Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 7

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown;
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a bark
As bitter as any gall;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
For to redeem us all.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly and the ivy
Now both are full well grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.

O the rising of the sun,
And the running of the deer;
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 6

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Please remember - The Queen concluded her Christmas Message by quoting the final verse of this carol.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 5

Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus
lay down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky
looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus,
asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing,
the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus,
no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus,
look down from the sky
And stay by my bedside
till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever,
and love me, I pray!
Bless all the dear children
in Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven,
to live with Thee there.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 4

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the bless├Ęd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 3

Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”


Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.


Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 2

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of angels;


O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo, He abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created;


See how the shepherds,
Summoned to His cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh with lowly fear;
We too will thither
Bend our joyful footsteps;


Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation;
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God,
In the highest;


Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Christmas Carols - 1

O Holy Night! The stars, their gleams prolonging,
Watch o'er the eve of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error, longing
For His appearance, then the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hears the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was Born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts we stand by the Babe adored.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
And come now, Shepherds, from your flocks unboard.
The Son of God lay thus within lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our Lord.
He knows our need, our weakness never lasting,
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!
Behold your King! By Him, let Earth accord!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Long live His truth, and may it last forever,
For in His name all discordant noise shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise us,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory evermore proclaim!
His power and glory evermore proclaim!

A highpoint of Christmas Day for many people is the Christmas Message of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - which was broadcast at 3.00 pm. Here is the text.

This past year has been one of great celebration for many. The enthusiasm which greeted the Diamond Jubilee was, of course, especially memorable for me and my family.

It was humbling that so many chose to mark the anniversary of a duty which passed to me 60 years ago. People of all ages took the trouble to take part in various ways and in many nations. But perhaps most striking of all was to witness the strength of fellowship and friendship among those who had gathered together on these occasions.

Prince Philip and I were joined by our family on the River Thames as we paid tribute to those who have shaped the United Kingdom's past and future as a maritime nation, and welcomed a wonderful array of craft, large and small, from across the Commonwealth.

On the barges and the bridges and the banks of the river there were people who had taken their places to cheer through the mist, undaunted by the rain. That day there was a tremendous sense of common determination to celebrate, triumphing over the elements.

That same spirit was also in evidence from the moment the Olympic flame arrived on these shores. The flame itself drew hundreds and thousands of people on its journey around the British Isles, and was carried by every kind of deserving individual, many nominated for their own extraordinary service.

As London hosted a splendid summer of sport, all those who saw the achievement and courage at the Olympic and Paralympic Games were further inspired by the skill, dedication, training and teamwork of our athletes. In pursuing their own sporting goals, they gave the rest of us the opportunity to share something of the excitement and drama.

We were reminded, too, that the success of these great festivals depended to an enormous degree upon the dedication and effort of an army of volunteers. Those public-spirited people came forward in the great tradition of all those who devote themselves to keeping others safe, supported and comforted.

For many, Christmas is also a time for coming together. But for others, service will come first. Those serving in our armed forces, in our emergency services and in our hospitals, whose sense of duty takes them away from family and friends, will be missing those they love.

And those who have lost loved ones may find this day especially full of memories. That's why it's important at this time of year to reach out beyond our familiar relationships to think of those who are on their own.

At Christmas I am always struck by how the spirit of togetherness lies also at the heart of the Christmas story. A young mother and a dutiful father with their baby were joined by poor shepherds and visitors from afar. They came with their gifts to worship the Christ child. From that day on he has inspired people to commit themselves to the best interests of others.

This is the time of year when we remember that God sent his only son 'to serve, not to be served'. He restored love and service to the centre of our lives in the person of Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer this Christmas Day that his example and teaching will continue to bring people together to give the best of themselves in the service of others.

The carol, In The Bleak Midwinter, ends by asking a question of all of us who know the Christmas story, of how God gave himself to us in humble service: "What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man, I would do my part". The carol gives the answer "Yet what I can I give him - give my heart".

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

How very different to the pathetic attempts of Prime Minister David Cameron to sound religious! Here we have a Queen with a genuine deep faith, who is not afraid to share it. I fear for the future, as Prince Charles seems so wishy-washy when it comes to religion. I believe that Queen Elizabeth II will be ranked alongside King (Saint) Edward the Confessor as a great Christian monarch of these lands.


Monday, 24 December 2012

Inverness Donkey Sanctuary

Don't go to Inverness Bus Station or to Inverness Railway Station, as there are no buses or trains tomorrow - no, go to Inverness Donkey Sanctuary!

Foster donkeys Juno, Benjie and Lulu have really developed in confidence and character over the past decade at their foster home near Inverness. Foster owners Hazel and Gary Wilson describe them as 'a tomboy, a diva and a traditional mum'.

I wonder which one Mary and Joseph would have chosen!

Tomorrow, we shall be starting a series of festive posts featuring Christmas carols.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

4th Sunday of Advent

Today we join with the whole Church in making this prayer.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.


Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.


O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.


O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.


O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.


Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 11

Here we see the special JET bus standing at Inverness Airport ready to transport passengers to Inverness Bus Station.

Due to the low levels of population density in the Highlands, most of our buses are just single deckers - but on busy routes such as that to the airport, double deckers are used.

Inverness Airport is an international airport situated at Dalcross, 7 NM (13 km; 8.1 mi) north east of the city of Inverness in Highland, Scotland. The airport is the main gateway for travellers to the north of Scotland with a wide range of scheduled services throughout the United Kingdom, and limited scheduled service to Continental Europe.

Limited charter and freight flights also operate throughout the UK and Europe. 581,956 passengers passed through the airport in 2011. It is owned by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited who own most of the regional airports in mainland Scotland and the outlying islands.

Stagecoach in Inverness JET service operates up to every 30 minutes connecting Inverness, Nairn, Forres and Elgin with Inverness Airport.

The JET 11 service was originally introduced in July 2007 improving links from Inverness, Nairn and Croy to Inverness Airport. This upgrade was funded by HITRANS who secured £2.1Million from the Scottish Government’s bus route development scheme.

The bus link from Elgin to Inverness Airport and Inverness to Inverness Aiport takes the strain out of travelling to the plane for passengers from Moray, Nairnshire and Inverness.

The link also offers much more than an opportunity for direct travel to the airport. The Jet vehicles are easily recognisable and are all low floor easy access vehicles, meaning the route is an excellent choice for people who need to take a pram, buggy or wheelchair aboard. Moreover, the JET offers real business class comfort to passengers, with leather seats as standard.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 10

One of the most exciting journeys to make from Inverness Bus Station is that on Route X99 to Scrabster Pier. From Scrabster Pier you can board a ferry to Stromness Pier on the Orkney Islands.

Details of one possible journey are shown below:

Depart Inverness Bus Station (Bus X99))

Arrive Scrabster Pier

Depart Scrabster Pier (Ferry)

Arrive Stromness Pier (Mainland Orkney)

After a night in Stromness, you will be able to catch a Stagecoach bus to Kirkwall, from where you will be able to board a ferry to Stronsay. The Transalpine Redemptorists will then be able to transport you to Golgotha Monastery on Papa Stronsay. You will not want to leave, so it is pointless giving details of the return journey!

As this is the shortest day, it's about time to let the Transalpine Redemptorists cheer us all up.

Keep smiling - even if the bus is late!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 9

Here we see the Citylink Gold coach which has just arrived into Inverness Bus Station after the journey from Glasgow. It is a most impressive vehicle - much admired by pedestrians as it passes by!

Welcome to citylink gold - your express luxury coach service between Glasgow and Inverness. Onboard coach attendants, leather seating, Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks and refreshments during your journey. That's why citylink gold is more than just a journey.


GLASGOW 0830 1300 1740
AVIEMORE 1110 1540 2020
INVERNESS 1153 1623 2103

INVERNESS 0830 1300 1730
AVIEMORE 0914 1344 1814
GLASGOW 1154 1624 2054

GLASGOW Buchanan Bus Station
AVIEMORE Rail Station

Each citylink gold service has an onboard coach attendant.

Your attendant will welcome you aboard, serve your free drinks and snacks and ensure your experience with citylink gold is more than a journey.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 8

I did give a warning that you would be truly amazed when you saw details of the new coach service between Inverness and Glasgow - Citylink Gold!

Here we see one of the magnificent new coaches in Glasgow - bound for Inverness Bus Station.

Let us listen to Sir Brian Souter, the Chief Executive of Stagecoach, introduce the new service to us.

It would be very wrong of me to leave things here without making reference to Brian's strong Christian faith and witness.

People often ask – what makes Sir Brian tick? It’s not wealth, riches or even business success that drives Sir Brian but his deep-seated Christian faith.

A member of the evangelical Church of the Nazarene, he will readily testify that his faith is the rock on which he has built his life.

Sir Brian Souter set up his own Scottish Charity in 1992 with his wife Betty. Souter Charitable Trust assists projects engaged in the relief of human suffering, particularly, but not exclusively, those promoting spiritual welfare.

This Scottish charity operates in the UK and overseas. Over the years Sir Brian and Betty have given away millions of pounds to worthwhile causes. Sir Brian, of course, is reluctant to talk about it but in the last five years the trust has awarded over 2,737 grants worth more than £20 million.

Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 7

Book your Inverness to Aberdeen tickets online! Fares from just £1 (plus 50p booking fee).

Service 10 is the only fast and frequent coach link between Inverness and Aberdeen. The route operates seven days a week and has now been included in the megabus.com website payment and booking system to allow tickets to be booked and paid in advance. Please note this offer is only available to those travelling the full Inverness - Aberdeen route or the return direction.

The bus route

Service 10 buses depart from Inverness Bus Station regularly throughout the day. Though service 10 still calls at Elgin, please note this offer is only available to those travelling the full Aberdeen - Inverness route or the return direction.

Great value ticket

Booking by megabus.com not only allows for a guaranteed seat, but can also save on the cost of a current ticket by making use of the great value fares from just £1 (plus 50p booking fee). Don't worry, if you're travelling at the last minute, you can still buy your ticket from the driver and normal Stagecoach tickets such as megarider tickets and commuter cards can still be used on the bus.

Booking has never been easier, simply visit www.megabus.com. Buses leave Inverness Bus Station at 0800, 0900, 0100, 1100, 1200, 1300, and 1400 and the journey time is 3 hours 55 minutes - not bad value for £1.50!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 6

Just across Academy Street from Inverness Bus Station is Queensgate. This is the location of the very fine Post Office building, outside which you will find the stop for the Number 2 and 3 buses.

These are undoubtedly the most important routes in Inverness, as they more or less pass my front door! There has been some slight renumbering of the routes recently, but if you board a number 2B bus, you will be able to travel from Queensgate to Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. For example, on weekdays a bus leaves Queensgate at 0921 and arrives at the Battlefield at 0954.

The glorious hymn tune Maccabaeus, by G F Handel (1685 - 1759), is closely associated with the Battle of Culloden (1745).Composed in the wake of the last pitched battle fought on British soil – the putting-down at Culloden of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion – Handel's oratorio recounts a tale of military prowess on the part of the Israelites of biblical times, with whom Protestant England was keen to identify.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

3rd Sunday of Advent

On this Gaudete Sunday the Church calls her children to rejoice - Christmas is getting near!

Hark! the glad sound! the Saviour comes,
the Saviour promised long:
let every heart prepare a throne,
and every voice a song.

He comes the prisoners to release
in Satan's bondage held;
the gates of brass before him burst,
the iron fetters yield.

He comes, the broken heart to bind,
the bleeding soul to cure;
and with the treasures of his grace
to enrich the humble poor.

Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace,
thy welcome shall proclaim;
and heaven's eternal arches ring
with thy beloved Name.

A Very Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 5

Here we see a number 61 bus at Inverness Bus Station - it is bound for Ullapool. The service to Ullapool is very important, as many people use the service to travel to Ullapool Peir. From their they take a ferry to Stornoway Pier on the Isle of Lewis (Western Isles).

On 5 November 2011. the head of Stagecoach in the Highlands told an inquiry that public complaints about his company’s bus services at Ullapool were unsubstantiated.

Scotland’s Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken asked members of the public to write to her with comments following complaints about the number 61 Ullapool to Inverness service.
Issues raised included delayed services and mechanical failures.

Mrs Aitken grilled Stagecoach employees, including regional director for Scotland Sam Greeve, managing director of Stagecoach Highland Steve Walker and service driver John Morrison.

It is thought that the service has now improved.

As an example of the journey to Stornoway, it is possible to leave Inverness Bus Station at 0805 (Stagecoach 61) and arrive at Ullapool pier at 0935. The ferry leaves the pier at 1025 and arrives at Stornoway Pier at 1310.

Perhaps midwinter is not the best time of the year to make the journey. On 21 December, sunrise at Stornoway is 0912 and sunset is 1536 - the nights are very long!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 4

Here we see a Stagecoach bus no 919 at Inverness Bus Station - it is bound for Fort William via Loch Ness.

During school-holidays (weekdays) the first bus leaves Inverness Bus Station at 0530, arriving into Fort William at 0720. The last bus of the day leaves Inverness at 2015, arriving into Fort William at 2205.

If travelling from Inverness, be sure to choose a window seat on the right hand side of the bus. This offers the best view of Loch Ness. You would not wish to miss seeing the Loch Ness Monster!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 3

One of the popular routes from Inverness Bus Station is the number 26 which runs to Cromarty on the Black Isle. On weekdays the first bus leaves Inverness Bus Station at 0652, arriving into Cromarty at 0736. The last bus of the day leaves Inverness at 2324, arriving into Cromarty at 0008 (the next day).

The Stagecoach bus above has broken down at Cromarty and is being repaired. This was not possible for a bus in 2003 which burst into flames at Cromarty.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident which was caused by an electrical fault in the bus. Now you know why it's called the Black Isle!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 2

Some passengers who use the bus station get treated like royalty! Scotland’s premier coach operator, Scottish Citylink, has rewarded one loyal passenger for 18 years continued patronage, on its Inverness to Glasgow service.

Anne McDougal, aged 56 from Culloden, Inverness, first began using their services in February 1990 and has been delighted with the value for money and the level of customer care that she has received from Citylink over the years.

Mrs McDougal, said: “When I first secured a position as a nurse in Glasgow one of the first things that crossed my mind was how to get to and from my place of work. I began by using the train but the cost kept rising so I was in a real dilemma as to what to do.”

But fortunately for Anne, even back in the 1980s, Scottish Citylink was providing a reliable and affordable alternative to the car or the train. Convinced that the job was a good career move, and comforted by Citylink’s regular timetable between the two cities, Anne changed from the train to the coach and never looked back.

“Citylink made it easy for me. The flexibility of the services, the guaranteed seating, the affordable price, and the pleasant nature of the drivers kept me going. And what’s more the coach was just as quick as the train.”

Anne made the journey south once a week, or a fortnight, staying in digs, for up to ten days at a time, before travelling back home.

“I got to know many of the drivers, who were really nice people, and it’s been great to chat to them over the years. It’s been like having a large extended family.”

After nearly two decades of work in Glasgow, Anne has finally decided to hang up her nurses apron, at the Beatson Oncology Centre at Gartnavel, in the city’s West End, with the aim of undertaking voluntary work with animals.

Margaret Stewart, Bus Station manager at Inverness said: “Anne has been a familiar and friendly face around the bus station and we hope that she continues to visit us after her retirement.”

And to celebrate Ann’s retirement the managers and staff at Inverness bus station presented her with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of champagne, on Tuesday 14 April in the Inverness bus station on Margaret Street, whilst Citylinks head office in Glasgow are treating Anne and her husband to a 5-course meal at their expense.

Tom Wileman, MD of Scottish Citylink said: “It’s always nice to be appreciated and Mrs McDougal has complimented us on our services many times, over the past 18 years. We’re delighted that she has continued to use us, year in, year out, and it’s only fitting that we recognise this loyalty and I’m hoping that Mrs McDougal will now use Citylink’s services for more pleasurable purposes!”

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Inverness Bus Station - 1

Inverness bus station serves and is in the city of Inverness, Scotland. The bus station is managed by the Highland Council.

The bus station is situated at Farraline Park and can be accessed from Academy Street and Margaret Street. It is a short walk away from the Inverness railway station and the main shopping area.

Permission was granted to demolish the existing bus station in 2000. It was then replaced with a new terminal building in the early 2000s.

The bus station's main operators include Stagecoach in Inverness and Stagecoach in Lochaber. Buses operate from the bus station around the city of Inverness and to Inverness Airport and to places as far afield as Fort William, Ullapool, Thurso and Aberdeen.

Megabus and Scottish Citylink operate a regular coach service to the Scotland's capital Edinburgh with connections to Glasgow at Perth. Indeed, there is now Citylink Gold which provides a direct service to Glasgow. You will learn more about this amazing service in future posts.

National Express Coaches operate an overnight service (588) from Inverness to London (Victoria) taking 12 hours 35 minutes.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 8

Here we see a train at Glasgow Queen Street about to leave for Inverness. The journey is 180 miles long. Down to Stirling the route is the same as that for Edinburgh, but after Stirling the train calls at Larbert before arriving at Glasgow Queens Street.

On Mondays to Saturdays, the first train of the day leaves Inverness at 0845 and the last train leaves at 2015. There are 4 direct trains a day in total. Typical journey time is 3 hours 30 minutes.

We shall continue with this series and look at the North Highlands lines in the New Year.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

2nd Sunday of Advent

Today, John the Baptist makes his appearance in our gospel reading.

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.

To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth's own true loveliness once more.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 7

The train journey between Inverness and Edinburgh is 189 miles in length. Typical journey time is just over 3 hours.

After leaving Inverness there are a number of stations on route to Edinbugh. The more important are:


Between Monday and Saturday the first train leaves Inverness at 0650 and the last train of the day leaves at 1846. There are seven trains a day in total.

The finest train of the day to travel on is the Highland Chieftain. This leaves Inverness at 0755 and arrives in Edinburgh at 11.17. Passengers travelling First Class enjoy a complimentary full Scottish breakfast served at their seat!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 6

The rail journey between Inverness and Aberdeen is 108 miles in length. Typical journey time is just over 2 hours.

There are 8 intermediate stations after leaving Inverness:


On Mondays to Saturdays the first train of the day leaves Inverness at 0453 and the last train leaves at 2131. There are 12 trains a day in total in this direction.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 5

Here is another view of the main Station Hall showing from right to left Berties Bar, the Waiting Room, the Ticket Office and Travel Centre, and W H Smith's. The Pumpkin Cafe is to the right of Bertie's Bar.

We are very proud of our Railway Station. It gives a warm welcome to those arriving by train at the Capital of the Highlands.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 4

Here we see a plan of Inverness Station, showing the seven platforms. Platform 1 is used for trains to and from London Euston or King's Cross; Platform 2 is the Aberdeen Line; Platforms 3 and 4 for trains to and from Edinburgh and Glasgow; Platforms 5, 6 and 7 for trains to and from Wick and Thurso or Kyle of Lochalsh.

In addition to the ticket office and waiting room, we also have a stationers (W H Smith), a barbers shop, a bar, and a cafe (Pumpkin). It is all rather impressive.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 3

Here we see the main hall at the station.

Although it is not usually as quiet as this, I have seen it like this at times! Last week I visited both Euston Station and Victoria Station in London - there were thousands of people in each. I know where I would rather be!

There are seven platforms at Inverness. I shall give further details of where the trains travel to and from in subsequent posts. Should you choose to visit Inverness, you can be sure of warm welcome - though don't expect the sun to be all that warm at this time of the year!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 2

Here we see Station Square Inverness - it forms a suitably grand entrance to the railway station - though most of the locals use one of the two side entrances! The Royal Highland Hotel is the building on the right.

Opened on 5 November 1855 as the western terminus of the Inverness and Nairn Railway to designs by the architect, Joseph Mitchell. The platform roofs were extended in 1876 by Murdoch Paterson. Between 1966 and 1968 the station buildings were replaced, the new design by Thomas Munro and Company.

It is now the terminus of the Highland Main Line, the Aberdeen-Inverness Line (of which the Inverness and Nairn Railway is now a part), the Kyle of Lochalsh Line and the Far North Line.

In the centre of Station Square is the Cameron Monument. The statue commemorates the fallen of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders during the campaigns in Egypt and the Sudan in 1882 and 1885. The monument was unveiled by Lochiel, the chief of the clan Cameron and was erected by the 79th Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders. The sculptor was G. Wade of London and the monument shows a Cameron Highlander with a sphinx at his feet.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

1st Sunday of Advent

In the gospel today we hear about the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,
once for favoured sinners slain;
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of his train:
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
God appears, on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
those who set at nought and sold him,
pierced, and nailed him to the tree,
deeply wailing, deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
shall the true Messiah see.

Those dear tokens of his passion
still his dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to his ransomed worshipers;
with what rapture, with what rapture, with what rapture
gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, amen! let all adore thee,
high on thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take the power and glory;
claim the kingdom for thine own:
O come quickly! O come quickly! O come quickly!
Alleluia! Come, Lord, come!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Inverness Railway Station - 1

It is hard deciding where the very centre of Inverness is - but the railway station is a very suitable contender for this honour.

All large Victorian railway stations seem to have an impressive Station Hotel, and Inverness is no exception. Here we see the Royal Highland Hotel at the entrance to the station. Recently it was base for the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Team.

It looks as though they had a great time!

Friday, 30 November 2012

St Andrew's Day 2012

Here we see fireworks lighting up the night sky over St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness.

Jesus calls us over the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”

As of old Saint Andrew heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home and toil and kindred,
Leaving all for Jesus’ sake.

Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, “Christian, love Me more!”

In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
“Christian, love Me more than these!”

Jesus calls us! By Thy mercies,
Saviour may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thine obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Papa Stronsay Calendar 2013

No doubt you will soon be thinking about buying Christmas presents. I would like to suggest that you purchase some of the wonderful calendars published by the Transalpine Redemptorists who live on the Holy Island of Papa Stronsay - which is one of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland.

Our photo shows the brothers in their Chapel on the Feast of the Assumption 2012.They remind us of the truth that:

"Next to grace TIME is the most precious gift of God. Yet how much of both we waste. We say that TIME does many things. It teaches us many lessons, weans us from many follies, strengthens us in good resolves, and heals many wounds. And yet it does none of these things. TIME does nothing. But TIME is the conductor of all these things which God does in TIME. TIME is full of eternity."

For those living in the UK, the cost of the calendar is £5 each (plus postage and packing). In order to purchase, click the link on this blog to the Transalpine Redemptorists and then you will be able to purchase direct from their blog site. But be quick before they all go - I have just ordered 5!

This is the fourth year I have purchased these wonderful calendars. They have some lovely photos and provide useful liturgical information. You will soon find yourself celebrating Christmas twelve times a year - not just once!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Bloggers Dinner

I was in London for a few days at the weekend and attended a bloggers dinner.

I joined John and Liz Woodhouse (of The Organist Librarian fame) at Il Posto in Victoria. We enjoyed a delicious supper and discussed other blogs, in particular The Hermeneutic of Continuity.

They were both in great form. John and Liz are both altar servers at Westminster Cathedral and are studying at Heythrop College, London. Their second grandson was Baptised on the Feast of Christ the King and John was due to be in court all this week - on jury duty - or so he claims!

I have happy memories of them staying with me in Inverness in June 2009.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 37

I am completing this brief series of posts on Tunnock's with an independent review of their milk chocolate teacakes for you to view.

Our reviewer hadn't had a Tunnock product in rather a long time, but was glad that he picked some tea cakes up again today, even if they aren't actual tea cakes, as they really are very nice.

One of their ways of standing out among biscuits with marshmallow in them, is that they use fresh egg whites rather than gelatine, making for a much creamier and less jelly like consistency and taste. They come individually wrapped in foil, and come in packs of 6 in Asda at least. He bought his for 90p, but prices will vary depending on where you buy them.

Nutritional content per tea cake is as follows;

106 calories
1.2g of protein
14.9g of carbohydrates
Of which sugars 8.6g
4.6g of fat
Of which saturates 2.5g
0.6g of fibre
0.05g of sodium
0.12g salt equivalent

Perhaps you would like to try this Taste of Scotland!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 36

Here is a fine Tunnock's van!

You can purchase a model of the Bespoke Tunnock's Van for £9.99

The limited edition Tunnock's Morris LD Van is based on the 1950 and 1960s edition used to service shops and cash and carries throughout the central belt of Scotland. The sales men would sell boards of pies, cakes, teabread and strawberry tarts to corner shops and also deliver biscuits to the wholesalers and supermarkets. The vans were fitted with racks at the back to accomodate the boards and space at the front for cases biscuits. The LD was a loyal servant to the company.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Feast of Christ the King

We keep this final Sunday of the Church's Year as the Feast of Christ the King.

At the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess Him King of glory now;
’Tis the Father’s pleasure we should call Him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

At His voice creation sprang at once to sight,
All the angel faces, all the hosts of light,
Thrones and dominations, stars upon their way,
All the heavenly orders, in their great array.

Humbled for a season, to receive a name
From the lips of sinners unto whom He came,
Faithfully He bore it, spotless to the last,
Brought it back victorious when from death He passed.

Bore it up triumphant with its human light,
Through all ranks of creatures, to the central height,
To the throne of Godhead, to the Father’s breast;
Filled it with the glory of that perfect rest.

Name Him, brothers, name Him, with love strong as death
But with awe and wonder, and with bated breath!
He is God the Savior, He is Christ the Lord,
Ever to be worshipped, trusted and adored.

In your hearts enthrone Him; there let Him subdue
All that is not holy, all that is not true;
Crown Him as your Captain in temptation’s hour;
Let His will enfold you in its light and power.

Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
With His Father’s glory, with His angel train;
For all wreaths of empire meet upon His brow,
And our hearts confess Him King of glory now.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 35

We have plenty of snowballs in the Highlands of Scotland! 2010 was a great year for Tunnock's - their 120th Anniversary Year.

The 120th anniversary coincides with Scotland’s 2010 Year of Food and Drink, which celebrates the Scotland’s larder with a 12 month programme of events. First Minister Alex Salmond visited Scottish biscuit maker Tunnock’s to help staff mark the 120th anniversary of the family-run firm. Mr Salmond toured the factory, met staff and viewed the production lines that makes Scotland’s favourite Tunnock's teacakes, caramel wafers, and snowballs.

Mr Salmond said: “This year the family business celebrates its 120th anniversary and I am delighted to help mark this milestone in Tunnock’s long and proud history. The company employs more than 550 people, produces more than 10 million biscuits each week, and exports its products to more than 30 countries. This year marks Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink and Tunnock’s is one of the many brands that have helped to secure Scotland’s international reputation as a land of delicious, quality produce.”

Tunnock’s managing director, Boyd Tunnock ,said: “I am delighted that the First Minister is visiting our factory. This year we have installed a new caramel wafer wrapping line and a robot packing line for teacakes at a cost of £4 million, all to satisfy our customers worldwide.”

And to celebrate … well, it has to be a cup of tea and a Tunnock's Teacake.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 34

Here we see a Tunnock's teacake.

Tunnock's biscuit products are more than a Scottish phenomenon. They're in demand both over the border and overseas. They were first exported from Uddingston to Newfoundland, Canada, back in 1957.

Nowadays container loads of product are shipped to destinations as far apart as the Caribbean, Kuwait, Canada and Japan. No matter the climate - hot or cold - Tunnock products have a universal appeal. Thirty plus countries across 6 continents just can't resist their enduring flavour.

The future aim is to convert even more countries to these Scottish delights, giving a greater number of Scots abroad these special reminders of home.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 33

Here we see the bakery at nigh-time.

Progressing from local nibbles to national institutions, Tunnock's biscuit products have acquired the proud status of genuine Scottish icons.

To many, the Tunnock's name evokes pleasant memories of their youth...that longed-for snack straight after school...that Granny treat on Sundays...and the desire not to waste a single crumb. On walks down memory lane, Scots often encounter a wafer, a snowball, a log or a teacake.

It's a nostalgic taste of Scotland that not only thrills contemporary appetites, but industry judges, too. Winning Europe's prestigious Candy Kettle Award recently was proof that Tunnock's popularity is as potent as ever.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 32

Here we see Tunnock's milk chocolate coated caramel wafer biscuit.

Equipped with cutting edge machinery, the Tunnock factory occupies around 250,000 sq ft. It produces all the quality elements required to create the famous Tunnock taste - the wafers, the caramel, the marshmallow and even the distinctive rich creamy chocolate. Today, this factory still stands 100 yards away from the site where Thomas Tunnock opened his first shop in 1890.

The coveted reputation acquired down through the years is still enjoyed by Tunnock's today. Thanks to the efforts of 550 dedicated staff, who are determined to maintain the company's enviable high standards. All this in a friendly family enviroment. No wonder the brand is sold internationally and nationwide by all the main supermarkets and cash & carry outlets.

The family-owned company is currently headed by Boyd Tunnock CBE, the founder's grandson. This connection with the past is strengthened by the presence of Boyd's daughters and son-in-law who all play a crucial role in managing the business.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Taste of Scotland - 31

We return to our occasional series on great Scottish food and drink producers. This week it is the turn of Tunnock's - biscuit and confectionery producer.

How do you create ever-popular biscuit products? Well, start with excellent ingredients. Add layers of ownership by the same, caring family. Then cover with a generous sprinkling of attention to detail and personal service.

This winning formula was initiated by Thomas Tunnock in 1890, after he paid £80 for a shop in Uddingston. Under the guidance of Thomas (and later his son, Archie), Tunnock's operated only as bakers and purveyors of quality flour confectionery until the 1950s. This decade saw the emergence of four original speciality items: Caramel Wafers, Snowballs, Caramel Logs and Teacakes. Consequently, business boomed and factory extensions followed, the latest as recent as 2002.

The innovative management has always remained true to the original principles and is close to the local community.

This blog congratulates the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on their 65th wedding anniversary.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 53

Well, in case you cannot wait for Christmas, I thought I had better let you see the conservatory in its winter snug style!

During the summer months the conservatory is very much a centre of horticultural activity, but with the cold nights we get in the Highlands, I move all my plants into the main house for the winter months. Whilst during the summer I do quite a lot of work in the conservatory, during winter I use it more as a place to relax. Yes, the geranium is artificial!

I really enjoy the different seasons of the year both in nature and in church.

Advent tells us Christ is near;
Christmas tells us Christ is here!
In Epiphany we trace
all the glory of his grace.

Those three Sundays before Lent
will prepare us to repent;
that in Lent we may begin
earnestly to mourn for sin.

Holy Week and Easter, then,
tell who died and rose again;
O that happy Easter Day!
"Christ is risen indeed," we say.

Yes, and Christ ascended, too,
to prepare a place for you;
so, we give him special praise,
after those great Forty Days.

Then, he sent the Holy Ghost,
on the Day of Pentecost,
with us ever to abide;
well may we keep Whitsuntide!

Last of all, we humbly sing
glory to our God and King,
glory to the One in Three,
on the Feast of Trinity.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the gospel today, Jesus tells his disciples that although heaven and earth will pass away, his words will not pass away.

Temple falling down!

All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown,
he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

Pride of man and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple fall to dust.
But God's power,
hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

God's great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendour, light and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
from his store
newborn worlds rise and adore.

Daily doth the almighty Giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand;
joy doth wait on his command.

Still from man to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call
one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 52

The deed is done! The slate hearth has been treated with virgin olive oil and the oak floor has been polished. It is now time to furnish the conservatory for the winter months and light the stove.

I was a bit in the dumps during midsummer with my broken leg and so it was suggested that I should get on with a project that I would otherwise have put off. The idea was that one day, when the project was complete, I would look back at the summer and think it wasn't so bad after all.

Well, we are not yet in the bleak midwinter, but it is not all that far away. Hopefully I will soon be warming myself at the fire and thinking someone is smiling on me!

Praise to the Lord, the almighty, the King of creation;
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:
All ye who hear,
Brothers and sisters draw near,
Joining in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shieldeth thee gently from harm, or when fainting sustaineth:
Hast thou not seen
How thy heart's wishes have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee:
Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
If to the end he befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Let the Amen
Sound from his people again:
Gladly for ay we adore him.

The next time you see the conservatory it will be decked out in festal array for the Christmas season.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 51

Here is a rare sight. The conservatory is completely empty!

The decorating is complete and all that remains is to polish the floor and oil the slate hearth.

I am delighted with the new colour scheme of dairy farm and woodland fern emulsion for the walls and brilliant white gloss for the woodwork.

It is now 4 years since I moved to Westhill and this is the first bit of redecorating that has been done. The conservatory gets quite heavy use, but the work was really necessitated by the installation of the woodburning stove in August.

I must not take any credit for the high standard of craftsmanship! The decorating was undertaken by Des Baker - Head Verger at St Andrew's Cathedral, Inverness.