Christmas 2005

Welcome... here are the answers to the quiz on the Baker's 2005 Christmas card. Why 'Double points' this year? Why not?

1 What's your memory of Brother Roger of Taizé?
We thought Sophie, Matthew & Andy should have the opportunity of worshipping with the Community of the Reconciliation at Taizé and stayed at the Camping Municipal in Cluny for the weekend, joining in at the main service. Brother Roger held onto the robes of two lay brothers as he processed to his seat in the midst of the congregation. God smiled. Two days later he had been attacked by a 'lady who wanted to attract his attention'.

2 How long to complete a lap of Monaco in a motorhome?
We blame the traffic for taking 30 minutes... and we're unsure why the Formula 1 cars struggle to make the hairpins - our six metre long camping car swept around the bend! And its diesel engine sounds fabulous through the tunnel.

3 Was the tower of Pisa pushed, or did it jump?
Sophie, Matthew & Andy posed for the usual photographs: Sophie pushing the tower with her finger, Matthew looking down on it (he's now 6' 2") and Andy parking his bottom on it. Astonished to see how the main church building is also all higgledy wobbly, as is the baptistery.

4 Did Andrew swim the Atlantic, or just paddle in it?
Yes, he paddled. Triple points on this question.

5 Should Matthew go for grade 8 drum destruction?
Musical achievements galore in 2005, including Grade 7 drumming. Skins, not fingers. Here he is on The Steel's Jalapeno kit.

6 Is Sophie allowed to smile when singing?
All school worship bands should be encouraged to enjoy singing praises of God, don't you think?

7 Is rowing good for the tummy?
Family Christmas present; prayers welcome for oldies (and Andy) who struggle to press the on-off switch (there isn't one).

8 Suggest ways of dealing with muttering council members.
Surely every committee has one member who complains rather than encourages the rest of them. Feelings of guilt - how many times have I complained this year?

9 Church musicians should offer services for free – true or false?
Yes, but only if they're encouraged to do so?

10 Have the Fisherfolk endorsed the use of the name ‘Fisher Folk'?
Sweeter moment this year. The local St John Fisher Roman Catholic High School led an uplifting time of worship at the Churches Together Annual Assembly in October; 'To God be the Glory' in 4/4 to a beautiful Jazz lick. The band have no name at the moment, so I asked the original Fisherfolk if the school could use their name (as above) and the reply was a deeply encouraging Yes. Good for them. And, yes, CDs are available of all the old classic albums - click on Music Store, Renewal Classics.

11 Is decapitation the best option for people with Ménière's?
After another bad fall, the wise but also light-hearted A&E doctor in Harrogate hospital suggested that the only option to cure Ménière's was to chop Humph's head off. Much mirth.

12 The people of Dorchester are just nice - or truly honourable?
Read the whole story on the Churches Together website, News archive. Briefly: a father in Dorset, searching for a suitable church for his daughter in Harrogate, found the interweb more helpful than he'd imagined, and then used the local Churches Together website to suggest how people should help one another.

13 Should the name Baker's Dozen be subject to 8.25% inflation?
The old ones are the worst jokes. The extra loaf over the dozen given by the local baker equates to an "8.25% extra free" offer; should this be a biblical tithe of 10%? Or should this generosity be curtailed on the basis that Trade should be on a level playing field across the world?

Brood bumf

Sophie's now added a Bass guitar to her collection of instruments as well as 'cello… and a plastic card. Screams of delight when she has a positive balance at the end of the month! GCSE year started with Maths at the end of year 10, and she's being strict with herself, too.

Matthew played drums with two feet and his right arm for a whole two days after his collar bone was broken. It was too much for him and played with all limbs despite the pain. Breaking-Point supported Tyneside band The Steels in September (Sophie wanted a special 16th birthday party) so we organised a gig to raise dosh for United Gigs.

Andy was asked to head up the boy's section in the church choir, having received his Dean's award. This comes as a request for prayer… for all the poor lads he looks after. When Andy sings we can almost hear him, as long as the music is turned down – or off. 19/20 in a piece of English was a welcome result for one who struggles to say much out loud; hope prevails continuously.

Sophie made it to Greenbelt this year, staying with a friend, so Andy went with Dad and stayed with the friend's family.

The Grand Tour; ‘take a pew'

A week at Beaumont-sur-Sarthe (€11 per night for five, two tents and motorhome, electricity and five star facilities) provided the perfect rest to start the Grand Tour. Fresney-sur-Sarthe reminded us of Knaresborough (castle, river, quiet) – we will return again. Our lap of Le Mans in just 30 minutes was put down to getting lost half way around.

Two nights at the Gagnière's Centre Chrétien near Nimes included a fab YF concert; a delight to be able to provide green room facilities to the band and families (are gazebos available in other colours?).

Delighted to be welcomed by a local family while camping at Cluny, seeing Brother Roger on the Sunday; we were unaware of his death two days later until our arrival home. Such extremes of worship, joy and pain all in a month. God smiles and weeps at the same time.

Deeply grateful to Adrian and Clair for help with perfect swing back pews allowing youngsters to lean over the balcony after dinner.

The magnificent Baker bus is now up for sale, having served us well for four summers. Many here tell us we can't sell it – it's a feature of the environment (fortunately it's not listed). We already have a camel or two and a palm tree for a Trafic or even, perhaps, a Combo Tour - both would be a more economical replacement.

Harrogate and beyond

We saw the rare announcement that a local church had torn itself down, sold the land to the council who built a roundabout on Skipton Road to ease traffic congestion; the church was rebuilt on the roundabout, so worshippers had to dodge the traffic. The full news story – with further pictures – can be viewed on the famous Churches Together website News Archive; scroll down to 1 April.

A local church offered the proceeds of the sale of a house to support local ecumenical projects under the name Church House Trust. Its launch has brought interesting requests – funds for the church roof, of course, and one rather exciting project. More next year, perhaps, on this one.

Deborah Wearing's book Forever Today was published in January; many will have seen the ITV documentary “The man with the seven second memory”. Remarkable love story – and highly recommended.

Our house sitters this year included a family (whom we haven't yet met) who want to come back in 2006, despite breaking down and being stranded in Yorkshire for a week. That's the second family to blow a head gasket on their way to Harrogate , so, please check your car radiator before calling on us.