Sunday, 26 August 2007

This is quite interesting. I'm keen on seeing what charismatic Catholicism looks like.

Bishop Chris looks wells charismatic in his picture...

Saturday, 18 August 2007


The annual Mumbles Beer festival was on Thursday-Saturday this week, which Ann and I went to Thursday and Friday evening. It had gotten big enough that they actually held it in the same hall I graduated in a month ago.

They had a good selection of booze, even some cider and perry alongside all sorts of exciting rarities.

I sampled over the two nights:

Last Rights (Barley Wine, 11%)
Black Sabbath (Mild, 6%)
Honey Gold (Honey Ale, 4.2%)
Nut Brown (Brown Ale, 4.5%)
Missy Sippy (Bitter, 5.5%)
Blond Witch (Wheat Beer, 4.5%)
Battle of Rhuthun (Dark Bitter, 3.8%)
Cheddar Cider (Cider from 'Cheddar')
A Scrumpy I can't remember the name of...

I'd never had a Barley Wine before, it was rather dangerous. Alongside these, I had small amounts of whatever Ann had, as well as other friends who we met there. Ann seemed to go more for the novelty name approach, while I was looking for types of beer rarely/never to be seen normally.

Among the more amusing ones were:

Son of a Bitch (Bitter, 6%)
Stairway to Heaven (Bitter, 5%)
Molly's Chocolate (Chocolate Stout, 4.2%)
Pink Panther (Speciality, 4.5%)
Dark Side of the Moose (Mild, 4.6%)
Old Slug (Porter, 4.5%)
Cheshire Cat (Golden Ale, 4%)

Perry was sampled as well and was quite nice. The whole thing was rather enjoyable and it was nice to see many people wearing 'Hobgoblin' T-shirts...

While we were there on the first day, there was a leaflet for a re-enactment society (gunpowder, so boring) but it did get me thinking it would be fun to join the Medieval re-enactment society in the university next year. We shall see...

Blackberry season is upon us and they're all over Swansea, particularly the coastal path. Ann and I went out one day and filled a litre container in the space of about 15mins. Will go out next time the weather is nice again.

Adrain and Emma popped in briefly on the way back from holiday which was nice. Went to see the Simpson's film (more and extended episode than film really) then we walked them up Wind Street and The Kingsway (Drunken hangout no.1 &2 on Friday/Saturday night).

Good news on money front, I have been given a Bursary from the university for half my tuition fees (~£1,500). Whee!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

A few weeks ago I had a long talk with someone after the service, she asked me if I'd ever asked God to cure my Asperger's Syndrome. I thought about it and responded, "No, the Asperger's is part of who I am, would I be the same person, would I have learnt the same lessons and grown in faith in the same way?" I can't ever remember having asked for a "cure", just for God's support and strength to cope.

I mentioned my belief that I would still have Asperger's in Heaven but it wouldn't be a problem, no tiredness, headaches etc, but it could actually let me perceive God in a way that a "normal" person wouldn't. Also I thought wouldn't it be wonderful for the disabled to experience an extra joy when they meet God, the first thing that the blind see, the deaf hear would be the glory of God, the crippled leaping into His arms and so on. I believe that, even if Asperger's was intended as a curse by Satan, God can turn it into a blessing.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Monica got me an iPod for my birthday, which I've really been enjoying since. I understand that Emma may have just got one, and the other day, Luke was asking me how you found podcasts. I thought I'd blog about podcasts I've been enjoying.

In answer to Luke's question, I remembered that Jeff Miller reviewed some podcasts he had listened to here, so I just tried to find those articles and see what sounded interesting. They're here and here. The only other thing I know to do is to search iTunes podcast directory - so that's all I have to say about that.

From Jeff I started listening to Rosary Army, which sounds like a cult, but is actually quite a homely sort of show about life in general with a married Catholic couple, Rock Solid from Mark Shea, which is a kind of though-for-the-day deal, Catholic Answers Live which is a call-in show whose content varies from day to day though it tends towards the apologetic, The Cardinal Arinze podcast, by one of our cardinals, though unaccountably this guy with a strange accent always talks for a bit before conducting a sort of interview with the cardinal himself, The Saintcast, which is, as its name suggests, a podcast about the saints and Praystation Portable, which is a daily selection of readings and prayers, mostly from the psalms.

So that's plenty to be getting on with, but a few of those shows are part of a network called SPQN, who cross-promote each other, so I'm already listening to another amusing married couple on a show called Catholic in a Small Town (the theme tune is pretty catchy, which is disturbing, as it's country) and I daresay I'll try out a few more in time.

Pray As You Go is another one I've tried, which is a series of brief meditations on a passage from the gospel, but it's designed for daily use, and I can't update my iPod on Monica's computer so regularly as that. I believe it's in the Ignatian tradition. I seem to recall the word Jesuit being used in association with it.

It's not going to be so easy to find links for the other ones and it's close to bed-time, so I'll sum up briefly. I've recently subscribed to a few poetry podcasts, as poetry is something which always seems worthwhile, put is oddly difficult to fit into one's schedule though small. I forget what they're called.

The Guardian has several podcasts. I've subscribed to the music one, but I'm not sure whether I'll continue with it. It's hard to take pop music so seriously as they do.

Also, much to Monica's disgust, I was subscribed to the Big Brother podcast, but I've just unsubscribed from that one. There is, I can safely say, less point in a Big Brother podcast than there is in the show.

So that's about it really. I like podcasts - they're free!

Oh, I forgot about the Chris Moyles podcast, which is how I mostly listen to him these days, and cuts out all the rubbish music. I also subscribe to some programmes on Rai so that I can hear som real Italian as regularly as possible.

Also, the Radio Times reccomends podcasts. So that's another way of finding them.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Going to church regularly has really helped my social life, especially during the summer, yesterday I was invited to lunch and later went on to Exmouth beach for the afternoon. Sadly I got slightly sunburnt, (despite the suncream) but got the chance to paddle, which I've not been able to do for ages. I might have gone swimming, but there's a impressively strong current from the River Exe, I had to dig my feet in just to stay put, great fun

This afternoon, I'm going with the Asperger group to Exmouth beach again for a BBQ, so I'm looking forward to that, although I think I'll try to make more of an effort to stay out of the sun.

I needn't have worried about the sun, we were half way down the path to the rocky part of Exmouth beach when a thunderstorm started, needless to say we all got a bit wet and it was decided that we would relocate to the Asperger group leader's house. Quite enjoyable and we all had dried out nicely before heading home.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

One down, one to go...

Sorry to post just after you have Mark, but never mind.

Got back from a trip to Italy to go to the wedding of a former housemate of Ann. We got cheap plane tickets and flew over to Milan. Before heading to Como, where Shanti (the friend) lives, we headed for Cinque Terra, a coastal stretch containing 5 development protected towns connected by walking trails. The distance from one to the other was only 9km, but it took us about 5 hours due to all the ups and downs along the way. At the end, we rewarded ourselves with a swim in the sea, much to the relief of our feet.

In Milan, we stayed at a newly done B&B that the people living above Shanti had decided to open. Breakfast was plentiful and the people amusing. Various guests were already there, Titi from Belgium (although born in Hawaii and lived in Belgium), Karuna (Shanti's sister), Danni and Kirsten (Two girls that Shanti and Karuna grew up with in Swaziland) and some Canadians who I can't remember their names at the moment but one went to 6th Form College equivelent with Shanti.

One evening, we headed out to a village outside Como where Dominico (the groom) was born and met many of his friends at a pub there. They were an amusing bunch who 'speak very well english'. Pub was good, wide selection of beers, including many from Belgium.

Neil, you think French Ice Cream is good? Try Italian Gelato, it kicks its rear end rather fiercely.

The wedding itself was on Monday, but on the Saturday, there was another wedding at the same church (which you could see from Shanti's lounge) and so, inbetween putting Henna onto their hands and feet, the girls were trying to catch glances of what was going on.

The day itself was fortunately quite mild for an Italian summer, which I was glad of as my only particularly good smart shirt is dark red. The service itself only took about 45min, although there was a great deal of meeting and greeting before and after.

After the service and before the bride and groom had left, a heart with the couple's initials made from rice was formed outside the church doors. When the came out, friends picked them up and hurled them into the air three times (normally only the groom but the friends wanted to throw the bride afterwards).

The reception was in a villa about a kilometer down the road. Shanti and Dominico had wanted to row there but it was too windy and so rode in a car. The food was great.

At the end, all the guests were presented with some Jordan Almonds (which we had been eating the whole time there as Shanti had ordered an incredible amount of them, far, far too many).

I'd heard a lot about practical jokes which are apparently traditional. The two 'legendary' ones told to me were placing a tree trunk in front of the church doors, leaving a two person saw for the bride and groom to use to get in. The second was bricking up the front door of their house and leaving only a crowbar and a hammer for them to get in.

The jokes here were tame compared. Cups of water were placed all over the bedroom floor, water balloons in cupboards. Furniture placed together and then wrapped in clingfilm. Dominico had just lend the keys to his friends so no real damage was done due to trying to get in etc.

We headed to Milan a day early as out flight left early in the morning. We went to the Duomo, good view from up there.

I now feel prepared for next year. Mark and Monica, I warn you, the standard has be set high...
A Lovely Day in Sidmouth

As it was our 2 years anniversary on Friday, we decided that we would like to do something in particular for a change. We thought it would be nice to get out of Exeter, and so it was that we bought day explorer tickets and rode a double-decker bus to Sidmouth. We sat on the top near the front because it's cool! It's a nice ride to Sidmouth, and you go through the fabulously named Newton Poppleford!! We saw a lot of thatched cottages and Monica made her approval clear. We got off the bus before we got to the seafront because I like to arrive at the sea on foot. When we got there there was a cliff and it looked like this:

We took a very proactive approach to entertaining ourselves; after going to sit on the rocks for almost 3 seconds Monica suggested that we find warmer environs and we parked our behinds on a bench on the seafront and began to watch people walk by. For some reason it was very busy and there were lots of people in peculiar outfits. We established, using the power of our minds and by reading posters that this was because it was the Sidmouth Folk Festival! We sat down and commented on babies, dogs and grown-ups as they walked past. This is a diverting activity.

The good thing about it being the Sidmouth Folk Festival was that at approximately 2 minute intervals there was a group of people with exciting instruments such as accordions, mandolins, violins, guitars and wooden shoes providing folkular entertainment. To the left are a couple of Monica's favourites:Had a little walk up the cliff but we didn't go very far just far enough to take a nice photo.

It was a lovely day. Much fun was had by all. It was grey at the start but it turned out sunny with blue sky.There was a Catholic Church really close to the bus stop so we got to say thank you while we waited.

Mark is drinking a beer lying on the sofa dictating me what to write. So lazy!So drunkard!It was a pint of beer it should have lasted for at least a week! Mark is raising his eyebrows he would raise one but it's too difficult ( that's because you are a drunkard!)It's too hot for drinking alcohol you should drink nice refreshing water!!
A thing I noticed and thought I'd point out:

G.K. Chesterton, fabulous charmingly eccentric English Catholic writer, wrote a large number of stories about an unassuming little priest called Father Brown who wandered round solving crimes which had some, sometimes slight, connections to proper theological issues.
, recently popularised by Mr. Jacobi, is a fictional crime-solving monk.
Father Dowling Mysteries
is a TV series I've never watched, but which James made me aware of. Here, again, we have a crime-solving priest (and his nun mate, Steve). Some of the additions to the book of Daniel that we have in the Catholic version are basically detective stories. In Bel and the Dragon, Daniel exposes false gods with some holy cunning, and he defends Susanna from blackmail and rape by cross-examination.

So what's the deal with Catholicism and detective stories?