Thursday, January 30, 2014

Scotland: Isle of Bute

Our first Saturday in Scotland we went on an adventure to the Island of Bute. Those of you who have heard me talk of Scotland will no doubt have heard me speak of my dear friend Helen, who passed away after we left Scotland in 2005. Since Helen and I were good friends it was only natural that I should get to know her sister -- although I never met her in person we "met" on the phone at Helen's house and then exchanged Christmas cards, etc. After Helen passed away I started a more regular correspondence with Moyra and in return she would call me on the telephone. This went on for many years so you can imagine my excitement when I learned two years ago that we would be returning to Scotland and my dream of actually meeting Moyra might come true!

The week of our flight I called over to Bute (where Moyra was living) to make arrangements for our visit and found out that this very Saturday would be the best for our visit. 

So, Saturday morning found us driving to the ferry, waiting in line with the masses of people headed over for the Bute Highland Games, and then making the hour or so crossing.

What a gorgeous day it was!!! You just don't get these kinds of days very often and we felt very grateful to have good weather for our trip.

Just look at that sky!!!! It was on the chilly side though.....

We arrived in the port town of Rothesay in time to find Rothesay Castle and eat our pack lunch inside, a bit sheltered from the wind.

The castle is in ruins now, but it dates from the beginning of the 13th century and has a long history of battles with sea-faring peoples.

It is always fun to wander around these places and imagine what life was like and who lived here and what they did!

Plenty of seagulls to feed too.

Prince Charles is known as the "Duke of Rothesay" when he is in Scotland so this is the castle and the town for which he is given that name.

There were chapel ruins, dovecote ruins, banquet hall, tower, well, etc. to explore.

Then we thought we'd walk up the road and check out the Highland games since everyone and his brother was also headed there. With our limited time we decided not to pay the hefty price to enter but it was fun to hear the bagpipes from afar.

Then we got in our car and headed down the island towards Moyra's home. People write about how amazing Scottish island life is and once you step on the islands you realize what they say is true. Everything is so remote and beautiful.

Sheep are everywhere.

And there was the sign with the name I had written so many times on so many letters: Kilchattan Bay

We had a few minutes to explore the seaside before our rendezvous.

The kids loved looking around for interesting things.

They were most interested in the washed up jellyfish.

And here I am at the place I had dreamed of going for so long, with Moyra's house in the background on the left of the center.

Moyra's home was so similar to Helen's -- even the layout to some extent.

At the appointed time Moyra's daughter Patricia came down to the seaside to meet us. We had talked on the phone the previous day and she told me that Moyra had gone into the local hospital for some fluids and we could still come and she would take me in during visiting hours to meet Moyra. Meanwhile she showed me around the garden which included this great big Kiln (if I remember right it was for making lyme).

I loved the garden, every bit about it!

And here is a view to the bay from the garden.

Just look at those gorgeous hydrangeas! The work of Patricia!

 So we sent Michael and the kids off to have their own adventure climbing up to a ruined church through sheep fields and up hills. I got into Patricia's car and she zipped me back up the coast of the island to Rothesay all the way chatting to each other and finally getting to ask all the questions I always wanted to know about Helen and the family. Then we parked and went in to see Moyra.

 Oh it was a dream come true to see Moyra. She knew exactly who I was and though she was weak we smiled and talked a bit and held each other's hands and squeezed each others hands and I marveled that this was really happening. And how I wished I had been able to do the same for Helen when she was in the hospital. We pushed the visiting hour to the limit and then I squeezed her hand and kissed her and said goodbye -- to Moyra and to Helen.

Then Patricia and I zoomed back down the island to the house and went in to find the children and Patricia's sister (also named Helen) waiting for us. Rachel had the pillow she had made for Auntie Helen when she was 5 years old. Moyra had kept it after Helen passed away.

And Laura stood next to the plant stand and the Christmas cactus that had come from Auntie Helen's Airdrie house. Rachel had been Laura's age when we spent all those afternoons at Helen's.

Eventually we said goodbye and went back in to Rothesay in time to see a bit of the parade from the Highland Games and hear all the bagpipe music.

And we found a chip shop right on the pier and ordered our fish suppers.

Once they were in hand we made a mad dash for the ferry before all the Highland Games people filled it up. And then there was the boat ride and the road trip home.

 The next morning as we were getting ready for church the phone rang. I knew before I answered who it was and what the news was. Moyra had passed away in the night surrounded by her two daughters. To this day this still brings me to tears. Do you see what a gift this was to me? After all those years I actually got to meet Moyra in person and in a way say goodbye to Helen. And all of this happened with just 12 hours to spare. Twelve hours and this dream would never have come true. It could not have been more clear to me that God had arranged every detail and given me this. I will hold this memory dear for the rest of my life and it will always remind me that God holds the timings of these things in His hands to do with them as He pleases.


Karen Reyburn said...

It is so lovely when we get to see His providences so clearly this side of eternity. So thankful you got this day!! Love the blue-skies photo from the ferry!!

Heather said...

Thank you so much for sharing this - what a joy, blessing and encouragement! To God be the glory, now and always.

Reneelynn said...

So true......

Everydaythings said...

He indeed does, and thank you for sharing this story... I have tears after reading it. So glad your dream came true and that you were able to see your friend. Wonderful photos too!

Kathy said...

God's timing is always perfect. This is a lovely story that I'm sure you will carry with you for the rest of your life. I will also. Thank you so much for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story, in many ways. I remember you still marvelling over it - great to see all the photos. You had a beautiful day for your visit to Bute.

I'm always happy to have reminders of how well divine timing works!