|11/01/2015||Filled under Carradale, Scotland|
In this country it is during the month of November that we hold ceremonies during which we pause our lives to remember those whose lives were lost in conflict and we to try to understand the futility of war. We particularly focus on the lives of those lost in the last century, those whose relatives are still living with us. The passing of one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War is a significant milestone and one of the remembrance events in Carradale took the form of a small exhibition where details of the lives of sixteen local men, fourteen of whom died during the 1914 – 18 conflict, were displayed. Information on each man’s life was gathered together, along with details of how and where they met their death. Rather poignantly, on the village memorial stone the men’s names are listed in the order of their having died, which brings home the horrible impact such losses would have had on this tiny community. There was a large turnout for the 2014 Memorial Service, after which most of us adjourned to the playpark, beside which sixteen young trees have been planted, one for every local life lost. Suitably protected from the rabbits and the deer, these trees, and the plaque beside them, will long stand as a reminder to those who come after us.
I find it difficult to comprehend the sense of duty that drove so many men to volunteer themselves for service rather than wait to be called up. Sadly though, although we may think that by remembering the pain of war it will change us all for ever, recent events in Paris show that there are some who are willing to start all over again.
2015 is the fourth anniversary of the move Kate and I made to Scotland, to Kintyre and to the village of Carradale, something we could, and we might, choose to celebrate. Instead I find myself looking back at this blog to see what words came out at that time to describe our first moments here (Mostly Moss). I suppose I am trying to work out whether my own feelings have changed, whether I still experience the same excitement I felt on first exploring the land around us, how different it felt from the south of England, the sights, the smells and the colours. The first thing I notice is that I am still taking photographs of lichen, on the trees, on the rocks or in this case, a lichen-covered picnic table. The wood here has taken on the appearance of a barnacle-covered rock, and rendered the table unsuitable for use in the process. I still find myself fascinated by this strange combination of organisms just as I am by the low angled winter light and its effects.
Some of the pictures I have taken lately reflect this, although they hardly do justice to the landscape.
Four years on and Kate and I both still find joy in short walks around the village even though by now we have now explored each and every passage and footpath thoroughly more than once. The beach will never lose its charm. Empty though it often is, we never fail to wonder how it is that we came to choose a place to live where such an unspoilt piece of coastline could be within only a few minutes walk. On the rare occasion when we do meet another human (or their dog) crossing the sand, even with the cold wind in their faces we can see immediately that they share our joy at being here. Carradale Bay has this miraculous effect on those that set foot there. Our remoteness guarantees that nobody is ever there by chance but only through choice or maybe occasionally because some magical force has pulled you there knowing that your soul needs to recharge itself.
Oh and it seems I am still taking selfies on the beach. So nothing changes after all!
On a wet Sunday when the horizontal rain lashes our windows for most of the daylight hours our biggest excitement comes when the ‘Men from BT’ arrive to plant a new phone pole in our garden. As fast as they dig, the rain backfills the hole but they are equipped with a large ladle on a pole, an essential item in this climate, so they can bail even faster. Knowing just how rocky our garden becomes just below the turf we cannot help being impressed by the speed of their progress and by the depth of the hole their efforts are achieving and soon our shiny new pole is standing plum upright beside its elderly (and rather slanted) predecessor. No matter how good the clothing Scottish rain will find a way through sooner or later so it doesn’t surprise me when they conclude their day before transferring telephone wires from old to new. Beyond taking pity on them (and providing tea) there was little we could do to help, so we had no qualms about watching them work from the warmth of our house.
Four years has taught us that no matter how bad the weather, a brighter day will always follow along and it is knowing this that makes life here so good.