Day 95 – 100 7th Nov – 12th Nov


It was lovely to spent time at Hilfield Friary, and with Elaine (her first visit too). We were attending a ‘craft’ week and were able to do our own stuff and learn some new skills, including some Japanese braiding! It is always interesting being with creative people and seeing different crafts in action including sewing, knitting, crochet, glasswork, lacemaking, card making and book folding in a lovely and very well equipped craft room (right near the pig sty and pen!). We also caught up with Thomas (my neighbour in Wiltshire) and all his family, who are now based in Dorchester.

The Friary is in a beautiful spot, and much enhanced by the late autumn colours. The weather was less that wonderful – with hefty frequent showers and one very stormy day. I haven’t been to Hilfield for about 4 years as I have been going to glorious Glasshampton for retreat time, but it was great to see it in such good order, lovingly cared for and maintained. My first friary encounter was back in 1984 – the essence of prayer at the centre and community living is the same, but how it is being worked out is quite different.  The use of the land, their caring for animals and their impressive living lightly in the environment are all great to see (they were awarded the first gold ecochurch award!). A calf was unexpectedly born in the middle of Friday’s stormy weather (it was about 10 days early).

During this sabbatical time, I have had a number of thoughts, reflections and conversations about the influence of Hilfield and the youth camp in particular. Seeing Hilfield through the eyes of someone visiting for the first time, with echoes in my head of experiences and people, highs and lows from the last 34 years was interesting. It always seems to be good to see people from those Hilfield Youth Camp times whenever it happens. Folk from there are now scattered pretty liberally across this country, and moving and shaking in various guises in the Church and their churches! Long may that continue! I acknowledge quite openly the lasting influence all that had on me, the combination of love, hope and the Holy Spirit in a Christian community, with a healthy dose of creativity and laughter…

On Sunday after refreshing and inspiring worship, and Sunday lunch which featured Korean food and chocolate custard, I drove via West Bay to Sidmouth for a couple of days with my mother. Next stop is retreat time at Glasshampton which starts tomorrow afternoon.

PS Despite spotting various upcycled version of the metal chairs in Birmingham -here is definitive proof the originals are still in deepest Dorset (in the washing up area of the camp field).


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