A Day at Cromer

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We went to Cromer as we had been to Sheringham, and the east coast so it was filling in a gap in our coastal exploration. It was a cool but sunny day, and we arrived a bit late in the day (around 1:30 pm), so found parking a bit difficult.

Cromer has a lovely beach. It is accessible relatively easy for disability on the pier end, though parking is rather limited if you don’t arrive early. There is street parking running parallel to the beach as well as you head in the Sheringham direction, but again spaces go quickly. There is a large car park on the cliffs which are reasonable in price, and with lots of spaces. This area also has public toilets. The drawback is that they are well above the beach and those with limited mobility may struggle to get to the sandy bits (at least we did).  All that said this is a good beach, clean sand, and lots of space to spread out, or to explore.

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We did make the most of our paid car parking at the cliffs, and spent the later afternoon watching the sea from the cliffs in what was a fairly quiet setting, with gulls overhead, and a breeze blowing through the scrub on the hill top.

The Blue Sky cafe is across from the public amenities at the Cliff Car park. It is easy to access with a ramp on one door. It has inside seating, and provides hot drinks at one counter, and there are sandwiches and similar snacks available. A second ice cream counter is available for a cone, or to pay for cold drinks. This little cafe was doing loads of business when we visited with people going from the long term parking into town or down to the beach. the service was via the two counters, but while not table service it was still polite and professional.

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As we prepared to leave Cromer for the day we went into the town centre to get some Cromer crab. We found Davies Fish Shop on Garden Street which had loads of great fresh seafood.  We bought dressed crabs, and fresh scallops which they put on ice for us.  The shop has its own boat according to their website, and it did seem a very clean and fresh fishmonger.  The prices were reasonable, and the quality great.
We made our final stop of the day at Back to the Garden where we stocked up on grass fed mince, soup bones to make really great broth, and treacle cured bacon.
This was a great day for enjoying the beach and nature, and filling the pantry with quality foods for the coming week.
Padre

 

White Fish With Creamy Cheese Spinach

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Here is a tasty fish dish which get the vitamins of the greens in as well as the yummy-ness of a thick cheese sauce.

Ingredients:

  • White Fish Fillets (Pollock, Hake, Cod) 2 x 150 g
  • Full Fat Cream Cheese 100 g
  • Blue Cheese 50 g
  • Butter 1 tsp
  • Baby Leaf Spinach 2 cups
  • Double Cream 2 Tbs
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Water to steam and boil

Method:

Set up a steamer and place the fish into the steam tray.  Bring to boil, and reduce to make a slow steam (about 15 minutes). In a medium pan bring half a pan of water to the boil. Add the spinach to the boiling water and reduce to a low boil.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then drain.  Set the spinach aside and lower the heat and return the pan to the stove. Melt the butter into the pan and then dissolve the cheese in the pan stirring constantly.  When all the cheese is melted stir in the cream. When it has become a creamy sauce add the cooked spinach to the pan and stir until evenly mixed.  Place the steamed fish on a plate and season lightly.  Spoon the spinach and cheese mixture over the fish and serve.

Padre

If You Are Interested in Language, Check This Out

I have never re-posted a blog before, but with my love of words and the way in which they are used, I found this review/post really interesting. In fact, it has been a long while since a book review made me think “Hey, I really want to read that.”

Add to this the fact that I have followed the Aksharbet blog since it began at the start of Gelda’s Fulbright teaching exchange placement.  I have always found her insightful and honest about the teaching process. For anyone interested in cross-cultural education in general, or on the challenges and successes of teaching English outside of American or British schools, I highly recommend her blog.

With that as an introduction, here is Sushmita Gelda (Aksharbet)’s Yes, You Can End a Sentence with a Preposition

Part memoir, part linguistic escapade, Kory Stamper’s Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries (2017) is a must-read for anyone who is interested in exploring the stories behind the quirks of the English language. A lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, Stamper takes readers behind-the-scenes of the editorial process and the history of the dictionary industry. Her […]

via Yes, You Can End a Sentence with a Preposition — Aksharbet

Padre

From the Belly

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“A knot in the pit of the stomach,” or “feel it in the bowels,” are common phrases. They refer to a sense of anxiety deep down in us.   The images are clear as well: the pit is a hole, bowels are guts. But in the case of Jonah, the anxiety was more than figuratively in the belly. He was literally in a pit of the stomach, as he had been swallowed by a great fish.

He was paying the consequence of disobedience in a rather extreme way.  He ran away from God’s mission for him, and was subsequently thrown off a ship into the sea, where the fish swallowed him.

This should have logically been the end of the story.  But Jonah from the belly of despair (and the fish’s literal belly) called out.

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.  He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,  and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me, seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit (Jonah 2: 1-6).”

In the total despair of being cut off from freedom, and even light, and air, he cried out. How often are we like that? We get ourselves into a situation, and then we remember God. But there is a sincerity in the prayer.  He shows a trust in God to hear him, and a confidence in being brought up from “the pit.” His seems to be a real faith rather than hedging his bets. Yes, he is desperate and there really is no other option, but it is not phrased as a “If you help me God, then I will X, Y, or Z.” It is “I am lost God, I trust you!”

When we are in the belly or pit of despair, let us remember the example.  Avoid “magical thinking,” or deal making with God. Simple surrender, and trust Him.

Padre

Prayer or The Semblance of Prayer?

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Prayer is the verbal or mental communication with deity.  We may ask for things, seek help for others, give thanks, or give praise. These words are sometimes accompanied by actions, but they are meant to be communication.  They are an essential element of relationship.

Some prayers are formal or liturgical.  Others are spontaneous and are just speaking you heart or mind.  They may be set to music, or presented as measured mental ideas. But they need to communicate in a positive manner.  Sometimes we are rotten in the way we communicate.  I know I can be bad at it. I wish I was always dynamically engaging with the ones I speak and share with.  But at times, especially when weary or when the mind is engaged in other pursuits, the engagement (and thus relationship) is not as pure or rich as it should be.

Let me here apologise to all I have ever failed to give my full attention, or with whom I have held back my heart.  Such times are rare, but still points of pain and shame for me.  I also need to address to God, for my prayers so very often ramble, or fall into catch phrases and  cliches.  Lord, help me to really love You (and communicate with You) with all my heart, mind and soul.

It seems the early disciples were not exempt from this either.  In Acts 12 we find Peter bound in prison.  He is on the eve of his execution, and the people of God have gathered to pray.  we must in context presume that among the things petitioned for, is Peter’s deliverance.  The result is an angelic visit to Peter’s cell, and a miraculous escape.  it is what happens next that is telling, however.

 “Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”  When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.  Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door.  When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”  “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”  But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.  Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place (Acts 12:11-17).”

Peter goes to the place where the church is praying.  He knocks and is refused entry, because he can’t possibly be there.  “He is in jail, that’s what we are praying about.”  There seems to be no recognition that the things they are asking God for may happen. Are we that way?  Do we go through the motions without the firm expectation that he is faithful in granting what we as for? Or do we say the right words without a firm focus on what we are actually saying?

Do we pray or just seem to?  Just think what we will accomplish if we move beyond the semblance of prayer.

Padre

Scallops With Creamy Mustard Sauce

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Another wonderful ingredient which we were able to get from Davies Fish Shop in Cromer was fresh scallops. I made them on this occasion with a creamy mustard sauce, and served them with steamed asparagus.  This is a quick and easy recipe, but once with lots of flavour.

Ingredients:

  • Scallops 150 g (about 6)
  • Butter 1 Tbs
  • Double Cream 4-5 Tbs
  • Whole Grain Mustard (prepared) 1 rounded Tbs
  • Dijon Mustard 1 tsp
  • Lemon Juice splash
  • Asparagus 8 spears

Method:

Remove the tough bottoms from the asparagus and then cut spears in half.  Place in a steamer and cook for 10 minutes (or until tender). In a medium pan melt the butter and then add the scallops. Fry about 3 minutes per side. Reduce the heat, and move scallops to the side of the pan.  Add the mustards, and cream to the juices in the pan, and mix until they begin to thicken. Turn off the heat, and return scallops to the centre of the pan. Cover with the sauce, and add a splash of lemon juice.

Place asparagus on a plate, and spoon the scallops and sauce next to it.

Padre

Amazing Grace

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Pastor Vince brought a great message this week on the topic of grace and it’s transformative power in our lives.  We are told in the scriptures that we, the people of God are a temple (I Corinthians 6: 19-20).  We have been transformed from the corruptible, into that temple.  God’s grace has brought about this change, and in the Spirit we are capped.

Look at the parallel in Zechariah 4:1-10,

“Then the angel who talked with me returned and woke me up, like someone awakened from sleep.  He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps.  Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” He answered, “Do you not know what these are?” “No, my lord,” I replied. So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’” Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.  “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”

Zarubabbel had returned to Jerusalem to reconstruct the Temple of God.  His task was not to rebuild the city or its walls, but the House of God.  He is empowered in this by God. I love the image here of a lamp stand which will give off light to the world. And this stand with its seven lambs, which in my mind are fed perpetually by the olive trees which flank it.  This image of the temple, filled with light, is then capped by God Himself.

It is the same with us as temples, we receive an endless flow as well.  And that flow is of grace, and it is capped by the Spirit.  So lets look at this flow of the spirit.  We have already noted that this grace is transformative, but it has some “amazing” properties which lead to that transformation.

First, it teaches. Titus 2:11-14 reads,

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

God does not just say “be good, now get on with it.” But actually provides the grace that teaches us how to achieve it. Grace shows us the way to say “No” to that which would bar our way, and makes us “eager to for what is good.”

Grace therefore enables us.  Titus 3:1-7 states,

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.

We are transformed, by grace.  We are able to become living temples because of the free amazing gift of grace. Not by our works, but His! We are washed and renewed.  We are like the temple of Zerubabbel capped by the Spirit. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).” We are that lamp stand, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, by amazing grace.

Padre

 

North Wales Adventure: Criccieth

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Criccieth High Street

We made Criccieth our base of operations for our North Wales adventure.  We spent the four days and three nights at the George IV Hotel. We had stayed here previously 8 or 9 years before, and found it just as convenient as before. While there are a few stairs to the lobby, there is a small wheelchair lift, and all floors are serviced by the main lift. Some of the hallways are a bit narrow for a wheelchair to navigate, and there are several fire doors as well. But we managed to get access to all areas we needed.  Our room was basic, and in need of some renovation, but functional, comfortable, and suited our purposes. The shower had good pressure, and there was sufficient hot water for a good bath as well. The mattress was a bit overly firm, but we doubled the duvet to pad it out.  Housekeeping came each day to change towels, empty bins, and make the bed, but only changed bed linen if there was a “obvious need” for it. We did query this, and were brought fresh linen. Meals for the half board were good, and followed a set rotation. Same offerings each Monday, etc. Breakfast was buffet for the Continental portions (cereal, etc) and cooked options were ordered at the table. WiFi was available in some public areas, but was weak. No connection was found in our room, at all. Fair enough it wasn’t advertised as such. Many of the guests were part of coach tours, and the hotel seems to make a good business of this arrangement.  The location in Criccieth is good, and there is parking for guests opposite the hotel on the High Street. It is a good base of operations as well for visiting Portmeirion, Porthmadog, and Anglesey.

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George IV

The beach at Criccieth is mixed sand and cobble. There were several people out on the beach, and it is sign-posted as a dog free beach. Owing to this several dog walkers confined themselves to the promenade outside the beach railings. There are some excellent views of the castle, and of the mountains in the other direction. We stopped here on two occasions with very differing weather, on one day blowy with people in Wellies and jackets, and the other sunnier with more people dressed in beachwear. There is pay and display parking, though blue badge parking is free. We parked up and spent time just watching the sea, and surrounds.

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Blowy Day On The Beach

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View of Castle from the beach

Criccieth Castle dominates the town and is a great landmark. It can be seen from much of the town, and there are especially good views of it from the beach, and on the castle hill itself. While it is not as grand as Conwy or Caernarfon, it is still an impressive size considering the size of the town. There is a bit of a climb to reach it, so we settled on exterior views, but it was still a must see.

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Criccieth Castle

In the nearby village of Llanystumdwy is the Llyod George Museum.  The museum has a relatively late opening time, so we were much to early to go in, and had a full schedule for the day. That said we viewed the grounds from outside, and got a few photos. This cottage is really important historically, and I hope to someday be able to return to learn more of the great PM’s story.

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Back in Criccieth we found Cadwaladers Ice Cream Shop.  We stopped in to try a few scoops and were glad we did. After all what is the seaside without ice cream? But this is no ordinary ice cream. We had a scoop of custard which was the flavour of true custard, not just a hint. The Turkish Delight was bursting with yumminess as well. The pistachio was also goo, but lacked the explosive good flavour of the other two, but was still one of the better ones I have had.

Criccieth is small, but has lots to offer both in local attractions and in places to be reached from it. It is worth the visit.

Padre

Crab and Tomato Salad with Sweetcorn

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We were at Cromer over the weekend, and Cromer is the place for British North Sea  crab. We found a very nice fishmonger on Garden on garden Street called Davies, and bought three nice dressed crabs.  I have previously posted my recipe for crab and pasta salad. This time I went with crab and tomato with some sweetcorn thrown in for good measure.

Ingredients:

  • Dressed Crabs 2 large or 3 medium
  • Bell Pepper 1/4 small
  • Vine Ripened Tomatoes 2
  • Mayonnaise 2 Tbs
  • Spring Onions 2
  • Ground Black Pepper large pinch
  • Sweetcorn 1 ear
  • Salt to taste
  • Water for prep

Method:

Bring a medium pan of water to a boil and place the corn in it.  Boil for 3 or 4 minutes, then remove and allow corn to cool.  Dice the bell pepper and tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Remove any rough outer layers of the spring onion and dice the onions as well. Add the onion and crab meat to the bowl. Using a sharp knife cut the kernels from the cob and add to the bowl as well. Add the mayo and stir until in forms a uniform texture. Serve over a bed of lettuce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Padre

Ignoring Your Own Backyard

 

I am not talking about gardening, but rather about travel.  So many people have “bucket lists,” and make “exploring” a major feature of their holidays, but neglect the “must sees” of their own home towns.

I have students who have lived their whole lives, in or around Cambridge, but never been in King’s College Chapel. I studied in Memphis and never visited Graceland, Beale Street, or took a paddle-boat ride on the Mississippi. While I studied in London, I missed the Tower, and Madame Tussauds.  The list goes on.

Is it familiarity that breeds contempt, or is it a more simple matter of “it is close, I will get to it?”

I really think in my case it is a bit of both.  It has however led me to regret “what I missed once I moved away. This in turn has led to several cases of me “playing tourist” in towns I once lived in.  While visiting friends and family there have been some of those “Hey, can we go see the X, Y, Z” moments.

I now try to take every opportunity to see what my “backyard” has to offer.

Augustine of Hippo said, “The world is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page,” but how many of us treat that page like the local paper, skimmed and left on the coffee table?

Here is a challenge. Check Google or Tripadvisor and see if you have done the top “things to do.” The top five. Top ten, etc. Are you ignoring your own backyard?

Try to make the most of all the world, even the local.  You wont regret it.

[I would love to hear about the things you discover!]

Padre