Tuesday 18th. November, 2014 – Back to Argyll 


I took this picture last week as I walked towards Canterbury Cathedral. This is a fascinating main street, cobbled and pedestrianized, retaining much of its medieval spirit while containing modern fast food shops and tourist emporia. I suppose that while the shops in medieval times would be totally different, those who ran them would be out to serve and to gain from the presence of the pilgrims in the town. It made me remember that while we see huge changes in the world around us, nothing really changes


Up early and away from home by half past seven to be at Cardross for a funeral at 11.15. I got there in time, but only just, having sat in a traffic jam on the Edinburgh by-pass for over an hour. It was as well that I set off so early.

The funeral was that of Hannah Stirling, a grand old lady of Loch Lomond-side who this year had celebrated her one hundredth birthday. While I was down in London last week (actually as I was walking through St. Pancras Station) I was telephoned by Jim Auld, the local undertaker and a good friend, and asked if I would conduct the funeral. I reminded him that I was retired and he rejoined by telling me that Hannah had left instructions in her will that I would conduct her service. I replied that her will must have been written while I was minister at Arrochar; he told me, no, that it was only six months ago. So as the service was in the crematorium and as I k new that Hannah was not a member of any church congregation, I had agreed to conduct her service. It was, of course, a privilege.

The tribute was paid by Hugh, a nephew of Hannah’s husband and he took us back over Hannah’s long life, speaking of her days as a Wren during the last war, of her marriage to her surgeon commander, of her love of travel and of the steely determination with which she worked to keep Loch Lomond as she passionately believed it should be. There is no doubt that she was a very special lady. It was good for me to meet up again with Leeanne who has cared for Hannah over so many years. Life will be very different for her without Hannah to care for.

After the service I went for lunch at the local garden centre with Jim and then I drove home, leaving after one and being home by twenty-past three – what a difference there is when there is no rush hour to drive through in Edinburgh.

I did very little once I got home. To tell the truth I was tired out with a long drive and with conducting a funeral again, the first for more than a year. I discovered that life had been continuing without me at the farmstead. Rachel had taken Mum to Newtown St. Boswells to attend a conference to mark seventy-five years of the Citizen’s Advice Centre movement. Mum had enjoyed it very much. Rachel, on returning home, had laid the carpet in the Bothy – it is looking grand.

No sooner had it got dark than Digger’s wood arrived and I helped him unload it into the one barn which we have not yet restored – we’ll be starting soon, now that the Bothy is almost complete. Then it was an early meal with everyone in the farmhouse before I set off to Duns to attend, as a visitor, a meeting of the Presbytery Business Committee.

Back home, I walked Mix and went to bed, shattered!

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