Friday, 17 July 2009

Not plane spotting

On Wednesday, I and a friend did not go plane spotting at Edinburgh airport.

We didn't. We went plane observing. Honestly. He had a new camera to try out and I brought a flask of tea. I couldn't believe it when a genuine plane spotter came and asked us "if we got the reg of that little Swiss twin turbo that came in about half an hour ago?" I was gobsmacked. They do exist.
It was a great day out. We had a flask of tea and filled rolls and saw some lovely aircraft close-up.

My friend (who wishes to remain strictly anonymous) got some really good photographs, despite the changing weather conditions which went from glorious sunshine to an electrical storm, dark grey skies and lashing rain.

Bird feeder

I love my bird-feeder!
When Matthew was last home I asked him to drill some holes and place this bird feeder so it can be seen from the lounge window. Here are some photos taken through the window:

I know that this is a bluetit. He (if it’s a ‘he’) is looking a bit old and weary. Remember to click for the bigger picture!

I think these are Green Finches, but I’m not sure. Any ornithologists out there?

This is a beautiful little bird. This is a Gold Finch. Lovely flashes of yellow on his wings and a distinctive red face.

This is a Great Spotted Woodpecker. There are two of them. One has a peachy underside near the tail and the other has a bright red underside. One may be a Middle Spotted Woodpecker, I’m not sure, but as long as he knows who he is we should be OK.

There are others, but for now, I’ll make this the last. These are one of my favourites – the Housemartins. They nest under the eaves of the houses here with mud built dwellings and swoop around the houses catching insects in the air. They are the true acrobats of the skies. It’s like watching the Red Arrows on display. They swoop and dive and with a dozen to fifteen of them at a time it is a display worth watching. If you’re sitting outside reading or having a cup of tea they will streak past you like a bullet within inches of your head. I can think of one or two friends who might find this a bit disturbing! Here are a couple of chicks near to leaving the nest:

Church camp (2)

I ran out of time to finish talking about the Church camps. Anyone reading this who has never experienced these events may find what I say a bit strange and not be able to relate to it very well, so, I'll try to explain things in detail as I go along.

In the last posting I talked about where we held the camps. I should talk about why? and also refer to what goes on?

Why? Easy question and easy answer. The Church camps give an opportunity for Christians, either members of our Church or those associated with it, to get together for a concerted and focused time of thought, reflection, teaching, prayer and opportunity to get help with issues and problems in our lives that are causing us trouble (this could be anything from those who haven't yet made a decision to follow Jesus Christ and are looking for the experience of forgiveness of sins and receiving God into there lives [a very, very real experience] or those seeking the experience I mentioned before called the baptism of the Holy Spirit (a second experience for Christians [see Acts 2 in the Bible] in which a powerful filling of the Holy Spirit takes place with the associated experience given to "speak in other tongues") to those who have drug or alcohol addictions or been involved in the occult or witchcraft and feel a shadow has entered their lives and are looking for God to remove this from them and set them free. If you're reading this and haven't heard anything like this before, then could I refer you to the first Christian book I ever read called The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. You'll find a lot will make sense after you read that. (Available from Amazon, etc).
What? What takes place? There are 'meetings' (services) morning and evening with a mixture of Bible teaching/exposition and prayer (mornings) and a preaching-type meeting in the evening, often with the opportunity to respond and come for prayer afterwards. Examples of sermons are available for download here. In the afternoons, there are often activities for children/young people, or after lunch the more mature among us go for a long nap!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Church camp

Well, it's that time of year again! Church camp. The youth camp has already been with glowing reports on facebook from some of those who were there. This week sees the first adult week (the second week being in August after the English schools have broken up for the summer) taking place at Gartmore House, near Aberfoyle. It's worth taking a minute to think of what takes place, why and firstly, where. When I first started coming along to Struther's Church back in the early 80's, we had camps at Wiston Lodge, near Biggar (I know some of the readers here go back before that, but, I'm just a 'new boy'!). The hall probably sat 120 at a push, it's hard to say. Camp lasted two weeks and a lot of people actually slept under canvas or in hired caravans. The facilities were 'basic' to say the least and the water frequently stopped in hot weather, or simply through the high demand of all these people wanting to wash and drink tea! In the picture above, the meeting hall (games hall) is on the extreme left in white. What the picture doesn't show is the sloping campsite and the huge fanged midges we had to put up with. It all came to a head for me one camp when I remember being in the middle of the field (campsite) smeared in insect repellent, which I couldn't wash off because the water had gone off, just having been to the toilets that wouldn't flush and just thinking "I hate this place!", strangely enough, it was within twenty-four hours that Mary Black (our late minister) said that "the cloud had moved on" (reference to Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness, who knew it was time to move camp when the pillar of cloud moved forward). The much-in-need-of-a-wash congregation were divided in their opinions as to whether this was a good thing or not - my response was "Hallelujah! Let's go somewhere else!"
However, Wiston was a place of many happy memories for many of us who found God there in depth. I received my baptism in the Holy Spirit there, which changed my life. Many found miracles of healing or deliverance from demon power there. I witnessed a few of these and thrilled at the moving of the power of God. Lives changed forever.
There are many funny stories too. One of my favourites is about in the last few years there when we had the marquees (large tents) for our meetings. The marquee sat at the bottom of the camping field and a cable to supply power for the lighting, sound, keyboard, etc., ran through the trees, across the path and into the chalets. The meeting was in full swing with lighting, sound and music when one of the girls in the chalets wanted to dry her hair with her hair dryer. "Gosh!" she thought, "I wonder what that plug is for? Mmm. It probably isn't anything important." and she unplugged it. You've guessed! The power to the tent was being run off a single 13 amp socket. While she began to dry her hair the whole meeting was plunged into darkness. No music, no sound, etc. While she hummed away to herself Andrew Collins was racing down to the chalet as quick as his two legs would carry him to find out what had gone wrong! Luckily, power was restored, although it probably took that young lady a little longer to dry her hair than she imagined!

We've been to Biggar High School and Craigie College in Ayr. Now, we have a lovely venue in Gartmore House. We have running water, showers that stay hot and a lovely big hall. Numbers have increased probably to 400+ at some meetings and it's all very comfortable - except I think for those in tents, the last few days: the rain has come down as only it can in Scotland. I hope they all stayed dry! I've managed up on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I'm planning on going tonight too, so I'd better go and get ready. More about the camps in the next posting. 'Til then.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Dundee and Brechin

It has always appealed to us as a family to have a night or two away from home when the opportunity arose. This week, with me being on holiday, and Matthew still home we took the opportunity of escaping these four walls and heading north of the Tay to the City of Dundee. We booked online using a website that I'm not seen before: and easily secured accommodation that was simple but comfortable. The weather both days was hazy but bright and gradually getting sunnier as the day wore on. We left home around lunchtime and arrived in Dundee less than one and a half hours later. We checked into the hotel and after the obligatory cup of tea, dozed for an hour or more! In the evening we took a drive up toward Brechin along the A90 which is an excellent road, but, watch out for the speed cameras! I've wanted to visit here for a while as there is an old Celtic or Pictish round tower dating from between the 9th and 11th centuries. It's intact and although the Cathedral that is next to it was closed (and I don't think access is permitted to the round tower) we got some good photos from the outside. Et viola:

There are only two round towers left in Scotland, but, quite a few in Ireland. The ones, apparently, that show similar carvings to the one at Brechin are from around the ninth century so, I imagine, that's why this tower is sometimes called 'Pictish' - I suppose we'll never really know.

Today, we simply had breakfast and after returning to the room to rest a bit, we went to see the Discovery - Captain Scott's ship that left for Antarctica in 1901 - and ended up ice-bound for two years, eventually 20 miles from the open sea! It got free after a major thaw and the use of explosives to break up the ice. The exhibition is very good and the ship is impressive, if a little difficult to navigate with a walking stick!

Some photos below. The other project I and my good friend Colin, have begun is to build a computer. I'm hoping to get it finished tomorrow - I'll keep you updated on whether it works or gives out some blue smoke all of a sudden!

Matthew at the helm and the Discovery from the starboard side.


I can't believe it's almost a month since I last updated this blog. Suffice to say that the last few weeks have been really exhausting and I've not done a lot except working and sleeping. While I'm on the subject of working, I've eventually decided to give up general dental practice. I've worked as a general dentist for twenty-three years - after I left the hospital service in 1986. It's a major change for me as I consider this to be 'what I am' - if you can follow that train of thought. I have always enjoyed the whole experience of dental practice: being at the heart of a team that looked after patients' dental needs. It's what I do. I'll miss the patients, the staff - everything about it. I'm finding the hands on work alright - I may be a bit slower than I was - but, it's really the whole effort of getting there and not having any rest time during the week that is the problem. Hopefully, I can find something to do from home to keep me busy. I'm keeping the three days' teaching going and hopefully, the rest days will make it a bit easier.
Anyway, on a nice positive note it's the end of the academic term. In fact it ended on the 19th June and last week we had some 'in service' time which was good. I gave a presentation on an educational theme about giving effective verbal feedback. It seemed to go down well, but, it's the first time in years that I've been nervous about speaking on front of people. I did it from a seated position, which seemed to be acceptable.
I'm planning on having a few days' rest and catch up on a few things I've got to do and then see what the future's going to hold. Matthew is still here and due back in camp next week. We had a couple of days away in Dundee and I'll post some photographs in the next posting.