For many, but not all, a bucket and spade will mean one thing - memories of holidays at the seaside.  Why is it that children, young and old, love the seaside?  For children, their laughter makes their delight obvious as they splash in the sea, build sandcastles and eat ice-cream. For adults, perhaps it’s being away from routine or responsibilities, being free to play, to read and to indulge in leisure-pleasures. What do you look for in a holiday? Some like activities but others prefer the quieter and slower pace of life.  When you think about the idea of ‘holiday’, it becomes clear that it is unique to humankind - animals and plants are too busy surviving to think about it!    

  • ‘It is not more vacation we need - it is more vocation’ - Eleanor Roosevelt
  • ‘I love writing about my job because I loved it, and it was a particularly interesting one when I was a young man. It was like holidays with pay to me’ - James Herriot
  • ‘Holidays are our one big family indulgence’ - Ben Fogle

To find ongoing fulfilment through your work is ideal but relatively few achieve it as you know if you think about your friends and acquaintances.  The ideas of ‘job fulfilment’ or four weeks for annual leave were unheard of pre-Middle Ages and still is in some places. If you live in Mongolia then you can expect no more than 15 days annual leave, in Mexico 13 days or in Guyana just 12 days.

Most of us prefer beginnings to endings - the starting of a new chapter, the first day of your holiday or the birth of a child. And yet, we all know these things will end because our experience of life is linear. Scientists suggest that the world began with the ‘big bang’ and many fear that it will end with a big bang either from an asteroid or a nuclear one of our own making. The world will not end because of over population, disease, wars or even global warming. These may well be accompanying signs as you can read in the book that is all about beginnings and endings, the Bible which is God’s Word to us. The picture has a clue which some will recognise. What you see there is a Tide Clock which links the time with the moon and the tide.  Whilst we understand much about day and night, the gravitational pull of the moon in its different phases and the movement of the tide, there is much we just don’t know. We don’t know exactly how or why it all started. Many do not accept that there was a ‘Who’ behind it but the Bible fills in the gaps if people care to read and seek to understand. There came a time when God entered our story as a human in the person of his son. That son, the Lord Jesus Christ, knows the story line and holds it all together, for he is The Alpha and The Omega. 

  • ‘Time and tide wait for no man’ - Geoffrey Chaucer

It’s easy to talk yourself down, to let others talk you down or even to talk others down.  However, nothing good comes from it for you’ll find discouragement is a downward spiral. By contrast, the reward from genuine encouragement is always a lift in the heart and a spring in the step. Did a good coach ever try to discourage the aspiring athlete? Never, never. When a mentor was aiming for excellence, did she ever sow failure into the student? Never, never. Did the best parent ever make a child believe they could not succeed? Never, never. Robert the Bruce fought the English six times, but his army lost every time. Near defeat and hiding in a cave, he noticed a spider trying to spin its web. The spider tried six times to make its thread stick to the wall of the cave but it would not stick until the seventh time. It is alleged that the phrase, ‘If at first you don't succeed, try try and try again’ came from this as he went on to win the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 despite being outnumbered ten to one.

  •  ‘Never, never, never give up’ - Winston Churchill
  • ‘If you fall behind, run faster. Never give up, never surrender, and rise up against the odds’ - Jesse Jackson

Whether or not you are into fishing, you might be interested to know who many would say is the greatest fisherman of all time. Certainly he holds some amazing records that have been widely reported but first of all what is he up against in terms of the competition?  The largest fish ever caught was a great white shark that weighed an unbelievable 2,664 pounds (1,208.389 kg). Caught off the coast of Australia in 1959, it took angler Alfred Dean just 50 minutes to win the fight against this one-ton shark. The greatest number of fish caught in a 24 hour period was by Jeff Kolodzinski in 2020.  Known as the ‘Marathon Man’, he is recorded as catching 2, 645 fish in Peoria (Illinois). One fisherman in Australia caught a Snapper with a $20 bill note rolled up in its stomach and Christopher Eggington made a catch that had swallowed a gold engagement ring. You may find it hard to believe that these records were surpassed by an even greater fisherman.

  • ‘The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope’ - John Buchan

Sometimes it feels that it ‘never rains but it pours’. One thing comes after another and you feel beaten down by the harsh winds of life. You begin to feel that it isn’t fair as you compare your circumstances to those of others who seem to be coasting easily through life. Take this battered grass - it’s nearly over and one more strong wind might just snap it. You know the proverb about the straw that breaks the camel’s back and you wonder how much more you can take… genuinely.

  • ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it’ - Charles R Swindoll
  • ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop’ - Confucius
  • ‘The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places’ - Ernest Hemingway

Words are easy but coping in the middle of crises is not.