Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Iron Bridge

This is not just any bridge but the first arch bridge to be made from cast iron. Construction on the bridge began in 1775 so while over in America the Revolution was beginning to brew here was a bridge that was being built.

There was a new blast furnace nearby lowered the cost of iron and allowed engineers to consider new options for construction.

The bridge cost just about £6,000 to build which would be about £1.5 million in today's money. Abraham Darby who was the grandson of the foundry was commissioned to cast and build the bridge. He estimated that it would cost £3,200 which was raised and said he would fund any excess. That might not have been the right thing to say. He ended up funding the excess and was in debt for the rest of his life.

This bridge was also important in that it was the beginning of the Industrial Age. The bridge claims to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. In the small museum at the Toll House there was a copy of a painting that was found in 1997 of the bridge while it was being built.

Back in the old days until 1950 it cost to cross the bridge. Now you can walk across for free.

We enjoyed our time there and walked a bit about the town. There are a number of museums that you can go through but we decided not to do that today.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Recent Reading

I thought I would share a bit of what I have been reading recently. As we were leaving Asia, I picked up a book, Not Less Than Everything by Valerie Griffiths.

Here is the summary from Amazon, "The book traces the stories of some of the early women missionaries in China who tried to tackle the painful custom of foot-binding. Often struggling with poor health, isolation and criticism from the expatriate community, the women of the China Inland Mission pioneered initiatives into the vast interior."

The book began with the early women missionaries to China beginning with Maria Tarn Dyer who sailed to Penang in 1827. Her daughter, Maria, married Hudson Taylor. Susie Garland was a new person to read about. She was from Australia. She was concerned about the blind people and so she developed a new way to teach blind Chinese to read. The Trio was about group of women, Mildred Cable and sisters,  Eva and Francesca French spent 20 years in one area and then later in life began traveling along The Silk Road. The book went on through to the 1950's and Phyllis Thompson.

I started and finished the book on our flight from Asia to England. It was about a 12 hour flight so that does give plenty of time to read and the book was written in such a way that I wanted to keep reading. The book also made me want to read more about the Trio especially Mildred Cable.

When I arrived here and wanted something else to read, I picked up a copy of Mountain Rain: A New Biography of James O. Fraser by Eileen Crossman. I had heard about J. O. Fraser and his work among the Lisu people. I had watched Breakthrough the other year.

Here is the summary from Amazon, "James Fraser was only twenty-two when he abandoned a promising career and went to China. At first sight of the Lisu tribes people of Yunnan province he felt an immediate affection for them, and for the rest of his life he labored to bring them to Christ and to Christian maturity. Packed with personal letters, insightful anecdotes and riveting stories of missionary life in China, this superb biography by Eileen Crossman, his daughter, shines with God's constant faithfulness and power over evil."

This book was not as easy to read as Not Less Than Everything based on the fact that it took me longer to read. Some might have been the writing style and some was the fact that I felt there were parts of the story that were missing that I would have liked to know.  I did come away from the book aware of J.O. Fraser's dedication to the Lisu people and the difficult task of living, working, and traveling in such a difficult area. He also felt strongly that prayer was what was going make the difference in the work. There are a number of quotes from him are prayer that personally remind me of the importance of that in our daily life.

One quote in the book that really encouraged me was, "James believed it was no more necessary to be faithful in preaching the Gospel than in doing something like washing up dishes in the kitchen. 'I am no more doing the Lord's work in giving the Word of God to the Chinese,' he wrote, 'than you are, for example, in wrapping up a parcel to send to the tailor. It is not for us, . . . to choose our work. And if God has chosen it for us, hadn't we better go straight ahead and do it, without waiting for anything greater, better or 'nobler'."

The last book on my stack of recently read books, is The Power to Save: A History of the Gospel in China by Bob Davey. The book begins with the Nestorians and some of the Catholic mission work. That is just given as background and the book is clear that Catholic and Protestant are not the same. In September 1807 is when Robert Morrison arrived. The book continues giving various key people and events in China both with missionaries and with the Chinese believers. This book condenses almost 200 years of history into about 300 pages. It is a good overview and history of missions in China.

Yes, there is a Chinese theme to what I have been reading. These are just various books that I picked up to read. These are just my comments on what I was reading. I was invited to spend time in the CIM archives and do more reading. I realize the sacrifice, the dedication, and the love for God and the Chinese people that so many of the early missionaries had.

Just sharing a bit of what I have been reading. We have another flight this week. I guess I will need to find a book or two to read though it is not as long of a flight.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hill Top Farm

Since we were in the Lake District, we decided to go home via Hill Top Farm. We wanted to visit based on our British Children's Author study of Beatrix Potter. It helped that we had seen the movie, Miss Potter.  Hill Top is the first farm that Beatrix purchased.  She went on to buy a number of other farms.

One totally interesting fact about Hill Top if that 20% of their visitors are from Japan. The brochures were in Japanese and you could buy some books in Japanese. Miss Potter has quite a following there. I do remember being in Asia and see quite a bit of Beatrix Potter things.

We drove through some windy, narrow roads. We saw a lots of hills and fields with sheep. Miss Potter's favorite breed was Herdwick which she helped save this breed from extinction. She was very involved in farming in the Lake District. She was named President-elect of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders' Association, the first time a woman had ever been elected to that office but died before taking office.

 We walked through the garden which was not that big. Hill Top is still a working farm.

There was a grassy field and we counted about four rabbits in there. Beatrix Potter wrote Peter Rabbit before moving to Hill Top. It was from the earnings from Peter Rabbit and four other books that she was able to buy Hill Top.

There was a small vegetable garden which reminded us of Mr. McGregor's garden. We even found a watering can in the garden.

Within the first two years of living at Hill Top Farm, Beatrix had 96 rats in her house. I think those rats were inspiration for the book The Tale of Samuel Whiskers.

When Miss Potter lived here, there was no electricity and running water even though it was available in the village. They did have electricity now and kept the lights low so it had the same feel as when she lived there. She was the last person to live there and left the house to the National Trust for tours. As we entered the house we were given a copy of The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and were told to look at various places in the house to find the actual parts of the house that were the inspiration for the book. We saw the front door, the fireplace and a number of other places.

This was the gate that you see in Tom Kitten.

Here is Mr. McGregor and you can even see Peter Rabbit in the water can.

I am amazed at all the places where I have seen mailboxes even in small little villages.  This was in the village but was also in one of the books.

Would you like a post card from here, I have an extra one or two. The first two people to let me know and make sure I have your address, will get one.

I am glad that we stopped. It was worth the drive. We then drove back south to where we were staying and took a ferry across one of the lakes in the Lake District. The bridges in Seattle were longer than the span where we took the ferry but it was a fun experience and saved having to drive on narrow, windy roads.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013


The sun is shining today. Yes, it is nice outside today. It does get a bit hot in the sun. We will need to find some shade. Since the sun is shining we should go out and enjoy the day.

Miss K and I took the easy outing. We drove in a van down a single lane road that has traffic going both directions. Since we were in a van most of the cars moved out of the way for us.

We stopped at a viewpoint and took some photos. This is the same lake that we walked to yesterday in the rain.

Today we had a nice blue sky.

Then we continued down the lane/road. We did wonder how wide the van was as the sign said 6"6' was the maximum width.  At the end of the lane was a hamlet which is a small village. I think there were about three or four houses. There was a small tea shop that has been owned by five generations.

We had a milky coffee. We because Miss K enjoyed the frothed milk on the top. She was willing to share my coffee but not as eager to share her juice and crisps.

Considering that we were down the lane so far it was surprising how many people were there.

There was a tarn there which is a lake.

We ate our lunch and then Miss K and I climbed a mountain which was really just a hill but for Miss K's legs it was a mountain.

Then we went back out that little lane and were back in the town to enjoy an afternoon ice cream.

While we were enjoying that outing. J was on a 5-6 hour hike. He had his camera.

Here is proof that he was hiking. I love the nice blue sky in the background. I might need to put this in a frame for him.

He also had this photo.

No, he didn't see Stonehenge but rather made his own up on the mountain. Homeschool kid.

I am glad that we had a nice sunny day. Of course, that did mean that the raincoat that we bought Miss K yesterday was not needed today but the weather is supposed to be rainy tomorrow.

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Going Local

Okay, not really local to where we have been as we have not been that far north. We have been here for about two weeks and still have a week. J has picked up the accent a bit. He can sound local if he wants.

This is a good father-son photo. Looking a bit like a Scotsman.

Here is one of just J.

We are enjoying our time here. We have been all over or so that is what it feels like. We are still trying to decide where we will be living.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The weather

A British friend recommended that I read the book entitled, Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour.  A whole chapter was devoted to the weather and a big part of it was how the English talk about the weather and how you draw out the discussion about the weather. I am still learning but did get some chance to practice while we were in Asia.

I am continuing to hear about the weather. One friend we visited told us that here you can have all four seasons in one day.

Well, we are getting our experience of the rainy English weather. Yesterday, we drove to the Lake District for a conference.  It was a nice drive along the rolling green hills with lots of sheep. That might be one of the reasons that they eat more lamb. We also saw a few castle ruins along the way. The weather yesterday was warm and not rainy.

This morning we woke up to rain and it has been rain most of the day. We did decide that if you want to do something you just need to go out and do it and not wait for the rain to stop. We went to the town center and did some shopping -- an umbrella to replace the one that broke and a raincoat for Miss K and a cup of coffee to warm me up.

We did take a bit of a walk to a nice scenic place near the lake. We had a picnic lunch that we enjoyed.

We did pass a field with a few sheep. Most of the sheep are white but we did see a black sheep in the field. 

There are lots of mountains here many of which you can climb. I am not sure we are ready for that kind of hiking. Miss K seems to have two speeds of walking either run real fast or so super slow. Walking to go shopping was a hike for her.

The weather is rainy. Yes, but at least it is not downpouring. You are right. It is not too cold either. Maybe the sun will come out later. That would make it a bit warmer.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

A Day at the Farm

We had two days of visiting with a friend and her children. One of those days my husband had a meeting so we decided to take the kids to a farm. It was a farm with a number of playgrounds.

As we walked in we saw this banner. It did make me miss home. I grew up not far from New Holland.

We watched the goat milking and petted a few small animals. Then we went to an area where you could feed the goats, sheep, and alpaca. The kids were trying to feed the little ones but the big ones were greedy and pushing there way in to get food.

There was a pig race that we watched. I was told that this is very typical for an English Fair. The pigs had names like Kevin Bacon, Harry Trotter, and a few others. It really is a fast race except for the one pig that got to the corner and then just wandered around sniffing the grass and seeing what he could eat.

There were a number of playgrounds outside and the inside was an indoor play area. While my friend and I sat with a cup of coffee the kids were running and playing. They enjoyed the sack slide and just running and playing. It was a nice enclosed play area with only one exit. That kind always make it a bit easier so Miss K doesn't escape though I have to say she is better about not wandering off though she did go to the car by herself yesterday which was about a block away.

I lost count of how many times Miss K went down the slide. 

It was a fun day as the kids were tired when we got home. 

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Sunday, August 18, 2013


We headed to Cambridge because it is a university town, we wanted to visit our co-workers and also look around the city. As we talked with our co-worker, he asked Miss K what she wanted to see in Cambridge. Her reply, "Pizza Hut." I have no idea how she came up with that but he told her that we would see that on our way to the town.

We then walked down some of the streets of Cambridge looking at the history. Our tour guide has grown up here. This is Emmanuel College which was a Puritan college and was where John Harvard attended.

We walked past the building where quite a bit of scientific discoveries were made.

The University dates back to 1231. There are 31 colleges there. We did learn that Trinity is the wealthiest of the colleges.

The river that flows at the edge of town is the River Cam and it has bridges over the river hence the name Cambridge.

On Saturday morning we went punting. A punt is a flat-bottom boat with a square-cut bow designed for shallow water. It is moved along with a pole. We had a great tour guide who gave us history as well as various facts about the colleges and the town.

We went past King's College which is probably most famous for the chapel. It is not the oldest or the wealthiest but has a beautiful chapel with a wonderful boys' choir.

This is the Bridge of Sighs at St. John's College. We did learn that St. John's College and Trinity are strong rivals. The Bridge of Sighs is named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. We did learn that the Bridge of Sighs was leading to a prison. Our tour guide did tell us that he has had at least three proposals on his punt at the Bridge of Sighs. I guess you should study the history of a place before you propose.

We had a fun morning in Cambridge. I am glad that we took the kids on the punting tour. I think it might be one of the highlight of the trip.

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