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 United Reformed Church in Ewell

CONTACT pages

CONTACT is the name of the Ewell magazine which is published for the Church at the beginning of each month (with the exception of August and January).
From time to time items that might be of interest to a wider audience, rather than the more in-house things like flower rotas etc, will be published here too.  The Church Diary and the preachers are already published elsewhere on this web-site and they appear in CONTACT

 


Thoughts on the Festive Season

What do you want for Christmas?
I don't know what to say:
Parts of our world are so troubled and torn
And the problems will not go away.

I don't need more clothes or possessions,
And although I enjoy festive fare,
It's all too commercial and frenzied -
We're weary before we get there.

I want to see little ones' pleasure,
Their eager and wide-eyed delight.
I wish I'd a way to make it a day
When every child had such a right.

I would love a peep in the stable,
A glimpse of the new baby King,
A share of the shepherds' amazement,
The animals' low murmuring.

I do want the warmth of my loved ones:
The company of family and friends,
My church with the worship and carols
Bring joy that, thank God, never ends.

Gwyneth Smith.

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DOUBLE BUBBLE AND SEASON END FOR THE SUBURBAN GARDEN
So here we are at the end of the season and nearly at the end of another year – where does the time go!! This is a ‘double’ addition of news from the garden before we all take a break for Christmas and the New Year.
On the growth front - believe it or not we are still getting cucumbers and Jane’s roses and marigolds are still flowering – but that is about it. I have some leeks, but they aren’t’ very big and my carrots are not quite up to the nuclear size of my previous ones – but it is winter, so I mustn’t complain. Over the next couple of weeks we will be tidying everything up in the garden, emptying pots, tidying the beds and planting the last of our bulbs. The bird table is cleaned and good to go and the lawnmower has been put away for the last time. We are ready for winter!!
Plans for next year include, Jane moving her hosta bed, I have to rebuild some of my raised beds and I plan to dig up some more of our grass and create a larger growing area. We are planning to try and grow beetroot and parsnips next year along with all the other things we usually grow. Jane wants to plant a couple of hydrangea bushes and is already planning her poppy bed.
It has once again been a very productive and happy year in the suburban garden and hopefully next year we will come and meet you all and talk to you about what is happening!! But we can’t leave it there – before we go Jane and I thought we would share one of our favourite winter Saturday lunch time recipes with you – remember my other passion is cooking!!
So here is my Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup (for 2 people) ……………………………..
· Heat your oven to 220 or gas mark 7 – peel and chop 250gms of sweet potatoes and 150gms of carrots. Put onto a baking tray, drizzle with oil and roast in the oven for about 25mins.
· Meanwhile, finely chop 1 onion and fry over a low heat until soft. Add 1 crushed garlic clove and stir for 1 minute.
· Add 500mls of veg stock. Simmer for 10 mins and set aside.
· Once the roast veg are done, leave them to cool a little, put in the saucepan with the stock and use a blender and ‘blitz’ until smooth.
· For added luxury stir in 50mls of crème fraiche and reheat until hot.
· Serve in bowls, season to taste and accompany with crusty bread
………………………………….. ENJOY!!
Jane and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year and we will see you all again in 2018!! Jane & Kyle.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

CHRISTMAS TREES
“Aren’t the trees lovely?” we say to each other,
“We could just stand here and gaze!”
Each Christmas tree has a lesson to teach us,
Pointing to God and God’s grace.

Seek out a message in each of the branches,
Each of them glossy and green,
Life never fading, life never dying,
The promise of God can be seen.

Seek out a message as each of the light strings
Spills brightness through window and door.
Light that came into our world that first Christmas,
Light that will shine every more.

Seek out the message in each decoration,
Butterflies, flowers and toys,
Think of the hands that chose them and placed them,
Working to bring Christmas joys.

Think about human hands working with God’s hands,
Bringing us beauty and joy,
Think of the Christ child, snug in the manger,
Holy and human, dear boy.

“Aren’t the trees lovely?” we say to each other,
“We could just stand here and gaze!”
Look closer – find beauty, find love and find wonder,
the truth of God’s ways. Barbara.


CARIBBEAN CAPERS
I thought readers of Contact might be interested to hear about the trips Jean Hensman and I made to some of the Caribbean islands during our recent Caribbean cruise. There were two islands on our original itinerary that we weren’t in fact able to visit because they had been absolutely devastated by the recent typhoons. They were the islands of St. Maarten and Tortola, and we felt so sorry for the people living there who had lost their homes and businesses, and of course the money they would have earned from us as tourists if we had been able to visit. Most of the islands see tourism as their main source of income, so cancelled visits from cruise ships only adds to their misery.

Our first visit was to the island of Grenada, and we had a lovely day. Once we got away from the port, the countryside was beautiful, very lush and green, with cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg and banana trees in the fields along the road. We visited a nutmeg processing plant, and discovered that the spice, mace, is actually part of the nutmeg, the outer casing. Nutmegs are sent from Grenada all over the world, and we saw them from the time they arrive at the factory to the time they are put into hessian sacks and labelled ready for export. We then drove into the mountains, and visited Grand Etang. Grand Etang means big lake, and the lake is in the crater of an extinct volcano, and set in the midst of tropical rainforest.

Our next stop was at Mayreau, but we decided to stay on board, and have a quiet day, because going ashore would involve a wobbly pontoon and a transfer by tender, and neither of us fancied that.
Our next visit which was to the island of Guadeloupe is the setting for the television series, Death in Paradise, and we saw various places that appear in the programme, including the beach, the police-station, and the bar, all in the village of Deshaies. We also heard that a fourth series will be filmed next January, which was good news for fans of the programme, including me and Jean.

The highlight of the visit to Guadeloupe was the Jardin Botanique, the botanical gardens, which has the best collection of tropical flowers and plants in the whole of the Caribbean. Our guide was so knowledgeable about the medicinal uses of the various plants, which would have been vital for the people of Guadeloupe before the arrival of modern medicines. I think they still preferred some of their herbal medicines to the modern equivalents.
The next visit was to Antigua – all these places that I’d heard about but never imagined I would visit! We drove high into the hills, and visited the site of two forts, one of which had been the lookout and barracks for the First West India Regiment, and the other was called Shirley Heights, and was the main fortification for the British fleet, and had a marvellous view all the way up the coast of Antigua. final visit on that trip was to Nelson’s Dockyard, the last remaining Georgian dockyard still in use today. There were some magnificent private boats anchored in the harbour, you could imagine them belonging to rich Russian oligarchs, very different from the vessels that would W    have tied up there in Nelson’s day.

We had a very different experience when we visited St. Kitts, and one that we’d both been looking forward to. went to a small church on the island, which is dedicated to an exhibition about the hymn-writer John Newton. His name is well-known as the writer of the beautiful hymn, Amazing Grace, but many people don’t realise that he worked on the slave ships, bringing African slaves to work on the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. It was on the island of St. Kitts that he came to understand the error of his ways, and when he returned to England he became a and in fact campaigned for the abolition of slavery with the likes of William Wilberforce. Afterwards we visited a batik factory, and saw the lovely articles that are made from this very special fabric. Jean bought a really beautiful beach cover-up. That’s in preparation for her next adventure – a visit to her daughter in Perth, Australia, in December.
our visits so far had been just for a morning, but our visit to Martinique was for a whole day. It was one of our favourite trips, and not just because we went to a rum factory! We were talked through the whole process of rum making, and there was an opportunity try various different rums. I declined, but Jean had a go, and then bought some rum as a present for her son.
We then drove to the village of Morne Rouge for a typical Caribbean lunch. Our guide said she wouldn’t tell us what we had eaten until after the meal, which was a bit off-putting, but the meal was delicious, apart from a slice of a hard grey vegetable, which I really couldn’t think was edible. I think Jean left hers too.
The journey continued to the village of Saint Pierre, which was a thriving port and commercial centre until 1902, when a terrible volcanic eruption from Mount Pelee, killed 30,000 residents. One of the few survivors was a prisoner, who was locked in the Saint Pierre jail and was rescued by a search party looking for survivors. He was badly burned survived, and finally died of yellow fever having lived a further 29 years. Very few people live in Saint Pierre now, and the whole village has a sad, run-down feel. On the way back to our ship we stopped at the place where Christopher Columbus first set foot in 1502, and where Gaugin lived and painted some of his most beautiful canvases.
ship’s next stop was St. Lucia, and we hadn’t booked a tour, but we went ashore for a while under our own steam. It was here that we saw the funniest signpost. It wasn’t very big, and was under some palm trees, so we went closer to have a look, and the sign actually said don’t come too close – beware of falling cocoanuts.
last visit ashore was on the small island if Bequia, which I’d never heard of. We drove to a high point on the island where we had a wonderful view in every direction of the string of Grenadine Islands and the Caribbean sea. There was a sad story attached to one of the islands. Five thousand rebellious slaves were abandoned there, with very little food and water. Three thousand of them died, and the rest were sent to exile in South America. In fact they flourished there, but each year they return to the island where so many of their ancestors died, and share food and songs and celebrations. At this point three of the Bequian tour guides broke into song, singing us one of the traditional songs of the island, and that felt very special. We then visited the Old Hegg Turtle sanctuary. Orton King, the owner of the sanctuary, was originally a skin-diving fisherman, but since his retirement in 1995 he has dedicated
life to providing a nursery for young Hawksbill turtles. He collects them from the beach as soon as they hatch from their eggs, and looks after them until they are strong enough to fend for themselves. The turtles we saw ranged from about two inches long to probably about two feet across, and Mr. Orton feeds the small ones on tuna flakes that he has to buy, but the larger ones are fed on fish caught in the sea around the island. I think the combination of the beautiful views, the lovely singing and the darling baby turtles made t my favourite out of all our trips.
together was travelled for 2,243 nautical miles, and the temperature was never below 28 degrees, which is 82 degrees, and went up to 90 degrees on several days. I hope I’ve given you a flavour of a once in a lifetime experience, visiting an area of the world that was completely new to me and absolutely fascinating.
Barbara Pearson.