You have to put oil in the hot, noisy bit!

Engine part

Last Thursday — almost a week ago now — I’d booked the day off work so that we could drive across to Perth to meet up with our dear friends from our Inverness days, Andrew and Lindsay Howie, to catch up with them and meet their twins (a boy and girl … and no, not identical!) as they were heading north again.

The plan

What could have been more simple? The plan was to feed Reuben and Joshua at 11:00, load them into the car and drive to Perth via Dundee. They sleep well in the car, so it was a failsafe plan. Until we got into the car that is.

Jane has a Renault Mégane Sport Tourer (an estate car by any other name). It’s a nice car. It’s comfortable. And as we’ve discovered now three times within a month it has dodgy windows!

When I climbed into the drivers seat I noticed that the window was down. So I pressed the button.

Nothing.

Hmm…

I started the engine and pressed the button again.

Again nothing.

Plan B

Fifteen minutes later I was following Jane, who was driving my car (Vauxhall Astra, with fully working windows), to Dundee for an appointment with the Renault Minute garage. While they couldn’t fix it that day they said that we could leave the car with them, they’d secure it and replace the faulty window part in the morning. At a cost of £281.

They didn’t say that. We already knew. The front passenger’s window had done exactly the same thing two weeks previously.

Spoken too soon

About twenty five minutes after depositing the car in Dundee Jane and I were discussing cars, pondering about whether we should sell both cars and buy a new one, returning to being a one-car family.

“We should get a Vauxhall,” said Jane.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “This has done, what, 92,000 miles and it’s great.”

“We’ve not had a single problem with this car,” Jane pondered.

Not less than a minute later not one but two warning lights lit up on the dashboard: the engine electronics/immobilizer warning light and the low oil warning light.

To cut a long story short

It turns out that every now and then you have to put something called ‘oil’ into the hot, noisy bit at the front of a car. Ahem!

Having arrived at our rendezvous (Dobbies Garden Centre just outside Perth) I checked the oil level with the dipstick.

There was no level! Maybe I was the dipstick!

And to think that just the other week I’d thought to myself: I wonder if I need to check the oil level.

Another irony was that in order to get the boys’ pram into the car we had to remove my Big Boy’s Box of Interesting Car Maintenance Bits and Pieces, which included a two litre bottle of Castrol oil.

“We don’t need this box do we?” asked Jane, removing it from the boot of the car.

“Nah! We’ll be fine,” I foolishly reassured her.

So, having purchased a new two litre bottle of oil (10W-40 or something) I emptied half of it into the engine. Result! The dipstick was now showing that I’d reached just below the minimum line. Pouring the rest of the oil brought the oil level on the dipstick up to just above midway between the minimum and maximum. Phew!

And do you know what? The engine hasn’t sounded or felt better for months. Funny that!

Windows 3

The following day Jane got a lift up to Dundee to collect the car and hand over another £281 for a repaired window.

And this morning Jane returned from coffee with a friend to discover that it had done it again! The driver’s door window again.

The trial continues …

The best job in the world?

My friend Iain has applied for what is being dubbed “The Best Job in the World“: The Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

Not sure how it can be, to be honest, given that the best job in the world is to be working within the Web Team at the University of St Andrews!

Anyway, that dispute aside, potential applicants are asked to upload a video, photograph and video of themselves (no longer than 60 seconds) to the website.

Here’s Iain’s … erm, offering. Check it out, it’s a work of genius!

Or you can check it out within the context of The Best Job in the World website.

Commissioning of the Ministry Leadership Team

Bishop Brian preaching at St John's Selkirk
Bishop Brian preaching at St John’s Selkirk.

On Saturday Jane and I drove down to Selkirk — via Kirkcaldy to pick up a pram, via South Queensferry to have lunch with my brother, via Hermiston Gait (Edinburgh) to buy winter supplies for the car, and via Gilmerton (Edinburgh) to help set up Jane’s sister’s new broadband connection — to visit my Mum, sister and nephew.

The reason for going, other than simply because I love my Mum and it had been too long since I’d been to visit, was that Mum was one of seven being commissioned by Bishop Brian as part of a Ministry Leadership Team at the Church of St John the Evangelist, Selkirk.

St John’s

It was a lovely service, lovely to be back in St John’s (who encouraged and sponsored my own ministry) amongst friends. Bishop Brian preached a great sermon about the need to share in ministry rather than share out ministry. It was encouraging, insightful and realistic.

One thing he said, which stuck with me (if I remember it correctly) was that these seven people were not being commissioned to wow! with their competence but to be obedient servants and just get stuck in and do what they could.

Then minutes after the comment about not wowing with competence Bishop Brian stepped out of the pulpit, knocked over a banner which tumbled onto the window ledge upsetting a flower display.

It was a genuinely beautiful moment of humanness, which was received by the congregation and reflected as a warm and delighted laugh. Brian, one of the seven to be soon commissioned, leapt to the Bishop’s aid and between them they re-set everything as it had been.

“There’s collaborative ministry in action”, David, the Priest-in-Charge affirmed.

Commissioning

Bishop Brian commissioning the Ministry Team at St John's Selkirk
Bishop Brian (in the pointy gold hat) commissioning the Ministry Team at St John’s Selkirk; Mum is in the bright pink top.

Following the creed and a re-dedication of the people of St John’s:

Brothers and sisters in Christ,
will you renew your commitment
to the loving service of God,
of one another
and of your fellow men and women?

and confession the seven were introduced to the Bishop by my sister Jenni and Annie, one of the servers, where he commissioned them:

Brothers and sisters in Christ,
you have been entrusted with the leading of Christ’s people
to fulfil their baptismal calling to ministry in this place.
Are you willing to undertake this service,
under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit;
following the example of Jesus Christ,
who came not to be served but to serve?

I was so proud of Mum, who has been such a role model and encouragement in my own journey of ministry. It was a joy, delight and privilege to be there. It was lovely to share that too in the company of Jane, who had only had two hours sleep the night before.

The Peace

When the Bishop introduced the peace:

“Where two or three are gathered together in my name,” says the Lord, “there I am, in the midst of them.”

It occurred to me that “Where two or three are gathered together…” could easily describe Jane just now!

Pick and eat

After the service, after the coffee, many of the congregation retired to the church hall for a buffet (my brother as a child called these a ‘pick and eat’), which was served by our newly commissioned team, ably demonstrating their servant natures.

Sitting at a table with my nephew Benjamin he asked: “Which places would you like to visit before you die?”

Jane thought for a moment before saying “the doctor’s, the hospital and the operating theatre!”

A day of Metallica on TV, visitors we never saw and Jane in hospital

Bucket in a well
Nice bucket!

Well, that’s been an interesting day. It began with me staying up far too late (past midnight, no less) to watch Metallica perform at the Reading and Leeds Festivals on BBC 2 and ended with me leaving Jane in hospital in Dundee overnight for observation.

I woke this morning with a start. Somehow (unconsciously?) I was aware of Jane sitting on the edge of the bed. She wasn’t moving much, except for the gentle rocking of someone crying. She had a pain at the top of her bump, she’s had it for a few weeks now, but this morning the pain was more searing than ever, ‘excruciating’ you might say if you could spell it.

Once I got Jane to her feet and she started moving about, slowly the pain began to subside. Jane called the hospital’s emergency number for pregnant ladies: 0800 MY-BUMP-SAYS-OUCH! They listened, pondered and asked her to call back at 14:00 for an update, at which point they decided that Jane should be seen, just to be on the safe side.

The visitors we never saw

Now, in the meantime, my brother Eddie had decided that they’d like to visit, and estimated their arrival at 14:00. “Sure”, we said assuming that the hospital would say “Look, I’m sorry you’ve had a bit of a pain in the bump, but since it’s eased off now there’s no need for you to come for a check-up, sit up with a good book and ask your husband to cook dinner tonight.”

Of course, they didn’t. They said “Come in!”

So I called Eddie. They were on their way, but could make a detour through Dunfermline to buy a hair-dryer.

We’ll be just a couple of hours, I assured him. We’ll be back in time for tea and tiffin. I’d bought tiffin specially, even if my spell-checker wants to call it ‘griffin’.

A couple of hours later I phoned him again. They’d just pulled up outside our house. By this time Jane had had various scans and lots of medical staff poking and prodding her, and they had decided to keep Jane in for 24 hours for observation.

The good news was that Jane’s BP and pulse was good, and the babies appear to be okay, with good strong heartbeats and a propensity for kicking each other! They needed to get to the bottom of the painful bump.

Operation Bags Packed

Eddie had keys so let himself in and I guided him around the house while he and Rebecca packed an overnight bag for Jane … once I’d flipped between the phone and Notes mid-call on my Xda Orbit. With the bag packed and left in the hall I then phoned Jane’s Mum.

“Erm, there’s been a change of plan!” We were meant to be going there for dinner this evening, could she erm … instead pick up the overnight bag that’s standing in our hallway and drive up to Dundee to visit Jane in hospital, please?

They arrived about half an hour after we’d been shown up to the post-natal ward (as there was no room at the inn!). It was lovely to see them. Jane was in a ward bay. The two beds closest to the door were occupied, the one on the right by Jane, the one on the left by a girl who’d clearly had a baby girl. How could we tell? Balloons! Tethered next to the bed were about 1,000 helium balloons that would have made the Montgolfier brothers run away in terror.

Half an hour later Jane’s room in the ante-natal ward was ready and we were moved. And what a lovely room — there was more room there than in our £130 per night hotel room in Inverness the other night! And it had a DVD player.

Prayers of the saints

When I’d nipped out of the labour suite to call in support from Eddie and Jane’s folks I’d also sent a quick Twitter update: “Jane is being kept in overnight for obs; prayers please. xx”.

I stepped out of the hospital around 20:00, switched on my phone and was greeted by a text message and some Twitter updates (some from as far away as Florida) assuring me of their prayers. The wonders of technology and Christianity coming together in harmony.

And that’s where we’re up to. I prayed with Jane before I left the hospital, asking God to hold Jane and the babies. Neither of us were particularly worried to be honest, and Jane was actually more upset about not getting steak pie at her Mum’s for dinner tonight than about having to stay in hospital overnight! But that’s why I love her: because she’s willing to put her love of pie before her health!

And on that bombshell … thanks for the prayers, good wishes and love. Hopefully we’ll be welcoming Jane and her bumps home tomorrow afternoon.

Update

Thanks for your prayers, folks. Jane got out of hospital on Sunday, shortly before midday.

From London to Inverness

View from my hotel window of the City of London
The view from my hotel window in London last week.

Last week, from Sunday to Friday, I was in London on a course: PHP Programming and MySQL for Web Development with StayAhead Training.

The course was a good introduction to PHP and MySQL, and I was the only person on the course (which you’ll know already if you follow my Twitter feed). I’ll reflect more on the course in the next couple of days once I process my thoughts.

It had been my intention to blog while I was away — I even took my webcam — but the hotel didn’t offer free WiFi, which was annoying, and as it turned out I wasn’t around long enough in the evening to make the £2.00 per hour charge worthwhile, as I was catching up with some lovely friends. Many thanks to Steve and Lisa Lawson, Richard Grocock, Mike Jeremiah, Lindsey Dear and Graham Fairbairn for their company, friendship and laughter-making. I love you all!

Today, though, I’m heading off again. This time north, to the other end of the island, to Inverness to catch up with a couple of friends … before they and we have twins in the next few months.

But I’ll leave you with a photo of my favourite street sign from that London visit:

Little Britain EC1

I sent a text to a couple of friends and family to tell them that I was standing on a street called “Little Britain”. My brother ‘won’ as he was the first to reply with the simple text: “Yeah, I know!” Good man!