For some time now we've been mulling over the idea of a church housegroup away weekend, and last weekend it finally happened! We found an Airbnb in Poole that just about had enough space for everyone to squeeze in and nine of us spent the weekend there, plus Ca. who visited on Saturday. Of course we picked a spectacularly wet weekend for this but that's Britain for you. There wasn't any thunder and lightning in the end (despite the forecast), but that didn't stop Ch. seeing if she could hide under/in the lounge table (answer: yes, just)!
Anyway, on Friday we all turned up, argued over rooms and beds (I lost rock-paper-scissors with Lu. and so got the smaller bed - which was probably just as well, as I doubt he'd have fitted in it), and settled in with a top-your-own pizza evening that I masterminded. It all went well, except when someone managed to switch the oven to "grill" instead of "off" and set off the smoke alarms. Ah well, at least we know something in the house works! We rounded off the evening with Friday's Compline from the Northumbria Community.
On Saturday morning Ca. appeared at far too early a time and then vanished off to a local parkrun with K. and Lu.. The rest of us surfaced at a much more civilised time, and once the parkrunners reappeared decided to head out for a bit of fresh air while it was still sunny. I suggested geocaching and spotted a few nearby in Bourne Valley, so we set off. The first cache was found by Ka., and Ri. sketched a chameleon holding an axe in the log (because last night we discovered that chameleons holding axes is a thing). Next was a sneaky one in the valley itself, hidden in a hole in a fencepost. The 3rd one however was too well hidden despite 10 of us looking high and low for it, and at that point we choose to head back as the weather was turning.
In the afternoon La. explained her idea for housegroup: prayer cups!
The idea is that we all got assigned a plastic cup, and over the course of the weekend we'd each fill everyone else's cup with a prayer, bible verse, or whatever. So most of the afternoon was spent pondering over squares of paper and poring through bibles to find suitable verses. I think most of us succeeded at finding something to fill the cups with - certainly I got a good collection in mine, so thanks to all at housegroup for them.
The evening turned into more of a party - we first played a variation on Paper Telephone (which the Pasta Night group will know as Derrick), and then I set up the Wii for much Guitar Hero rockage. No-one was quite brave enough to take on DragonForce Through the Fire and the Flames...
The house we stayed in had a curious garden - there was a tiny little courtyard, and then behind a steep slope behind that just disappeared into shrubbery. So of course myself, Ch. and I think Lu. decided to scramble up it and see where it went. Turns out it's a sort of terraced garden - a bit like a very condensed version of Wodehouse Terrace - and the top of it is probably higher than the roof of the house (which is a 3-story town house and so isn't short!).
After exploring, we had a sort of non-communion communion (there's a proper phrase for it that I forget) - an informal sharing of bread and wine. We based it on the Northumbria Community's Morning Prayer, but replaced their suggested reading with John 17 as church is just starting a sermon series based on that passage. We had another go at the praying-out-loud-together (this is the 3rd or 4th time we've tried it now and I rather like it. Normally I find it quite hard to pray out loud, but if we're all praying loudly together then I don't feel as self-conscious and find it easier). Finally JR dug out his guitar and we rounded out the not-a-church-service church service by signing... erm, all of the half-dozen or so songs Ca. had found (well, we sung the first couple, then people started requesting other songs, and we kind of just kept going...).
Then it was time for lunch, and packing everything (including lots of food - we may have over-bought the food just a little bit...) for the return to Fareham!