Parks and Walks close to Home! Home?

Glasgow Botanical Gardens – Kibble’s Palace

This month I had lots of things happening in my life, so we tended to stay close to home. The weather was mostly dry, but still very cold, but we visited a number of parks for some excercise and had a special visit to the Botanical Gardens. Usually we come here later in the year when all the Spring flowers are on display, but we enjoyed this winter visit none-the-less.

The Gardens have a long history going back more than 200 years, and currently have a collection of over 9,000 different plants, with most growing in the temperate and tropical greenhouses. Entrance is free, and its lovely to go there out of the cold in the winter. Just inside the entrance to the park there is a mobile kitchen selling a variety of hot and cold food and drinks at a reasonable price. Parking meters are on the streets surrounding the park, and we have always managed to park on Great Western Road just a few hundred yards from the park entrance.

The Orchid House

We always like to start in the ‘orchid house’, which has a large variety of plants some in glass cases, others in the central and side stalls, and some hanging from the ceiling. There is also a tropical pond here. The smell of the plants in the warm humid atmosphere is something to be enjoyed.

The Cactus House

The next glasshouse couldn’t be more different with its Cactus and arid loving plants. This always brings back memories of times spent working and travelling abroad

The Tropics and Jungle House

Now we did feel as if we were in the tropics as we viewed the beautiful selection of ferns, palms and other large tropical plants. I even spotted some sugar cane, which played a major role in my working life.

The Begonia House

Then to the ‘Begonia House’ where we enjoyed the display of this amazing plant in all its varieties. I enjoy growing them in the garden as they seem to keep flowering all summer.

Kibble’s Palace

Then we went to the beautiful ‘Kibble’s Palace’ and sat in the quietness with a cup of tea and a sandwich from the mobile kitchen, and soaked in the atmosphere of the place. Here you are surrounded by amazing plants, and sculptures, mostly with a Biblical theme. We are indebted to the men and women who work behind the scenes to make this facility available to us.

A few other places and parks where we walked in February.

Reflections: When I review my photographs for the months of February and early March, I realise how blessed we are having so many beautiful places to visit so close to home, and in fact so blessed to have a home where we can find warmth and shelter, food and water, and have neighbours, family and friends around us.

This weekend Gary Lineker’s tweet has again brought to the fore the pliight of countless thousands of migrants and refugees, many ordinary people like us, who are desperately seeking just such a place to call ‘home’. Meantime governments in the wealthy nations search for ways to control the influx, so as to be able to choose who can gain entry, and how they can contribute to the economy and pay towards healthcare and social services. The figures are staggering! According to the UN 89.3 million people worldwide are displaced – 27.1 million refugees (about half under the age of 18) – 53.2 million internally displaced – 4.6 million asylum seekers. 1 in every 88 people in the world have been forced to flee. All this as a result of wars, civil unrest and violence. Since then, we have also had the earthquakes in Turkey, where an estimated 1.5 million were made homeless.

Meantime the nations of the world continue to increase their military expenditure by billions of dollars. Does that help the problem or exasperate it? Figures from the internet for 2023 are staggering. The top ten nations for military expenditure are shown here.

CountryMilitary Expenditure $ in billions
The United States778
China252
India 72.8
Russia61.7
United Kingdom59.2
Saudi Arabia57.5 (estimated)
Germay 52.8
France52.7
Japan49.1
South Korea45.7
Total1,481. billion
Add all the other nations military expenditure and we are talking about an annual expenditure approaching $2 trillion.
Military Expenditure 2023

I can certainly recommend Tearfund, and if you would like to give to help the displaced of the world you can log-on here: https://www.tearfund.org/get-involved/donate

For many I guess these are just some rather sad but necessary statistics, but this weekend I was reminded of one visit I made to a camp for displaced peope in Sudan, when I worked with Tearfund in Africa. Seeing children dying of malnutrition, and watching a mother’s tears as she tells how she lost two of her children on her journey to the camp, are scenes one never forgets. I’m sure many of you have heard such stories first hand.

With fellow workers we sometimes talked and dreamed of the possibilities, if military budgets around the world could be suspended for just one year, and funds re directed instead to the needs of the poor and destitute, to provide food, water, shelter, education, healthcare …. but sadly that’s still just a dream!

But in the midst of that vista of gloom and darkness we were surprised one night when a group of young people came to visit us at our tented camp. We were sitting around an open fire in the field and they had come to sing to us. They sang with such joy and enthusiasm, and the theme of their song? well, actually they were singing about their hope and trust in Jesus! That was back in the nineties, and Africa’s development has come a long way since then. However, it is still true today, that in all of life’s circumstances having a personal faith and trust in Jesus as your Saviour and friend is a life transforming experience, which can give you peace and hope no matter what life throws at you.

I’ll finish with Psalm 84, which we were reading with our church friends last night. The psalmist speaks of his longing to be in the presence of God and in His house, and finishes by saying ‘blessed is the one who trusts in you‘. Here it is presented by the Dornoch Free Church Praise band, from the North East of Scotland. Enjoy.

PS: The first plug plants are in the greenhouse, so praying the temperature will soon start to rise. Have a great Spring!

Matthew

TIME flies > a photographic review of 2022.

It’s always difficult to choose which photographs to include in a yearly review! Should they be included because you think of them technically better than others? or because of the subject matter being photographed? or simply because they invoke memories of a specific day or event, which was extraordinarily special for you? For my opening photograph I’ve chosen the latter. Life had been a bit hectic in Glasgow, but after a surprise phone call we arrived on the Isle of Tiree just two days later. It was late April, and the weather was still cool but beautifully sunny. The first day there, our friend took us to an isolated beach, and left us to walk in the sunshine and quietness, with a gentle but cool wind blowing! Yep, that is a day to be remembered!

The Caolas beach in Tiree

Camera wise, time flies too! The first camera I used was the family Kodak Brownie Junior which I was allowed to commandeer for my first youth camp to Whitehills in Morayshire. I still have a photo that I took with it. Unfortunately the ‘light got in’ as I opened it to remove the film πŸ™‚ which was a common problem with the Brownie. Actually the picture of my brother Martin has been improved considerably, because it is a photo of the original photo and digitally improved! Was it really that long ago?Time > flies!

Here’s this year’s selection then, which I enjoyed puting together, so hope you enjoy them too!

January to March 2022

April to June 2022

July to September

October to December 2022

Reflection: It takes just a few minutes of time to review with photographs the year that has now almost gone. It was a year not without its cares, challenges and difficulties, for family and friends and for ourselves. I guess that will also be true for many who read this blog in countries around the world. We don’t tend to photograph these kind of episodes in life’s journey, but we remember well the reality of them!

As we look now towards 2023 and beyond I wonder what your hopes and fears are for the times ahead? for the future? Sherman Barnes* points out that ‘between 1300 and 1700 many movements arose which claimed that human reason and creative power promised progress to a better world‘!Β  Other questions however arose, Is there progress in knowledge but not in morality? In political life? In wealth or is there progress in human nature? By 1914 and onward such dreams of man creating a ‘heaven on earth’ have in fact faded fast, both in the secular and religious world. Recent history surely bears that out?Β 

Christianity however in contrast to the gloom and doom of our news bulletins is a great message full of hope, whether in life or in death! It clains that time itself will in fact be brought to a summation by the God of history at the return of Jesus Christ, the appointed judge of all the earth. Meantime as Christians we are daily invited to walk with Him and wait expectantly for His coming! At what time, you ask? I’ll quote the supreme authority on the subject – Jesus said, You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” It’s good to be ready!

Paul the Apostle also says, ‘according to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

A prayer for 2023: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

Matthew

  • *A Lion Handbook – The History of Christianity

It is Summertime, in My Heart!

When I looked out our bedroom window this morning my phone was registering a temperature of minus 7 degrees centigrade, so it was tempting to stay in bed. The resident robin however was looking in the window, just to remind me that the seed box needed topping up! It was certainly a Christmas Card setting, lovely to look at, but how thankful we were that the central heating is still fuctioning well. And the garden looks somewhat different too in winter, take a look!

The weather changes so quickly here in Scotland and it has often been said ‘that here you can have all four seasons of weather in one day’. Just shortly before this cold snap set in, we had spent a lovely weekend with family at Skelmorlie on the Clyde Coast. It’s winter, so the days are short, but one advantage is that the place is quiet and it’s easy to find a place to park. We visited the Isle of Cumbrae on the Saturday, and it seemed as if we had the island to ourselves.

By 3.30pm we were headed back for the ferry just before dark, after stopping off at the Ritz cafe for something to eat and a hot drink and to play the Juke Box! πŸ™‚

Soon we were back home to the family’s place at Skelmorlie. There is nothing quite like sitting toasting your feet at a warm fire on a winter’s night, after your evening meal, and enjoying some good conversation. Then its off to bed!

Reflection: You’ll have noticed the strange heading of this blog ‘It’s summertime in my heart‘? I know summertime is not actually reflected very much in the story or photographs. These however were the words of an old song that came to mind as I looked out of the window this morning. We sang them at our Youth Camps many years ago and still they come to mind.

Summertime In My Heart
It is summertime, in my heart
It is summertime, in my heart
Since Jesus saved me
New Life He gave me
Ev’n in wintertime, it’s summer in my heart.

I wonder what your reflections are when you think back to summer days in your childhood? For me I remember sunny days and going out to play with my pals in the ‘bluebell woods’ just a couple of hundred yards from where we stayed. Time was spent having our picnic, building dens, playing cops and robbers, and best at falling, and climbing the trees. Then there were family holidays by the seaside ….

Winter of course was different, foggy days, ice and snow, wind and rain, scurvy legs and Snowfire, a hot salt sock round your neck for a sore throat, cod liver oil and malt, and your chest rubbed with Vick! πŸ™‚ Games nights at home, table tennis, Ludo, Halma and Snakes and ladders, and push-h’apenny!

Two very different seasons!

Life of course has its changing seasons too! I think in the good times we could say ‘its summer in my heart’, and in times of difficulty ‘it is winter in my heart’. The childhood song above tells how Jesus makes a difference even in the winter times, which come to us all throughout life. At Christmas time we remember His Name was Jesus because he came to be a Saviour, and still is. He gives new life to all who will open their hearts to Him. He saves from our sin and its consequences, He stays beside us as our comforter and guide, and leads us safely home.

Jesus calls, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’

I’m so glad I opened the door of my heart to Him, he has been the light of summer and of winter in my journey thus far through life. JESUS is God’s unspeakable gift at Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all my followers and fellow bloggers!

Matthew

Colours Galore – Garden Joys and Surprises

Every Spring and early Summer I look forward with anticipation to see the outcome of all the things that have been planted in the garden and greenhouse. My earlier blog at the start of June showed photographs of Spring flowers and the early growth of vegetables in the greenhouse. So how did they all turn out? Well as always the results were mixed, but we keep persevering. Lately I have grown the large begonias, and they are lovely, but they unfortunately keep bowing their heads so they are hard to see and appreciate. Next year, all being well, I think I will give the dhalia’s a try. πŸ™‚

Let’s start with summer flowers.

The fruit and vegetable side of the garden has proved quite productive, in spite of my earlier misgivings about my tomato plants. Four types of tomato were grown and they all produced a good crop. I also tried a new cucumber seed for smaller fruit and they were better than my expectation both in numbers and taste. Peppers were not so good as I had insufficient space in the greenhouse, so put them outside where they didn’t receive the care they deserved and were damaged by slugs and bugs! Those in the greenhouse did much better πŸ™‚ We did get a bowl of gooseberries from two small bushes, which were stewed and sweetened and consumed with our morning cereal. Rhubarb was fertilised this year and gave us two crops for crumbles and pies.

Here are some of the results.

Other bushes and plants also brought some real colour and charm. This is the year of the hydrangeas I think, as they have been superb.

Look at me, dressed to impress!

Last year, this little Acer tree looked as if it was almost gone, but I decided to give it another chance and surprisingly it burst into life! It certainly needs repotted, but I am just awaiting the right time to do so! Everything and everybody needs another chance!

Finally, my willow tree at the bottom of the garden is not looking good this year. I saw the resident grey squirrel hanging upside down from one of its branches in early summer and I thought, is it chewing the tree bark? A neighbour commented that her apple tree was also looking poorly, so on checking on line I learned that squirrels eat the bark from trees and also use strips to build their dreys! So sure enough the bare patches on both tree barks seem like conclusive evidence! It’s the squirrel!

Reflection: Now we look forward to the Autumn colours, and the Spring flower planting, if all goes well. I’ll finish with the words of F E Pettingell 1899

Through the changing seasons, of the changing year, with its light and shadow with its hope and fear. Through each glad fulfilment, and each sad defeat, we have safely journeyed, and again we meet. Through this changing year, by His guiding providence we assemble here.

Well many of you I have not yet met in person, but thank you for reading / following my blog, and by God’s grace and mercy, and through your faith in Jesus Christ and commitment to Him, we shall meet one day!

Enjoy what remains of Summer – Matthew!

The Burrell Collection & Pollok Park – Glasgow – Scotland

The Burrell Collection Museum reopened in Glasgow on the 29 March 2022, having been closed for refurbishment since 23 October 2016. Admission is free and there is a very nice cafe and retaurant along two sides of the building, and also other ‘cafe’ like facilities for teas and coffees. The refubishment cost, is said to be around a cool Β£68,250,000.00, almost half of which was pledged by Glasgow City Council. So after waiting for the crowds to die down we decided to make our first visit at the end of May, and it proved to be a very interesting afternoon.

The Museum’s architecture, design and its location within the park I find very pleasing to the eye. This sense of beauty and design continues inside, and I particularly enjoy the gallery that runs full-length alongside the woodland at the rear of the building. The changing woodland scenery which is viewed through the glass windows that reach from roof to floor level, combine God’s artistry with that gifted to man.

The refurbishment has brought many changes, with new areas being opened up to the public, and even items in storage, some of which circulate in the viewing galleries, can be viewed if you book an appointment. Some of the new displays are spectacularly combined with the use of modern technology. These photographs show but a few of the thousands of items on display, and the history of this amazing collection can easily be researched on line. It will take a few visits to truly appreciate the wide range and variety of art on display.

Pollok Park is also home to Pollok House a National Trust for Scotland property, once the home of Sir John Stirling Maxwell and family. The house and garden are just a short walk from the ‘Burrell’, so if you are planning a day in Glasgow this park has everything you could wish for in terms of interest both indoors and out!

Pollok House and surroundings

Reflections: The field on which the Burrel museum was built has been a playground for me with my siblings (see below), and also for my children and grandchildren and great grand children throughout life. The ‘Children and Youth’ departments of our church have also used it for countless numbers of games of ‘football’ and ’rounders’ on many summer nights. The children’s smiling faces, shouts and hoots of laughter you will still hear if you close your eyes for a minute! πŸ™‚ The Burrell Collection now attracts a much more diverse and perhaps ‘upmarket’ group of visitors, but it’s good the local young folks and families still have a place to picnic and play! In fact Glaswegians are spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding which park to visit.

One thing I notice as I visit parks and gardens, is the number of folks often sitting on their own, seemingly just reflecting on life and its events. My own garden, and especially my seat in the greenhouse πŸ™‚ I really enjoy for the quietness it provides. which gives opportunity for prayer and reflection in this noisy and increasingly chaotic world. As I write this I was reminded of the Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves song made known world-wide many years ago, (You can still hear them sing it on ‘You Tube’) but here it is sung by Michele Lane, who for me, sings it so beautifully.

I enjoyed listening to it again so hope you enjoy it too!

Pollok House Gardens

Have a great summer wherever you are

Matthew

Home and Away!

This week we have been enjoying the beautiful Spring weather, with an outing to Glendaruel, and some days in the garden!

GLENDARUEL HERE WE COME!

There was a cloudless blue sky, as we set off last Saturday on a day trip, but not knowing exactly where we were heading. A bit like a mystery tour really! Direction and destination were chosen as we drove along, Clyde Coast or the Lochs?, the beach or the hills? but in some ways our destination was dictated by the time available before dark, and traffic conditions. On reaching Loch Lomond-side we heard there was an accident ahead, so we turned left to Arrochar and the ‘Rest and be Thankful Pass’. Roadworks and congestion there, so now a left turn down ‘Hells Glen’, and at last the road was almost empty. Then on to Strachur, right for Colintraive until we came to the little village of Glendaruel.

You have to watch out for the sign as the village is now just off the main road. There are very few houses in the village, but there is an hotel, and a beautiful little church and churchyard on the banks of the river. And much to our suprise there is a canal longboat to be seen sitting on the hotel grounds.

Kilmodan Church in its present setting has a history going back to around 1610, but a church in the area is recorded as early as 1250-1299. The latest Church building was restored in 1983.

The ‘Ratho Princess’ looked a bit like a minature ‘Noah’s Ark’ miles from the sea, but it added more interest to our walk around the village. We also recalled memories of our first visit to Glendaruel, it was a Sunday School teachers outing on Easter Monday 1956! When we arrived back home from our day trip on Saturday, we found the photos to confirm that! From the above photos you will see that the lady hasn’t changed a bit!! It was a great day out, and we travelled home via the Dunoon / Gourock ferry, arriving just before dark. Well worth a visit.

THE GARDEN

The garden is looking well as everything bursts into life now that we are into Spring. So this week the grass was given its first cut and the edges strimmed, which helped to highlight the beauty of the flowers that have already appeared. Here are some of the flowers that I photographed as I looked around. Can you name them?

The greenhouse is well behind schedule this year due to a number of factors, but the plan is to get the seeds sown within the next couple of weeks, so watch this space as they say!

Reflection:

When I wakened the other morning to another cloudless blue sky and the birds singing in our hedge, the words of this song which we once sang at school and church came back to mind.

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Father unto You we raise this our sacrifice of praise. For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night, hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light; Father, unto YOU we raise this our sacrifice of praise

The news these days is grim on many fronts, but may your soul find rest in God alone! Psalm 62.5-8

May you enjoy the Springtime as you have opportunity!

Matthew

My photographic Review of 2021

Another year of travel restrictions due to Covid has resulted in us spending almost all of the year at home, so most of the photographs this year have been taken locally or on ‘day trips’ from Glasgow. However as we look back on 2021 it’s amazing to remember all the interesting places we visited, some for the very first time, and the joy and peace we had in doing that. So here’s a picture or two per month!

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Reflection: This year started with some optimism as vaccines were being rolled out, and the slogan ‘we will beat this together’ sounded more plausible, but then along came the variants!

Thankfully the latest Omicron variant is reported to be less severe than those that have gone before, so we pray that this downward trend will continue in 2022. A visit to Glasgow city centre just before Christmas told its own story. Gone was the sound of laughter and the bustling Christmas market in George Square. No ‘big wheel’, ‘flying chairs’, ‘helter skelter’or ice rink, fun and joviality had given way to just a few families with kids who had come to see the lights and the nativity scene, plus some folks handing out food and drink to the poor and homeless.

But hold on a minute, is ‘families with kids who had come to see the lights and the nativity scene, plus some folks handing out food and drink to the poor and homeless‘ more in keeping with the Christmas story, than a ‘lets eat and drink and be merry‘ lifestyle, especially in the current circumstances? The British Prime Minister caused outrage recently when it was disclosed that last winter some government departments were partying while people were self isolating and others mourning the loss of family and friends to Covid 19.

This Christmas I was caused to stop and think again about the reason for Christmas, which this new carol, so beautfully sung, challenges us to do. Take a minute to listen!

I hope you enjoy the photographs, and like me are challenged by the new carol.

Hope to see you again in the New Year. Every blessing to you and yours.

Matthew

Autumn’s coming on!

The electric blanket is on the bed, the central heating has been turned on for a few times in the evenings recently, and there is condensation on the car windows early in the mornings, so we can expect to be scraping the ice from the windscreens anytime soon! Yes Autumn is here, and the greenhouse has now been emptied of its plants, the leaves are changing colour in the garden, the apples are starting to fall and the picnic season is almost over for another year.

Saturday was a damp drizzily day, so we headed for Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, which is always worth a visit, but with far too many exhibits to see in one day. All Glasgow museums are ‘free of charge’ although in fact we contribute to their upkeep through local council tax.

There is a huge variety of things to see and no matter your taste, you are sure to find something to catch your interest.

The galleries themselves are a work of art and provide the perfect backdrop for the paintings and sculptors. I think how amazing it must be to have the gift and talent to create things of beauty, just starting from scratch! Here are just a few of the paintings I admire.

So now it’s time to get the daffodils and tulips potted up for Spring 2022 , and hopefully I can get started to that this week. When we arrived home from Kelvinside the rain had stopped so there was time for a quick look around the garden to see the flowers and plants still showing colour. Here are some pics.

Reflection

Thinking about art and gardens, don’t you think Autumn wonderfully displays the artistic hand of our great creator God? There are also a number of songs and poems written about “Autumn coming on” which highlight how swiftly life passes. I remember ‘the Gaithers’, singing this one which is rather sentimental and filled with pathos, but none the less captures the moment, especially as in life we face trials and sorrows.

Through changing seasons, We’ve shared life’s little days, It seems unreal, Our souvenirs still look so new! We reminisce, And must confess that this is true, We sang lullabies to babies cries, In the springtime, Oh, how the time seemed to fly, We had scarcely put the crib away, When, like magic, We looked up the aisle, And beheld a lovely bride, We waved goodbye as, one by one, They joined life’s parade, Then at a bugle call, He stood proud and tall, There went our baby! Tho’ seasons change, Hand in hand, we’ll travel on, Still in love, Tho’ autumn’s coming on. by Bill & Gloria Gaither

The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes finishes his dialogue in chapter 12 with the well known words: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, β€œI find no pleasure in them”. He then brilliantly goes on to poetically describe old age, by speaking of a time when legs shake, there is a fear of heights, eyes dim, teeth are few and hearing is a problem. I always smile when I read that chapter, for even although the message is to be taken seriously, I am so grateful for our National Health Service which provides health care free at the point of need. Now old people here are provided as needed with ‘Zimmers’ to help them walk, cataract operations to implant new eye lenses, false teeth and hearing aids! And am I glad! πŸ™‚

But in spite of our National Health Service life moves inexorably on! At Church recently we were looking at a verse from 2 Samuel 14.14 which says “Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.” So what plan did God devise that we might escape banishnent from Him and the finality of death? One word answer – JESUS! His name you see means ‘Saviour’. By His substitutionary death, the sinless Saviour bore our sins on the cross at Calvary, was buried and rose again to God’s right hand. Now he offers forgiveness and new life – FREE. That’s why He said, β€œI am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25

It’s good to remember our Creator while we can, it’s never too late!

Matthew

‘Garden’ please come in!

I was given a new arrow shaped notice by some of the family that simply says ‘Garden‘. So all that pass by are being encouraged to have a look. So no pressure, but we’d best keep the bit nearest the gate looking tidy πŸ™‚

This year I tried growing different varieties of fruit and vegetables in the greenhouse with varying amount of success. Cucumbers, and tomatoes, in spite of early misgivings, have all produced a very good crop, tomatoes in fact a bumper crop. The coloured peppers have been ok, but the fruit has been a bit on the small side. Potatoes and carrots grown in bags and bucket have been fun to grow and I think the results were amazing. Cropped 100 potatoes from the ten sown, and the carrots yielded 22 from the bucket and plant pot. (See the video below)

After a promising start and much care and attention my bags of strawberries produced an abundance of leaves and shoots but only a handful of small strawberries. So what did I do wrong? Perhaps they were fed too much with a strawberry fertiliser bought online? Help please. My two small gooseberry bushes produced their first fruit this year, but not enough to make jam. The rhubarb also produced its first decent crop this year enough for some rhubarb crumble on a couple of occasions. The apple tree is looking good, but too early yet to pick them.

In my last garden report I was able to show you some of the flowers that were enjoyed earlier in the year, so here are some pics of those that have appeared since.

Now here’s the wee video on Carrots – ‘From Seed to Freezer

Reflections

Today I spent time again in the garden and greenhouse. But yes, today has also been a day of deep reflection. As I sit here writing this blog infact, thoughts that I had earlier, have come flooding back, causing me to stop and ponder. After breakfast I was reading from a magazine a short report regarding life in the country of Northern Macedonia. I consider myself quite well versed in geography, but I knew little or nothing of this relatively new country in the Balklands, which was previously part of Yugoslavia. So that kept me busy for a while doing some research, looking at pictures of its people and countryside online and reading of the diversity of its people and its economic poverty. It is evidently amongst the poorest nations in the world, where people have suffered so much in my lifetime.

Then like everyone else we were confronted again on our tv screens by the chaotic scenes at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan. The sense of fear and desperation was palpable in people’s voices and faces, as thousands make every effort to flee from the threat posed by the Taliban, after they so easily over-ran the country.

We have been recalling the promises made by Western Nations just a short 20 years ago, saying that we would never abandon the Afghan people. They must ring hollow in the ears of the Afghan people now.

We often say that the world now is a global village, but how helpless we feel in these situations to do anything which we feel would make a difference.

I was recounting that Jesus was in Israel at the time of the Roman occupation and oppression. There is the lovely story in Matthew’s account of his life, where it says ‘Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ What an apt expression of people in Afghanistan and in so many parts of our world today, ‘harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’

Last night our Church was praying especially for the situation in Afghanistan, and for all those ‘harrassed and helpless’, perhaps in the near future we can help be the answer to our own prayers. Meantine the message of Jesus’ love and compassion continues to be beamed around the world. His death and resurrection make fulness of life to all who will come to him a reality.

How blessed to have a garden, and to live in a country that has known peace for the last 75+ years.

I trust your garden has flourished in 2021.

Matthew

Matthew

Sunny Morayshire – the place to be!

We took the 200 mile drive from Glasgow to Elgin in Morayshire recently, and enjoyed a week of relaxation and of visiting places of interest along this lovely coastline in the North East of Scotland. We travelled from Glasgow to Perth, where we took the A9 road, which is a very scenic route, but was as usual busy, with many roadworks. We returned via Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth and then to Glasgow at the end of our holiday, completing a 400 mile plus circuit.

Elgin has a number of places of interest, and on our first day we visited the ruins of the 13th century Cathedral, and the ‘Biblical Garden’, which is just next to the cathedral. We had hoped for a tour of the cathedral, but were told on arrival that you have to prebook on line! The Biblical Garden was free to enter.

Work on building this cathedral started during the first half of the 13th Century, and the cathedral eventually became known as ‘the Lantern of the North‘. It was destroyed during the Protestant Reformation around 1560. Photographs were limited without access, which was a shame. The ‘Biblical Garden’ was lovely to wander around in the peace and quiet of the place.

Later that day we visited Duffus Castle. We had driven past it many times, it was great to have the opportunity to explore it on this visit. There was a mobile cafe next to the car park, where we enjoyed some ice cream and a cool drink, before starting our walk.

We never come to this area without visiting the nature reserve and bird sanctuary at Spey Bay. It was strange this year to see the river Spey with so little water, but we had just experienced an unusual long dry spell of weather. The millions of stones the river has deposited over the years is a sight to behold. Just once over the years were we fortunate enough to see an osprey catch a salmon here, but there is a monument which captures such an event.

No time to tell of all the other places we visited during the week. However here are some photographs which illustrate the beauty of this area.

The following is a 1.5 minute video I made of our day in Burghead, which we fell in love with this year. Just watch how busy the beach is!!

Click on photo to start video

Reflection

It’s so good to get out of the city for a few days. We have enjoyed many holidays here over the years, and revisiting brought back many memories of the fun and laughter we had in the past with family and friends, as we swam in the sea, picnicked, climbed, walked and cycled. This year at Finechty we heard someone calling us from the beach, and were hugely surprised to meet Sarah and her husband and young son, (the great grand-daughter of my late brother), who were following in the family tradition with a holiday at Sandend.

We also had a ‘catch-up’ dinner with my ‘sister in law’ and ‘niece in law’ at ‘The Galley” in Whitehills. They both had lost their husbands in recent years, but it was encouraging to see how they were both moving on with their lives having their faith and trust firmly set on the promises of God.

People Make Glasgow is the marketing brand of our city, but I think that is true in all of life’s situations, and was certainly true of our holiday. The joy of interacting with others, family and friends for sure, but also people from all different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.

Heaven is going to be an exciting place, not only will JESUS be there, but the Apostle John describes in his book one scene that says:

And they sang a new song, saying:
β€œYou are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
Revelation 5.9

It’s good to book your holiday well in advance, but I think infinitely more important to ensure your place is secure in that heavenly land, especially in this day of pandemic. And the cost? FREE to us, because we have nothing to offer in payment, it’s a gift from God! But we need to accept it. How do I do that? Read the book of Romans chapter 10 verse 9 and then speak to God in prayer, confessing your need for forgiveness and acknowledging Jesus as your Saviour and Redeemer, and committing your life to Him.

Have a great holiday

Matthew