On the move…

On The Move

Back in July 2008 I posted on these very pages that we were being called to leave Stamford and move. It’s been nearly 5 years in the making (crazy I know) but it looks like we are now definitely on our way – we’ve sold our house and had an offer accepted on a house in Rugby. So, barring any unforeseen bumps in the road, we’re now getting set for a major step in the life of our family.

When I first announced the move we believed it was to Peterborough, but that proved to be part of a process where God was gently lifting our roots up and shaking away the excess before preparing to plant us where He wants us. There has been a lot of heart-work done over the intervening years – getting us used to the idea of moving, of leaving the area (Mrs H and the Kids have always lived in/around Stamford), of moving away from friends and family, and coming to a point where we could genuinely say “Here I am Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8)

There’s also been the odd false start, where we felt God was saying “GO” and then it didn’t happen. I’d be lying if I said that I knew why and that it wasn’t frustrating – we don’t fully understand the delays (maybe we never will) and it was frustrating, especially as we’d been telling the kids we were going to move and I really don’t like messing them around.

But that is hopefully all in the past now. We’ve got a buyer for our house, and they are good buyers so there shouldn’t be any problems there (hopefully). We’ve found a great house in Rugby and there’s no chain involved there so hopefully that shouldn’t be complicated. We just need to pray for all the final pieces to fall into place; mortgages, solicitors, surveys and timescales. We also need to pray for schooling and the right provision for the kids. A winning lottery ticket wouldn’t go amiss either 😉

The house we’ve found is a big surprise to us as it’s not something we would ever have normally considered. It needs some work to freshen it up a bit and modernise some of the decor, but it’s a house with character galore and with so much space you could almost lose yourself in it. The garden is a great size and there’s a huge (and I mean *huge*) workshop/shed/man-cave at the bottom of the garden with workbenches and all sorts (even a dust-extraction system that I thought was a hamster run!) so all those DIY projects and ideas will have a home to be started and then gather dust (only joking dear – I *will* try to get projects finished!)

It was a tense day yesterday, waiting to see if our offer was going to be accepted and then finding out that we were up against another family and having to go to a “sealed bid” situation. In the end though we won out and things seem to be clicking into place.

I keep joking with Mrs H about “Does it feel real yet” as there’s been so many hiccups and delays it’s almost a case of “I’ll believe it when I see it”. It also feels really surreal in a strange way, at points it has felt as though we’re just passengers and at other points it’s just been so much work and craziness that I almost gave up on the whole idea.

We’re not there yet. Until those contracts are exchanged, and the money wings its way through the ether to the relvant parties, there’s still scope for challenges – but this has the real sense of Gods timing to it. Our house sold in an amazingly quick time and our “new house” has come at the right time and offers so much more space than we had expected. There is a compromise in the number of bedrooms (3 rather than 4) but as the smallest bedroom is larger than our current largest bedroom we aren’t going to be short of space or storage room!

At the end of the day, all we can do now is provide the info that the solicitors etc request and pray that God smooths the rest of this journey so that we can move without any headaches (but probably with a few tears) and with a sense of excitement about the road that lies ahead. So please pray for us – as I said above we need prayer that solicitors, surveys, mortgages, deadlines, schools etc all fall into place nicely and that’s something that definitely needs a divine touch (as anyone who has ever moved house will no doubt agree!)

By the way – when we get a date we’ll probably come grovelling for help in moving… you’ve been duly warned 😀

2012 – Prayer, Pride and Pauses

Hard to believe it, but we’re already half way through February 2013. It seems crazy that over 6 weeks have past since we bade a fond farewell to, quite probably, one of the most memorable and brilliant years in modern British history.

It was also a year that featured some major decisions as a family, and a frustrating delay.

With such an eventful year the only way to go about summarising it is to start at the very beginning (apparently it’s a very good place to start) – and probably jump about a bit along the way as well.

We went into 2012 knowing that we needed to look at moving house. With my job being over my comfortable commute time, it meant I was getting very tired during the week and not able to do much in the way of socialising in the evenings and the weekends were pretty much spent catching up on rest ahead of the next week of driving. The big question for us was “Where to?”

We’d prayed lots and looked at Google Maps plenty, before narrowing our search down to the west of Northampton – and specifically either Daventry or Rugby. As regular readers here will know we then proceeded to have some fun family weekends away to explore the area and the towns and to test-drive some local churches. Very quickly it became apparent to us that Rugby was where our next stop would be – there’s just something about it that felt right and it’s amazing how it feels like we’re going home when we visit. In fact, it feels so right that it genuinely hurts if we ever drive by there at the moment as we KNOW we should be living there.

So the house went on the market, following some hasty de-cluttering and re-decorating in some parts, and we started to explore houses on the market in Rugby. We even fell in love with a great house that was on the market for an amazing price and was perfect for us.

But it wasn’t meant to be, at least not straight away – we got to September and had to take the decision (due to schooling and exams etc) to pull off the market temporarily. We don’t know why we’ve had to hit “Pause” but we know there’s a reason and a purpose for it.

With the new year here it’s time to dust off the boxes, review “The Plan” and hit play again – let’s get the house on the Market and get moved!

A massively busy and intense, but wonderful and joyful, weekend in April featured not only my parents celebrating 40 years together but also my cute ickle baby bruvver tying the knot (at long last). It was a crazy hectic weekend but one that will definitely go down in the annals of Hartley history… just wish I’d had the courage to play the Hallelujah Chorus when the vicar announced “I now pronounce you man and wife”

2012 also featured London. A lot!!!

Beginning right in January with a trip to see “The Lion King” with the kids – an absolute joy and one that can be strongly recommended as it really is amazing.

With the uncertainty over house moves etc, we didn’t get any tickets for the Olympics – but we were glued to our TV set from first thing in the morning until well into the night, along with most of the country. We did manage to secure some amazing tickets to the Paralympics though – including a session in the stadium and a Park pass for the Olympic Park.

I said it numerous times on Facebook and Twitter during summer last year, but I have never felt so proud to be British in my life. I’ve always been patriotic, and unashamedly so, but last year we rose to the challenges of economic woes, of previous olympic games, and of previous successes – we rose and soared above and beyond. We didn’t try and pretend we weren’t who we are but we embraced our heritage, we grasped hold of our achievements and we then said “THIS is who we are!”

The Olympic tagline was “Inspire a generation” and there’s been much focus on wether or not there’s been an increase in sports take up since the games, but to my mind that is a very narrow minded view. Did the games inspire people to be proud of who we are? did the athletes inspire people to achieve goals and never give up? did the gamesmakers show that we can have a community spirit and that it’s a positive thing?

To top off our London festival, me and Mrs H had a nice weekend getaway which saw us taking our time around Stratford Westfield (and boy was it odd seeing the Olympic Park in a quiet state and with some bits being dismantled), wandering around London itself and taking in some gorgeous sights and sounds, and then going to see Rock of Ages at the theatre. With unbelievably wonderful company I can honestly say it was a brilliant weekend. The show was beyond excellent – getting the audience involved, ad-libbing and improvising (at one point to the intense blushes of the lead actor), and rocking out to some seriously classic ’80s rock anthems.

There was loads of other bits’n’pieces going on – but a lot of stuff got put on hold whilst we waited to see what the house situation was going to look like.

And that, in a nutshell, was 2012. A year that taught us frustration and patience in equal measure, and had us seeking God more than ever for direction, wisdom, and guidance. There were (and still are) challenges and trials, but there was a lot of joy and celebration. Looking back I think it’s safe to say that we all grew during the year, as we faced the imapct of our decisions and the subsequent delays – and I firmly believe we’re all the better for it. I don’t know why we didn’t move last year, we may never know, but we still came through it with resolve and conviction.

A pretty good year when all is said and done!

** PAUSED **

… Press Pray to Continue.

The road to moving home is never fully smooth, and pretty much always throws up the odd surprise along with a bit of tension and even a few tears. When it’s God telling you to move, you kinda hope, and pray, that the road will be smooth and that things will almost fall into place.

A naive perspective I know – but when you’re talking about God then it can also be seen as a trusting faith as you step into what God’s called you to. Yes, I know that when God calls the road is rarely smooth and rosy (just look at Moses, Joseph, Mary, John the Baptist etc…) – even so, we were hoping that this would be the case here.

Instead we are now at a point where we’ve had to press the pause button on the story of our move. Yup, we’ve had to take the house off the market *sob*

We’d set ourselves a target time, due to various reasons, of the October half-term as the cut-off date for the move and when we finally hit the point where that wasn’t going to happen we made the painful call to take the house off.

And it hurts. We KNOW that God is telling us to move. We KNOW that Rugby is our destination. If we ever drive past it there’s a longing and a pain in the pit of our stomachs. What makes it worse is we know that there’s a good reason for the delay, it’s just that God hasn’t told us yet. This is obviously a part of the process He wants us to go through and there are things we need to do/learn/act upon/whatever during this hiatus in proceedings.

We’ve not dropped the plans. We’ve not decided that we’re not moving. We don’t feel that “we got it wrong”. We just don’t fully know Gods roadmap for the journey He is sending us on.

The house will go back on the market next spring and we’ll be praying and looking to move sometime in the summer ahead of new school years and, in the case of our eldest, college. In the interim period we’ll be getting on with life and doing a few more jobs on the house that need doing…

And then we’ll kick it all off and hopefully we’ll move to Rugby.

Rock & Roll with extra cheese (and some rather spicy sauce!)

When it comes to music, films, TV etc (entertainment in general I guess) I’m a rather odd specimen of a man – enjoying an eclectic mix of styles, genres, eras and volumes! I can watch everything from sci-fi blasts to detective dramas, comedies to quizzes, debates to debacles. I listen to music from so many eras covering pop, rock, dance, jazz, classical, electronic, metal, worship, atmospheric and more. In fact the only music I can’t appreciate is manufactured plastic rubbish that you know doesn’t mean anything to the person singing it.

One era and style I do particularly love is 80s Rock. I grew up listening to Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Meatloaf and more and still love ramping up the volume to scream out the lyrics to some of the classic anthems from that time.

So when we saw an interview with Justin Lee Collins and Shane Ward on BBC breakfast talking about the West End musical “Rock of Ages” I immediately knew that this was something I *have* to go and see.

We’ve not made it to London (yet – it’s planned for sometime in the future though!) but when a film version was released my curiosity was definitely piqued.

Last weekend my wonderful wife, who has impeccable taste it must be said, chose for us to see the film when we had a chance to escape the kids for a day and grab a couple of hours in the midst of all the house hassles.

All I can say is WHAT A BLAST!

Now I’ll get the potentially offensive stuff out of the way first – although everything in this film is done to maximise the cheese factor and it’s all done in a humorous manner. The film definitely isn’t one for the kids, despite the 12A rating. There is a bit of bad language but there is a lot of suggestive and sexual innuendo in the film. Part of it is set in a “Gentlemans” club and features pole-dancers, there is a scene that involves strongly implied sex and there are other bits. BUT – none of it made me feel uncomfortable and it is all played for laughs.

That aside (and, as I say, it didn’t bother me at all) the film is a great romp from beginning to end. The storyline is a cheesy cliche wrapped up in a fairytale sugary syrup – girl meets boy and all the typical journey that tends to follow in those storylines. Think Grease or Dirty Dancing, set in the 80s scene with blue denim or black leather trousers and black T-shirts. You’re not getting a story that will change your life forever and that will bring about world peace to sound of whale song. You are getting a joy-filled, hugely funny, musically superb couple of hours that entertain and leave you with a huge smile on your face for days to come.

The music in the film, as with the storyline, differs slightly (and also significantly in parts) to the stage show but contains so many classics from that time including everything from Journey to Poison, Def Leppard to Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar to Styx and so many others and some of the mash-ups in the film are pure genius! By the end of the film there wasn’t a foot that wasn’t tapping, a head that wasn’t nodding and there weren’t many people who weren’t singing along.

The casting was probably the biggest surprise. Tom Cruises involvement had me a bit concerned, and the Mrs and I both raised eyebrows when the opening credits rolled and we saw Russell Brands name (not the biggest fans, but his involvement was a no-brainer really), however the whole cast are brilliant totally embracing the ham-it-up nature of the film and throwing themselves into their roles completely. The two stars of the show are newcomers and manage to stand their own ground surrounded by Cruise, Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and others. What has been a huge surprise is the discovery that the actors all sing their own parts (they obviously did this seperate to the filming as you can tell they are miming at points, but they did record the vocals they are miming to!) and that includes Tom Cruise who manages to do a great version of “Paradise City” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”.

The film has so many highlights in it that I can’t do it justice to just pick a few. The funniest moment of all though has to be the scene between Brand and Baldwin – I am never going to be able to listen to the song they sing again without thinking of the film (I’ll say no more as I really do not want to spoil it for anyone!)

If you have a decent sense of humour, and don’t get easily offended, and you love the 80s then you really have GOT to see this film. It’s only made me even more desperate to see the stage show, and we’ve already said that we’ll be getting the Blu-Ray when it comes out!

And if you want to enjoy the original versions of the songs used in the film and the stage versions you can subscribe to my Spotify playlist – to which I may well add a few additional Eighties classics that didn’t quite make it into the show but definitely deserve a place there. Saying that, if all the classics were to be included in the film and the stage show you would be there for days!

The Spotify playlist can be found here: http://open.spotify.com/user/geekyone/playlist/0aAPSQsTp3jDpWt3iwYedo

Purpose, Conviction, Vision and…. patience


I’ve mentioned here in the past that I can struggle with the P-word sometimes. Patience is something that I can often lack, and always need more of.

What makes things worse is when you have a clear sense of purpose, a definite goal and total faith in what you are doing… but you still have to wait.

As you cannot help but have noticed, we are moving house. We know God’s calling us to move, we know where, we have complete faith in that – but the time still ticks by and that exposes the patience, or lack thereof. After waiting for so long for the starters pistol to fire, we know that we’re on the final straight and we can see the finishing line in front of us (appropriate metaphor for this year really). Unfortunately it’s one of those scenarios where time seems to slow down, and the goal seems to move further away with each step closer we take.

There’s no doubt that this is the right move and there is no doubt that this is what God wants us to be doing – but we’re definitely at that point of wishing it was all over and done with (well, except the move itself as that needs to wait until the summer hols :-D)

If you happen to have a spare 30 seconds, please shoot a prayer upstairs for us!