Coronavirus

(COVID-19)

St. Andrew’s Church has Reopened.

Details HERE

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SCOTTISH CHARITY NUMBER SC006235 THE CHARITY LEGAL NAME St Andrews Church of Scotland: Dumbarton

Church News

Online Memorial Service

To remember Friends and Relatives lost by Members of our Congregations

We will upload this Memorial Service to our YouTube Channel on Sunday 1 November (All Saints Day) at around 11am

If you would like to watch it log on to  https://youtu.be/tici4pHNSbY

Or search €˜Church of Scotland in Dumbarton

 

                                                                    poppyscot,amd     

If you want to donate to Poppy Scotland for Remembrance this year, but haven’t seen anyone collecting, details from their website say:

By phone:   call 0131 550 1542 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 4.30pm)

By cheque post to:
Fundraising Department
Poppyscotland
New Haig House
Logie Green Road
Edinburgh
EH7 4HQ
Please make cheques and postal/money orders payable to Poppyscotland

Electronically: Visit the website https://www.poppyscotland.org.uk

 

 

Wednesday 28th October

Thought for the Day

Once again there is a story in the news of migrants (including children and possibly a baby) trying to enter Britain but losing their lives in the Channel, when the craft they were in capsized. The flow of people trying to enter the country without the requisite paperwork and authorisation is persistent over many years. Many have lost their lives making the journey. Governments have tried various approaches, but nothing so far seems to have halted either demand to come her or the deaths en route. There are many issues involved: the flow of migrants to Britain is part of a much wider flow of migrants around the world (cf the experience of Malta and Lampedusa in the Mediterranean). Some of the movement is caused by people fleeing civil wars or oppressive regimes in the Middle East and Africa; some by economic hardship arising from climate change; some by promises of lands of wealth and opportunity beyond the sea. Authorities and communities in many countries have struggled to cope (cf the Moria camp on Lesbos), and in some quarters anti-migrant/foreigner feelings have been stirred up. This complex situation appears to be being exploited by gangs for their own financial gain – making wild promises, charging high prices, and largely leaving their ‘clients’ to their own devices (and in many cases arrest or death). Governments need to take steps to deal with the gangs, they may propose measures to discourage travel, but ultimately the only real way to end the Europe-wide ‘migrant crisis’ is to address the root causes in places like the Middle East and Africa – not something that governments anywhere may find particularly appealing

Lord, the Christmas story tells of Jesus being a migrant, fleeing abroad for safety as a small child. The whole issue of migration is much larger than the experience of one country, and its causes are complex. Help governments to recognise and address the larger picture, not just local symptoms. Help them too to deal with those who are seeking to exploit vulnerable people

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                   Burn                   

                                                                                 Burn

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 27th October

Thought for the Day

There is a major public debate going on in England at the moment about ‘holiday hunger’ and extending the provision of term-time free school meals to the school holidays. Without getting involved in the politics, or the debate about the most appropriate way to eradicate ‘holiday hunger’ (important as that is), it has been interesting to watch the response of communities, businesses, restaurants/cafes, and individuals to the issue. They know that some who don’t need free meals may take advantage of their generosity, and some who do need meals (eg the parents) won’t receive help, but still they are willing to invest time and resources into putting together meals which may be obtained with no questions asked and for no charge. In a world that has been increasingly self-focussed and cynical, it is good to see that so many care about disadvantaged people, and are prepared to do something to help

Lord, we give thanks that people are concerned about children and families who are struggling to provide meals, and are ready to act upon their concern. As with Foodbanks etc these are valuable ‘emergency’ measures, but we need long-term answers to address these issues. Inspire those in government to take appropriate measures to address the issues around poverty, and if that means we have to pay more in tax, help us to be ready to accept that

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Loch Katrine            

                                                                          Loch Katrine

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 26th October

Thought for the Day

The media over the weekend carried stories about the impact of the pandemic on the health, particularly the mental health, of NHS staff. Although it wasn’t specifically mentioned, it seems not unreasonable to assume that the health of care workers, teachers and other ‘key workers’ has been similarly affected – through long hours and stress at work, any ‘underlying health issues’ of their own, and concern for family. The prospect of a winter of high infection cases and restrictions on what people can do with regard to socialising presumably means that many may once again (or continue to) experience an impact on their physical and mental health. We need to assure them that they are appreciated, the authorities need to assure them that they are appreciated, and if there is anything we can do to offer help and support (from a ‘wee treat’, to a listening ear, or whatever), let’s be proactive in doing it

Lord, too often we take ‘key workers’ for granted. Help us to appreciate them better, and express our appreciation in practical ways. Help the authorities to assure them that they are appreciated too

 

Picture of the Day

This week we travel from Inversnaid to Stronachdlachar, and explore Loch Katrine

                                                                        Loch Katrine Pier        

                                                                       Loch Katrine Pier

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 24th October  United Nations Day

Thought for the Day

75 years ago today the United Nations came into existence. The world was emerging from years of bitter warfare, which had also witnessed systematic genocide and cruelty. There were immediate issues about rebuilding the broken world, and establishing peace; there were longer term issues of ensuring that the ‘human rights’ of everyone on the planet were acknowledged and respected; there was a need to address ‘development’ issues of poverty, access to education etc; and in later years it has become the forum for all nations to address global issues like climate change. So alongside the main ‘political body’ designed to resolve conflict without fighting, were a number of agencies like Unesco and  Unicef. How has it fared: has it lived up to its expectations; what would the world have been like without it? There have been many wars, with millions killed, over the last 75 years; the Great Powers still posture and prevaricate in their own interest; there have been cases of proven or assumed corruption. There are politicians who are happy to criticise it, and to challenge the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, if the UN had not existed, what would the world be like? Probably much, much worse. It is not a ‘world government’ – it can only operate if it can raise consensus or create a large enough body of support among its members. It does much ‘good work’ unseen and unnoticed. Here’s to the next 75 years

Lord, there are so many issues that need to be addressed to make this the kind of world you want – from respect for human rights, to peaceful resolution of conflict, to addressing poverty and all that goes with it, to tackling the climate emergency. We give thanks for the work of the United Nations and its staff. We pray for its continued work, and that issues that give excuses for criticising it will be addressed

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Lomond North from Rowardennan           

                                                              Lomond  North from Rowardennan

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

PS After today we travel from Inversnaid to Stronachdlachar, and explore Loch Katrine

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Friday 23rd October

Thought for the Day

Yesterday Jason Leitch said openly that Christmas this year will not be the same as we have been used to. Politicians and the media reacted vociferously. Maybe they feel they have to. But with current levels of infection, past experience of the way in which ‘spikes’ can occur, and seeing the UK government put measures in place for 6 months or so, do we really expect everything to be as it used to be at Christmas? Hope yes, but expect…? It can be painful to admit that life is not going to go back to the ‘old normal’ in a few weeks or months; to come to terms with the idea that in nine to twelve months we may still have restrictions; and that in the longer term we may never get back to that ‘old normal’. It’s good to hope, it’s good to dream, but it’s also good to be ready to face reality and begin to plan for that.
PS Glad Santa is a ‘key worker’. Three cheers for all key workers!

Lord, facing reality and unpalatable news (and not just about Covid-related restrictions) is always hard - we have an in-built ability to hope and dream. Help us to cope with the challenges of coming to terms with unpalatable news, and to help and support each other in doing so too

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Lomond Ben Lomond and Rowardennan                

                                                          Lomond  Ben Lomond and Rowardennan

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 22nd October

Thought for the Day

At the start of the pandemic in the Spring there was a definite sense that ‘we are all in this together’. Does that sense of unity across and within the nations of Britain still exist? Is there full co-operation between the different authorities within Britain and its constituent parts? Is there party politics going on? Do some people, some sectors of the population or economy, feel that they are being ignored by others? Are media headlines helping? We have to acknowledge that after seven months of restrictions we are all tired and frazzled, and perhaps less patient than we were. Are we at times more focussed on ourselves than others? If the sense of unity and community is fraying at the edges (or more?) is it something we want to address? How can we do that?

Lord, it is easy to moan about other people and what they are or are not doing. It isn’t always so easy to be positive and constructive. At the present time we need people to be positive and constructive – not just for the good of their own physical and mental health, but to help others who are struggling and to strengthen the sense of community. Help us to play our part in being a positive influence, and doing things to strengthen the community

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                 Lomond West from Balmaha Hill 2               

                                                              Lomond west from Balmaha Hill

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 21st October  Trafalgar Day

Thought for the Day

The anniversary of the naval battle against the combined French and Spanish navies has long been commemorated by the Royal Navy. The details may not particularly concern us now – especially as France and Spain are now allies – but it gives us a focus to think about those who serve in the Royal Navy, in all their different roles, and their families. For many there can be long spells away from home and family; there can also be challenges when they leave the Navy and try to adjust to civilian life. We are thinking of them all today

Lord, we often go about our lives not thinking about those who serve in the Armed Forces, and the work they do on our behalf. Today we remember especially those who serve in the Royal Navy and their families, particularly the time spent away from home and family, and the challenges many face when they leave to return to civilian life. We remember too the work of volunteers and charities who support those who do struggle, those who live with long-term injuries and those who have lost loved ones in the naval service

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Lomond North from Balmaha Hill                 

                                                              Lomond north from Balmaha Hill

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 20th October  World Statistics Day

Thought for the Day

Do you ever listen to a group of politicians, ‘experts’, ‘scientists’, campaigners or the like arguing over something (Covid-19, general health, climate change, unemployment, poverty or whatever) and as your eyes glaze over with confusion, think’ “But you aren’t comparing like with like, it’s apples versus pears.” Sometimes you feel that they are deliberately not comparing like with like, so that we, the poor punters, don’t have a chance of understanding the arguments and will therefore leave them to make any decisions. It was concern about providing the public and the decision-makers with clear, transparent information that led the UN to declare in 2010 that on the 20th of October, every five years, there would be a World Statistics Day. This year’s theme is ‘Connecting the world with data we can trust.’ That last word says a lot. We’re so used to disinformation and fake news, spin and ‘apples versus pears’. What we want is data that we can trust. Maybe we have to make that a bit clearer to those who quote statistics – ‘this is what we want to know, and we won’t be content till we get it.’

Lord, we may not be qualified mathematicians or statisticians, but we can understand numbers if they are presented to us in a clear unambiguous way. Getting us all through the pandemic, and dealing with all the other issues that our world faces, depends upon co-operation and trust. If we cannot agree on data, if we do not trust what each other says, we won’t get very far. Whether we are thinking of the ‘high-level’ information that politicians, scientists etc hold, or the everyday bits of information we have, challenge us all to be open and honest are ready to share what we know with others

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Lomond West from Balmaha Hill            

                                                              Lomond west from Balmaha Hill

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 19th October

Thought for the Day

After a period of dry, fairly still weather, with a number of sunny days - so that we could enjoy the Autumn colours - we’re back to wind and rain. Younger people find such days great fun, when they put on their wellies and go splashing in the puddles. At some stage in life we lose the sense of fun that puddles give. Yes, at a certain age we have to be careful about being blown over by the wind, slipping on wet leaves or catching a cold by getting soaked – but are there ways in which we can recapture the excitement and fun, the love of life, of younger children?

Lord, sometimes we become too weighed down with the burdens and responsibilities of being adults. Help us to rediscover the magic and wonder of young people

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Lomond North from Balmaha Pier              

                                                              Lomond North from Balmaha Pier

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 17th October  International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Thought for the Day

Poverty is a major issue around the world: five years ago it was estimated that there were 736m people, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, living on less than US$1.9/ day. That has probably increased. Poverty affects ability to access food (especially nutritional food), education, healthcare, clean water and safe sanitation, access to justice. It is often accompanied by poor housing, unsafe working conditions (when there is employment) and living in communities where violence, abuse, exploitation are common. In Britain between 4 and 5m children (about 30%) are living within the definition of poverty here. The Children’s Society reports that this year has seen a 107% increase in children receiving emergency food. We have heard the likes of Marcus Rashford, Gordon Brown and Dame Louise Casey on the need for short-term and longer term measures to support them. And that’s only the children. There was a pressing need for change before the pandemic struck – it has only made things worse. Addressing poverty isn’t just something for ‘somebody else’ to do. We may have to bear some of the cost, and we may have to push hard to get politicians to implement changes

Lord, we believe that you have a special concern for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. We pray for change in the world. Help us to work for change, and to accept any cost to ourselves coming from it

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 2           

                                                                Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 16th October  World Food Day

Thought for the Day

Organised by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Food Day calls for ‘global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the [Covid-19] crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers.’ I imagine that most of us would be ready to sign up to that aspiration, as something that applies both on our doorstep and around the world, from foodbanks to refugee camps to struggling rural communities. The challenge comes when turning the aspiration into practice. Many around the world are struggling to provide the next meal. In many places it is increasingly difficult to get a harvest from the land or the sea. There are groups who have a vested interest, political or financial, in not effecting change. Sometimes we are more interested in a bargain or obtaining our favourite food, than thinking about the issues around it

Lord, food is basic to life, we depend upon it to live. We pray for all whose work is connected to food, for all who are hungry, for all who are working to achieve a ‘resilient…affordable and sustainable’ food system, for those who are trying to prevent it because it isn’t in their financial interest, and for ourselves – that we will think seriously about the issues and not just try to ignore them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 1             

                                                                Ben & Loch near Gartocharn 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 15th October

Thought for the Day

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most of us will know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Diagnosis and treatment have advanced considerably over the years, but being advised that you or someone close have/has breast cancer is still a shock, the treatment can have unpleasant side-effects and be exhausting, and sadly in some cases it does not stay in remission. As well as the excellent health care professionals there are a number of charities and support groups for those who are diagnosed with breast cancer and their families. It is a time to thank them for their work, to think of those living with breast cancer or the memory of having had it, and of the work being done to further refine understanding of the disease and its treatment

Lord, we pray for all who are living with breast cancer, or the memory of it, those who have lost loved ones to it, those who provide medical care, help and support, and all who are working to improve diagnosis and treatment

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Loch & Conic Hill from Ross Priory   

                                                             Loch & Conic Hill from Ross Priory

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 14th October

Thought for the Day

New tiered restrictions come into effect in England today, amid calls from one side for tighter restrictions, and another for relaxed restrictions. Scotland has been promised a tiered approach later in the month, with perhaps a fourth tier. Northern Ireland will be announcing new restrictions today, and Wales has threatened to close the border to folk from higher tier areas of England. What a cheerful outlook as we move into colder, wetter, darker weather! What will we do? Will we go and sit in the corner and mope our way through to the Spring? Or will we say, ‘I’m not letting this get me down!’ Can we make plans for ourselves for ways to keep occupied through restrictions: new projects, interests, hobbies? We will all have ‘wobbles’, so we need the support of each other. We need people to be there for us, to phone up, chat, cheer us up, offer to help in some way. But we also need to be ready to do that for others, to listen to their moans, to try to cheer them up, to encourage them to find something positive to do. If we have spare time after all that, there are plenty of charities and volunteer groups looking for assistance too

Lord, there are times when it is hard to cope with living with restrictions. That’s when we particularly need the help of other people. Thank you for that assistance and support. Help us too to be the assistance and support that other people need. Now especially we need to work together as a community to support each other – help us to focus on that, rather than us all drifting into thinking only of ourselves

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Loch Lomond Among the islands                    

                                                               Loch Lomond among the islands

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 13th October

Thought for the Day

Last Thursday was World Sight Day. Many of us here wear glasses or contact lenses, and even if you have good distance-vision there comes a point in our forties or fifties when we start needing reading glasses. Move on a few years and we may have to contend with cataracts or macular degeneration. A minority have other eyesight problems. Fortunately we have opticians close to where we live, eye tests are free, and we have hospital departments that specialise in eye care. That isn’t the case in many countries, because of lack of resources and skilled professionals, or dislocation of society. The numbers affected are huge. As we give thanks for the eye care available to us, let’s remember those who don’t have access to it, and urge governments etc to work towards addressing the need

Lord, thank you for our sight. Thank you for the people, the equipment, the facilities that help us to see better. We pray that governments and agencies will work at providing such facilities for those who currently don’t have them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Ben 1               

                                                                                Ben 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 12th October  World Arthritis Day

Thought for the Day

According to the NHS website around 10 million people in Britain live with arthritis in one of its many forms, and though we may associate it with one of the many ‘old age doesn’t come alone’ ailments, it can affect people of all ages including children (the charity Versus Arthritis Scotland says 15,000 across the UK as a whole). It can not only limit people’s ability to move about and do what they want, but can bring chronic pain. There is no cure for it, but people can be helped to live with it and to try to manage the pain and limitations. Today is an opportunity to remember those living with arthritis (including all the ‘success stories’ of carrying on with life in spite of it), professionals, volunteers, friends and family offering valuable support – and also those in parts of the world where there is no help or support.

Lord, we remember all who are living with arthritis and its challenges, and those who are there to support them. Help us to be more understanding of the challenges they face. We remember too those who have no support or pain control

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Ben  Loch from Ross Priory      

                                                                   Ben Loch from Ross Priory

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 10th October  World Mental Health Day

Thought for the Day

Not so long ago mental health and mental health issues were not recognised. Issues like stress or depression were often dismissed as signs of weakness and shame (cf the approach during World War I to what we now recognise as PTSD). Now (in most cases) we see mental health as being as important as physical health, and recognise that there is often a connection between the two. Some people have to live with mental health conditions throughout their lives. Others can usually cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life, but at times the ‘coping mechanism’ buckles and breaks. The last few months have reminded us of factors that put stress and strain on people: worry about work/finance, loneliness and isolation, lack of mental stimulation, claustrophobia, etc. We probably all carry some kind of mental scars from the period since March, but some individuals, families, social groups carry deep wounds. Today is a day to recognise the importance of mental health, the work that professionals and volunteers do to help those with major issues, what we can all do to help our own mental health and that of family, friends, neighbours etc

Lord, thank you for professionals and volunteers who work with those struggling with mental health issues. Help us to do what we can to care for our own mental health, and to think what we can do to help others whether they are showing symptoms of not

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Pond at Lorn             

                                                                          Pond at Lorn

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 9th October

Thought for the Day

Extra restrictions coming into force or being talked about are creating ructions North and South of the Border. Some people will not notice much of difference to their lives, others will notice a big difference – to their ability to travel, their ability to socialise in the usual way, their ability to run their business/ be paid. It isn’t just about finding something else to do after 6pm. There are questions about impact on mental health, the risk of ‘unofficial’ parties in private houses, the impact on local economies, on the finances of individuals and families. There are questions too about what measures will work in cutting the spread of the virus, enable the economy to keep operating, and enable the Health Service to deal with non-Covid issues. There is the fear too that at some point the wider public loses faith in Government restrictions and simply starts ignoring them en masse. How do we strike a balance, how do we help people to feel that ‘we are all in this together’, how do we support those who are struggling?

Lord, the upsurge in virus cases is concerning. So are many of the issues associated with measures to tackle it. Give wisdom to those taking decisions on these measures, wisdom to those asked to observe them, and sensitivity and compassion among us all to support those who are struggling

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        View from nr Lorn 2          

                                                                    View from near Lorn 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

Harvest Thanksgiving Service this Sunday

Just a wee reminder that we are celebrating Harvest on Sunday. This year we have asked members not to bring anything to church, but have invited them to make donations in cash or kind direct to the local foodbanks. Here are contact details if you are interested in donating to them. Your donations are much appreciated as there is considerable demand in this area for the services of foodbanks

If donating foodstuffs or toilet rolls, please remember that some supermarkets have restrictions on the number of items you can purchase

Food for Thought

Contact: Jessica or Lorraine (Admin Staff)

Drop Off: Office in St Augustine's

Telephone: 01389 743908

Website:www.foodforthought3.webnode.com

Facebook: Food for Thought - West Dunbartonshire

Items most needed

Tinnned  Chopped Tomatoes/Passata; Vegetables (especially Potatoes) Curry, Beans; Soup

Porridge Sachets

Long Life Milk

Teabags

Curry Sauce

Rice

Toilet Rolls

 

West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare

Contact: Adel or Manager

Drop Off: Leven Valley Enterprise Centre, Castlehill Road G82 5BN (Main Door)

Telephone: 01389 764135

Website:www.westdunbartonshirecommunityfoodshare.co.uk

Facebook: West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare 

Items most needed

Tinned Potatoes

Curry Sauces

Cheesy Pasta

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Thursday 8th October  World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

Thought for the Day

Most, if not all, of us will know people who have been in a Hospice, or have received palliative care at home. Some may also know people who work in this sector of care – either as volunteers or as trained professionals. By its nature it is an area that impacts on emotions and requires great sensitivity in relating to patients and their families/ friends. Today is a day to express our appreciation for all the kindness, sensitivity and humanity shown by staff and volunteers as they seek to combine preserving dignity alongside person-focussed care

Lord, thank you for the work of Hospices and all involved in palliative care. We pray for those who are in need of such care, and their families and friends, and for those who work in that sector, who have to cope with the emotional strain that goes with it. May they be free from worry about future finances

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                     Inchmurrin from nr Lorn                 

                                                                  Inchmurrin view from near Lorn

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 7th October  World Smile Day

Thought for the Day

It is said that less effort is required to smile than frown, though many of us seem to prefer the extra exercise. Often when you smile at someone they will smile back, and you both feel better because of it. Under the current restrictions, with a mask over half your face, it is hard to see someone smiling – we need to learn to ‘read’ the eyes and eyebrows to spot which emotions someone is displaying. There is a line in a song (Ken Dodd?) ‘Smile, though your heart is aching’ – sometimes people put on a ‘smile’ mask to hide their real feelings. How good are we at spotting that?

Lord, help us to try to lift the mood of others by smiling. Help us to be sensitive too to their real feelings

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Whinney Hill beech grove 

                                                                  Whinney Hill beech grove

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 6th October  National Poetry Day

Thought for the Day

Actually last Thursday was National Poetry Day, but too many things happen in October! Can you remember any poems you learned at school? I remember discussing with a retired primary school teacher, then in a care home, the poem ‘I wish I lived in a caravan’. I can still quote some lines from Shakespeare or other poets learned at secondary school but the one that speaks most to me now is one I learned in the equivalent of S1: Shelley’s Ozymanias of Egypt:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Lord, help us to see ourselves in our true context, and to appreciate the things that endure as a legacy, and the things that do not

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Whinney Hill Beechwood              

                                                                   Whinney Hill Beachwood

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 5th October  World Teachers Day

Thought for the Day

Over our years in school we probably encountered quite a number of teachers, teaching styles, and influences that they had on us. Some may have been scary, some really had no control over the class; some may have inspired us to learn or develop a skill or interest, some may have closed down any interest in the topic; some we remember with affection, some we didn’t like, and some we don’t really remember. They all played a part in making us who we are. Some people can speak of ‘inspirational’ teachers who helped them discover themselves and raise the horizon of their ambition. Being a teacher is not easy: coping in any one class with a great range of abilities, personalities and interests, all the ‘social work’ issues that teachers have to take on, and the ever-changing demands of government and the press/public (“They should be taught that in schools!”). Over the last 7 months they have had to cope quickly with continued face-to-face teaching for the children of ‘key workers’ and vulnerable children, develop online material for those at home, plan for blended learning, return to face-to-face physically distanced learning and combine ‘catch-up’ for missed learning/ mental health and other issues among pupils with the constant threat of having to self-isolate at short notice because someone in school has shown Covid-like symptoms. We express our appreciation and support for them all!

Lord, being a teacher is not easy. Many feel stressed and not appreciated. Help us to show our support and appreciation for them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Whinney Hill 1                  

                                                                       Whinney Hill 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 3rd October  St Francis

Thought for the Day

Francis of Assisi (11181/2-1226) is often pictured preaching to the birds. Some then and now consider him as ‘away with the birds’ – but it is perhaps worth noting that Pope Innocent III (probably the most powerful pope ever in terms of political and military power) saw something special in Francis and gave him permission to carry out his work. Francis believed that his faith required him to renounce power, wealth and might, all things which church leaders at the time saw as hallmarks of their positions. Significantly, during the Fifth Crusade, Francis sought an audience with the Sultan to try to negotiate peace (unsuccessfully). Francis is usually associated with animals and pets

Lord, it is so easy to feel we need power, wealth and might to change the world, and bring in peace and justice for all. The idea of seeing strength and power in weakness, humility and service is hard to take on board. Thank you for all who do serve others graciously and generously. Help us to do that. Thanks too for our furry, feathered and fishy friends

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Burn of Balloch 3               

                                                                       Burn of Balloch 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 2nd October  Black History Month

Thought for the Day

As far back as we can go in written human records peoples, tribes, countries (or maybe to be more exact their rulers or ruling elite) have tried to tell their ‘story’ in a positive way, sometimes being selective with information, sometimes presenting ‘us’ as the ‘goodies’ and anyone who opposes ‘us’ as the ‘baddies’. A more academic approach to ‘history’ tries to look at different sides to a story (being ready to challenge assumptions that ‘we’ have always been the ‘goodies’) and beyond that to the lives of ‘ordinary people’ (for which there is much less information). Many European countries have struggled to cope with stories of collaboration with Nazi Germany. Here in Britain and Scotland  we have to confront issues like the prejudice against Irish people, Gaelic speakers, Catholics, Jews, and attitudes to class and race. Britain wasn’t the only country to have a colonial empire, but it was the largest and most powerful. People all around the globe contributed to the wealth and power of the empire, but were not always treated as ‘family’. Their stories are rarely heard, their perspective on empire, and life before their land/people became part of the empire, is rarely heard, and their experience of being part of British society today is rarely heard. Black History Month is an opportunity to listen, to reflect, to acknowledge past mistakes and injustices, and to resolve to seek a more inclusive country

Lord, you see all that happens and has happened, you hear the ‘spin’ that governments and groups try to put on events and attitudes, the things that people try to ‘blot out’ because they are uncomfortable. Help us to seek out the truth, even when it is uncomfortable, and acknowledge past and present mistakes. Help us to listen to other people’s stories, and work for an inclusive community and world

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                          Burn of Balloch 2                           

                                                                       Burn of Balloch 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 1st October  International Day of Older Persons

Thought for the Day

When are you ‘old’? Some behave as if they are ‘old’ when they are in their 20s, others still have a ‘youthful’ outlook in the 90s. Though they may not have the energy they had as teenagers, nor do they have the angst! Many older people continue making a positive contribution to their community in their 70s, 80s and 90s, just as they did when younger. For others physical or mental health problems develop and they need additional help and support. I remember looking for a care home for my great aunt: one suggested place suggested had a five-bedded room available (she didn’t go there). Even that ‘dormitory’ would have been better than the situation many older people faced a generation or two earlier: financial worries with little or no pension, no social work department to arrange support, having to give up their home move in with family or become lodgers (which didn’t always work well). We have moved on a lot in terms of support and care for older people, but there is still more that we could do. Many can still fall through the net. Let’s affirm and celebrate an older person today, and see if we can do something to help one who needs a bit of support

Lord, you celebrate and affirm everyone from the youngest to the oldest, the most able to the most needy. Each is special to you. Help us to be like you, never patronising or dismissive of people on any grounds

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Balloch Park Autumn colour 2                   

                                                                 Balloch Park Autumn Colour 3

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 30th September

Thought for the Day

‘The big ship sails on the Ally, Ally O..’* Back in the days when I studied for Nature of Management exams and went on Management Development courses, we studied things like Maslow’s Pyramid  and Theory X and Theory Y approaches to human motivation. I was reminded of it yesterday when there was an item on the news about bosses buying up and using software to monitor work-at-home staff – tracking things like mouse movements, keystrokes etc. We probably all have experience of bosses who trusted us to get on with things, and had a ‘light management hand’, and others who tried to micro-manage us because they appeared not to credit us with any common sense. We can probably see some of the same difference in approach in the attitude of Governments to Coronavirus restrictions. To which do we more readily respond? Which approach do we adopt towards other people?

Lord, help us to think about how we treat other people, and how they perceive it - are we implying that we trust them, or don’t trust them, credit them with common sense or think they are stupid? Help us to give out positive messages to people, to motivate and inspire them. Help bosses and those in Government to do the same too

*Nursery rhyme: today is the last day of September

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Burn of Balloch 1               

                                                                           Burn of Balloch 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 29th September  World Heart Day

Thought for the Day

During the early stages of the pandemic the phrase ‘people with underlying health conditions’ was used quite often when describing people who were particularly at risk of severe complications if they caught Covid-19. One of those ‘underlying health conditions’ is cardio-vascular disease (‘heart trouble’) which presents in different ways to many people around the world. Today is an opportunity to focus globally on a set of conditions that pre-date Covid-19, and will still be there when we have eventually suppressed or learned to live with the pandemic virus. For many people genetic factors make them susceptible to heart disease, and sometimes life conditions contribute. For people here and in other Developed countries our health services can offer medication or surgery – but there are many around the world who cannot access that. There are also things we can do to try to keep our hearts healthy (exercise, diet, lifestyle)

Lord, we give thanks for the knowledge and skill that has given us access to medication and surgery for heart disease. We pray that they may become available to everyone in need. We remember all who are living with heart disease. Help us to remember our hearts and circulatory systems, and do what we can through exercise, diet etc to keep them healthy

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Balloch Park Autumn colour 3  

                                                                   Balloch Park  Autumn colour 2

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 28th September

Thought for the Day

Restrictions on students, pubs and restaurants closing at 10pm, fines for people not self-isolating, report your neighbour to the police if they have more than the permitted number in their house or garden, don’t impose new restrictions without allowing Parliament to debate them first. All are issues on which the Governments in Edinburgh and London (particularly the latter) are facing considerable opposition from politicians, the press and the public. Governments can and do make mistakes (sometimes with the best of intentions). Critics can be very voluble and can sometimes sound more numerous than they are. Coping with the crisis depends upon everyone ‘buying in’ to the idea that there is a crisis, that we all share in the risk, and that it can only be handled by everyone working together. If that consensus breaks down for whatever reason, it is very hard to rebuild. What do Governments need to do to keep everyone ‘on board’? What can we do to help?

Lord, restrictions introduced to contain this latest surge in infections are having a big impact on certain groups – including freedom of movement and the ability of some businesses to operate profitably. Give Governments the wisdom to know what are the appropriate measures to take, help them to be ready to admit mistakes or what they do not know, but also help us all to see the benefit and need of working together for the good of us all. Help us to remember that the latter applies to ‘us’ as well as ‘everyone else’

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Balloch Park Autumn colour 1           

                                                                   Balloch Park  Autumn colour 1

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 26th September

Thought for the Day

A new Job Support Scheme was announced on Thursday. Businesses will be working out whether they will take advantage of it to save jobs: some welcomed it and said that it will help them greatly, some said they weren’t sure, others said it would do nothing to help them. There is a great fear that the number of redundancies is going to rise significantly in coming weeks and finding alternative employment will be hard, creating a whole range of issues for individuals and families – but with particular groups (women, young people, people in the lower earning sectors) hit hardest. Apart from praying and lobbying politicians what can we do? Supporting projects like the Foodbank is a short-term answer, but what about the longer term? Are we powerless, or can we make a difference?

Lord, help us to remember and do what we can to support those living with, or about to face, unemployment. Inspire Governments do everything in their power to provide help and support. Show us what we can do

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so we’ll share a short snippet about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Cutty Sark built 1869: The Cutty Sark was a tea clipper built by Denny’s (started by Scott & Linton) at Sandpoint on the Leven. She was launched in November 1869, and was ready for service the following February.She spent eight seasons on the tea trade, but after the opening of the Suez Canal steam vessels could make the run quicker. She had various roles after that, before becoming a permanent exhibition in Greenwich.

               cuttystats

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Balloch Park Rhododendron    

                                                                    Balloch Park Rhododendron

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 25th September

Thought for the Day

What will we think about today: students, the Job Support Scheme  - or stockpiling toilet rolls! I know the world has changed a lot since I lived in a Hall of Residence or student flat, but keeping physically distanced etc in such circumstances is very, very difficult. Many a second, third or especially fourth year student looks back to their Bejant/Bejantine or Fresher days with an element of ‘did I really do that? Oh I was so young and naïve then!’ (and as for when you reach the stage of trying to pretend you are middle-aged and respectable…!)  Even the most puritanical of students needs to mix with others for the good of their mental health and to share in the mix of experience, background and outlook that is partly what university or college is all about. This is a very challenging time for students, staff/administrators and families. Let’s offer them our thoughts and support

Lord, it’s easy to criticise, it’s hard to stand in someone else’s shoes. Be with all those trying to handle the situation for students around the country, and be with all students – especially those feeling the strains, stresses and anxieties of having to isolate

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so we’ll share a short snippet about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Robert Burns 1759-96: The poet Robert Burns was born in 1759, at Alloway in Ayrshire, and died in 1796 in Dumfries.
He was the son of a tenant farmer, who struggled to make ends meet, but instilled in his son a love of learning. Robert too struggled to earn a living as a farmer, and at one stage contemplated emigrating to the West Indies. He eventually became an excise man. He had various affairs with woman, and a number of children with different mothers – but all were very fond of him. He wrote poetry that took much inspiration from everyday country life, but using a mixture of Standard English and Scots he captured human emotions, questions about life, politics and laughing at oneself. He also collected many traditional tunes and songs (sometimes changing the words for ‘polite society’). He visited Dumbarton in 1787 and at Glencairn House was made an Honorary Burgess and Guild Brother.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Balloch Park tulips    

                                                                          Balloch Park tulips

                                                              Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 24th September

Thought for the Day

As has been much remarked upon, it is now 6 months since we went into lockdown. I remember at the time someone saying something along the lines of ‘I don’t know what the fuss is all about. It’s going to be reviewed in 3 weeks. So we’ll get back to normal after that.’ Now the talk is of possibly six months more (should we add ‘at least’ into that sentence?) There are all sorts of areas of life where we try not to acknowledge symptoms, or face reality. Then a day comes when we have to do so, and it’s hard. We have to acknowledge that we and others are challenged by facing that reality, but we also need strategies and support to face it down and move on – which may mean openly expressing our feelings with someone else, listening constructively to someone else’s concerns, and trying to work out a way forward together

Lord, help us through the coming days, weeks and months. Help us to acknowledge our feelings and be ready to share them with others; to be ready to listen constructively if someone opens up to us; and to be able to work through coping strategies together

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so we’ll share a short snippet about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Bonnie Prince Charlie & the *Jacobites 1715-46: Mary’s son, James VI, united the English and Scottish crowns, but Stuart rule in both led to continual rivalry and discord. In 1688 James VII and II fled abroad when William of Orange landed. James and his supporters in both countries hoped that with foreign (ie French) help James, or his son (James VIII and III or the Old Pretender depending on your point of view!) or his grandson (Charles Edward Stuart, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie) would become king again.  There was a Jacobite* Rising in 1715, but it fizzled out without achieving much. More serious was the uprising led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745-6. He had effective rule in Scotland, but his invasion of England petered out and he was defeated at Culloden. Fear of Jacobite attack led the government to rebuild the Castle in Dumbarton as a fort, and in the Act of Union of 1707 it was named as a place that was to be kept garrisoned.                                                                                        *The Latin for James is Jacobus, so his supporters were called ‘Jacobites’.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Sea plane from Balloch               

                                                             Sea plane from Balloch 

                                                       Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 23rd September

Thought for the Day

New restrictions in place (though for some of us, some were already in place) and the elephant in the room – this and more may be in place till at least the Spring – has been acknowledged. Even allowing for exemptions for ‘bubbles’, childcare etc, there is no doubt that the picture is not attractive. There will be economic consequences (lost jobs, and all that goes with that) and mental health consequences as people struggle with loneliness and isolation. I heard a very interesting and encouraging talk yesterday from a professor in social behaviour talking about the natural tendency of people to act together in a crisis, the importance to recognising why people don’t follow the guidelines and putting measures in place to help them to do so, not demonising, encouraging people to feel ownership of restrictions for themselves, and for those who make the rules to be seen to follow them themselves. There are things that we can do to help lift/keep up the spirit of others (even if we need a large jar of patience pills beside us!), but our attitude to others is also so important

Lord, it’s easy to point the finger, to judge, to condemn. It’s harder to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Help us to do that. Help us too to have the patience to work with those feeling ‘down’

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over the next few days we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Mary Queen of Scots 1542-87: From the Bruces the crown eventually passed to the Stewarts, but discord among the nobility and relations with England were constant problems. Mary became Queen when 6 days old. Struggling with all the usual problems, including an English king (Henry VIII) desperate to have her married to his son, Mary’s mother (and Regent of Scotland) Marie de Guise arranged an engagement to the heir to the French throne. Mary stayed in Dumbarton castle for safety, and sailed from there to France in 1548, being married in Notre Dame on 24 April 1558. Things didn’t go well for Mary: her husband died soon after, and she had to return to Scotland. She was a stranger, it was going through the trauma of Reformation, and two further marriages went wrong. Religion became another factor in civil wars, she had to abdicate, fled to England for safety, but was imprisoned, and because she got caught up in plots against Elizabeth, was executed on her cousin’s orders. Last we year, remembering the link with Queen Mary, we joined in the national tolling of church bells in solidarity with the people of Paris after the fire in Notre Dame.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Maid of the Loch                

                                                             Balloch  Maid of the Loch

                                                       Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 22nd September  Autumn Equinox

Thought for the Day

The beginning of Autumn, and news full of warnings about tighter restrictions as Covid case numbers rise. How will we respond? Will we become gloomy and focus on what we can’t do, on shorter, colder, wetter days? Or will we accept the restrictions and look forward to Autumn colours, smells and light? Have we memories of the smells of jam and chutney being made, or maybe Granny’s apple pie? Can we remember rhymes we learned to go guising, or costumes that we wore? What about our friends, family and neighbours, how are they feeling? What can we do to help them? Often in doing something to help someone else we help ourselves, and realise how much we are needed

Lord, Autumn can bring glorious colours, or grab, wet, grey. All are part of the rich tapestry of this world that we live in, and the beautiful scenery around us. Help us to cope with the hard times. Help us not to sit around moping, but think outside and beyond ourselves, to friends, family and neighbours and see what we can do to support them.

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over the next few days we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Wallace & Bruce 1297-1329: Alexander’s son, Alexander III, died in 1286, plunging the country into crisis. His only direct heir was his grand-daughter Margaret of Norway. She died on her way to Scotland. Leading families competed for the crown, and appealed to Edward of England to adjudicate. He saw an opportunity to assert his authority in Scotland, and did it heavy-handedly. William Wallace led the Scots opposed to English rule. He defeated the English at Stirling Bridge, but was defeated at Falkirk. He was captured, imprisoned (at Dumbarton?), taken to London and executed. Bruce changed sides several times before being crowned king in 1306. Through guerrilla warfare and open battles Bruce defeated the English and the anti-Bruce Scots culminating in the Battle of Bannockburn. He died at his manor of Cardross in 1329. His internal organs were buried in St Serf’s Church.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Balloch River Leven 2            

                                                               Balloch  River Leven 2

                                                       Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 21st September  World Alzheimers Day

Thought for the Day

Most people know someone who has dementia, or families living with dementia, and many have experienced it at close hand in a friend or loved one. It is a cruel illness that robs someone’s personality – sometimes changing it as well as taking away treasured traits. Many of us have a niggling fear in the backs of our minds that maybe we too could succumb to it. Today is a day to remember those who have it, celebrating what they still have, and what they once had; to remember families and friends coping with all the challenges (often 24/7), their ‘long letting go’, the pain of still loving and caring for someone who hasn’t the personality that once they had; to remember those who provide support and respite for people with dementia and their families; to remember those working to find a treatment or cure

Lord, dementia is such a cruel illness. Sometimes those with it are content ‘in their own wee world’, sometimes they are deeply distressed. It wears down family and friends coping 24/7. We give thanks for their commitment and the support that social care staff and charities give. We pray for all who are living with it/ trying to cope with it, for those trying to find treatments and cures, and that governments will focus on providing the necessary framework and finance for effective support and care

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over the next few days we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Royal Burgh founded 1222: In 1098 King Edgar of Scotland conceded that the Norwegian king had sovereignty over the Western Isles, Kintyre and the Clyde islands. The powerful Lords of the Isles, with clan support, were always ready to raid or attack the West Coast mainland, and make alliances with the Scottish kings’ enemies (internal enemies or the English kings). The Scottish kings tried hard to counter the threat, and King Alexander II (1214-49) planned to take the fight to the Western Isles. With that in mind he fortified the Castle at Dumbarton, and founded the Royal Burgh in 1222, intending it to be his naval base, and a bulwark against attack

 

Picture of the Day

This week we embark on a Three Lochs Tour – Lomond, Katrine and Leven

                                                      Balloch River Leven 1                                              

                                                              Balloch  River Leven 1

                                                   Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 19th September  West Dunbartonshire Open Doors Day

Thought for the Day

Today should have been West Dunbartonshire’s Open Doors Day. But like all other similar events this September, and many other events over the last 6 months, it isn’t happening this year. We do have a spell of dry and sunny weather at the moment, so even if we can’t go and appreciate the heritage around us from the inside, we can appreciate it from the outside. Many of us have to watch where we are putting our feet, so that we don’t trip, but it is often fascinating to look up at a building’s upper stories or roofline. And if you look up, you might see hills, or trees, or birds flying, or someone’s face, or eyes, or smile..

Lord, we cannot ignore where we put our feet, or we’re liable to trip up. But if we only ever look at our feet, there is so much that we can miss, and so much that we can give – our smile could mean so much to a person on their own. Help us to appreciate the world around us, and give thanks for what we have instead of dwelling on what we can’t do

 

Viking siege and sacking 871: From the late 8th century Vikings from Denmark and Norway regularly attacked sites across Great Britain and Ireland (including Iona), looking for treasure and slaves. They established various settlements in the Western Isles and Argyll, and major bases in Ireland (especially Dublin). In 870-1, while a large Danish army was rampaging around England, two Dublin-based commanders, Ivarr the Boneless and Olaf the White, led a siege on Dumbarton. Because of (unusually) dry weather the fort on the Rock had to surrender. It is said that the Vikings took away 200 longships of loot.
 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                        Edinburgh 12 Palace of Holyroodhouse               

                                                                                               Edinburgh 12  Palace of Holyroodhouse

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

PS Next week we embark on a Three Lochs Tour – Lomond, Katrine and Leven

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Friday 18th September

Thought for the Day

Once in a holy passion
I cried in heartfelt grief,
‘Lord, I am vile and wicked –
of sinners I am chief!’

Then swooped my guardian angel
and whispered from behind,
‘Vanity, my little man!
You’re nothing of the kind!’        Anon

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                             Edinburgh 11 Parliament Building        

                                                                                                   Edinburgh 11  Parliament Building

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Thursday 17th September  Start of British Food Fortnight

Thought for the Day

Q1 What is your favourite British/ Scottish food? Q2 What is your favourite café or restaurant selling British/ Scottish food? Sometimes it is hard to say what our ‘favourite’ is as there are a number of possible answers. There may not be fairs or markets to showcase British or locally grown produce this year, but we can express appreciation for the things we like, and remember those growing or preparing foodstuffs, and those in the hospitality sector facing great challenges

Lord, we give thanks for all our favourite British/ Scottish foodstuffs. We pray for those who grow or prepare them, who may be facing financial pressures this year. Similarly, as we give thanks for our favourite ‘eating venues’, we remember those in the hospitality sector facing challenges too

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over the next few days we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

Many legends grew up around St Serf, but there is no real evidence about his life or work. He is usually associated with areas around Fife – Culross, Loch Leven and Dunning in Perthshire. Some traditions say that he was of Mediterranean/ Arab origin. Some link him with St Thenew (St Enoch) and St Mungo – making him foster-father of Glasgow’s patron saint. Usually churches dedicated to St Serf are found around the Forth, but the Mediaeval Cardross Parish Church (in Levengrove Park) was dedicated to him.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                                 Edinburgh 10 Parliament Building    

                                                                                                    Edinburgh 10  Parliament Building

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 16th September

Thought for the Day

The local Covid testing site seemed yesterday to be in the Burgh Hall car park, and seemed quiet. Getting access to tests and getting results back quickly has become a major source of frustration and debate around the country. I know of some folk in Cambridge who were told by the nursery to get a child with a high temperature tested, and the online system offered Inverness. There are obviously problems with the system and the communications. It is easy to use it for political point-scoring either way, but underneath there are a lot of individuals and families whose lives are being messed up by problems with the testing system, from patients waiting to go into hospital, to NHS and care staff, to teachers, to pupils and so on. As well as hoping and praying that the problems are fixed quickly, let’s remember those who are directly affected by issues with the system

Lord, help us to appreciate how fortunate we are to have a testing system. It needs to be better. Help all those working to improve it, and be with all those waiting for it to happen

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over the next few days we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

St Columba was born in Donegal, part of a powerful royal family that ruled much of the North of Ireland.He trained as a monk and became a priest. He was an impressive figure, a scholar and able administrator. He founded a number of monastic communities which were places of worship, learning and mission – Derry, Kells, Durrow and Iona. He left Ireland in circumstances that are not entirely clear, and went to Dalriada (Argyll) where the (Irish) king granted him the island of Iona. It became a base for missions up and down the Western seaboard of Scotland, and beyond. He corresponded with the King based at Dumbarton. Legends about Columba grew up after his death, including the first recorded encounter with the Loch Ness Monster!

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                           Edinburgh 9 Parliament Building                 

                                                                                                    Edinburgh 9  Parliament Building

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

        WDC     

To support town centres and ensure residents can continue to safely access local businesses while physical distancing, we are creating wider pedestrian footways across West Dunbartonshire.

To achieve this, fixed safety barriers will be placed on sections of the road Main Street, Alexandria and selected surrounding localities and High Street Dumbarton. Further locations will be implemented as the scheme evolves.

The temporary barriers are necessary to support areas where there is high pedestrian footfall in order to prevent congestion and ensure 2m physical distancing guidance can be followed.

They are expected to be in place beginning Wednesday 16 September and will remain in place until semi-permanent and permanent infrastructure changes – which could include the introduction of planters and parklets – are developed and put in place.

The work is being done using Spaces for People funding, which was introduced to make it safer for people who choose to walk, cycle or wheel for trips and exercise during Covid-19.

Local signage will be in place to direct motorists to the nearest available parking.
We thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to keep our town centres and communities safe.

If you want to discuss this in further detail, please contact WDC regeneration

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Tuesday 15th September  Battle of Britain Day

Thought for the Day

After the fall of France in 22 June 1940, Hitler turned his attention on Britain, aiming to force it to negotiate peace by means of an air and sea blockade, to be followed if necessary by a sea-borne invasion. The air campaign climaxed on 15 September (80 years ago today) with the RAF Fighter Command ensuring that Hitler would not have control of the skies. Although the Blitz continued until May 1941, Hitler called off the planned sea borne invasion. The Fighter pilots (one of whom was a West Kirk elder) who saved Britain from defeat and invasion in late Summer/early Autumn 1940 are known as the ‘Few’. We express our gratitude to them, and remember current RAF personnel. For more information visit https://www.rafbf.org/battle-of-britain

Lord, had the Battle of Britain been lost in 1940 the world would have been a very different and much worse place. We appreciate the courage of those who participated. We pray for peace, for justice for everyone in our world today

 

It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over the next few days we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

St Patrick came from a Romanised, Christian, British (Welsh-speaking) family on the West Coast of Britain. The Clyde likes to claim he was born at Old Kilpatrick. He was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. He was freed (or escaped), made his way home, and became a priest. He may have had some training in Gaul (France) and Rome. He went back to Ireland and based himself at Armagh. His autobiography (Confessio) and Letter to the British king Coroticus have survived. Many legends subsequently grew up around Patrick. The Mediaeval Parish Church of Dumbarton, and the Chapel at the Castle, were both dedicated to St Patrick.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                              Edinburgh 8 Parliament Building               

                                                                                                    Edinburgh 8  Parliament Building

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 14th September

Thought for the Day

New rules/ regulations/ guidelines (which category exactly are they?) come into effect across Great Britain today – though (apart from variations between the different nations) in some areas (like here) there are local, tighter ones. The aim is a simple, understandable set of rules – but whenever you devise a ‘rule’ someone will always come up with a situation that requires an exemption. Hence why we have libraries of case law and legal rulings (not to mention protracted negotiations with small children!) A number of people say ‘just use your common sense’, which seems reasonable – till you come across someone with a very different understanding of ‘common sense’ from your own. Maybe we need to keep in mind the second of the Great Commandments ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’: treat others with respect (so don’t put them in danger) and treat yourself with respect (so don’t put yourself in danger)

Lord, help us to remember always to be positive, helpful and constructive in attitudes and behaviour towards ourselves and others

 

 It’s Open Doors Heritage Month so over this week and next we’ll share some short snippets about Dumbarton, its surroundings and its history

The Antonine Wall was built between 142 and 154 AD on the orders of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. It ran between Old Kilpatrick and Bo’ness. It was 39 miles long and had 16 forts. It was 3-4m high and 5 m wide, built of turves or soil, with a wooden palisade on top. There was a wide ditch to the North and a military road to the South.

It was abandoned in 162AD, re-occupied in 208 by the Emperor Septimius Severus, and then abandoned a few years later. It has UNESCO World Heritage status.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                               Edinburgh 7 Canongate Kirk               

                                                                                                      Edinburgh 7  Canongate Kirk

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 12th September

Thought for the Day

It’s cold, it’s very wet. Who fancies a socially-distanced meet-up in the garden or park? At least we have modern technology to help us keep in touch (telephones, social media, e-mails etc). No, it isn’t the same as seeing someone face to face, but without it… It is easy to lapse into ‘negative’ mode. If we are going to get through this winter then we need to work on the ‘positive’ mode – and help others to do that too. Can you name 10 things that you are fortunate to have (eg friends, neighbours, a roof over your head, food for the table etc)?

Lord, it can be hard to feel positive on cold, wet days, but compared with so many people we have plenty for which to be grateful. Help us to appreciate what we have and focus on the positive things – and help those who are struggling to do that

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                                    Edinburgh 6 John Knox's House    

                                                                                                    Edinburgh 6  John Knox’s House

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Friday 11th September

Thought for the Day

What to reflect on today? It is the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and in addition to the awful events of that day, we continue to live with the consequences of what flowed from it. Or should it be the wrangles over the Internal Market Bill and dealings with the EU, the ethical issues raised and practical consequences that could flow from it? Or the introduction of stricter guidelines on indoor and outdoor meetings, and the consequences for employment/ the economy/ the future of some businesses, for mental and maybe physical health? In all of that, and much more, one word recurs, ‘consequences’. Everything that we do or say has ‘consequences’ (intentional or unintended) for ourselves and others. We are becoming used to preparing ‘risk assessments’ for just about everything, and even if we baulk at the thought of filling out a written one, consciously or sub-consciously we do it all the time. So maybe our reflection for today is to remind ourselves that everything we do our say has ‘consequences’ for us and others – and to pause and think before we speak or act, and think what might happen as a result

Lord, before we say or do things, help us to reflect on what the consequences might be

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                                Edinburgh 5 Parliament Square         

                                                                                                    Edinburgh 5  Parliament Square

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

Local Covid-19 restrictions continue in West Dunbartonshire

Residents in West Dunbartonshire are being reminded of local restrictions which prevent them from socialising with other households within their homes.

The Scottish Government has confirmed that Covid-19 cases have continued to rise and as a safety measure the restrictions announced last week will remain in place for at least another seven days. The restrictions were introduced on 1 September to prevent the further spread of the virus in the community.

Public Health Scotland experts confirm that the evidence points to the significant factor driving transmission locally is people meeting up in their homes without following the existing guidelines. During the restrictions, people in the area are again unable to meet other households indoors either in West Dunbartonshire or in other authority areas.

Only essential indoor visits in care homes and hospitals will be permitted, although outdoor visits are still possible at care homes.

In addition, if one household member is identified as a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case, the whole household must now self-isolate for 14 days.

Although people from different households can continue to meet outdoors and in hospitality settings, they must adhere to existing guidance. For indoor meetings this guidance states households should be 2m apart and should not meet in groups that exceed three households, or eight person limit.

For outdoor meetings the guidance states households should be 2m apart and should not meet in groups that exceed five households, or 15 person limit.

People who are providing care or essential support can make indoor visits but must take extra hygiene precautions and those who have formed an extended household can continue to meet indoors with enhanced hygiene measures in place.

Residents who were previously shielding have been advised to strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures.

Council Leader, Councillor Jonathan McColl, has urged everyone to strictly follow the guidelines to protect loved ones and the wider community from the virus, to avoid taking risks which could lead to a further outbreak. This could include something as simple as having a cup of tea in someone’s house.

Quotes from Jonathon McColl “If we all adhere strictly to these new measures, we will have the best chance of suppressing this virus and avoiding the need for any stricter measures being imposed on us.
“As a Council, we will continue to follow the advice of both Public Health Scotland and the Scottish Government and will continue to share information with residents via the Council’s website and social media pages."

The Scottish Government has not ruled out extending restrictions if necessary to protect public health.
 

Updated press release from West Dunbartonshire Covid-19

Following the message above, there has been a change to the rule in Scotland announced by the First Minister. Please see details below:

Due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic accelerating, the number of people allowed to meet up in Scotland has been cut to six.
Until now, eight people from three households had been allowed to meet indoors in Scotland, and up to 15 from five households outdoors.
This will change to six people from two household, and will apply both indoors and outdoors - including in homes, gardens, pubs and restaurants.
Children under the age of 12 will not count towards the total, however.

Other planned changes have been put on hold for now, including opening of theatres, soft play and so on.

These measures are essential to avoid further spread of the virus and are similar to measures introduced in England earlier this week.

We would encourage all residents in West Dunbartonshire to take heed of these changes along with the local restrictions in place also.

Further information on local measures can be found HERE

 

Information From Social Security Scotland                      SocialSecScotland                                                          

Please link to our latest Newsletter Social Security Scotland - September Newsletter HERE  which has information about all the latest developments including ….

This week marks the second birthday of Social Security Scotland.  We were formally established as an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government on 1 September 2018.
 
Child Winter Heating Assistance
Regulations were laid last week for our new benefit – this is a payment of £200 to families with the most seriously disabled children to help with winter fuel costs.
 
REMINDER about our Pregnancy and Baby Payment which is one of 3 payments that give extra money to low income families during the early years of a child’s life.
 
NEW  Scottish Child Payment
This new payment which has just been announced is likely to generate significant demand so we’re inviting people to submit applications from November onwards.
 
Independent Advocacy Service
On Tue 30th June the Scottish Government launched an independent advocacy service to support disabled people to access benefits.
This hyperlink will take you to the Independent Advocacy Service Factsheet which is designed to help you share information on the new service with people who need it.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like any additional information or clarification on any matter

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Thursday 10th September  World Suicide Prevention Day

Thought for the Day

Many of us will have known someone who took their own life, or attempted to do so, or know family or friends of someone who did. Losing a friend or loved one is always hard, but when they have taken their own life anger and guilt can be much worse, and there can be long-lasting consequences. Some may have at times been in a similar ‘dark place’ themselves. It is something that can be very hard to talk about. What can we as individuals and a community do to respond: be ready to listen, be ready to assure people that they are accepted and valued for who they are, challenge stigmas and negative attitudes to people struggling with set-backs in their lives or with the pain of suicide?

Lord, we thank you for your unconditional love and care, accepting us as we are. We remember today those who carry the pain and scars of suicide, and all who are currently in a ‘dark place’. We thank you for the work of mental health teams, charities and volunteers who work to provide support, and pray for them. Help us as individuals and a community to acknowledge the issue, and strive to know how we can respond and provide support too

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                                  Edinburgh 4 St Giles              

                                                                                                         Edinburgh 4  St. Giles

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 9th September

Thought for the Day

When I was training to be a minister, at the end of one service someone coming out thanked me for the sermon (it does happen occasionally!): I can’t remember what the topic was, but he was a lecturer in Law at Glasgow Uni, and something I had said had given him an idea for a lecture. I suspect that anyone who is a lecturer in law or ethics need only refer their students to the daily news, and they have ample topics to consider for tutorials, exams questions, dissertations and post-doctoral research! EG ‘Looking at the cases of Extinction Rebellion and Brandon Lewis’s statement in the House of Commons, when is it permissible to break a law, and when is it not?’

Lord, following the law, and not following the law, was an issue in the Jewish community before Jesus, in the Gospels we hear him having debates on the topic, and the early Apostles had them too. It has probably been an issue in other faith communities, and in groups where there is no faith. Maybe there are no ‘hard and fast’ rules on the subject. Help us, and others, as we try to think it through

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                                Edinburgh 3  Gladstone's Land          

                                                                                                      Edinburgh 3  Gladstone’s Land

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 8th September International Literacy Day

Thought for the Day

I am writing this, you are reading this. We take it for granted. But do you remember those days (for some of us a long time ago!) when we struggled hard to learn to read and write (and had spelling tests, and were told off if we didn’t write neatly, and…)? Some children will be learning to read and write today, maybe for the first time. Some children don’t get the chance to go to school. Some are at school, but never really mastered reading and writing, so that holds them back learning other things right through school. Some leave school and are faced with a world that presumes that everyone can read and write: road signs, application forms, social media, online information, and so much more. Take a moment to picture life if you couldn’t read or write. Pretty difficult? As individuals, as a community, what can we do to promote literacy for everyone?

Lord, literacy has been an important part of our faith and culture for a long time. We take it for granted. But many struggle to read and write. It holds back their development and opportunities. They can feel isolated or embarrassed. Help us as individuals and as a community to help them to master these skills

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                               Edinburgh 2 Castle from Victoria St           

                                                                                                Edinburgh 2  Castle from Victoria Street

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Monday 7th September

Thought for the Day

Have you ever been at a crossroads or junction, on foot or in the car, and it isn’t clear from the signposts or your map (or SatNav) which way to go? It seems a bit like that with planning the way forward with public policy regarding the virus. The physical well-being of vulnerable people versus the mental well-being of a large section of the population. Suppressing or containing the virus versus allowing schools to remain open, colleges and universities to start, jobs to be saved and the economy revived. Acknowledging that younger people who catch Covid-19 seem to display milder symptoms, and might contribute to a ‘herd immunity’ versus the risk that there could be longer-term effects on them not immediately apparent, and the possibility that they could pass it on to ‘vulnerable’ people. We approach the crossroads from different directions, depending on our age, health, finances, family circumstances, where we live etc. Our own concerns are important, and need to be heard by others. We need to hear and understand their concerns too. We hope and pray that those who take decisions about public policy will hear all the voices, and develop a strategy that addresses all the conflicting concerns. We hope and pray too that we, the public, will be ready to understand each other’s concerns and follow the strategy and guidance put in place

Lord, there are so many conflicting needs in this situation that it is hard, maybe impossible, to satisfy everyone. We pray for those who make public policy that they will take the right decisions. We pray too for the wider public that we will respect each other, think of the needs of others, and do what we can to help

 

Picture of the Day

This week we’re off to Edinburgh. You may not have been there for the Festival this year, but we’ll have a walk around its streets

                                                                                           Edinburgh 1 Castle from Princes St                 

                                                                                              Edinburgh 1  Castle from Princes Street

                                                                                                 Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Saturday 5th September

Thought for the Day

The first Saturday in September is usually the time for the Guild’s Annual Gathering. A special version is going to be broadcast online today at 11am. It lasts about an hour or so. It can be accessed HERE


Lord we remember the members of the Guild, missing seeing each other, chatting to each other, and working for the church and the wider community. Thanks you for opportunities like this to bring them together. Help us all to work to support those missing company and conversation

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                             Culzean 6 Ailsa Craig        

                                                                                                       Cuizean 6  Ailsa Craig

                                                                                               Click on the picture to see it enlarged

PS Today we reach Ailsa Craig, the end of our Trip doon the watter. Next week we’re off to Edinburgh. You may not have been there for the Festival this year, but we’ll have a walk around its streets

 

Moderator’s note to all congregations 6 September 2020

Last Tuesday, the former Presbyteries of Dumbarton and Greenock & Paisley united to form Clyde Presbytery. I have the honour of being its first Moderator.

For many years people across the Church of Scotland have felt that the Church’s structure – designed for circumstances pertaining 40-50 years ago – needs to be overhauled drastically to meet the very different world of the 2020s and beyond. The creation of Clyde Presbytery is part of a wider programme of change across the Church of Scotland – a programme that will probably be extended and speeded up to reflect the challenges and opportunities arising from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The union of the two Presbyteries, and the changes that will in time flow from it, are designed to refocus the role of Presbytery: instead of primarily having an administrative function, it will in future provide congregations with support in a variety of ways. It will take time for Clyde Presbytery to settle into its new role and for new support staff to be recruited (not helped by the limitations in place thanks to the pandemic).

To the Minister or Interim Moderator, Kirk Session, Office-bearers, members and the wider church family of your congregation, I bring the greetings and good wishes of Clyde Presbytery. We give God thanks for all that you have been doing over recent months to continue his work in your congregation and community, and pray for his continued blessing on you as you continue striving to do his work.

Ian Johnson

Moderator Clyde Presbytery

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Friday 4th September

Thought for the Day

People who listen when they are corrected will live, but those who will not admit that they are wrong are in danger. Proverbs 10: 17

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                           Culzean 5 Walled garden                 

                                                                                                       Cuizean 5  Walled garden

                                                                                               Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde - COVID-19 Testing Centre in Dumbarton

A new mobile testing unit, will be located at the Meadows Centre, Meadows Road, Dumbarton from 03/09/20. The centre will operate on alternate days including weekends & testing will be available by booking an appointment through NHS Inform.

https://www.nhsinform.scot/

 

Church of Scotland Guild Annual Gathering

The first Saturday in September is usually the time for the Guild’s Annual Gathering. A special version is going to be broadcast online at 11am on Saturday 5 September. It lasts about an hour or so. It can be accessed HERE.

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Thursday 3rd September

Thought for the Day

80 years ago today the SS Athenia, en route from Glasgow to Montreal, was torpedoed by a U-boat NW of Ireland within hours of Britain and France’s declaration of war against Germany – the first of many merchant ships sunk during the Second World War. 98 passengers (mainly women and children) and 19 crew lost their lives. The anniversary in 2000 was used by Seafarers UK and the Merchant Navy Association to bring to public attention the contribution of merchant seamen, and the lives lost, during the two World Wars, and their role in contemporary life where most of the country’s imports and exports go by sea (though not so much now in British-flagged ships). Each year since then local authorities, including West Dunbartonshire Council, and others fly the ‘Red Duster’ in memory and appreciation of seamen past and present. We share in that

Lord, we give thanks for the service of past and present seamen (and women). They and their families can face many challenges because of the nature of their work. We pray for your blessing upon them, and all those who work to support them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                                Culzean 4 Camelia House              

                                                                                                       Cuizean 4  Camelia House

                                                                                               Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Wednesday 2nd September

Thought for the Day

I wonder how many people in West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow and East Renfrewshire were ‘dumfoonert’ when they learned last night that new restrictions on meeting were being introduced from midnight? The reasons for introducing the restrictions are understandable, and the guidance must be followed if we wish to avoid a major spike, closure of schools and a full lockdown. Nevertheless, they are frustrating as we move into colder, wetter weather. For most it is inconvenient, but for people living on their own, people in care homes, and many others, it could cause/exacerbate mental health issues. Friends, family and neighbours might need extra support through this time, if there is something that we can do to help. We might also speculate on the reasons that cases spiked: was it just thoughtless, selfish behaviour; or are there other issues (eg long-established deprivation) that contributed?

Lord, we pray for all who have tested positive for Covid-19, that they will soon recover from it. We think too of those for whom these restrictions are not simply an inconvenience, but may affect their mental health – help us to do what we can to support them. We pray too for those who do not see the need to follow guidelines, or take precautions, that they will start to think more about other people – and help us to understand and address why people might not follow such guidance and advice

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                           Culzean 3 Castle from Fountain Court 2             

                                                                                              Cuizean 3  Castle from Fountain Court 2

                                                                                               Click on the picture to see it enlarged

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Tuesday 1st September

Thought for the Day

The Scottish Government is to publish proposals today for rebuilding the country and economy, partly things that needed done before the pandemic struck (eg working towards a carbon-neutral economy), partly issues arising from it (eg unemployment and fewer job opportunities). Opposition parties have/will challenge them and put other options forward. There will be similar steps in London, Cardiff and Belfast. We all have our own wishes for things that they should do. Problem is that funding will be a big issue. Low interest rates make borrowing an easy option at the minute, but for the longer term it is not wise – and could be another burden for the younger generations in the future. Governments could opt for raising taxes and/or cutting/ refocussing expenditure, but are aware of the ‘political’ implications of doing so, and sometimes make ‘political’ decisions. Sometimes the weak and vulnerable are the ones who lose out. Are we prepared to say to those in power what we believe is the ‘right’ thing to do?

Lord, much as we might think we could run the country, we wouldn’t really like to be in the shoes of politicians in power. They face difficult, and sometimes conflicting, questions. Help them to take bold decisions that work to build peace and justice here and around the world, and to support the weak and vulnerable

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                     Culzean 2 Castle from Fountain Court 1                   

                                                                                              Cuizean 2  Castle from Fountain Court 1

                                                                                               Click on the picture to see it enlarged

 

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