I've always felt obliged to go out or do something special On New Years Eve but I realized this year that I don't really enjoy it. So this year I just had one glass of wine and me and my wife watched a film ('Enigma' anyone? Good film). My wife fell asleep half way through it (maybe I wasn't that good :)). It happened to finish at sea on midnight so I then turned on to BBC1 and watched the fireworks going off over the Thames for a few minutes and then went to sleep.
This morning I went for a run. There's a weird subculture out there on New Years Day morning - cyclists and joggers who say hello when they pass you. If you live in some remote part of the world that probably isn't very unusual but in Birmingham it's virtually unheard of. At one point I passed about 15 cyclists and they were all smiles and "morning!", "Eh!", "Happy new year!"...
I've not made any resolutions. I'm in quite a good routine exercise-wise and resolutions never work for me, so there you go.
Hope 2015 is good to you all.

mucho gusto
After church this morning we had the family from Venezuela over to our house for dinner.
i really loved it.
we hit it off really well and the kids all played happily which gave me a chance to speak with Antonio and practice my spanish. At one point i had to remind myself that i was actually talking spanish.
One bit of cultural difference which i found interesting was that in Venezuela people don't shorten their names to make them more informal. Antonio , por ejemplo, is never shortened to Toni. He found it funny how my names is shortened from Andrew to Andy and sometimes to And.
they're a lovely family and i hope we remain friends.

the early hours
I did my street pastoring again tonight.
one of the best things about it is the irregularity of it. Before i had kids i used to be a real late-owl. Then i had kids and it all changed and i hardly spend any time up at night. The street pastoring allows me to do that.
tonight i was on with mark, who looks like the English comedian Dave gorman...and sounds like Dave gorman...and acts like Dave gorman actually.
there was rob, who's quite a straight-laced guy in his 40s; nice guy.
and glynes, who I've been on with before.
it wasn't a particularly eventful night. We served up about 30 cups of tea; picked up about 30 glasses and bottles...
there was one old guy who sat with us for 3 hours. He was an afghan man, 59 years old. He knew the price of loads of food products in different shops and kept telling them to us and also kept saying he wanted to give us donations. Apparently he's going to give me £250.😌
he lived on the other side of the city and I've no idea what he was doing in Sutton at 1:00am on a Saturday night....?
anyway, now I'm back, I'm chilling with a sandwich and a glass of wine, watching the news and contemplating my lie-in tomorrow.
i love the early hours...

Has anyone outside the uk seen the artwork at the tower of London?
it's pretty impressive.
to mark 100 years since the start of world war 1, an artist put a handcrafted poppy in one of the windows of the castle. Over time, he's added to it with the idea that each poppy represents a British person who died in the war. The piece of art is now finished with (i think this is right) 880 000 poppies. The amount of space occupied by them around the castle is the same as 16 football pitches and it looks really impressive. A sort of sea of red surrounding the castle.
there's a bit of controversy about it because it's supposed to come down on 11/11 (the date when world war ended) but some politicians have asked it to stay up so that the 1000s of people flocking to see it will get a chance.
cool piece of art.
really thought provoking.
i couldn't get an image to load up on my mobile but here's a link to one.

this sunny weather's really helping my attitude. instead of thinking - oh no, i've got to get up at 6, cycle to work, do a days work and then cycle home, i thought - yes, i'm gonna start the day with with a beautiful cycle-ride, work's pretty quiet (only 1 lesson to teach today) and then i can enjoy a beautiful cycle ride home. i stopped at the park again today and did a bit of sun-bathing again and it was well peaceful. cycling along to music is just so enjoyable in this weather too. long live summer!

rod stewart
there was a fascinating documentary about rod stewart on tele the other night. i'm usually fast asleep by 10:00 but i was up to midnight watching it. it had me gripped. what surprised me most though (and this is probably of absolutely no interest to anyone else) was Rod's scottish roots. he's known for his love of the glaswegian soccer club Celtic and scotland in general even though he's a londoner. i'd heard that his dad was scottish and maybe his mum too but they interviewed his dad and he sounded about as scottish as big ben. i've always felt a bit of a fraud with my london accent and proud to be scottish attitude but not anymore. at least my dad's got a glaswegian accent. shalom!

maggy thatcher
interesting how maggy appears to be getting better tributes in the US than in britain.

prince has released a new single. best thing he's done in years. i used to be a massive fan in 80s but I don't know what happened to him in the 90s. money must have gone to his head. I like the new one though. well funky. like the way he's released it too - under a different name - third eye girl. mysterious like he was in his prime but not pretencious like he later became. ok, maybe a bit pretencious but it sounds like he's made it back down to earth. good to have you back prince.

Back from Greenbelt
Well, Greenbelt was everything I hoped it would be.
We arrived about half nine on the Sunday morning and went straight to the main-stage for the church service. There were about 10 000 people there and it had a really laid-back feel which is the way I like it. The band were as good as ever (drums, bass, guitar, a few other instruments and a choir). One of the songs we sung was 'Bring 'Em All In' which made my morning. It's a song that Mike Scott from the Waterboys wrote:

Bring the unforgiven
bring the unredeemed
bring the lost, the nameless
let 'em all be seen
bring 'em out of exile
bring 'em out of sleep
bring 'em to the portal
lay them at my feet

After the service we headed round the village. There were a number of marques set up and loads of food stalls selling anything from Japanese food to roast dinners. Expensive but good quality.
Then we watched a singer called Martyn Joseph on a smaller stage. He plays folk music which isn't normally my thing but he's a great performer and the lyrics to his songs are really clever.
We went round the village again. It's set up in Cheltenham Race-course which normally holds horse-racing but also hires itself out for other events. It was very muddy due to the rain from the previous couple of days but at least it kept dry.
Then we got ready for the Proclaimers who were playing on the main stage. Two of my friends, my son and myself painted our faces with the Scottish flag (as you can see) and headed down to the front. My friend said I looked like a Glasgow Rangers football hooligan but I thought I looked more like the Tango man from the fizzy drink advert. Anyway, what I like about Greenbelt is anything goes. The people that go are made up from the young to the old and you can wear anything and not look out of place.
Watching the Proclaimers was a a riot. Jumping up and down like a lunatic is something I don't do very often but I love the energy of it. I'd tell you that the band noticed us with our face-paint and smiled at us but I'd probably sound like one of those sad fanatics... ha ha
In the evening everything at Greenbelt lights up and looks really magical.
We watched Nitin Sawhney (the headline act) - they won the Mercury Music Award last year which is given for innovative new music. They play a kind of mixture of Indian music with dance rhythmns and some quality soul singers. Really enjoyed it.
We caught a comedian in one of the tents on the way out and then headed home in the early hours.
I'll definately be heading back next year. It's such a positive place. Highly recommended.


Can't wait til Sunday. I'm taking my eldest son to the Greenbelt Festival. For my Russian and American friends and maybe even some of my British ones, it's a music festival with a Christian focus. It used to draw crowds of about 30 000 and some big names have played there like U2. It always has a real variety of acts and the vast majority are total quality. It was where I heard Julie Miller for the first time and I totally fell in love with her. She had recently come out of a mental hospital and she did this brilliant version of 'My Psychiatrist'. Absolute legend.
Anyway the Proclaimers are playing this year - the Scottish brothers with the National Health specs. I've got my Scottish hat and wig ready - it's gonna be class.


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