Returning to Merville

Today, passengers on the mid-morning Eurostar service from London to Brussels via Lille will be sharing their journey with 100 trainee vicars. Yes, it’s time for vicar school’s annual week in a French monastery.

Last year was fun, but at times traumatic. This year, I’m travelling with people who in the last 12 months have become great friends – even more potential for fun. I know the pitfalls of the monastery (bad tea & plastic cups mean that I have my own tea & a decent mug), and its eccentricities. I’ve located the local supermarket for French provisions, and I know people who know where an excellent patisserie is…

Plus, I have gin. Yesterday, while contemplating my packing, I asked Twitter & Facebook what they would pack for a week in a French monastery with 100 trainee vicars. Overwhelmingly, the responses were alcohol related – which is quite logical, thinking about it. (Though actually unnecessary  as beer & wine are served at both lunch and dinner.) But it’s good to know that the vicar stereotypes persist! [Also, hipflasks were mentioned several times – I don’t have one, but perhaps this would be a useful ordination gift come 2014?] In fact, the bottle in my bag isn’t just gin, it’s M&S sloe gin – escapes the need for lugging tonic water around.

The other essentials? Slippers, dried fruit, granola bars, Percy Pigs, satsumas and chocolate. After all, this is the place who greeted us with Shark Curry on our first night last year. (Please note, the slippers will not be munched upon unless there is a dire food-related emergency.)

Some of the delights of Merville in 2011
This post is more a means of explaining my imminent blog silence, more than anything. If you’re a praying type, do think of us all. The 2nd years are doing leadership training, which can be a bit of a struggle. Plus, I get to do my first ever college sermon on Tuesday morning – an 8am service before breakfast to be precise. If that’s not a tough crowd, I don’t what is. The biggest challenge will be keeping it to 5mins (given that I usually have to preach for 25mins), but go on longer and I’m likely to be lynched by starving ordinands… 
I’ll be back in a week. Stay safe people, and Americans, don’t go and elect a moron while I’m away! 

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