Wednesday, 24 August 2011

House, Home & Office

May I introduce our lovely new home. Featured on the front page of the parish website for some time, I thought I would expand its cyber-fame.

House meet Readers
Readers meet House

That's that sorted then.

And what a lovely house it is. It has all we need plus thirty rooms that we can count as surplus (or where I can count my surplices, who knows), a wonderful mature garden with large trees and concomitant squirrels. We have presocratic Rhododendrons, a superfluity of lavender and much Christmas fodder in the form of re-planted trees and a significant sting of emergent holly. We have two foxes (those with fluffy tails, boys) and a significant flutter of wood pigeons. The two wild green parakeets are a mystery to us and out-yell Boeing 747s, but they add to the ambiance.

But this pile isn't simply home. To Mrs Acular and the Twins Aculae, it is - but to me it is the office, as it is to the parish administrator. In the last house, it was more home than office, as I didn't 'have people round', and we were miles from the church (all by plan - I am a welcoming host). This house will be where I receive guests, entertain visitors, hold meetings - and the usual scripting of sermons and all that. There has to be a boundary set, for the preservation and protection of all concerned, and then there is the invisible boundary that I have to set that means that I am not always at work (or never at work if I am a lazy sod). In this, I journey along a new road.

Yes, having tied accommodation is a joy, honour and privilege. We are incredibly fortunate and considerably blessed by it. At Theological College the tell us to 'work' a number of sessions a day, but not all. Some clergy abide by this fastidiously, others (read 'me') do not. The failing is on my part, as I am a self-confessed workaholic; though it is easy with work such as mine as it is so darned good.

Clocking off, for want of a better term, is hard. I can retire from the study and pad across the newly carpeted hallway to fashion a meal for la Famille d'Aculaire, but then I am only ten feet away from The Harridan Emailer and the Siren Telephone. They carry on unremittingly, and we clerics are endlessly lured to their bidding. Days off to date have been grand as the kids have been home, but from now on, they will be at school. Wife might even find herself a job, so my day off may mean me sitting at home with nothing but Harridan and Siren - to wit, no day off (much). It can be a problem.

Advice for clergy is to bugger awf on days and weeks off. To undertake a Staycation is to maintain a de facto Stayatworkation. So, we have to escape home which feels odd at times. This boundary setting permeates much of what we do. We want to be gracious and willing hosts all the while preserving safe space. We want and need to relax but our diligence means that very often the danger is we carry on until the job is done (which it never is). Danger!

For now, before 'work' starts, I will enjoy the new Cloake Castle. God Bless this house and all who dwell in and visit it. 


  1. We were told to put the car in the garage on the day off - also that sex doesn't have to occur at night! However we were also warned that parishioners can think that they own the house and we heard of one case where someone wandered in the patio door to the garden!
    There is also the problem of "I thought I would catch you in as it is your day off"!!!!!

  2. All of those I can easily imagine. Car in garage? That would be a feat of genius and would need some of Ls prowess with engineering, but I like the idea!

    It's all a grand conundrum!

    How are you, old friend?

  3. It's good to hear you are thinking of it as home now. A huge upheaval for you all, but it will be worth it in the end.
    Also good to see you re-emerging into the Blogosphere.

  4. It's a strange life being a Vicar, captive in the Vicarage, with the assumption of everyone that you are always available. Which can by trying for the family.

    My Vicar has a rule that days off are sacrosant, and phones are on answer mode and email goes unanswered. The boundaries are necessary to protect the privacy of the family.

    But like you, the Parish Administrator works from the Vicarage, we're trying to establish a separate office for her, with separate access, but the costs and faculty required are a pain. We will succeed, just need to persevere.

    One think that I do know is that if I get through the discernment process, as NSM I won't have that sort of issue, although I would expect to have some sort of interaction with people in the parish, probably at the vicarage, poor Vicar.

  5. I wish you well and hope you are all very happy in the new home (office!)and parish.
    As a vicar's daughter, I know about the "24/ 7" syndrome. My parents tried to go out on their day off. Once a parishioner called with a parish matter and my mum said, "It's his day off", the response was "Oh good, then I can stay for a coffee as well." !

  6. My one day off was established from the start of my ministry in these villages, and it is now, in the main, respected. But you do need to get away to be off-duty otherwise the study calls. I also welcome people in, but it's on my invitation. It is Not Their House, it's my home. A colleague had parishioners that would walk in the front door without ringing the bell! And as for a day's work ... the advice given to me was to split the day into morning, afternoon and evening, and that if I worked two of those not to worry about the third. It's been a valuable system that has helped me keep my sanity (?) and individuality over 27 years of ministry. Enjoy!

  7. Be very wary of the foxes around here, they have no fear of humans, will saunter into houses, attempt to try to enter your property via the cat flap, indeed if your cats are very young or very elderly keep them safe.

    We have attempted to fox proof our garden ensuring entry is not permitted under or over the fences. Had succeeded until neighbours removed fence whilst their extensions are being constructed. We have been careful with fertilizer, none from animal products and of course we would never feed foxes either.

    Sorry to be so downbeat, Whitton is a good place to live, the flight paths vary with weather and which runway is being used so we do have quiet days.

    Expect you have been told about this site,

  8. Looks like a very nice house. All the very best!



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