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KILRENNY CHURCH CHRONICLE
ISSUE 13 Sunday 14th June 2020.
Kilrenny Church website
East Neuk Covid19 Emergency help numbers:
0800 999 6543 - 07818 414178.
Worship and personal reflection:
''our homes are in a Real and Important way the places of worship''
Praise: Give us Laughter Unexpected
This is a new hymn by Stephen M. Fearing sung to the tune
'Ode to Joy' by Ludwig Van Beethoven
Give us laughter unexpected, mirth that mothers us to health,
Bubbling up from deep within us, endless source of wondrous wealth.
May our tears flow o’er our cheekbones, not of sorrow but of mirth,
Freely flowing silly giggles, ones that mend this broken earth.
Though our grief can be so heavy - burdens break our brittle bones -
There exists a salve that softens hurt amid the mournful moans.
Laughter charges not a co-pay, needs no credit to obtain.
All may gather at the fountain, for a moment, heal the pain.
When we think creation’s over, when we think there is no more,
Lead us to rethink our logic, help our joyous song restore.
There’s a cheerful balm that saves us from the sorrow and the sting.
Laughter is the gift within us, sprouting up from joyous spring!
Blessed are you who weep with sorrow; soon the laughter comes to save.
God, our joyful source of mercy, raises you up from the grave.
Never cease to loose your chuckles, laugh out loud and let it fly.
Hold yourself in holy humour; share God’s joy in strong supply.
("Copyright 2019 Stephen M. Fearing)
Genesis 18: 1-15 & 21: 1-7
In our scripture reading today, three visitors suddenly appear at the entrance to Abraham’s tent, who we later come to believe were of divine nature. According to their strict custom, Abraham rushed to offer hospitality, and Sarah, Abraham’s wife was dispatched to prepare an appropriate feast. We can probably assume that her preparations were taking place close by as she was able to overhear their conversations. Or, maybe it was just plain eavesdropping out of curiosity.
Astounded, she hears a man say that he will return within a year when Sarah will have a son. Sarah cannot help herself, inward laughter erupts which she stifles. Not laughter from merriment but rather in disbelief, derisive, scornful. The reasons for this are that she and Abraham were first promised a child 24 years ago. But that promise, however impossible it seemed then, when first given, had raised hope in Sarah. But as the years passed she had long given up hope. It hurt for a while to wait and not receive. Then the hurt turned to anger, and the anger to cold resignation. All these emotions are what you would expect from grief and she was grieving the lack of a child in her life. So we can understand her stifled laughter at what she thinks is an incongruous empty promise, for both she and Abraham were well advanced in years and beyond the normal years of conception.
But God hears Sarah’s inward laugh and her thoughts, Genesis 18 verse 13, and responds in verse 14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Realising that it was God who had divined her private thoughts Sarah tried to deny her laughter. But there is no hiding from God, as we too must learn when we laugh with derision thinking that something is seemingly impossible –“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
What constitutes humour and what makes us laugh. Well according to research, two elements always seem to be present in what makes something funny; incongruity and surprise. According to W. Herschel Ford, there are four different types of laughter in the Bible:-scornful or disbelieving laughter; the laughter of a fool; the laughter from God and laughter from joy.
Firstly, we observe Sarah surprised by the comment she hears and the seemingly incongruity of it all. We can understand her derisive laugh. Today our Christian faith faces much scorn disbelieving laughter, and is often the butt of many jokes.
The laughter of a fool is “as the crackling of thorns under a pot” (Ecclesiastes 7 verse 6). The laughter of a fool leaves him empty and dead once the fun and laughter are no more. Something is missing in his/her life. Many young people go to raves, get drunk and take drugs to try to be happy. But in Proverbs 14: verse 13 (KJV) it says “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.
We do not always associate laughter with God. Is it too frivolous a thought? After all the word laugh in its various forms occurs only 38 times in the Bible, which is not very much considering the number of verses there are in the Bible. However we should bear in mind that we do not laugh at the jokes our children make but we do laugh at the things they do. So too one can imagine God looks similarly on the activities of us, his children, with amusement” Psalm 2: 4 (Good News Bible) “From his throne in heaven the Lord laughs and mocks their feeble plans”. It is also interesting to note that the name Isaac, which God chose for Sarah and Abraham’s son, means laughter.
Lastly, there is laughter that emanates from pure joy. Imagine Sarah’s feelings at the birth of Isaac. Genesis 21:6 “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. Sarah laughs because of the faithfulness of God fulfilling his promise and the wonders and blessings of parenthood. She discovered renewed faith because nothing is impossible for the Lord.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that ”There is a time to laugh and a time to weep”, and in Luke 6: 21b we see that laughter and weeping come in cycles “Blessed are you who weep now for you will laugh”. So laughter is a transitory emotion, it cannot be forced, it is an unreliable emotional response and it can be a sign of different emotions. You could question, does it accomplish anything useful?
Many of you, like me, will remember the section in the Readers Digest Magazine “Laughter is the Best Medicine”. Well there appears to be some truth in it. For many reasons laughter is an important part of being human. As social creatures our ability to bond with a wide network of individuals relies in part on laughter. In addition to the general wellbeing that accompanies laughter, it has also been shown to boost physical health by decreasing the circulation of stress hormones and increasing the population of immune cells important for fighting illness.
Theologian and Author, Reinhold Nierbur, describes humour as a “Prelude to Faith”, meaning that it is our sense of the incongruous that can lead us to trust God.
The same human faculty that enables us to laugh at the arrogant man slipping on the banana skin is what can open us up to faith. We laugh at the incongruity of the contrast between his arrogance and false dignity on the one hand, and the humiliation and indignity of his fall on the other. That kind of humour can serve us very well in the everyday occurrences of our lives. It helps us stand outside ourselves. It can help us avoid pretence and sham. It can guard us against taking ourselves too seriously. We discover that we are all slipping on banana skins. For what is our position in the universe but incongruous? We aspire to greatness and slip on the banana skin of insignificance. Standing on the earth looking out at the universe we feel big. But standing on the edge of the universe looking back on ourselves, we are dwarfed into nothingness. We need to recognise and laugh at the incongruity in our lives. With that recognition comes humility which opens up our ability to trust and have faith in God’s plan for each of us, which may be more than we expect – is anything too hard for the Lord?
Over the last two months there has been little to laugh about as we live under the threat of the corona virus. With its resulting isolation we are denied our regular church activities. We have lost loved members of our church family and have been denied the chance to say goodbye or to comfort. But it will end and the cycle of weeping will turn to laughter as with joy we gather in fellowship again. At this time we will laugh and share memories, remembering and missing Gordon Guthrie who would have been the source and at the centre of the laughter with his stories and sense of fun.
Praise: Hymn: CH 4 63 All people that on earth do dwell
(With thanks to Ann for leading worship this week).
Let us pray. (Allan)
A Prayer for the second Sunday of Pentecost.
In these long summer evenings when light lingers
and spectacular sunsets display from pink to deepest red
we offer you our thanks.
On these beautiful nights we remember and bring to You
those people in our world where the fading light brings not only darkness but sadness and fear
We pray they may be shown your light.
When we can again share meals and laughter with those we love
or when we are happy to be alone in our newly discovered tranquillity
we offer You our hopes, thanks and praise.
But we also remember and bring to You
those whose lives are tainted with sadness
those who eat alone through no choice of their own
and those who are hungry of body and spirit.
Grant them joy and plenty.
Let us remember in our prayers and bring before You
the worlds refugees and those who are strangers in foreign and sometimes uncaring lands.
Let us show them warmth and hospitality, a rich welcome and ongoing support.
Let us remember and bring to You those who have been forced to change their identities and forget their families,
those who have been trafficked, and forced into modern slavery
and the children sold by their parents to be abused by their elders.
May they know freedom of heart, body and mind.
Let us too remember and commend to you those who are fighting Covid19 in our hospitals and care homes.
All the doctors, nurses, ancillary workers and carers, keep them safe and give them the strength to fight on for us.
We offer you our deepest thanks and ask you to use our gifts, talents and skills to help those we have brought to you today.
Dear Lord, hear our prayers. Amen.
and our Lord's Prayer,
Our Father, which art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the Kingdom
The power and the glory.
For ever and ever. Amen
Sunday Worship on Radio 4 at 08:10 Songs of Praise on BBC1 Sunday 1.15 pm.
Church of Scotland - Kirk Services online
www.churchofscotland.org.uk/worship Rev Dr Amos Chewachong:
Orwell & Portmoak Church
Rev. Ian W. F. Hamilton
“SAFE AND HAPPY LANDINGS!”
A few years ago, we took our three grandsons, Calum, Robbie and Blair to visit the Highland Aviation Museum near Inverness Airport.
The boys had a great day out, as had their grandparents climbing into the cockpits of such famous planes as the Hawker Hunter, the Buccaneer, and not least the museum’s latest acquisition the Nimrod. The Nimrods used to be based just along the Moray Coast at R.A.F. Kinloss.
At one point in our visit young Calum was encouraged to engage in a bit of aircraft parking, or marshalling as it’s called, by donning a high visibility safety vest and by taking into his hands, marshalling wands, which in effect are handheld illuminated beacons. Calum had great fun with his ground handling experience guiding the “Herald” to its final resting place in the museum “car park!”
Actually, Calum’s experience there at the Highland Aviation Museum made me realise just how much, even today, aircraft pilots rely on light to guide them to safe and happy landings. In some comparable way all of us depend on light to guide us safely through our journey of life.
Jesus claimed to be “The Light of the World” and when he made this stupendous and dazzling claim, he was assuring us that if we look to Him for the guidance we all need along life’s highway, we will all arrive safely at our various destinations come what may.
In terms of his self-addressed metaphor, Jesus I’m sure had in mind two particular aspects of light in mind. First of all the guiding or regulatory aspect of light.
Traffic lights, which we all encounter every day, like the airport runway lights, regulate us. They tell us when to stop, when to use caution and when to go. We turn and we observe signs because of the lights.
In the same way the Great Light of Christ regulates the traffic of life, when we allow him to do so. He tells us when to stop and when to go and when to use caution. He flashes the warning signals and guides us through our nights to safe landings.
However, I am equally sure that Jesus was thinking also about the reassuring aspect of light. Isn’t there a great sense of re-assurance in the lights of the city as you approach it from the air as the pilot prepares to land? In the mind of a child isn’t there is a certain sense of re-assurance in the presence of a night light in his bedroom? There’s the same sense of re-assurance and comfort in seeing the light on in the window of his own home as the man of the house returns from a hard day’s work.
So, the message is as clear as light! If we will only let the Light of Christ regulate us, we may feel re-assured that He will shine in and through our lives forever! Happy landings! (Ian)
Postcard From Kingskettle
Rev Michael Allardice
It’s great to be back writing to you once again! So firstly, I want to thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and good wishes as I underwent my Knee Replacement operation. I know many of you will have been through the same thing over the years so you know the routine of building up your strength after a joint replacement – I don’t need to bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I am being a good boy, much like Doddie the Dog, and trying not to get under Liz’s feet too much!
There are times in our lives when we feel like we have a Guardian Angel on our shoulder and I certainly feel that’s been the case in recent times. In fact, you might say I’ve got two guardian angels: one on my shoulder and Liz checking that both of us are doing the right things! To feel surrounded by love and so much care is a wonderful feeling and I have certainly felt that power in recent weeks from Liz, from all the staff at Perth Royal Infirmary and all those who’ve kept me in their thoughts and prayers.
Love is the one quality that we all have the capability to produce: the one quality the world can never have enough of. The love a couple can have for each other, the love of parents for their child, the love of sister and brother, love for friends and neighbours. It’s the one quality that can’t be measured and it’s the one quality that’s shone through in the actions of so many people over the past few months. We can measure the economic impact of Covid-19 and we can give data on how many people have had the virus, but we cannot measure the cost in terms of love lost and grief, on what each person meant to those they loved and who loved them.
Love doesn’t need to be exclusive and it is inexhaustible. We may think we have run out of love, that we can’t love again, and yet the power of love is such that there will come a day when we discover we can love again. That love lost is not forever, it may not be the same, but it can still be renewed. Of all the human properties, love is the one that we can share regardless of our status, background, race or gender.
The love we are surrounded by is not always perfect, it makes mistakes and sometimes we take it for-granted but now, more than ever, we all need to appreciate the love we receive. Many may feel they have missed out on love, but God’s love is everywhere and always available. Some are discovering that love through those who have given them aid in unexpected ways, some are turning to God when they discover His love has always been waiting for them. Some sadly will never turn to God’s love.
As God’s people, we are tasked with displaying His love in practical and emotional ways, for each other, for our neighbours, for the stranger in our midst. We are surrounded by love on all sides which is both a great consolation and a wonderfully positive energy to partake in. As we are loved, therefore we must in turn share that love with others, letting God’s love shine through each of us.
I am delighted to be surrounded by so much love, from Liz, my family, and so many others who have remembered me in their prayers. I must never forget to reciprocate that love and remember both my Guardian Angels!
May you all feel God’s love and blessing
Rev Ian Hamilton's reflection (last week) reminded me of a lovely gospel song - "Stay still in the hand of the Potter" (Jane MacDonald)
Stay still in the hand of the Potter
Lie low 'neath His wonderful touch,
He shapeth and mouldeth in mercy
The clay that He loveth so much.
Stay still - Stay still,
God is silently planning for thee
Stay Still - Stay still,
He plans for eternity.
Surrender thyself to His working,
The curve and the hollow He wills,
Nor shrink from the pain and the pressure,
For the vessel He fashions He fills.
Stay still - Stay still,
God is silently planning for thee
Stay still - Stay still,
He plans for eternity.
Perhaps there are times when I question
The vessel He wills me to be;
But always in love God is working
In me His own image to see.
Stay still - Stay still,
God is silently planning for thee
Stay still - Stay still,
He plans for eternity.
The Business Committee of St Andrews Presbytery has advised that as the Government ease lockdown restrictions there will be the possibility of opening our Churches for worship, however, before we can do so we will be subject to Health and Safety guidance and instructions which are being prepared by a General Assembly group who are overseeing the Church's response to Covid 19.
The Kirk Session will, of course, fulfil its responsibilities for the safety of all and ensure compliance with any instructions/ guidance given by the General Trustees and St Andrews Presbytery, before we can meet for worship in Kilrenny Church.
Allan & Sybil's Quiz answers
Here are the answers to the capital cities quiz, did you manage to find them all?
1) Amsterdam 2) Copenhagen 3) Budapest 4) Stockholm 5) Bratislava 6) Sarajevo
7) Brussels 8) Helsinki 9) Athens 10) Dublin
11) Canberra 12) Wellington 13) Buenos Aires 14) Bridgetown 15) San Salvador 16) Addis Ababa 17) Jerusalem
18) Kathmandu 19) Brazzaville 20) Washington DC
Allan & Sybil's Quiz
In last weeks' quiz we took you to some of the capital cities of the world, hope you enjoyed the trip. Because of the Government's restrictions on travel we thought we had better stay closer to home this week so all place names this week are around the East Neuk.
- KID NULLS INN (6,5)
- PRO EARPLUG (5,5)
- HORSING CLUB (11)
- IRAQ LUNCH OK (11)
- REAL FRYERS (10)
- MOST NANS (2,6)
- WE MEET PINT (10)
- BIMBO CAREER (11)
- LINK ERNY (8)
- EARTH TURNS (10)
- NB KISS GRAN (10)
- COT IS PETIT (10)
- WORLD A RAG (9)
- KELLY CARED (10)
- SENT DRAWS (2,7)
- CAR ANCHOR (9)
- DIESEL FLAP (10)
- I BASH ROLL (9)
- NO NOT EVES (9)
- ALLOW ROGER (5,5)
News of those wearing a Dog collar!
Doddie's diary and the trials of Ann
The First Minister has every right to worry about what will happen as lockdown eases and I have every sympathy with her. If my experience with Doddie is anything to go by make sure we are all good at recall before you set us free!
With slight easing of restrictions Doddie’s daily walks have extended to include the beach. All he needed was a saltire painted on his face to become a wannabe Mel Gibson in Braveheart as he tore down the beach: you could almost hear him shout “FREEDOM”; Doddie the Defiant. No lead with a wide open space and water.
Brilliant thinks I, he is coming to recall, what a good little dog, all the hours we have been trying to train have paid off.
Huh!! First week was brilliant and now he stands on the rocks and looks at me as if to say “What”? So if you see a mad woman running in the opposite direction from her dog blowing a whistle, I am afraid that could be me. Or equally I could be bent over digging in the sand looking for imaginary treasure just to pique Doddie’s interest so that he will come near enough for me to grab him. The positive side is that now I have the fastest reflexes to match my little monster!
Malcolm and Coco.
Coco had his 7th birthday on Monday 8th and as you see in the photo he was waiting for the word before he demolished his pupcake. It was made for him by one of Lynne’s pals, she makes cakes for all kinds of animals. He had a pampered day with the kids, each had made a card for him plus lots of cuddles and kisses. A morning walk on the golf course and an afternoon walk round Crawhill / Waid. A dinner after with some tuna added went down a treat. (Malcolm)
Happy Birthday Coco!
A history lesson
(courtesy of Malcolm)
Do YOU remember the meaning and origin of old sayings & customs?
In the 1500s, the floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery
In the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door,
It would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a thresh hold.
The Naughty Choirboy
It was a perfect springtime Sunday morning in highland Perthshire. The Elder who was today's Usher at the door of the beautiful rural Church was early at his post, and enjoyed the peace, the warm sunshine and the prospect of a lovely day, his dreaming interrupted only by the splashing sound of a blue tit in a neighbouring garden.
It occurred to him that only too soon, this perfect morning would be interrupted by the arrival, in ones and twos, of the congregation, all of whom would probably prefer to stay outside the Kirk in the idyllic place.
Only one little cloud hovered over his horizon. This wee Church, like so many others, suffered from the fact that, for many years, the Church of Scotland had singularly failed to maintain a sufficient supply of Ministers for each Parish to be able to boast its own for even two or three years duration, as in days of yore.
Inevitably, these days, so many churches relied on "pulpit supply", a kind of foodbank with prayers for the starving faithful, and it could be pot luck as to who had been nominated the task.
It could be a young preacher, not yet "called," but who had made applications, and was yet awaiting a call. He would be playing it safe, just in case, no chance of him rocking the pulpit.
Alternatively it could be a fit pensioner, a retired pro who "likes to keep in touch," and who enjoys the occasion, and opportunity to air some sermons and theories out of his files, and hand out a "blast from the past," although, if he hopes for a return invite, be sure that he is unlikely to move either Heaven or Earth.
"Aye" thought the usher, "We've had some tumshies, and by all accounts today's visitor will be yet another."
Many pulpit supplies were preceded by comments from other Kirks.
At that point, his deliberations were curtailed by the arrival of a car, out of which stepped a lady of fearful stature.
"Ah, good morning" stuttered the suddenly trembling Elder, "come away in and see where you might like to sit."
"Front row" she said.
"Front row? Oh well, I wonder if you might like to reconsider that. I've heard that today's preacher is a bit boring" the elder advised.
"Do you know who I am?" demanded the woman.
"Well, no, I'm afraid I haven't had the pleasure" admitted the Elder, immediately wondering whether perhaps 'pleasure' was possibly not the correct word to use.
"I am the boring preacher's Mother" she stated.
OOPS! The elder reached into his pocket and presented it to his face, rubbing at his nose and trying to conceal his blushes which rose rapidly onto his cheeks already a recognisable communion wine red. Could he survive an identity parade, he wondered.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked the lady, maintaining his handkerchief camouflage.
"No!" came the reply.
"Good" he said.............then scurried off.
Cellardyke and Kilrenny’s old customs
Part 2. (East Neuk 161 years ago)
THE AULD TOO’ER
Mounting Jacob’s ladder as it used to be known and preceding the back of Dove Street one is confronted by a very old landmark. How many storms it must have stood – the “auld too’er” (demolished now, but which had a fire lit on the top of it to guide the boats home in a storm ). Opposite are two buildings which bulked in the religious and commercial life of the town – the hall and the net factory so long carried on by the late Messrs Sharp and Murray. The hall was originally built to commemorate the greatest change in the lives of the people the town has ever witnessed – the great revival of 1860. In ten years the needs of the times have outgrown its capabilities, and the Forth Street hall was then built. It is still in use as a Sunday school. The old hall is deserted and silent, and no longer echoes to the voice of praise and prayer, but the living stones have been a better monument of that time and have indeed proved that the revival was not the result of mere religious excitement. The front house now is where Shirley and Sonny Corstorphine lived.
From the old Windmill Road right on until the old Infant School is reached the fields stand as they did, (Hodge’s dairy cows and then the RAF houses, then Anstruther Holiday Camp now Silverdykes housing scheme), but the school has been converted into several picturesque dwellings, and on the west side of which there has been built within recent years the large factory of Messrs Martin & Co now Sou’wester Court. (Opposite school the factory of J Watson & Son’s now Fishermans Court). From this point right on to the Caddies Burn almost everything is new, and the old houses in which Mr Moncrieff and Mr Gourlay learned the
young idea how to shoot are no longer to be seen. The new streets are East and West Forth Street, Rodger Street, Fowler Street / Place, Toll Road and Williamson Streets, built for the fisher folk of Cellardyke.
It is meet to say a word about Kilrenny. Here the half century finds very little change in the sleepy little hamlet, and a life of rural simplicity is still carried out by the few people who constitute the inhabitants. But after all effective argument for the simple life is here to be obtained.
Pleasantly situated on a slight eminence the windows of its red-pantiled houses command a wide expanse of the ever changing waters of the south, while a pretty background of wavering green is obtained from the well-wooded grounds of Innergellie, and a quietly meandering burn winds through the village, providing never ceasing music; no worry and little of the outside world troubles one much – all is peace.
Architecturally little or no change has taken place, but an old resident re-visiting the place would recognise as an improvement the nice little bridge across the burn to the north of Rennihill House, a gift of Mr Nicolson, Edinburgh, a native of Kilrenny; and from there, strolling to refresh his memory of pleasant days spent in the common, would find in the place of riotous whins and wild bramble bushes, well ordered paths and seats, with a clear space at the north end for recreative purposes.
This change was gone in to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, and a tablet set in the wall opposite a drinking fountain sets forth the purpose of the improvement.
Continuing his walk by way of the churchyard he would also observe that the burial place of his forebears had been slightly enlarged, but as to the old weather-beaten edifice in which he was want to praise his Maker, time had made little difference. Returning again to the main road ( no bypass then) he would miss the old familiar outside stair and tumbledown buildings to which it was the entrance, and in their place large terraced houses, have been erected by Mr Williamson of Cellardyke.
Part 2. Near Windmill Road, at the second turning to the right you arrive at the path leading eastwards to the start of the wood. This is the landward side of the wood with a wonderful view up-country. How many turbines can you spot in a line north of Windmill Road? The spire of Kilrenny Church is high but when the turbine at Cornceres is in full swing it soars above the Church. You may manage to see other turbines towards Crail.
There is little presence of birds to-day due to the easterly gale. The fir trees are unmoved by the wind, the ferns likewise, but the elegant rowan trees are pushed about by gusts from all directions.
On a quiet day you may look up to Pitkierie and beyond to the trees of Drumrack; and in the opposite direction from Kilrenny Common area you will hear the bleating of sheep and the screeching of a cockerel. As you near the start of the wood, look over to the west to the slopes of Kellie Law. It is a good hill to climb. The wonderful views in all directions are worth the ascent right to the top.
You now retrace your steps by Silverdykes Holiday Park. No matter how wild the day, this stretch of path, facing west, is lovely to walk along in the sun. Take hold lightly of a seed-laden head of wild grass. Do you remember how, as a child, you tried to pull off all the seeds at once, without breaking the stem? Do you remember how you could pull the stem away from the plant and chew it?
A quiet walk round the War Memorial is interesting. Nowhere else have I read the words "connected With" the parish concerned. This is quite an unusual, yet poignant, statement.
As you walk back along the top of the braes, you may see several keen swimmers and their leader, training in the pool. Up and down, up and down, in cold weather or warmer, wind or calm. Rumour is rife that their leader has swum the Channel! That sets me worrying. The busiest shipping lane in the world? How do you warn mighty vessels, rescue boats, and the French police launches, to keep out of the way? What are they training for now - The Minch? The Atlantic?
This is a tremendous scoop for East Neuk tourism - "Channel swimmer trains in Cellardyke Pool"
I hope you have enjoyed your walk. (Jessie)
Praise CH 4 212:
Morning has broken,
like the first morning
blackbird has spoken
like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
praise for the morning
Praise for them springing
fresh from the Word!
Sweet the rain's new fall,
sunlit from heaven,
like the first dewfall
on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
of the wet garden,
sprung in completeness
where his feet pass.
Mine is the sunlight
mine is the morning,
born of the one light
Eden saw play!
Praise with elation,
praise every morning,
of the new day.
North Coast 500 by bike
Part 1. It all started with an episode of BBC’s Countryfile in January 2016 where presenter Ellie Harrison interviewed endurance cyclist, Mark Beaumont, as he dismounted at the top of the notorious Bealach na Bà climb in Wester Ross. I had retired from full time work only six months earlier and was looking for something a little bit special to mark my first year of being put out to grass, so why not have a go at the North Coast 500 by bike?
By April everything was in place, I had cleaned and serviced my ten year old hybrid Kona, not the lightest on the planet. Spare tubes were ready, enough vitamin bars to set up a shop, overkill on extreme weather clothing, numerous practice sessions around the East Neuk and, importantly, accommodation was arranged. Christine would be my support team in the comfort of the CRV driving ahead of me.
So, on the morning of 19th April we set off from Kilrenny bound for Inverness with bike on the roof, heading for our excellent B&B close to the start point. Full of hope, determination and porridge we set off at 9am the next morning. I had hardly got the bike in motion when disaster struck! Less than 100 metres into the ride I got a puncture! What a start! Was this an omen of what was ahead? I had officially started the challenge and with more than £3,500 of sponsorship relying on me completing the 500 mile route, I had no option.
One spare tube down but bike fixed we set off again in a few minutes! Once clear of Inverness with the day bright and breezy, the wind in my back and a largely benign flattish route things didn’t look so bad and we completed the 65 mile to Lochcarron in good time. I had chosen late April to do the cycle since it was, on hearsay, too early for the voracious Hielan’ midges and by then the worst of the winter should be over.
Day two was to be more of a challenge! This was the day of the Bealach na Bà. Was I daft to have planned to do this so early in the trip when my cycling muscles would still be working up to capacity? Maybe my logic was to do the hardest bit early on and the rest would be easy? (I would learn later never to use the word “easy” in the context of the North Coast 500).
The hard climb came early in the day at 10am, from sea level to the summit, more than 2000 feet of hard grind up and up, getting steeper and steeper. By the time I was about two thirds up my lungs were exploding, my legs were aching, I was recording a speed of about 3mph on my Garmin and I was teetering on the edge. The decision as to whether to dismount and walk up was made for me as one of the few passing cars, in fact a grocer’s van, came a little too close. I lost balance and ended up in an undignified heap on the verge looking down into the abyss! There was no way I was going to get my feet locked into the pedals with a 20% gradient, so I swallowed my pride and walked my bike up and round the hair pin bends before getting back on again where the gradient eased a little. I finally made the summit after a little more than an hour of cycling hell. Christine was waiting for me at the top with a cup of tea and a biscuit!!! She had been a bit concerned at my progress and had asked people in passing cars of my whereabouts. “Yes, we saw your husband nearing the bends, the toughest bit and, yes, he’ll be alright”. The car occupants were cyclists themselves and knew the score, Bealach na Bà 1 Joe Hughes 0.
The downhill section to Applecross was the exact opposite of the uphill grind. It was cycling bliss, freewheeling for mile after mile down to a plate of soup and a roll at the Potting Shed cafe. I couldn’t say that the rest of day two was an anti-climax at all. In fact the last stretch of the day through Glen Torridon to Kinlochewe was memorable for its vastness and its awesome peaks on both sides of the narrow track. We stopped the night in the Kinlochewe hotel and, boy, was I glad that we had a room with a bath where I could soak the pains away after 60 miles and nearly 5000 feet of climbs! It helped to replenish the liquids with a couple of pints of Bealach na Bà ale!!!
Day three took us almost due north to Ullapool via Poolewe, Aultbea and Gruinard to Loch Broom, a total of 76 miles and 4200 feet of climbing. Three days into the challenge we realised we had entered a different world and one that we had fallen in love with. Although the sense of challenge was still there it was being overwhelmed for both Christine and myself by a feeling of wonderment for our new surroundings! This land of mountains, lochs, glens, white beaches, cliffs, hielan’ cattle, rapidly changing sunshine, rain and wind had captivated us. It seemed as if around every corner there was a new view to be marvelled at. Christine had the best of it since she would drive ahead a few miles and grab the views while my head was down grabbing the miles.
Ullapool turned out to be an inspired choice for a two night stop. I had planned three days cycle followed by a rest day so that we could spend some time exploring. What more could anyone ask for than an evening meal of a plateful of west coast prawns at the Arch Restaurant, or should I call them langoustines? I heard a west coast fisherman say that “I catch prawns but sell langoustines!” I suppose that’s the nature of the world we live in! As day three closed we both slept well in the excellent Waterside House B&B ready for a day off!
To be continued. ( Joe )
The Kirk Session wish you a very safe, healthy and happy week ahead.
To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
the God whom we adore, be glory, as it was, and is, and shall be evermore.