Hello! 


Like everyone else in Scotland, I am in lockdown. I have developed a routine and I'll share it with you but first let me tell you how I come to be updating this blog today. Rachel has decided that she wished to bring her Borders Kilt Craft website up to date but, of course, she hadn't a clue how to do it. So I have spent much of today in getting her website set up again so that she can use it. Having done that I suddenly remembered that I had this blog-site which I had totally forgotten about. I suppose that the reason I had forgotten about it was that although we are in lockdown, life has never been busier (and I'll tell you about that as well) but now that I've found it and been not a little surprised that it is still operational I thought that I would write a bit to it and see if anyone notices!

So here is the routine I have developed. It starts on Sunday, because that is the first day of the week, regardless of what so many diaries try to tell me. We get up and walk the dogs around one of the fields around our home. At certain times of the year the fields are totally empty and the dogs can run around to their hearts' content, but just now we have to walk around the ploughed field. Three of our dogs: Rowan, Snowball (aka Daisy), and Bramble, know exactly what walking around a field entails and are really very good at staying on the verge around the field and don't need to be on a lead. The fourth, Ditto, is a big black labrador, just three years old and still very much a very large puppy, and he hasn't a clue -- so he on the lead and where he goes I follow!

The dogs having been walked, Rachel and I sit down to breakfast of coffee and toast before turning on our television, connecting it to our website and sharing in our morning service which I have prepared for the congregations which I am looking after just now (more of that later as well). I prepare the service and then record it, put it on line and then, along with many of our folk, share it on Sunday morning at the same time as if we were in church.

We have Sunday lunch with my sister and her husband at 1 p.m. and then the rest of the day is really quite calm. If there is cricket, golf or rugby on the television I quite often watch that but I am usually at my computer replying to emails or preparing some report or other. This week it was our Presbytery Questionnaire. Our Presbytery has written to all its congregations asking for information about our Mission, our buildings, our membership statistics, our finance, our relationship with presbytery and how we see the future developing. In part this has been designed to see what help congregations require from presbytery after a year which has been very difficult because so many of us have been unable to meet up and some congregations have suffered financially. The other reason, I suppose, for the questionnaire is that the Church of Scotland is reducing dramatically the number of presbyteries there will be in the future and the information provided will enable the new presbytery to decide which buildings they will seek to close. I know that sounds very cynical and I would never say that on our church web-site but, well, this is only here for my friends! I have to say that we have been exceptionally fortunate because our congregation is fabulous and we are doing remarkably well. You can see our response on our church website at www.fogokirk.org under the heading "Presbytery Questionnaire -- Congregational Consultation". Actually you can also see our Sunday Services on this website as well as quite a bit of other information about our small, rural congregation.

In the evening Rachel and I normally relax in front of the television over mushrooms on toast -- Rachel uses mushrooms, Campbell's condensed mushroom soup, and toast and it is delicious! We have pretty much stopped watching tv for anything other than sport and news; at the moment we are watching the West Wing, all seven series each of twenty-two programmes, and enjoying it enormously. And that's Monday.

Tuesday I spend preparing the service which I will offer our congregations next Sunday. It is a strange experience keeping worship going without actually seeing the members of my congregation. But I picture them as I prepare the service, usually following the Lectionary, always following the Christian Seasons of the Year, and constantly rethinking how best to do something with which I am still not yet quite familiar. It takes all day, until dinner time which we share with Olive and Digger. On Monday they come across to us and Rachel cooks. I'm pretty tired in the evening -- brain work seems to take more out of me than physical work, not that I do much of the latter.

We go to bed quite late, certainly later than we should, not least because I like to watch Newsnight and then I've taken up playing a game of chess against my computer before I go to bed. I get a bit frustrated with the constant reporting of the Corona Virus but I understand why it has to be done, but there is other news as well just now which frustrates me even more, not least the Alec Salmond debacle. I don't know the rights and wrongs of it all but with every opinion poll showing a majority of folk in favour of independence, why are the two heavy-weights of the movement locked in public dispute? It really doesn't bode well.

On Tuesday I record and edit my service. I set up my camera, fix up my microphone and my lights and deliver my service. That takes the morning (because I will have walked the dogs, something we obviously do every day, dealt with emails and telephone calls before I get started). After lunch (soup and a roll) I spend the afternoon editing the service on tape. It takes all afternoon. The material I've prepared has to be transferred to the computer in real time, the music for the hymns (which Rachel has prepared) has to be slotted in at the appropriate places. I type out the words so that folk can sing -- we can sing at home even although we weren't allowed to sing when we were last in church and slot in the pictures which Rachel has prepared to sit under the words. Then there are photos to be fitted on the film time-line and the whole thing to be processed before being uploaded to youtube and then linked to the appropriate pages on our website.

Tuesday evening we eat at the Farmhouse and it is always fish and chip night (Digger has a splendid fish man who brings him haddock every Tuesday morning. In the evening I usually have a Zoom meeting. Last night it was with the congregation at Gordon. Our task was to prepare their response to the Presbytery Questionnaire and then it was time to catch an episode of West Wing before Newsnight, a quick game of chess and bed.

Now that's only Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday but I'm going to have to pause there because there are things to be done. I will complete this and, who knows, maybe even start to keep my blog up to date again!



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