Summer holidays over for another year! However, we still have a week in November when we will be travelling to Somerset where I have been invited to share in the marriage service of Andrew Simpson who was in the Sunday School and Youth Group before joining the Royal Navy. Rather than try to fit everything into a few days and because daylight is shorter I decided to take the last of my holiday entitlement and make a week of it and take our time going and coming – the day after the wedding our grandson has his second birthday, but we are breaking our journey and will head for Edinburgh the following day for that celebration.
Our holiday this year has been spent in Orkney although we had a couple of nights in both Inverness and Golspie on the way to Scrabster, and managed to catch up with friends on the way, before spending a few days on the shores of Loch Eriboll, then heading for Edinburgh to see Alexander (and his parents!).
On Orkney we managed to meet up with Rachael who has been twice to Bangladesh with a workcamp, and to meet her mother and her children Caitlin and Finlay. Chris, her husband had gone offshore the day before. We had a wonderful time on Orkney. The weather was superb and there was plenty of sun! We visited most of the main archaeological sites, such as Skara Brae and Maeshowe and the Italian Chapel built by Italian Prisoners-of-War. We drove across the Churchill Barriers, found some lovely places miles from anywhere for coffee, and had a meal in an Indian Restaurant in Kirkwall, where everyone spoke Bengali – we were given an additional starter – “on the house” as well as an “on the house” take away – just because I chatted to them in Bengali!
The two Sundays we were away, we attended church in two very different surroundings. The first Sunday we went to St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. The Minister was in Glasgow working as a “Clydesider” during the Commonwealth Games and so the service was conducted by an Ordained Local Minister and included Communion. It was a strange experience waiting for worship to begin with crowds of tourists from the Cruise Ships which were in port that day milling around the cathedral, taking photos in amongst those who had come for Sunday Worship. However about 10 minutes before the service, this ceased and we discovered later that during the main tourist season the tourists are invited to take a hymn book and join worship. Some do, but then leave after the first hymn, and others are a bit mystified as to why they can’t just wander around during the service!
The following Sunday we were back on mainland Scotland, and staying at a lovely B&B on the shores of Loch Eriboll about 7 miles from Durness. This area has spectacular beaches and is a wild rugged landscape. We went to Sunday worship in Durness. There was a notice on the door to say that the service would be held in the small hall to the rear of the church. We got there just as the minister was arriving, having already conducted the service at Kinlochbervie and driven the 20 mile journey on a road with passing places through some stunning scenery.
In the hall were three ladies and a gentleman – and so, with the “visitors” and the minister and his wife, we were eight! Music was supplied from a CD and the singing was great. A lovely intimate service.
In both these very different places of worship we were warmly welcomed. In St Magnus Cathedral we were chatting over coffee to a lady (Rosie) who was just starting out as an Assessor for applicants for the ministry of the Church of Scotland. She introduced us to her husband – Jim – and I realised we were chatting to Lord and Lady Wallace of Tankerness! And, of course, in Durness, every person at worship spoke to us!
“People make Glasgow” is the slogan which has been much in the news in recent weeks – and who am I to disagree with the truth of such a statement! In the same way “People make the Church”. I hope you are as warmly welcomed in churches when you are on holiday, as we were – and I trust that we welcome people just as warmly when they come to Carnoustie Panbride as visitors.