Monthly Archives: August 2008

Greenbelt 08 report 3

My second talk from this morning was Joel Edwards of the Evangelical Alliance (still – just). A great talk, I wish the EA would come across in this way more frequently (in Joel’s terms "centrist") and divorce itself from the hard right.

For example Joel referred back to the historical Evangelical definition (from Bebbington?) of 4 key emphases:

  • Biblical basis
  • Centrality of the Cross
  • Conversion
  • Transformation (of communities resulting from transformed lives).

I have always liked and identified with this, but not the "hard" version:

  • inerrancy
  • penal substitution only
  • a specific experience described with the right buzz words in the right order
  • transformation on specific issues only

Great talk, now at "The Kitchen" for a panel on scripture which includes Joel and Richard from this morning.

Greenbelt 08 report 2

Just been to my first Greenbelt talk of the year. Richard Burridge "Does the Bible exclude people?"

Absolutely fantastic, greenbelt was worth it this year if I get to nothing else. Rushed over to the shop and bought his book (with £7 off) "Imitating Jesus: an inclusive approach to New Testament Ethics.

He looked at examples of where people on opposite sides of a debate have both used scripture in the same ways and yet come to opposite conclusions.

From the past he used Slavery and Apartheid as examples, looking at the Biblical examples used by those on both sides. Particularly the difficulty caused by the fact that those we now see as being wrong (slave owners/apartheid supporters) held what they considered as Biblical sound positions (unlike their opponents that we now understand as being in the right).

He then explored a method that takes seriously the genre of the gospels as ancient biographies which challenge us through the combination of impossibly high ethical standards combined with an amazingly inclusive community.

Just a couple of examples.

  • Jesus’ teaching on money, yet he included a tax collector in his disciples.
  • Jesus’ teaching and example on violence yet he included freedom fighters in his disciples.

I reckon this is essential to current debates on issues such as gender and sexuality.

[written earlier but posted during Proost Lounge, good material and free wine]

Note that one part of Proost is Jon Birch of the ASBO Jesus cartoons and Jonny Baker.

Greenbelt 08 report 1

Arrived today (Fri) for the start of the Greenbelt Festival. An early start saw us leave home just after 6:30am but this meant we got onto the campsite much earlier than last year. Some obvious improvements were visible as we arrived with new roads to the site, much better routing and even more toilets.

The kids have all been busy going off to things, we managed a nice coffee in Mocha Mania and met up with an old friend from my university days, plus her family. Continued back at our caravan until a few minutes ago.

We have an immediate party of 9 sharing cooking, part of a larger group from our circuit of over 20 this year. Several are here for the first time which means it is good that it stopped raining while we were queuing.

Many other changes with improvements and expansions all over the place, so much to explore and do!

Going now as I have to get up in time to collect a session token for our youngest, they open at 8:45 but the queue will start much earlier.

Normanby to top of North York Moors

Taking advantage of a dry day and being inspired by Nicole Cook, Emma Pooley, Jamie Staff, Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy we decided a quick afternoon sprint to the top of the North York Moors was required. Great but very tired after – had to go to a lovely Cantonese restaurant for dinner to continue the celebrations:

Normanby to top of North York Moors at EveryTrailMap created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Caravaning Tips

We are heading for the end of a caravaning holiday in North Yorkshire during this very wet summer. As we have been having a good time despite the weather I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips/thoughts.
What to camp in.
Over many years on our summer holidays we have used most types of camping (motorcaravan’s, folding caravans, large tents, small tents, boats & caravan). For a wet British summer a modern caravan is definitely our first choice.
Where to camp.
While kids are small a site with a suitable playground is great, now however, we much prefer a Certified Location (CL -  a site limited to 5 caravans at a time). We deliberately chose a caravan with a proper shower cubicle (full plastic lining) so all we need is a water supply and toilet emptying. But for longer than a weekend we find having electricity makes a big difference (electric hob means that the gas lasts much longer, no worries about running the battery flat, ability to charge phones, cameras etc, allows use of laptops).
Getting comfortable
We like being comfortable :-) Especially now we are so old. Little things can make a huge difference, especially when it is wet. For us that includes:

  • A washroom in the caravan big enough to change in with a proper shower cubicle. For us that means an end washroom, with a proper molded plastic shower cubicle (and heated hot water). We can manage 5 hot showers in a morning which is helpful when sharing a confined space. It is also good when coming in very wet from cycling in the rain.
  • Two rolling barrel style water containers – needed so you can swap from an empty to a full one when your partner is halfway though their shower.
  • Quick drying travel towels, the ones designed for back-packing. Otherwise you are going to be full of wet smelly towels all holiday.
  • An awning. We have a Fiamma caravanstor, it is much quicker to put up and down than a traditional cotton awning but we do have to take it down in high winds. Being PVC it is not a problem if it has to be taken down in the rain. We have one of these porous mats for the floor so don’t have to worry about killing the grass, but water will come up through it so you do need shoes /wellies if it is wet.
  • A couple of cheap groundsheets. One under all your bikes and the other on top. Pegged down they have kept our bikes nice and dry despite torrential rain.
  • A memory foam mattress topper – just for Mum and Dad :-) Makes double beds made up from settee cushions much more comfortable.
  • Hike tents for teenagers (even if the caravan has enough beds) makes life that much more spacious and allows for comfy lie-ins. Use the excuse that the single beds in caravans are generally tight for space for teenagers – say they will be more comfortable if they can stretch out. We have enough beds inside (and use them in winter and for quick overnight stops) but everyone is happier with their own accommodation.
  • Bike transport within the caravan. Ours has bunk beds and the lower bunk folds away to allow you to carry bikes inside. We brought 4 upright bikes and one recumbent trike inside the caravan (plus a tandem recumbent trike on the car roof).
  • A mother-in-law to lend you an LCD TV when the Olympics are on.
  • External gas BBQ point, we use it not much for a gas BBQ but for one of those multifunction folding (Cadac style) things. With a griddle it makes meals for 8 plus much easier.
  • Wellies for everyone. We economized and have 4 of us sharing one pair and as we have 3 inches of standing water between us and the car our youngest has to ferry the wellies back and forth.
  • Crocs, you may hate them (we don’t) but they are the best thing along with 3/4 length trousers for getting around a wet field.
  • 3G internet access dongle for laptops, but bring a USB extension cable and a pole to be sure of getting a signal (working lovely now even though we can’t get a good enough signal for a phone conversation).
  • The Olympics, best when staged on the other side of the world. Makes staying in the caravan on a wet morning a pleasure.
  • Bikes, the best way to explore the local area and allow you to eat lots of cream teas.
  • Caravan levelers, with a twin-axle you need two. I like my beds level and these work a treat. Place around a wheel and wind it up into the air. Managed to get wheels 8 inches into the air last Greenbelt for a nice level bed.


Very expensive, especially if there are more than 4 of you. Great for touring to a different site each night (or moving every other night). A real pain if you want to go out for the day in it (lots of packing away, height restrictions in many places). Good option if you need to tow a boat. Most popular for couples. We had a few years with a VW motorcaravan (T4 with lifting roof), excellent when there were 4 of us, very tight and intimate when there were 5. It did make an excellent tow car for our Laser 16 day boat (16 feet, day sailing boat).

Folding Caravan

We had a very old Dandy 6 folding camper, they are great to tow light and low wind resistance. The Dandy has solid sides and an insulated PVC roof – that means it can be folded away in the rain with no problems (and nothing inside gets wet). But you lose out on a washroom and certainly no possibility of a shower. We found that we struggled with luggage space as you can fit very little inside the camper when traveling (and anyway have no access to it without erecting the caravan). We would definitely consider another one in the future.

Large Tents

We had a second hand huge Khyam, not too bad to pitch (if you can find a big enough space) and very spacious when up. It did mean we needed a trailer as when packed it completely filled the boot of our Peugeot 406 estate. We did find that we wanted to use a campsite with nice toilets and showers. The biggest problem was when you want a multi-site holiday. If it is raining on the transfer day it makes it horrible. Can be comfortable as you have capacity with trailer to take nice camping chairs etc. Not for all year round use.

Small tents.

Only camping option if cycle touring or back packing. Not nice with prolonged rain if you can’t afford to eat out all the time. We spent nearly 2 weeks cycle touring a couple of years ago. Nearly one week riding to an organised cycling holiday and then back again after. We will do it again, but only if not traveling by car (as then much more comfortable options are available).


See above for good features. Disadvantages are that visiting anywhere in transit is difficult as few car parks have spaces for caravans. We find that multi-site touring works well but tend to prefer one or two sites per holiday (plus maybe overnight stops on the way). We find towing no problem but chose a twin axle caravan with a stabilizer hitch. See 42: Tow car thoughts. Once we no longer need such a big car (3 boys, one is over 6 feet and the 2nd is catching fast) we will be looking for either a much smaller caravan still with nice washroom or (more likely) a folding caravan so that we can have a really small car (not our really economical Citroen C1 though as that can’t have a tow bar). Another problem is where to store the caravan. We waited until we knew that there would be space alongside our manse before buying our caravan.

What else?
Any other tips? Or questions?

Laundry trip to Malton

When there is no hope that it will stop raining what better to do than ride to the nearest laundrette with two large panniers filled with the washing. To make life easy the only laundrette we have found near us only has service washes – how sad.

It is a very nice quiet route as far as the Eden Camp, from there you can go by bridal ways into Malton. However, due to a combination of very wet roads and being on a proper road bike I decided to go on the main A-road from Eden Camp straight into Malton.

I cheated on collecting the washing, Jane and I left the kids behind and collected the washing by car. We also went to the supermarket (and yes a very nice hotel for a cream tea – far to nice a place to waste on the boys).

Laundry trip to Malton at EveryTrailMap created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

That was on Tuesday and everything is still not dry on Thursday.

Ride: Normanby to Pickering

On Sunday we slipped in a short ride together to Pickering for lunch. Lovely quiet lanes and we missed the rain 3 times. That meant a short delay to the start after we had got all the bikes ready, then heavy rain while we were in a nice cafe eating to much and then more rain just after we got back to the caravan.

Normanby to Pickering at EveryTrailMap created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

I don’t know what we did to the GPS so that it registered a straight line for the ride back, I promise we have not yet learned to fly.

Walk on N York Moors

On Monday we managed a short but lovely walk on the North York Moors. We drove through Hutton-le-Hole to the top of Chimney Bank (we decided to start walking from the top for a change). Distance was kept short enough to get back to Hutton-le-Hole in time for a cream tea :-)  The elevation profile shows it was a steep end to the walk:

Walk on N York Moors at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Not only did we manage this nicely food wise (between lunch and afternoon tea) we also stayed dry – quite a feat this summer.

The Purpose of Existence

Sam is going deep: Elizaphanian: The Purpose of Existence. From the introduction:

I have been fairly criticised for not saying enough positive things
about what I DO believe, as opposed to pointing out things that I DON’T
believe. I think there is a real need for the latter, as so often
Christianity is misrepresented or misunderstood, including by (perhaps
especially by) Christians themselves, but it can become irritating on
its own. So here is, hopefully, a more positive line of thought.

Then 15 points. I particularly love the first and last points.

1. Christianity begins with Jesus, and a response to him. It means
accepting his vision as determinative, and his authority as absolute.
The gospel is: "Jesus is Lord", the rest is detail.

15. It’s all about Jesus, and it remains all about Jesus, and it is more relevant than ever.