Many many years ago, I remember sitting in our cold Scottish manse and reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth . It transported me to a country that I had not yet visited; I have since visited India even though it was a very brief trip. I am not sure I enjoyed the book as I don’t remember the story very much. The book wasn’t an easy read; I think it had 19 parts to it! The small print on the paperback copy added to the difficulty.
Since we don’t own a television, we did not get to watch the BBC mini series of the same name when it aired in 2020. However, in the middle of September, I got an email from Britbox informing me that the mini series is now available to us Britbox subscribers!
We have since watched the whole series and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Surprisingly, I found it very relaxing. I also understand the story a little better now.
It is worth watching if you have not already watched it!
The Mhinisteir was covered in dog hair when he came back home yesterday. He had been out visiting a few of his parishioners in their homes. He wasn’t amused for he dislikes both cats and dogs!
At dinner, he told me that he struggled to focus in the house with the dogs for the smell of dogs was so great. According to him, this was even after the dogs had left. Poor him! The things you have to do if you are a Vicar!!!
It reminded me of an incident in the Highlands of Scotland when we both had visited the home of a parishioner. ML was a spinster and her pets meant a great deal to her but her house smelt of dogs. I started throwing up violently the moment I stepped out of the house because the smell of dogs was so offensive.
I know many rural people have pets but we don’t. The Vicarage is both the place of work and home and we are of the view that it will be insensitive to have pets especially if someone coming to the Vicarage has an allergy.
As for me, I am neither a cat nor a dog lover. I don’t mind dogs from a distance but they must be on a lead. At one point, I even contemplated a wee chocolate Labrador for company. That might just have been possible if the Labrador promised to remain wee and more importantly if we had a housekeeper.
As for cats, I don’t understand them. They appear unfriendly and I find them intimidating as they remind me of tigers!
Recently, I received an email notification from Britbox to say that they have now added to their list, Monarch of the Glen, a Scottish drama about a young laird trying to restore his childhood home called the Glenbogle house.
I was elated! The Mhinisteir and I used to watch this as part of our downtime. We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to watch it again. Sadly, my joy was short lived as Britbox have only added the first two series of the drama instead of all the series!!!! What a dampener!
I have since discovered that they have done exactly the same to another Scottish drama called Take the High Road.
Recently, I have discovered a new pastime. I never thought that I would enjoy my new hobby this much but I have surprised myself. For health reasons, I am not able to commit more than half an hour each day and even that it can only be on good days.
I have always enjoyed a tidy garden but have NEVER spent any time tending to it. It is just not my thing(neither the Mhinisteir’s). We have always paid someone to cut the grass and keep it tidy.
In any case, in a place like the Scottish highlands, you would only want to be in the garden if you want to be eaten alive by the midges!!!! For those who are not familiar with midges. You can read about them here. If it is not the midges than it is the weather. We rarely got good weather in the summer.
Until some weeks ago, I had never done weeding in my whole life.
We are having the same problem with our gardener as with our cleaner (same company!). As mentioned before, I like things to look tidy.
Our garden was beginning to look messy and that was when I decided to take matters into my own hands. We tried getting in touch with other gardeners but none was available.
At that time, I only had a pair of secateurs. I have since added a weed fork, rake, lopper and the most recent purchase is a pair of shears. It has taken me a whole month to figure out how the weed fork and rake worked! Being left handed doesn’t aid anything!
Ever since I started doing very gentle tidying up of the garden, I feel wonderful and can’t believe how much I enjoy it. Needless to say that the garden is looking wonderful too. However, I stop at tidying. I have no desire to plant or grow anything.
I still can’t get used to hard water. I miss not drinking water straight out of a tap but I must not complain since I don’t have to walk miles just to collect water!
My skin has suffered a great deal and so when I saw an advertisement for an eco shower head that softens the water, I ordered one after consulting the Mhinisteir. By the way, I don’t have to ask his permission but in our marriage, we always consult one another!
Having never descaled our shower head in Scotland, I am fedup with having to descale our shower head every month.
The new eco shower head arrived yesterday. I was able to fix it without trouble and have also enjoyed a couple of showers since then.
However one thing relating to the eco shower head really annoyed me. The delivery driver who delivered it!!!! I really didn’t know where to look because she was in what I would describe as a skimpy top which revealed her undergarments!
It is ridiculously hot here at the moment so I understand the need to wear suitable summer clothes but I cannot accept lingerie. It is very unfair on us who have to open the door to someone who is not appropriately clothed.
One of the advantages of not having a television is that one gets more time to do other things, in my case it is to read.
Here in the Vicarage, we get the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Church Times, Sunday Times, Private Eye and Le Monde Diplomatique. The one most common theme in these newspapers/magazines is burnout particularly here in the United Kingdom.
The lockdown especially the first one brought some relief to some but the problem that is burnout is raising its head again. Working from home during the pandemic has exacerbated things for most people. There are no boundaries. Bosses expect their employees to be at their beck and call at ALL times since they are working from home. Recently when the Mhinisteir was visiting a bank, the teller told him that because they have done away with call centres in India, she has to do the job of a call centre worker on top of her usual duties!
We no longer have rest days like the olden days when Sunday was a day of rest. They still do in certain parts of Scotland especially the Highlands and in some countries that I have visited like Germany and France where shops are shut. Did you know that even shops like Tesco, Boots etc close on Sundays in certain parts of Scotland?? I for one firmly believe that we need to reclaim our day of rest. Sunday trading laws have been most unhelpful.
I am not at all suggesting that we all start going to church. As a Christian, It will be great if we did but I also believe that God gives us the freedom to choose our way of life.
By the way, if you plan to go to church on a Sunday, I would personally recommend a BCP service! It will be a great start to your Sunday!
I am not even suggesting that we shouldn’t watch television, wash our dishes etc like some strict Sabbatarians do. All I am suggesting is that we try and do things that we don’t do the other six days of the week. Make Sundays special like meeting up with family, cooking a nice Sunday lunch, going for walks or just catching up on sleep/reading. Initially it will be a bit strange but maybe not too strange because that is what we were doing during our first lockdown! Once you have reclaimed your day of rest, you would not want to look back again.
Could this be the answer to the problem that is burnout?
The weather has been pretty atrocious for the last one week. It has been raining every single day reminding me of my beloved Scotland. Last night, I had to eat humble pie and reintroduce the electric blanket much to the Mhinisteir’s delight. With grey skies, low temperature and persistent rain, it feels more like autumn than spring!
Wonderful excuse for our cooked breakfast this morning!!!!
My Sundays are spent in church, usually twice, once in the morning and once in the evening for evensong. Since we are not allowed to sing, evensong has been replaced by evening prayer.
There is an earlier service but I prefer to go to the 11am service.
In Scotland, most church services start at 11am and I like that. I find 9.30am a bit too early. People in rural areas find that it is too early too. Why do they have it at that time then??? Sundays are meant to be a day of rest for goodness sake!
In one of the cities that we lived, the BCP (Book of Common Prayer) service was at 8am! Being a BCP person, I had to force myself to get ready for the 8am service. Sadly there were only a handful of us but I don’t think the time was a key factor in the poor turnout.
Thankfully because of Covid19, all services now resemble BCP services!!! Long may it continue!!!
In the past fortnight, we have had a handful of intermittent power cuts. Compared to the power cuts in the Scottish Highlands, these intermittent power cuts are nothing! However, one of the things that annoys me is that every time there is a power cut, our oven clock goes gaga and the oven will not turn on until the time on the oven clock has been reset!
I often operate in ‘auto pilot’ mode so for example I turn the right knobs to turn on the oven but don’t bother checking that the oven has indeed been turned on instead I walk away and start doing other things! That’s exactly what happened the other day but just that because of the power cut, the oven clock had gone gaga and so the oven had not turned itself on! Thankfully, on this occasion I noticed it very quickly.