Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

First trip North October 28, 2008

Filed under: Update — Sarah @ 2:09 pm
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This weekend was my first trip north since I’ve been in Southend. Very exciting though quite bizarre to actually be there! I got on the train on Friday night from Euston and was amazingly excited to hear the Train Manager come on over the tannoy with the best Carlisle accent I’ve heard in a long time – so Carlisle that the London girls sat with me had no idea what he was saying so I had to ‘translate’! Great fun! Getting off the train at Preston (as opposed to staying on to Lancaster for the extra 15 minutes) was very strange though Preston station felt strangely homely (I guess I spent a fair amount of time there when I was at uni).

The wedding was lovely (although I was reminded about just how much it does actually rain in the North West) and it was great fun seeing friends from University as well of course as seeing Esther and Darren get married! So weird though that I felt completly at home even though I’ve not lived in Preston for 15 months and haven’t been to All Saints in just as long. Reminded me of another part of my life and was really interesting to see how I have changed and how I haven’t.

Being with old friends with the old banter made me feel at home, but I wasn’t that sad to leave. I think it’s true that it is good to visit but for Preston (we’ll see about Lancaster in a a couple of weeks time!) it was quite easy to leave because I know that’s not where I am meant to be at the moment. The hardest bit was not getting on the bus that pulled into the stand (pictured below) when I was sat opposite it for an hour!

I was glad that I hadn’t got on it though, because as soon as I walked into church on Monday morning, I felt as if I had never been away (a good thing!). I think that I am very lucky to have so many places where I feel at home but Southend is definetly the place for me right now.


Two Months On October 20, 2008

Filed under: Random,Update — Sarah @ 11:43 am
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 Two months is now up! Madness! Thought I’d list all the things I’ve done (well that I can remember!)
  • i’ve driven 300 miles to Southend
  • i’ve taken 12 girls to Chessington
  • i’ve led a sunday evening bible study for the first time
  • i’ve met the Mayor of Southend (twice!)
  • i’ve been mistaken for Stephen’s wife (just the once!)
  • i’ve relearnt to play the clarinet
  • i’ve learnt who Robert Peston is
  • i’ve watched things on youtube more that I ever have before!
  • i’ve played the clarinet in church (twice to date)
  • i’ve scrubbed out a baptistry (just once)
  • i’ve still not cried
  • i’ve got addicted to Arrested Development
  • i’ve taken a ridiculous amount of photos
  •  Sarah and Phils Weddingi’ve been to one wedding




  • i’ve learnt that church work is very different to student work
  • i’ve given a talk at Womens Fellowship
  • i’ve bought an Oyster Card
  • i’ve been to London (once)
  • i’ve gained a housemate
  • i’ve made some really good friends in my church family
  • i’ve learnt that Southend High Street has duplicates of most things
  • i’ve learnt that the longest pleasure pier in the world is the most boring
  • i’ve talked a lot about Graines Power Station
  • i’ve realised that church work shows you so much more of the pain that there is in living in this world and is really heartbreaking
  • i’ve retaught myself to play the piano (only to grade one so far)
  • i’ve started reading the Bible with Sarah and had the joy of seeing her being baptised
  • i’ve started to get to know mums at mums and tots
  • i’ve experienced a ‘Shelia buffet’
  • i’ve ‘prettified’ the office
  • i’ve had an ‘Alice and June’ cooked breakfast
  • i’ve felt homesick
  • i’ve had a flooded bathroom
  • i’ve taught 11+ sunday school for the first time (three times to date)
  • i’ve led Explorers devotions at Girls Brigade
  • i’ve planned, written and given Junior Devotions at Girls Brigade within an hour!
  • i’ve done Senior devotions at Girls Brigade
  • i’ve spoken to nearly every church leader in Southend trying to get a full list of churches in Southend
  • i’ve been knee deep in mud in Shropshire
  • i’ve met John Piper
  • i’ve scrubbed a cafe floor
  • i’ve avoided doing a single notice sheet for sundays
  • i’ve survived two deacons meetings (and started a new tradition of being taken to the Exhibition by Maureen and Robin afterwards)
  • i’ve watched a French Film (actually in French!)
  • i’ve convinced the Jo(h)n’s (Delves & Dray) to watch High School Musical 3
  • i’ve played bingo
  • i’ve decided I never want to have children (after the Chessington adventure)
  • i’ve fallen in love with most of the babies at mums and tots
  • i’ve lost at ping pong to everyone!
  • i’ve won a couple of games of pool (by default!)
  • i’ve been to ‘Ye Olde Smack’
  • i’ve written two prayer letters (actually one a month! amazing!)
  • i’ve discovered the south is cold
  • i’ve nearly booked flights to Norway for £2
  • i’ve been to Harrods
  • i’ve ‘borrowed’ & cleaned a filter coffee maker and milk frother
  • i’ve had my first ‘Northern’ visitor
  • i’ve been ill
  • i’ve applied for a Masters
  • i’ve been to Oak Hill
  • i’ve drunk a lot of tea
  • i’ve learnt there’s very little chance of getting any work done before 11am most days
  • i’ve settled in

Did not think that the list was going to be that long and there’s going to be things that I have missed! And I don’t think that there is any way that I would have guessed that most of these things would ever happen! It’s been a mixture of ups and downs and just plain random but it’s definetly home now. Here’s to the next random two months!!


A lovely weekend October 15, 2008

Filed under: Christian Life,Update — Sarah @ 10:37 am
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The last few days have been great. I’ve seen some old friends, been a tourist and realised just how much I feel like I am part of the family at Ferndale.

Spent Friday evening and Saturday in London/Croydon with some ex Relay 07/08ers and staying with the lovely Mr and Mrs Wren. It was so nice to just chill out. The encouragement of old friends is amazing. Knowing that they already know you and your faults and they are still happy to have to lounging on their sofa and not really saying much (companiable silence that is!) watching Saturday kitchen and laughing at builders unexpectedly turning up!

And being a tourist in central London was great, although I think I managed to embarass Sarah quite a lot byt being very over excited about everything – even the fact that there was a McDonald’s in Trafalgar Sq – well nearly – and yes I know I’m a geek!! I’ve taken loads of photos which I will add to this post at some point. It was so much fun and I now have an Oyster card for the tube which probably makes me more of a Southerner than I’d like to admit! And strangely, I felt more like ‘me’ in London, than I’ve felt like ‘me’ in quite a few months.

Sarah and me in St James' Park

Sarah and me in St James

This all probably led to coming back on sunday feeling happier and more ready to get stuck in – a good thing as it was a busy day! Harvest service, Sarah’s Baptism (see the Ferndale News link for the video – you can spot me in the bright orange t shirt!) & Harvest Lunch! Amazing! And I looked around at one point on sunday morning and just realised that the people around me were friends, not people I was trying to get to know (though obviously there are some people that I don’t know as well as others) but on the whole, friends. I also realised that I’m nearly at the two month mark – scary! but that when I was on Relay in took me about 2 months to feel settled, and I’m starting to feel settled here so wherever I move in the future I shouldn’t expect to feel settled for at least 2 months!

Monday was the almost suprise visit of my old housemate from uni which just added to the general happiness – it was great being able to hang out with her and show her around Southend – pretending that I did kinda know where I was going!

Yesterday I was back in the office, but I went to the YMCA in the morning (where I am going to be working for a day a week) and realised that my degree (Law) and especially my dissertation (Youth Justice Policies and Youth Offending in England and Wales) have actually got a use! yay! I can now see how I can use the seemingly useless knowedge I have! I’m really looking forward to my first full day there next Wednesday.

So, I guess the point of this post is that I’m doing ok. I’m feeling settled, like I belong and I’m getting to know what I’m meant to be doing and when I should be doing it. I still miss the north and people in the north but here now feels that bit more like home and I don’t want to not live here – at least for the time being.


Banana’s October 9, 2008

Filed under: Random — Sarah @ 10:19 am

Those of you that have been reading my blog over the past couple of days will have seen that I keep changing the design (just couldn’t get it looking like what I wanted it to!). How it looks now is how I plan on keeping it for the time being … though thought some of you would be amusied to know that the title of the design I used is “Fresh Banana’s” . . . .


Strange Southend Things #2 October 7, 2008

Filed under: Random — Sarah @ 4:45 pm
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2) This wasn’t one of the original things that I was going to include in my list but giving directions is weird around here! Now, it could be that this is much more of a Ferndale thing than a Southend thing, although a Southender did say it was a Southend thing, but trying to get directions to the house where my house group is tonight included the following responses:
               – go to a crossroads on the street and the house is there on the right (not helpful for so many reasons!)
               – it’s on this street and it always has a certain colour parked outside
Now, bearing in mind this street is quite long and has a lot of houses on it I wasn’t getting very far! But, no-one really uses house numbers around here or addresses. They just direct by ‘well known’ things! So so strange!


Battling Unbelief October 6, 2008

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 2:16 pm
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As a thank you for being a volunteer cook at Forum, I was given four new books from IVP, which was very exciting. Picked up one of them last night because of the title alone! ‘Battling Unbelief’ by John Piper. Before someone reads too much into this and thinks I’m doubting my faith – be reassured that that’s not the case, but actually there are times when I, like everyone else (I’m guessing!) do feel like ‘but can it be true’ and it just seems ludicrous.

And, I kinda thought I knew what the book would tell me but the first couple of chapters showed me I was quite wrong! I was expecting it to be along the lines of there’s so much proof, we can be assured that the gospel’s true and that it would be a really reassuring book in that sense. But, it’s another book on grace which obviously in itself is amazingly reassuring. Dealing with future grace and past grace and the fact that it is that, that we so often don’t believe in. And it’s so true. Whenever I have doubts most of them are to do with can God’s promises really be trusted. Grace really is something that I am never going to be able to have a proper grip on – it does always seem to just slip away.

Also, the book starts with the reminder that “No one sins out of duty. We sin because it offers some promise of happiness” and that the lie is only broken when we realise that God is the one that is more desirable. This wasn’t the only thing that I wasn’t expecting in the early chapters as John Piper (AKA Pipes) starts to deal with the things that cause us to disbelieve the promises of God. The first one is anxiety which I thought was really strange. He talks about it in a non Medically defined condition way, in terms of when we constantly worry about things. It is being anxious that so often leads us to sin as we doubt in God’s promise in some way. This link is something I’ve never ever realised before. So found this really new and shocking. I’m probably fairly well known for being a bit of worry wart especially when it comes to making decisions and so the thought that worrying is causing me to doubt in God’s promises is well…shocking.

Pipes backs a lot of this up from Matthew 6, which strangely enough I found myself quoting to someone else in the last week who was doing nothing but worry about things! I knew worrying was pointless which is what I was saying from Matthew 6 to my friend, but Pipes takes it one step further by making the link with that doubt or unbelief in God’s future grace and promises, or in some cases past grace. Really challenging to as he encourages us to “sever the clinging roots of sin that ensnare us”. This is only the first chapter as well!


Music Time! October 3, 2008

Filed under: Update — Sarah @ 12:50 pm

It’s Gold Club this afternoon (for the over 50’s in the church and the community) and Jon is doing a talk on John Newton finishing with us all singing Amazing Grace (with the original words) and I’ve just volunteered to play the clarinet!? Madness!

Two weeks ago John Dray retaught me how to play (it’s been 6 years!) and I’ve been really suprised as to how quickly I’ve learnt! Not quite ready for the Ferndale Music Group yet but quite exciting to play one song this afternoon, I’m definetly rediscovering my love of music 🙂 which is very cool. Though it may be fleeting depending on how this afternoon goes!