April 2010

This is very bad news for me….!!!

People who regularly eat chocolate are more depressive, experts have found.

Research in Archives of Internal Medicine shows those who eat at least a bar every week are more glum than those who only eat chocolate now and again.

Many believe chocolate has the power to lift mood, and the US team say this may be true, although scientific proof for this is lacking.

But they say they cannot rule out that chocolate may be a cause rather than the cure for being depressed.

In the study, which included nearly 1,000 adults, the more chocolate the men and women consumed the lower their mood.

Those who ate the most – more than six regular 28g size bars a month – scored the highest on depression, using a recognised scale.

None of the men and women were on antidepressants or had been diagnosed as clinically depressed by a doctor.

‘Mood food’

Dr Natalie Rose and her colleagues from the University of California, San Diego, say there are many possible explanations for their findings, and that these need to be explored.

It may simply be that people who are depressed crave chocolate as a “self-treatment” to lift mood, or depression may drive the craving without any beneficial effect.

“Alternatively, analogous with alcohol, there could be short-term benefits of chocolate to mood with longer-term untoward effects,” they told the journal.

Chocolate could even be a direct cause of depression, the researchers added.

Bridget O’Connell, of the mental health charity Mind, said: “The way we feel and what we eat can be closely related, and many people will be familiar with craving particular foods or comfort eating when they are stressed, under pressure or depressed.




I can never forget that scrap of a song I once heard in the early dawn in the midst of the din of the crowd that had collected for a festival the night before: “Ferryman, take me across to the other shore!”

In the bustle of all our work there comes out this cry, “Take me across.” The carter in India sings while driving his cart, “Take me across.” The itinerant grocer deals out his goods to his customers and sings, “Take me across”.

In the midst of our home and our work, the prayer rises, “Take me across!” For here rolls the sea, and even here lies the other shore waiting to be reached–yes, here is this everlasting present, not distant, not anywhere else.
From Rabindranath Tagore, The realisation of the infinite

This extraordinary piece of English Romanesque Art played a very significant part of my spiritual nurture. It is located in the Norman Church where my faith was encouraged and sustained. I was gald to have this image sent to me by a local photographer, Trevor Smith.

Here is a longer description of the piece:

Reliquary cross Kelloe Parish Church

Grey Sandstone; broken and repaired; h i.860 m, w 420mm, d 145 mm  c.1200; St Helen’s Church, Kelloe, County Durham

The cross was found in 1854 built into the south wall of the chancel, three of its arms broken, sections of the ‘wheel’ missing and the shaft broken in two. It was crudely repaired and set in the north wall of the chancel at floor level. It was taken out in 1894 by William Anelay Ltd for conservation.

The top of the shaft narrows and is crowned by a perforated splayed cross, its arms once joined by a ‘wheel’. J.T. Lang, who devoted a detailed study to the cross (1977) draws convincing parallels between the iconography of the three scenes carved on the cross and that of Mosan metalwork. These scenes depict the legend of the Invention of the True Cross, in which the patroness of the church, St Helen of Helena, played the central role. In medieval times she was believed, quite wrongly, to have been a native of England.

The story begins with the lower relief, which conflates several episodes. St Helena is shown with a drawn sword to compel the Jew Judas (the future St Cyriacus) to dig in search of the cross. Judas is depicted with a very long beard and a cap, which in medieval art denotes a Jew . He holds a spade with which he has dug up an old cemetery, discovering corpses and three crosses. The True Cross was identified by its bringing a dead body, about to be buried, to life; this is the small nude figure shown next to Judas. The two other crosses were burnt in the fire, symbolized by flame-like forms at Helena’s feet. The True Cross is in the centre with a label on top on which there was perhaps a painted inscription identifying it: (?) Lignum Domini (‘The Lord’s wood). It is flanked by the sun and the moon, taken from the iconography of the crucifixion.

The next relief shows two figures in long robes and with diadems on their hands. One is holding a cross, the other a small sword (Lang, 1977, p.113). Most scholars agree that the first is St Helena but opinions vary as to the identity of the other, who is thought to be the Church (Saxl, 1954, p.68); Sheba (Boase, 1953, pp 233-4); and even Constantine, Helena’s son (Lang p.113), although they both appear to be women.

The third scene represents the Dream of Constantine, the first Christian emporer, in which an angel appeared to him and, pointing to a cross, said: ‘In this sign you will conquer.’ In the relief these words, somewhat abridged, are inscribed on the horizontal arms of the cross: IN HOC VINCES.

The figure style of the reliefs is characterized by rounded faces with placid expressions, and turbulent, flowing draperies. There is a great deal of ornamental detail: delicate leaves, beading and fluting on the vertical arms of the cross.  The carved edge at the left of the cross is covered with a beaded leaf design. The right edge and the back of the cross are plain.

There is a round cavity in the centre of the cross-head deep enough to contain a small relic, which would have been covered by a transparent crystal, probably set in gold. There are numerous other oval settings for glass, crystal or semi-precious stones. When painted and studded with these jewel-like adornments, the cross must have looked rich and impressive. The most likely relic to have been in this unusual reliquary was a fragment of what was, at the time, thought to be the True Cross.

The two carved faces suggest that the cross originally stood against the south wall of the chancel, where it was found in 1854. The main carved side was no doubt facing the congregation, the edge carved with foliage, towards the altar. The iron hoops just below the cross-head were no doubt for the insertion of candle-holders, the candle light illuminating the focal point, the relic in its rich setting.    G.Z.

Bibliography Lang, 1977, pp.105-19, pls. V-VI

From the heights of my bedroom window I can see the Windsor wheel being slowly erected….. it dominates the skyline to the West of the Castle. Here is a quotation from the official publicity:


The graceful giant wheel in Alexandra Gardens, Windsor will be returning from 1st May – 30th August 2010 and will once again be allowing visitors the chance to enjoy the spectacular seasonal panoramic views whatever the weather and from the comfort of their capsules.

Visitors will be able to soar over 50 metres into the skies above historic Windsor, with breathtaking views over the Castle battlements, the River Thames, Eton College and the stunning countryside beyond.  On a clear day or night you can even see as far as the gleaming arch of Wembley Stadium and the glittering skyline of Central London.

Featuring the cutting edge in Observation Wheel technology and beautifully illuminated by night, the Windsor Wheel offers an unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience for everyone, and a unique venue for a special celebration or event. Don’t miss out on your chance to experience a flight to remember this year!

Mark the Evangelist

 is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark, said to be the disciple and interpreter of Saint Peter, and the follower and Apostle of Jesus Christ. According to Eusebius]Mark composed a gospel embodying what he had heard Peter preach.

Tradition identifies him with John Mark mentioned as a companion of Saint Paul in Acts, who later is said to have become a disciple of Saint Peter. About 10 to 20 years after the ascension of Christ, Saint Mark traveled to Alexandria and formed what is now known as the Coptic Orthodox Church. Aspects of the Coptic liturgy can be traced back to Saint Mark. He became its first bishop and founder of Christianity in Africa He died in the eighth year of Nero and was buried there, Annianus succeeding him.

His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the lion.


Almighty God,
who enlightened your holy Church
through the inspired witness of your evangelist Saint Mark:
grant that we, being firmly grounded
      in the truth of the gospel,
may be faithful to its teaching both in word and deed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

The Legend of St. George and the Dragon

St. George travelled for many months by land and sea until he came to Libya. Here he met a poor hermit who told him that everyone in that land was in great distress, for a dragon had long ravaged the country.

‘Every day,’ said the old man, ‘he demands the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden and now all the young girls have been killed. The king’s daughter alone remains, and unless we can find a knight who can slay the dragon she will be sacrificed tomorrow. The king of Egypt will give his daughter in marriage to the champion who overcomes this terrible monster.’

When St. George heard this story, he was determined to try and save the princess, so he rested that night in the hermit’s hut, and at daybreak set out to the valley where the dragon lived. When he drew near he saw a little procession of women, headed by a beautiful girl dressed in pure Arabian silk. The princess Sabra was being led by her attendants to the place of death. The knight spurred his horse and overtook the ladies. He comforted them with brave words and persuaded the princess to return to the palace. Then he entered the valley.

As soon as the dragon saw him it rushed from its cave, roaring with a sound louder than thunder. Its head was immense and its tail fifty feet long. But St. George was not afraid. He struck the monster with his spear, hoping he would wound it.

The dragon’s scales were so hard that the spear broke into a thousand pieces. and St. George fell from his horse. Fortunately he rolled under an enchanted orange tree against which poison could not prevail, so that the venomous dragon was unable to hurt him. Within a few minutes he had recovered his strength and was able to fight again.

He smote the beast with his sword but the dragon poured poison on him and his armour split in two. Once more he refreshed himself from the orange tree and then, with his sword in his hand, he rushed at the dragon and pierced it under the wing where there were no scales, so that it fell dead at his feet.

Well here is a catch up of the news from Windsor:

  • The air traffic has arrived back – will anyone want to get into an areoplane after all this?


  • We celebrate St George on Friday and I mark the end of a fascinating, rewarding and enriching year.


  • We marked the Queens birthday yesterday by flying the large royal standard from the Round Tower.

  • The only political party to have delivered me a leaflet is the Green Party!


  • I am very absorbed into writing a short book which will be entitled Successful Ageing? Watch this space!

Thats all for now…….

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