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Extended Millers

Keeping close though far apart

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Mum and Dad in Norway

Postcards from Norway - arrived after they got home - but here are the pics.

Mum and Dad in Scotland

Scotland my mountain hame... how we revelled in the blue lochs, their bonnie banks awash with bluebells, mauve rhododendrons, the soft green of silver birch and larch, all set against the dark evergreen of pines.

But on this melded beauty was many a dark stain in the history of Scotland. Of particular interest to us was the era known as "The Killing Times" -- the time of the Covenanters during the 1660s - 1680s. In Yvonne's family, there has been passed down the story of a relative, Margaret Wilson, who was tied to a stake in Wigtown Bay, off the Solway, and drowned for her faith in 1685.

Thus we visited Wigtown [nearly had an interview by the BBC as it was International Book Fair, and it was presumed we were present for the W/E festival] -- and found not only a very interesting historic town with a multiplicity of well-stocked econd-hand bookshops, but a town also well aware of the "killing times". We visited the probable cell where Margaret was held, then out to the scene of the martyrdom, marked by a stone stake and memorial. We were challenged deeply when we thought of the faith of this 18 year-old girl.

Many other Covenanter sites are marked in Dumfries and Galloway; as we travelled north we visited a spot where 4 young men had been praying in the woods, surprised by dragoons, and immediately shot. Yes, religous freedom is very precious.

A lovely time with Mrs Isabel Ellison and her sister in Irvine, Ayrshire -- so happy to see our dear "Scottish Kiwi" friend again. Entranced with the views of blue Scottish Isles -- Arran, Bute, and the Peninsular of Kintyre -- amazing shapes on the skyline. Travelling on up the east bank of the Forth of Clyde, we couldn't help exclaiming at the beauty of dark blue hills and shimmering water. So with great
pleasure we took a ferry over to Dunoon -- much photography by both of us all the while!

Sunday service at Free Church of Scotland -- chosen in honour of Yvonne's paternal Grandmother and great Grandmother (Granny Mead, nee Walker). Reminded of the strength of God's love.

Now into the "real Highlands", and yes, we did see Nessie at Loch Ness -- where the Caledonian Canal headed off through locks to the west. And what's more, she had a little one beside her! She was very well done in topiared box.

Inverness is a city of note, strong granite buildings, beside attractive River Ness and bridges. Farther north we noted the brown and gold of the hills -- bracken and gorse ablaze with gold (don't tell NZ farmers!)

Full Scottish breakfast gave us our first taste of haggis (actually rather tasty, for you Kiwis who are aghast -- and no, it wasn't made of sheep's stomach!)
How soft and lilting was our hostess's accent -- we sure were in the Highlands now.

Sad to learn that the bottom has fallen out of farming there -- often only B & B is keeping them going. The woollen "capital", Hawick, once had 26 woollen mills.
Now only 2 or 3 remain. Beautiful scenery for us tourists, but we felt for them in the loss of markets, and therefore future for their farms.

Like giant Martians striding out to sea, oil rigs in the Moray Firth were in for maintenance. The oil industry now employs many, but is disruptive on family

Learnt about the Picts at Burghead, and enjoyed the North Sea gently splashing the rocks -- an idyllic spot. Burghead was a Pictish Fort in the 500s. Mervyn would have enjoyed watching the constant appearance of RAF planes darting across the sky in formation -- Yvonne's camera kept skewing up there!!

And so back down... noting again how Scotland's standards were still waving proudly...

We would have loved to have visited the western isles, and even the Orkneys, where Jeff's Dad was stationed at the time of Jeff's birth during the war. But we are tremendously privileged to even have this visit, and know we can't do everything!

So now it is time to say farewell; as the signs in Scotland say, "Haste Ye Back".

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Mum and Dad in Italy - the story

Not something us kiwis can do. but many Brits can -- fly to Europe for a long weekend! Jeff's cousins, Sara & John Barratt, having recently purhased a holiday house in Italy, had invited us to spend a Bank Holiday W/E there with them. So, using cheap flights now available within and from Britain, that's what we did! And so to Ancona on the Adriatic Coast, and north a little to Mondavio, in the Marche region.

And what a beautiful mediaeval town it was. Built on a hill (as they all were, for fortress reasons), from narrow cobbled streets, the 3 storeyed brick houses rise directly, wooden-shuttered with tiled roofs, enhanced by geraniums & petunias in window boxes, on balconies, and in pots at the doors. And roses, roses, roses -- large and bright, red, gold... what a sight -- so many bigger-than-life roses on each bush!

Each fortress town had its medieval brick walls, [other houses around outside], and central church building, with bell tower silhouetted against the skyline -- often, incongruously, vying with a 20th C yellow crane for prominence!

In the gentle valleys between, crops of wheat were ripening, tall cylindrical cypresses punctuating the landscape. John & Sara's house was built at the turn of the century; thenadays animals were stalled below, with family home above. J & S have completely refurbished, keeping the style both traditiional and Italian, with 21st C convenience. Intriguing to close and lock the shutters every time one goes out! Peals of bells sounded at 7:00am each morning, and thereafter throughout the day.

Explored Mondavio and Urbino; viewed an exhibition of old Italian paintings at the Duke's palace. Another day we drove over the Appenines into Tuscany on the west, to visit Siena. Siena was once a capitial city to rival Florence -- at its peak from 1260 - 1348. Has a municipal bell tower 330ft high. The huge ornate Roman Catholic church building is most unusual with its black & white "stripes" all the way up in marble. Townsfolk were required to bring loads of marble each to build it. Thenadays set to become the largest in Christendom, but the Black Death
took a huge toll, leaving a great unfinished portion.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Daves plans

well yeah time to update you all. i have 3 1/2 weeks left at work and then i leave Nelson on August 5th arriving Auckland about midday. hope all of us in nz might get together at mum and dads for dinner that nite and maybe watch some video of their trip. then friday the 6th i fly out late afternoon for LA. spend the weekend in LA with Robin and Joel--friends from Kamp Kanakuk. will go to Knottsberry farm and hopefully saddleback church. then fly on to Columbus Ohio to stay with Beki and we are goin to road trip down to south carolina to stay with one of Bekis good friends from university. i have met this friend also-her name is Charity. then i dont know what!! i may go on down to Florida or i might go back to Columbus--not sure. i may try and find cash work anywhere along the way and if no luck then before i run out of money i will head to the UK. so i will not be going to Paraguay this year. lack of finance is determining this as i need money for the flight to UK and at this stage the plan is to work from there and maybe head into europe to travel, live, work whatever comes along!! (no planned return date to NZ at this stage)well i will update along the way. hope you are all well!!


PS i have moved out of the flat and am house sitting at uncle graemes and aunty jans--they left yesterday and will be in canada now.