Archive for March, 2011

Travel; Dymock Woods, Gloucestershire and the wild Daffodils

March 30, 2011 8 comments

Dymock Woods are made up of 17 separate woodlands on the UK’s Gloucestershire and Herefordshire county border, close to the Forest of Dean. Probably the best known of these woodlands is Shaw Common, registered also as a special ‘seed-stand’ (where acorns are collected in the autumn for use as seedlings) for the Sessile Oak, one of two species of oak tree native to Britain.

Around Eastertide each year, these woodlands are the scene of intense visitor activity as people come to view surely one of the most beautiful – and increasingly rare – sights in Britain; the diminutive and lovely wild daffodil. These were once relatively common in damp woodlands and undisturbed grassland. The countryside around Newent, Ledbury and Dymock constitutes such an area, known locally as the ‘Golden Triangle’ containing as it does large numbers of these exquisite little daffodils. Nowadays loss of habitat and cross pollination is proving to be a significant threat.

There are two wild daffodil species native to Britain; one found in the Tenby / Pembroke area and these – the Lent Lily or Narcissus Pseudonarcissus – within the Golden Triangle. In the 1930’s and right up until the 1950’s, special trains would run to this area bringing hoards of daffodil tourists to view this wonderfully uplifting natural spectacle. 

The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is custodian of two small but historic wild daffodil meadows near to Shaw Common; evocatively called Gwen and Vera’s Fields Nature Reserve. As well as being the national flower of Wales, the daffodil is also – quite rightly – the county flower of Gloucestershire.

Promise yourself you will visit the area sometime. It’s truly worthwhile and hugely inspiring.

Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure 14; Wye Valley  & Forest of Dean = Map ref SO 677285


Review; Jeff Lucas Product Launch for New Christians and Seekers

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Over 70 people gathered at the Science Museum in London on Wednesday 16 March to celebrate the launch of three new major publications authored by Jeff Lucas.

Having enjoyed a guided tour through the ‘Journey of Flight’ exhibition, representatives from the Christian media, book trade and major church denominations heard Jeff speak passionately of how these new resources for those seeking God, and for those new on their journey of faith came about. Here’s a taste of the evening;

These three CWR resources are:

  Life – The Journey for New Christians DVD
Successfully navigate the daily journey of the Christian life, for new Christians

Travelling through Life Every Day for New Christians
For those first steps in the Christian Faith

Travelling Light
Answers to seekers’ questions about the Christian Faith

These resources are available from your local Christian bookshop, from CWR or from

Photography; Spring comes to the Hampshire Hangers

March 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Click here for an earlier blog report of walking in the Hampshire Hangers.

Further details of this walk (including maps) are available from Hampshire County Council.

Christian Book Trade; Facing four incontrovertible facts

March 11, 2011 19 comments

We’ve had it much our own way for years. This fine trade of ours is full of great people called to the ministry of Christian literature. The 80’s and the 90’s were the heyday and we were able to build on the legacy of some wonderful pioneers of bookselling. I was honoured to know a number of them and my life is richer as a result. As a trade we now face a problem of demography as many colleagues face retirement, making it ever harder to pass the baton on in the light of these wider challenges.

During the late 90’s and early noughties, many of us worked hard to move ahead and build a better trade. Many might say it didn’t work and that it was predicated on a wrong premise. I don’t know but I do know that generally speaking the motives were right. The execution may have been sometimes clumsy but, in my opinion, many good but tired shops were given a new lease of life.

We face an uncertain future as a niche trade, both booksellers and publishers alike. Delivery channels are changing fast but spiritual content and Godly truth remains. People still deserve to hear the Word. How do we carry out our God-given calling in the context of these new realities?

Life will most certainly not return to how it was. We have to move on and change – fast.

It seems to me that there are four incontrovertible facts that we must openly recognise and begin to accept;

  1. The UK has become increasingly secularised and less open to Christian forms of spirituality
  2. Delivery methods and channels – but not content – are changing almost on a daily basis
  3. Consumers, and especially younger people, are not buying as many physical books as in the past
  4. The Christian book trade is undergoing a serious and prolonged period of retrenchment

The mission and calling of distributing the word of God in various formats continues. We urgently need to develop positive conversations to determine how best to respond. By way of encouragement, I fully recognise that there are a good number of shops around the country doing a superb job and working against the odds. May God bless each one. As I’ve written elsewhere, we must provide encouragement and help to each other and eschew condemnation and recrimination wherever possible.

When William Carey faced a complete wipe-out of years of translation work in India following a catastrophic warehouse fire, he wrote;

‘In one short evening the labours of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God. I had lately brought some things to the utmost perfection of which they seemed capable, and contemplated the missionary establishment with perhaps too much self-congratulation. The Lord has laid me low, that I may look more simply to him’.

Like Carey, perhaps I too have been guilty of ‘self-congratulation’.

Perhaps for all of us this really is the time to ‘look more simply to Him’?

We have a high calling; I don’t believe it has yet been rescinded.

Review; Jesus – The Wounded Healer DVD

March 8, 2011 1 comment

Lent starts this week.

I don’t usually push CWR products on this blog but I’m making an exception for this really good DVD. OK – so I’m biased!

Filmed on the Wintershall Estate in Surrey – home of the outstanding ‘Life of Christ’ annual outdoor production – it’s presented by my friend and colleague, Mick Brooks and based on material written by Selwyn Hughes, the founder of CWR.

‘Jesus’ ability to heal our wounds flows from the fact that He Himself experienced our wounds. The God we see in Jesus did not study our sufferings from a distance in a cold and detached way, but wrapped Himself in our flesh and felt what we feel. These insightful sessions will increase your awareness that Jesus is committed to us and can relieve and support us through the pain we experience in life, giving us hope and strength to face whatever comes our way. You will also see afresh that God can turn what is meant for evil into good’.

The DVD contains five 15-minute (approx) sessions entitled:

  • Jesus: His Wounds Answer Our Wounds
  • Jesus: ‘Why Have You Forsaken Me?’
  • Jesus: Misunderstood and Criticised
  • Jesus: Living through Loss and Grief
  • Jesus: Resurrection Hope.

It’s suitable for small-group or individual use and has subtitles for the hearing impaired.

Available from your local Christian Bookshop, from CWR or online at

Opinion – Celebrating the first 12 months activity on this Blog!

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the past twelve months. 

Here are the Top 10 blog posts as measured by Word Press. Interestingly, these represent a good resume of the content of this blog – Travel, Book Trade, Photography and Book Reviews.

Stick with me for the year ahead! Where shall we go?

Travel – The Infinity Pool; 57th Floor, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore    
Travel – Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games; Closing Ceremony in Marina Bay    
Book Trade; eBook sales v. Hardbacks – Hype or Tipping Point?    
Photography – Cunard’s Queen Mary 2; off Monte Carlo, Monaco    
Photography – Coastal view from Eze Village, Cote d’Azur, France    
Book Trade; ‘Celebrating 200 years of Christian Bookselling’ – Part 1    
Travel – By Eurostar and TGV to the French Riviera    
Review – The Circle of Love; Ann Persson (The Holy Trinity by Andre Rublev)    
Review – Operation World; 7th Edition (2010)    
Travel – A380; Flying from London Heathrow to Singapore Changi    

PS – yep, I too am puzzled by the success of the No 1 post; ‘The Infinity Pool, Marina Bay, Singapore’? It’s been by far and away THE most popular entry of the year!

Categories: Opinion
%d bloggers like this: