A Favourite haunt …..

THE ISLE OF CUMBRAE – looking back over to Largs

Millions have had their double dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and here in Scotland we were all looking forward to another easing of restrictions, which would allow the meeting of family and friends indoors, and permit staying overnight in accommodation throughout Scotland. However after months of waiting it was announced last week that Glasgow and Morayshire would remain at level three on the Covid restrictions ladder due to a rise in Covid cases in these areas. So hugs and visits from family and friends are again on ‘hold’!

BUT, we are still allowed to travel around Scotland, and for that we are very grateful. This week we checked the forecast and then headed for a favourite haunt – the Isle of Cumbrae on the southern end of the Firth of Clyde. First a 50 minute drive to the town of Largs before boarding the ferry for Cumbrae. (£20.50 for two passengers and a car – return) Visit at the weekends and the ferries are very busy as the island is popular for hikers and cyclists, but mid-week, and all is peace and tranquility.

The Island is about 2.5 miles long and 1.25 miles wide, and a walk or drive around the perimeter taking account of bays and promontories is appoximately 11 miles. We were able to drive at walking pace viewing the abundance of animals, birds and flowers. The most famous beach is on the west side of the island at Fintry Bay where there is a cafe and restaurant.

The only town on the island is Millport, which was once a famous stopping off point for the Clyde ferries in the middle of the last century when the Clyde Coast was a popular holiday destination for people living in Glasgow and the Central belt of Scotland. It is a lovely litle town nestling around Kames Bay. As you approach it you have some spectacular views of other islands in the firth, Little Cumbrae,, Bute and Arran, and on a clear day you can see Ailsa Craig and even the Coast of Ireland.

On the return journey we like to take the narrow road that runs down the middle of the island, and stop at the viewpoint, this is the island’s highest point at 417 ft above sea level, where a large boulder called “The Glaid Stone”is situated. No time today to visit one of Scotland’s smallest Cathedrals – The Cathedral of the Isles’ but we did pass one of the entrances.

Then it was back to the ferry and a sail to Largs on the mainland, before a drive home in time for supper. A perfect day out!

Reflection

We had a beautiful day out, enjoying the wonders of God’s creation and as I reflected on Psalm 145 in my last blog, sometimes the whole ambience of a place, speaks of the glory and majesty of God and causes you to quietly praise him in your heart.

The day brought memories of days gone by when 50 years ago at the ‘Glasgow Fair’ Millport was full of families gathered for their summer holidays. Deck chairs on the beach, paddling and swimming – no matter the weather, volley ball, and donkey rides, ice cream cones and picnics. Also folks from the ‘Children’s Seaside Mission’ organising games and singing, and Bible stories by means of puppets and a ‘flannel graph board’. Many of my family and friends were there helping with crowds of children and parents gathering around. These were happy days. I’m now trying to remember why we all spend a fortune heading for the beaches of continental Europe and beyond 🙂 How life moves on!

In contrast to this picture of peace and quiet, this week our church has been fundraising for the poor and marginalised in India during the horrors of the Covid-19 crisis. We have been thinking of the sadness, madness and terror of the conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Middle East and praying for a cessation of hostilities. The plight of the estimated ten million + children in Yemen, the ongoing slaughter in Afghanistan, Burkino Faso, Nigeria, Sudan, and on and on, and on and on!

China this week joins the USA in successfully landing and controlling a Mars rover on the surface of planet Mars, how amazing is that? WOW! Unfortunately we have not yet learned how to eliminate hunger, or give clean water to the thirsty, and provide shelter and healthcare to countless millions! But we applaud all those who are trying from all around the world.

Here is some poetry to finish:

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

God bless, Matthew

It’s the Glasgow Fair!

In Glasgow the last two weeks in July have been traditionally known as ‘the Glasgow Fair fortnight.’ In the past shipyards, engineering works, factories and businesses all over the city closed for the annual holiday, with only a few ‘skeleton staff’ being kept on to deal with any urgent phone calls or business. It was ‘lockdown time’ while the populace at large went off on holiday, mostly to venues along the Firth of Clyde coast. That tradition has changed over the last thirty years with the introduction of the ‘package holiday.’ Holidays at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, have given way to venues in Spain and around Europe, where people fly off in search of sun and adventure. And so holiday times now have become much more flexible.

But for most of us, holidays overseas have been put ‘on hold’ this year, so many are returning to nearer home destinations. For us, the ‘Glasgow fair’ holds many memories of happy holidays all around Scotland, and in fact my wife and I met at a Christian Youth Camp (CYC) during ‘the Fair’, and we got engaged to be married on ‘Fair Monday’!

So this past weekend we celebrated with a couple of special day trips, to some of our old haunts on the Clyde Coast. Our first trip was on Saturday, when we visited Cove, a little village on the edge of Loch Long, just where it reaches the Clyde estuary. We drove from Glasgow, crossed the river Clyde at the Erskine bridge, and down through Dumbarton and Helensburgh to Gareloch (home to the UK’s nuclear submarine base). Then we turned along the southside of Gareloch and over the hill to Cove. About and hour and fifteen minutes from Glasgow depending on road conditions. It was a warm day with a fresh breeze and intermittent showers. You never tire of the beauty of the Scottish scenery and when we reached Cove the place was, …. quiet! We came home via Glen Fruin and Loch Lomond.

‘Fair Monday’ was another showery day, but armed with the proverbial picnic lunch we headed in the other direction, keeping on the southside of the Clyde Estuary and headed for the small village of Dunure. The council there had recently upgraded the toilet block and park entrance, but had not bargained for the onset of the Corona virus! Park entrance fee and entrance to the toilets called for cash, with no facility for paying by card. Since few people had cash we were graciously allowed entrance without paying, enough to warm a Scotsman’s heart! 🙂 Dunure is beautifully situated with a pretty harbour and spectacular castle, home to the Kennedy clan.

From there we drove on to Maidens, passing the ‘electric brae’ and Culzean Castle on the way. The weather was continuing to improve as we moved along the coast, and at Maidens we had a lovely stroll to the end of the long pier.

Maidens village and harbour!

Lastly, we continued south west to the town of Girvan, passing on the way Turnberry lighthouse and Mr Trump’s famous golf course and hotel. The sun was now shining bright and the place was displayed in all it’s splendour, just as I remembered it as a child. Girvan has an amazing beach against the backdrop of the Byne Hill. Here the beach was again, …. very quiet!

After finishing the remains of our picnic, we had a lovely walk on the beach, then drove the 60 miles home, hugging the coastline for the first 21 miles, with spectacular views across the firth. It was a great way to finish the day as we celebrated 63 years since our engagement, and praised God for his faithfulness throughout the years!

Looking towards the isle of Arran from the Girvan to Ayr coastal route

I trust you are all keeping safe, and can find a quiet place to enjoy the beauties of God’s amazing creation. Matthew