A Little Gem!

No it’s not a type of lettuce, but a small island called Lismore, north-west of the town of Oban, in Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland. It can be approached by the large CalMac car-carrying boat from Oban.

But if you do not want to be part of the herd, and can do without your car for a short time, then drive up over the Connel Bridge and head for the lovely little area called Port Appin. It is a famous bit of country-side, and may even be known to many who have read Kidnapped, or know of Rob Roy McGregor in Scottish History.

You then take the 10 minute journey on a tiny boat (which only seats about 12 people and numerous bikes) across to the north end of Lismore. One great thing is that you get to hear all the local gossip in that short time, from the locals….and you may have to reciprocate by letting folk know why you are going over!

Because of the narrow single-track roads, cars can only go along at a leisurely pace, and this has the advantage of being relatively-safe for walkers or cyclists…if everyone takes care!

Our reason for going over again was the ancient Church of Scotland building (which at various times has been Catholic and Episcopal). St Moluag had come from Ireland (you see a lot of good people come from that country!) in about 561 and set-up his own monastic centre. He also travelled widely over Scotland, the Isle of Man, and even Iceland, rivalling St Columba, who set-up the more-famous Iona Abbey.

The building you see in the photo is only the Choir area of what at one time had been a Cathedral, built in about 1300 (+- 50 years). There is evidence of the original Chancel, but inside the church looks happily self-contained. It is maintained with pride by the present members, and is always clean and fresh.

A relatively modern innovation on the island is the Heritage Centre, which was opened just over a year ago, to preserve and display the island, is what can only be described as an eco-friendly building, which does not intrude on the landscape but looks as if it has just risen from the ground……and the coffee is good!Well-worth a visit….ask for the key to go into the re-constructed old farmhouse, alongside, with many artifacts from a past era.

Unfortunately we had to return to the other world of rush and noise, refreshed by our little trip to a relatively-unknown bit of Argyll.

As they say in the holiday ads for Montenegro…..get there before the crowds find it!

A German choir in Glasgow

Sunday morning was slightly strange. The normal red-robed choir at the Cathedral was replaced by the smaller, black-suited/dressed Egidienerchor Choir from Nurmburg. A small, slim female figure stood in front to conduct.

We had our ‘normal’ service with the wonderful choral bits sung in Latin and German to a setting by one of the famous Bach family (not the famous JS Bach).

The Provost preached on the subject of the Old Testament lesson, and proposed that ‘history is often written by the winners’. He of course made no references to present or recent conflict between our countries, ( he wasn’t even born when WW2 was on), and yet it was strange (at least to me) that  only 60 years ago, it would have been almost unthinkable that such an event could have taken place. Yet it did happen and people could forgive (if not forget) such a war.

Zimbabwe is different however….where we see a dictator prohibiting what we feel as a right….to be ruled by those we wish to rule us, as elected by a majority. What a situation to have…a rich country, with starving people; a vibrant people, suffocated by oppression and fear; a beautiful country, discouraging visitors.    And yet the world seems unable to do anything about it. Let’s hope they can come to some firm resolution without resort to the kind of bloodshed we have seen in  Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in a Cathedral in Glasgow, last Sunday, we saw yet another small healing touch on the wounds of Europe, which are slowly healing up.

Now if they had only brought over some of Nurmberg’s famous Lebkuchen cakes, I would have been an even-happier bunny!

Retirement?….well just maybe!

A day of contrasts….

………… firstly with a visit to our business accountant to be quizzed about last year’s figures. It’s a bit like being called-up to the headmaster’s office, with the expected questioning and ticking-off! Had to hasten back to the office to sort out a few questions, and possible mistakes and report back asap.

………….in the evening we had over our neighbours whom we have known for almost 30 years. He recently resigned from his managerial post in a large company, and is now having a sabbatical, before deciding on what he wants to do until retirement. He is obviously enjoying doing very little after a hectic business life, and it is nice to see him so relaxed.

I think I envy him, but maybe it is not in my nature to not work. So it’s back to the grindstone tomorrow as usual!

What trust!

I’ve been working this weekend on what I call my ‘wildlife’ area of our garden, where large shrubs and bulbs are allowed to grow relatively uncontrolled, besides the grass being cut. It allows good protection for birds so I was so pleased to see that a young blackbird had decided to remain with me all day.

What was astonishing, however, was how close it came, and even when I moved about the garden, it didn’t seem worried, nor did it make any attempt to move away.

I think if I were confronted by some moving animal, probably 100 times larger, in the wild, I would be inclined to move away if it approached!

Is this a knowledge that it can move much faster than me, is there an ignorance that I could harm it, is it a thought that the availablilty of food is worth more than the risk I pose, is there some ‘domestication’ involved, or is it some ‘child-like’ friendship or trust?

Whatever, It is sometimes very pleasant just to sit on a stone on a warm summer’s day and talk to another of God’s little creatures!

That little screen …

Sorry ! have not been about for a little time now but hopefully this will explain why….

A fair number of us have a monitor screen of some sort on our desk at work or in the house. You must have one or you would not be reading this!

It provides another world into which we have to venture, a bit like Alice and her Looking Glass. But it also allows us access in both directions to the world at large. At one time we read books as a way into this other world, but now we need this window for both business and pleasure.

So when this window is blanked-out for one reason or another, we feel very deprived. If we are watching a favourite TV programme, and there is a power cut, the loss of the viewing maybe annoys us just as much as the other inconveniences!

Imagine how I felt when (two weeks ago today )my main work computer, which has served me well for some years, suddenly packed-in completely. Luckily I managed to get most of our stuff off it, and it was just to be a matter of getting a new machine and uploading the saved info……some hope!

I needed a performance upgraded instrument with XP Pro…..but there are no machines with XP now available, so had to accept Vista. However the drivers are different, and some of my XP programmes will not operate under Vista! Also all my suppliers have specific programmes for the programming of the newer hearing aids;  some can be used with Vista, some have upgrades, and some indeed have no plans to upgrade their information to Vista! To crown it all, the printer I was using was not compatible with Vista!

So, Young Lady of the house did not see me much recently in the evenings while I struggled to get everything (or most) up and running. Blood pressure was at an all-time high, and I was probably more crabby than usual. Her patient and forgiving nature was to the fore however, and to be applauded. With the help of everyone, I am now catching-up with appointments, and after a relatively quite time in a business sense, I am now run off my feet again!

However, the weather has been nice, the garden is looking reasonable, and the possibility of retirement gets a little closer! Then I will have a little more time to look at my little screen for pleasure!

How small is a congregation?


Part of our choir, Angelus, went to the little Episcopal church of St Fillan’s, in the Perthshire village of Killin. last Sunday. For those of you who do not follow my blog, we go to areas where they have no Church choir, and perhaps not even an organist, and sing the Service of Evensong.

It is sometimes known as the ‘English Church’ , or the ‘tin church’ due to the external construction which is corrugated iron. However, inside it quite standard wood, and is warm and cosy.

We were lucky on this occasion to have the services of a wonderful organist who brought notes from an instrument which you would not know existed…..many thanks….’keyboard expert’!

Killin has only a small population outwith the holiday season, so the congregation of St Fillan’s is also relatively-small. When it was arranged, I did not realise that Evensong had not been held there since 1984! So it was really wonderful that members from all the other Churches, as well as visitors from the local caravan site were represented.

Following our choir practice in another local church, we were treated to the usual ‘feed’. You have to be very careful not to eat TOO much, inviting tho’ it may be! It was all so tempting that it was difficult to resist….even knowing that we would be spending some time standing up and sitting down….and you can’t exactly dash out to the loo in the middle of a hymn!

What had started as a dry, if cloudy, day turned into a rather soggy return journey, but nevertheless I hope that the 21 good people of Killin found it as inspiring as we did.

Thoughts for life?

I found the following when I was clearing out my My Documents file on my computer. Thought it was worth sharing……especially Rule One…..don’t get paranoid about your body!

cherie carter-scott’s rules of life

(Carter Scott references this quotation:) “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” (Helen Keller)

Rule One – You will receive a body. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s yours for life, so accept it. What counts is what’s inside.

Rule Two – You will be presented with lessons. Life is a constant learning experience, which every day provides opportunities for you to learn more. These lessons are specific to you, and learning them ‘is the key to discovering and fulfilling the meaning and relevance of your own life’.

Rule Three – There are no mistakes, only lessons. Your development towards wisdom is a process of experimentation, trial and error, so it’s inevitable things will not always go to plan or turn out how you’d want. Compassion is the remedy for harsh judgement – of ourselves and others. Forgiveness is not only divine – it’s also ‘the act of erasing an emotional debt’. Behaving ethically, with integrity, and with humour – especially the ability to laugh at yourself and your own mishaps – are central to the perspective that ‘mistakes’ are simply lessons we must learn.

Rule Four – The lesson is repeated until learned. Lessons repeat until learned. What manifest as problems and challenges, irritations and frustrations are more lessons – they will repeat until you see them as such and learn from them. Your own awareness and your ability to change are requisites of executing this rule. Also fundamental is the acceptance that you are not a victim of fate or circumstance – ‘causality’ must be acknowledged; that is to say: things happen to you because of how you are and what you do. To blame anyone or anything else for your misfortunes is an escape and a denial; you yourself are responsible for you, and what happens to you. Patience is required – change doesn’t happen overnight, so give change time to happen.

Rule Five – Learning does not end. While you are alive there are always lessons to be learned. Surrender to the ‘rhythm of life’, don’t struggle against it. Commit to the process of constant learning and change – be humble enough to always acknowledge your own weaknesses, and be flexible enough to adapt from what you may be accustomed to, because rigidity will deny you the freedom of new possibilities.

Rule Six – “There” is no better than “here”. The other side of the hill may be greener than your own, but being there is not the key to endless happiness. Be grateful for and enjoy what you have, and where you are on your journey. Appreciate the abundance of what’s good in your life, rather than measure and amass things that do not actually lead to happiness. Living in the present helps you attain peace.

Rule Seven – Others are only mirrors of you. You love or hate something about another person according to what love or hate about yourself. Be tolerant; accept others as they are, and strive for clarity of self-awareness; strive to truly understand and have an objective perception of your own self, your thoughts and feelings. Negative experiences are opportunities to heal the wounds that you carry. Support others, and by doing so you support yourself. Where you are unable to support others it is a sign that you are not adequately attending to your own needs.

Rule Eight – What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. Take responsibility for yourself. Learn to let go when you cannot change things. Don’t get angry about things – bitter memories clutter your mind. Courage resides in all of us – use it when you need to do what’s right for you. We all possess a strong natural power and adventurous spirit, which you should draw on to embrace what lies ahead.

Rule Nine – Your answers lie inside of you. Trust your instincts and your innermost feelings, whether you hear them as a little voice or a flash of inspiration. Listen to feelings as well as sounds. Look, listen, and trust. Draw on your natural inspiration.

Rule Ten – You will forget all this at birth. We are all born with all of these capabilities – our early experiences lead us into a physical world, away from our spiritual selves, so that we become doubtful, cynical and lacking belief and confidence. The ten Rules are not commandments, they are universal truths that apply to us all. When you lose your way, call upon them. Have faith in the strength of your spirit. Aspire to be wise – wisdom the ultimate path of your life, and it knows no limits other than those you impose on yourself

 Hope you find them of some help……….