Does our face betray our heart?

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image from: Father Ted

Francis of Assisi said, “It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.” People of God should be people of joy. Yet, there is a perception of many in the world that people of faith are “kill joys.” Judgmental looks and outward gloomy dispositions only reinforce this perception.

The Psalmist wrote, Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken (Psalm 21: 5-7).”   The presence of God in one’s life is a matter of joy!  Why don’t we show it?

Paul gave some practical advice on this in Philippians 4,  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (vs 4 – 7).”

Let us be lights to the world, and leave the gloom to others!


North Wales Adventure: Portmeirion Revisited

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It had been some time since we visited the village (though my post on it is relatively more recent).  As my wife’s cancer diagnosis has given us a sense of time constraint, we have set out to revisit places which are significant to us.   Portmeirion Village is one of these.

We bought a day ticket, and for those with disability there is a concession of a free entry for a carer.  This made the visit really economical as well as meaningful. While using a wheelchair or mobility scooter in the village has its drawbacks (hills, cobbles, and some areas only accessible by stairs) it is still a wonderful place to explore, with most of the best sights still within reach.

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We visited the main street where there was a progression of weddings going on it being a Saturday.  It was wonderful to see the beautiful dresses, and people enjoying their “happiest days.”

We were able to see some areas we had missed on the previous visit as well, especially in the village hall area.

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Garden Feel

We stopped at Caffi’r Sgwâr (Cafe Sugar) and had Welsh cakes and tea.  The cakes were very nice with powdered sugar and butter. The service was good, though the shop is a bit small, we didn’t feel cramped, and the window seat allowed a nice view of the village.

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Welsh Cakes

We also stopped at the Prisoner Shop (I’m not a number) and bought a couple of souvenirs and a “I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered” t-shirt.

I also had a Caffi’r Angel mint ice cream.  While it was not the best mint cone I have ever had it was still enjoyable, and I am able the say now that I have had the Village’s own ice cream.

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Time to just chill

The Italianate architecture was just as wonderful as before, not that it has changed, but that its ability to inspire is just as good on a second visit.

We really enjoyed this “blast from our past,” and I am glad to have revisited.



Little Church in the Sea

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St Cwyfan’s in the Distance

We recently visited the Island of Anglesey in North Wales, and on the Holy Island there is a small church built on an island terrace at Aberffraw. This small white building is down a long single track road, and then on a foot path along the rugged coast.  This is Cwyfan’s Church and it is a 12th Century chapel style church named in honour of the Irish saint, Kevin.

It was originally built on the end of a peninsula, but centuries of erosion have left it on a small island (Cribinau), and is surrounded by a sea wall giving it the terraced look.

We were lucky enough to arrive at low tide, and it provided a wonderful effect, and was a reminder of the faith of those prepared to worship even in these bleakest of conditions.

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Rugged Coast

There is not much there for the “tourist” apart from the feel of holiness of the site, and the wild natural beauty of the coast.  The island itself has the church, a few graves and a bench in the churchyard. There is no parking (people park on the farm lane), and no amenities.  It is nevertheless, a moving place.

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Cauliflower Cheese

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  • Cauliflower 1 medium with outer leaves removed
  • Butter 2 Tbs
  • Gluten-free Flour 2 Tbs
  • Cheddar Cheese 150 g (mature is best)
  • Milk 200 ml
  • Double Cream 3 Tbs
  • Ground Garlic Powder 3/4 tsp
  • Ground Black Pepper large pinch
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as per pasta instructions



Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in a steamer over high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.  Leave covered and set aside. In a medium sauce pan melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, and then stir in the flour until lightly browned. Grate the cheddar cheese and slowly stir it in, adding splashes of milk until the cheese melts and the mixture becomes a thick sauce and remove from the heat.  Stir in the garlic, pepper, and cream.  Stir well, then add in the cauliflower.  Mix well until the cheese has coated the cauliflower well. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.


Mustard Potato Salad

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  • New Potatoes 400g/ 14 oz skin on
  • Spring Onions 3
  • Mayonnaise 2 Tbs
  • “Yellow” Mustard  (French’s Classic, or similar) 1 Tbs rounded
  • Crisp Bacon crumbled 2 Tbs or (veggie bacon bits such as Bacos) [optional]*
  • Gherkin 1 medium
  • Salt
  • Water to cover


Bring enough water to cover the potatoes to the boil in a medium pan.  Lightly salt and add the potatoes. Book for about 8 minutes, drain and allow to cool. When the potatoes are sufficiently cooled (room temp or lower). Halve each potato into a large bowl.  Dice the onions and gherkin and add to the bowl.  Then stir in the mayo and mustard.  Stir in bacon. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

* Omit the bacon or use bacon substitute for vegetarian version.

If in a hurry canned new potatoes can be used (500 -530 g tin drained).


Nacho Salmon (Tex-Mex Spiced Salmon with Nacho Sauce)

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This is a really lovely fish dish with a different approach as it uses the Nacho theme. It combines salmon with Nachos and is a great mains rather than just a starter.


  • Tortilla Chips (lightly salted type) 1 cup (or Nacho flavoured corn chips)
  • Salmon 2 fillets (100 to 150 g each)
  • Chili Powder 1/8 tsp (heat to your choosing)
  • Nacho Cheese Sauce 1/4 cup
  • Olive Oil splash
  • Jalapenos sliced to garnish (optional)
  • Egg 1
  • Water  1 Tbs

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Preheat oven to 200 C/ 395 F degrees. Rinse fillets and pat dry. Rub with chili powder. Then in a bowl, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon water. In a large bowl, crush he with chips into fine crumbs, and add a splash of oil. Dip each fillet in the egg mixture, then coat with seasoned tortilla crumbs, pressing them in to help them stick. Place fish in a lightly greased oven pan and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 20 – 25 minutes. Warm the Nacho sauce so that it is warm and thick, not hot and runny.  When the fish is done use a spatula to gently place it on a plate, then pour sauce over the fillets.  Garnish with jalapeno rings (if used).




A Meme on Meaning


“New and improved,” seems to be a perpetual advertising phrase.  While this may well have some importance when it comes to your soap powder or deodorant, it carries very little weight in morals, ethics, or spirituality.

F. F. Bruce worded it well when he penned,  “The question to be asked of all teaching is not, ‘Is it new?’ but ‘Is it true?'” Truth is the ultimate goal in education, philosophy, and for eternal life.

Let’s seek it and live for it.

*Image from the Steve Martin film, Leap of Faith


More Than Just Image


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Integrity is a great concept.  It is about who we are, who we really are. We are more than image.  It is our inner self, that matters. But today, too much emphasis is put on the externals.

Where do the externals get us? There have been many cases in recent years of role models failing in their example. They are often role models because of the externals. Whether they are entertainment celebs, sports stars, and yes, ministers of the word, these failing models have had things in their lives that have brought about public condemnation, and a fall in popularity.

In this world of instant “news” and social media it doesn’t take long for iniquity to be exposed. But do we fail to remember that it isn’t public opinion that should keep us on the “straight and narrow.” Solomon wrote, Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out (Proverbs 10:9).”

The Hebrews writer puts this in context for us, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).” Are we mindful of God’s view of us? Do we live with integrity, or do we hope that somehow our “secret selves” will be hidden?

Integrity is much under-appreciated today, however. It in part comes down to self discipline, something that a “if it feels good do it” morality shies from.  When I was at university, one professor speaking on the idea of discipline said, “As a parent you have about 18 years to instill discipline, then it is up to the child to make it their own.” How archaic that sounds in 2018.  I have witnessed a shift over the years as an educator.  From parents totally supporting teachers, to “I can’t tell them off, they are my friend”, to  “I can’t discipline them they might hurt me.” But it is not the outward, even in youth, that should be the driving force in integrity.  It is heart motive.  The desire to be good, and to have relationship with God and man.

It is heart motive that is difficult to hide, it is often the herald, of the failings we would like hid.But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matthew 15: 18-19).” Yet, how often do we hear people make a really hurtful, selfish, or rude statement, only to conclude “only joking?”

I started this post with allusion to celebrities, but really the focus here is on ourselves.  Are we people of integrity?  Do we have a heart motive of service? Do we seek to live godly lives, or do we try to hold a little back for ourselves?  Lord, help us to be people of integrity.




Nacho Cheese Sauce

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Quality Cheeses and Condiments

This is a wonderful concoction, known as an accompaniment to tortilla chips, and as a great hot dog topping.  The sauce/dip/wonder condiment was invented on the Mexican side of the Texas border during the Second World War, making it a true Tex-Mex dish.  It is named after its creator, whose nickname was Nacho.  It is a spicy cheese sauce, but so much more.


  • Butter  2 Tbs
  • Flour 2 Tbs (I use gluten free)
  • Milk 1 cup
  • Salt 1/4 tsp
  • Salsa  5 tsp (heat to suit you)
  • Cayenne Pepper 1/8 tsp
  • Cheese  225 g (an orange variety such as Red Leicester, Orange Cheddar, or Monterrey Jack*)

*If using Red Leicester, I usually use 100 g of mature white cheddar, and 125 g of Leicester giving the cheddar’s richness, and the Leicester’s colour.


Melt the butter in a pan using medium heat.  When melted stir in the flour until smooth, and it begins to brown and bubble at the edges. Add the milk and stir constantly until evenly mixed.  Increase temperature, and bring to a boil. Once the boiling has been reached lower the heat and reduce to a simmer. Allow the mixture to thicken slightly. Add the cayenne pepper and salt and and salsa and stir until evenly mixed. Remove from  the heat and slowly add the cheese.  Stir constantly until all of the cheese has melted.  Do not add extra heat as the cheese will burn to the pan.


A Quick Look at the Home of the Bard

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Jester, Henley Street

We were travelling in the area, so we thought a quick stop in Stratford-upon-Avon would make for an interesting side trip.  We really only had an afternoon, but it gave us a taste of this history packed town in Warwickshire.

We first set out to see and photograph key Shakespeare related buildings. The first of these was Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. While not strictly in Stratford (it is in an outlying village), it was very easy to access.  This was the home of Shakespeare’s wife before their marriage, and it is a lovely thatched, wattle-and-daub building.  It has gardens, and is a real atmosphere setter for a Bard related visit.

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Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Shakespeare’s mother’s home is equally beautiful. What is commonly known as Mary Arden’s House or Mary Arden’s Farm is another example of quality timber framed construction. There has been some misunderstanding of where Mary Arden actually lived, but this house has long been associated with her, though it way well actually be her neighbours’ house.  It is nonetheless part of the Shakespeare story.

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Mary Arden’s House (or Palmer Farm)

It was then onwards to town centre and Shakespeare’s birthplace.  This is a half timbered building on Henley Street, and is in a pedestrian shopping precinct.  Parking is nearby, and it is a short walk to other attractions.

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Nearby are the Shakespeare Centre and the Shakespeare Library and Archive.  These provide a range of resources on the author and his works.

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There was much more to see, but time was waning.  So it was time for some quick souvenir and gift shopping and then on our way.  It is worth noting that their is a quirky magic and fantasy themed shop  not for from the Shakespeare Centre where we got some Harry Potter themed bits for friends and family as well.



Link to Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Magic Alley

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