back from greenbelt!

what a cool babe!
Home again!

think this was the best greenbelt for me, and that’s out of a total of 7, i think.
no doubt the FAB sunny weather was a big factor… i am not a happy camper when it rains – just ask my family!
but also we had a total of 25 people from our church come this year… families, kids, teens, couples… a real mix! It enhanced the whole GB experience to be wandering around the site and to come across familiar faces and to be able to have a quick natter before moving on, or perhaps decide to go to something together, etc.

On that note, i was totally amazed by the amount of other familiar faces I saw at GB this year… friends from subway (online christian writers’ group) and generous… some i know v well and some just a tiny tad… but also other GB folks i’ve got to know over past few years… again, it was great to see someone i know every now and then.

Particularly enjoyed meeting up with Jo Dafforn (who i hadn’t seen in about 12 years) and Kate Beaton (8 years)… they were just as gorgeous as they had been back when we were mere yoof!

The panel i chaired
went well, from my p.o.v – i can only hope that the 275 people who attended would agree! (well, the venue said it had a capacity of 275, and there was no way you could have squeezed anyone else in that room!). I wasn’t expecting to learn anything from it, which sounds v big-headed, but i do ‘study’ and live the whole ‘ethical shopping’ thing somewhat… but i was given a couple of things to chew over that perhaps i will share another time. Just when you think you’ve got something sussed someone comes along and throws a few more things in the mix, and you’re back with more questions again! Still, that’s how it should be, i’m sure.

The panel i was on
was a bit weird… it was organised by Christian Aid, and the idea was that it was to be just like speed dating, but without finding the love of yr life at the end of it! They called it ‘carbon dating’, as it was all to do with climate change… quite witty really methinks! The concept was fab, but the journalist lady who compared it was a bit mouthy, and thus it was v hard for the people on each table to ask their ‘experts’ questions when they were supposed to. In the end i noticed a lot of tables just ignored her and got on with it! It was fun tho, and i had a few good chats re ‘generous’ (which was what i was representing… you didn’t think i was an expert did you?!)

Then i also slipped onto greenbelt fm, again to talk about generous… that was cool.

and each day from 4-5pm i was in the generous zone in g:source, serving free tea (fairly traded) telling people re generous and facilitating discussion on a slightly different topic each day, along with the fab claire, jerry and sue.

best bits: sunshine, taking my kids to see BlushUK (christian version of Girls aloud) as they were really star-struck, chairing the panel and a yummy thai chicken pie (i think from ‘pukka pies’)

I also enjoyed 2 doses of last orders, steve price the illusionist, and SHOPPING (i always get a few FT organic items of clothing at GB, to last me the year; makes a change from my usual charity shop purchases!)

Piccie is of tilly and the teepees/wigwams, etc. personally I’d rather stick to our tent… it doesn’t look as cool, but i’ve heard those things are chilly and can leak!
[click on the piccie to see it much bigger!]

Greenbelt… extra!

Last year i organised a panel for greenbelt… it was masses of work in the wks before GB and i vowed i’d steer clear of panels in the future.

This year i am on one (see post below) and now i’ve just found out that i’m chairing one too!

It’s one of the few things on the GB website that i’d seen and thought… that’s just my bag… i’ll be going to that, not knowing that i would be chairing it! It’s a panel on ethical consumerism, and you can find it here

if you’re at GB and free on Sat at 10am, insurance lounge… pop along… !!

Can 'stuff' buy happiness?

Varenna, Lake Como (but kids thought it looked like Balamory!)
this article was published on ‘thesheepdip’ in july of this year.

Can ‘stuff’ buy happiness?

Joanne Gilbert, a 47 year old Welsh Grandmother was off on sick leave when she won the lottery – a cool £1.1 million, back in June of this year. However, she said she wanted to keep her feet on the ground with her £6-an-hour part-time job, working as a hospital cleaner. “I know it might seem strange to some people but I’ve been working at the hospital for 21 years, and it is a big part of my life.” explained Joanne, “I’m determined to keep my feet on the ground and just wanted to put my life back on an even keel after all the excitement.”
She opted against buying a bigger, grander house… but to remain in the terraced house she lived in. Similarly, she chose not to buy a flashy bling bling car, but to stick with her Peugeot 206.

The question to consider here is not so much ‘Can money buy happiness?’ but ‘Can stuff buy happiness?’ Think about it for a moment… what would you do? You’ve won the lottery or you’ve inherited a fortune – what would your next move be? It’s all very well to say that it wouldn’t change your life; that you’d do the same as Joanne did and carry on as normal, but would you really? Would you?! For many of us, the first thing we’d be considering would be purchasing bigger and better stuff. A new house, and plenty of new furniture to kit it out. A new car (or cars). New clothes. New gadgets. New toys for the kids. New stuff – loads of it.

We often hear of studies that reveal that, surprise surprise, the richest people aren’t always the happiest. Jesus promoted a similar idea: ‘Don’t invest in goods with a sell-by date; build up your balance in heaven. Don’t let dosh boss you around’ (Not his actual words, but the ‘Street Bible’s’ interpretation of them, taken from Matthew 6). Even if we haven’t come into vast amounts of money, it’s safe to say that we are, in fact very rich. If we have a roof over our head, food in the cupboard and clothes to wear, we are amongst the world’s top 25% richest. Yes… us… rich. Congratulations!

Instead of lusting after the ‘stuff’ we would love to have but can’t afford, let’s be grateful for what God has given us. ‘There is far more to your life that the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance that the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone fussing in the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? … walk out into the fields and look at the wild flowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? … What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.’ (Matthew 6 again, taken from ‘The Message’)

Here’s a crazy idea. Make a list of all the material things you really want. All that stuff. Don’t be shy; if you want it, stick it on the list – it’s not as if you have to show anyone! Then, make a list of all the things you have got to be grateful to God for. Perhaps start with material things, and the fact that you’re one of the richest people on the planet, and lead on to more personal things – your family, friends, job (or whatever aspects of it you enjoy) hobbies, church, your favourite things – TV programmes, food, music, and so on. Why don’t you have these lists on the go over the space of a week; it’s sometimes hard to think of these things all in one go – too much stress on the brain! When you really can’t think of anything else to add to either list, take them to God. Be honest with Him about the things you wished you had – He knows it anyway, but He’d love for you to share those desires with Him. Ask Him to help you want them less. Rip that list up, or burn it. Then share the ‘grateful’ list with Him. Thank him for each and every thing on it – take your time. Allow yourself a little cry if you feel so inclined; sometimes it’s only when we stop and think about what we do have that we realise how blessed we really are. Ask Him to remind you of this list more frequently. Keep it. Pin it to your kitchen/office noticeboard.
You never know, do this on a regular basis and you too might be able to ‘do a Joanne’ and not allow money, and the ‘stuff’ it can buy, to dominate your life… you never know.

PS Piccie is of Lake Como, Italy, from our recent hol… relevant as George Clooney, and other such rich dudes, has a villa here somewhere… is he happy, really?! (yes, probably!)

Around the world with 80 books?

penny, me, and some inidentified books This article was published on ‘thesheepdip‘ in June of this year.

Around the World with 80 Books?

Whether you’d call yourself a bibliophile, a bibliophilist, a philobiblist… or perhaps just a common garden ‘bookworm’, one thing is clear: you’re bonkers about books. You might be the type of person who would know this sort of trivia:
All the proceeds earned from James M. Barrie’s book “Peter Pan” were bequeathed to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Barbara Cartland is the world’s top-selling author with over 500 million copies sold.
Cinderella’s slippers were originally made out of fur. The story was changed in the 1600s by a translator.
Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” after his editor dared him to write a book using fewer than 50 different words.
Or perhaps you’re always too busy absorbing the latest Jodi Picoult, Danielle Steele or Ben Elton novel to have time to acquire such knowledge. Either way, you’re addicted, you know it, and you love it. You’re not ashamed. Why should you be? Books are educational… classy… a notch up from slouching in front of the box. Portable entertainment that, unlike a PSP, doesn’t have any batteries to replace or run down. When you head off on your holidays this Summer, no doubt you’ll be buying a couple of new books to slip into your suitcase, to dive into in between diving into the Med and working on your tan.
But wait! Instead of darting into Waterstones and clearing their shelves of your favourite authors, why not pause to consider other people. “Other people… what other people?â€?, you sensibly ask. The people who are suffering in this world because of the vast amount of forests being stripped of trees that are vital to their way of life. That are vital to the way of life for our whole planet, now and in the years to come, due to the effect deforestation has on climate change. In addition to this, it’s a waste of money to buy a book you’re going to read once, and then quite likely never read again. If you have this kind of money to throw around, perhaps you should throw it at those who are living in poverty in the third world; who don’t know where their next meal will come from, or if their children will live to reach adulthood.
Jesus asks us to love one another, over and over. He doesn’t stop on about it. Nor do the prophets of the Old Testament or the apostles of the New. So let’s aim to continue to enjoy ‘a good read’, without abusing God’s fantastic planet or wasting the money He’s given us (or cluttering up our bookshelves!).

Join the library
It’s free. You can borrow up to sixteen books at a time, and you can have them for up to three weeks. It’s so high-tech these days that you can even go to your local library’s website and renew your books online. If they don’t have the book you’re after, you can order pretty much any book that is in print – this will set you back a whole 80 pennies. (Library charges vary from county to county, but are roughly the same).
Some libraries also run reading groups (or support local reading groups, and can give you information about them). Or how about starting your own? Are there others in your church who might be interested in this idea – it could be a non-threatening way of inviting ‘outsiders’ in. The more you use your library, the better you’ll make the library service for those in your community. Sign up today… or dig out your old library card, dust it off, apologise for neglecting it, and put it back into action.

Buy Second Hand

If there’s a book you just have to own, then consider buying it second hand. Ebay is always a good place to start. You could try selling some books you aren’t likely to read again on there while you’re at it… raise the cash to buy ones you haven’t read! Then there are websites such as By recycling used books not only are you saving existing trees, you’re actually planting new ones. How? GreenMetropolis donates 5p for every book sold to the ‘Plant a Tree’ scheme run by the Woodland Trust – the UK’s largest tree planting charity.
Try, a book swap site where you can exchange books with someone for the price of sending them second-class (about 43p for a standard paperback).
If you’re willing to give your books away, check out, your local freecycle group, or of course good old charity shops. You could also consider donating them to your local GP surgery or hospital for their waiting room. want your books so they can continue to send around half a million books to those in developing countries who need them. They also do a
Ask any missionaries your church is connected with if they could use books you’ve finished with, to give to those learning English, or to those who can’t afford to buy books – offer to start up a collection on their behalf. is a bizarre yet fun way to share your favourite books with others… complete strangers even! How about ‘releasing’ some books with a clear Christian message into your local community?

Buy New

Finally, some books are unavailable second hand, or you might want to keep a book for reference purposes and so on. Use websites and large bookshops to browse thorough and pick which book you want, then head for your local independent bookshop. You might have to order the book you want, but a short wait is better than using the larger shops that kill small businesses and town centres, and fix it so that buyers assume that a book’s only worth buying if Richard and Judy endorse it.

Once you’re all sorted with your borrowed/second hand books to take with you on holiday, learn the above book trivia off by heart, and amaze your holiday companions. Go on, you know you want to…!

(PS. this piccie, which didn’t come free with the article (!) is of penny and i when we were trying to get shots for our ‘re:writing’ website, about a million years ago. It was one of the only piccies i could find with books in it!)