Friday, 31 August 2007

Ham Polo

Travelling from Petersham to Ham, you pass Ham Polo Ground. Here is a photo of a game in progress. I'm afraid I have no idea who was playing - but from the lack of security, I assume that Prince Charles was not playing on this occasion!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Petersham Nurseries

Walking beyond St Peter's Church you come to Petersham Nurseries. These nurseries are excellent, and visited by people from far and wide. I may well feature the nurseries in future blogs - once I am at home and find it easier to add photos to my posts.

The nurseries contains a fantastic 'cafe' - not what you might expect from the name. Don't expect much change from £40 a head if you go there for lunch. I would be delighted to show readers round - if they pay the bill!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


Here is a view of Petersham - between Richmond and Ham. It shows St Peter's Anglican Church - from where Petersham gets its name. Sadly, the place is not really named after the Deacon of Ham! The church is noted for its box pews.

Tomorrow I shall show you a view of Petersham Nurseries.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

River Thames at Richmond

Earlier in August, the River seemed particularly high, and as a result things looked very rural. In the distance you can see Richmond Bridge. It would be nice to report that the 'object' in the sky was a giant bird of prey - but this is not Dunkeld - no, it is plane about to land at Heathrow Airport!

This is another view of the Thames, looking in the direction of Ham House.

Tomorrow we shall visit Petersham (Peters-Ham), which I like to think is named after me!

Monday, 27 August 2007

My lodge at Dunkeld

Well here it is!

As I said, it would be ideal for Pope Benedict as a summer retreat. It is hidden in the trees on the banks of the River Tay. The two bedrooms are downstairs - and the living area is upstairs with the most wonderful view.

There is even a substantial balcony where the Holy Father could appear for the Sunday Angelus. Sadly, I only own the lodge for one week a year!

I'm off to Yorkshire tomorrow for a few days to visit family - but as my stepfather has an iMac, I'll try and post a brief blog each day. The new subject will be - 'delightful views around Ham.'

Sunday, 26 August 2007


On this Day of Resurrection, let us praise the Lord with some words from the Old Testament Canticle at Lauds, as we enjoy some of the spectacular views around The Hermitage at Dunkeld.

In unison did the three amidst the fiery flames cry out and sing: Blessed be God, alleluia!

Bless the Lord all created things:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

O let the earth bless the Lord:
bless the Lord you mountains and hills.

Bless the Lord all that grows in the ground:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord you springs:
bless the Lord you seas and rivers.

Bless the Lord you whales and all that swim in the waters:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord all birds of the air:
bless the Lord you beasts and cattle.

Bless the Lord all men on the earth:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

In unison did the three amidst the fiery flames cry out and sing: Blessed be God, alleluia!

Have a Happy Sunday! Tomorrow - you will see my lodge!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Hermitage at Dunkeld

Here is a lovely place of shelter and solitude in the woods around Dunkeld.

What a perfect spot for saying the Daily Office!

Think of these words from Psalm 29:

The voice of the Lord makes the oaks shudder,
the Lord strips the forest bare,
and in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'

Friday, 24 August 2007

Let us gather at the Market Cross

Let's leave Dunkeld Cathedral and walk down Cathedral Street....

past the Minister's House....

and gather at the Market Cross for our Friday Devotions....

In the Cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o'er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.

When the woes of life o'ertake me,
Hopes deceive and fears annoy,
Never shall the Cross forsake me,
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.

When the sun of bliss is beaming
Light and love upon my way,
From the Cross the radiance streaming,
Adds more lustre to the day.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the Cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

Tomorrow, we shall gather at The Hermitage.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Farewell to Dunkeld Cathedral

It's about time we left Dunkeld Cathedral - so here is one final view of this beautiful place.

We love the place, O God,
Wherin thine honour dwells;
the joy of thine abode
All earthly joy excels.

We love the house of prayer,
Wherin thy servants meet;
And thou, O Lord, art there
Thy chosen flock to greet.

We love the word of life,
The word that tells of peace,
Of comfort in the strife,
And joys that never cease.

We love to sing below
For mercies freely given;
But O, we long to know
The triumph-song of heaven!

Lord Jesus, give us grace
On earth to love thee more,
In heaven to see thy face,
And with thy Saints adore.

Well tomorrow I shall be inviting you to walk down Cathedral Street with me into the Village Square, where we shall gather round the Market Cross.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Messages from Dunkeld Cathedral

Here are two tapestries hanging on the side walls of the Church of Scotland Kirk.

This first message is taken from Malachi Chapter 3 verse 7. 'Return to me and I will return to you.'

This second message is taken from John Chapter 8 verse 12. 'I am the Light of the world; the one who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have light and life.'

We are enriched by the word of the Lord in both Old and New Testaments.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Where is Dunkeld Cathedral?

Dunkeld is a very small town - as this OS 1:50,000 map extract shows. The Cathedral is marked with the pink circle. The map shows the River Tay in blue, and the green road is the A9. You can also see the railway line (which runs from Kings Cross in London to Inverness) with Dunkeld and Birnam Station indicated by the red dot.

My lodge is where it says 'King's Seat' - the middle left edge of the map. Rather too grand for a deacon I feel - it would do nicely for Pope Benedict as a summer retreat! Located by the river with wooded hills on every side - it is like heaven on earth. I will post some photos of my lodge shortly - just in case the Vatican would like to check it out!

If you literally want a taste of Dunkeld then go to Dunkeld Smoked Salmon - it is delicious! For more general information on Dunkeld follow this link Visit Dunkeld.

I only hope that with all this publicity, Dunkeld doesn't end up being like Blackpool in 10 years time.

Monday, 20 August 2007

More views of Dunkeld Cathedral

It is more obvious from this photo how the Church of Scotland Kirk is formed from the former East End of the (now mainly ruined) Cathedral. The magnificent tower has been largely restored, and has a working clock and a peal of bells (which are rung before Divine Service on Sundays).

The sacred minster bell
It peals o'er hill and dell,
May Jesus Christ be praised:
O hark to what it sings,
As joyously it rings,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Dunkeld Cathedral

Dunkeld Cathedral must have been a magnificent building when it was used for Catholic worship - sadly, all that changed at the Protestant Reformation, and most of the lovely Cathedral was destroyed and left in ruin - as this photo of the West End and tower shows.

Only the East end (choir and sanctuary) were saved, and eventually turned over to Church of Scotland worship. I am puzzled why they still refer to the building (the Kirk) as the Cathedral, because the Church of Scotland has no bishops (and no priests) - just 'Ministers'. The Sanctuary contains no altar - just a wooden Communion Table, as obviously the Sacrifice of the Mass is not offered. The simple furnishings seem rather minimalist in his beautiful building - but sadly the same comment could be made today of many Catholic churches.

There is a lovely organ at the West end of the Kirk (where the chancel arch used to be before it was bricked up).

Let us pray for the Minister and all attending Divine Worship in the building at 11.00 am today. We pray that one day the sad divisions in the Christian family will cease.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Blair Athol Distillery

Perhaps rather strangely, Blair Athol Distillery is not located at Blair Athol (around 8 miles North of Pitlochry), but rather on the southern outskirts of Pitlochry. The malt produced at this distillery forms a significant part of Bell's whisky.

I did not sample the whisky (honestly!) as I was on my way to Sunday Mass at St Bridget's. But did enjoy the lovely floral displays at the distillery.

I wonder whether the bedding plants are helped by all the whisky fumes - the angels' share!

Friday, 17 August 2007

Pitlochry Railway Station

This board at the entrance to the station explains that it took less than 2 years to build the 104 miles of track between Dunkeld and Inverness. The new station at Pitlochry was opened in 1863. Nowadays there is just one train a day (in each direction) between London Kings Cross and Inverness - the 550 mile journey taking just under 8 hours. Here is a photo of the GNER train (the Highland Chieftain) leaving Pitlochry on it's journey Northward.

I found the railway line very handy with my bike. I was able to go for a ride many miles from Dunkeld, and then put it on the train (free of charge) for the journey home. Here is my bike travelling in style between Blair Athol and Dunkeld.

The Heron, by the way, refers to the very ornate water fountain on the platform at Pitlochry Railway Station.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Welcome to Pitlochry in bloom

Here is an interesting greeting for passengers getting off the train at Pitlochry Station!

A Victorian porter wheeling a trolly with summer bedding plants. The station has further floral displays in the hanging baskets - nothing artificial as you so often find in London!

The whole town seemed most festive with all the lovely blossom.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today we celebrate with great joy the reception of Mary - body and soul - into heaven. I find it hard to understand why some Christians find this dogma so difficult to accept! After some time in purgatory, we all hope to go to heaven when we die - and at the end of time to have resurrection bodies. In this way we share in the resurrection of Christ. Because Mary was conceived without spot of original sin, she was able to achieve this goal straight away when she died - and now that she is in heaven, she is pleading to her Son on our behalf.

Small wonder we pray:

Hail, Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed in the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The lovely photo is of the statue of the Virgin and Child in St Bridget's Church, Pitlochry. I said a prayer there before attending Mass on Sunday 5 August.

Let us ask Our Lady to lead our praises on this festival day:

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou Bearer of the eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

St Bridget's Church - Pitlochry

Here is a photo of the inside of St Bridget's Church - where I attended Mass on Sunday 5 August. It is a modern and simple building which I rather liked. The Mass was celebrated without any solemnity - what a pity there were no altar servers - but the celebration was dignified and reverent, and the congregation participated well - indeed the hymn singing was most uplifting.

I attended St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh on the Sunday before (but didn't take my camera with me) - and was very impressed!

Perhaps I should start an Egon Ronay style guide of Catholic churches - and introduce a star system. Only joking!

Monday, 13 August 2007

The rushes by the water to gather every day

This is a lovely view of Dunkeld Cathedral from the far bank of the River Tay.

I'm not sure that people gather rushes here every day - but one can imagine they do!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

The meadows for our play

I went to Sunday Mass on 5 August at St Bridget's, Pitlochry (this church will feature in my posting for the Assumption) and so was unable to attend Divine Worship at Dunkeld Cathedral - but I can well imagine the children coming out of church and playing on this lovely meadow in front of the Cathedral. Perhaps some families sat on the benches and enjoyed a picnic lunch.

Though a more suitable meadow for children to play on is this one - which I photographed as I cycled to Sunday Mass.

How did I find my way from Dunkeld to Pitlochry? Easy - Perthshire is very cycle friendly!

I am a strong believer in Sunday being a day of rest. So, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI - have a good Sunday!

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The tall trees in the greenwood

Dunkeld is well known for its tall trees - some of them are several hundred years old. Many of these are located close to the Cathedral. Here is one fine specimen which I photographed in the Cathedral grounds.

I love trees. I guess Jesus did too! After all, he was a carpenter before starting his public ministry at age 30. After his birth he was laid in a wooden manger in Bethlehem, and at age 33 he died on a wooden cross at Calvary. But he rose on the third morn - Alleluia!

Friday, 10 August 2007

The sunset and the morning that brightens up the sky

I took this photo on the banks of the River Tay at 10.00 pm on Thursday 2 August. The sun had just set and it was starting to get dark.

Now the day is over,
night is drawing nigh,
shadows of the evening
steal across the sky.

Now the darkness gathers,
stars begin to peep,
birds and beasts and flowers
soon will be asleep.

I'm afraid to have to tell you that I was never up early enough to photo the sunrise - you will just have to imagine it!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

The river running by

This photo of the River Tay was taken just outside Dunkeld Cathedral. One can imagine the congregation coming out of Divine Service on Sunday morning and just praising the Lord when they see this lovely river running by!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The purple headed mountain

I wanted some purple heather on a hill side to illustrate these words from 'All things bright and beatiful', but I was a week too early. The heather doesn't come into bloom until around 12 August - the 'glorious twelfth' - though I doubt whether the grouse agree with this terminology! So this wild foxglove will have to do!

Look at the flowers in the fields how they grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his wealth was clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass in the field which blooms today and is to be burned tomorrow in an oven, how much more will he clothe you?

Makes you think!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Image of Scotland

I suppose that to farmers the thistle is classified as a weed, but to most people it is a lovely image of Scotland. This rather unattractive and prickly plant is crowned with a beautiful purple flower.

Not so with sin! Sinners are not crowned in such a wonderful way, and we all know what will happen to the weeds on the day of judgment.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take his harvest home;
From his field shall in that day
All offences purge away;
Give his angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In his garner evermore.

We must rid ourselves of all that offends God, so that when we die, after some time in purgatory, we are gathered into the heavenly garner.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Feast of the Transfiguration

Here is a photo taken on 1 August from the Telford bridge over the River Tay at Dunkeld in Perthshire. With the hill in the distance it forms a suitable image for today's Feast.

Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the aspect of his face was changed and his clothing became dazzling white.

Jesus was preparing the three disciples for his Passion - he was giving them a preview of his risen glory - prior to his suffering and death.

When we go to Mass, we too get a foretaste of the heavenly banquet which one day we shall attend. It is rather like heaven on earth.

Like Peter let us say, 'Master, how good it is for us to be here!' Sunday Mass should be the highpoint of our week.