Texas bound…

Shannon's version of travelling light...

Last week the London community bade a fond farewell to Shannon as she headed back to the US for a couple of months. London marked the occasion by beginning a heatwave; we marked it with dinner and drinks by the river.

But it’s not just Shannon that’s headed over the Atlantic…

Joining her is Becca, who’s based in London and has been involved in work on the Transformational Index (TI). They’ve spent the last few days in St Louis, meeting with the TI’s first potential corporate client. On Wednesday they’ll head to Houston where Andy, Thomasin and baby Jacob will join them, and all five of them will travel on to Dallas for more meetings about the TI.

On Thursday, yet another Londoner heads for Texas – Andy M will be spending two months there, supporting the work that Shannon’s doing and spending some quality time with Chef Richard and Robin. If that wasn’t enough for Texas to cope with, two further visitors (Cathers and Liz) will be there in June.

We’ll be keeping you posted on what the London invasion gets up to both on the blog and via Twitter/Facebook, but in the mean time, please do pray for safe travelling, positive meetings and great experiences.

Revamp

Welcome back!

As you can see, there have been a few changes here. We’ve been beautifying our online world to try and make the experience of keeping up with all things Matryoshka Haus a little more pleasant. That means changing the way this blog looks and feels a little, but it means a lot more than that too…

Elsewhere on the web we’ve also been busy. The wonderful Lindsay Noble has been hard at work creating new websites for Matryoshka Haus and The TI. And they are just so darned pretty that we wanted you to know about them!

So check them out, and let us know what you think. We’re sure there’s the odd tweak we can make to make both this blog and the other new sites work even better. If you have thoughts or suggestions just drop us a line and we’ll get right on it.

Beer for Belts

For weeks, Cathers has been asking anyone and everyone if they had belts knocking around that they no longer needed. It might sound like an odd request, but it was part of Sweet Notions’ vision of repurposing unwanted accessories. Jason Fletcher – a furniture designer – had designed a chair using unwanted belts, because Sweet Notions gets given a lot of them, but they needed enough belts to make a proto-type. (You can read more about this on the Sweet Notions’ blog.) After much thought and not enough belts being forthcoming, an idea was born…an evening of ‘beer for belts’.

The premise was simple. We needed belts – lots of them. Men have belts – lots of them. (So do women.) What do men like? Beer. (So do women.) Thanks to generous donations from two breweries, we had a great set of raffle prizes – for every belt donated, a raffle ticket was given.

Usually, I have to trek from King’s Cross to the East End to participate in Matryoshka Haus events, but this time I was literally round the corner. We gathered in the Queen’s Head where friends and strangers alike gathered to give belts, drink beer and hopefully win beer. It’s not often that you have a legitimate reason to ask a total stranger to take off the belt they’re currently wearing!

The winner of a keg of East London brewery ale seemed delighted with the acquisition of 72 pints of beer – but there were several disappointed faces. It’s a good job there’s plans afoot for future Beer for Belts evenings over the summer…

A word of warning: this project can affect you in strange ways. Last week I found myself picking up a discarded belt from the pavement outside my house…clearly I’ll stop at nothing for another chance at some free beer!

Some beer, and some belts

A jolly bank holiday jaunt!

Ruddy faces & muddy shoes

What could be more quintessentially British than a ramble in the forest on a rainy Bank Holiday Monday? Well, nothing really, and it was exactly what I, a library-weary student, needed! A relatively short journey on public transport from East London gets you to Epping Forest – a proper forest which it is possible to get lost in, in the manner of Winnie the Pooh, as we proceeded to demonstrate.

The company of the Matryoshka Haus gang was, as always, wonderful. We also had the delightful addition of the Jordan clan, with six offspring plus two mini friends meaning that the kids almost outnumbered the adults! Fortunately it was not my responsibility to check that they were all present and correct, although I did enjoy following six of them up a tree.

Despite emphatic suggestions that we needed to continue in a north-westerly direction, our party meandered through the undergrowth willy nilly. At one point, we supposedly circumnavigated a pond in its entirety, but I was enjoying catching-up with everyone too much to notice or care! We finally reached the Bikers’ café we’d been aiming for – wet, disheveled and very much ready for hot tea and bacon rolls.

After a good rest and lots of gazing at maps, we were off again, minus the kids (and their respective ‘responsible adults’). The sun finally came out and there was a bit less moaning (Liz’s supply of chocolate biscuits helped) and a lot more marvelling at the beauty of the forest. Taking slightly fewer wrong turns we looped back round to the town where we rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of wine and rested our feet. Content with our Bank holiday dosage of countryside and fresh air, we returned to the city, with our ruddy faces and muddy shoes, where the feast that Rachel N. describes below awaited.

– Sarah Jones

Thank-you for your hospital

What if emotional wounds became physical injuries?

Thus ran the plot of a story that a friend of mine wanted to write. I’m still eagerly waiting for him to get the pen out, but I often ponder this in the meantime. Would I have an arm missing, and an infected sore on my cheek? Would I change the way I acted towards my friends or colleagues if I could see instantly what they were really dealing with? Would it move the targets of my envy?

I often feel guilty about being one of the world’s wealthiest (I am – and probably you are as well – in the top 5%), especially when our churches are increasingly focussed on poverty. But – poverty isn’t just about money. It’s about our spiritual state, too. And London is one of the most difficult places to have struggles of the heart. It’s hard to make friends here. And once you’ve made friends, it’s even harder to sustain those friendships.

Lately, I’ve seen how Matryoshka Haus is making a big difference when it comes to the poor – not those living on the breadline, but those of us (I’m willing to admit it – are you?) who are living on the lonely-line. Last night I sat around a table with nine others and enjoyed one of the tastiest meals I’ve had for months. The ten of us chatted incessantly, laughed, dined and drank. We were unafraid to show each other those valuable glimpses of our inner selves. We carried on healing each other, together.

I often joke when leaving dinner parties: “Thank you for your hospital”.
I think my dear friends at Matryoshka Haus prove this to be more true every day.

– Rachel N

Healing happens much more easily when it involves awesome yorkshire puddings…