Portsmouth from a different angle…

I was flying back from Lisbon, Portugal to Gatwick after working for a brief (3) days.

I’m going home with Easyjet, the brand of the airline doesn’t really matter in this case as when I am flying I get the best experience with a seat next to a plane and have decent weather and visibility and be able to spot things from high up.  On the way over, I was with TAP (Portugese national airline) and got a luke warm cup of tea and a very small sandwich included, where as Easyjet make you pay high prices for food.

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So we are going north from continental Europe and I see this island.   I think this is Jersey.    Oh gosh I really need to watch repeats of 1980s TV detective series Bergerac now, although since reading up in Wikipedia, a lot of it was filmed in mainland UK as budgets were a bit tight.

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Now I see my home city of Portsmouth!!  This city has a distinctive shape as its effectively an island with three roads connecting it to the mainland.    Here if you look carefully you can see where Eastney (yes, the East corner bit)  meets with Hayling Island, a neighbouring protruding section of Hampshire south coast.   I think I need to move back there at some point soon.

 

 

ebay bidding systems broken for people in Portsmouth

I have bee a regular user of ebay for 13 years now, and use it to mainly obtain all those hard to find spare parts for computers I fix.

After getting back to UK 4 days ago, I tried to buy a nonworking laptop for a nice winter indoors project, and give to a friend who needs a cheap laptop, in this case the seller doesn’t ship to the Isle of Wight, which I don’t. I live in Portsmouth.

For non British people (actually I think post codes in Canada work similar to UK possibly…) Post codes are one or two letters for the city and then some numbers for the localised area of the city then a gap and more random letters and numbers, like this:-

PO1 5EQ

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PO_postcode_area

This above wikipedia article tells you how the localised codes work for the Portsmouth, Chichester and Isle of Wight areas.

If you live in the Isle of Wight, their post is handled by Portsmouth’s sorting office.

Basically it boils down to the fact, Isle of Wight is used by PO30 – PO40 post codes. If you have a post code of PO3 6__ like me, ebay’s infrastructure refuses you to buy this item as that the seller won’t ship to the Isle of Wight, which the parcel couriers naturally charge a bit more.

There is a space between the two halves of the post code which is entered correctly on my ebay account details, but it interprets me as being in PO36 area it seems.

So ebay, in return for reporting an infrastructure issue, and being a loyal customer since 1999 and 2000+ feedback, any chances of a nice pressie for Christmas?

September back in UK and back in time for Rosh Hashana

I mentioned that I took some time back in the UK to see family, this was good to have a break, as I had been particular busy at work, and have new servers and network equipment to install quite soon, some of this will mean some weekend work maybe.   I hadn’t been back home since January so this was a good chance to relax for a bit.

Back in the UK, I decided to take a trip to London on a National Express coach to attend a prayer and demonstration outside of the House of Commons buildings in London, to stop Israel from being divided, and the very real threat of violence and war as a result of this.

There was about 300 people outside here, some of the banners were also in Hebrew as there were a few Messianic Jews and Hebrew speaking Christians there.   This was organised by Christian Middle East Watch, a ministry I haven’t heard of before, but was impressed at what the had to say.   The only thing that worries me, is that most British Christians that support Israel tend to be over retirement age, I wish there was more of all ages of people involved, for people praying, promoting and visiting Israel into the future.

Back in Portsmouth, I got a chance to have a decent roast dinner and beer for £6.50 (wow bargain!) with friends from church for lunch at a new Wetherspoons pub.   I also got to go blackberry picking with my family including my 1 year old niece by some bushes next to a golf course.   It was a bit of a shame I only got to see a fraction of the friends I wanted to see in the two weeks though.

I took a train to Wales to visit the UK office of the charity I work for, to roll out some necessary new equipment and antivirus software.  I didn’t manage to get everything done, but I have remote software to do some updates, the 2 hour time zone difference gives me an advantage that I can make some changes without disturbing the users from working.  Working at this site isn’t part of my official responsibility but I really wanted to do some preventative maintenance to ensure they are less likely to hit problems in the future.

Got to watch a brief bit of TV in Wales at our UK director’s house of the UN conference with Benjamin Netanyahu speaking, which he did brilliantly, with difficult decisions ahead with more determined plans for a Palestinian state being presented.

Slightly humourous moment on the plane back to Israel, I was flying on a Saturday so there weren’t any religious Israelis on the plane, but when using the toilet on the plane, someone had eaten some bacon flavoured crisps and left the empty packet behind on the floor!

Now back in Israel again, just at the right time before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), so I got only work half a week, and spend 2 1/2 days relaxing, actually had to 3 hours of important work from home due a server that broke just before leaving.  Its funny when celebrating the New Year (5772)  people aren’t actually waiting for a special change of a clock or anything like that, just good food and company of friends.

I am also fixing two other volunteer’s laptops, setting up a wireless router in a neighbour’s home which the current one won’t work with the HOT supplied cable modem for some reason, enjoying church, friend’s birthday evening out at a waffle restaurant today.

Visit back to the UK – Hindhead tunnel opens

Well, after the end of the summer it was time to have a break and fly back home to the UK It It was time for a well needed break to fly home and see family and church.

Seems quite a bit has changed whilst I have been away, quite a few shops have come and gone, and bits of Portsmouth looked little different in two years I have been mostly away.

On the way home from Luton airport, I saw this:

This was quite exciting, the new tunnel in Hindhead was now open!

Later on, I passed this place a week later, as I was getting a bus up to London.   The usual trip of going from Portsmouth to London Victoria the quickest route is normally 2 hours and 15 minutes, now its 1 hour and 45!

I remember this tunnel was rumoured in the early 1990s, now after something like at least 4 years of construction and £370m later its now working!  Heck in 2003, I did a sales job selling products to people in construction, and this was a juicy deal we wanted to get.

However, the old method of driving through Hindhead has a lot of memories.

One of my close friends lives in Hindhead which is only a few minutes drive east of this junction.

The new tunnel is certainly quicker and convenient, having said that, I quite like driving to the Devil’s Punchbowl in Hindhead.  Its a place I have been walking with my grandparents, there’s some interesting antiques shops by the traffic lights and businesses selling ride on lawnmowers and jacuzzis, and you can stop there to get petrol, so it makes a good halfway point when going to London.  Sadly the Little Chef got flattened and replaced with flats around the late 90s,  the Punchbowl has a place for some epic walks which I have done a few times.

This petrol station is the one and only place where I picked up a hitchhiker who told me he was driving a bus to Glastonbury (or another similar music event) as he worked there with the music industry, and the bus broke down getting him stranded so drove him to Havant.  I kicked myself later for not asking if I could cheekily get some free tickets for an event of some kind.

Driving past this point go round the steep bends is a little scary but fun, there has been quite a few accidents, which means sitting in long traffic sometimes, the sharpness of the bends further on meaning you are constantly changing between 2nd and 3rd gear, and makes it demanding and hard work but enjoyable driving especially with some good tunes in the car.

Photos date from 2009.  Silly Google, why didn’t you get your cars to overtake the blue truck which blocks the whole view of the road? 😀

Just like car ownership hasn’t completely eliminated people like riding horses, in post-volunteering life, when I get a car again and need to go this route, I think I will opt to alternate between the new and the old ways of driving. 🙂

Driving through the town of Hindhead and the old main road with its tight bends and hills is truly made of the stuff good road trips are all about I think 🙂   But heck, the new tunnel may become a legend in its own right, apparently the 1.9 mile stretch is used for people in high performance cars to race at night!

The Jesus boat in Ginosar

My two days of work projects were done, and it was nice to take off a friday from work and relax and see some places.  I booked into a youth hostel in Tiberias and made friends with a South Africa pastor and got to see a lot special places.

The community of Ginosar is a Kibbutz on the banks of the Kinneret, this concrete exhibition hall has this wonderful piece of history.

In my home city of Portsmouth, a historic ship from the time of Henry the Eighth was pulled out of the harbour in 1982, at the time craning an ancient ship out of the sea without it breaking up, a not so conventional bit of archeology probably not been done before,  and I remember as I child watching it at school on live television as it was shown all over the world.

Just a few years later, this ancient boat found in the Galilee in unusually high tide conditions in 1986, archeologists sprayed it in foam and carefully lifted it out.

Mounted in a metal cradle you can see the boat, it has been treated in wax to stop it rotting.

Its dated from the first century AD, so its quite possible it was owned by someone who may have known Jesus maybe.

There is some nice drawings on the wall of this museum, although it is very small, as well as the video showing how it was carefully excavated and cleaned up, you can see the whole exhibition in less than 10 minutes.

Interestingly enough, the boat is fabricated from 12 different types of wood as the colour coding here shows.

 

Left: photos of the boat being winched out after being covered in foam, and a model shown.  Right: a model of what the model looked like in its day.

Ginosar also has these nice new bungalows which look very new which look out onto the sea.

There was also a folk music event happening, there were people camped out and bands playing close to the sea.   I asked the man at the car park who was checking tickets where the Jesus boat was, after he spoke to his colleague, I heard him say the word ‘Yeshu’  rather the ‘Yeshua’   this was sad, as the Yeshua is Hebrew for Jesus but Yeshu, spelt similar is a insult sometimes used by critics of Christianity and Messianic Judaism in Israel.

This chap who worked in the gift shop had an interesting tatoo from the Psalms.   He told me he is a Jewish believer in Jesus, so I shook his hand 🙂

Next a ferry around the Kinneret


Check out the official site of the Jesus boat here:

http://www.thegalileeboat.com

A day in my work in the GalileeThe Jesus boat in GinosarThe Kinneret LakeTiberias evening light showPreaching and miracles of Jesus in CapernaumTiberias city centre and Muriels and Maimonidies

Where is home

This week I have been thinking about living in two different places, and how there is a big change in emotions from exiting one and going to another.

Going back to Portsmouth felt very strange, I wasn’t used to colder temperatures, seeing snow, other odd things like seeing much newer cars (Israel has plenty of cars from 1990s and sometimes older)  a few people have left my church and a fair number of new people there.  It was nice to see various different friends, but I didn’t get to see everyone I hoped to see.  It was great to go to a Christmas Eve mass service in Portsmouth Cathedral, also nice to hang out at the legendary Chinese buffet ‘The Water Margin’ at Gunwharf keys with a few other single chaps from church including several gents who are in the navy and are back on shore, from being away in foreign lands.

Back in Israel, in the organisation I work for there are staff from all five continents, I also see Jewish people with almost every skin colour.

Where as in recent times we may have immigrants come in from Asia and East Europe in the southern UK where I am from, this had led to perceptions of British people often anxious about culture changing to suit foreigners at the expense of people born there.

One of my cousins was born in Iran and one in Cameroon, due to overseas work my uncle did, and now today three of my cousins live in Texas, New York and New Zealand.

I think you look back in history very few people live in the same place in their whole life, for instance:-

Charles Dickins: Born Portsmouth, died  Higham, Kent

Albert Einstein: Born in Württemberg, Germany, lived in Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany again, died in: New Jersey, USA

Arthur Conan Doyle: Born in Edinburgh, lived in Plymouth, Portsmouth and London, died in Crowborough, East Sussex

Jesus Christ:  Born Bethlehem, grew up Nazareth, died: Jerusalem

Jesus himself said he didn’t have an actual defined home: Matthew 8 : 20Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Sometimes its hard to define where home is.  People often move because of seeking work, getting married, getting education, finding affordable housing or for other reasons.

I am in Israel currently until May when my visa runs out, where as I like volunteering here in Jerusalem, it isn’t home, but on the other hand I may not stay in Portsmouth after that.   Its really hard to figure out what happens when you donate your time to a charity organisation and what to do when your planned commitment comes to an end.   Its only by trusting in the Lord I can get peace of where I will be next.

Portsmouth and Jerusalem

The antisemitism watching blog ‘Seismic Shock’ (front page here) has come up with good stuff again.  http://seismicshock.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/the-small-print/
I was particularly interested about the boycott Israel meeting that happened in my home city of Portsmouth.
I was hugely relieved that there are no names of churches from my city involved, but usual attacks from various characters mentioned by Seismic and general political blogs like Harry’s place (not specifically pro-Israel, but have very good expose of unpleasant extremism stuff regularly)
The focus on the blog talked about the get together from various Methodist churches, it is sad when antisemitism comes from not just from stereotypical skin heads but from within churches, and this creates division and gives a poor impression to non Christians in my community.
For me this is not a representation of Jesus, but slander aimed at a nation that is not perfect but we are biblically obliged to pray for.  Its important we reject the common error of replacement theology (that is that Israel of the bible was permanently rejected by the new covenant of the church which Paul says is false in Romans)

In addition to this, modern day BNP-style political thugs the EDL, were on the news for protesting and intimidating Muslims also in Portsmouth outside the Jami Mosque.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-11752757

Some people maybe scared to visit Israel because of fears of terrorism, but in reality, I feel safer on the streets at night in Jerusalem than Portsmouth.  As the recent above story and immense dislike of the neighbouring city of Southampton, there is a fair amount of political craziness from Pompey.

Someone else I know did this kind of comparison of two cities they have lived in and showing the nicest parts of each.

There is some similarities here, both cities once had the same football club owner at the same time.   Both have a lot of history, although Portsmouth is 800+ years old, Jerusalem is about 4 times older and has about 700,000 people compared to Portsmouth’s 200,000 odd.

Both places you walk somewhere and bump into someone you know in the street.

Some of these comparisons are often more to do with the relative (Israel = 7 million, UK = 65 million) size of the country, thus the logistics of supplying things into this place as opposed to any political reasons.  Some things come out in the shops much later here in Israel (like the iPhone that wasn’t officially on sale until Autumn 2009)  also because of reasons like the unique nature of the Hebrew language which I guess was only probably implemented recently.

I have not mentioned things like terrorism threats as actual attacks are these days a rarity and certainly less deaths than an average robbery or domestic murder in a western city.

There is a wide range of different ethnic groups here, people are free to practice their own religion without much interference.

Of course both places share some bad things like lack of parking too.

Better things in Jerusalem

Excellent family life, most children have two parents, divorce/separation rate seems low

Not much crime or drugs

Not much issue with drunks/alcoholism

Vast range of places to eat out

Vast range of coffee shops and easy to get wireless internet

Fruit and vegetables are plentiful locally and cheap

Old city markets are great to get beautiful carpets, ornaments, spices, ceramics

People like to socialise a lot, but not always around alcohol, so going out is safe and fun for everyone in almost all cases.

Warm Mediterranean climate, its been often over 30 degrees in November.

Attractive design of buildings with consistent white stone facade on the outside gives this city a unique character

Most houses have their hot water heated using solar panels on the roof

Police and soldiers in the street all around give a sense of security and safety

Mobile phone usage seems quite cheap and there’s no problem with signal (despite this city is on several mountains)  120% (ie: lots of people have two) of Israelis have mobile phones.

Bus service is cheap and quite easy to get anywhere – just remember to hold on tight once you get on as they don’t wait for you sit down…

Immigration unlike many other countries is actively encouraged (if you are Jewish) A blessing to Jews who have previously lived in nations that were hostile or dangerous to them.

Better things in Portsmouth

Food (tinned/packaged) is much cheaper

You are never more than 1/2 a mile from a curry restaurant

You are never more than 100 yards from a pub

Road safety is above average, and most people’s cars have to be in safe and good order

Electrical fittings, switches, etc in shops and houses are not often wobbly or fall off in your hand

Health & Safety is strict, so you won’t walk past building sites where workman work around the public without fencing etc.

Bus drivers are mostly polite and don’t drive off until you have sat down

Relatively good amount of political stability

Going to bordering countries (France, Spain, Channel Islands) requires simple security clearance without being asked lots of questions

Its easy to buy spare parts for your car, IT hardware, other specialised things without having to have them imported from somewhere else

Very little risk of drought, and water infrastructure works well

Note: I don’t really like political debates and so I am quite fussy about whats allowed in comments below.  Sensitive subjects are welcome in a private message.

Methodist Christians in Portsmouth against Israel

Some articles like this make me sad.  Especially when its my home city by Christians.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/methodists-launch-boycott-over-west-bank-2014827.html
I notice that this unpleasant Ben White character pops up out of the woodwork yet again.  If you are not familiar with him, he is also a Guardian column space filler, looking here and here, gives you an indication to steer clear of this newspaper.  If you have a genuine love for Palestinians buy more fruit and vegetables from Carmel and other Israeli companies in your supermarket as the produce are from sources from all over this country, and helps Arab people out of poverty.  Sadly quite a few churches can be blinkered from what the bible says about Israel and go with a bigoted boycott plan rather than pray and intercede for this nation as we closer to the stage setting for Jesus’s return.

few weeks break to Spain and the UK

Apologies this blog has been quiet. I took a leave from Jerusalem for a short while for several reasons, I needed to visit to Gijon in northern Spain to see my good friend Ian get married, also then fly back home to the UK to see my sister and family who is expecting a baby this week, I also need to work on an email migration project for the UK office of the charity I volunteer for.

More soon….

Church in a pub

On Sunday morning went to my usual church then went out for lunch, usual quite relaxing day.  The talk in the morning was part of a series on distractions which is something that causes more problems with things for me than I can think of.

In the evening I went to the Isambard Kingdom Brunel pub (a Wetherspoons pub named after the famous industrial engineer who lived in my city of Portsmouth, UK) and met up with Mark Rodel reverend of another church in Portsmouth who has a blog and in addition to running his own church likes to meet up with anyone in this pub most Sunday evenings for a chance to relax and have a beer and chat to another small crowd.   Something different from regular church or cell group, (which is a mid-week church meeting someone’s house in a informal closer knit group for regular church people) but this is different as provides a chance for people with casual questions about Christianity and church in a familiar public environment.

For me I think many Christians don’t always visualise the fact church can seem very scary place for many people that have never been before to church, have fallen away, or are just plain shy, and this is a good place to get to know people and get questions answered on many things on church life.  Jesus spent a lot of time in public places speaking, so its only natural that fellow believers could sometimes get together in a place most people are familiar with and invite people to come and chat about whatever they wish.  Mark uses a few unusual visual cues to illustrate things from the bible and this week he got us to make some paper boats to float on a washing up bowl of water he borrowed from the bar.

Anyway there was just about 7 of us from different churches around the city, it was nice getting to know different people from quite a few backgrounds.   Will try come along semi regularly while I am still here in the UK.