Saturday 30 October 2010

The View from my Sitting Room

The pampas grass in full bloom on this fine sunny day at the end of October.

Friday 29 October 2010

Barney Life No. 20

Last Sunday, October 24th, (I know that I have been a bit slow in writing this!), the Trustees of the Bowes Memorial Church met together for their annual meeting.
I have mentioned before that this is the only parish church in the diocese which is not owned by the diocesan trustees but by a group of trustees originally set up by Josephine Bowes herself.  It was intended that the church would be built beside the museum which John was building, so that Josephine would have a personal church when she was living in the rooms to be built for her in the museum (John expected her to outlive him, since she was younger than him).  As it happened, Josephine died before the church was even begun, and John out of loyalty to her memory started to build the church.  Before he could finish, he ran out of money, and the church stood as a roofless folly for about fifty years, until the trustees of the church could raise enough money to finish the build on the new site at the corner of the museum park.
There are twelve trustees: six notable Catholics from the north-east, and six parishioners; all must be practising Catholics.  The chairman of the trustees is a member of the old Catholic family, the Salvins, while the treasurer is a direct descendant of one of the trustees appointed by Josephine Bowes.  As parish priest, I am not a trustee, but I liaise with the trustees on matters of the upkeep of the church, house and grounds.
I may have something further to add on this subject in a few days.

Friday 22 October 2010

The Sheep on the Desmesnes - at last

Barney Life No. 19

Sheep on The Mains

The Romans made a road right through what we now call Barnard Castle.  But it was the Baliol Family who arrived with the Norman conquerors in 1066 and who began to develop the castle and then the town.  In the Middle Ages, the Baliols, who owned the whole area, set out a number of 'desmesnes' on all sides of the town, large open areas, which the locals could use for strip-farming, and of course paying a rent to the lord of the manor.  In time, all of the desmesnes were fenced in and became farms.  All, except for one, to the south-east of Barney: this one was donated by Lord Barnard to the people of the town in perpetuity as an open space for their enjoyment.
The Desmesnes, or Mains, as the locals call the area, is comprised of two areas - the Upper Mains and, of course, the Lower Mains, with a steep climb in between. Walkers of all kinds use the area, some hikers follow the path through the Mains along the river Tees to the ruins of Eggleston Abbey, mostly the dog-walkers like me wander all over the area excercising our dogs - some days there are regular processions of dogs and owners.  The area is managed by the local Town Council, or rather, not managed for most of the time I have been here.  However, recently, one of our councillors put forward a plan to turn the Upper Mains into a wild flower moorland field: in the summer the thick unruly grass has been cut for sileage and removed, and the hope was that a second cut could be made before the winter sets in.  The local farmer decided that the grass was not long enough, and so a flock of about 100 sheep has been brought in to do the job instead.  They will be here for about another week or so, before being returned to their own fields.  As far as I can see, the sheep are doing a good job - the grass is getting a good cut!
(I was hoping to publish a couple of photos, but for some reason the photo-link isn't working)

Saturday 9 October 2010

Barney Life No. 18 (posted 11/09/2010)

Every Monday and Tuesday I celebrate Mass at 7.30 in the evening.  Normally the Mass on 
Monday evening is a Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem (facing east, back to the people); but 
this Monday just gone, with the Novus Ordo and the Latin Mass calendars both registering a 
ferial day, I celebrated what we used to call a 'black Mass', a Daily Mass for the Dead.  I 
thought that it would be good for me (and for my servers) to become very familiar with the 
slight changes required for a Mass for the Dead.
The Mass on Tuesday evening is normally a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, as it is now 
called, the first Tuesday of each month being a Missa Cantata.  Our Sung Mass this past 
Tuesday had an extra singer just to help out both for my parts and the choir parts.  Every 
time I began to sing something, I was aware of a little voice joining in.  I eventually realised 
who it was - little Martha, just one year old and only, I think, the second time at a Latin 
Mass, trying to join in as best she knew how!
After Mass, we repaired to the presbytery for coffee and tea and chat, and this is her with 
her Mam and Grandma.

Barney Life No. 17 (posted 10/09/2010)

Summer in Teesdale
Tees Valley 1

Tees Valley 2

Barney Life No. 16 (posted 23/08/2010)

As usual, my Sunday Masses yesterday began with a Traditional Latin Mass at 9 o'clock, and, yesterday, as usual the Beards Family were in church for the Mass.  However, yesterday was not quite as usual.
Also present were a BBC cameraman and his producer/director who are making a documentary about one of the Beards Family, Clara, who intends to enter an enclosed Benedictine Convent on the Isle of Wight in September.  This team of director and cameraman have already spent a couple of hours in an empty St Mary's Church filming Clara and the church, no doubt for background shots whilst a commentator introduces the topic of the documentary.  Yesterday they filmed the whole of the Mass with of course a live congregation and concentrating on Clara and her family, showing, I imagine, the effect of the TLM on her and the others in church. 
Many in the congregation were alarmed before Mass when they saw a film crew in church, until just before Mass I explained that this was not the Benefit Fraud Squad or Big Brother State but the making of a documentary.  I suggested that they ignored the camera and tried not to look 'holier than thou' for the camera because they are holy enough already.
Needless to say, the Mass was celebrated without a hitch and without any stops for second takes.  I think the congregation was amused by the whole event and supportive of Clara in what she proposes to do.  We pray that she may receive the grace of God to try her vocation in this way.  When the film is eventually completed and broadcast, I hope that it will show a very positive side of the Catholic Faith today.

Barney Life No. 15 (posted 22/08/2010)

On Saturday afternoon I helped a young couple to renew their marriage vows.  Nothing unusual in that, you say!  Except that they were married only a few weeks ago, in Italy.  The groom, Filippo Pellizzon, is Italian, and the bride, Marie Ball, is (perhaps I should now say, was) one of my parishioners.  Their marriage took place in Italy according to the laws of the Italian Church and of the Italian State.  Marie's parents, Tom and Mary, with other members of the family, went out to Italy for the wedding.  But to keep all Marie's friends who could not go to Italy happy, it was the turn of Filippo's parents to come over here to England so that the English could celebrate Marie's marriage.  I understand that Mr and Mrs Pellizzon had never flown before or been out of Italy, so this was quite an adventure for them. 
The renewal of vows was in the main a reading through of the normal wedding service; I gave my usual sermon about how Our Lord and His apostles were to blame for the wine running out at Cana, and with the nudging of His mother how he over-compensated with new wine (as he does when anyone turns to Him); we sang a couple of hymns; and a very enjoyable service was had by all.  The organ was played by a young lady playing for the very first time for a public service (well done, Juliet O'Brien! - I doubt if it will be the last public service you will play at!)  I have added a few photos which I took at the end of the service.

Barney Life No. 13 (posted 19/08/2010)

Mr Heron!  Mr No-Show!
Since my last post about the invading heron, there has been no sign of him.  He usually arrives at breakfast-time for an early snack after his flight from the heronry.  I have had other smaller visitors - a beautiful dragon fly (I was so fascinated watching it flitting around the dog and me, apparently curious about us, that I forgot to photograph it) and a wagtail.  But not a sight of the heron. 
I wonder if this could be the reason.
Brolly Scarecrow
Yes, I know - to you and me it looks like a folded sun-umbrella (and that is what it is). But to the heron, flying up there or perhaps perched on the church roof, it may look like danger.   I know that he is anxious about any movement in the house and flies off at once if he sees anything, but, with the wind fluttering the fabric and the brolly being moved every couple of days, I think that it makes quite a good scarecrow.
Anyway, here is a bonus photograph.  Can you see three ghosts?
Ghosts   Ghost Koi, of course.

Sunday 3 October 2010

Angie Taylor (1965 - 2010) - Storm's Saviour (posted 17/08/2010)

Today Angie Taylor was laid to rest - she was 45.  She had spent some years in the Army, worked for a while after that in Northern Ireland for the Ministry of Defence.  She and her husband Roy moved to Spennymoor, Co. Durham, where she became a care worker.  But her passion in life was for the welfare of dogs, especially lurcher types.
I first met her like this:
In October 2006, after many anxious delays, I had to have my trusty red setter Rusty put to sleep (his back legs had gone).  Instead of using my new found freedom to relax and do a few tours of the countryside, I set about finding a replacement.  First I went to Deerness Kennels near Durham City: the staff let me walk through the kennels sponsored by the RSPCA, and then through the kennels housing all the other strays.  I returned to the office and mentioned that the only dog I was very taken with was the dog with the intelligent look who stayed at the back of the kennel when I passed, even though he simply did not want to know me; the manager said, "That's Storm. We'll have to see Angie".  I said, "I will phone to make arrangements."
Then I went to Sadberge Dogs Trust, near Darlington; again I took a liking to a lively black but small lurcher; they said they would keep the dog for me for a week (I think).  However, when I returned home, I telephoned Deerness and arranged to meet Angie to discuss this Storm which she was apparently responsible for. 
The next day I went back to the Deerness Kennels, arriving before Angie did. One of the kennel assistants brought Storm out and we walked him slowly around a grass lawn.  Angie arrived, and, after a short discussion with the assistant, decided that I would be a suitable new owner.  Storm was chipped, I received his papers, he was put into the LandRover and away we went.
Some time later, Angie told me what she knew of his history.  The dog had been wandering around Bishop Auckland for several weeks, being chivvied, harassed and starving.   In the middle of a huge thunderstorm (hence his name) one August afternoon, he hid in someone's garden shed; the door was closed on him, the dog-wardens captured him with a noose on a pole, and he was brought into Deerness Kennels.  He was so emaciated and traumatised, with a running wound on his front leg, that the owners of the Kennels were almost convinced that the best thing would be to put him to sleep, but Angie intervened and persuaded them that she could bring him back to health.  She washed him, gave him antibiotics for his wound, and that began to heal.  But the most difficult part of the rehabilitation was getting him to trust her.  Many days she entered his little cell and sat for ages doing nothing but being there, sometimes she talked out loud to him, without looking at him, and for long enough she got no response, until gradually he came to her and let her touch him.  All the while, she said, she was praying to God that she would be able to find the right person to become his new owner.  Then, when I turned up, she took it that my appearing was God's answer to her prayer - which was the reason why she quickly agreed that I should take charge of him.  The rest of the story I know only too well!
This is the boyo last night.  After 20 minutes racing up and down in the back garden and furiously digging a hole trying to get to Australia, he runs into the sitting-room, flings himself on the floor and pants madly for several minutes.  He is no longer the frightened dog he once was!
Last night I celebrated a traditional Requiem Mass for Angie.

Barney Life No. 13 (posted 13/08/2010)

This evening, at the unusual time of 5 pm, we celebrated Mass and thanked God on the occasion of the Silver Wedding of Andrew and Christina Beards.  The Mass was in the Novus Ordo ad orientem.  The chief celebrant was Father Gerald Anders and his co-celebrant and preacher was Father Philip Egan.  Father Egan spoke about memories, how sometimes they become selective as time goes by, and yet our faith and traditions are based on the memories we have of events gone by, in particular, the memory of God's sacrifice which we celebrate in the Mass by which we join ourselves to Him.  The singing was lively and led whole-heartedly by Andrew.  The company after Mass drove back to the Beards' house for a small celebration of a more informal kind.
Congratulations to Andrew and Tina; may the Good Lord bless them and their family!

Barney Life No. 11 (posted 10/08/2010)

As the Lord almost said, "If the householder had known at what hour the heron would come, he would not have let him break into his pond."   But since this householder does not know when the great fish-eating bird would come, he has to be vigilant and prepare his defences and hope that they are enough!
Defence 1 Defence 2
You may see that around the edges of the pond, there are strings, fishing line, posts, and I hope that they cover all the easy approaches to the water.  I know that Mr Heron will not give up and that he will be back; he has been here each morning recently, and I know that he has taken at least one fish out of the pond because he dropped it before he could swallow it.  I have been trying to catch him on camera, but he is too quick for me and flies off if sees a glimpse of movement in the house through the windows.  If I ever take a photo of the Flying Thief, I will post it on the blog!

Barney Life No. 10 (posted 05/08/2010)

August 5th
Hedge Cutting Day
It is just as well that I checked my hedge-cutting machinery on Tuesday, because that evening John O decided that Thursday would be a good day for cutting the hedge. So, straight after morning Mass, (today, Thursday), John B and I began to trim the sides of the hedge.  John O arrived half an hour later with his truck and a horse-box type trailer.  He immediately attacked the hedge at the five foot mark with his chain-saw, and immediately extra daylight began to flood into the garden.  One-armed Anthony turned up to help with clearing up; John B and I agreed that he was better with his one arm than we were with two arms each!  The cuttings from the hedge were all loaded into John O's trailer, and by late afternoon we had two trailer loads.  We worked all morning, until a short break for lunch (and a walk for my dog Storm) and gathered again in the afternoon to complete most of the work.  There is still a small amount of cutting to do; we hope to get that done tomorrow.  I have placed here two photos - before and after, and below that an album of the work in progress.  We are all shattered!
Hedge 1
Hedge f

Friday 1 October 2010

Barney Life No. 9 (posted 03/08/2010)

Getting Ready ......

 The trouble with this hedge, as you can see, is that it is enormous, about ten or eleven feet 
high, and from the road-side it looks even taller because of the wall; and it is beginning to 
block the pavement (sidewalk).  When it was cut last year, the Calvary was higher than the 
hedge.  Now it is dwarfed by it.  The plan is to cut the hedge down to about five feet.  This 
will happen within a couple of weeks, now that all the nesting birds have raised their chicks 
and flown the nests.  I will be supervising, directing, deciding, whilst the two Johns will do 
the hard graft.  John will do most of the cutting and the other John and I will do the clearing
Today I have been checking the machines which will be used to do the damage to the 
hedge - they have not been used since this time last year.  Fortunately, I think, all is well.

Hedge 3

Barney Life No. 8 (posted 01/08/2010)

July 31st: Founders' Day Sung Requiem Mass
 Josephine and John Bowes were the inspiration and patrons of St Mary's Church.  Lady Josephine Bowes, Countess of Montalbo, and Sir John Bowes of Streatlam (to give them their proper titles) had planned to build a church for Josephine next to the Museum which they were building to house their huge collection of pottery, paintings and art.  When Josephine died, John continued building the church beside his museum, but when money to finish the museum ran short John stopped the work on the church.  By this time the walls of the church were complete, and the 'church' stood as a kind of folly for fifty years until 1926 when the trustees of the church negotiated with the trustees of the museum to move the whole thing to a new site on the corner of the estate, where the church was rebuilt and completed in 1928.  The bodies of John and Josephine, which had been resting in a crypt at Gibside Hall, near Dunston, were brought to Barnard Castle during one night in July 1928 and reinterred in a grave behind the apse of the church and facing the Museum.
Each year towards the end of July I celebrate a Mass in the Extraordinary Form (the Latin Mass) for the repose of their souls and in thanksgiving for their gift of this beautiful church to the people and parish of St Mary's Barnard Castle.  The weather has been fine today, but holidays have kept the numbers attending down.  The choir too was reduced to one (Mike Forbester of the Rudgate Singers).  But between us we celebrated a Sung Requiem with a procession out to the Tomb to perform the Absolutions.
Afterwards we retired to the marquee on the lawn for tea and coffee, biscuits and 'my world famous sausage rolls' - at least, that is what I like to tell newcomers, before adding that they only take fifteen minutes from frozen in the oven and that they come from England's largest grocery store!
For obvious reasons, I could not take a photo during the Mass, but here is the altar all ready to begin the Mass.  The candles are as yet not lit, and it was only at the end of the whole service that we realised that the candles had never been lit!!!

Barney Life No. 7 (posted 26/07/2010)

Monday, July 26th
Yesterday I celebrated all my Sunday Masses  and ended the day with Rosary and Benediction - nothing unusual in that.  However when I was preaching at my 9 am Latin Mass I noticed two ladies at the back of the church whom I didn't recognise.  After Mass they approached me and told me that they came from Middlesbrough, a round trip of about ninety miles, just so that they could have the pleasure of being at a Latin Mass.  One of the ladies told me that she had been passing the church a few weeks ago and was astonished to find that it was open all day.  How times have changed since all churches were always open all day!
The other unusual thing that happened yesterday was that I received an email from Lourdes with a comment on an earlier post.  I am amazed that anyone on pilgrimage to Lourdes would be reading my blog!  Jim comments about our Bishop's letter in which he talks about "new structures"; he says that we do not need "new structures" but that I should ask the Bishop to start speaking authoritatively from his Cathedra (sic) on birth control ... before the Catholic population dies out altogether .... then tell him to implement Summorum Pontificum.  He says the we do not need more "structures"; we need, he says, "instruction and solid doctrine not the Charismatic mush we are getting at Lourdes".
Jim, I doubt that the Bishop reads my blog but perhaps there will be someone who will pass on your comments to him! In the meantime, say one for us who are still at home.