Celebration of Life


Today we held the memorial service and celebration of life of my wife, Dianne.  Pastor Vince fulfilled all of Dianne’s wishes as how she would have liked to have been remembered, and Pastor Joe and the worship team really touched my heart with their singing.  Readings by sisters Amba and Claire were exactly how Dianne had pictured it, and Amba’s singing of Revelation Song was awesome.   Love was shown to me and Dianne by so many today, from food being prepared, to the arranging of the service, to the wonderful testimonies of so many friends.  Thank you everyone.

Those gathered were a testimony to Dianne.  Christian, non-Christians, members of singing and drama societies, Toastmasters, family members, former students, and brothers and sisters in Christ.  Dianne touched so many.

A gathering together-

To reflect on a life –

Such varied relations –

That defined my wife


Stories of  love and compassion

Moments shared – retold

Her mark was made

Her memories we hold


A lady of music,

Of humour and of wit

Yet, her faith above all

Never counterfeit


We’ve said our farewells

A few shed a tear

But we’ll meet again

On that I am clear

Thank you again everyone who came to share your love of Dianne.  You were all precious to her, and I hope to see each of you personally in the near future.





Her Request


In writing today I honour her,

It is the thing she said was to be done,

I am to continue to pen the thoughts of my heart

Even though she is gone


She worried so on what I would do –

Would I simply drift away?

Neglecting myself,  pushing all aside –

She told me to keep writing anyway


So though my heart is broken,

My mind only numb,

I have penned this first postmortem poem

It is the thing she said was to be done


Maybe I will be stronger now,

In my effort her wish to fulfill

I have focused on a purpose

In so doing she’s with me still




Thank you Dianne for loving me so much that you planned for everything.  I love you too.







The Girl I Never Knew


photo: East Anglian Daily Times


The Girl I Never Knew

I never knew you,

And now I never will,

Your life ended all too early,

On the road where you were killed


You were missed and mourned for,

This fact is clear and plain,

By the memorial those who loved you,

Made as a testament of their pain


Though I never met you,

I still know your smile and eyes,

From the happy image of you,

At the place where you did die


From your shrine by the roadside,

You greeted me each day,

Till some in power removed it,

Now you’re gone from my way


The shrine like you has passed away

Gone as you – in a single night

For the girl I never knew,

This memorial to you, I write


Several months ago I was late to the college as the main route I travel had been blocked because of a serious accident in the night.   I later learned it was a single vehicle accident where a young woman in her twenties had died.   I do not to this day know the circumstances of the crash nor even her name.  Her friends and family however erected a memorial shrine to her with flowers, and a laminated photograph of her on the signpost she had collided with.

A few months later I was angered by the Highways Agency when they removed the shrine to conduct “essential repairs” to the railings and sign post on which she had died.   I do sincerely feel a sense of loss by the death of this young woman, and by the destruction of her physical memorial.  I hope my words are a fitting tribute, that may last longer to memorialise her.


Further to this since first written.  The young woman Lauren Danks, aged 22, was run off the road by a drunk driver traveling at 124 mph.

Also since the writing of the poem, her family has reestablished the memorial to her on the new signpost.   I hope that her loved ones will in time find some measure of peace, though I too have lost a daughter of the same age, and know life is never the same.  Out of respect to the family I delayed posting the poem until it was seen by her parents.  I have had some moving correspondence from her father, and now I share it with you.



On Remembrance


                                          On Remembrance

Tins rattled before our face,

Reminding us to buy,

A poppy red to remember them,

The men and w’m, who fought and died


We who served – do remember them,

and not just upon one day,

Their faces printed in our minds 

Forever there to stay


It’s more than poppies, flags, and horns 

our remembrance requires no prompts, 

For we who’ve served,  it’s part of us

shaped in deserts, seas, and swamps


It is right and good to remember them –

Those who served along our side

As years go on we’ll honour them –

those who fought and died




In honour and remembrance of HM3 David Worley (USN) [Beirut 1983] and Sgt. Patrick R. Kwiatkowski (USMC) [El Salvador 1985]

In the Steps of the USAAF


East Anglia is still a place where the presence of American air power can be felt. The bases at Mildenhall, Lakenheath, and Feltwell are however just an echo of the American relationship with the area.

Norfolk has a number of reminders of the U S Army Air Forces’ links to the East of England.

Thetford and East Wretham’s airfield was originally used by Czech and British bomber units, but with the arrival of the Americans it was transformed into a fighter base for the 359th Fighter Group flying initially Thunderbolts, and later Mustangs from the site.

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Memorial in Thetford

Not far away is the present British Army Bodney Camp, which among its roles is a regimental training ground for The Household Cavalry. During WW2 it was designated as RAF Bodney, and it was home of the USSAF’s 352nd Fighter Group.  This unit too used Thunderbolts and later Mustangs (the later given the unit identifier of blue noses and upper cowls).

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Bodney Memorial

Continuing towards Norwich come to Watton. Watton was the base for 25th Bombardment Group. While primarily a reconnaissance unit, this outfit flew B-17 Fortresses and later B-24 Liberators.

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Memorial on HMP site

At Hingham a little closer to Norwich is the memorial for the 452nd Bombardment Group. The unit had been stationed at the nearby Deopham Green base and was a heavy bomber unit flying B-17s. Members of this group were awarded 2 Congressional Medals of Honor.

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Hingham Memorial

Deopham its self has the remains of the airfield (now mostly agricultural) and a memorial of its own.

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Deopham Green

On a return journey from Norwich towards Thetford along the A11, you can find Snetterton Circuit which is a motor racing venue today.  During the war it was home of the 96th Bombardment Group flying B-17s.

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Snetterton Memorial

These are not the only Norfolk stations, but a handful I discovered on the memorial trail of the USAAF in Norfolk.  As American Veteran’s Day and British Remembrance Sunday approach, it is right for us to remember the sacrifice of those who served.



Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

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Today is the 150th American Memorial Day. It was established in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War to remember those who died in service to their country. While it began as a Civil War memorial, it has come to remember all of the service people who gave their lives.

At Madingley near Cambridge, England there is an American War Cemetery which largely is the resting place and memorial for those who died in the UK, the Atlantic, or who were missing in operations over the sea or over the continent. There are 3,812 graves of the war dead (including Joe Kennedy, Jr), and the names of 5,127 missing.

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Missing in Action

The lay out is similar to many period American War Cemeteries, with the white crosses and Stars of David in neat rows, and well maintained grounds.  There is a chapel, and a visitor centre as well.

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Along the wall of the missing there are statues depicting the Army, the Air Corps (Force), Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines.

This is a solemn place to visit, but very moving.

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Marine Corps MIAs

On this Memorial Day we can remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and reflect on what it means to serve.




Ana’s Strawberry Indulgence (Milk -Shake)


Photo source: Wikipedia

When my late daughter was ill she had an incredible craving for “the perfect milkshake.”  It became a dad and daughter activity for us to search a three county area for this illusive confection.  We found some very nice ones at some Norfolk coast ice cream parlours, and some others which nearly made the standard at various themed diners in Cambridge and Suffolk.  But none assuaged her craving.

In the end, I began to attempt through trial and error to make her what she desired, myself.  I started with various ingredients, and over time tweaked, and re-tweaked until the following recipe came about.


  • Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream 3 scoops
  • Cornish Clotted Cream Ice Cream 3 scoops
  • Double Cream 200 ml
  • Full Cream Milk 100 ml
  • Eggs 2
  • Vanilla Essence splash
  • Strawberries 5
  • Strawberry Preserves 2 Tbs (good quality)


Separate the eggs and whip the whites until beginning to stiffen. Put cream and vanilla into a blender and blitz for a few seconds, add the ice cream and blitz again until semi-smooth.  Add the milk, berries, preserves, and egg whites and blend until smooth.

I have added the yolks some of the time to make a richer drink, when this was done it was added at the cream and vanilla stage.

Serve in a large glass.


[This recipe is posted in tribute to Ana who passed peacefully in her sleep on 17 April 2014.]

Whirlwind Visit to Oslo

Marco Polo Oslo

Marco Polo in Oslo

A while back, my wife and I made a whirlwind visit to Oslo in Norway.  We had arrived on the MS Marco Polo before dawn, and were able to make our way into the city as the sun rose.  I spent a half and hour or so taking in the port and Akershus Fortress before heading into town.

Akershus Fortress at Dawn

Fortress on a Misty Dawn

The fortress is impressive, and as we were moored in its shadow it allowed some great external views before it opened to the public for the day. At the foot of the fortress is a memorial to Norway’s Holocaust victims. I have posted on these in the past.

Holocaust Memorial 2

Holocaust Memorial


A monument to the Norwegian Navy is also in the area.

Norwegian Navy Memorial 1

Naval Memorial

I passed by the Kongens Gate and headed as is our family practice to hard Rock Cafe.  This is very close to the National Theatre (which a a beautiful building in its own right), and is very convenient to the central government buildings.

We arrived on the day of a state visit by the prime minister/president(?)  of India to Norway.  The entire city centre was decked with Norwegian and Indian flags.  There were some security cordons in place, and it did briefly limit our (my wife and myself) access to the main thoroughfare.  To kill a few moments after Hard Rock and while waiting for the road to clear, we stepped into the tourist information centre.  We looked around and then departed out a side door rather than the main entrance, just in time to come within metres of the royal car with the smiling queen and Indian officials.  We couldn’t have planned that one.

Hard Rock View of State Visit Route

State Visit

After our visit to the centre, I headed to the last monument of this excursion, The Scandinavian Star Memorial.

Scandinavian Star Memorial

Scandinavian Star Memorial

On the 7th of April 1990, a fire broke out on the Scandinavian Star.  As it spread the stairwells became chimneys and the fire became even more intense.  Attempts to cut off the fire only served to spread it, and in the end 159 people died.  The memorial remembers the victims of this tragedy.  Another memorial is the fact that the disaster led to the reworking of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

As we only had a morning to take in Oslo, we were very limited in our sites.  It is definitely a place to return to.


Remembrance Sunday


At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918 the guns fell silent.  In their wake over 10,000,000 combatants, and a nearly equal number of civilians lay dead.  It is remembrance of these, the fallen, that this day, the Sunday nearest the anniversary date has been set aside.  This is right and fitting.

But might I suggest to you that today is remembrance day, because it is a Sunday? In the book of Exodus, God had laid down a commandment that His people, Israel, “remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy.”  This is one of the central mitzvots, and the fourth of the Ten Commandments.  But the events of the Passover in the beginning of the 3rd decade of the Common Era, had an impact which shook both Heaven and Earth.  Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, died, and was buried.  But on the third day (the Sunday) He arose from the grave, and ushered in a new covenant.

Because of this His people began to keep the Lord’s Day “holy.” “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread,” Luke records in Acts 20:7.  Paul expands on this, in I Corinthians 11:23-26, “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes [italics mine].”


Jesus said, whenever you eat these symbols, do in “My memory.”  Each and every Lord’s day, is a remembrance Sunday!  We collectively come together to remember His sacrifice, in the bread and the “fruit of the vine.”

In Luke 24, Cleopas and his companion encounter the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The carry out a conversation with Him about the events of His own death, but throughout they do not recognise Him. Then in verse 28 and following,  “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.  But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.   They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”

The breaking of the bread in remembrance of Jesus is an opportunity for us to open our eyes to Him.  It is a time for us to focus on “Him crucified,” but more importantly on “He who is risen.”  Let us seek that focus, and make every Sunday, a “Son-day.”



A Visit to St Edmundsbury Abbey and Gardens


Central Garden

The Abbey of St Edmundsbury was one of the richest in England, before the Reformation, and subsequent dissolution of monastic lands.  It was the burial place of most of the remains of the Anglo-Saxon King Edmund (some relics were at the Ely Cathedral) and was an important pilgrimage site.

The fortunes of this grand house turned to the worse with Henry VIII’s taking control of the church in England.  Some reports of even Henry and Cromwell’s commissioners spoke of how well the nunnery (at least) was run, but in the end Bury’s Abbey was destroyed.

Today the ruins of the monastery are owned by English Heritage, but the site is managed and maintained by the local council in Bury St Edmunds.  The Abbey Gate is a wonderful structure, and impressive for its seeming might (not that it stopped the abbey’s destruction), and the stone hearts of the monastic buildings make a bleak backdrop to some really wonderfully maintained gardens.


Abbey Gate


The central garden is bright, and secondary enclosures include a “Japanese” themed garden with a fish pond and fountains.  There is also a Holocaust Memorial Garden with a teardrop shaped sculpture. And there is a large play area near the Watergate (riverside).


“Japanese” Garden

The St Edmundsbury Cathedral and St Mary’s Church are on site, and show the continued spiritual life of this place.


Holocaust Memorial Garden

This is a place of memorial as well.  The gardens hold a monument to the 17 Protestant martyrs who were executed in Bury St Edmunds on the orders of Queen Mary I.  Many of whom were burnt at the stake.  In addition, the Holocaust Memorial serves a dual function, as it also commemorates the massacre of 57 Jewish residents of Bury on Palm Sunday 1190.

The Angel Hotel (mentioned in Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers overlooks the Abbey gate, and is said to be built in part of the stone of the Abbey.  It is flanked by two very good cafes as well.


Abbey Ruins

All in all this is a beautiful and historic destination which offers great photo opportunities, ans a taste of history and of faith.