Sunday, 30 September 2012

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

When I read the gospel for today from Mark, I find myself asking the question, 'who is on the Lord's side?'

Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Saviour, we are Thine!

Not for weight of glory, nor for crown and palm,
Enter we the army, raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth lives for whom He died:
He whom Jesus nameth must be on His side.
By Thy love constraining, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Saviour, we are Thine!

Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own life blood, for Thy diadem;
With Thy blessing filling each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Saviour, we are Thine!

Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe,
But the King’s own army none can overthrow;
Round His standard ranging, victory is secure,
For His truth unchanging makes the triumph sure.
Joyfully enlisting, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Saviour, we are Thine!

Chosen to be soldiers, in an alien land,
Chosen, called, and faithful, for our Captain’s band,
In the service royal, let us not grow cold;
Let us be right loyal, noble, true and bold.
Master, Thou wilt keep us, by Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lord’s side—Saviour, always Thine!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 30

The tomatoes are fruiting well, but as yet there is no sign of them ripening.

However I have installed a secret weapon in the conservatory, and I shall be revealing it to you next week!

These tomatoes are Sungold F1 Hybrid.

The sweetest tomato ever! Richly cascading trusses of bite-sized, deep orange fruit with a very special flavour. They are also thin-skinned, and remain ripe and suitable for picking over a long period. Easy to grow indoors or out.

Happy Feast!

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 29

I suppose that my favourite crop is my tomatoes! They seem to take over my life for around 6 months each year. It was either a dog or tomatoes, and tomatoes won!

The seed was sown on Good Friday - 6 April and took around 10 days to germinate. It cost £2.99 for 10 seeds, and 9 germinated and were potted on. Eventually the best six plants were selected for transplanting into two grow bags (3 plants per bag) - all this happened by the end of May. By the end of June the plants were well-established and during July they raced up the canes to over 6ft tall. August was the month of flowering, September the month of the fruit setting and growing, and hopefully October will be the month of the fruit ripening ready for harvest.

Perhaps a dog would have been easier!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 28

Here we see some Celebration runner beans - fit for the Royal Table!

Runner beans have been growing in South America for over 2,000 years, and are a popular garden vegetable in Britain too. Stronger in flavour and coarser in texture than green beans, they are also much longer and have attractive purple beans inside the pods.

In season from June until November.

Choose the best
Look for young, crisp, tender beans which feel for firm and fresh pods.

Prepare it
Top, tail and string runner beans by carefully sliding the knife into the top of the bean without cutting right through it; if a thick thread comes away, the beans will need to be stringed. The beans can then be sliced horizontally.

Store it
Use runner beans as soon as possible after buying as they don't keep long. Keep in a paper bag in the fridge for 2 - 3 days.

Cook it
Steam runner beans until al dente.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 27

We have recently dealt with the potato harvest - our attention now turns to the runner beans. This year I grew the variety 'Celebration' in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

This RHS AGM variety is particularly high yielding, producing an abundance of tender beans with an excellent flavour. The pods of Runner Bean ‘Celebration’ are fleshy, straight, smooth, and almost stringless when young. With its pretty peach-pink flowers this attractive runner bean will look equally at home in your vegetable plot or your flower borders. Height: 3m (10’). Spread: 30cm (12").

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 26

Here we see 5 of the patriotic hanging baskets which adorn the west fence of the garden.

The petunias are in red, white, and blue/purple. I was pleaded with how things turned out, as I purchased 84 mixed plugs from Thompson & Morgan it was possible (though of course highly unlikely) that one basket would just contain red petunias, another only white, and another only blue/purple - thus ruining the plan! Fortunately, all the baskets contained a good mix of colours.

The baskets also contained Cambridge blue trailing lobelia, which seemed to perform really well this year. The empty stone raised bed is a sign of the times - it is being prepared for the 2013 spring bedding - wallflowers and tulips.

However before summer finally ends, let us relive those wonderful moments in London from 3 - 5 June 2012. I note that the patriotic flowers in Buckingham Palace were not up to the standard of my hanging baskets!

God Save The Queen!

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Gardern of Westhill - 25

This summer the walls of the garden have been adorned with 10 hanging baskets.

They have all had a red, white, and blue colour scheme in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and in celebration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been a wonderful summer (though not weather-wise) and has made me proud to be both British and Scottish.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today we hear the second of the passion predictions in Mark's Gospel, but the disciples seem more interested in their own power and prestige.

Let us pray for true humility, that pride and hate shall ne'er divide us.

Jesus, good above all other,
gentle Child of gentle Mother,
in a stable born our Brother,
give us grace to persevere.

Jesus, cradled in a manger,
for us facing every danger,
living as a homeless stranger,
make we thee our King most dear.

Jesus, for thy people dying,
risen Master, death defying,
Lord in heaven, thy grace supplying,
keep us to thy presence near.

Jesus, who our sorrows bearest,
all our thoughts and hopes thou sharest,
thou to man the truth declarest;
help us all thy truth to hear.

Lord, in all our doings guide us;
pride and hate shall ne'er divide us;
we'll go on with thee beside us,
and with joy we'll persevere!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 24

It is almost time for harvest festival!

I have just finished digging up the potatoes and am letting them dry out for a few hours on the patio before grading them and storing them in sacks. They should last until Christmas.

I am a great potato fan, and like them in almost any form. The larger potatoes will be baked - I love jacket potatoes.

Could there possibly be anyone in the wide world who doesn't drool at the thought of jacket potatoes with really crisp, crunchy skins and fluffy, floury insides with something lovely melted into them?

I'm not speaking of the insipid microwave versions of convenience fame, but the hallowed, reverenced beauty of the real thing. Life is too short, and therefore we need to savour every moment by spoiling ourselves with what is best and not some pale imitation that fails to satisfy. If you ever feel like treating yourself and want something supremely soothing and comforting that costs almost nothing (forget chocolate bars and the like), just bake yourself the biggest potato you can lay your hands on, then cut it in half and, as you do, listen carefully to the inviting crackle and crunch of the skin as the knife goes in.

Next, with a fork, fluff the floury insides, then add a generous amount of butter and watch it melt and disappear into the clouds of fluffiness. Add rock salt and crushed black pepper, then eat and savour it alone in all its humble, simple glory.

The secret of perfect jacket potatoes like the one described above is not to hurry them – give them up to 2 hours to get the really crunchy skin, learn to use the time when you're out, so they can be ready when you come home, or go and do something else and forget about them till they're ready. (Delia Smith)

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 23

I ended up with so many pots of lilies in the conservatory that the scent got overpowering.

A number of pots therefore found their way into the house! This environment is cooler than the conservatory (during the summer months) and so the blooms last longer.

I purchased a large quantity of bulbs from Thompson & Morgan at sale prices and had fun seeing how they turned out. Some grew faster than others, some were taller than others, some had more perfume than others, and of course they came in all sorts of different colours. Not a single bulb failed to delight!

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 22

I don't only grow lilies in the garden - I also grow them in the conservatory! The lily is part of the 'firecracker collection'.

Words cannot describe this stunning new collection of giant lilies. The showy candelabra blooms of Lily ‘Firecracker Collection’ are indispensable for adding height and colour to borders and large containers. These exquisite lilies also make an excellent cut flower. Height: 150cm (59"). Spread: 40cm (16").

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 21

A marvellous border of tree lilies - they seem to love the Inverness climate!

* 8ft tall in as little as 2 years

* One bulb produces up to 30 trumpet blooms

* Fantastic, sweet and fresh fragrance

* Plant against walls or fences or in pots

* Shrub-like plants look after themselves and come back every year

* Result of years of breeding

* Grow in sun or part shade

* Great for kids (or elderly clergy) to grow

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 20

Here we see another of the amazing tree lilies!

Thompson & Morgan supply three varieties:

Tree Lily® ‘Yellow Rocket’ - Silken yellow petals fade to creamy white edges.

Tree Lily® ‘Starburst’ - Shimmering gold, perfumed blooms are flushed with crimson red.

Tree Lily® ‘Pink Explosion’ - Sumptuous backward curving, pink petals and an exquisite fragrance to match.

You can buy 18 top-size bulbs (6 of each variety) for only £24.99. Superb value!

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 19

Here is the tree lily we saw of Friday - 2 years on!

It has grown to an enormous height and produces flowers with a really strong scent. A friend suggested that I cut them for the house - I think I would have passed out if I had tried!

The plant is now 7 feet tall (over 2 metres). It is amazing how it grows from such an innocent looking bulb!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the gospel today we hear Jesus tell us that 'anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of gospel, will save it.'

New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.

New mercies, each returning day,
Hover around us while we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.

If, on our daily course, our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
As more of heaven in each we see;
Some softening gleam of love and prayer
Shall dawn on every cross and care.

We need not bid, for cloistered cell,
Our neighbour and our friends farewell,
Nor strive to find ourselves too high
For sinful man beneath the sky.

The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we ought to ask;
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.

Only, O Lord, in Thy dear love,
Fit us for perfect rest above,
And help us, this and every day,
To live more nearly as we pray.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 18

September 2010 and the plums were ready for havesting.

These Victoria plums were absolutely delicious. This is rather a sore point, because this year there are none! We had an unusually mild spell in March 2012 and the tree was covered in blossom. The begining of April (Holy Week) saw dreadful weather with heavy falls of snow and all the blossom was destroyed.

However, as the tree has been putting no effort into producing fruit this year it has put on quite a growth spurt, so perhaps 2013 will see a heavy harvest - hope springs eternal!

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 17

August 2010 and the definite star of the garden was this lovely tree lily.

Tree lilies are the breathtaking result of years of painstaking breeding; these incredible varieties of oriental lily can grow as tall as 2.5m (8ft) in as little as two years. One single Tree Lily bulb can produce up to thirty 20cm (8”) trumpet blooms and will take on a shrub-like appearance over the years.

The sturdy stalks are almost 5cm (2”) thick, so they won't need supporting and the foliage remains lush all season. It couldn't be easier. Grow them through shrubs in borders, against walls and fences, or in large pots for the patio, and let them look after themselves. Height: 2.5m (8’). Spread: 60cm (24”).

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 16

Late May 2010 and the petunias and busy lizzies were ready for bedding out.

Sadly, the summer of 2010 was to be a poor one - as has been the case in 2011 and 2012. Hopefully the summer of 2013 will be better!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 15

May 2010 and the new plum tree was in blossom.

It was time to put my apron on and make some crumble mix!


For the filling

butter, for greasing
12-15 large ripe plums, stones removed, chopped
½ lemon, juice only
160g/5½oz caster sugar

For the crumble

175g/6oz plain flour, sifted
50g/2oz caster sugar
50g/2oz dark muscovado sugar
100g/3½oz butter, chilled, cut into cubes
100g/3½oz rolled porridge oats
2 lemons, zest only

custard, to serve

Preparation method

1.Preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas 4.

2.Grease a 30cm/12in square ovenproof dish.

3.Place the plums and lemon juice into the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.

4.For the crumble, in a bowl, rub together the flour, caster sugar, muscovado sugar and cold butter cubes. (It is important that the butter is cold, or you will end up making more of a dough than a crumble.) When a crumble has been achieved, add in the oats and lemon zest. Mix well.

5.Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the plum mixture in the dish, then bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown.

6.To serve, spoon out generous portions into bowls and serve with lashings of custard.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 14

Spring 2010, and the stone raised bed was filled with wallflowers and tulips.

Here is a closer view of the plants.

Plant some wallflower plug plants in the garden for some spring colour. Wallflowers come in a range of colours – choose from yellows, oranges, reds, purples and white.
Wallflowers like to grow in well-drained soil in lots of sun. They love my raised bed!

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 13

Well, the first summer in my new garden was coming to an end. The summer bedding was removed and replaced with spring bedding. What would survived the winter?

Fortunately pansies did! The pansy flower is two to three inches in diameter and has two slightly overlapping upper petals, two side petals, and a single bottom petal with a slight beard emanating from the flower's center. The plant may grow to nine inches in height, and prefers sun to varying degrees and well-draining soils.

They can clearly survive an arctic winter, as this photo taken in March 2010 shows.

My word, how time flies! This is posting No.2012 on the blog!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

In the gospel today we hear about how Jesus made the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak. We pray that we may hear Jesus speak to us, and that we will sing his praises.

There is singing in the desert,
there is laughter in the skies,
there are wise men filled with wonder,
there are shepherds with surprise;
you can tell the world is dancing
by the light that's in their eyes,
for Jesus Christ is here.

Come and sing aloud your praises,
Come and sing aloud your praises,
Come and sing aloud your praises,
For Jesus Christ is here.

He hears deaf men by the lakeside,
he sees blind men in the streets,
he goes up to those who cannot walk,
he talks to all he meets,
touching silken robes or tattered clothes,
it's everyone he greets,
for Jesus Christ is here.

Come and sing aloud your praises,
Come and sing aloud your praises,
Come and sing aloud your praises,
For Jesus Christ is here.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 12

Well, I have discovered a slightly longwinded way of getting my photos onto the blog, so we will continue with the current series!

The hanging baskets and troughs were the most colourful features in my garden during 2009. Here we see a cheerful display of petunias.

Gardening in the Highlands can be quite a challenge! Some plants grow well, others will not grow at all. It is very much a matter of learning by trial and error. Petunias do well - and I like them!

Happy Feast!

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 11

Disaster - the hard drive on my iMac has 'crashed' and so for the time being I have no access to me extensive photo collection. So this series of posts will have to be suspended for the time being.

Here we see my garden in September 2009 looking very prim and proper! Hopefully, we shall be able to visit it again before too long.

Tomorrow we shall celebrate Mary's Birthday, and then on Monday was shall start an 'emergency' series of posts on Loch Ness. If I get really desperate, Nessie will have to make a guest appearance!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 10

By September 2009 the stone raised bed was finished and ready to be planted out.

It was about to receive some wallflower plants which were being raised in one of the wooden raised beds.

Here we see the wallflowers and the runner beans ready for picking.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 9

August 2009, and the runner beans were growing well in one of the raised beds...

... and the tomatoes were coming on well in the conservatory.

Harvest Festival was some way off!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 8

August 2009, and work is getting under way with the construction of the stone raised bed in the patio area.

At least the hanging baskets provided some colour on what was still a bit of a building site!

Sadly, the summer of 2009 was better weatherise than any of the subsequent summers. I am hoping that summer 2013 will be better!

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 7

June 2009, and the lawn is down and the runner beans sown.

July 2009 and the patio is laid and work commences on building the stone raised bed in the patio area.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Divine Service in Crathie Parish Church - 5

'Please, Peter - may we worship at Crathie again next Sunday?' Well, it's hard to turn down such a polite request, but we shall have to return to normal service before long!

So, once again we are invited to join with the congregation in Crathie Parish Church for Divine Service. We follow the Order of Service for the last Sunday in August.

Today, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (who are staying at Balmoral Castle) will be joining the congregation for Divine Service at 11.30 am.

Welcome to Worship!

Whether you are a first-time visitor,
a regular participant, or a returning friend,
we are glad you have been able to join us today.
We trust that you might sense something of
the peace and presence of God amongst us.

‘Within these walls let no-one remain a stranger’


This morning (26 August) we bid a warm welcome to the Reverend Scott Brown, a Church of Scotland minister who, following his studies in Aberdeen, joined the Royal Navy and now serves as the Chaplain of the Fleet.

The Guest Preacher next weekend (2 September - today!) will be the Right Reverend Albert Bogle, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

MONDAY CAFE: The Kirk Hall at Crathie will be open tomorrow morning as usual for locals and visitors alike – come along and bring a friend!

GATHERING WORDS (Psalm 34:1-3)

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.


Min: The Lord is risen!

All: He is risen indeed!

Min: This is the day that the Lord has made

All: We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Min: The Lord be with you!

All: And also with you

Hymn 28 Thy mercy, Lord, is in the heavens



‘The Sword of the Spirit’

Hymn 566 When I receive the peace of Christ

(Children may leave for Crèche)


Lord Jesus Christ, we acknowledge that you are the Holy One of God. Yet, even as we profess your Lordship, we confess that we struggle to follow you in the way. Your teachings demand commitment, but we lack energy and imagination, and at times we may even consider turning away from you altogether. But to whom can we go – for You alone have the words of eternal life? Risen Christ, have mercy on us. Choose us yet again. Send your Spirit to empower our work and witness, for you glory. AMEN.

(A short silence will be kept)


EPISTLE: Ephesians 6:10-20

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

GOSPEL: St John 6:56-69

56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.

60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” 66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”


Hymn 806 To Father, Son and Holy Ghost


'The Whole Armour of God'

Hymn 515 Soldiers of Christ arise

Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Through his Eternal Son.

Strong in the Lord of hosts,
And in his mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror.

Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endued;
And take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God.

From strength to strength go on;
Wrestle and fight and pray;
Tread all the pow'rs of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day.

That having all things done,
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o'ercome, through Christ alone,
And stand entire at last.




Hymn 737 Will your anchor hold?

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love.

It is safely moored, 'twill the storm withstand,
For 'tis well secured by the Saviour's hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine,
Can defy the blast, through strength divine.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love.

It will firmly hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers have told the reef is near;
Though the tempest rave and the wild winds blow,
Not an angry wave shall our bark o'erflow.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love.

It will surely hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill our latest breath;
On the rising tide it can never fail,
While our hopes abide within the veil.
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love.



Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Garden of Westhill - 6

April 2009, and work starts on the garden.

The raised beds have arrived and work has started on painting the boundary fencing. In the meantime work is progressing on landscaping the area beyond the fence. This was the builders yard, but with building work nearing an end, the area will soon be grassed over.

I have four raised beds in all. They are mainly used for growing vegetables and allow for a healthy rotation of crops each year.