry

Sing For Joy – a choral anthem

One of my things to do in 2014 was to write a piece of music for the college choir to perform and, just one month into the year, I’ve done it!

Today was the academic awards ceremony (basically the graduation for last year’s students) and we performed the world premiere of ‘Sing For Joy’ by yours truly.  I’ve tried a couple of times to get a recording/video of us singing it but without any great success.  I doubt anyone filmed it this morning but if I do get hold of a copy I’ll link to it here.

You can download a pdf of the music here (feel free to use it, just let me know how it goes!)
‘Sing for Joy’ – Richard Clarkson

I always find performing at things like this a bit strange, I’ve been thinking about this song since well before Christmas and have spent hours writing, arranging and rehearsing it and it was all over in less than 2 minutes!  Ah well, such is life.  What shall we work on next?!

UPDATE:

We have a video!

Weekly Folk Song: 1 – The Grand Conversation On Napoleon

One of the challenges I set myself for this year was to learn and record a folk song each week.  Just to make it a bit more interesting for me I’ve set myself a few rules:

1) Songs must be sung unaccompanied.
2) Songs must be recorded without lyrics (i.e. from memory).
3) Songs must be recorded in one take (although this doesn’t have to be the first take!).

This first song (a few days behind but I’m sure you’ll forgive me!) is one of many that I learned from Jon Boden.  It is really fun to sing although learning the words took a few days.  I won’t go into much detail here about the origins of these songs, if you want to know more check out the impressive Mainly Norfolk site, but suffice to say that it dates back to sometime around the 1830s and it gives a fascinating insight into the way Napoleon was viewed at the time (he died in 1821).  For some reason it lapses into a call to join the Navy at the end (even though Napoleon was fought mainly on land) but it is a cracking song nonetheless.  Enjoy!


Things to do in 2014

For the last few years I’ve written a list of things I’d like to do in the coming year. This isn’t something I pay much attention to during the year but it is interesting to look back and see how I got on.  I’ll try and reflect on last year’s list later but for now here is my list for 2014:
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1) Go and watch a pro cycling race
2013 was the year I properly got into pro-cycling. This year I’d love to go and watch some (we saw a bit of the Tour De France a couple of years ago but I mostly remember it being very, very wet!). The good news is that there are plenty of options – Le Tour starts in Yorkshire, the Tour of Britain is running both a mens & a womens race and there is the Tour Series of criterium races as well.
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2) Go on a 50+km bike ride
I’m cycling a lot at the moment which is fun but I haven’t ridden more than 20km in a day since before we moved to Bristol. I’d like to do a few longer rides at some point and I’d love to do a multi-day trip as well although that is perhaps less likely.
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3) Go on a pilgrimage of some sort
There was a brilliant documentary on the BBC before Christmas about pilgrimages and we decided that they look like a great idea.  I don’t know where we’ll go but, in a year of significant change for us as a family, I feel like it is something that we need to do.
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4) Find a replacement for taking Charlie to Lawrence Weston Community Farm when we move to Whitchurch
One of my highlights of our time in Bristol has been taking Charlie to the farm every week where we volunteer. I would love to find something similar in Whitchurch, there is a Shropshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve which we might be able to volunteer at.
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5) Learn to identify 10 common birds by sight
I’ve always loved birds and when I was younger I used to be able to identify a good number but I’ve lost the skill.  I got some binoculars for Christmas and hopefully this year I’ll get better again.
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6) Take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch
As a follow-up/incentive to number 5 we’re going to do the RSPB’s big garden birdwatch at the end of January.
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7) Carve a nativity set
8) Carve a walking stick
One of last year’s aims was to carve a wooden spoon and I really enjoyed it. This year I’d like to have a go at carving a nativity set and a wooden spoon (for no reason other than that I think they would be interesting things to make!)
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9) Write a song for the college choir to perform
This year I am conducting the college choir which has been a lot of fun. For Christmas I arranged a song for the choir and by the end of the year I’d like to write a whole song for us to perform (I’ve written a few before but wimped out of giving them to John who used to lead the choir).
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10) Learn (and blog?) a folk song each week
A while ago I went, on the spur of the moment, to an open Mic night that I used to play at regularly. Because I hadn’t planned to go I didn’t have either a guitar or any lyrics with me and it made me realise how few songs I actually know so I’ve learned a few folk songs off by heart and it’s actually really fun so I want to do more of it this year.
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11) Do a month of daily blogs on something
Last September I did a daily blog on all things bread-related for #SourdoughSeptember. It was hard work but lots of fun. This year I’d like to find a similar challenge to do.
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12) Pass my degree!
I know this seems obvious but it would be nice to get through this academic year unscathed!
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13) Go veggie for Lent
I have no intentions of going totally vegetarian but we are trying to eat a lot less may and it seems to me that the best way to discover good veggie recipes is to just do it for a while.
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14) Take a wicket in a cricket match
I’ve played for the college cricket team for the last couple of years after not really playing since school. 2 years ago I took a wicket but it was at the end of a 15 ball over and was more by luck than judgement! Last year I really got my bowling rhythm back in the nets but I ended up not bowling in the 2 matches we played. This year I’ll hopefully have chance to bowl my dodgy leg spinners in anger and it would be nice to take a wicket or two!
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So that’s a few things I’m hoping to do this year. How about you?

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