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Guernsey Gazette 2015

(c) 2015 Emily A Le Tocq

(c) 2015 Emily A Le Tocq

 

So…

If last year was the Bumper Edition then this year may well perhaps turn out to be the Brief Brief.

Sorry. Tempus really does seem to Fugit, as I have noted elsewhere on this blog, especially at this time of the year, so all good intentions of producing this annual communiqué during a spare moment in early December have now dissipated. Indeed that spare moment (on Sunday 6 December, between 02:34-02.36 AM) sadly had to be assigned to marginally more important matters of state (catching some shut-eye) and now having made it to sunny Sussex – where we are celebrating Christmas for the first time in over 25 years in the UK with Judith’s family (and yes, it is uncommonly warm, although those friends reading this in the southern hemisphere may disagree that 12°C qualifies as warm) – I find my current agenda replete with things like weddings, shopping, driving, buying presents, wrapping presents, eating, drinking, shopping, drinking, wrapping presents, playing the piano a little, checking emails very occasionally (thanks to poor wifi), eating, shopping, driving, buying presents, eating, wrapping presents, catching the odd train, shopping, eating and drinking. Oh, and shopping. And did I mention buying presents. Also wrapping them. And shopping.

Do you get my point?

However I did take note of some highlights from this year in the form of photos and so, with your indulgence, forbearance and absolution we intend to use these as a means of sending you a brief pictorial Gazette Guide to the Year that was 2015 for us Le Tocqs.

In no particular order, here we go…

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In a world which seems more unstable and uncertain at the end of 2015 than at the beginning, it seems I spent too many occasions writing in books of condolence and sending messages of solidarity and sympathy to people who had suffered at the hands of man’s inhumanity to man. On a sobering note, here’s hoping 2016 will buck this trend. Here, I’m signing the book of condolence at the French Embassy in London after the Charlie-Hebdo attacks in January.

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Many inter-governmental agreements signed this year. This historic one was signed in Cherbourg between all Channel Islands (Iles Anglo-Normandes), the French region of Normandie and the Département de la Manche (County nearest the islands).

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Really privileged to visit Washington DC in February and to attend the National Prayer Breakfast at which President Obama was one of the key speakers. With increasing religious tensions in the world such initiatives which, whilst hosted by followers of Jesus, gather from a wide religious and political spectrum, are proving to be extremely important.

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Whilst we were in the USA in February we paid a short visit to our dear friends Gareth and Raye Forsey who have recently moved from Connecticut to near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We arrived to around 12 inches of snow; a similar amount fell over the weekend we were there, making travel quite, er, eventful! A 2 hour flight turned into a 10 hour train journey! The welcome from the Forseys, Poes, Ashbys nevertheless was as warm as ever!

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A very white White House viewed from one of our meetings in DC

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We’ve certainly had some incredible weather this year: this is Guernsey’s St Saviour’s Reservoir in February

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We’ve had some fabulous friends to stay this year! Really enjoyed a weekend with Nick and Sue Moyler at the end of February. Nick also has excellent taste in headwear.

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I met this charming senior citizen during a visit to London for a conference on civil rights and liberties, it being the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. She seemed to know quite a bit about Guernsey. Really nice digs too.

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I like a balanced argument. Evidence for the positives of global warming: a day on Cobo beach, early March.

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Made several trips to the classy city of Edinburgh this year, all far too short, as it’s full of so much to see. Best visit was probably when Judith and I were invited to attend the Royal Military Tattoo in August courtesy of the Royal Navy, which was just splendid and something we will remember for a long while.

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“Sarnia Cherie” – Sarnia Dear, is Guernsey’s national anthem. Grace kindly embroidered the first verse for me in Guernsey French which now hangs in my office.

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Emily – now in the second year of her degree course at Bournemouth Arts University – paid a few visits home to spend some time with her old folk… and to see the cats! Here she is with Chanel, who as usual has found another naughty place to sleep in.

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Un vrai ami des Iles Anglo-Normandes, et surtout de Guernesey et de moi-même, Jean-Francois Le Grand, Senateur et Président, a pris sa retraite cette année. Néanmoins, je prévois que nous allons nous rencontrer souvent.

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Wouldn’t be worth much without a few Cobo sunsets thrown in eh?

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Judith and I acting suitably silly in support of Rob, the Guernsey Weatherfox, in the great Guernsey Dancefloor Challenge

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Here’s another Cobo sunset…

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Lucy and Luke have had a good year job-wise, both moving to work for companies and in teams which they really love and find rewarding (in more ways than one). The frustrating hunt for a home of their own continues, but in the meantime they have entertained and hosted loads of friends from all over and found plenty to do with their multiple extra-curricular interests. Here is Luke looking rather canonical.

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Chanel positioning herself for Eine Kleine Kat Mewsik (she prefers Mozart to Bach…)

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When you get really into the countryside in Guernsey (‘to the West’ that is) you meet with helpful road signs like this one.

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Brussels has been much on the agenda politically this year. Although Guernsey is not fully part of the EU, we have many bilateral agreements and are affected by the UK’s decision-making. Brussels is a great and grand city and is always a pleasure to visit.

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Jersey & Guernsey have a representative office in Brussels which is becoming increasingly important for hosting conferences and meetings to improve our relationship with member states of the EU.

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It was a historic year for so many reasons; the top one for the Channel Islands was almost definitely the 70th anniversary of Liberation from Nazi occupation. The weekend of May 9th (Guernsey’s Liberation Day) was filled with commemorative and celebratory events, amongst which was a Royal visit from Sophie, Countess of Wessex

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It was great to accompany the Duchess as she met some of the older generation who were alive during the war years. I introduced her to my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Stan (now 90 years old) “Hello Uncle!” she quipped!

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Grandad, Peter – Judith’s Dad – celebrated his 78th birthday in Guernsey this year (here’s Emily presenting him with a special cake). Unfortunately, it’s not been a great year for Peter. He spent several weeks in hospital over the summer with a failing heart condition and other complications. Judith spent a proportion of her annual leave visiting him or helping to care for him at his home along with her brother Ian especially. As I write he is in hospital again, but we are hopeful he will be allowed to be with us for Christmas day itself.

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The lovely lady Le Tocq all dressed up to meet the Countess. Her hat (couresty of Ollie & Grace’s wedding last year) makes ‘deux bises’ rather tricky. However you can pick up Sky News very well.

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This year saw the rebadging of our Cadets and reserves as the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, the previous official name of the Guernsey Militia pre-disbanding in the 1930s.

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Guernsey’s Lieutenant Governor Air Marshall Peter Walker – seen here at the inception of the RGLI – sadly passed away suddenly in September. He was well loved locally and still had a year to serve in office.

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Mont Saint Michel was the fabulous backdrop for a CI-French conference on cooperation. It will also serve as the start for the 2016 Tour de France!

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Well used to being interviewed nowadays for various media. Here’s a selfie with Richard at Island FM.

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We’re very grateful to have three such delightful and different daughters! Here’s a pic of a proud Dad!

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The Island Games (a sporting event which brings together dozens of island communities from all over the globe) was held in Jersey this year. We spent a fun weekend there staying with our great friends Ian & Dionne Gorst (Ian is Jersey’s Chief Minister) both of us being a tad competitive of course!

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In July Church on the Rock hosted a conference which also brought together friends from our closest Newfrontiers and New Ground church in Rennes, France! Here are Henk and Eunee, part of the New Ground team, from the Netherlands, speaking at the event.

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Lots of Ambassadorial visits and hosting this year. This is a meeting with the Ambassador at South Africa House London.

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Two of my favourite girls

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We had a glorious summer this year and whilst we spent a couple of weeks of it in la belle France, we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful island, and never need much of an excuse to dine watching the sun go down at Cobo. Did I mention the sunsets…?

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We celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary in Nimes courtesy of some very kind friends.

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Another anniversary this year was marked by the unveiling of this dramatic sculpture commemorating the 140+ allied air servicemen who died in action in Bailiwick of Guernsey waters and whose bodies have been never recovered.

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The Battle of Britain week was celebrated in Guernsey as usual this year with a fabulous air display including the Red Arrows, seen here from Castle Cornet, St Peter Port

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One of the significant highlights of the year must beyond all doubt be “Judith’s Great Adventure” or as we sometimes refer to it “Judith Pulls It Off”. Those of you who know Judith well are aware of her “I don’t do adventure” stance on anything more exciting than a merry-go-round. Even that… well, say no more. Strangely therefore, when I picked her up from work during Battle of Britain week and said “I’ve been invited to go for a spin in a Sea King chopper, you can come too” expecting that the latter half of this phrase would be ignored or dismissed with quick laugh, you can imagine my surprise when Judith replied with “Okay”. So it was that this surreal experience continued with the Royal Marine in charge stating “You’re going to be dangling your legs outside over the edge – is that okay with you?” with Judith again replying “Okay”. So here’s the photographic evidence. PS. Maybe the hunky young Marine helped…

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Said Sea King helicopter, just back from Afghanistan, with bullet holes to prove it

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Judith’s feet (on left). Not sure what happened to her shoes!

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Said feet dangling over Perelle on the West Coast. Gives a new meaning to “Island Tour”

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Towards the end of the year we found ourselves yet again with Paris in our thoughts and prayers

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With Sir Lockwood Smith, New Zealand High Commissioner

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Getting a bird’s eye view over Guernsey along with a press reporter as I venture up via a crane to put a star on Guernsey’s Tree of Joy – Europe’s tallest illuminated Christmas tree

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With other heads of Government and Ministers at the British-Irish Council in London

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2016 saw the first Bailiwick of Guernsey Council which brought together political leaders from Sark, Alderney and Guernsey to discuss matters of mutual concern.

So, apart from that… we also enjoyed a week’s break in Jamaica early on in the year (Judith and me that is!) We managed to camp for the church weekend (along with two thousand others) at Ashburnham Place, Sussex, at the end of August. To be fair to Judith, this was also quite a feat for her, as “Judith doesn’t do camping”  was also a family maxim. Judith moved slightly… in terms of her job that is, and now works for the ENT department at the MSG (Ear, Nose and Throat consultants at Guernsey’s Medical Specialist Group for those of you who struggle with TLAs as I do) (Three Letter Acronyms, that is). I also managed to fit in lunch with the judges at the Old Bailey, an operation on my toe, and a trip to Dublin’s fair city.

Therefore, without further ado… there it is, briefly, for 2015. Merry Christmas and  a Happy New Year to you all!

Guernsey Gazette 2014

Last Christmas - 2013 - the family as it was then out for a brisk walk

Last Christmas – 2013 – the family as it was then out for a brisk walk

Top of your Christmas wish-list!

As Good as a Golden Guernsey Cow Pie – Top of your Christmas wish-list!

Pardonnez-nous, Entschuldigung, triste, scusate, συγνώμη, 遺憾, извините, सॉरी, מצטער, desculpe, آسف, my bad. There is just no easy way around this. Profuse apologies; we seemed to have skipped a year. 2013 I think. Just no idea where those 12 months went to. Or the 24 really. Jersey possibly, they seem to be getting overpopulated recently. And yes, I know, for those of you who have been avid followers of the Gazette since the last century, missing an annual GG has occurred before at some point, although we can’t quite remember when. We do recall however that on that occasion we had excuses such as children to bath and put to bed, elderly parents to care for, houses to renovate, cars to repair, Agas to relight, animals to feed and tend to, new children to conceive, etc., etc. However on this occasion we cannot for the life of us think of any excuse.

It has been, it would inevitably seem, a rather dull and uneventful 24 months since the last missive was published. In brief, we’ve eaten, worked and slept a little, from time to time. Here we are two Christmases on and we can only think of a handful of things that are perhaps worthy of reporting. So here goes any how.

Home Alone…

Our youngest and favourite unmarried daughter Emilia Abigalia (she’s rather academically upwardly mobile now so Latin sounds more appropriate) flew the Feugré Villa aerie in September 2013 to take up a University perch in Bournemouth, where she spent the last twelve months successfully completing an Arts Foundation course enabling her to begin a Bachelor of Arts degree course in Visual Communication this term. She’s always been rather good at communicating visually we think, so this it is rather apt that modern academia have invented a graduation programme for her.

Emily and the Art of Visual Communication

She seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, has made a multitude of new friends and got used to travelling either by plane, train or boat back and forth in the process.

So apart from academic holidays (i.e. the majority of the year) we were therefore left with Grace chez nous during the latter part of 2013 and half of 2014. Since which time Feugré Villa has become once again the quiet domain and exclusive residence of Judith and Jon. This phenomenon occurred because in 2013 Mr Oliver Benjamin Smith had officially asked Jon for our daughter Grace’s hand in marriage. As you might expect quite a lot was attached to that hand – for example: an arm, body, various other limbs, a head, a very loud voice, gallbladder, liver, intestines, a kindly heart along with some attitude, amongst other things – all of which we, as parents, decided it would be selfish and unfair to keep at home in view of the circumstances.

Therefore, after quite a wet week, on a spring Saturday in May this year, the sun decided to put his hat on just as we left the church ceremony as we headed to the field and a grand marquee for a glorious afternoon tea and evening dance to celebrate Le Mariage de M. & Mme. Smith. We are really proud of our new son-in-law Ollie, just as we are of our old son-in-law Luke, both of whom we love spending time with and laughing excessively, normally about something either Judith or Lucy has said or done. Ollie and Grace have bought a bijou two-bed Victorian maisonette in a beautifully tranquil canton of St Peter Port, just a few minutes walk from where they both work. Here are a few photos from the day… [click on one to open the gallery]

Lucy and Luke moved from the quaint cottage they were renting to spend a few

Lucy and Luke

Luke and Lucy

weeks with us in Le Petit Feugré wing before moving into a family bungalow temporarily so they can save their pennies in order hopefully to purchase their own property as soon as they can. They have also both been blessed with new jobs and moved up the employment ladder in the last year or so. Lucy now works as Office Manager for Crosslane – a Property advisors & investment trust. Luke was head hunted by a creative design agency, The Potting Shed, where he apparently lives the life he’s always wanted and works hard all at the same time.

Can you tell why it is generally Lucy and Judith who end up being such a great source of family joviality?

We’ll Meet Again…

It’s also been a time of reunions and celebrations with friends and family. Judith got together in London with her old nursing pals from University College Hospital’s set 266 of way back in the 1980s. It was 30 years since they had begun training together and 20 since the last reunion! Many embarrassing stories and a few long-forgotten-and-best-kept-that-way photographs were shared. Money changed hands and the threats have now diminished. The girls had an opportunity to visit their old Hospital stomping ground as well as the brand spanking new buildings which have replaced it. No one was hurt in the process, which was just as well as in my personal experience nurses very rarely have any sticking plasters to hand. I blame the training.

2014 was the year that Judith and I celebrated our centenary. Well, double jubilees actually. That is, we both reached our 50th birthdays. Mine was in March but we decided to hold joint celebrations closer to Judith’s (December 17) as calendar conflicts arose unexpectedly earlier in the year (see below). So being the gregarious party animals and disco-divas that we are, we planned two knees-ups, one in London the last weekend in November and the other in Guernsey just a few days ago.

Judith and her brothers – could be a Woody Allen film, in more ways than one! L-R: Graham, Ian, Judith, Neil, Mark

The London festivities were diarised to coincide with a rare and unusual interstellar realignment of celestial beings; essentially Judith and her four siblings happened to be in the same continent and country all at the same time! The last occasion was some 12 years ago, so we capitalised on the rarity and came up winners when several dozen family members, including cousins and their offspring whom some of us had never met, gathered in Wimbledon to enjoy an afternoon together along with some great grub. A fun time was had by all, and we managed to get some good photos of the Berry siblings all together with their big sister as she entered her 6th decade. We also managed to produce a rather silly family video which you can view here if you dare.

Rock on the Rock

Rock on the Rock

The Guernsey jamboree took the form of an evening of cheese, wine, music and dancing and brought together around 150 of our island-based friends and family. The recently formed local party band Youthe which Luke and Ollie have formed along with three of their buddies, took the main stage for the evening (they had first starred previously on at Grace and Ollie’s wedding) and provided all the stimulus we needed for dancing the night away. For a mid evening interlude Grace on vocals, her dad on keys and our good friend Adrian on trumpet provided some festive jazz. A bottle of the vintage year – 1964 Chateau La Tour – was auctioned off (poured out in 8 separate glasses to the highest bidders!) to raise money for the Guernsey Cheshire Homes (thanks to all for nearly £1000 raised now!) Overall we had immense fun with folk brought together from the various spheres of our life – family, neighbourhood, work, politics, church, with even a couple of international friends jetting in just for the night (thanks so much Dave & Liz Holden – we know you’ll be reading this newsletter for obvious reasons!)

And Finally (Cyril)…

Of course, as many of you know, the big news is…

cue: suitably pythonesque fanfare [we saw Spamalot this year by the way - brilliant!]

cue: suitably pythonesque fanfare [we saw Spamalot this year by the way – brilliant!]

…we are now a Volvo-less family! More by accident than by design. Literally. Last time we published a GG we possessed two Volvos – a turquoise C70 cabriolet which Jon tended to drive and a 7-seater XC90 big beastie which we tended to use mainly for family off island travel, then we had a cute Peugeot 107 for Judith and a leaky old Fiat Abarth Seicento which Emily had learnt on and was still jalopying around. Three days before Grace’s wedding the XC90, which was being used quite extensively to move wedding gear and small crowds of people around, decided to give up the ghost. It just conked out up a hill and the long and the short of it was the 4th emergency service arranged to tow it away, after which we discovered it was more prudent to get rid of than fix (where have you heard that before?!) We were sad to get rid of the big fella but in the end it was probably for the best as although we loved it as a family we do not really have need for such a juggernaut any longer.

Then, a few weeks later, whilst we were still recovering from same wedding, Jon’s beloved and aged C70 was involved in a side-on collision, whilst stationary, but sadly rending the poor teenager (15 year old) coupé similarly beyond economic repair. Fortunately for Jon, who was sitting in the driver’s seat at the time at a junction, and on the side of the impact, he was able to test out and demonstrate the value and effect of Volvo’s Side-Impact-Protection-System and the cabriolet’s Roll-Over-Bars all in one go. The inside of the car looked untouched and unaltered. He could also drive it back home without any problem. The same could not be said for the other car which crashed into the Volvo however – a Ford Fiesta – although one benefit is that it would have easily fitted into a Ford Ka’s parking space afterwards with the help of a crane.

Some things never change however. We still have the beloved Aga. It has not been involved in any road traffic accidents as yet.

As a result Jon took to driving around in the rusty, leaky old Fiat for a while, as Emily had moved on to Uni. It was interesting to see the faces of people as he arrived at official functions, and especially the expressions of those he offered lifts to; they would often squeeze in to the passenger seat and then after a few minutes taking in the pink fluffy accoutrements, rugs and cushions, they would invariably say “This seat feels a little damp” and Jon would need to explain, as he passed them a pink fluffy cushion, that the sunroof leaked. Said Fiat was traded in for a nifty little black BMW 118 which Judith loves and Jon mainly drives.

We have enjoyed some great short breaks and family holidays in the last 24 months, in France,

in Florence

Florence

the family in France

the family in France

Portugal, the Canaries, Istanbul, South Africa, Italy (for the first time thanks to generous friends who own a villa near Florence). But this year in particular been marked by cancellation of planned trips away, firstly in February when we were due to visit the USA but Jon’s visa was delayed because he was apparently a PEP. To begin with we thought meant he was a Personal Equity Plan. Now of course he’s always been Judith’s Personal Equity Plan, but in this case PEP means Politically Exposed Person according to their computer records apparently.

This was quite a shock to us all and we have absolutely no idea where they got that information from, but we have since gotten over it, and hopefully so too have the US government as we are due to attempt to navigate Homeland Security again next February. Then we had to re-schedule and cut short a holiday due to a minor political event at home in Guernsey, the upshot of which resulted in Jon getting elected as the government’s new Chief Minister in March.

The rest is history as they say, but in this case, it seems to be what we are living out on a daily basis. We won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say, we lied above: life is never dull. And a large part of it now more than ever before involves representing Guernsey internationally, either away from Guernsey’s shores or by receiving visiting dignitaries and officials locally. We both count it as a privilege to do so and at the same time really enjoy regularly meeting people as diverse as Ambassadors from the far East, Ministers from the EU, Commonwealth leaders and the leaders of the UK’s devolved jurisdictions. Our close association with France in particular has involved us in numerous engagements and interactions this year including representing Guernsey at the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy, the commemoration of the start of WW1 at Westminster Abbey and the Centenary of the historic gift from the French government of the Statue of Victor Hugo where the French delegation included Victor Hugo’s great-great-grandson, also an artist and polymath comme son aïeul and, like many, someone Jon thoroughly enjoyed meeting and chatting with over dinner! People are often shocked to find in Europe today a practising follower of Jesus, let alone a church pastor leading a government. We are often a bit surprised too.  A few photos from the political year…

Naturally all this has changed our involvement with the local church, but in healthy and exciting ways. Jon remains a member of the pastoral team and we are still both involved in preaching, teaching and leadership development, as well as overseas mission through the relationship we enjoy with NewGround churches, Newfrontiers and New Wine (it would be easier if all those merged into NewFrontiersWineGround wouldn’t it?) So it’s brilliant to see a new team of younger leaders such as home-grown pastor Andy & Abi Coleman rising up around Paul Chesworth who now leads the day-to-day work of the local church and the staff team. Also this year Church on the Rock launched a new congregation in a new venue – a pub – which has really been a fun challenge!

None of us can be sure what the future holds, but we both feel so grateful for the life we lead, the family and friends we have, the fun we enjoy living in such a wonderful place.

Joy and peace be yours this Christmas!

JJ&E

Guernsey Gazette 2014 Bumper Edition

You'll be fine and dandy after reading this year's GG!

You’ll be fine and dandy after reading this year’s GG!

Coming soon… check back again to make your Christmas that extra special!

Guernsey Gazette 2012

TimeFlies1

This fast approaching Christmas of 2012 has really got me pondering: When you’re not looking where do a full twelve months just disappear to? Sorry, I’ll rephrase that for the Grammar-guerrillas out there – To where do a full twelve months disappear while you look away? Still doesn’t sound too good. Perhaps… Whence goeth a thorough twelve months wheretofore thou peerest not hither?

Anyhoo, my point being, it just seems like we were enjoying Christmas 2011, we slept and blinked a little and here we are at Christmas 2012. Is this a sign of that dreaded middle-agedness catching us up? Or maybe time is really moving faster in the 21st Century? Whatever the case we’ve skipped straight from last year’s Gazette to this year’s without my having written a blogging jot or a tittle in between. Not that I was exactly regular (so to speak) before of course, it’s just that so much has happened this year in the Le Tocq household that you would have thought Old Father Time would have maybe even chosen to slow down a tad and enjoy the view a little. Instead we’ve had a roller-coaster of a year, ups and downs both of a positive kind, where one might say, to twist the usual analogy somewhat, that the downs were certainly as exhilarating as the ups were hard work, but most certainly there were few dull horizontal planes to coast along — the pace was a constant fast and furious!

Firstly this was most assuredly the Year of the Wedding… (of Lucy & Luke, I mean, Judith & I were spliced a good 26 years ago, fear not!) Let me hunt out a photo or two… or more… (since we have a few)

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Whilst the said act of wedlock was not held until September, it’s not an inappropriate place to start our year, for it seemed at some points like the whole of the preceding 8 months were simply about preparing for this grand event. In fact, it was I think rather therapeutic for me to hunt out those photos above since now that it’s all done and dusted I was perhaps subliminally in danger of thinking I’d just dreamt it had all happened and that we might have to start again for real this coming January! [It did happen Jon, the wedding took place, she is married, it all went smoothly, now take your tablets and continue…]

And so Mrs. Luke Vidamour she now is of course. Luke and Lucy have established themselves in a lovely 18C cottage in the distant parish of St Martin’s (a good 20 minutes south from Cobo if you drive slowly). Of course The Event was held on a lovely day — the bright shining sun, helpful friends, gifted minstrels, 11C church and 21C marquee all turned up and out very nicely indeed, which considering we did not have a real Plan B (it’s all right I can tell you now) was just as well to be honest!

IMG_2844 643997_10151035763007944_1218133045_nSeriously we are so very grateful to hordes of family, friends and various other threatened passers-by before, during and after (yes, especially after!) the event as it certainly would not have been the rip roaring success it was without you. In fact it would have been a dozen of us sharing a pork pie in the church yard to be frank. Judith, our bank manager and I are supremely thankful. With a few hundred packed into St Sampson’s Church for the ceremony, a reception in a marquee for 150 at the old medieval Castel Fair Field (you can still see where the cattle were tied up for market, very apt) followed by an evening bash for double that number, all catered for in-house, so to speak, you can imagine that tensions may have been raised a little in the run up! But an army of church folk and friends made it a beautiful day to remember – weekend in fact, as we especially enjoyed catching up with family and friends from around the world the next day at a Feugré Villa BBQ.

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The glamorous Grace graduated in and from London this summer, and managed to fit in a couple of Prom performances before quitting the Big Smoke, including singing Beethoven’s 9th with Daniel Barenboim conducting (don’t feel like you need to be impressed, her Dad was and that’s all that really matters!) Here’s a BBC screen capture to prove it –

Grace singing a little Beethoven in BBC Prom, Royal Albert Hall: she's the one with the lopsided halo

Grace singing a little Beethoven in BBC Prom, Royal Albert Hall: she’s the one with the lopsided halo

Grace also managed to scoop up a super job back in Guernsey working for Alter Domus — an upcoming AIFM (Alternative Investment Fund Manager to you and me). She continues to sing in the National Youth Choir, Guernsey choirs, church bands and the shower, and formed part of the jazz entertainment at her elder sister’s Wedding Evening Do, along with her father.

Our baby, Emily (also known as Em, Ems, Emsy, The Hair, etc.) reached an incredible 18 years of age this year. It seems like only yesterday she looked like this –

emilyjoel

Little Ems a while back at the beach with long time friend Jojos (he’s the one holding his willy) [Sorry Joel, at least we haven’t mentioned your surname – hope you’re enjoying London – guess you’re back in Rennes for Christmas – love to all the Hayter family!]

and yet now she looks like this – cher1

sorry, I meant this (easy mistake) – ems2

That coming of age was not quite so frightening as her passing her driving test (for her paIMG_4091rents at least). Fortunately as expected the glamour soon wore off as she was required not only to drive the little Fiat, but also, shock, horror, fill it with fuel occasionally. In her final year at Grammar VI Form Centre now she’s a happy bunny having just received a pretty much firm offer from Bournemouth for next year. Similar to her eldest sister, she’s heading in the Photography-Arty-Designy direction.

In terms of cars, agas and other sagas, not a lot to report… oh except we’ve added a little Peugeot 107 to the mix — as Judith’s personal car of choice — she loves its nippiness, its ability to easily negotiate the little lanes without having to mount the curb (a Guernsey habit) and most of all the fact that it fits so easily into the free, 10 hr long ‘small car parking spaces’ in St Peter Port. Meanwhile Jon still likes the fact that anyone who gets in the way or even threatens to argue with him and his Volvo(s) while he’s seeking a refuelling station (every 30 minutes) simply gets flattened. The simple options are sometimes best.

Apart from that, this year has been perhaps rather uneventful. Let’s think what else I can pad this out with… umm… better consult the wife.

[noises off]

[Judith] Oh well, I suppose there was the incidental accident of Jonathan getting elected as a member of our parliament, the States of Guernsey, and now serving as Deputy Chief Minister. But of course that has not affected our lives in the slightest.

IMG_2682

The Ministers who in May 2012 formed Guernsey’s “cabinet” or Policy Council to use the official title, or ugly so-and-sos as we are often affectionately called

[Jon continues] Ah yes, how could we forget! In April Guernsey went to the polls in a General Election to elect a new 47 member Assembly and after a 4 year break (I previously served from 2000-08) a suitably sized seat (XL with XXL head room) was vacated for me. It’s been strange, having decided not to stand for office in 2008, to see how our politics has changed in those 4 years; especially given the portfolio I have been given, a large chunk of which is “external relations”, how much we as the Bailiwick of Guernsey (and indeed the Channel Islands as a whole) have to plough our own furrow internationally now (perhaps plot our own course is a better analogy for islands!) I am enjoying the ride so far, and the plotting too… There are huge challenges facing the whole of Europe, but personally my biggest challenge, and the one I love the most, is to seek to be Christ to people in this often Christ-less rudderless domain. Both Judith and I see this as part of our calling and have already begun to make good friends at home and abroad; we look forward to whatever else this new path brings. One of the things I am less happy about is being referred to as Guernsey’s equivalent to Nick Clegg. Say no more.

Judith continues to nurse part time at the Guernsey Medical Specialist Group and has done various courses in strange therapies this year, including wound care and bandaging.bandage This has entailed members of the family volunteering (even if they were seemingly asleep at the time) to be mummified in various ways as preparation for passing tests and exams. Not a pleasant experience I can assure you, although, Emily said she rather liked the sensation of her leg being bandaged. Jon played the man as usual… moaning and groaning about it. Judith has promised to unbandage it for the New Year.

Our involvement with Church on the Rock continues, but in increasingly different ways than in the past. We are still part of the senior leadership team but this year has been so exciting and fulfilling to see others, especially younger twentysomething leaders taking up roles and responsibilities, and new teams emerging coordinated and managed by Paul Chesworth who since September 2011 has been on staff as Executive Pastor. Paul and his lovely wife Liz are such a blessing to us and bring a resilience to the team which is enabling us to be more released to other things internationally.

It is a pleasure to continue to be involved with Newfrontiers, and more specifically now with Dave Holden’s nascent New Ground team as we seek to break new ground internationally and influence  many arenas especially in Europe.

And finally, talking of travel, we have enjoyed a few trips, excursions, short breaks and for Jon political visits to various familiar and unfamiliar climes, including, early on, a visit to a freezing Dinan in Brittany followed by a fun time at CenterParcs in Normandy with our great friends the Hayters; Nîmes, Avignon & Montpelier to visit dear friends who lead churches and Christian mission in the south of France; Herm (to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – well, someone’s got to); Paris in the spring; Tenerife for a few nights early summer; Portugal for a short break just the two of us to recuperate post-nuptially; Bournemouth (Ems & her Dad) to check out the Uni and be hosted by our fab friends the Thompsons; Turkey with others from the New Ground team for an international Christian convention; Amsterdam & The Hague a few weeks ago to speak at leadership and church gatherings, as well Edinburgh, Stirling, Dublin and Brussels for political stuff… not to forget Alderney & Jersey – several times for all sorts of reasons. I’m not sure why folk think we get around a lot! Our possessions sometimes stay for a little longer – Jon’s toilet bag is now returned grâce à nos ami Nîmois after deciding to stay in the Med a little longer, and Judith’s purse and Peugeot keys loved Istanbul so much they stayed there a whole two months extra to see the sights we missed in our 48 hours passing through!

That’s plenty enough for this year’s Gazette [says Judith] all that remains is for us to wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This Guernsey Gazette is published as ever with our love, and our prayers are that you also know the love of God and the peace only Jesus, the prince of the very same, can bring. May grace abound to you in 2013!

Now, for the first time we sign off as…

JJG&E

Guernsey Gazette 2011

Yummy! Just what you've been waiting for...

Hello again! Time to get that clipboard out and begin checking those boxes: Are those chestnuts roasting? Is that fire open? Tree-tops glistening? Children listening? (Yeah, like!) Days: Merry? Bright? Love-light gleaming? (Er… please explain) Snow? Mistletoe? Presents on the tree? (That’s what the lyrics actually say – On the tree. Ours are always under by the way, never tried the ‘on the tree’ idea, Health & Safety Executive might have a few words to say. Or, it’s just occurred to me that maybe they are very little titchy wee presents perhaps. Now there’s an idea.) OK let’s continue with that box ticking: Heart light? Troubles out of sight? Faithful friends dear and near? Yule-tide gay? (Ooer… let’s leave it there shall we!)

Here we go again then, Christmas eh? Seems like the last one has only just finished! Possibly this is because some shops over here started marketing Christmas ‘crap‘ first week in September (see photo),

Chocolate Santas for sale in September! And what happened to Halloween? No, don't ask!

which was only a couple of months after they had finally got exhausted the January sales of the stuff they didn’t manage to sell last year. This may mean that if global warming conspiracy theorists have their way then we may be entering into a quasi-anti-Narnia era where it’s always Christmas but never winter. Not sure which is worse. Is that what it’s like in Australia and New Zealand anyway? Answers on a post-card… no forget I wrote that… comments below please.

Actually we quite like the changing seasons generally and although being placed in the outflow of the North Atlantic Drift and thus warmed by the waters of the Gulf Stream the Channel Islands maintain a fairly temperate, mild maritime climate – frost is rare, few hibernating animals, plants which are generally annuals in Northern Europe become perennials, palm trees proliferate, high annual sunshine hours – a tax-haven and a veritable subtropical paradise I hear you think…

Summer time at Cobo: 2 min walk from our house

but don’t forget that the word Atlantic is hidden away in North Atlantic Drift!

Cobo Coast road in the winter

So despite the warm ground temperature and blooming flora and fauna nevertheless during the winter months we do get buffeted by incredible thumping, agitating, penetrating, debilitating, tempestuous, progress-defeating winds from the West and Sou-West, like the storm which is upon us now as I write, and which has succeeded in cancelling out ferry sailings to and from the UK for the past three days! Now on a day like today when you get to the top of the hill behind our house and stand (if you can!) and watch that same majestic wind pummeling the sea into shape, seeing great walls of it flung 30ft high and over the coastal defenses, chucking huge 14lb pebbles, along with flotsam and jetsam over the road and onto the roofs and into the gardens of homes on the western seaboard, feeling that same cyclonic blast sweep up the rain to send it horizontally into your face, actually then you can appreciate being alive, and the beauty of the changing the seasons.

Cobo Bay: West coast in the Spring

I love the Spring, the Autumn and the Summer, don’t misunderstand me – from that same vantage point hidden in the little pine copse at the summit of Ruette de la Tour, on a Summer’s day you can see children playing in the sand at Grandes Rocques, fishing boats bobbing for their crab-pots out by Les Grunes, Nor-West of Cobo, picnickers at Port Soif, even hear the smack of leather on willow from the cricketers on La Mare de Carteret – that’s fine and majestic also. But on a day like today you hear nothing but the scream of the wind and your own heartbeat. How wonderful to be alive. Beautiful in every season.

West coast late Autumn

So it was nevertheless a little odd for Guernsey to be gifted with not one but two dollops of snow last winter, just after the time I was writing the GG10. My father said that in his 98 years he had never seen snow before Christmas in the islands. Then in January this year we had some more. Which was entertaining enough in the UK but here in the Channel Islands we just have no real plan for snow; not even 2.5 inches of it (which was about all it amounted to at worst!) So the kids enjoyed snow days, transport came to a standstill on and off the island, everyone stayed indoors and generally one came to the conclusion that just maybe we weren’t living in the 21st Century after all.

2011 was the year we celebrated 25 years of marriage – a quarter-century of coupleness – and fittingly, thanks to the generosity of friends we were able to celebrate this with an out-of-this-world-but-very-much-still-in-it holiday at a resort aptly named Couples in Jamaica. For two weeks. Two weeks?! Just the two of you? What on earth did you do for two weeks? I again hear you think. Well the answer to that is for us to know and for you to guess. Suffice to say we feel suitably qualified to host fulfilled married life seminars for a few more years to come.

We got married in August 1986, but the holiday offer was for February, so that is when we went, which included Valentines Day thrown in, so… Ah! all sweet and nice and romantic, slushy-wushy, nostalgia-isn’t-what-it-used-to-be, and the like. Yes, it was beautiful and for us very timely as the latter months of 2010, over the Christmas period and into January 2011 we had begun to struggle to look after Dad at home. On Christmas Day last year he was feeling pretty weak, but decided to sit up in his chair for lunch, and we gathered around him and his beloved Hammond as a family in the morning to sing a few carols and songs (happily andtearfully!) with Dad lifting up his hands at certain points and crying out “Take me Jesus!” in Guernsey French! Yep! Just a little on the emotional side.

Papa Le Tocq with his family, Christmas Day 2010

We had the kindly help of a fantastic bunch of Care Attendants and Nurses who would drop by three times a day towards the end (not forgetting Betty who had been Mum and Dad’s Home Help for over 14 years!), but even then when you’re caring for someone near and dear to you, knowing he is finding it difficult to live on another day, emotionally stretched endeavoring to keep him stimulated, comfortable, interested in eating even, being on call via a bell/life-line system, waking sometimes three times in the night for toilet lifts, or to pick him up off the floor because he ‘didn’t want to disturb us again’ and had fallen down trying to do it himself, clearing up after accidents, hosting a regular stream of visitors to see Dad (some with strong if genuinely concerned ‘opinions’ as to how we should be caring for him), as well as looking after a teenage family, doing a fair day’s work both in ‘caring professions’ too… it’s not just the physical tiredness that builds up! Dad could appreciate this too, long gone were the times where we could leave him with a family member and although he did not like hospitals, when the opportunity for two weeks respite care came up he encouraged us to take it. With Dad safely in hospital while we were away, this helped us to find space and time to think, pray and consider how we would face the future. We had checked out a few nursing homes and in direct answer to prayer, on our return the one that was top of our list informed us that Dad could move in within a few days. He spent exactly one month there before slipping peacefully away in his sleep one night in April, and like Mum three and half years earlier, we were happy that we had cared for and nursed him at home with us all those years excepting just a few weeks near the end. It was a great celebration at Church on the Rock, too many happy funny memories to recount, but Lucy and I shared from our perspectives and Grace led the singing of one of Papa’s (and his Mum before him) favourite old French hymns “Christ est ma vie” [Christ is my life].

I share this not so much to air my confession to the world, but because I know that many of you dear folk out there are either going through similar times with loved ones, or will face it sooner or later. We faced it early compared to most because of the peculiarities of my adoption and my parents age and longevity. But it amounts to the same thing. Be encouraged, we felt stretched in every way – you will too – but it’s worth it all, we feel alive, satisfied, fulfilled, and we’ve been able to grieve healthily with no regrets.

Also finally we were able to resolve the tombstone problem which had irked us since we buried Mum in 2007. In digging Mum’s grave they had hit rock and so had informed us that there would not be room for another coffin in the same grave, Dad would probably have to buried alongside when the time came. This unexpected problem was compounded by Dad’s realization that the cost of the masonry, already causing him to be aghast, would now be doubled. So he had insisted that we put one stone, in between the two graves, with engraved arrows pointing the relative direction of the respective deceased, e.g. “Millie, here ->… Will, there <-" As you may imagine, this did not exactly meet with our approval, but never mind how much we tried to persuade him otherwise, he insisted he would not have us waste our money on two headstones. As a result no stone was erected in the last four years. However when the time came this year the sextant informed us that there was in fact room for Dad's coffin after all, and so that is where we laid him, with no need for two stones, nor directional arrows, etc. Phew!

Judith got a permanent job this year (she had been working in two part-time casual positions since returning as a qualified nurse – a few hours per week in Community and a few in a Clinic). She now works for the Medical Specialist Group – the private group of consultants and specialists that are contracted to do the work normally undertaken by NHS at Hospitals in the UK. It involves seeing both private and government-funded (through public insurance) patients. It is not a lot more in terms of hours (20 per week) but now these are contracted hours so we have to plan time off a little more carefully in advance. She's really enjoying it though and she's part of a great team of nurses.

Our boat, Bare Necessities, has not been used so much this year, or should I say Judith has not used our boat so much this year! Read GG10 from last year to discover perhaps one reason for this. However despite the wicked winter we had an incredibly mild Spring and Jon and the girls enjoyed a few excursions on the water, taking friends over to neighbouring islands, and in the Easter holidays even a wonderful evening sunset picnic (lovingly prepared by loving daughters) on a beach on the east coast of Herm overlooking St Peter Port – absolutely delightful!

Sunset picnic in Herm, April.

Judith has however overcome some of her conservative inhibitions and ventured into the Apple Mac world through the acquisition of an iPad – which she loves. Although I am still trying to get her to do a tutorial. It really bugs me when she discovers something simple by accident and exclaims “Oo! Look! It can do this!” Still, this is progress.

This has been a year of shedding pounds, not only if you, like us, hold shares in European equities, but for Judith and me, also shedding weight, real body mass. Without going on a diet! Yes. We have just consumed a bit less, and week by week we have ballooned a bit less. We’re thinking of marketing this incredible technique, so here’s a sneak preview of the opening chapter:

“Eat a little less.”

Revolutionary & remarkable eh? Wonder why no-one’s thought of that before. To be fair we have also been going to talk to someone each week about what we’ve been eating and getting ourselves weighed which brings me to a sneak preview of the second chapter. Here it is:

“Talk to someone about this.”

Oh yes, I can see this book really selling in the millions. I wanted to call it “The Dunce’s Diet” but Judith tells me we’re not really on a diet, and she’s right, I don’t feel like I am. Which is good news indeed. Not much exercise has accompanied this weight reduction experience although Judith did go to a couple of Zumba sessions with Lucy. I did not accompany them, but was sufficiently bemused by the fact that my wife crawled back into the house each time, exhausted, panting, red-faced, sweaty (sorry, glowing) complaining of aches and pains, and yet my daughter’s comment was “Mum, you’re not even trying!”

Emily became a voter this year (in Guernsey Politics) and also has begun driving! “Our baby is driving cars! Arrhhh!” But don’t worry, so far she’s only managed to drive one at a time. And only with supervision. [Interesting word that, supervision. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds is it?] But returning to our baby Ems, what happened to all those years? She’s now passed her GSCEs and moved on to Guernsey Grammar’s Sixth Form Centre where she’s studying Art, Photography and Media Studies.

Grace had a bit of an up and down year at Uni, partly because she was away for a lot of the time her Papa was dying (although she miraculously made it back on the boat in stormy seas to say ‘goodbye’ a few hours before he passed away), but she has now entered into her final year in London and has great prospects of a job with Sovereign Trust, a young up and coming outfit based in Guernsey where she has had a holiday job for the past two years. She seems to have taken an interest in actuarial science. Hmm… suppose someone has to. In the Summer, as part of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain Grace sang in a BBC Prom at the Albert Hall. Now we try never to boast about our kids here so, let me just say that it was Mahler 2 “Resurrection Symphony” and Gustavo ‘The Dude” Dudamel was conducting the Simon Bolivar Orchestra. You can hear the incredible finale here. It is probably my favourite symphony of all time, but the day was made that much more memorable by the fact that Judith and I could not get seats (all tickets went within a few minutes of the box office opening months before!) and so we had to do like all good promenaders do and queue for seven hours or so outside to pay £5 each for a standing-room-only ticket and hope to get in. They turned over a thousand away. Fortunately we did get in. The last time we did this we were students! We were entertained during the long, hot day of standing/sitting/lying in line by happening to be positioned near a stalwart promenader who also happened to be Mahler’s greatest living fan. You can guess the rest.

Lucy, now 22, we are proud to announce… invested in a classic British Mini this year, which means she has enjoyed all the thrills of classic British motor car ownership including uncomfortable driving positions, being nearly impossible to get in and out of, unpredictable suspension, rust, water seepage, breakdowns, expensive repairs, with enough storage capacity for a couple of sandwiches, along with the knowledge that she is driving a car everyone double-takes, admires and coos at, and is privately thankful that they do not own. Seriously, though, we are proud to announce that Lucy has got engaged to her long-standing and only boyfriend Luke Vidamour (of CourageHaveCourage fame – a Guernsey band that played at Reading/Leeds Festivals this year for those of you in the know! Grace’s boyfriend Ollie is also in the band. We’re in the process of considering Emily’s options.) We are absolutely delighted, over-the-moon, and hey-diddle-diddle about them! What a great year! A wedding is being planned for late next summer.

We renovated the flat in the wing of Feugré Villa that we original established for Dad and Mum to move into in 2004, and now we have a useful little one-bedroom unit (with space for a few little’uns if necessary) for friends to use. You read that correctly. Since the summer we have also had a lodger living with us in the rooms above the flat. Luke, an unfortunate choice of name for a Le Tocq lodger (earning him the nicknames Luke No.2, or Luke-the-lesser) is a great bloke who just happens to be a manager at Waitrose too, which, shall we say, comes in handy from time to time.

We paid the regular annual visit to the White House, Herm, on our actual Wedding Anniversary in August, also a family holiday in France, around St Palais-sur-Mer as usual.

Les belles filles, Talmont-sur-Gironde

This was an historic year as we finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia, having read one book in the series virtually every year we have been on our annual French holiday since Emily was old enough to join in. It was of course the Last Battle this year. Laughs were laughed, tears were shed, and there were the usual requests late in the night for “just another chapter, oh pleeeeease!”

Other countries have also featured significantly in our forays this year, especially Romania, to visit our growing gang or friends in Brasov and Iasi – what incredible saints! Also we enjoyed sorties to Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands for the first time. The Low Countries trip was initiated by our developing friendship with New Wine Europe, and was especially fascinating and encouraging. Brussels, Amsterdam & Eindhoven featured, along with a stop in Den Haag to check out Chris Taylor’s excellent Redeemer International church. All opening up warm new friendships in ministry and mission. We feel very much at one with our brothers and sisters in these nations often facing very similar issues to us. France increasingly features again on the ministry radar as we work with the Newfrontiers churches based there to see more mission, growth, leadership development and church planting in that nation ripe for revival.

One of the factors which has released Jon more outside of the local church this year has been the addition of Paul Chesworth to our staff as executive pastor. Paul and Jon have known each other for over nine years as Paul has been a Methodist minister in Guernsey during that time and worked with Jon in Evangelical Alliance and New Wine environments. Paul and Liz have been an immediate huge asset to the church and we are so grateful that miraculously they have been granted permission to remain here with us.

You may have noticed that there hasn’t been much name-dropping in this GG. I’ve really come to dislike name-droppers, as I was telling the Queen only a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted recently by the media to ask me to comment on why I was the third most followed Guernsey personality on Twitter. Of course that was easy; #1 & #2 aren’t real Guernsey personalities! Jenson Button (#1, with a mere 706, 103 following him – it’ll be over 750k by the time you’ve read this I guess!) is a UK ex-pat who moved here only 12 months ago, and Andy Priaulx (#2, with a meagre 14,432) is just his friend. Priaulx is a French name anyway. I’m only 13,583 behind too. They’re both into motor racing, now where can you do that in Guernsey? So they spend all their time elsewhere. Yes, and there are at least two other Guerns I know who tweet regularly, not counting Judith who is on Twitter but regularly forgets her password so does not. [Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter by the way – here!]

So that’s it for this year folks! Drink up that mulled wine now and get back to some proper work. Your country needs you. And even if not, the EU does.

Much love to all of you this Christmas – May the God of all grace grant that you defy the current economic logic of the prophets of doom and let Peace and Prosperity be yours in the New Year!

JJLGE

(We’re still here)

Is Revival Sufficient?

Don't they look, er... young! Do you recognize any faces?

I recently came across an article which awakened old passions. Have you ever had that experience?

It was like a fragrance, or an old melody which has the powerful effect of taking you back not just mentally but emotionally to sensations, affections and desires which you once knew and experienced keenly for the first time.

I have not blogged here at all for a few months, since the new year in fact, during which time my dear old Dad of 98 who has been living with us for the last 7 years was deteriorating slowly, as I have mentioned before. But latterly his condition requiring more and more of our energies as we sought to care for him and make his final weeks as comfortable as possible.

Death is never easy, even for those who’s one remaining hope is to make it through over that threshold which my Mum beat him to three years ago; our poor bodies still demonstrate the degrading effects of sin, even when our souls are healed and our spirits safe in Christ Jesus. Dad graduated to glory last month and we have been remembering, laughing, weeping, rejoicing and generally coming to terms with his absence, grateful for the assurance that he’s so much better off now. So whilst I haven’t felt able to continue with the blog as frequently as I would have liked, I have continued to journal as always (which I find so personally beneficial to my devotional life) and I have also come across some fascinating old memories as we’ve been gradually sorting through Dad’s books, papers and music. It was an old tattered copy of All Hail King Jesus (one of the first Bible Week Songbooks I remember using after being baptized in the Holy Spirit in the early 1980s) along with some notes and cuttings stuffed inside it whilst alerted me to this article.

Entitled Is revival sufficient? it was written by Bryn Jones, one of the founding fathers of the move of God which began in the early 1970s, largely in the UK, and which resulted in what has been variously termed the British New Church (or House Church) Movement, Restorationism, Neo-Pentecostalism, et al. Bryn had a Welsh non-conformist background and could preach up a storm, but he was also a brilliant story teller, a communicator from the heart and had a wide following especially across the north of Britain as well as North America, where he lived for a while. Sadly he died less than a decade ago in his early sixties, a relatively young age. He left a legacy through Covenant Ministries International (CMI), various training colleges, several spin-off networks of churches led by previous team members, recordings and writings, including books and magazines (I think I still have nearly 50% of the total editions of Restoration magazines ever published! It was one of those reads, in my late teens and early 2os, which I picked up from Church each quarter – if I remember correctly – and read from cover to cover before sunset that night! Every article seemed like gold-dust. You can read some fascinating excerpts here)  The article I read was evidently written in Bryn’s latter years. I didn’t ever adhere or appreciate everything Bryn and other CMI leaders stood for, I preferred the same vision but accompanied with a more relational, fatherly apostolic stance of Terry Virgo which is why you find our church in Newfrontiers Today. But in this article Bryn touches upon some of the themes which originally enlivened my hopes and dreams for a united New Testament fashioned church, not yet perfect (for the fullness of the Kingdom will not come till Jesus returns) but set free from the dividing walls of denominationalism, not just seeing masses saved as in revival times of old – which is great and ever needed – but together in any one given locality working to be salt and light, to bring the Kingdom power into every nook and cranny of villages, towns and cities; to see city-wide and island-wide overseers & elderships emerge where the people of God, whether gathered in homes, chapels, schools, cathedrals or concert halls, would know themselves as of one vision “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” [Ephesians 4:12-16]

See what you think! Here’s the article:

“The word revival means different things to different people. In North America it could mean an evangelistic crusade, or then again, it could be a visitation of God in a single church in a city, as in recent times in Brownsville, Pensacola or Toronto, Canada. For many Christians it refers to a very widespread visitation of God on a locality or nation, such as the Great Awakening in the 18th century with Jonathan Edwards or in our more recent history, the Welsh Revival and the Hebridean Awakening, when the whole vicinity was marked by the sense of the presence of God.

Unfortunately, many Christians view ‘revival’ through rose coloured spectacles. They believe it to be a panacea for all that is wrong with the church, and the answer to every crisis in our world. History shows that this is not the case. The purpose of God is hastened and advanced by Spiritual visitation, but the goal of His purpose cannot be achieved simply by revival.

There are other vital factors to consider. My earliest memories as a Christian are those of listening to stirring accounts of the great Welsh Revival of 1904, related by a white-headed, wrinkled-faced, bright-eyed old man. I would sit for hours listening incredulously to stories of pubs being emptied as chapels filled up; how the miners would go down into coal-pits singing the praises of God; homes and families were transformed, and in some towns crime dropped to an almost non-existent level. I seemed to hear singing in the heavens and to see the cloud of God’s presence hovering over the hills, so caught up was I in the fervour of his stories. I began reading avidly about the Great Awakening, and decided one day to make a pilgrimage to the places referred to in the various accounts. It was this journey that brought me to a cold, rude awakening.

As we examine the history of those times, we quickly see that it is impossible to divorce that great spiritual awakening in Wales with what the Spirit of God was doing around the world, for at the turn of the 20th century God was pouring His Spirit out in many countries.

Although Evan Roberts was the most prominent of the many revivalists in the Awakening in Wales (there were many others, such as Dan Roberts, Hank and Seth Joshua, Sydney Evans, Mary Davies, Anne Davies and Priscilla Watkins), such was the power released in this sovereign act of God’s visitation that thousands of people moved into the Kingdom without any special preacher being present at all.

A Growing Hunger

After the first great wave of spiritual awakening had subsided, euphoria and enthusiasm gave way to a deep hunger in the hearts of God’s people. Thousands began meeting in earnest prayer in cottage meetings. Their desire was to know God more intimately and to experience an even deeper life in the Holy Spirit. Young men began calling on God to restore His spiritual authority and leadership in the Church. Through reading the scriptures, they became convinced of the necessity of God’s ministries of apostle and prophet being restored. Among such men were Daniel Powell Williams and Thomas Jones, who became early pioneers of what is now known as the Apostolic Church of Wales.

Denominational Reaction

Whereas the initial wave of revival power had been received with joy, the further demonstration of God’s presence in the Church that of the spiritual gifts of tongues, prophecy, healings and miracles, was met with widespread resistance. By and large, ‘speaking in tongues’ was viewed as ‘extremism’ or an expression of fleshly behaviour. Many denominations spoke out strongly against these things as ‘works of the devil’. Thousands of believers were forced into leaving their churches.

The subtleties of Satan continued to assault those who were baptised with the Spirit, dividing them over church government, the exercising of spiritual gifts and various different shades of doctrine until within a short time the word ‘Pentecostal’, which had been associated with this outpouring, covered a very wide spectrum of new denominational and non-denominational independent allegiances.

The Harsh Reality

It was while on pilgrimage to the various places that had figured so prominently in that early move of God at the turn of the century that the harsh reality dawned on me. Those great empty chapels, whose rafters had heard the singing of a thousand hearts, whose floors had been washed by the tears of the repentant, were today merely lifeless monuments to a glorious past like extinct volcanoes dotting the Welsh landscape. In many places of worship I saw a mere handful of people, mainly elderly, totally devoid of fervour or enthusiasm, occupying pews near the back of a hall. Sometimes I would stand in the emptiness, tears rolling down my cheeks, not feeling the overwhelming presence of God but rather the sorrowing heart of my Lord. It was difficult to conceive that these were the same places that, in the first two months of the Awakening, had seen some 70,000 converts swept into the Kingdom of God. ‘Ichabod’ (‘glory is departed’) was no longer some obscure Hebrew word but a dreadful reality in the stale and musty air of these chapels. God’s absence was more real than His presence. I began to question deeply the reality and significance of what I had heard and of the reports I had read. If revival had happened, what had gone wrong? What was the purpose of such a mighty visitation of God which ended like this? Within one generation almost all trace of spiritual awakening in Wales had disappeared.

Salutary Lessons of the Time

Although one does not profess to be able to give all the factors involved, some things emerge clearly from a study of that period. Firstly, the revival had been a time of great visitation in saving of souls, sweeping thousands into the Kingdom and filling the churches with a praising people. However, it had not severed the root of self-interest, private agendas, jealousy or denominational and sectarian differences. There are many accounts of ministers of various denominations in the same town burying their differences, shaking hands before the crowds of people and joining together in great services of praise, however, because the axe was not laid to the root, the differences re-emerged as the wave of visitation subsided. Any awakening that does not deal with the root of independence; individualism, sectarianism and denominationalism will be deficient.

Executive bodies, committees and councils began to emerge. The pattern shows all the hallmarks of the subtlety, ingenuity and deception of spiritual forces. Having spoken to many who remember the emergence of these things, I am convinced that it was not the intention of their hearts at that time but a gradual slide which has produced the paralysis of church life existent in much of our country today.

Restoration the Answer

There are prophets of gloom and doom who would say that this is inevitable; that this will always occur. We cannot subscribe to that view. There is, within our hearts, a faith that declares: the Church of God will emerge in unity, in power and in glory at the end time, just as God says it will.

‘In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.’ (Isaiah 2:2).

The Church will be seen as a bride adorned for His appearing

‘I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.’ (Revelation 21:2).

This conviction leads us now to pray with greater understanding concerning the next Awakening. For we now know that a revival that will merely sweep thousands into the Kingdom, filling our chapels and churches is insufficient in itself. Spiritual awakening must restore in the hearts of God’s people a unity that is based, not upon common denominational allegiance, but upon our common relationship through Jesus Christ.

It must be a revival that will restore us to being a people whose sole constitution is the Word of God. We will not look to committees, councils and executive bodies to govern us, nor will democracy be the norm for the churches, but it will be a move of God that will restore apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to function fully in the Body of Christ. These ministries will, in all humility and godly fear, seek His face corporately in every city to lead the church of God forward as a Kingdom of Priests to today’s world. God’s people will recognise and joyfully receive those whom God has set over them in the faith. Our cities will be filled, not with competitive churches, but with a united community of God’s redeemed people, embracing each other as those whom God has accepted. For many this may prove to be an unachievable dream, but for a growing number of others this is a driving objective to their ministry of Restoration. Anything short of this is short of the heart of God.

‘Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.’ (Isaiah 58:12).

Present Pointers

We can view the last fifty years of charismatic outpouring around the world in the light of some of the salutary lessons above. Today the Holy Spirit has brought an acceptance of spiritual gifts and miracle healings throughout the Body of Christ and there is no denomination that has remained entirely untouched. Revival is not enough if it does not restore to us the purity of sanctified life, the blessing of spiritual anointing and gifts, the humility of heart to acknowledge God’s government, and the submission of our lives to those God sets over us in His Church. Revival is not enough if it does not axe through the roots of our denominational differences, independent attitudes or self centred living.

Revival is not enough as far as the heart of God and the needs of our generation are concerned. Revival must give rise to related community life; ecclesiastical appointments must give way to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers working together. Any spiritual awakening that does not ultimately bring these dimensions into the life of the Church will be shallow experience and will inevitably follow the well-trodden path of decline back into the slough of spiritual paralysis and sectarian strife.

So it is that across the world enlightened people are praying and working for nothing less than a great ‘Restoration’ that will return the Church of God to its spiritual foundation – God’s spiritual government and Heaven’s divine power. Revival must lead on to Restoration!

‘Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendour, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.’ [Isaiah 52:1-2].

‘Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.’ [Isaiah 52:8-10].

‘Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.’ [Isaiah 58:12]”

Pronunciaʃən, Melbən & the Renəhans

Claire and Judith in Melbourne

The only way to have a friend is to be one.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson

So… let’s return to my journal and our travels. Where were we? Ah  yes! Down Under of course. Before I headed off for the next part of my travels which would see us parting in easterly and westerly directions around the globe – me, for nearly a month in the USA, and Judith heading back home, and nearing the end of our enlightening and enriching time in Sydney, we had planned in a few days a little further south, in Melbourne to be precise, and to visit some really great friends whom sadly we rarely see. What a refreshing blessing this turned out to be!

We found ourselves regularly ridiculed for pronouncing the place Mel-boor-ne. How were we to know? Looks like Sittingbourne, Bournemouth, the Bourne Trilogy, yunno. But apparently only a Pom would say it that way. To an Ozzie it’s Mel’bən, which for those of you who don’t understand what an ə means in phonetics, basically, it’s that nondescript excuse-for-a-vowel ‘uh‘ sound you get in so many languages. So for a Brit you pronounce Melbourne like it rhymes assonantly with Selsden. But thankfully that’s where any similarity ends.

Damien (should that be Damiən?) and Claire Renehan (perhaps Renəhan?) – looks so chic with the e inverted don’t you think? – live in a leafy suburb of the city called Kew (pronounced Queue, but you knew that eh? All British readers are currently thinking “How else could you pronounce it?”) with their four hale and healthy children.

Claire with her 4 loveys - Lucy, Pru, Oliver & Phoebe... (Judith & I are hiding in there too somewhere)

This wonderfully warm family are our good friends because way back in the weighty-eighties Claire was in the same class as Judith at University College Hospital, London when they were both Student Nurses. Claire also started attending church with us, Southfields Baptist Church, where we were involved with student ministry and worship in particular. Then eventually a few years later Claire rented a room in a church property where Judith also lived for a while before we were married.

Southfields Grid near Wimbledon Park London SW19

Known initially as the Singles’ House, the typical terraced abode on what is still affectionately called the Grid (distinguishing it from the similarly creatively designed Toast-rack in Wandsworth) was in effect a manse rented out to a few of the growing number of students and singles in the church who needed to find accommodation nearby; the name sort of advertised the fact that the occupants were somehow unattached (although Judith was actually engaged to me at the time!) Fortuitously very soon the property became nick-named Clonmore after the street it was situated in, to the relief of all its occupants who preferred not to advertise their potential conjugal prospects.

We had many laughs and adventures at Clonmore! I used to drop in regularly to get a decent meal; I was based in college halls of residence just down the road where the concept of edible let alone haute cuisine was foreign to the catering staff, most of whom were also foreign, but sadly not from nations like France or Italy, which might have helped matters. I think their culinary training was undertaken mainly in Siberia or Nazi Germany perhaps.

So a once-a-week meal at Clonmore was well worthwhile enduring the dinner conversation. By that I mean to say that you needed a fairly ferric constitution around the dinner table as Claire and Judith and often several other nurses were present, whose table talk would naturally and frequently wander into detailed descriptions of some surgical venous thrombectomy, gangrenous ulcer, frontal lobotomy, or at the very least some over-sized piles or oozing pussy wounds they had observed that day. Hunger can embolden and reinforce the queasiest stomach, and so I learned amazingly to accommodate this inappropriate meal time banter as if it were Wagner played as background music while I dined in Tel Aviv. Thus years later, I was the only one who managed to continue eating my spaghetti bolognese whilst we watched the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan.

Claire became Judith’s best friend and so when we were married in the August of 1986 it was a given that she should be Chief Bridesmaid. A few years later Claire met an Australian hunk of a nurse (midwife to be precise!), Damien, who would soon become her husband and entice her away to the Southern Hemisphere where they could continue to nurse together, surf, get a decent tan, and produce four offspring in their spare time. They had visited us once in Guernsey many moons ago, so this was our chance to reciprocate, and we did so with great pleasure!

Flying down from Sydney to Melbourne you are conscious of just how huge a place Australia is. On the in-flight map it looked like we could have strolled there if we hadn’t been so lazy, but then you notice how long it takes to fly (about 1hr 25 minutes) and what distance the small line of travel city-to-city in the south-eastern tip of the country actually represents (440 miles) i.e. about the same distance as London to Geneva, but that passes over 3 or 4 countries, and looks quite some distance on a European map, whereas in the would-be-island continent of Australia it hardly makes an impression.

We were only with the Renehans for a few days, but they wined us and dined us and made us feel like we’d spent a month there packing things in. They also made us feel so very much at home which turned out to be just what we needed having been extrapetra¹ for so long now. Their children are a real credit to them and were so warm and welcoming to us also; it’s not at all easy for kids to hit it off and be all jovial and chummy with their parents’ friends right from the word go – we’ve known many who are just plain awkward with strangers – but we found the reverse to be the case chez Renehan! Maybe it’s Damien’s family’s Irish Catholic camaraderie winning through, maybe they’ve just trained their children to be so super-kind and hospitable, maybe it’s a bit of both, but whatever it is we were pleased to experience it and sad to have to leave.

The Roman Catholic community here seems remarkably charismatic. It is also very youth-focused; we heard much about the 2008 World Youth Day events (lasting 14 days in fact) which whilst a Catholic initiative, based in Sydney, but was so huge (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of people) and encompassed other cities like Melbourne, and engaged other churches and leaders from protestant and evangelical traditions, in massive city-wide activities of witness, worship and mission. Young people and youth leaders from all over the world travelled to Australia to be part of it, many hosted by families, like the Renehans, who in turn were clearly spiritually and emotionally moved and enthused by the fellowship and momentum this all engendered. Bible study, public witness, testimony, prayer, drama, music, creative arts, acts of kindness and mercy were all encouraged and promoted during the two weeks of events, and it seemed to have had a lasting effect on the community. It was the largest public event Australia has ever seen.

The splendid Xavier College, Melbourne

Whilst we were there Damien showed me the magnificent school he attended as a boy, with spectacular views over the city, Claire took Judith and me shopping downtown, on a wonderful English-style tram-ride, lunch by the river, cup-cakes in the lanes, walks in the woods, we played games with their kids, helped with homework, read stories, laughed and joked so much, both Damien and Claire cooked us incredibly delicious meals, and most ineluctably Damien showed us the house (quite nearby) where Kylie was brought up. No idea why we should be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky.

Catching a vintage tram downtown

We also visited Claire’s dear parents who have now retired nearby having lived in Australia before, but when we first knew Claire were for the most part based in Petts Wood, Kent. That was where we last had afternoon tea with them so many years ago. Whilst having aged like the rest of us Mr & Mrs Archibald were yet as warmly affectionate and indulgent as ever, in the most proper, English way. So we reminisced and laughed and enjoyed an elegant sufficiency of afternoon tea including cucumber sandwiches and real china cups until we had lamentably to beg their leave, down the last dregs of Darjeeling and depart.

The capacity of our digestive systems notwithstanding, we managed to acquire an extra few pounds in Australia, and it wasn’t surprising really. With all our hosts’ generous gastronomic provisions coupled with the many decently priced restaurants and cafés we frequented the ensuing results meant that I unfortunately managed to blend in more with the general American street scene when I arrived in San Francisco a week or so later. Up until this point the USA had been for me “sweet land of liberty from feeling bad about my size and weight”.

Australia however did generally manage to be generous with its food without being over-saccharine, adding cinnamon and super-sizing everything. Mind you, having said that, it was in Melbourne that we succumbed to the inevitable cup-cake bonanza phenomenon that had hit hard here as much as the rest of the world. In one cup-cake emporium Claire led us to, which boasted in the width of its gamut of choice, it was possible to procure such a plethora of the said confection that I was frankly tempted to ask for a “Marmite & Port Boysenberry Caramel Mallow Skinny Frappe Cup-cake hold the Jimmies² please” just to test them out some. At length I settled for a plain and simple “Lemon & Raspberry Double White Chocolate Chip” variety, but was stunned when the assistant responded with “What size would you like that in?”

Cup-cake cornucopia!

For a moment I wondered whether the correct reply might be? What is the correct nomenclature for cup-cake sizes? Venti… Grande… Lungo… or even 36D perhaps? I plumped for “regular” which is, I often hope, in such culturally embarrassing situations, a universal metaphor for medium. And so I enjoyed my huge ordinary cup-cake filled internally and externally with all kinds of sweet somethings.

Our world-wind tour of all thing Mel’bən was drawing to a close; soon we’d be flying back to Sydney for a few days, just the two of us, near the beautiful Coogee beach, to review, relax and take in a little more of Sydney before we went our separate ways – Judith back home to help Grace move to London for her first year at Uni, and I, eastwards, but then suddenly extreme west (crossing the International Date Line) as I flew across the Pacific to the USA.

One thing was for certain, we were really glad to have planned in a visit to Melbourne and the Renehan family.

Jonəθən

___________                                                                                                                       ¹extrapetra = ‘absent de l’isle’ as we’d say in the States of Guernsey; lit. off the rock (Latin of course, silly)

²jimmies = hundreds & thousands or nonpareils for the Brits and Yanks who don’t understand