Friday, December 01, 2023

Another Occasional Walk

Youngest sister, whose turn it was to decide the walking route, selected Little Venice in North London with a Greek lunch at a cafe which was not too far distant.

The walk took place in weather which was unusually cold for London in November, but the crispy dry climate encouraged our walking pace. As an aside, traveling to the starting point by the Bakerloo Line tube was not comfortable, as the Bakerloo Line underground trains are over 50 years old. However they are being replaced shortly with super-smooth looking new trains, if BBC pictures are to be believed.

We all met promptly but decided on a coffee early on at a local Italian coffee house which we came across near to the canal, which warmed us all up a little.

The walk itself was chilly (see picture above) but interesting. We walked along the canal tow path for much of the way; then stopped for lunch at Lemonia a  Greek restaurant near to Primrose Hill. 

Lemonia was packed but fortunately youngest sister had booked us a table.  I enjoyed a delicious fish soup, followed by dolmades which reminded me of travels in Greece years ago with my old friend John Farr: John Farr age c. 22. Rice pudding and mint tea to finish were excellent too.

We  then walked on nearby to   Primrose Hill   itself, and to nearby St John's Wood, which  both were very attractive. 

The  finish of the walk was  to the nearest underground station, which thankfully, enabled us all to avoid the Bakerloo Line on our return journey home.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Gaza Catholics

A really interesting aricle in the Financial Times earlier in the week. I requested details from that newspaper of copying for my blog and helpfully received their advice that I could use some of the article, subject to crediting them with the original, which I am  of course pleased to do. They did not provide details of the photographer so if he or she, wishes  to contact me about their picture,  please do so.

An extract from the Financial Times article reads:


For hundreds of years, empires and armies have come and gone in Gaza, but holy service at the Church of Saint Porphyrius has continued. The rituals have carried on in recent weeks as Israeli forces moved on Gaza City, bombs fell and fighting raged on the streets outside. Despite the battle around them, Greek Orthodox priests dressed in gold-trimmed cassocks have carried on holding mass for the hundreds taking shelter in the church. Built on a site first consecrated in the fifth century, this house of God has become a wartime home for many of the enclave’s Christian community.

Hopefully the church in Gaza still survives. The Christian numbers have already fallen to  under 1,000  remaining there, which sadly my old HCPT friend who was originally Iraqi from Baghdad, says is  being mirrored in  her old country as well, where one of her uncles is a Catholic archbishop, I believe. 

Let us hope and pray that the killings in Gaza cease soon and that the hostages kidnapped by terrorists, who at the time of their brutal invasion, also killed many innocents, will be released safely in the coming hours and days.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Sotheby's London Once More

 Younger brother and I decided on a second trip to Sotheby's London while our respective wives and friends were lunching at home.

The afternoon at Sotheby's was far less crowded than it had been at the Freddie Mercury exhibition which we had attended during the summer holiday season. Speaking of lunch, we both enjoyed the fish and ship shop which sadly, was only available in painting form. 
However an advantage of attending out of season was that the restaurant at Sotheby's was quite uncrowded. We therefore slipped in for a decent meal

And managed to return home just as the girls finished their own lunch        and conversations.

A successful day for all concerned

Monday, November 13, 2023

Remembrance Sunday - Beaumont War Memorial

Remembrance Sunday this year was largely spent by mrs maytrees and myself at Beaumont. Mass was celebrated in the old school  chapel for the first time since   the School closed  in 1967.  This was probably because the weather was wet and cold.

 Father Michael Holman SJ was the celebrant with the chapel full of old boys, their wives and a number of children and grand children.


After mass, wreathes were laid at the war memorial and a minutes silence observed, despite the chilly, wet weather. 

We all then enjoyed lunch in the old lower line refectory. Father Michael reminded me that he had been chaplain of HCPT Group 35 on one occasion years ago.

Interestingly the sapling planted at the School behind the war memorial many years ago by HM Queen Elizabeth II, is now a mature tree; see below.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Passport Application and Civil Service

I tried   applying for a new UK  passport recently

The  local  photograph specialists took great care,  provided good photos and a code for my online passport application, at a reasonable price. The code did not work on-line and naturally the passport office blamed the photo shop.


I then returned to the photo shop and explained what the passport people had reported, so the photo shop gave me new photos and new code for no charge, having first double checked that all was well.

The new code still failed to work so I telephoned the passport people to complain (16p a minute phone charge) they still blamed the photo shop despite my having been back there already. 


I asked to speak to a civil service supervisor. Eventually she came on the line but only to continue to blame the photo shop, so I completed the civil service formal complaint form yesterday and obtained a paper passport application form from the post office.


A UK  online passport application is cheaper than one made through the post office but the in person application is even more expensive, over £100 more and although one such personal renewal office is in London  that would be at far greater cost than the suggested  Peterborough alternative though there would be travel costs involved with the latter.


Today, before filling in the paper form and paying extra, I tried the online passport code again and found that it now works.


My complaint therefore  seems worthwhile, but the UK civil service is dreadful in my view, by not even taking responsibility for their mistake let alone apologising, but instead trying to blame third parties, even at supervisor level

Postcript: The new passport arrived within a week of application, so the civil service have  at least resolved some of the earlier issues, satisfactorily.


Saturday, November 04, 2023

Catholicsm in C21

The closing of the month long, worldwide synod in Rome a week ago seems an apt time to have regard to that Vatican meeting affecting the world's 1.3 billion catholics.

From the perspective of western Europe, the restriction of the catholic priesthood to men, seems wrong somehow, though the need to have regard to the slowest ships in the convoy must be correct.  Still using that metaphor, the slowest ships in the convoy many of which come from Africa, tend to frown on the possibility of women priests as well as for example, those within the acronym LGBT.

Yet Anna Rowlands  in the Times newspaper, who attended the synod, reports how positive it was. The need for Catholic women deacons will be reviewed carefully over the coming months having regard too to the existing presence of women deacons in some orthodox churches, so there are prospects of progress being made in that area at last. 

I recall too reading that during WWII,  some women in what was then  Czcechoslovakia, became priests to keep the Church alive there during those dreadful times. Canonically therefore there should be no bar to more progress being made in that area.

The Church locally at the Sacred Heart Wimbledon, has I think at last recovered from the replacement of our local priests from the Society of Jesus by those from the catholic Archdiocese of Southwark. We are also at least recovering, from the  huge affects of  the Covid-19 pandemic  on the congregation. 

We  now have  new parish priest and assistant priest, both of whom give good sermons. The PP is I believe a convert from Anglicanism and his sermons so far, are both clear and not too long which I hope continues. 

We are also fortunate enough to have an excellent (male) deacon who  gives first class sermons, no doubt benefitting from his day job as a barrister.

The size of the congregation too is increasing, with more Chinese people perhaps from Hong Kong, attending mass  than previously, as well as the diminution of the effects of Covid-19.

Overall then  both Internationally and locally, the Catholic Church  seems quietly, to be doing well though could of course do better.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Family Tree at The Bread and Roses

Youngest brother John, held an excellent party to discuss the Hawthorne family tree, at the Clapham Socialist  pub called the Bread and Roses. 

Mrs maytrees and I first visited this pub in 2018 when David and Lynette York held a fund raising party commemorating their oldest daughter Nicola, who tragically died earlier that year. Nicola York

Second youngest sister Kathy,  provided a well crafted intoduction to John's topic and his research, for us all.

and John then went on excellently to detail his researches to the 18 or so friends and relatives who were present.

John had expected to speak for five minutes, but such was his research and the appreciative audience, that although he limited his talk to mum's side of the family, he spoke for almost half an hour.

Interestingly, several of the children and grandchildren  of mum and dad today have Christian names that were similar to  those of our ancestors all those years ago.

Another Occasional Walk

Youngest sister, whose turn it was to decide the walking route, selected Little Venice in North London with a Greek lunch at a cafe which wa...