A reminder to be thankful. A reminder that amongst all the pain and sadness life can still endure. Life feels more like a balancing act than it has ever done before. I am blessed that part of my job cannot be done from home allowing me to be out every day. But that job demands high quantities of physical and emotional work. Our location and my job mean I can take my children to work with me sometimes. They love it, it means they too can come outside, but it increases the workload.
I am able to have my children at home; the older children help to care for the younger ones, and we all manage together. But it means we spend all the time together and nobody gets a break. The older children find the younger ones draining and battles ensue regularly. Its difficult to maintain peace in the home. Not to mention keeping them going with the home schooling.
How do we do it all? Work, home school, feed everyone, maintain a house and keep everyone sane and happy? How do we fit all of that in to twenty-four hours? It took me a long time to realise the answer to those questions. You can’t. Its not possible. I cannot do it all. I am but one person and all the jobs I need to do can only be done by two or even three people. Not by one. It is impossible for one person to maintain all that needs done every day. But I am the type of person who doesn’t accept defeat easily.
But what I have learned is not ok, is to make myself feel bad for my failings. Its impossible to do all I need to do. You can’t work full time, more than full time in my case, and home school and do everything else a parent needs to do. I didn’t sign up for home schooling. So, its ok that I don’t like it. I don’t have to enjoy maths. I don’t need to know what an oxymoron is. That’s what google is for. I can come to the end of a long day and realise I still have some blood on my face from lambing earlier in the day and I have just been into Tesco. That I sat down with a glass of wine before getting in the shower. All of that is ok too.I learned the slow way that all that matters is that I tried. I tried my hardest to do these things and it didn’t work out, so I sat down. I didn’t cry or shout at myself for not finishing the job. I just needed to be kind to myself. Human nature doesn’t allow us naturally to be kind to ourselves, well it doesn’t for me anyway. So, I had to work hard at being kind to me. Ignore the keyboard warriors and those who try hard to put you down. You are doing your best, that is all you can ask.
So, as I sit here with the scent of the honeysuckle filling the air and the beauty in the greenness all around me, it’s easy to see it’s all about kindness. God gave us this world to live in. He sent us his son to show us how to live. He gave us the path; he just asks for us to follow it. Its easy to see that right now, as I feel an abundance of patience falling upon me. I feel like a could rock the world, but I know all too well that there will be no world rocking when I go back inside.
So just remember, that’s our job for this week. Be kind. Not just to others but to ourselves too. Look around you for the life in God’s creation and let him remind you that He’s still there, weathering the storm with us. He’s only a prayer away.
Sarah Reid, Children's and families worker
During the week, I spend a lot of time on the phone at the moment and this week I was chatting to a member of the Banchory British legion who asked me if I'd lead a short service at the Gordon highlander memorial. It was a memorial service for those who were killed in a world war two battle at the little fishing town of St-Valéry-en-Caux.. A little research uncovered some information. I reproduce it below in the form that the Legion gave it to me..
At 10am on 12th June 2020, pipers up and down Scotland will take to their doorsteps and play the haunting pipers march, Heroes of St Valéry. To pay tribute to thousands of Scots who were killed or captured during “the forgotten Dunkirk” 80 years ago.
The first piper to sign up to play was Pipe Major Ben J Duncan, from The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Pipes & Drums, who previewed the Heroes of St Valéry from the doorstep of Edinburgh Castle. Ben, who is based at Leuchars and lives in Edinburgh, said: “As soon as I heard about the plans to mark the 80th anniversary of St Valéry I wanted to get involved. While the country may still be in lockdown, this is a great way for such a significant but little-remembered event in our history to be properly commemorated, while still staying safe at home.
Dr Claire Armstrong, Chief Executive of Legion Scotland, said: “It was incredibly moving to see the country join together to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day last week – particularly in such challenging circumstances. While this was a day to celebrate, it is vital that we also remember less triumphant periods of our history. The ‘Forgotten 51st’ should be forgotten no more.”
On the 12th June 1940, just days after the successful mass-evacuations at Dunkirk, thousands of British troops remained on continental Europe under French command. Largely comprised of men from the 51st Highland Division, they fought almost continuously for ten days against overwhelming odds until eventually surrounded at St Valéry.
However, a combination of fog and the proximity of German artillery above the town prevented the awaiting flotilla of ships from reaching shore. Those who were not killed in the fierce fighting, or fell to their deaths from the cliffs trying to escape, were captured and marched hundreds of miles to Prisoner of War camps in Eastern Europe, where they endured appalling conditions for five long years.
Brigadier Charles Grant, a retired British Army officer and historian of the 51st Highland Division website, said: “The 51st Highland Division – initially about 20,000 strong – comprised nine battalions of the Highland infantry regiments with supporting arms and services, including elements from England.
“They had been detached from the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and therefore managed to escape encirclement around Dunkirk. Instead, from 4th June they were conducting a fighting withdrawal west from the Somme under French command. The speed of the German advance was such that they, and part of the French army, were cut off, despite hopes that they would escape through Le Havre.
“Part of the Division did get to Le Harve to secure it for evacuation and escaped, but the remainder were cut off and surrounded at the little fishing town of St-Valéry-en-Caux. Not unlike Dunkirk, a flotilla of 67 Merchant ships and 140 small vessels were organised and despatched from British Ports, but the inclement weather and the German artillery overlooking the town meant any evacuation on the night of the 11th June was impossible.
“General Fortune commanding what remained of the Division considered all the options – a counterattack, further resistance, retaking the town, but, against this, there was no possibility of evacuation or support. The men had been fighting almost continuously for ten days against overwhelming odds. They were exhausted and virtually out of ammunition, with no artillery ammunition at all. Shortly before 1000hrs on the 12th June, General Fortune took the most difficult of decisions – to surrender.”
Brigadier Grant added: “There can hardly have been a town, village or hamlet in the Highlands and beyond which was not directly affected by the loss. While events such as Dunkirk, D-Day and VE Day are rightly commemorated, it is time that the memory of those who fought and fell at St Valéry are remembered in a national tribute for the first time.”
The public is being asked to support the St Valéry tribute through a fundraising campaign which will support the work of three charities. Poppyscotland that provides life-changing services in advice, employment, housing, mental health, mobility and respite. Legion Scotland which is the largest ex-Service membership charity in Scotland and provides services covering remembrance, comradeship and befriending and RCET, Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity. RCET funds services in family support, respite, education, youth participation, wellbeing and policy work to ensure that all Armed Forces children in Scotland can reach their full potential.
We have always had an interest in islands, particularly as we met on Arran back in 1969, but it is probably not until our later years that the peace, tranquility and lifestyle of the islands has had such an appeal. There are 94 inhabited Scottish islands, of which we have visited 39. It saddens us on our travels when we meet people who have made a day visit to an island, ticked it off their list and said “done that!”. We return to our favourite islands many times as there are always new places to explore, old places to revisit, and most of all the people we have made friends with to meet again. It is not just the scenery but the people that make the islands.
At the start of May we should have been making our fifth visit to Tiree. The small cottage we stay in looks out onto a patch of grass where there are often sheep, and then a small creek and the sea. What better way to start the morning! Last year, after cycling to church and on to a beach to have our lunch, we were on our way home when we stopped to let a small van pass. Instead it too stopped, opened its window and said “ You were at the kirk this morning. What did you make of it?”. It had been a visiting minister. After a lengthy discussion David noticed a car waiting patiently behind so we ended the conversation. Imagine having a discussion with a complete stranger in the High Street about the service at Banchory East while a line of cars waited patiently behind! That’s island life.
At the end of June we should be heading for Westray in the Orkneys. Our first visit to the Orkney Islands was in 2004 when we set off for three weeks with 2 bikes and a tent. The aim was to visit as many of the 20 inhabited islands as possible, which required some considerable advanced planning, especially as North Ronaldsay only had a ferry once a week but also an excursion ferry every 3 weeks. From that holiday we were able to chose which islands to spend more time on, and Westray is a favourite. Again the people make it. The Harcus family who run the campsite and self-catering accommodation are very musical as are many of the islanders and the weekly concert in The Grand Old Byre is something we always enjoy, and will miss it as it looks highly unlikely we will be there this summer.
Our third island holiday planned for this year is to Colonsay at the end of October and we are hopeful that this one might take place. Again it will be a return visit if it happens. We have been getting a weekly newsletter from Kevin, who owns the cottage we have booked, about how they are coping on the island with lockdown and the resilience of the island community shows through. When we first went to Colonsay church services were held in alternate weeks between the Baptist church and the Church of Scotland by a visiting minister who could be from any denomination. The Baptist building is now used for the Heritage society display. Kevin, the session clerk, is a Roman Catholic, so it is a truly universal church. There are 135 residents and fortunately they have remained covid free. As much as they would like visitors back for their economy they do not want the virus on the island so are content to wait, not that they have much choice as the Calmac ferry is freight only at the moment.
So for now we are just very thankful that we live in such a beautiful part of the world in a wonderful community.
They obey the rules faithfully and truly understand why the restrictions are there. It's not too apparent but maybe there is fear of the devastating illness to follow if one has contact with the virus.
The BBC News nightly shows film of sickly and dying patients and relatives of those who have not survived. This daily reminder is surely enough to persuade the viewer that the rules are to protect life, stop the virus from spreading further, and must be observed.
From a purely local observation point this is not the case for all and some deviation from the rules occurs. Observation continues during visits to the local supermarkets where the greatest care has been taken to ensure safe shopping and most customers obey the social distancing rules.
On occasions however people forget about or ignore the social distancing parameters and approach others within the two metres prescribed. Neighbours and friends have been observed, on a small number of occasions, to enter the houses of lockdown. Although socialising in groups is forbidden one or two groups have been meeting outside for walking together, maybe one group of about 15 or another group taking coffee together outside their home. This breaks the rules of socialising which is only permitted outside with members of your own household. Other individuals who live alone have been noted entering their similarly single friend's home for a meal and this has become a regular practice. There is some concern and a little anxiety in our area over these observations but it would appear that no one has complained and the situation continues. There may be an aftermath later since the majority of the residents are offended by these challenges to the Government Rulings, and find such behaviours unacceptable. This is a situation of pure challenge by those who object to the restrictions and try to build a rebel group. This has not succeeded and has only tarnished the reputation of the initiators.
Most people around us are fairly content with the lockdown rules, and expect them to continue. Some are tired of their own company if they live alone - one friend simply stated that she was "scunnered" by the isolation. No further explanation required! Reading, watching television, doing jigsaws, talking on the telephone, listening to the radio, music appreciation, spring cleaning are all pastimes being currently enjoyed to pass the time. Houses in some quarters have never looked cleaner! Others have taken on a "tatty" appearance awaiting the return of the faithful servant who takes care normally of such affairs. (Most regulars are expected and anticipated to return later).
Some fit and healthy volunteers offer to help less able people with their shopping and deliver it to their doors. This is much admired since it is at their own risk and much appreciated by the recipients.
One small boy from our Kids' Kirk at East Church designed a rainbow painting of the days of deliverance to follow and was requested to produce more and more for the residents of our estate at Inchmarlo. His older sister, between home study lessons, has taken time to speak to an elderly person, very much on her own, and make her aware that she had not been forgotten.
When out shopping it feels good to be trusted and welcomed as a regular customer. Even the local butcher was forgiving when I arrived for our weekly order without my wallet and cash cards. I chose what I wanted, thanked him most kindly, drove home fast and telephoned my credit card details in payment of my debt. Most people in this crisis are a delight to know and new lasting friendships are being made constantly!
THIS IS AN EXTRACT AND ONE CHAPTER OF A COMPLETE ESSAY ENTITLED "LIVING WITH THE MENACE OF CORONA" WHICH IS NOT YET COMPLETED.
BILL CUTHBERTSON 21ST MAY 2020
Banchory East Church
A journal of the life of the East Church through the personal memories and opinions of our members.
We post on Tuesday and Thursdays. but not always every week.