The first sweet peas have been flowering this week in the deanery garden.  I recall planting them when Helen went into hospital with the thought, well, we cannot move until at least the end of the summer now, and these will be an encouragement to her, and let’s not have an unnecessary year without a productive garden.

At this stage we would have been in Swanage for a month, but are now set to go in September.  Drawing out a departure like this is good for no one, but my last Sunday in St Anne’s is set to be September 3.

The countryside has moved on too with a magnificent display of both elder and bramble blossom.  We met two young women at the Lagan meadows on Wednesday, who were trying to eat elder flowers, before picking some whole flower clusters to make elderflower cordial.  We spoke briefly as, Helen, carrying several recipes in her head, wondered how they could manage to do this without using sugar, which was their intention.

As to the bramble flower (pictured), we never recall such a bountiful offering for the bees as this year.  There is going to be an fine crop of blackberries, provided of course that we get the August rain to swell them (that is all but guaranteed!) and we will have gone before that harvest is fully ready.

We are doing a little thinking back on dates too, as well as glancing forward.   On Sunday, five priests of the Church of Ireland will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of their ordination in St Anne’s, out of a number of others who can’t be there, including my predecessor Houston McKelvey.  John Bond, the former Dean of Connor, is to be the preacher, and David Jardine will lead the intercessions, but all five will take some part in the service.

The day before yesterday, I celebrated, quietly in my own mind, the fiftieth anniversary of my confirmation.  It took place in St Andrew’s, Hornchurch, a large parish church in what was once Essex, but became a London borough. I recall the service well.  I think that there were about 40 of us.

I was a member of the choir in the days when for the big festivals we held services twice to contain the numbers.  To my embarrassment, I remember at tea for the choir, in the large vicarage, between the first run of harvest evensong and the second identical service that was about to happen, asking the vicar if we were going to have a different sermon for the next one (I wasn’t really much interested, I am not sure that I listened the first time!).  He said he would preach a different one for me!  Good answer!

The confirmation, that might have been the following year, did have an impact though and perhaps was one of the first mysterious steps towards a call to ordination.  It did start me praying regularly – which in itself is no bad outcome of confirmation.

Looking back in a different way Helen and I are giving a new paschal candle stand to the Cathedral, made beautifully by Willis Cordner, which is to be dedicated at the service on Sunday morning too, in memory of our parents.

Meanwhile, Helen calls me to breakfast with the words, ‘Irish summer weather has returned’. My confidence that the blackberries will be well luscious in September is unlikely to be misplaced.