One morning BBC4 carried a news item about finches in the UK not migrating back to Scandinavia as they should. A strategy is therefore in place to capture them and airlift them to Denmark. However it was only when the presenter went on to say that this should not be a problem as the finches don’t have luggage (you may have heard about Heathrow’s new Terminal 5), that we thought to look at the calendar. April Fools! (At least, we hope it was a joke ... )
Princes Street Gardens and New College in the spring
BBC TV also entertains. Not only have we enjoyed the television premiere of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (by Edinburgh author Alexander McCall Smith) and a new series of Foyle’s War, there have been some excellent documentaries, on sacred music, medieval Britain, gardens around the world, China and Tibet, and quizzes from the sublime to the ridiculous. We cheered when a team from Salisbury Cathedral defeated a team of rocket scientists, marvelled that there is a rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire where the best rhubarb is grown in the dark, and gasped at the news that eating a diet of nothing but rabbit can be fatal. Rabbits are native to Spain and Portugal and were only introduced to Britain after 1066, and numbers only increased substantially in the nineteenth century. (You can read more about these amazing facts on Wikipedia.)
Speaking of skylarking, a highlight of the month was watching the larks ascending at a nature reserve at Aberlady. Chris also spotted a dipper in the stream at Dunblane. Yes, she went to Scottish Churches House in Dunblane again, this time for an international conference in memory of Milan Opočenský, an ecumenical leader with whom she had worked on WSCF history in the 1980s. There were plenty of fine theologians there, which helped stir Chris’s thinking. Friends from as far afield as Boston and Aotearoa New Zealand flowed through our temporary home in Kirkhill Drive before, during and after the meeting. Some rare face-to-face planning for the WSCF event in Montreal happened around the edges.
Aberlady Nature Reserve. The skylark has ascended
We have discovered that the best way to catch up with your friends is to leave home. We enjoyed having Heather with us while she did some research at New College. Her presence helped transform our household into a community of scholars and Geoff was awarded the honour of being the best (if only) research assistant we have ever had. He has upgraded software, worked on databases, googled to find the origin of obscure quotes, solved problems with bibliographic programs and generally been kept busy doing what he likes doing best—pushing the boundaries of a computer’s capacity.
Heather and another Canberran, Sue, who was in Edinburgh for a flying visit, came along as a cheer squad to a seminar Chris gave in her capacity as CTPI Visiting Scholar 2008. (CTPI is the Centre for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Edinburgh.) They helped swell the numbers to about fifty. Chris spoke on “Living Creatively: Cultures of Koinonia in a Technological World” and was pleased with the ensuing discussion and response. She also sleeps better now that the seminar is over.
In relax mode after Chris’s seminar with Heather and CTPI friends
We found time to leave the scholars’ recluse for our daily constitutionals and occasional excursions. This month they have taken us to Stirling Castle, along the Water of Leith, to the beach at Portobello, back again to Musselburgh, to Sunday worship at Rosslyn Chapel (where we could see our breath when we sang, it was so cold) and that wonderful day with the skylarks at Aberlady.
Tapestry at Stirling Castle
The yellow of the gorse on Arthur’s Seat is really glowing now that spring is here. We mowed the lawn for the first time and daffodils are giving way to tulips. Winter hasn’t quite left us though. We had more snow this month and the easterly winds are certainly chilly.
Thanks to our visitors, our table is now groaning with Massachusetts maple syrup, Gruyere cheese, Swiss chocolate, English dark chocolate ginger, Turkish delight and Scottish shortbread and heather honey.
Allotments alongside the Water of Leith
As always, lots of love from us both to all of you. We hope it is not too long before we can sit around a table with you too.