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Extended Millers

Keeping close though far apart

Saturday, July 24, 2004

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".