The Parish of Burchetts Green

However, all was well and we had a wonderful few days looking at prayer through Celtic spirituality, art, photography, poetry and just absorbing the peace of the mountains on prayer walks.

Hospitality and the rhythm of the hacienda completed the experience. After daytime temperatures of 35 degrees the evenings were pleasantly warm and our outdoor evening worship of music and poetry reflections were perfect as the sky went dark with hundreds of bright stars.

The dry and scrubby landscape with olive groves and almond trees on the slopes has a beauty of its own and the flocks of sheep being guided by shepherds to grazing pastures and staying with them all the time was a Biblical picture.

Contrasts always make us look more closely in whatever capacity they are experienced and, on my return to the green landscape of our beautiful Thames Valley, I realise again how privileged we are to live in such a lovely area of England. We so often complain about the weather but it is precisely the changing patterns and unpredictability that give us such a green and pleasant land.

Enjoy your gardens and your outdoor activities and remember to keep the brolly handy!

Every blessing

by Rev Dilys

The end of May into June is a wonderful time of year for gardeners and lovers of the great outdoors. The delicate spring growth seems to explode into colour as the trees are very rapidly at their greenest and the carpets of bluebells and other early flowers give way to summer flowers in all their vibrant colours.

If you have enjoyed the coverage from the Chelsea Flower Show or been fortunate enough to visit then I'm sure you will agree that we have a unique horticultural heritage in this country that is second to none.

It never ceases to amaze me how the specialist plant growers manage to produce their exhibits at peak perfection at just the right time for exhibition displays.

Gardens, whether on the grand design scale such as those managed and cared for by the National Trust, or those seen by peering over the walls of cottage gardens in our own villages are always a delight to look at.

The bright green of our countryside struck me last week when I returned from a few days in southern Spain. I had taken a last minute opportunity to visit the Los Olivos hacienda retreat centre, which is high up in the Sierra Nevada mountain range not loo far from Granada. I joined a small parish group, who were on an 'Adventure in Prayer' discovery course, and found the experience of being with a new group, in such a different place, an adventure in itself.

Driving up the mountain, on a single track of loose stones and around countless, steep, hairpin bends with sheer drops and no edges, was something else! I was glad I wasn't driving and just hoped we didn't meet any thing on the way up.