Friday, March 22, 2013

Mahler concert in Manchester

Last night I went to the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. There were only two works to be performed: Haydn Symphony 104 ( The London ) and Mahler Symphony no 4. The orchestra was the Halle conducted by Sir Mark Elder.

The first piece was well done, but the Mahler was a glorious performance. For me, at least, it was one of those rare occasions when conductor, orchestra and soloist were as one and it came out in the Mahler symphony. Mark Elder conducted very well and allowed the various members of the Halle to shine. The fourth symphony of Mahler on the one hand is his most accessable symphony, on the other it is quite a show piece and rather demanding. In addition, Mark Elder was able to bring out the contrast between the seemingly simple and rustic and the dark moments that colour the symphony. All in all, one of the best concerts I have been to.

I stopped at a city centre Premier Inn which was almost next door to the Bridgewater Hall!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A day in Preston, by rail

Today I went to Preston to attend to some family business. I decided to go by train. The rail fare was just under £30 return, all things considered, it was cheaper than taking the car. The journey down to Preston was fine. Having said that I was rather conscious of delays going north. By the time I got to Preston, trains from London were being delayed by up to 90 minutes. I decided a swift return was a good idea.

I did one or two little jobs, had a light lunch at my favourite cafe - Bruccianis in Preston town centre. By the time I returned to Preston station the delays were still around 90 mins or so. As some trains were bring cancelled I took the first available train back to Carlisle. Thankfully it was was not full ( as I expected it to be). All in all an interesting day out/

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis my thoughts

Its been a while since my last post, but the election of a new Pope has spurred me into writing.

Pope Francis's election came at an awkward time for me. The white smoke went up at around 6pm, I had Mass at 6.30. To make matters worse, I had confessions at 7pm in another church, but I did manage to see the key events. I have to admit that I am one of those whose immediate reaction was: who?!

I take the view that we need first and foremost to pray for our new Holy Father. Time will tell what he will be like, what he will say and do etc. I do get the impression that despite his evident holiness and simplicity he is a man to be reckoned with. He is orthodox ( not conservative as some would have it) and not afraid to speak his mind. I suspect also that he will not tolerate dissent in the church. I also think it is significant that his own order in effect banished him for not embracing Liberation Theology. I do wonder how the liberal Tablet reading Catholics will reconcile his very orthodox faith with his real and active concern for the poor.

Once again, my prayers are for Pope Francis, may God Bless him and St Peter intercede for him.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

May they rest in peace

Two of our more beautiful Catholic prayers are for the dead. " Eternal rest give unto then O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace" and " May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace."

On this Remembrance Sunday, we are reminded of the horrors of warfare. I think its true to say that many of those we call to mind today did not have a peaceful death. Many met a sudden and violent end, amidst the heat of battle. As I understand it heat of battle is a good euphemism for hell on earth. I'm sure many of them experienced the terror and fear associated with battle. 

As Catholics we believe that heaven is a place of "refreshment, light and peace". I think that the two prayers I quoted above are very apt for Remembrance Sunday. May all who were killed in war rest in peace. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Rail Rover Holiday.

For my main holiday I had an all line rail rover ticket for 14 days. I won't go into all the travelling I did, but one of the highlights was a trip to Fort William and Mallaig on the West Highland Line.

I left Preston on Monday October 1st. The train was the 8.53 Pendolino service to Glasgow. I was travelling first class!. There were just two of us in the coach I was in. On the journey I had a complimentary bacon baguette and toast, not too mention tea and later coffee. To show the power of the Pendolino it took just under 30 mins from Carlisle to Beattock Summit - in the days of steam trains that would have been seen as impossible.

After arriving in Glasgow I made my way to Glasgow Queen St for the 12.20 service to Mallaig. It was full. The journey was interesting as I thought it would be. The journey along side Loch Lomond was rather good. However the further north we went the weather slowly got worse. At Crianlarach the train divided. After the station, the route is spectacular, especially before Bridge of Orchy, were the train makes detour under some mighty Muntos. The train the goes on to Rannoch Moor, which is flat, bleak and desolate, especially in rain. The train stopped at Rannoch station for a few mins, so I managed a couple of photos.

From there the rain on to Fort William and then Mallaig. As the train windows were rather dirty, It was difficult to take pictures!

I spent the night at a rather basic Bed and Breakfast in Mallaig. I them returned to Glasgow. The weather was very poor most of the way, low cloud and heavy rain. However at Glenfinnan we met a steam train. Most of the West Highland line is single track, Glenfinnan is one of the few places we trains can pass each other.

The train also paused on the Glenfinnan Viaduct, however the weather was too bad for photos.
The whole West Highland Line is a major feat of engineering and was well worth the journey. I might even do it again!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Preston Guild Churches procession

Every 20 years my home town of Preston has guild celebrations. One of the highlights is the procession by the Christian Churches of the town. In days gone by the Catholics processed one day and the other churches on another. For the last two guilds, all the Christian Churches processed together.

With that in mind I decided to travel to Preston for the procession which was last Monday. The procession began at around 2pm and took about two and a quarter hours. In many ways it was rather impressive, but, sadly I came away disappointed and underwhelmed. I have had time to reflect on why:

  • Although there was a theme to the procession, at times it was not very obvious what it was or even what the different parishes and groups were representing.
  • There was a sameness about many of the groups in the procession. To put it another way, no group really stood out.
  • There was a bit of duplication - for example: two parishes had people dressed up in different ethnic costumes. 
  • Although I really don't like to say this, some of the floats were rather ordinary, they gave the appearance of not having much money spent on them. 
My main sadness was what could have been done. Given that the churches have had a couple of years to prepare, you would have thought that there was chance for money raising for decent materials. Also, I would have thought that a little more imagination would have made the procession more interesting and colourful.

A small disclaimer: I am not doubting the hard work that many people put into it - it just could have been so much better.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Interesting choice of what altar servers should wear.

In our parish we have three churches. We are very fortunate in having altar servers at all churches, indeed we have had a few more recruits in the last couple of months. Two of our churches use albs whilst the other use cassock and cotta. 

Last week I had a discussion with the altar servers at the alb wearing parishes. I asked them which they preferred the alb or the cassock and cotta. Without any prompting from me, they ALL said the would like to wear cassock and cotta!. I must admit I was surprised ( and pleased) at their answer. Anyway we are in the process of buying new cassocks and cottas, so it will be interesting to see if their enthusiasm will be maintained when they arrive.