Measuring, Maths, and Marigolds (FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY)

Inchworm, inchworm,
Measuring the marigolds.
You and your arithmetic
You’ll probably go far.

When my older son applied to do maths A level at college, he gave his reason as ‘because maths explains how the world works’. When I heard this, I replied with bemusement:

“Well, it’s never explained it to me!”

Words have been my gateway to understanding not numbers. Literature, art, psychology, theology – these are the subjects that explained the world and how it works to me, not maths.

And yet, and yet…

Looking back, I remember the science that satisfied (and frustrated) me the most was physics. To my pragmatic brain, this was where maths proved useful and practical. I still remember the example our teacher gave us to work out which would cause the most pressure, and therefore a bridge to give way, an elephant or a lady in stilettos? I also remember countering his results because they had not allowed for some of the woman’s weight also going through the soles of her shoes!

The other day I recalled my O level physics exam where we had to work out the centre of gravity for a shape, when I looked at a patient’s deformed spine and pelvis and realised why they had balance problems.

I guess there’s no one academic subject that explains how the world works. Standing alone, they are each incomplete.

Inchworm, inchworm
Measuring the marigolds
Seems to me you’d stop and see
How beautiful they are.

Just as the inchworm in the song, we can measure and quantify our world as much as we like, but we also need to stop to appreciate and contemplate and wonder, at the micro and macro beauty around us. And maybe at that point, we can move on to considering not just how the world works but why. Check out Danny Kaye in ‘Hans Christian Andersen’ singing the apparently simple but compositionally complex ‘Inchworm’. for more inspired writing on the theme of ‘Measure’.



The REWARD of a Boys’ Brigade Captain

I feel almost like a surrogate mum.
As I usher the boys into the hall with a whispered, ‘You can do it.’
As I shrug, ‘It’s no big deal,’ from the sidelines to minimise a marching mistake.
As I surreptitiously give them a thumbs up when a tricky bit goes right.
As I sit at the back of the room, miming ‘Smile!’ as they sing.
As I press my lips together to stop it escaping while they search for a quiz answer.
As I stand strategically at the back of the hall for them to project their dramatic efforts towards.
As I note with surprise that even the wriggliest boy has suddenly developed statue like qualities for Inspection.
As I watch them go up to collect
Certificate after certificate
And finally
The overall trophy.
With heart fit to bursting
And stupid grin plastered to my face
(trying not to gloat over the other teams),
This is my reward

SHAMELESS PLUG! If you’d like to know more about Boys’ Brigade, as a volunteer or parent, check out:

(Linking up with the fabulous Five Minute Friday community )



World Poetry Day 2019

Here’s a bonus post as it’s World Poetry Day. I wrote this a while back but I hope you like it.


What if
I swept back the curtain
And let God’s light announce itself,
Illuminating all the dancing dust motes
Of triviality that clutter my vision
And settle into layers of lethargy?

What if
I pried open the window
And allowed His Spirit to breeze through,
Blowing away the cobwebs and stale smells,
To freshen every corner with the scent
Of His green growth and Spring hope?

What if
I unbolted the door
And invited His Son in to dinner
(Nothing fancy, just me and
Whatever’s in the back of my cupboards)
So we became friends?

What if
I let God in?

(On my way to work, I drive past a church which always has an ‘inspirational’ poster on its noticeboard, sometimes corny, sometimes clever, sometimes straight to the point like this one – a simple photo of light streaming through a window with the words ‘Let God In’).

God’s PLACE (Five Minute Friday)

This is God’s place

More tent than temple
Sagging and wrinkled
Uprights creaking
Battered by storms
Battered by life

No Bedouin palace
Of rich draped fabrics
Exquisitely embroidered cushions
And ornate serving platters
Piled high with improbable feast

Just ordinary
Muddied by others’ boots
Too much baggage piled against the sides
Compromising the waterproof shell
One small suspended lantern
Lighting the space
Full of family memories
A temporary home

But God’s place nevertheless

PLACE: ‘a portion of space designated or available for or being used by someone’ (Oxford Dictionary)

MORE (working title)

As usual, I’m joining the inspired and inspiring bunch of writers at

In my head, I can hear this as a song but I’m not musical enough to do more than lyrics. However,  if one of you talented readers could put a tune and arrangement to it, let me know!

Wishing I had listened more
And spoken less
Wishing I had noticed more
And missed less
Wishing I had done more prevention
Designed interventions
To protect you from harm
And sustain you in trouble

Wishing I had done more
Been more
Been better

Wishing I had seen more
Of what you needed
Wishing I’d skilled more
For ease of your succeeding
Wishing I could fix you
But I’m not meant to
I’m not a magic charm
I’m just an arm
For you to lean on

But I still wish I’d done more
Been more
For you

Deep down I know
I’m not meant to be the answer
How can you learn
To be more
If I do it for you?

But I can listen more now
And I can notice more now
And I can see more now
And I can pray more now

Furniture and a SEARCH for More (Five Minute Friday)

There is nothing quite like it: the joy of creating a home.

We’re in the process of furnishing our long-longed for and now much loved holiday cottage. Each piece we place in it, from the small (a delicate net to protect food) to the large (the utterly comfortable beds that the delivery men struggled to carry up our steep, narrow hill), makes it feel a little more homelike.

Some things we have brought from our other home; some are gifts; a few we’ve made or upcycled; some inherited and others bought new. When we need to buy, we are trying to support local businesses, which has led to wonderful excursions as we’ve discovered the treasures to be found in the local hospice shop, antique and vintage emporiums, and art galleries.

This morning, I watched my husband and Simon from Kabula Ltd. ( carry six dining chairs and two bar stools up to our little 1930s semi, the latest additions to our seaside home.
We’d searched for some time for chairs that would sit well in our kitchen diner, fitting with the décor and our renovated dining table. I’d pictured something like the fashionable Ercol style but hoped for something a little more original that therefore wouldn’t date. Back in December, we visited an enormous barn in a small rural industrial unit, crammed full of old furniture from house clearances. And here, right at the back, we found a dining set with interesting backs but uglified by thick dust and even thicker dark, almost black varnish, along with some equally dark and wobbly bar stools.

We thought, underneath it all, these might be something like the chairs we had been searching for. We hoped they could turn out to be beautiful.

As we waited for the company to completely strip them and clear varnish them before delivery, I have to confess, I forgot exactly what they looked like. But when they arrived today, they took my breath away. They weren’t beautiful – they were stunning.

Sure enough, under all that age and awful colour, was detailed carving, a lightness of design, and the natural rays and rings of the original tree, each pattern unique to each seat. I barely recognised them. And they looked perfect in our setting.

And that’s the thing about a search, isn’t it? Sometimes we think we know what we’re looking for but God surprises us with something much more: something more beautiful, something more wonderful, something that more than fulfils our hopes and dreams, something better than we could ever have envisaged.

Looking at my life, I know that’s so true in my marriage and my family. Life in all its abundance is what Jesus promised those who love and follow Him – but only He knows the full extent of that. What an adventure to find out.