A pilgrimage to Israel

Last Saturday (11th Feb) I met with a group of 18 people, mainly from local churches, at 4pm.  Destination: Israel!  The tour was organised by a clergyman as a pilgrimage, through a firm called McCabe.  Our flight from Heathrow was at 22:30, so we departed in order to have plenty of time.  Unfortunately the McCabe arrangements only begin at Heathrow, and our party had hired a minibus which broke down!  The driver seemed to have no idea what to do.  We ended up calling the police, being towed off the road, and getting some taxis ourselves.   That was very high stress, but we arrived OK.  The temperature on the M25, as we travelled, hit -8C, which was a little low. 

At Heathrow we were met by McCabe representatives, and really spent very little time going through the security and waiting around.  When we arrived at the departure gate, various people from the couple of hundred travellers there were called over for an extra grilling in a little room.  Nearly all the travellers were older, so it was quite curious that two of the three so chosen happened to be young, pretty and female.  El Al, you need to clamp down on this.

Then we had an overnight flight of some four and a half hours.  In truth it was impossible to sleep in the cramped conditions, so it was with some relief that we arrived at Tel Aviv at 05:15 on Sunday.

We were met by a local guide calling himself “Johnny”, who shepherded us onto coaches.  It was already light, and we drove to Jerusalem, stopping on the Mount of Olives for a view over the city.  This was pretty chilly, although the sun was up. 

By 8am we were at our hotel, the Golden Walls in Jerusalem, where a breakfast had been laid on.  I ate very sparingly, since I wanted to get some sleep.  We were allocated three hours to rest, and then off again.  There was an alternative of going to church, which a couple of people did (and paid for in exhaustion later).

This part of the tour was rather daft, in truth.  I slept for two hours and woke feeling really sick.  Fortunately I recovered somewhat during the next hour.  We were then taken to the Jerusalem hotel for lunch.  A lot of food on a tired stomach is never a good idea, so I stuck with a bit of bread and water.  We then walked through the old city to the wailing wall area.  I was struck with the reflection that, in the womens’ section, probably very few of those visiting were praying for a life of singleness!

Some of the party then got back on the coach to go back to the hotel, while the rest of us walked back through the old city.  This turned into quite a route march, which was probably a mistake again.  However we got back to the hotel at sunset, and there was an excellent buffet.

The Golden Walls hotel is a 3* establishment.  Externally it consists of a doorway between some scruffy shops.  Internally it is much better.  The rooms are adequate, rather than special.  There was a very thin connecting door from my room to the next one, which I had to lock myself (!)  More concerning was the lack of any curtains other than some bits of gauze.  These turned up the following day.  The food on offer was a hot buffet and was excellent.  And even I — a light sleeper — was so tired that I slept quite well. 

On Monday morning it was breakfast again — all meals were included.  I noted that the hotel contained at least four different McCabe pilgrimages, as tables were reserved “for Revd XYZ” with the company name on.  The breakfast was good.  We had a wakeup call for 06:30, breakfast from 07:00, and onto the coach at 0800.  Remember that Israel is 2 hours ahead, so these were early hours, as far as our body-clocks were concerned!

The morning was spent visiting the churches on the Mount of Olives, and then going to the pool of Bethesda.  One feature of the trip was that a hymn book (well, pamphlet) formed part of the tour materials, so we all sang a hymn in the crusader church of St Anne’s next door.  Then there was lunch at the Ecce Homo convent in the Old City — a really excellent establishment, where we met other people from Ipswich.  The afternoon was spent in the Old City, and visiting the church of the Holy Sepulchre, where I got to see the tomb of Christ for the first time, thanks to some reasonably small queues.  Then we headed out to the garden tomb, and then back to the hotel.

One nice feature of the location of the hotel is that there are shops nearby.  We were hastened past any of the shopping in the Old City — indeed this was a rather curious feature of the tour — but I was able, in the evening, to locate somewhere that I could buy some crisps and chocolate.  For what is life without these?  Even so, with all the exercise, I lost quite a bit of weight on the tour.  Not that I am complaining, I should add!

On the Tuesday it was another early start, this time vacating our rooms as we were on our travels.  The morning involved a visit to the Shepherds’ fields — where the angel announced the birth of Jesus, where we had a communion service.  This meant passing through an Israeli checkpoint — very easy — and into the West Bank.  Sadly it also meant a lot of pro-Palestinian propaganda about how nasty the Israelis were for building a barrier.  Since I didn’t hear the words “suicide bomber” at any point — the reason for all that expenditure — I tuned out the lot as special pleading, which it was. 

We were then taken into a local shop and stood there with the door closed for 45 minutes while they tried to sell us stuff.  I proved resistant to this, as I don’t care for this kind of organised pocket-emptying.  Indeed, given that we were rushed past everyone else, I really didn’t like this at all.  But here’s a photo of our bus outside the tourist trap.

Then onto Bethlehem, to Manger square, and into the basilica, which turns out to be the work of Justinian.  Interestingly this time we saw the caves where St. Jerome lived when he was there.  It’s hard to imagine that he worked down there, tho — wouldn’t all that literary work have required more light?  Lunch was next door at a place called the Casa Nova, which was — as usual — very good. 

In the afternoon we went to the Israeli Museum to see the model of ancient Jerusalem, and the Shrine of the Book.  While there some dignitary arrived, shepherded by policemen in cars without number plates — only unimportant people need number plates, it seems.  The Shrine of the Book was cunningly designed with invisible steps in darkness inside so that people fell over them.  The light level was so low, indeed, that I was unable to read much of the material in there.  The replica of the Isaiah scroll from the Dead Sea was interesting, in that it was largely intact.  The divisions in the text, and the horizontal line in the margin indicating verse divisions, was interesting to see.  Text divisions in ancient texts are, as regular readers will know, an interest of mine.

Finally we drove into the Judaean wilderness, stopping to climb a hill and look out over some of the bleak landscape.

Then back on the bus, and we drove down to Jericho, ears popping as the road descended below sea level.  We stayed at the Intercontinental hotel.  This was a curious place, originally built as a casino, and now stood in the middle of nowhere.  The bags didn’t turn up at all quickly and I had to go and get mine from the slothful hands of a bell boy who showed no disposition to release it to me.  The food buffet wasn’t very good, and much of the same stuff appeared at breakfast where it was most unwelcome.  I can’t recommend this hotel, particularly as I was placed in room 212, right next to the service lift.

Back into the bus early on Wednesday, and a short drive to the dead sea.  I had provided myself with swimming trunks — never had an M&S sales assistant apologise for their range before, and mine came from Debenhams — and so made the splash.  The facilities were very basic, which meant that it took a long time to get out of the water and get dressed without ending up with sand in your shoes for the rest of the day.  It was interesting to see one girl simply too nervous to sit down in the water and lie back.  It was quite cold, tho.

Then on to Nazareth, to a theme park called the “Nazareth Village”.  I admit this wasn’t for me, and neither was the food which seemed in rather short supply.  After lunch we went into Nazareth and to the basilica of the Annunciation and to the Synagogue church.  After that, a drive to Tiberias, although we did visit Cana along the way.  We were rather grateful to reach Tiberias, where we stayed at the Ron Beach hotel.  The room I had looked out over the sea of Galilee, and the food here was good (although not as good as the Golden Walls).

One interesting feature of the Ron Beach was an atrium lounge, where there was a piano.  We quickly found that another McCabe group was staying there, who were on a 10-day tour (these seem better value than the 5 day tours), and were Scottish.  In the evening they gathered around the piano and hammered out and sang loudly various songs from the Second World War, such as “It’s a long way to Tipperary”.  We all joined in, of course.  What the hotel staff made of all this I don’t know, but it was great fun!

On Thursday we drove to visit various sites associated with Jesus’ ministry, including Capernaum and a communion at the church of the loaves and fishes.  There was quite a bit of rain around today.  Lunch was at the church of the Beatitudes, where we were offered St. Peter’s fish (I, as ever, stuck to bread during the day).  In the afternoon there was a boat ride from a Kibbutz, and, fortunately, it did not rain while we were out there. We got back around 16:00.  A few of us walked into Tiberias, although the town is not really that interesting.  After dinner, to bed around 21:00; for the wakeup call to go home on Friday was at 03:00.  That night it rained and rained!  A very long day of travel then brought us home. 

It was a great tour.  The people I was with were very nice people, and I found plenty to talk about with many of them.  I also met a couple of people whom I hope will become friends — indeed I met one of them in town today.  It was sad, indeed, when we all disappeared in different directions on the last day.  It was,  in truth, a very nice way to meet people.


From my diary

I’m back.  I’ve been in Israel on a pilgrimage since last Saturday night — overnight flight — and haven’t quite stopped moving yet.  By some fluke we had excellent weather throughout, and it’s been gorgeous.  But my trip home today started at 3am Israel time (=1am UK time), so I’m not quite with it at the moment!


From my diary

I have taken another step to prepare for my forthcoming trip to Israel, visiting Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Galilee, etc.  It is a step that may strike fear into the hearts of many. 

I have bought a pair of swimming trunks.

I promise not to post pictures.  Lady readers might be overcome.

UPDATE: The internet is a curious place.  I just visited Google images and typed “swimsuit” in the search box, thinking to get a photo of a pair of trunks.  What I actually got was 10 pages of pretty young ladies in beachwear.  Not a single man, nor a single image of swimwear, rather than people wearing swimwear. I infer the male-to-female use of Google images must still be something like 20:1, therefore!


Evil in England – persecution of Christians grows

Three stories in one day today.  The first is a general de-Christianisation thing; the other two involve state-backed attacks on Christians just going about their lives.  Three in a day is sobering, isn’t it?

The first story is at eChurch blog, in the BBC and commented on by Cranmer.  This is headline news here, so needs little special treatment from me.  Apparently a judge in the High Court has ruled, after a claim by an atheist activist, that having formal prayers before the start of council meetings — something that councils have done for a century — is illegal under some law of 1972. 

A Devon town council acted unlawfully by allowing prayers to be said before meetings, the High Court has ruled.

Action was brought against Bideford Town Council by the National Secular Society (NSS) after atheist councillor Clive Bone complained.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers were not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972.

Christians will not necessarily be that exercised about these formal things, except that it indicates a general state determination to remove anything associated with Christianity — the official religion, remember — from official functions.

The ruling itself is absurd, of course, and the judge must have known it.  You can’t discover that a law says something as controversial as this after a period of 40 years, so evidently the judge was trying to invent the law for political purposes of his own.  However I don’t remember voting for Mr Justice Ouseley to invent law, and neither did anyone else.  The government should oblige him to resign; but I suspect it won’t.  Such behaviour by a judge is quite improper.  Issues of this kind should be decided by parliament.  But the verdict, to me, suggests that English justice is not to be relied on, and has been corrupted. 

The other items are much more sinister.  The case of two elderly Christians, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who were targeted by the gay lobby continues.  Regular readers will remember the story.  The victims rented out rooms in their home to visitors on a bed-and-breakfast basis, aimed at Christians.  A pair of sodomites were sent by a gay pressure group as agents provocateurs to demand accomodation in a double room — which was naturally refused.  They had no business there, of course, so they were there to provoke that refusal.  They then denounced the owners to the police under the “equalities” legislation drawn up by that same pressure group and passed by a dirty deal with the government.  The court promptly found the victims ‘guilty’ of various absurd ‘crimes’ and fined them thousands of pounds.  The couple appealed, with the help of a Christian charity who funded the appeal (since the couple were penniless).  Today we learn via the BBC that the appeals court rejected their appeal.

Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled last year that the Bulls had breached equality legislation.

The appeal judges heard that the Bulls thought any sex outside marriage was a “sin”, but denied they had discriminated against Mr Hall and Mr Preddy.

Mr Bull, 72, and Mrs Bull, who is in her late 60s, were not in court for the ruling.

The judges heard that the Bulls’ appeal was funded by the Christian Institute and Mr Hall and Mr Preddy were backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The sinister EHRC is a taxpayer-funded organisation.  The Christian Institute is a meagerly funded charity.  Nice to know that the state is harassing the elderly for who they let in their homes, isn’t it?  The EHRC stooge added, menacingly:

He added that the commission had no intention of enforcing its entitlement to legal costs.

Translation: “Now roll over or else.”  Nice again.  Again we have to ask whether the justice system has become corrupt; for what honest court would allow this evil? 

But the final word rests with the wealthy and well-connected gay activist who, I am told, drew up the law being used here, in a backstairs deal with the last government, and then masterminded this attack on two poor frail old people:

“I hope Mr and Mrs Bull will now feel content to go home to do God’s good work as Easter approaches, instead of relentlessly pursuing a happy couple through the courts.”

The only people being pursued through the courts, relentlessly, on and on, with state funding, are two old pensioners who were targeted out of malice, and Summerskill knows that very well. 

In the third story, the Daily Mail has been ordered to put the establishment line on this one in their headline, it seems:

Bible-clutching street preacher in court for ‘telling gay couple they would “burn in hell” in High Street’

Love the adjective “bible-clutching”.  The Daily Mail would usually be expected to object to this sort of thing, so evidently the establishment has instructed newspaper proprietors to toe the line.

A Christian street preacher told two gay men they were ‘sinners’ who would ‘burn in hell’ as they walked past him on a busy high street, a court heard today.

In a case which could reignite the debate over the boundaries of free speech, Michael Overd, 47, is accused of using threatening language towards civil partners Craig Manning and Craig Nichol when he saw them as he preached on a busy high street last July.

The court heard claims the lay preacher was provoked by a previous altercation with the couple in October 2010, when he singled them out when he saw them holding hands.

The words agents provocateurs again springs rather strongly to mind.  Walk past a street preacher ostentatiously holding hands, and then denounce him to the police if he shows any sign of objecting — yes, I think we all know what that’s about.  And since “the process is the punishment”, and the object is to chill free speech, it hardly matters whether the victim is convicted or not.  Others will be afraid to risk the same, and thus will not dare to say that homosexuality is a sin; and that, I think, is the object here.  What kind of country can’t tolerate sandwichboardmen saying “prepare to meet thy God”?

The defence counsel added an interesting snippet about the complainants:

He said: ‘You made up your mind to silence him, didn’t you?

‘You went up to him and abused him, saying ‘Who the f*** do you think you are? I’m going to kick your f****** head in. You’re dead, you’re dead’.’

They deny it, of course. 

Again, I think English justice is on trial here.  Is the judge honest?  Or will he behave as the establishment demand, and convict a man for stating an unpalatable truth in the hearing of overt evildoers desperate to “take offence”?

All this is very bad, and there is undoubtedly worse to come.

It is the hallmark of a repressive society that it cannot leave the Christians alone.  Such societies insist on harassing this unthreatening group, under one pretext or another. 

It is the mark of such societies that they pass laws which they know Christians must break, because Christ says so, and then the society treats them as law-breakers, and punishes them viciously for offences that wouldn’t even come to court, if the victims held some other views. 

This is how persecution is done, over some trivial pretext.  This is how hate manifests.

But let us not revile the wicked men who do these things.  They are merely dupes of Satan, allowed to make themselves miserable for the purposes of one who will treat them as meat.  Let us love them, and pray for them, and discuss them without reviling, as the scripture says.  Let us also pray for the confessors and the martyrs, for Peter and Hazelmary Bull, and those who support them; and for Michael Overd and his people.  Pray that God will strengthen them to endure this trial. 

UPDATE: Michael Overd has been found not guilty by the magistrates.  This is excellent news.

UPDATE2: Eric Pickles, the powerful no-nonsense Yorkshire MP who is Communities Secretary (and has been doing an excellent job of recalling corrupt local councils to the purposes for which they exist), has criticised the ruling that official prayers cannot be held.  Another MP has commented that, if the ruling stands, even the House of Commons could be interfered with.  Good news again.


From my diary

I’ve been preparing for my forthcoming trip to Israel by getting dollars and shekels etc.

One thing that has amused me rather is that, after arriving in Jerusalem at 5am on an overnight flight, we’re taken sightseeing!  There is quite a full programme for the day, with a break mid-morning at the hotel.  That sounds a little odd to me — most of us will be dead from not-sleeping on the plane.  Methinks the organisers have got a little over-enthusiastic!

The Origen book is going great guns, and I think it must be pretty much complete, as far as text and translation go.  I need to review it, and see precisely where we are, but couldn’t do it today.  Tomorrow I have a Rather Important Interview, but with luck I’ll have time to do something afterwards.

The snow here is interfering with Christian events locally, but I have managed to attend a few.  Some have been blessed; others decidedly not!  Such is life.


Comment stonings and comment warriors

A couple of links that show how the internet is developing.

First up are a bunch of pot-heads calling themselves “CLEAR”.  They know what they want, and they’re not about to let the fact that everyone else disagrees with them stand in their way.  They write.

Every day the CLEAR Facebook page points to such stories and calls for comment warriors, people who can post polite, well-informed, persuasive comments.  This is an excellent way of driving opinion from the grass roots.  Over time we can influence newspaper editors, local opinion formers, those people who are prominent in local society.  It is a long game and requires patience, persistence and politeness – but also passion.

So follow the Google news service for stories and keep an eye in the  CLEAR Facebook page. Watch out for calls for “Comment Warriors” when we find a story that’s really worth complaining about and  feel free to add any you notice!    Please take the time to leave a comment, express your point of view and use some facts to counter the lies and propaganda that are published about cannabis. If you can’t write a comment to the newspaper’s website, then write to the editor.

To be most effective, your comments should be polite and refer to scientific evidence.  Please do not use bad language, however angry you feel at the content of the story.  Please feel free to copy any information you find on this website to use in your comments.  Over time, you will be able to build up some standard comments or paragraphs that you can save on your computer and copy and paste as you need them.

In most cases you will need to register in order to leave comments. This can be frustrating to begin with but soon you will be registered everywhere. Of all the local newspapers published in Britain, most use one of only three or four standardised comment systems.  Once you’ve registered once, you’ll be able to comment on all papers that use that system.

The most important thing is to keep going.  It can become tedious but invest just 10 minutes a day and you can be part of making an enormous difference.  Working together we can have an enormous impact from the grass roots.  Become a comment warrior today!

Yes, it’s not about communication or debate, but “having an enormous impact”.

Over at Front Page Mag, there’s a conversion story of a leftist journalist who gradually realised that his allies in a “hit story” were being dishonest, and what happened when he tried to correct things.  The nuts and bolts of the story don’t matter; but I liked the description of what happened when he tried to add some balance to the pre-arranged media narrative.

In January of 2012 I wrote 3 consecutive articles for the Daily Kos.  The first was entitled “Loonwatch.com and Radical Islam”.  Here I pointed out the how Loonwatch only deflects criticism of radical Islam.  I was also critical of Islamic theology while noting over and over that most Muslims were peaceful. 

The comments section of Daily Kos made me feel like I was attending my own funeral.  It was like a public stoning.  

There wasn’t much in the way of responding to any of the points laid out in my article but hundreds of comments accusing me of being “right wing” a “bigot” and an “lslamophobe”. 

A “public stoning” is precisely what some of these “comments” feel like (and are intended to feel like). 

In the face of all this dishonesty, perhaps we need a campaign for honest blog comments.  That the whole purpose of comments is being perverted seems clear.

My own policy on comments is very simple; if a comment annoys me, I delete it.  This isn’t a forum, and I regard the choreographed, manipulative complaints  of “censorship” made by the offenders with amused contempt.  My house, my rules.  If you want to open your mouth in my house, be polite, be nice and, if you disagree with me, remember just who owns this house, or you will be ejected.  In other words, behave as you would if you were in my house in real life.  Which hardly seems too much to ask! 


Are these really the words of Ignatius?

A splendid blog post at TrevinWax contains the following item:

Please pray for me,
that I may have both spiritual and physical strength to perform my duties;
that I may not only speak the truth but become the truth;
that I may not only be called a Christian, but also live like a Christian.
Yet I do not want people to look to me as an example,
for at best I can only be a pale reflection of Christ Jesus;
let people look away from the reflection and turn to the reality.
Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas,
but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ.
So pray that I may never fall into the trap of impressing people with clever speech,
but instead I may learn to speak with humility,
desiring only to impress people with Christ himself.

– Ignatius of Antioch, 35-108 A. D. 

These are interesting sentiments, although I have a feeling that “Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas” is not what Ignatius would say.  But the lack of a source is troubling.  Where precisely does Ignatius say this?

So, where does this come from?  Well, the direct source is probably Janice Grana, 2000 Years since Bethlehem: Images of Christ through the centuries, Upper Room Books, 1999.  This contains these very words, but since I cannot access more than a snippet in Google books, I am none the wiser.

Does anyone recognise the words?


eChurch blog threatened with legal action for a post

On January 28th 2012 eChurch blog included this post:

I Tweeted earlier:

“I sincerely believe that it is easier to publicly proclaim your sexuality than it is to declare mental illness and personality disorders.”

This was met with a small chorus of agreement.

This thought derived from an incident on a prominent Christian forum in which a gay atheist activist took exception to the fact that the moderators had requested he change his provocative avatar. The avatar was of two naked men in an implicit homoerotic embrace. Given the history of this particular guy on the forum, which is typified by aggression – bordering on the threatening – vileness, rudeness, bullying, accusatory sentiment, ad hominem, Christian hatred, and so forth, it was plainly obvious to many that the avatar was designed to provoke.

This guy decided not to comply with the request of the moderator and subsequently was forced to do so.  …

The forum in question is the Premier Radio forum.  I read the article, which seems very mild and points out how dreadful these people have become.

Today I learn from Lisa Graas that apparently these mild remarks have led the odious individual in question to threaten legal action!

My friend Stuart James has a reader whose brain has apparently hit the rainbow wall very hard. Apparently, Stuart is getting sued by a commenter on his blog because of something he wrote about “gay rights” and mental illness.

A commenter calling himself Charles Bishop today gave me notice of his intention to pursue me legally for this blog post, under the laws of libel / slander. I await correspondence from his legal advisors.

Stuart, tell him I guess he needs to sue me, too, because I wrote an agreeable post about what you wrote.

I haven’t been able to work out precisely what is supposed to be libellous (!) or I’d post it here. 

In truth I rather doubt the troll in question has any intention of spending a halfpenny himself: the purpose is simply intimidation. 

UPDATE: I’ve now seen the threat, published in the Premier Radio internet forum, and it’s just some troll mouthing off.  What amazes me is that Premier didn’t moderate it instantly.


Egypt kisses tourist industry good-bye — starvation to follow

As I understand it, Egyptian president Mubarak — a relatively mild ruler — fell from power because many Egyptians could not afford to buy bread.  It was as simple as that.

But the unrest has been very bad for the tourism industry, which is a major part of the money flowing into Egypt.  That income dropped 30% last year.  The possibility of an Islamist government will not precisely encourage the US government to keep up its donations, which form another huge part of Egyptian national income. 

The tourist industry is vital.  In Luxor, when the tourists stopped coming after the Islamist massacres of a few years ago, it provoked street demonstrations in support of Mubarak!  So closely are the incomes of local people connected with the dollars-on-legs arriving at the airport.

I have not felt any special urge to travel there at the moment, but I didn’t feel that trips to Luxor, or Sharm el Sheikh, or the Red Sea Resorts were particularly dangerous.  Until today.

Today I read in the Daily Mail a story that crosses Egypt off the list of places that I would feel safe in visiting.

Security officials secured the release of two female American tourists and their guide, hours after they were kidnapped at gunpoint while vacationing in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula yesterday. …

Three other tourists in the convoy were robbed of their cell phones and wallets as the kidnappers took the guns away from their police escort.

The kidnappers demanded the release or retrial of several of their tribesmen being detained by the Egyptian government. The demands are similar to those of the Bedouins who kidnapped 25 Chinese workers earlier this week.

The tourist group that was attacked was traveling back to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh after visiting St Catherine’s Monastery in the southern part of the region.

I think that’s pretty much “game over” for Egypt’s tourism industry.  Sharm el Sheikh is a tourist farm, where tourists are farmed for money in return for sunshine and day excursions.  I’d always thought of it as entirely safe. 

The consequence of this must be yet further unrest.  The reason Mubarak was ousted was poverty — and now the poverty must be getting worse, as the supply of money is cut off.

This is sad, sad news for Egypt.


From my diary

I’m getting ready to go on a trip to Israel with a local church group, as part of my cunning plan to make more links with the local Christian community.  It seemed to me, rightly or wrongly, that 6 days in the company of people from my area, looking at things in which we are both interested, should be productive of friendships.

The tour seems to be staggeringly expensive, yet the actual quality of hotels etc is lower than I have stayed in for many years.  These pilgrimage tours are a rum lot!  But I expect I can endure for a few days, and I hope to see Galilee. 

Likewise, for unexplained reasons, we see to have an overnight flight.  Never been on one of those.

Slightly worryingly, the travel pack includes a small hymnbook.  I wonder under what circumstances that gets used!  Some Christian groups can do weird things, like running people around all day and then expecting them to attend a bible study in the evenings when everyone is tired.

Predicted temperatures are not great.  The last time I was in Jerusalem was 20 years ago (and don’t those numbers sneak up on you?!), and it was perishingly cold.  The other thing I remember from that tour is the pickpockets outside the church of the holy tomb.  Must make sure that I don’t give them any business!

The task of earning a living will return soon enough.  In the mean time, I am trying to make hay.