Saturday, December 19, 2015


Padi would have been 18 today so we were delighted that Bluebells had space for us. It seems a fitting place to be. We always looked forward to our stays here. The games room and pool are favourites. There's acres of space. Being in the South East brings us within 40 minutes of Ally's family, so they were able to visit for a turkey dinner on Thursday evening. This was especially opportune because her father's not able to travel as far as Cardiff at the moment, for health reseaons. 
Padi has a page in the Bluebells book of remembrance, amongst the 100's of so-called 'butterfly children'. The photo provides a point of reflection, dating back to our first trip here when the kids were considerably smaller. Life moves on, more or less comfortably. We have mused on the progress and growing-up of his siblings and especially his friends, since meeting the latter is less regular. Ally resumed work at the Velindre cancer centre, which occasionally throws up some predictably difficult moments, no matter how supportive the staff are. We recently moved house too, escaping something of a debt trap. Our new old place, built in the 1890's, is very handy for church and suits us well. Padi did not want to leave Heathwood Road but the time was right; providence expedited our purchase of Donald Street, just a few doors up from the house where Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was born. Pads would be pleased we made it to Bluebells anyway. Ally was browsing the unique collection of bereavement-related resources yesterday. The charity, , doesn't stand still: they've extended the property and tamed the large garden. They're even in the final stages of approval for another site: Bluebells 2. There is huge demand for these kinds of services
We like short breaks. Yesterday, leaving the kids in the pool, Ally and I took a brisk walk to North Waltham where the idea hatched of visiting a national trust property. Needless to say, the kids were happy to let us go without them. The Vyne is a splendid Tudor mansion, just the other side of Basingstoke from Bluebells. The site began its use as a church and, although quite small, provides a major claim to fame through the stained glass currently being restored. Another notable feature is the 100 guinea oak. You can read how it was named on the Vyne gardens blog:
Various scraps of religious significance were observed, with Christmas just around the corner. The National Trust always likes to tap into festivals and their relevance for the particular site's history: the restoration of Christmas post-puritans was noted with some glee in one Trust historian's blurb. We flinch at the violence dished out upon celebrants back then. Our view holds that the Lord's Day takes precedence over any other 'day', but that there is worth in noting and giving special attention annually to the glorious divine interventions of the incarnation and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is only ever done in a measured way, for example, the special scripture readings we follow:
Principally, these seasons are useful as opportunities for the gospel: we travel back later to the carol service. Catch it online if you can:
Previous trips to Bluebells in 
February 2013 Was a much shorter, more subdued trip - Pads hardly ventured out of his bed. 

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