To be honest, Northern Vicar doesn’t walk much between September and December 2022. A routine blood test led to a cancer diagnosis, which led to major surgery at the end of November. The Chaplains at The Christie Hospital in Manchester came to see me (thank you), but I didn’t manage to go and blog the hospital chapel.
In September we marked the passing of Her Majesty The Queen and the proclamation of the reign of King Charles III. I often moan about the Church of England centrally, but they were excellent in producing material for prayer and reflection as soon as she died, and telling us what we needed to do with bells, flags, etc. (My photo of St Edmund’s Allestree, Geoff Howell’s photo of St Matthew’s Darley Abbey).
I had to stop donating platelets. I had managed 268 donations over the years, which I am rather proud of. I am also very proud that my daughter started donating. (Later in the year I received donations of blood and platelets – so if you can donate, please do). Platelet donation had often been the excuse for a train ride – but I went on no trains at all in September.
October was another slow month. I stopped taking services completely – I had not got the physical energy to get through one, and I also needed to stay away from people so as not to catch Covid and delay my surgery. St Edmund’s Allestree hosted a United Service for the two parishes on the fifth Sunday of October. My predecessor was taking it, and decided that they were all going to process out in the final hymn, and come down to the Vicarage so I could give them the final blessing.
I managed one train ride in October, and just a couple in November. November was a month of too many hospitals. December started with a fortnight in hospital, and the only train I got near to in the whole month was my new planter (a Christmas present from two couples in church). LNER 8783 is a Claud Hamilton locomotive originally built in 1923, a D16/2 class loco. It was one of two Claud locos that were allocated to hauling the Royal Train, usually between Wolferton (for Sandringham) and London. Under BR it became 62614, and was withdrawn by 1960. It now has daffodils in the boiler and tulips in the tender!
A small parcel arrived just after Christmas and I was chuffed to find a copy of “St Magnus Way” by David Mazza. It is a guide to the walk, produced by Rucksack Readers – https://www.rucsacs.com/book/st-magnus-way/. They have used three of my photos – and used them very well – and the whole book is a delight. It’s not published until March 2023, but is highly recommended for anyone going to Orkney.
My photos in print was a rather good note to end the year on. 2023 will have its challenges too, but I hope I will be well enough to get into some churches, get some photos, and blog them properly. I realise I have never actually blogged my two churches or the Cathedral in Derby, so I should be able to manage them!