Last October, when I walked from the South Tynedale Railway Station down to Kirkhaugh church – and then dashed back so as not to miss the train – I wondered if it might be a good venue to celebrate my birthday in 2012. A Big Birthday – one of those with a 0 at the end (50 …). “The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down”, T.S. Eliot (apparently).
The day after I was born Eleanor and Peter were married. So on 5 August 41 members of our congregations at St Mary’s and Holy Saviour went for an afternoon out. We drove through storms to the South Tynedale Railway – www.strps.org.uk – and had a train ride from Alston to Lintley and back. My Gareth was on the footplate. The line had been flooded a bit, indeed the road to Lintley was impassible, and there were piles of hail beside the track. This is an English August!
Then we joined the congregation at Kirkhaugh church for their service of Evensong – thank you Judy the Vicar, Richard the Warden, and the tea maker. Shaun, our marvellous organist, had driven across to play. It was his final service for us – he has been our organist for a year and now moves to Blackburn Cathedral as Assistant Director of Music. We are all very proud!
A drive across the hills brought us to Carts Bog Inn – www.cartsbog.co.uk – for an excellent supper. They had had a music festival all day and looked shattered – but they did very well. Their food is highly recommended. Birthday cake by Tina – www.sweetthingsbytina.co.uk.
Home after a long day – one of my 80 year olds said later in the week, “it was a bit late for me, but you only have a birthday once a year.” We put £247 into the railway, £450 to the pub, and the church did OK as well. It also made me realise (again) what a nice bunch of people I have in my congregations.
The rest of the summer has been blog-free – if I wrote about two weeks in Scotland it would make me a very very Northern Vicar, and once we got home the weather was appalling. I am writing this on the afternoon of Sunday 19 August, watching the rain pour down. Perhaps the autumn will be better – there are a few Northumberland churches (including mine) open for Heritage Open Days (but only a few) – search at