5/06/2015

Some letters and Jewellery - a Window into the Past


I have already told you the story of my Mum's auntie Catherine (after whom Mum is named),who emigrated to Canada as a young lady. I repeat a part of her story here, and at the end of the post, I'll add a little more to the story ...




My mum gave me this bundle of papers the other day: a bundle full of newspaper cuttings, old momentos, funny poems and all sorts of interesting titbits from decades past.




Amongst it all are a couple of letters from my mum’s Auntie Catherine (Kate), whom I mentioned in this post. She left our island in 1924, on the SS Marloch, and died in a British Columbia sanatorium just a few years later. One of these letters was written to a cousin of Auntie Catherine, and here are some snippets of that letter:


My dear cousin,
Had your lovely letter a while ago of which I was very pleased, and to learn by it that you are all enjoying the best of health which is a great blessing from the Lord.
Well my dear, I am very thankful indeed to be able to give you a good account of myself and the Barvas boy that’s here [mentioned in this post]. I see him every night. He comes to the window to speak to me. He is a dear boy and a good boy too [‘good boy’ here is a translation of ‘balach math’, meaning he was a believer]. Tomorrow is New Year’s Day and Xmas is over again. Oh how thankful we ought to be to the Lord that we have seen another year coming to an end, and it is Himself that knows who will see the next one coming to an end. Last winter, I never thought I would see this one. Everyone will go when his time comes, but the question is who is ready to go when the Bridegroom comes. We never know when He will come. “Dèanaibh faire air an adhbhar sin, do bhrìgh nach aithne dhuibh an latha no an uair air an tig Mac an Duine.” (‘Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. Matt 25:13)

Oh, Annie dear, how I would love to be among you. Tomorrow you will have the New Year’s Service and all the rest of the week [there would be a meeting each evening for the whole of the first week of each year]. Oh, Annie dear, make good use of the privileges you have there. I was in church last Tuesday myself and the Barvas boy listening to an English minister. The text he had was, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to all men’. This was for the Xmas service. Xmas day means a lot when you come to think on the wonder of that verse, ‘agus rugadh dhuibh an diugh Slànaighear ann am baile Dhaibhidh, neach is e Criosd an Tighearna'. ('For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord' Luke 2:11). Did you ever think about that old Christian in the second chapter of Luke called Simeon, and what he said when Christ was taken into the temple: ‘Oir chunnaic mo shùilean do shlàinte’ (For mine eyes have seen thy salvation’). But blessed are those who have not seen but believe. Oh Annie, my heart is full tonight! 

How I would love to be with you. You made me laugh when I read your letter about when you were in Lowestoft trying to get a hold of Roddy’s hand. I wouldn’t be a bit scared of him now, the way I used to be. Wasn’t the verse he had lovely. It’s special. ‘Eil barrachd gràdh agad dhomhsa orra sin’ (Loves thou me more than these?) [I have no way of knowing what was said in Annie’s letter to her.) Do you know, Annie, that sometimes I feel so good in my soul that I would like to fly out of this body and be forever with the Lord Jesus. 'Who can separate us from the love of Christ'. Let us follow the Lamb, wherever He goes.

I got a nice letter from Malcom Morrison a while ago. I think the world of him anyway, and you were saying that he thinks a lot of me. Oh well, it’s a good thing someone does! May the Lord grant that I will meet him yet before I die. I was so pleased to hear that he sat at the Lord’s Table. Well, dear, you will remember me when you hear him singing. Oh my, ‘s e dùrachd mo chridhe agus m’ ùrnaigh ri Dia [the desire of my heart and my prayer is] to meet you all where there is no more parting, where the Lamb of God will be. My heart would break if I would think that I wasn’t going to be among God’s people in His Glory. Oh, never mind, dear, it wont be long until this night is over.

I am sure Angus is still home. I didn’t answer his letter yet.

Anyway, as I am writing to yourself, it’s just the same.
I was up for Xmas dinner last Saturday and Annie, dear, I felt thankful to be able to do so. I enjoyed it very much. There were 26 tables in the dining room and 6 at each table so you can imagine all the crowd that was there. The doctors and nurses were waiting on us all. They really tried to make everything as cheery as possible for the patients but I would enjoy a Gaelic service more. I got about 20 presents this Xmas and 20 cards from all over, and very useful presents indeed from people I never expected. I really was surprised to get so many, and the girl that’s with me got about 35. Well, my dear Annie, I am sure by the time my letter reaches home, you’ll have the sad news about Mac Mairi Phadraig from Port. I was told that he died in Trail lately with a tumour that was growing near his brain, the same trouble as my cousin Angus from Dell had. How sad to hear of our own dear home boys laid to rest in Trail so far away from their beloved ones, but it doesn’t matter where the body is laid to rest – it’s the soul – to know where that’s going.

Now my dear, I think I’ve said enough just now. It’s after nine and I am supposed to have my lights out soon, so remember me, dear, at the Throne of Grace . And remember me when Roddy is preaching and when Malcolm Morrison is singing. The dear soul. Love to Angus and to you all. Also the MacRitchies and not forgetting your uncle Callum. I never answered his letter. I don’t like to bother him – that’s why. Love to your crew, and to everyone. How are they in our own house?

Write again soon. I am so longing to hear from you.
Your loving cousin, Kate.
Happy New Year to you all.


Doesn't it make you cry... All on her own, in Canada. Dying of TB, and not a family member in sight. And yet, 'underneath were the everlasting arms'. She was safe in the arms of Jesus, so I shouldn't feel so sad. She passed away shortly after this letter was written, and it's easily seen from the letter that her soul was prepared for meeting her Saviour. What joy there was then for her! No more sadness, no more missing her homeland, or family or friends. No more parting. I'm glad I know this about her, otherwise I'd be really sad.




Here she is, photographed during the First World War, just a few years before she emigrated.

....and here is the extra snippet of information I was going to give you. 

Auntie Catherine had emigrated to Canada because of a broken heart. She had been going out with a young man from her local district, Ness, and the relationship was so serious that he gave her this beautiful brooch.




Isn't it beautiful! (My Mum now has it, hence me being able to photograph it today.)





This brooch was given to her as a token of her young beau's love to her, but some time after this, he began seeing another girl and the relationship came to an end. This was why she left Ness and travelled half way across the world for a 'new life'. 

On the one hand, she didn't get this 'new life' - after all, she contracted TB, and died in a sanatorium in British Columbia, far from home, and from her loved ones. She never found a new beau, never married and never had children.

But, on the other hand, she most certainly did get a new life! It was after she left Ness that she found her Saviour! The new life she was blessed with is still with her! Christ Jesus said: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE", and auntie Catherine found this to be true in her own experience. 

From the outside, her life story may make us sad, but when we see her life with Biblical spectacles on and through the lenses that show what true life is, we realise that she found the one thing needful in this life, and today she is with her Saviour in Heaven.

The brooch is beautiful. But her Saviour is altogether lovely!




4/30/2015

HOUSE FOR SALE!


Well, it's official: our house is now 'on the market'. Here's an idea of the schedule I'm planning.

The view from my sofa:


in mid-summer, the sun sets directly in my line of vision.




Every single night, the sky displays God's glory to me in a different array of colours and cloud formations.



In all my years of living here, I have never tired of soaking in the beauty of the sun setting.



You see? Different ...


but always beautiful.



And then again, we have beauty in the mornings.




On cold winter mornings, sometimes the sky lights up as though it's on fire.




On fire...



On other mornings, the scene is more serene, and even the rams seem to wish to simply savour the peace and tranquility of the morning.


A short walk from the house on an April morning can allow for this beauty ...



and in the evening, the same walk will not disappoint




As you can tell, I seem to forget that this is about our house. We don't own the beach, the sky, nor the beauty around us. We aren't selling them ... but whoever buys our home has the added bonus of all this beauty thrown into the package.

And so I must move inside ...

GROUND FLOOR

Utility Room


Utility Room


Not seen is a door leading to a W/C, and another door leading to a large shoe/jacket cupboard/drying room. The Utility Room also leads into a double integral garage with electric up-and-over door.


Kitchen - Diner

This large kitchen has an integral dishwasher, and large integral fridge. The Rangemaster has two electric ovens, one electric grill, and six gas burners on top. (It's not very formal, but can I just say .... I love it! Thank you.)



The dining area of the kitchen is bright and is spacious enough to fit a large extended table. 



The sitting area of the kitchen has a multi-fuel stove, and is possibly my favourite place in the house (along with my sofa in the Family Room).



Family Room


The large windows afford views straight 'down the croft' and onto the Atlantic.


This is where the summer sunsets are savoured by Moi.


Lounge

- a large, more formal room,


its large windows make it bright, and give views from West to North East - out towards the Atlantic Ocean, across to the Butt of Lewis, and over to Fivepenny, to the North-east.





Main Bathroom



 Office (or Bedroom 6)






Bedroom 1




...and en suite
 (excuse the colouring in the photo. I'm not quite sure what went wrong!)




Bedroom 2 (Guest room)



Bedroom 3




Hallway



FIRST FLOOR

Landing

I love this bright, sunny spot - ideal for a quiet read



Bedroom 4


A large double bedroom, with ample space


for sleeping ...


...and living!
(This room also has an en-suite which is not shown)


Bedroom 5




 And so you have photos of each of the rooms. I have not shown cupboards (large, double, shelved cupboard, and a single, shelved cupboard, both in the downstair hallway). Bedroom 5 also has a large cupboard off it, and though it's used simply as a cupboard, it is plumbed and wired for an en-suite.



Yes, I'm outside again ...

What the house photos cannot show is how safe and secure a person feels living here. I don't think there could be a better place in which to bring up children. 

The district of Ness sits at the Northernmost part of the Isle of Lewis. It has a real community spirit, and boasts a delightful primary school, a sports hall with 10-pin bowling, and a swimming pool. We have a local amateur football team, and there are many sporting opportunities for young (and not-so-young folk). Here in Ness, we also have a wonderful cafe, Cafe Sonas, which serves delicious locally produced and caught food, and a range of other small, local businesses.

There are two shops, selling groceries, fresh baking, petrol etc,, a laundrette, and a delightful Post Office. In addition, we also have a local historical society, churches, and community groups.

Ness is half-an-hour's drive (25 miles) from the island's main town of Stornoway.


 This is not our beach, of course, but it's what I think of as Our Beach. Stunningly beautiful when the weather is calm and also (maybe more so) when the waves crash right over the Eye of the Butt of Lewis.

If you are at all interested in buying this unique home, and wish to know more about it, please feel free to get in touch...

You can Private Message me on Homeschool on the Croft's Facebook page;

You can leave a comment here, and I'll answer you (please leave a contact email if you wish me to email you. I'll delete the email address from the comments section as soon as I use it.)

You can email me at anneemag23@aol.com;

Or, if you happen to be passing, feel free to drop by ... that's the Lewis way of doing things after all!

UPDATE: I have photos of the outside of the house now :)












4/10/2015

Join me on a Highlands Road Trip ...


While I was away (by the way, I'm home now - yeah, I know, even I can barely keep up with where I am, but for now I'm home), the Builder and I took a wee run around the Stratherrick and Loch Ness areas.

(And before I go any further, y'all DO know that a 'run' means a trip in the car....? None of you actually imagined for a minute that I was, you know, actually running? Phew, glad y'all were on the right tracks because after all, y'all know me well enough by now to know that I only run in emergency situations, and even then for a maximum of ten yards or so. Anyway, back to our car trip...)


I feel a bit the-king-is-dead-long-live-the-king ..esque. After all, I love the scenery here - the beaches, the sunsets, the moor and such like. Y'all know I love my island. But it seems like no sooner have we decided to move than here I am singing the praises of the scenery in another part of Scotland. Of course, the simple truth is this: Scotland is beautiful. Whether it's our beaches in Lewis, or the hills and lochs of the Great Glen, Scotland is stunningly scenic.

I have to be honest - its beauty just takes my breath away! Whilst on our road trip, I stopped the car a couple of times to take photos.

Okay, so it was more than a couple of times. A dozen.... or so. Well, what's a person to DO? Everywhere I looked, the beauty screamed out to stop, savour, and photograph. Except it didn't scream. The scenery I beheld doesn't scream. It is strong, and silent.

And very, very beautiful.



Looking down onto Loch Ruthven. 




The hills, the emptiness, the isolated croft house ... so Scottish, so emotive.




Those who live in this home are not so isolated nowadays. The internet, roads, and transport mean that they can speak to people and meet with them on a daily basis. But when I see these kinds of scenes, my mind always imagines what it was like in the earlier part of the 20th century, and in earlier times. Was the lady of the house lonely? Did she feel the isolation? Or was it so 'normal' that she didn't ever stop and think of it? Was she so busy raising her brood, gathering eggs, cooking and cleaning that she didn't have a minute of her day to feel loneliness?

I guess she may have had seasons of her life when life was busy, and other times when her distance from others may have been more keenly felt.

Of course, I have no way of knowing ... but these are often my thoughts driving though Highland Scotland.



I don't wish to bore you with an overdose of photos,



but I can't but give you some glimpses of what I saw.


Driving through Stratherrick, we passed the Free Presbyterian church. Again, my imagination saw past days of Godly men and women meeting to gather here each Lord's Day. I'm not sure if a congregation still meets here, but if they don't, then the people will have transport to drive to other villages or towns. 



And just beyond the church was this memorial.


To the glory of God and in memory of the men from Stratherrick who fell in the Great War 1914 - 1918

Their name shall live forever.
Bidh an ainm agus an cliù buan.




You fed up of photos yet?



Another isolated home; another opportunity for my thoughts to run riot.




I stopped the car every mile or so (and that's a lot of stops when we were driving a lot of miles ;) ). I could have stopped the car every yard or so!


We drove through the village of Foyers, which is now a definite must-visit-here-in-the-summer place. It was so pretty, and just beyond, almost hidden from our view was this campsite.


Right on the shores of Loch Ness.

What a fantastic time the holidaymakers must have been having over their Easter holiday with beautifully sunny weather over the past days.


And then, finally, we ourselves came alongside Loch Ness.


The sun was just dipping below the hills on the western side of the Loch.



Through the gorse bushes and the branches, you can (almost!) see Urquart Castle and the picturesque village of Drumnadrochit.


And just as Loch Ness ends and Loch Dochfour begins, directly across from Aldourie Castle Estate, is this bonny building.


I've yet to find out what it is, or was, but I shall make it my business to find out and will let y'all when I find out. 


And so there you have it. I'm so glad you were able to join us on our wee run the other evening. Methinks there will be plenty more to follow ...



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