Letter from The Vicarage – Easter 2022

Parishioner letter—Rev neil

Easter 2022

The Cover Image this Easter is inspired by a new song “Come to the Table” by Matt Weeks which you can hear most Sunday’s at St Mary’s.

If you use social media, you may enjoy the ‘anniversaries’ that pop up every now and then, reminding you of what happened on this day in previous years. My timeline recently has been full of images from our early lockdown – our first Evensong in the carpark 2 years ago, ringing the bell, pancakes on the astroturf… It makes me realise that the last time we ‘did Easter’ the ‘normal’ way was 3 years ago! We had a few socially distanced people in church in 2021, but finally this year we are allowed to gather in greater numbers and celebrate with a shared feast.

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Springing in to the New Year

By Rev. Neil Lambert

Happy New Year! So much has happened since my Christmas letter. We hugely enjoyed welcoming you to St Mary’s to celebrate Christmas in lots of creative ways. Thank you for joining in with our (mostly outdoor) adventures and keeping one another safe throughout our Celebrations. We made 85 pizzas on Christingle night alone, it was a joy to welcome you all. What an amazing community we have here in Ash Vale.

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Eco news from The Parishioner!

Eco News from The Parishioner!

In discussions with the St Mary’s PCC, who take Eco-Church principles very seriously, we have decided to strike a balance between ecological considerations and the need for paper copies of the magazine, now that we have approval to deliver through your doors once again. Our Christmas and Easter editions will now be a full print run, delivered all around Ash Vale. The other issues in between will be mainly online with limited printed copies available to collect from St Mary’s or pre-order on 07730 609446. The magazine is available online via St Mary’s website and social media as well as being sent out to all those on the email distribution list. With Christmas wishes  to all our readers

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What’s Inside? Parishioner Aug/Sept 2021

A letter from the Vicarage  — (p3&4) By Revd Neil Lambert                 

**Summer Ball 21st August, book your tickets today! (p5) **

Neighbourly Reflections (p8&9) By Jackie Scott

Friday Night Isonation — (p10) By Steve Worsfold

Faith, Hope and Love in Uganda Lockdown  (p11) Amaha We Uganda Update

My Favourite Recipe — (p14&15) Walnut Kisses by Jackie Scott

Chapel Music News — (p15) Matt Weeks enjoying the diversity at The Chapel

What’s on? – (p17) pull out and pop on the fridge!

Messy Church dates for the diary — (p19)

Bible Study—Where do we belong? — (p20&21) by Helen Lambert

Mirror Mind—Poetry Competition Winners! – (p22&23)

Ash Citizens Advice  – (p24)

Chapel Filmshare  – (p25) Dick Elsey invites you for a movie

Post Holiday Kitchen Blues  –  (p26 & 27)

Kids corner—(p28) Lucy suggests 10 things for kids to try in the summer holidays

Modern Aids—(p29) Scrivener

Help is at hand—useful numbers (p30)

Picnic & Play news (inside back cover)

Community café is on this Summer at St Mary’s on Fridays 10:30-12:00. No need to book just pop in. Tea, coffee, chat, come and say hello 🙂

We welcome fun, informative and local interest items!

The copy deadline for the Oct/Nov 2021 issue is 10th September.

Emails please to:  parishioner@ash-vale.org.uk  Thank you!

While the COVID infections rates remain high, we are minimising the risk to our readers and volunteers by printing only on request, and by sharing The Parishioner far and wide via email, website and social media instead. Please remember to like & share online! If you or someone you know would like a paper copy please pick one up at St Mary’s or contact 07730 609446  to request one. Best wishes & stay safe!

The Parishioner seeks to explore and reflect upon a wide variety of local issues whilst recognising
that not everyone will agree with the views expressed.  These do not necessarily reflect the views of all the members of St Mary’s Church nor those of its Parochial Church Council.

Treasure Hunt – how many ice creams can you find in this edition?

Kids Corner—things to do in the holidays

By Lucy Sanderson (age 9)

Here are some ideas for what people can do in the Summer holidays! I hope you enjoy them.

1) Go on a bug hunt—how many creatures can you find?

2) Go hiking, near here there are some lovely walks  on the ranges and along the canal.

3) Make your own ice lollies! I like to use orange juice or orange squash. If you don’t have lolly moulds you can use an old yoghurt pot and a teaspoon!

4) Bake a cake (tip for vegans, you can use a basic shop cake mix and a can of fizzy orange to make a yummy chocolate orange cake!)

5) Camp outside! Borrow a tent or pin a big sheet over the trampoline, add a duvet and you’re ready to sleep out. Don’t forget the midnight feast!

6) Rock paper splash! This is a variation on the game ‘rock paper scissors’ but the loser each round gets splashed with water.

7) Make your own spray paint for outdoor art. Mix (washable) paint and water in an old cleaning spray bottle (make sure you clean it out thoroughly first!) then spray on to a wall, or and old sheet to create your artwork (check with grownups for permission before you paint!)

8) Create your own beach! If you have a sandpit you can dig a hole and add a big bowl of water to dip your toes in. Ahhhhhhh lovely.

9) Junk Modelling—make your own toy! Recycle old clothes into teddy bears, or cereal packets into robots, anything goes!

10) Den building—in the summer heat, shade is the key to happiness! Get a sheet or blanket and pin, peg or drape it wherever there is space, and create your own den. How about making a big one if you have brothers and sisters?

Have great fun with this list.


I love ice cream! How many can you fins in this magazine?

Post-holiday kitchen blues

By Jane Cox

You know how it is: you stagger in from a glorious holiday having been reunited with family at last. After 7 hours on the road on a journey which should have taken 4, you are hungry, desperate for a cup of tea and weighed down by a pile of washing that threatens to erupt from the suitcase. All you want is to collapse under the duvet and sort it all out tomorrow.

This year we got back to a kitchen that was a building site – the only functioning things were the kettle and the cooker – no sink, no hob, no fridge, no washing machine (eeek!!!) and the contents of the kitchen stacked up in boxes in the dining-room. Could I find where I had put things??? Of course not. Why is it some people can remember exactly where they put things (my husband – unless it’s his comb) and others can’t (me)?

Meals take so long when you have to hunt for things. You end up eating your breakfast (if you can find it) out of an old yoghurt pot. For many days I was washing up in the bath – not recommended for those with dodgy backs. There are various aggravations: not being able to access the room in which I spend a lot of my day; the need to clamber round ladders, paint pots, dust sheets and all manner of building paraphernalia every time the dog needs a piddle. I could not ask for a nicer builder, but his constant presence from the cheerful ‘hello’ at an hour of the morning when I am not presentable, to the afternoon’s equally cheerful, ‘see you tomorrow’ is wearing. Sometimes I just need space to think, swear, sing, talk to myself, overdose on chocolate without being observed.

We thought it was an excellent idea when our builder suggested he started the long-overdue work on our kitchen while we were away – and it was sensible advice. Never having had a new kitchen before, we had just naively expected less chaos and more progress when we got back.  The disruption has continued for weeks, and I’ve got teeth-grindingly, self-pityingly stressed – while feeling pretty guilty about it. I know I am really lucky to be having a new kitchen at all – but I still get stressed. The kindness of friends offering help, people turning up at the door with meals and offering me the use of their washing machine, has been amazing and I am so grateful….but still stressed!

Then in our church service we heard from brothers and sisters in Uganda. The country has gone back into Covid lockdown with catastrophic consequences. People who live from hand to mouth unable to work and support their families are going hungry. Widows, street children, who have nothing, and no one to care for them, are in danger of starvation. Their situation is truly desperate. And this is happening now, today, when I am moaning about washing up in the bath.

That put things in perspective for me. I am utterly ashamed. How dare I complain when they, quite literally, face the prospect of losing their lives? For all the temporary stress, I have so much. I may not have a properly functioning kitchen, but I am not going hungry. So, I am determined to turn my back on grumbling; to lower my expectations of what I can do, while there is disruption at home, so as not to add to my stress; to be exceedingly grateful for the huge amount I have – not least the kind friends who care and share with me — and a beautiful new kitchen to look forward to…even if it is taking a while.

My favourite recipe – Walnut Kisses

One of the joys I had growing up in the late 60’s/early 70’s was coming home from school on a Friday evening to find the kitchen full of wonderful yummy cakes which were being readied for the weekend. My maternal grandmother (Nonna) was from Italian stock; she was born in England but both her parents were Italian, and most of her family still spoke Italian at home. She married an Englishman (Charlie) and had 5 children. My mother was the oldest daughter after her brother, and as my grandfather was ill for much of her teens during the war, my mother became second mum to her younger siblings while Nonna worked, cooking as her mum had, in the Italian style with spaghetti etc. Consequently my brother and I grew up with an accomplished homely cook with a very rich palette of food – not fancy but very tasty.

Obviously our leanings were towards the sweet things. One of the best was a little biscuit called a ‘walnut kiss’ using coffee as the flavouring. Not particularly Italian but it sat right alongside the Victoria Sponge cake or crunchy biscuits which were also favourites. I share it with you as it was written in my mother’s recipe book – some of it you will need to play around with to get it ‘right’!

Walnut Kisses

  • 2oz butter/marg
  • 2oz sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee essence
  • 30z chopped walnuts
  • 3oz SR flour
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

· Grease a baking tray and preheat the oven to Gas 6 200C, 400F.

· Cream the fat and sugar; beat in the coffee essence.

· Add the lemon rind and nuts.

· Mix in the flour and knead gently with fingertips (Author’s note: it is a dryish mix…if more moisture needed maybe add a drop of lemon juice?)

· Break into small pieces (about walnut size) and form into balls.

· Place on the grease baking tray, wide apart.

· Cook in the oven on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes

· Leave to cool and top with coffee water icing (made with icing sugar and coffee essence).

I have a note that this may be too hot an oven…with the advent of modern ovens the heat can probably be reduced to Gas 5 (190C) for and cooked for 12 minutes.

Guess what I’m going to be cooking this Friday evening!

By Jackie Scott

Would you like to share your favourite recipe? Send it to us at


Neighbourly Reflections

Before lockdown I was very much challenged by a talk at church about how we can love our neighbours; and in fact asking whether we even know any of them. We were asked if we took note of who moved in and if we welcomed people into the street. Jesus was big on telling people to love their neighbour, but I’ve never really looked at it terms of the people in my street – I’ve always seen my neighbour as relating to the people I work with, the parents of my children’s friends etc, because I spend time with those people. We don’t tend to have connections with neighbours other than living next door and sharing a hedge/fence! So the challenge was a good one …. and then lockdown happened!

We have lived in our current house for 24 years and in Ash Vale for 34 years since our marriage. We know our immediate neighbours but have not spoken to many of the others in the street for most of that time – even though there have been comings and goings along the road over the years. I guess the reason I have always used is that our street has only got houses on one side of the road – we can’t look in neighbours’ windows and be nosy! And it makes things a little less easy to connect with those we live side by side with. When we went into lockdown, to my shame I did not dash along to all the neighbours and check that they were all OK – I have followed the isolation rules as was demanded because we have an elderly relative that we have ‘bubbled’ with and so we were not involved with other community initiatives during lockdown. Covid has thrown us all onto a new horizon; giving us new ways of looking at our locality; making us re-evaluate how we work and how we connect with friends and our neighbours. We did become acquainted with one or two via a nod and a ‘Hello!’ as we walked past on our way to pick up shopping from the Village, but that’s about as far as it went.

As the restrictions started to lift in April and May, we started to think outwards again and realised that over lockdown there had been three houses in our little patch alone that had sold and now had new people settling in. Having two sons who also moved during lockdown I appreciate just how difficult a thing it has been for people to move and find out about a locality in these times of restrictions. So things had to change – I no longer wanted to be an ostrich. The best way I know of connecting with people is through food, so we decided to hold a cream tea in the garden which we could do within the restrictions. We hand delivered invitations and invited all the neighbours in the small section of street near our home – about 10 invites in all – and waited. Even though we had left it really late to invite people, we got responses almost straight away and had about 8 families accept the invitation. I was very pleased. The day we chose to host our cream tea was one of the hottest in the late Spring which meant that we could all gather in our shady garden and drink tea, prosecco, wine and eat scones to our hearts content; but more importantly it connected all the households who came together. People were initially hesitant, but by the time the afternoon ended everyone knew who each other was  and which house they lived in. It was the first event of what I hope will be a continuing trend – how can we progress this? How can we really be neighbours to our neighbours?

How have you connected with your neighbours this last 18 months? I would love to know other peoples’ experiences – I want to pick up creative ways to be a good neighbour – to do what Jesus told me to do.

By Jackie Scott

Do you have a story about how you got to know your neighbours, or people being neighbourly? The Parishioner would love to hear from you. parishioner@ash-vale.org.uk

What’s Inside (Easter Parishioner 2021 – Back Cover)

What’s inside?

An Invitation to the Table — (p3&4) By Revd Neil Lambert                 

Book of Psalms 2021 (p5) New Psalms by local people in trying times

Meet the Local—(p8&9) The Parishioner interviews Mary Langsford

Our local Waterways Chaplain (p10) Rosie Leakey

News from Abbeywood Care Home (p11) We’re doing a panto! Oh yes we are!

Poems & Poetry Competition — (p14&15) Enter your poems by 30th April!

How to Celebrate Easter 2021—(p16) St Mary’s services

What’s on in Ash Vale — (p17)

Bible Study for Eastertide —(20 & 21) By Helen Lambert

Pea shoots, a seasonal favourite  – (p22) By Vicki Fox

News from St Paul’s Tongham— (p23) Ramp building has started!

How I came to write ‘Navigating by the Son’ – (p25) Author Stephen Cox shares his journey and the key themes from his new book.

Meet the Candidates for the County Council elections on 6th May (p26  – 28)

15:00 03/04/33 — (p29) Scrivener reflects on the Romans at Easter

Help is at Hand! – (p30) Useful numbers

Easter Trail—(inside back cover) Free fun in the holidays!  Decorate your windows and front gardens for some lovely Easter walks! #AshValeEasterTrail

Don’t miss the Easter Service!

Sunday 10am on Zoom (See centre pages for what’s on)

We welcome fun, informative and local interest items! The copy deadline for the June/July 2021 issue of The Parishioner is the 7th May 2021. Emails please to:  parishioner@ash-vale.org.uk

In these unusual times we are minimising the risk to our readers and volunteers by printing only on request, and by sharing The Parishioner far and wide via email, website and social media instead. Please remember to like & share online! If you or someone you know would like a paper copy please pick one up at St Mary’s or The Chapel, or call / text 07730 609446  to request one. Best wishes & stay safe!

The Parishioner seeks to explore and reflect upon a wide variety of local issues whilst recognizing that not everyone will agree with the views expressed.  These do not necessarily reflect the views of all the members of St Mary’s Church nor those of its Parochial Church Council.