Today was an important day. Early last month, I successfully interviewed for a position as ‘worship pastor’ at a church in Loughborough (ASTAD) but before I could fully accept the offer, Jane and I needed to visit the church at worship. Between a combination of responsibilities in Oxford and the vicar at the new place being away for a few weeks, it was today we were finally able to do that and I’ve subsequently given them my yes.
New job – a whole different career in fact – and a full relocation pending. Lots to do, both in the remaining couple of weeks before I officially start in the new role and in the months to follow. Exciting times though – I’ve stepped out of the boat, put my foot on the water and, eyes set on Jesus, I’m walking forward.
Apart from the fact that this is mid-autumn rather than mid-spring, everything about ElevenOne’s production of Enchanted April (at the Old Fire Station in Oxford – finishing tonight) is enchanting.
I originally came across the story via the 1991 film, which I mentioned when I saw it in 2016. Subsequently I also read the book but I wasn’t previously aware of the stage adaptation. It hits all the notes I loved in the film – Lottie as the key who unlocks faith, hope and love in those around her and the castle of the ‘Holy Saviour’ as a place where each person receives a touch of God’s kingdom. Furthermore, the company did an excellent of translating it to the stage and the intimate space of the Old Fire Station is a brilliant venue for it.
A particular delight, when Jane and I saw it last night, was to find that a friend from church was not only appearing in it but had that central role of Lottie, which she performed brilliantly. Highly recommended and a shame that the run ends this evening so I can’t pass it on with more warning.
Jane and I visited the garden at West Green House today, near Hook in Hampshire. It wasn’t the best weather for seeing a garden although it wasn’t raining when we walked round (unlike since we’ve got back home) and it largely felt like we had the place to ourselves.
That probably isn’t going to be the case on more clement days but it is partly down to the design. As you wander round there are numerous hidden nooks to explore. I particularly enjoyed the low-roofed water fountain chamber which had an amazing, deep reverberance.
It was about a 90 mile round trip so not quite on the doorstep but definitely a memorable gem and another chance to get value from our National Trust membership.
Many moons ago (September 2014), I brewed up a version of Graham Wheeler’s recipe for Exmoor Gold, a pale bitter created entirely with pale malt. I christened that Autumn Gold and, a couple of months later, I made another batch with the addition of some crab apple juice which I called Golden Crab. This year, we’ve already had all the crab apples off our ‘John Downie’ tree but I decided that I fancied making another golden beer, not least because the 5kg bag of pale malt I recently bought was a bit large to comfortably fit in my brewing cupboard.
The 2019 edition is called Autumn Tinge. On top of the pale malt, I added the last 90g in my bag of Melanoidin malt, so the beer should come out a little towards the orange side of gold. I also made a couple of hop substitutions – Magnum (a new one to me) instead of Challenger at the start of the boil and Fuggles rather than Styrian Goldings post boil (original Goldings though, as per the recipe, at ten minutes before the end of the boil).
Today it went in the fermentor with trusty Safale S-04 yeast and an original gravity of 1.045 – spot on to the original recipe whereas my earlier brews both ran a little over. For the first time this year, the brew belt is actually coming into use to raise the temperature to 17°C although it won’t be long before it turns off and, hopefully, the activity of the yeast will maintain it for a few days (although this time round we might stay a bit closer to the nominal 17°C target).
I recently realised that we were running a bit short of coat hangers so I bought a set online, which arrived today. These are black-finished aluminium and my first impression, as I put them in the wardrobe, was that they have an interesting sound: jingle, jangle. Not unattractive although it could get annoying.
However, they seem decently made and the design seems to hold the garments well. I’ve only hung one shirt up so far but I’ve got more to attend to tomorrow so we’ll see if fabric damps down their chiming.
When I was visiting Magnus last week, I joined the weekly life drawing session he attends at Penrallt Baptist Church on Wednesday afternoons. He has been going for a few months (building up a nice portfolio of work) and has drawn the afternoon’s model, Hannah, before. For me, I think it was the first live session I’ve done with a nude model since I was at school and I think this one was the best of my results:
I did this in two passes. I started with water colours I already had on palette – a cyan blue and something more from the red / purple part of the spectrum for contrast. I used a large, wide brush and worked quite quickly but these weren’t the tools for fine detail. I then set it aside for a little while and worked on a different piece (I think the one in the bottom right of #7 – I didn’t label them all sequentially).
I came back to it though before the pose changed and worked in a few lines with one of my water soluble graphite pencils – outlines and a few indications of the edges of shadows. Because the paper was still damp where I had laid down the watercolour, this created an interesting effect, darkening the tone in those areas. For example, if you follow the line describing her cheek and chin, you can see how it picked up the moisture in certain areas and shed it as the line continued to move round from forehead to jawline.
Of course, this would be very hard to replicate on purpose, except by taking the risk of working from observation – looking and responding rather than trying too hard to get it ‘right’. Perhaps that gives some of the energy to the result?