We've had a lot of rain recently, so the streams are running freely, and this is the water from a stream pouring into the bay near the little harbour. The tide was just coming up and the sun just going down, and in the distance you can see the wide sweep of the bay looking over to Ouaisne Bay. That's one of my favourite bays for swimming in the spring, summer and autumn. Can't wait!
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And if you're from the country of Wales, if you're Welsh, or part-Welsh (as I am) this is an important day.
On March 1st every year the people of Wales, and those of Welsh heritage wherever they are in the world, celebrate their patron saint.
My Mum is Welsh so in our family we've always known about St David's Day. But it was when I spent my final two years of schooling in Wales that I realised how passionate people are about their saint, their history, their culture and their language.
On this day, people wear the traditional symbols of Wales - daffodils or leeks - and enjoy traditional Welsh food ... my favourites are Welsh cakes which are like little griddle pancakes. Yum!
Well in the 6th century, he was a Bishop of a place called 'Mynyw', which is the modern day St Davids, a city in the county of Pembrokeshire in the southwest of the country.
David (Dewi) was born in Wales, although there's no clear evidence as to the year that happened. It is known that he was a celebrated teacher and preacher and that he founded monasteries and churches in Wales - St David's Cathedral is situated on the site of a monastery he founded in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire - in 'Dumnonia' (a kingdom in the southwest of England) and even Brittany in France. David is even believed to have visited the ancient religious site of Glastonbury.
David established his own Monastic Rule, a system of religious and daily living for monks, and one of David's main rules was that when his followers were tilling the soil, THEY had to pull the plough themselves, rather than animals. Monks living by the Monastic Rule of David drank only water and ate only bread with salt and herbs - no meat, and certainly no beer. They were allowed no personal possessions and while David's monks worked in the day, they spent the evenings reading, writing and praying.
So, why is David's feast day March 1st?
That's the day when it's thought he died. As with his birth, there's a question mark over what year that was. Some say 601AD, others 589AD.
David was buried in St David's Cathedral and his shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. Invading Vikings removed the shrine during the 10th and 11th centuries but in 1275 a new shrine was constructed, the ruined base of which remains to this day.
Although St David had been a popular saint in Wales since the 12th century, his religious feast day didn't become a national festival until the 18th century. And it's on March 1st every year that Welsh heritage people celebrate the man who now is their patron saint. Children especially are encouraged to celebrate as they learn about their history, and they often head to school for the day dressed as coal miners or in the traditional Welsh woman costume, with the girls often wearing a leek in their lapel. I remember at school one girl wearing such a BIG leek, a huge green vegetable, that it covered her whole chest and ... boy did it smell (like onion).
Well the leek became a symbol of the Welsh spirit because one legend says that St David advised his people to wear leeks in a battle against the Saxons. It was the days of hand-to-hand combat and wearing the leek meant that they would be recognised as Welsh by their compatriots in the heat of the battle - so no chance of someone killing a fellow Welshman! That's just one of the stories, but leeks were a popular food for many centuries and were also used for medicinal purposes, and the link with St David's Day is thought to be especially through the Tudors, who had strong Welsh roots and heritage.
And the daffodil?
This lovely yellow blooms appears in early Spring, around the time of St David's Day and it's just a joyful flower, isn't it?
But the floral link with Wales is fairly recent really and is thought to have been adopted as an alternative to the leek in the early 20th century, by which time the wearing of vegetables on your coat on March 1st had become a bit of a joke. Welsh politician and elder statesman David Lloyd George, who was British Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922, was said to be an advocate of the daffodil being used as a symbol of his Homeland.
The Welsh are a proud people and on St David's Day that pride is more obvious than ever.
If you're not aware, the country (now called the Principality) has its own ancient language. Welsh is a Celtic language - with links to the ancient Celtic Britons - and although for centuries Welsh was the common language of the people, it did fall into decline in the early 20th century as English became dominant. However in the 1990's the value of the native language was formerly recognised for its importance to the Welsh culture, heritage and future, with The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 regulating that the Welsh and English languages should be treated equally in the public sector, where sensible and possible.
These days there's Welsh speaking media, the language is taught in schools, as well as there being educational establishments where Welsh is the predominant language for conversation and teaching. I read recently that as of September 2020, it was reckoned that about a third of the population of Wales could speak the language and more than 15% spoke Welsh every day. It's been a real success story for the reinvigoration of a mother language that could easily have died out. And if you visit Wales, you'll see signs everywhere in Welsh and English.
I know just a few words of Welsh ... passed down through my Welsh heritage ... but I'm no expert.
So, finally, today I could say 'Happy St. David’s Day!
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I'm the Communities Journalist, so part of my job is to engage with our local community and help people to share their stories. Not just to contribute to 'news stories' but to share their life experiences and talents.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic BBC local radio stations across the British Isles have been highlighting the good that is happening in communities through a campaign called 'Make a Difference'.
Every day we hear about people who are making their world, their communities, better places. Initially it was just really a response to the impact of the pandemic and to highlight how people were helping those who could not get out, and those assisting directly in response to the pandemic restrictions we are living under.
Now it's extending beyond that and we love to hear from people who are just helping others in all sorts of ways, helping to make the environment better, coming alongside those who need help. We've had stories about fundraisers for charities that are struggling to survive in these Covid19 days. We hear about those doing beach cleans, we highlight jobs that are in caring roles. As well as the ongoing direct response to the pandemic - charities and individuals offering food parcels, clothing, and general day-to-day help to those who continue to be affected.
I'm sure I'll talk a lot more about this down the line ... but it has got me thinking about my life.
What do I do to 'make a difference' to the lives of others? I'm not talking about saving the world, inventing something that will change the course of human history or intentionally setting out to be an inspiration.
I'm just talking about the kinds of things that our 'making a difference' people do every day.
Reaching out a hand of friendship, caring enough to smile at someone (even with a mask on), picking up a phone to chat to someone, dropping them a message on social media, doing a little kindness that will bring a little joy to another.
There's a song by the fabulous Barbra Streisand which, I think says it all. It's one of my favourite songs. I love the sentiment that we can all be 'ordinary miracles' just changing the world quietly, not drawing attention to ourselves, even by sharing our efforts and stories on the local radio station.
Enjoy and be inspired!
Change can come on tiptoe Love is where it starts It resides, often hides, deep within our hearts And just as pebbles make a mountain, raindrops make a sea One day at a time change begins with you and me Ordinary miracles happen all around Just by giving and receiving comes belonging and believing
Every sun that rises Never rose before Each new day leads the way through a different door And we can all be quiet heroes living quiet days Walking through the world changing it in quiet ways Ordinary miracles like candles in the dark Each and every one of us lights a spark
And the walls can tumble And the mountains can move The winds and the tide can turn
Yes, ordinary miracles One for every star No lightning bolt or clap of thunder Only joy and quiet wonder Endless possibilities right before our eyes Oh, see the way a miracle multiples
Now hope can spring eternally Plant it and it grows Love is all that's necessary Love in its extraordinary way Makes ordinary miracles every blessed day
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Now, if you're a female of the species you may be aware of this day ... previously it was known as the 'Women's World Day of Prayer' where millions and millions and millions of woman across the globe prayed on a specific theme, for 24 hours. I've been part of this day for a very long time, including attending special church services and gatherings. The best thing about this day is that it's all people, from so many different churches and traditions, coming together in one purpose.
People in more than 170 countries celebrate The Day of Prayer. It all begins in Samoa in the central South Pacific Ocean, and it moves eastwards, with prayers and services held in native languages throughout Australasia, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas before finishing in American Samoa (on the other side of the International Date Line from Samoa) 39 hours later.
It's a day-long Wave of Prayer across the world!
That's very special. Knowing that you are praying with others, on the same theme, is really powerful.
Although it was and is still mostly women who mark the day, men and boys were never excluded. And just a few years ago the name was changed, with the word 'Women's' taken off the start of the title to represent the inclusivity of the day for Christians internationally.
So what happens today?
Well, every year follows a theme, and a group of Christian women from somewhere in the world is selected to write resources with prayers, songs, readings and stories on the chosen theme. It's always a culturally exciting time as people, for instance, in the UK will experience what has been prepared for them by fellow Christians maybe across the other side of the world.
Last year, for example, we all enjoyed a service prepared for us by people in Zimbabwe in Africa. Each nation brings its own culture to it's contribution, sharing their own stories and experiences, so this is not just about prayer and faith but it's also a bit of an education about other cultures.
Which brings me to this year - 2021.
By the time this daily blog is published at 0800 GMT (London time) women will have been praying already for many hours on the theme of 'Build on a Strong Foundation', prepared for us by the Christian women of the island of Vanuatu in the south Pacific Ocean.
Of course this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the prayer resources which the Vanuatu faithful have prepared will not be used in many church buildings, but there will be thousands upon thousands of online services and 'gatherings'. Here in Jersey, the World Day of Prayer service is at 1.30pm lunchtime and it will be hosted online by St Paul's Church in St Helier.
However, it's not all doom and gloom because in addition to resources produced for today, you can also enjoy a fabulous mix of music, readings, prayers and stories online from Vanuatu and other people across the world.
And it's all on Youtube ...
Today people around the world will be thinking about how to 'Build on a Strong Foundation' and in the press release from the UK WDP (World Day of Prayer) Committee, the thinking behind the day was explained...
Women of the Republic of Vanuatu (located in the South Pacific Ocean) have prepared this year’s service. The black and white sandy beaches, coral reefs with coloured fishes, lovely birds, fruits and nuts in the forest, all make the islands a pristine environment but they are vulnerable to frequent tropical storms, earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and active volcanoes. Women, men and children of all ages are called to ‘Build on a strong foundation’ and live in unity, love and peace in the context of ethnic and cultural diversity like Vanuatu and so many other places around the world.
On this World Day of Prayer there will be opportunities to learn about the island nation of Vanuatu, and all the prayers will focus on creation and construction and the importance of building something solid, not just physically but also spiritually. 'Structures' that can stand against the trials and storms of life. And once again we will be encouraged to think about how we, as humanity, can learn to live together despite our many differences and circumstances.
But then, we'll be encouraged to continue praying, because although today is special, prayer is something we may do every day. And the learning can continue too because now you've heard about it, you might want to check out the World Day of Prayer (UK) website, where among other things there are some great activities for children (and all of us) including making sand paintings, and cooking up a batch of coconut cake.
So I'm just off to the kitchen. I fancy a bit of that.
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Maybe it's a new business or career? Perhaps it's related to your health and wellbeing, and maybe even your weight?
Perhaps it's a bit more 'spiritual' than that? You'd love to have some 'inner peace', not so much stress and anguish? Maybe you'd like to get to a point where you don't constantly compare yourself to others, and just learn to be happy with yourself and with where YOU are headed, in your time?
During the past year, and the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, we've experienced not just lockdown but also, some of us, loss of loved ones and loss of employment, or loss of self confidence because we've been mostly at home, working from home and not interacting with society or work colleagues.
That might have stifled our dreams. We might have got into a mindset where we can't think beyond this moment, we can't project ourselves even into a short term future. Or we might feel frustrated that some of the things we had hoped for in this past year haven't happened, and many of the dreams we have for the future feel unattainable.
I'm one of the fortunate people in life. I come from a really inspiring family. My parents were inspiring but quiet pioneers in their field, as Christian leaders. And I have three brothers, all of who are brilliant. They have supported me down the years and continue to do so even though I know I can be a bit random in my decision making.
Today my quote comes from very close to home, from my brother Tim, who is a motivational person par excellence.
During the pandemic, especially, he's been such inspirational model for me. When he couldn't work face-to-face with his clients as a personal trainer he reinvented his work life and is now not only helping people with their physical fitness but also their mindset and emotional wellbeing. He helps people lose weight and feel better about themselves but in the process also helps with the whole body and mind experience.
SO - a blatant unashamed plug here ... if you want to find out more ... I know Tim would love to hear from you. Why not go to Tim's Facebook page - Tim Le Feuvre | Facebook to see if he can help?
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Well - it's a song from one genre which makes it into the popular charts.
In the USA there are so many different music genres, all popular in their own right - I'm thinking blues, and country and western, jazz, bluegrass, R+B, soul, funk, techno ... etc etc ... you get my drift I'm sure!
And then there's the Gospel and the Contemporary Christian Music scenes - all incredibly popular with very successful artists, many of whom may never make it into the 'Pop' download lists but who have brilliant careers, millions of followers and fans, downloads and sales. Radio stations galore playing all types of music.
In the UK it's a bit different, with a much more limited 'pop' scene and fewer opportunities for radio play on our most popular stations, but there's a growing number of online stations playing different kinds of music.
But back to my first thought. Every now and then there's an artist who successfully manages to 'cross over' ... someone from one genre who 'makes it' in the pop world.
I remember seeing her on TV, winning the fourth series of 'American Idol' in 2005. Apparently during the programme run, 500 million votes were cast in her favour and for the final - 37million votes were recorded. That gives you an indication of the numbers of people who enjoy music ... just in the USA ... and why it's possible to be a star there whatever your style of music.
Carrie was just 21 when she appeared on American Idol and she was described as a 'farm girl' from Oklahoma. Musically she came from a 'country' background and although not everyone who wins these TV talent shows goes on to great success, in the case of Carrie Underwood, she's gone on to become a seven-time Grammy-winning country megastar.
Carrie apparently takes her musical inspiration from many different types of music, but she's also released songs and albums with Christian themes.
So today I'm just going to share with you one of the Carrie Underwood's songs that I love - 'Jesus, Take the Wheel'. When I used to present on BBC Radio Jersey it sometimes popped up in my playlist especially on a Sunday morning, but also at other times of the day.
Now if you've been reading this blog for a bit, you'll know that I'm a Christian, and I love especially the first few lines of the chorus of this song ...
"Jesus, take the wheel Take it from my hands 'Cause I can't do this on my own I'm letting go..."
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