Category Archives: community

2015: My new writing focus and challenge

I have been absent for over a year from this site. I had only planned to be away for a few weeks.

Thank you for some of you who regularly checked on me.

Thank you for those of you who continued to write and inspire me.

I’m still reading some blogs, especially ShimonZ through his blog the human picture. In ShimonZ’s writing and through his lenses, I see Jerusalem, the everyday life of the people and animals, and ponder over some terribly sad episodes over the last year.

It’s wonderful to know Tilly still enjoys writing and reciting poems. She cried over her son leaving home, watched her son performing, and even decorated her room, in her blog dedicated to sharing the laughter: The Laughing Housewife.

I’m so proud that Nicki Chen successfully published her gripping novel, Tiger Tail Soup. I’ve read the book and would highly recommend it to you. In the past year, Nicki’s blog Behind the Story never fails to entertain (lots of food), and carry me with her on her fascinating recollections of the past, from the East to the West. Continue reading

Visit England’s village post office in Hursley

I wrote about this village post office in Hursley, England, a few days ago.

This unique post office near Winchester opens 7 days a week. It sells stamps, lottery tickets and eggs. It takes care of the villagers’ dry cleaning too. Don’t you like a sweet little shop like this in your neighbourhood?

Hursley post office, near Winchester

Hursley post office

One reader, Ruby, asked me if the postal service is available on Sunday. He also asked if there is a Queen Victoria post box.

I therefore made a special trip to Hursley post office yesterday and spoke to its new owner, a young man called Bhagwant. Bhagwant told me that the shop opens daily, but the postal service doesn’t run on Sunday. Since he took over the post office 8 months ago, he included National Lottery as part of his services to the villagers.

This post office is small, but it sells almost everything you need to get by everyday. It reminds me of a well-known Chinese idiom, 麻雀虽小,五脏俱全 (máquè suī xiǎo,wǔ zàng jù quán). It translates: even though a sparrow is small, it has got all the organs it needs. When you enters this post office, it will only take you 3 small steps from the door to the counter.

You can click the images below to view enlarged images.

Hursley Village is an alluring English village. Whenever I travel, I like visiting traditional little shops. A little shop like this post office possesses the charm that a megastore does not have. And I feel that a village that could support a local post office is definitely a pleasant one.

I’m very lucky that I only live next door to this enchanting village.


My related posts:

Unique British post boxes: share your hobby
Does your post office open everyday?

Does your post office open everyday?

I saw this advert last weekend and somehow it attracted my attention.

Hursley Village is just a few minutes from where I live. I’ve been there a few times, but I’m still astonished by the range of services it offer.

Hursley post office, near Winchester

Hursley post office

1) This village post office opens 7 days a week.

2) It covers almost everything:

  • National lottery (i.e. buy lottery tickets and you could have a chance of becoming a multi-millionnaire overnight.)
  • Dry cleaning
  • Ice cream
  • Deliver newspapers & magazines
  • Locally produced eggs
  • Bread, milk & cakes
  • Pre-ordered foreign currency
  • Euros on demand
  • Greeting cards and stationery

I’m wondering what the post offices are like in your country, or in the place where you live.

Two post boxes in Chandler's Ford

Two post boxes in Chandler’s Ford

Inspired. Entertained. Treated. Sponsoring.

Last night, I had a rare Girls’ Night Out evening. Two friends invited me for a ‘girls’ evening’. I don’t normally do ‘girls’ things on a big scale. Socially, I’m comfortable with no more than 3 girls.  A social Girls’ Night Out involves hundreds of women. It was a scary thought. My friend bought me the ticket, so, to improve my social skill and to expose myself to new challenging environments, I gave it a go.

I told my friend that I was worried about ‘girls’ thing, but she joked that I was becoming a grumpy old woman.

The event was held by World Vision. It’s a Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice.

The Girls’ Night Out event promised that we would be inspired by Carrie Grant (a celebrity), be entertained by Jo Enright (a comedian), and be treated with goodies and delicious sweets. As Jo Enright was ill, Carrie Grant’s husband, David Grant (also a celebrity), took her place and entertained the audience with an engaging sing a long choir session. Continue reading

Eyes: money and fear

Yesterday I wrote about my expensive eye care in the UK.

The total cost to my optician yesterday was £457 before a discount. I also bought 3 items recommended by my optometrist. These are an Eyebag called MGD RX (£20), eye drop and an eyelid hygiene liquid called Blephasol. These items cost £39. The total cost for my eye care yesterday before a discount was about £500.

(My non-designer plain titanium frame cost £192 (the cheapest I could find; I needed a titanium frame because of my skin allergy to alloy) and the lenses cost £215. The examination and photograph fees were £50 in total.)

A few days later, I did a quick search online, and found that if I had chosen to buy the 3 items online, I could have saved myself at least £12.

Image by jjjohn via Flickr

Image by jjjohn via Flickr

Continue reading

Choice or illusion?

My glasses snapped last week. I went straight to my optometrist at Rawlings. After thorough examinations and photos taken of my eyes, and a new frame and lenses, the total bill was over £400. I chose a non-designer frame.

Do I have a choice? No. Because I needed the service and my new glasses.

The alternative was to pay into an 18 month plan (at £8.50 per month). This covered free eye care, and the cost of my glasses and lenses will be cut by 25%. Continue reading

What’s in the news?

I tried to find out some information about the major earthquake in Sichuan, China, however, it’s almost hidden in the newspapers as the earthquake is not major news in the UK, comparing to Boston bombing. Today, I bought the Sunday Times, and expected the earthquake news to be easily found. It isn’t. From the front page to page 5, the news is dominated by Boston bombing, in great details. The China earthquake news is on the bottom right of pg 33 (the main section has only 34 pages of news).

Continue reading

Stories from the church

Last Sunday, my friend didn’t join me for coffee after the church service. I wondered why and she sent me her excuse by an email:

“I was sitting next to a 91 year old lady who was visiting the church. She was telling me all about her war service. She was in the women’s RAF and started off building Hurricane fighter planes. Then she was attached to 57 Squadron (Lancaster Bombers) and was in charge of delivering the bombs out onto the airfield and seeing them loaded up into the bomb bays. Her husband flew the Lancaster bombers and survived the war.  Her best friend worked on the Dambusters project!”

Hands of time (image by cogdogblog via Flickr)

Hands of time (image by cogdogblog via Flickr)

This story excited me. It looks like the Church of England attracts the most interesting people. It also proves that some people’s viewpoints of the church are possibly wrong. Some people have the perception that church is a boring place with boring, under-achieving people.

I’ve decided that in the future when I get to church early enough, I would: Continue reading

Sunday morning laughter

I made an effort to go to the church this morning when the famous line by Shelley sprang to mind, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” It isn’t the most spring-like February. A sudden burst of hails last night echoed the rock music and I enjoyed a bit of drama in the weather. Rain and snow are just a bit too boring for me.

If you think that church is boring, you might be wrong. This morning, the priest in our local Church of England church dressed like he had got a job to do, unlike last weekend. He donned a striking purple robe (or do you call it a dress?) today for a change.

You can see the shade of purple in this picture:

Rowan Atkinson - wearing a big purple dress every day! (Radio Times image)

Rowan Atkinson – wearing a big purple dress every day! (Radio Times image)

The priest started the service by saying, “Welcome everyone. Any mention of rugby is banned, including gloating.” It sounded like he hasn’t quite recovered from the rugby match yesterday.

The Six Nations: Wales thrashed England: 30: 3 (BBC picture)

The Six Nations: Wales thrashed England: 30: 3 (BBC picture)

He also reminded the small congregation of sending out the Easter Worship leaflets in the community, “If you would like to make a nuisance for yourself in the name of Christ, here are some Easter leaflets.”

The priest also announced that there would be a film night next Tuesday, ‘The Passion of the Christ’ by Mel Gibson. “The film also comes with a bit of health warning.”

Church of England for Dummies

Since my last post about our ‘vicar’ who didn’t wear a lot on a Sunday, my dear friend Hazel kindly gave me a lesson by email called Church of England for Dummies.

I love going to the church as I’m a bit vain. I enjoy being the youngest adult for a day, though I’ve noticed some strands of white hair have already started sprouting when I look at the mirror. Old ladies would speak to me adoringly, the way they speak to an oriental foreigner. “I’ve been to China, you know? I climbed the Great Wall. Oh, those pandas in Sichuan. Aren’t they gorgeous?” Some gentlemen would take me back to the glory of the British empire, their postings in the Far East, the colonial styled Raffles Hotel in Singapore and all that. (Oh, don’t forget the awful Changi Prison!)

However, though being in the church for a few years, I’m still ignorant of the structure of the church. For example, I thought a ‘READER’ is someone who reads out the Bible during the service. There used to be a speaker with a strange title as ‘Captain’. I thought most trained ministers in the church are called vicars. Apparently, I’m quite wrong.

According to Church of England for Dummies by my friend, Hazel,

“Fiona is a priest whose local title is Associate Vicar. Technically, there is one Vicar (sometimes called a Rector, especially in country districts). He or she is the incumbent, which means that he or she is in charge of the parish. All other priests work under this person and are actually assistant curates according to the Church of England regulations. However, local titles, such as Associate Vicar, can be bestowed by the Bishop.”

“Some priests, such as Lynda Bunting are Self-supporting Priests – in other words, they are fully qualified but work unpaid. Deacons are people who have been trained at theological college and are working in a parish for a year (or longer) before being consecrated as priests by the Bishop. Michael was a Deacon when he came to us. They all have the title Reverend (Rev. or Revd.)”

“In multiple benefices – groups of parishes – there is often a Team Ministry comprising several priests working together, though one of them is usually put in charge of the others.”

Ordination -- cartoon by Dave Walker

Ordination — cartoon by Dave Walker

“Michael Smith comes from an Anglo-Catholic background – what is commonly known as High Church in the Church of England. Anglo-Catholic services follow Common Worship for communion as we do, but there is much more emphasis on robes, incense, ceremony and bells etc and often a strong music tradition.”

“Worship must be a beautiful offering to God and there is an emphasis on the sacraments. As in the Roman Catholic churches, many Anglo-Catholics like to attend formal confession to a priest, particularly before important services such as Christmas and Easter mass. (Communion or Eucharist is usually referred to as Mass in these churches).”

“Ian and Fi come from the evangelical wing of the Church of England and would put more emphasis on bible teaching and preaching than on sacraments and prefer simpler, unrobed services.”

“A Reader is a lay (as opposed to clergy)  person who has undergone several years of training and is then licensed to work in a parish. Readers can preach and teach and do pastoral work and take funerals, but they cannot officiate at baptisms or consecrate the bread and wine for communion – only an ordained priest can do these things.”

“Generally, our parish is ‘middle of the road’ being neither evangelical (apart from Church@four or anglo-catholic.”

I found the above information fascinating. I’ve created this Wordle image file based on Hazel’s inspiration:  Church of England for Dummies
CoE for Dummies

CoE for Dummies