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

Out and about in Winter

The weather here in the Central belt of Scotland during winter is a mixture of wind and rain, snow and frost with some dreich days in between! The temperature hovers around freezing, and the days are short, but if you watch the forecast you can always spot a good day coming up, which enables you to get out and about, if the diary is free! In January we managed two days away which we really enjoyed, so here are some photos of our trips.

On the 16th January we headed for Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire Coast on a cold sunny and windy day. On reaching the park we walked in the woods rather than along the coastal path to avoid the worst of the wind. But it was a beautiful walk!

The Swan Pond – Culzean Castle

It’s great to see the ducks, swans and gannets that frequent the pond area and also to spot the many robins that also call this place home. Oh, and there was the monster!

We next made our way to the Visitors’ Centre where we enjoyed some views of the castle and a lovely lunch in the restaurant.

Culzean Castle on a winter’s afternoon

We then made our way home along the coastal road through Dunure, and were home just before dark around 4.30pm

Coastal route home via Dunure

Ten days later we managed another of our favourite trips from Glasgow to Dunoon, via Loch Lomond, the ‘Rest and be Thankful’ pass, Hell’s Glen, Strachur on Loch Fyne, and Ardentinny on Loch Long, before catching the ferry from Dunoon to Gourock. It was an amazing drive! We then had a bite to eat at Nardini’s restaurant in Largs before driving home.

At Strachur you can continue on the direct route to Dunoon or take the long route via Glendaruel. That day we chose the direct Dunoon route, but then took the detour to Ardentinny and Loch Long.

The shores of Loch Long and the Dunoon ferry

Reflection: It’s tempting as you get older to just sit at home in these cold winter days, but its better for your health and wellbeing if you can get up and walk around, and if possible get out and about. If not on a trip we sometimes go to a large shopping complex near our home and enjoy a walk up and down the mall which is nicely heated, and then have a seat in the areas provided. Of course we can also look in the shop windows at all the things we don’t need! πŸ™‚

Sitting at the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book on a winters night however is a great blessing. I mostly enjoy reading from my ‘Kindle App’ on my ipad as I can adjust the print size, and the brightness of my screen with a click of a button. Most of all I love the ability on Kindle to highlight passages that I find of particular interest, as these are automatically saved. This allows me at anytime to review them at will and reflect on what I’ve read, which is great. Here’s a few of the books I’ve enjoyed, which I would recommend irrespective of whether it is a hard copy or a digital version.

All being well, soon we will be into Spring, and it will be time for garden and greenhouse. I have some new ideas for this year, so lets see if they materialise!

Best wishes from Glasgow

Matthew

PS: I guess my subscribers are wondering why I didn’t recommend the world’s best selling book the Bible in my ‘book recommendations’, as it is a book I truly love. However I would like to recommend that you listen to the British actor Sir David Suchet reading Mark’s Gospel. It truly is inspiring and if you are like me, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!

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