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GroomNews Christmas 2015 December 14, 2015

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
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May the Wisdom of the Magi and the Light of Christ’s Advent Star guide you and illuminate your way this Christmas and throughout the coming year

The Visit of the Magi, from one of many Crib Sets featured in the St Mary’s Henlow Family Crib Festival this year. Click through the picture to find out more…

WELCOME to GroomNews Christmas 2015! Another year almost over as we wonder where the time went as we prepare to celebrate the wonder of God With Us as we prepare to move home and boat as we — phew: got all that? Exciting times here on Planet Groomsville!

Introducing the Next Archdeacon of Wilts
If you saw the announcements in November, you can skip this; but for those who missed it, we’re delighted to announce that Sue has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Wilts in the Diocese of Salisbury.

So what, you may wonder, is an Archdeacon? Think of it as the Church of England’s equivalent of an Area Manager: instead of looking after her own parish, Sue will be working with lots of parishes, supporting their mission and ministry and helping clergy and PCCs as they deal with various administrative, legal and other issues. Want to know more? See the press release on the Salisbury diocesan website: A New Archdeacon for Wilts

What about Phil?
Good question! He’s handing in his notice at Sainsbury’s with a transfer request to Devizes, where we’ll be based (our new home is only 100 yards or so from the Kennet & Avon Canal) but there are no vacancies there right now so we’re looking at a period (hopefully brief) where he’ll be Archdeacon’s Estate Manager. In other words, baking cakes and looking after house & garden until he finds paid work. Baking cakes? Yes indeed: his new hobby — here’s his latest, this year’s Christmas cake:

This year's Christmas Cake (recipe adapted from Mary Berry; mixed, baked, iced and decorated by Phil)

This year’s Christmas Cake (recipe adapted from Mary Berry; mixed, baked, iced and decorated by Phil)

His other creations (or concoctions, depending on your point of view) this year have included cheese scones, apple cinnamon cakes, apple & apricot cakes and a cherry-lemon loaf.

In the meantime, he’s as busy as ever with various other projects including 5 Quid for Life, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory and a miscellany of church and community websites: paid work or otherwise, he’s not about to run out of things to do!

Research News: almost there!
The end is in sight for Sue’s research as she works on her final chapter (the conclusion, of course) and pulls everything together before submission next year—gulp!

Almost waiting for a lock on the Northampton Arm (July 2015)

Almost waiting for a lock on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union (July 2015)

Almost Update
No edition of GroomNews would be complete without an Almost update, so here it is: our fridge died. Sob! After 25 years loyal service, no less, on the first night of this year’s holiday! Boat fridges don’t come cheap, alas: a replacement would have cost at least £600; but after much asking around, we found someone who could fix it and it’s back in action, cool as ever, for only £60.

And finally…
Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported us along the way, with special thanks to the people of Henlow and Langford. It’s been wonderful to see the two churches grow in confidence, faith and love: long may that continue! If you’d like to know more about either or both churches, visit their websites or facebook pages — or even better, visit in person: you can be sure of a warm welcome!

With our love, prayers and very best wishes,

Phil & Sue

PS: Want to keep up with us in between issues of GroomNews? Connect with Phil on facebook and twitter:

GroomNews Christmas 2013: The Year of Everyone Getting Older December 19, 2013

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Family, Life.
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2013: The Year of Everyone Getting Older

GroomNews Christmas 2013: Printer-friendly version (pdf, 201kb)

GroomNews Christmas 2013: Printer-friendly version (pdf, 201kb)

… or, to be more precise, of us becoming more aware that everyone’s getting older! Let’s start in March, when we celebrated Sue’s 50th birthday with a stay in a Bath hotel: a wonderful few days that included sightseeing, meals out and a boat trip on the river as our hotel was conveniently situated alongside the river upstream from the city centre. Highly recommended!

Now fast forward to December, when Phil’s Dad took a tumble down the stairs and ended up in hospital: not recommended, even when you’re young. Thankfully no bones broken but plenty of bruises. The good news is Phil’s parents have agreed to have a stairlift fitted.

At the other end of the generational gap, we’ve heard wedding bells ringing and possibly angels singing as nephews & nieces have been busy announcing weddings, getting married and/or having babies, making us Great Uncle Phil & Great Aunty Sue all over again — or should that be Grand? But whether it’s great or grand, it’s making us feel older as we realise our nephews & nieces are no longer the little children they were: wholehearted congratulations to them all!

Health & Fitness
In the latter half of the year Sue’s hip became increasingly painful so in December we took a trip to Oxford’s Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital for a checkup. Conclusion: there’s been some deterioration but probably not enough to warrant a replacement just yet. She should keep up the swimming and pilates/physio exercises and return for another check next year.

As for Phil, in the middle of the year  he was diagnosed with suspected glaucoma. Initial tests were inconclusive so he returns for further tests in January 2014: watch this space. Otherwise fine and still cycling to and from work.

5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net

5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net

5 Quid for Life
Remember 5 Quid for Life? It’s a project launched by Phil and a group of his friends back in 2011 to provide emergency financial support for people with mental health problems who have lost (or are in danger of losing) their benefits as a result of the government’s welfare reforms; and it’s kept Phil quite busy this year responding to enquiries and requests for help. Want to know more? Visit 5quidforlife.org.uk. Donations always welcome, but there are plenty of other ways to help too, such as sharing via facebook and twitter or by putting up a poster in your local community hall or doctor’s waiting room.

Church & Diocese
Running two churches alongside her diocesan role isn’t quite running Sue ragged, but she’s always busy meeting people, preparing to meet people or preparing and running church services and meetings. We’re grateful for all the opportunities her work brings, and we’re just as grateful when we get some breathing space; which brings us neatly to…

Almost Repainted: Peterborough, Sept 2013 (Click to zoom in)

Almost Repainted: Peterborough, Sept 2013 (Click to zoom in)

Almost Repainted
The job is done! Colin & Kevin at Spiderworx worked their magic and Almost looked most resplendent in her new livery for our late summer holiday, another trip along the Nene to sunny Peterborough — or not so sunny, as things turned out in September this year.

Sue’s Studies
are still ongoing: it’s proving to be a long slog, longer than originally anticipated, but she hasn’t given up. She’s now in the final phase, writing up her thesis: the challenge, of course, is finding time…

Thank you…
for all the Christmas cards that so many of you have sent. We’re sending out a few to close family but otherwise, as in previous years, will be making a donation to WaterAid instead.

As always, this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in the coming year,

Phil & Sue


GroomNews Christmas 2012: A Year Like No Other December 15, 2012

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Family, Life.
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GroomNews Christmas 2012: Printer-friendly version (pdf, 168kb)

GroomNews Christmas 2012: Printer-friendly version (pdf, 168kb)

Thank you…
to everyone who has already sent us Christmas cards: we’re sending out a few to close family but otherwise we’re making another donation to WaterAid in lieu of cards; please accept this news roundup instead.

Phil’s Ankle
The beginning of the year seemed to slip by quietly and uneventfully until a dramatic turn of events landed Phil off work for three months with his left ankle strapped up in a “Beckham Boot”. You can read all about it here: The car didn’t get me, but the cardboard did… — to cut a longer story short, he skidded on a piece of cardboard at work and broke his ankle. The three months weren’t wasted, however, as Phil used the time to carry out some long overdue updates to UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory: christianbookshops.org.uk

Sue’s Sabbatical
Not to be outdone by Phil taking three months off work, Sue did likewise in the autumn: from September to November she was on sabbatical. Unlike Phil’s time out, though, Sue’s was planned and we take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making it possible, from those in the diocese who took on DDO responsibilities to those in the parishes who kept the respective shows on the road. She spent most of the time in Durham, working on her DThM thesis on the language of formation in ordination training. Staying with religious communities and worshipping at the Cathedral provided her with wonderful spiritual refreshment.

Silver Wedding Card and Flowers

Silver Wedding Cards and Flowers

Silver Wedding
At the end of October — two thirds of the way through Sue’s sabbatical — we celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary by booking into a hotel in Durham, from where we proceeded to sample the city’s cuisine with visits to different restaurants each evening, interspersed during the day by various outings. Another vote of thanks, this time to everyone who sent us cards, gifts and greetings on the day as well as for your friendship and support down the years.

Repaint for Almost
And how better to celebrate that anniversary than to commission a repaint for Almost? If you’ve seen us out & about on the waterways in recent years, you’ll have noticed that her paintwork leaves much to be desired. It was easy to keep on top of it when we lived afloat: whenever the sun was shining, one of us would be out there with a paintbrush; but since she’s been a holiday home rather than our main residence, it’s been more of a challenge, so we’ve at last called in the professionals: as we write, she’s with Colin & Kevin at Spiderworx (www.spiderworx.co.uk) undergoing a complete repaint and getting new signwriting.

Christmas TreeFamily News
Last year we reported the birth of our great-nephew, Oliver. This year it was wedding bells as niece Ruth married Ashley; and more wedding bells are planned for 2013: niece Claire to marry Simon, and nephew DJ to marry Nat: congratulations to one and all; only another 10 to go … not sure how we’ll ever keep up with them all! That’s all on Phil’s side of the family: over on Sue’s side, Alison, her sister, has left her job as a chaplaincy assistant in Plymouth to set up on her own as a counsellor, Cuthbert Counselling — if you’re in the south west and looking for counselling (or know someone else who is), do give her a shout: www.cuthbertcounselling.co.uk

Health & Fitness
Sue has added Aquafit and Pilates to her  regular exercise routine alongside all the swimming, and the routines are paying off, keeping her supple and, on the whole, free from aches & pains in her joints: doing very well, in fact, for someone who hits the big 50 in 2013! Phil has resumed cycling to and from work, and since his work itself is a matter of constant physical activity, he too is pretty much as fit as ever.

Taking Time…
Christmas: it’s all about God taking time out from eternity to be God with us. This year we’ve realised how important that is, and in the year ahead we’re determined to take more time out to reconnect with our friends. We look forward to seeing you! For now, however, as always, this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in 2013,

Phil & Sue

GroomNews Christmas 2011 December 16, 2011

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life.
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GroomNews Christmas 2011 - printer-friendly version (pdf, 193kb)

GroomNews Christmas 2011 - printer-friendly version (pdf, 193kb)

A Card Free Zone
Last year we invited you to vote for the charity that would receive our Christmas card money: the charity you chose was WaterAid, so we’ve gone with the flow and designated them for this year too — a much better cause than Royal Mail, we hope you’ll agree…

2011: A Year of Years
10 years since UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory, was launched. Christian booksellers are suffering along with other retailers, with dozens of shops closing down.
15 years since Sue’s ordination, and still going strong — from ordinand to DDO: see below!
20 years since we set sail to London on Almost to become students at London Bible College, now London School of Theology. Sadly LST is still struggling to balance the books, with more redundancies kicking in over Christmas/New Year: please pray for those leaving, those left behind and those with the unfortunate task of liaising with the staff affected.

Visiting York for Phil's 50th

Visiting York for Phil's 50th

50 years since Phil’s Mum unleashed him on the world: it’s all your fault, mother!! We celebrated with a few days away in York, and you’ll be relieved to know that the city survived the experience.

Church, Work and Research
Sue has now been formally appointed as St Albans DDO, Diocesan Director of Ordinands, which is keeping her busier then ever alongside parish responsibilities and research. DDO work is supposed to take 21 hours a week but in practice it’s nearer 30 — not surprising since her predecessor was full-time. The parishes have been growing in responsibility if not numerically: we now have a trained baptism preparation team and a bereavement visiting team who work across the benefice. Find out more on the church websites, which Phil is now looking after: www.henlowchurch.org.uk and www.langfordchurch.org.uk

The DThM has taken the hit from the workload: Sue has been unable to do as much as she would have liked and now that she’s in year 6, it gets scary. She has, however, negotiated a sabbatical (Sept – Nov 2012) and aims to produce a full draft of the final thesis during that time.

Sue also gives a ‘Thought for the Day’ on our local radio station on the first Thursday of each month: tune in to Biggles FM 104.8 if you’re in range!

Almost on the Nene, July 2011

Almost on the Nene, July 2011

Holidays
This year we set off along a waterway we hadn’t visited before: the River Nene. It’s a lovely stretch of water: Almost fairly flew along and we found some very pleasant moorings along the way. Two weeks gave us enough time to make Peterborough and back. Almost finished the year with a week in dry dock and now has a spendidly shiny black bottom.

In May Sue joined some of her friends in the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis for a pilgrimage to Assisi. It was a wonderful week revisiting some of the well-known churches but also getting out into the countryside to see where Francis escaped on retreat. For her own annual retreat, Sue returned to Alnmouth Friary in Northumberland and renewed her acquaintance with some of the writings of Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, two of her favourite spiritual writers.

A New Generation
We’re delighted to report that we are now a Great Uncle and Aunt to Oliver, born to nephew John and his wife Laura in October. Oliver is already taking swimming lessons and is expected to win Gold in the 2012 Olympics: Oliver, we salute you!

A Super Slimline Sue!
Over the summer Sue realised that she was slowly but surely putting on weight (a factor of increasing age apparently!), so she increased her swimming to five mornings a week bright and early and is now slimmer, fitter and healthier than she has been in years.

5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net

5 Quid for Life: A Mental Health Safety Net

5 Quid for Life
5 Quid for Life is a new charity launched this year by Phil and a group of friends to support people with mental health problems whose lives and livelihoods are under threat due to changes to the UK benefits system: discover more online at 5quidforlife.org.uk.

Thank You
Thank you for being there with us through 2011. This comes as always with our love, best wishes for Christmas and prayers for peace in the year ahead,

GroomNews Christmas 2010 December 18, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
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6 comments

Archives2008 | 2009

GroomNews Christmas 2010

GroomNews Christmas 2010 (printer friendly version, pdf, 127kb)

Which Charity Would You Choose?
Like last year, instead of adding to the carbon-footprint chaos caused by billions of ultimately unwanted Christmas cards, we’re sending most of this year’s Christmas greetings without a card or by email only. But this time it’s your choice: where should we donate the money we would have spent on cards & postage? The charity which gets the most votes wins £50, as that’s the amount we think we might otherwise have thrown away: vote here today!

2010: All Change Again
We’ve settled in well to the semi-rural lifestyle and we made good friends with the wild birds last winter, but not sure where they’ve all gone this time around. If you see Bedfordshire’s bird population, please tell them there are seeds, fat balls and more waiting for them here.

Sue’s role has changed in the diocese following the retirement of her boss — no, not God, the DDO. Sue is now Interim Acting Diocesan Director of Ordinands, which keeps her very busy interviewing would-be priests and helping them as they find their way through the discernment process. At the same time she continues to be Priest-in-charge of Henlow and Langford. She does seem to have a habit of being appointed to jobs which subsequently double in size! Somehow, in between DDO interviews and parish work, Sue has also resumed her DMin studies, except it isn’t a DMin anymore it’s a DThM. Due date is 2012, which should be possible if she takes a sabbatical to write up. This should be feasible thanks to the arrival of the Revd Patsy Critchley as part-time Assistant Curate in November this year.

If you follow this blog or Phil’s twitterfeed @notbovvered you’ll know that he left LST in September. Things came to a head in July when LST initiated redundancy proceedings against him and several other members of staff, but rather than wait around to be shown the door Phil managed to find another job: he’s now working for Sainsbury’s in Biggleswade. Started in September: so far so good. A simple routine: go to Sainsbury’s, take stuff off the shelves, give Sainsbury’s money; go back to Sainsbury’s, put stuff on shelves, Sainsbury’s give Phil money. Less pay for less responsibility but immensely liberating and as Biggleswade is within walking distance of home, a substantial saving on travel. Please pray for others made redundant and for those left behind at LST battling their way through the education sector’s financial crisis.

Café Mocha, Biggleswade

Café Mocha, Biggleswade

Café Mocha
Before starting at Sainsbury’s, Phil spent a while working as a volunteer at Café Mocha, a Christian-run community café in Biggleswade. Whether you fancy an Americano, a Gingerbread Latte or Mocha Snowball, Café Mocha is the place to get yours: the friendliest and best fairtrade café in town! Find out more at cafemocha.org.uk or facebook.com/CafeMochaBiggleswade

Almost is now moored closer to home, at Milton Keynes Marina on the Grand Union. This year’s summer holiday took us from the Kennet & Avon, up the Thames and via the Oxford Canal to the Grand Union. Most enjoyable, especially catching up with a few friends along the way. It was too hot the first week and too wet the second: typical British weather — but at least it didn’t snow!

Phil’s Parents
It’s been an interesting year for Phil’s parents, with his Dad having a mini-stroke and his Mum having a hip replacement. The net result is that Dad has slowed down and Mum has got faster. Please pray for them as they readjust to one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

Afghanistan
This year Ed, one of our nephews, was posted to Afghanistan with the RAF. Please pray for a speedy resolution of the conflict and a safe return home for him and all the troops.

Thank You
Thank you for your friendship over the past year: this comes with our love, best wishes for Christmas and our prayers for peace in the year ahead,

Vote now for the charity you’d like to receive our Christmas card money! We’ve selected 5 but feel free to nominate another via the comments below: if other readers shout out for them then they might win instead!

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