August was punctuated by two Christian festivals; New Wine and Soul Survivor.
Soul Survivor is a youth festival, which the boys went to with, what is now, thier old youth club. It’s a fair trek away, but we went along to help set up camp, HWH leading the operation. We and the girls stayed for one night, and it was good to see many of the kids and some of the youth team again. Then, we left them to it and went to Stratford upon Avon for a couple of nights’ camping. Good to spend time with the girls, and interesting introduction to Tudor history which we’ll be studying this term.
The boys arrived back having had a great time; tired but surprisingly clean due I think to camping just next to a shower block!
We’ve made an annual pilgrimage to New Wine for over twenty years. Lanky Dude was only six weeks old when we first took him, and Rhythm Dude a few months old. We’ve interceded for both girls whilst there, and subsequently I’ve almost burst with pride as we’ve introduced each of them. It’s been a part of the children’s growing up.
I’ve not always been a happy, smiley Christian Mum, however; I’m a fair weather camper and we have had more than a drop of rain over the years. We’ve literally been flooded out and had to move our tent on more than one occasion. An indoor swimming pool, my more stoical husband calls it. Small boys love muddy puddles and, together with a friend with two small boys, I’ve dried wet and muddy clothes with hand dryers, sloshed through large areas of water and negotiated muddy showers. Wine was an important part of our evening meal in those days!
However, as they have all got older, and it seems to have been drier, the camping has become easier. And this year was particularly special as we camped with Creative Auntie, Jolly Uncle and thier family. We also had a friend of the boys camping with us, and some “New Wine” friends with girls similar ages to ours, next to us. As we sat under the trees eating lunch, someone (may have been me) commented that it really felt like a holiday!
Despite the sometimes not so ideal camping conditions, it’s always been a place of refreshment. It often feels like we arrive tired, battered and limping, and over the week through good teaching, worship and prayer, are able to leave restored, smiling and with fresh vision for the coming year.
As well as teaching and worship for us, there are excellent groups for the children, which enables us to have some child free time in the mornings. HWH and I often have coffee together in one of the many charity run cafes. And I love to wonder around the bookshop and “ Market place”. I buy a book for each of the children every year; this always strikes me as such a priveldge. We have free access to an abundance of Christian literature in a world where many have to hide even their Bibles.
I also try to take each child out individually, for a hot chocolate mountain or milkshake. And on the last day we all go out for said hot chocolate mountains and millionaires shortbread. It’s become a tradition.
However, that and the many other special traditions New Wine has held, will now remain as memories only. It’s moving to a site much further away, and we feel that with so many other changes recently, this too signifies time for a new season. Next summer will look different, I think.
So, for our family it was good bye to a part of our lives which has brought such blessing. I thank God for all who have worked to make New Wine possible and pray that it will continue to “hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:16), for many more in years to come.