Monday, 12 January 2015

A Life in Pictures – 10 and 11 January 2015 – A Weekend of Riches

My wife and I love being part of St Paul's Church Hounslow West, three miles north-west of where we live and getting near to the point where the Bath Road and the A4 converge as one approaches Heathrow Airport. The planes fly low in this part of West London and it is an area of great cultural diversity and significant social challenge.

A new venture for the church as we involve ourselves more in the life of the community around St Paul's has been to start a "language café" to offer help to those for whom lack of English-language skills is a barrier to inclusion in wider society. The café offers a range of creative and fun approaches to language learning and is a project close to our hearts. The City of London is funding training course to equip volunteer facilitators to run such language clubs and we have signed up to attend. Our course is being hosted in the church, which is obviously convenient for us, but some of those attending will be seeking to start clubs in other parts of West London. The course started with a six-hour sessions and will continue over the next four weekends under the guidance of our very enthusiastic facilitator.

There were eight of us, four from St Paul's and four from wider afield, and we had a great time getting to know something about each other from a range of group and paired activities, plain old conversation and written exercises, including gaining more of an understanding of the dos and don'ts, the whys and wherefores of facilitation. Here is a snap of the cover of our course booklet.

"The Toolkit"

Our first exercise, after an icebreaker in which we got to know each other's names, was to prepare and present a poster about ourselves. Here is mine (with apologies for miserable artwork).

The happy fellow in the middle is, ahem, do I have to spell it out?
The symbols on my chest indicate my heritage as: a Londoner by birth (bad blue drawing of Tower Bridge), with British nationality and some Irish ancestry (yes, that green thing IS meant to be a shamrock).
The words on the left are (some of) my main interests and passions (the barrel shaped objects at my feet are conga drums – you spotted that too, didn't you), while the words at bottom right indicate my motivations for being involved in the project.
In the evening we had a wonderful gathering of family, as a costing has come to stay with us for a few days while she is doing some work in London. She works with her daughter, so she came to stay too and my brother and his wife joined us for dinner, so that there were six of us tucking into minced lamb curry with peas on Saturday evening. My sister-in-law brought a wonderful cheesecake and three delicious cheeses, while my cousin supplied the wine.

In addition to the wine, my cousin brought with her a stock of precious old photographs to entrust to me as the compiler of our family tree and we spent quite some time after dinner poring over these wonderful images of our paternal grandparents and other family members from over 100 years ago, when they were roughly the same ages as our children are now. Some of these photos I remember from my grandmother's house, but others I had never seen before. Some gaps in knowledge were filled, while other questions opened up, and I and may return to these images share some here as the year goes on.

On Sunday my wife and I were back in St Paul's, this time for the morning service. My wife was on the rota for children's church, while I was not down to play percussion in the worship this week, so I took some photos instead. Here is one of a couple of my fellow musicians practising before the start of the service.

Welcome to St Paul's!

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