Cricket, WOS style…


I have just had a really lovely day.

A slow boat over to Bute with friends from Innellan Cricket Club, where we played Bute. The sun shone and the cold spring air sparkled.

Which is more than can be said for our cricket– we lost big style. In our 40 over match, we managed 51 all out in side 24 overs. My contribution? 8 not out, one 4, the rest in singles. I went in at number 7 and was eventually just trying to block out some overs whilst losing partners at very regular intervals.

Bute had less trouble- they had an opening stand of 40 odd, then lost a few wickets before eventually overhauling our paltry score. My contribution, one over for no runs, no wickets.

The wicket had something to do with it- cricket up here in the West of Scotland so early in the season on uncovered pitches is a bit of a lottery. One ball will pitch an rear at your face, another will grub along the ground. Then worst of all, one will pitch go through the surface, and lift gently making it impossible to time a shot. Bute had three bowlers who were pretty fast, one of whom took 5 wickets in 5 overs, for less than 10 runs.

It was all over so quickly that we decided on a 15 over match. We lost that too. I was run out going for a mad single to end the match this time.

Cricket has this way of reducing everything to a simple bubble- the hard ball, the arc of its movement, and the bat in your hand. When we feel the simply harmony of this, we can forget about everything else for a while.

Here are a few pics;

Extreme commuting…

I am just back from the island of Bute. It was one of the those white knuckle journeys after which you sink into the chair at home with the white lines still coming at you like machine gun tracer.

Not that there always are white lines on the roads I drive- the shaky shot above was taken on one of those half road-half hillside single track ‘roads’ we have up here. They can be dangerous, particularly if you take them for granted. Particularly if you are in a hurry.

Sometimes I take for granted just how wonderful the landscape is that I live and work in. Today was not one of those days as the power of the wind and the huge deluge of water falling was impossible to ignore. Here are a few shots taken on my commute home…

Ettrick bay, Bute…

I was on Bute yesterday- and the combination of sunshine and dramatic sky was stunning. Even for a person of my limited photographic skills.

I took a turn out to Ettrick Bay at lunch time…

To be near such places is a blessing- but one that easily comes to be taken for granted.

My relationship to places like these has changed. They are no longer the end of a precious pilgrimage, but rather encountered in the corner of a glance in the middle of a busy working day.

So it becomes all the more important to me to see deeply and to be grateful.

Some days it is easier than others.

Standing amongst Saints…


I live in a lovely place.

Most days in the course of my work, I travel around Argyll- and I often visit the island of Bute.

Bute is an interesting place. It is the most populated of Argyll’s many islands- with a busy capital. It is not without it’s problems, like many small communities. The island has a rich history.

Last week I took a lunch break, and drove out to one of my favourite places- the church of St Blane.

It is a special place. Cupped in a south facing hillside on the south tip of the Island, overlooking the island of Arran, and its small neighbour, Holy Island, another early Christian site, now used as a Buddhist retreat .

The site was thought to be the location of a monastery established by St Catan, contempory of St Columba. He was one of the Ulster missionary saints who journeyed to Scotland to convert the wild Celts in the mid sixth century. St Blane was thought to be his nephew, who took over as abbot after Catan. Blane established other Monasteries, including one on the site of Dunblane Cathedral.

What might life have been like for these early saints? How did they make sense of life and faith and mission?

The site on Bute is rarely busy. It is surrounded by mature trees, full of the sound of rooks croaking. Centre stage is a medieval ruin, which fell out of use around the reformation. The story goes that the minister refused to have any truck with this new fangled religion…

In 1560 the parish priest, Sir James McWararty, refused to embrace the Protestant faith, and he also refused to relinquish his occupation of St Blane’s. He was still living in the nearby manse in 1587, and it seems that the response of the authorities was simply to leave the church to fall into disuse rather than tackle Sir James directly.

He must have been a formidable bloke.

And here we are, at another set of crossroads in the history of faith in Scotland. I wonder what marks we will leave that people might read in another 1500 years?

And if we make any- what they will make of us?