In winter, Scotland’s cities and towns can be a bit grey but the countryside is spectacular.

The hillsides are covered with coppery brown bracken.

The pasture lands are lime green, the lochs slate-black.

An icing-sugar dusting of snow on the hills.

The palest of greeny-blue lichen shavings on the birch trees.

Sometimes, I just had to put on the brakes and say, Wow.

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Hello world!

I’ve been back in the UK for a few weeks now.

Until the very cold snap, I had hardly seen the sun. I noticed that every patch of duck-egg-blue sky was an event.

And a crisp, cold, bright day is life-giving.

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North and South

Colombians are often fascinated by tales of Scotland’s cold weather and what it is like to live in a country that has seasons.

On Sunday I was explaining to a friend in church what it was like to have very little daylight in winter and almost no darkness in the summer.

Well, it’s very different here, he responded. Night and day are almost exactly the same. We don’t have social equality here but at least we have…he groped for the right expression…

Solar equality? I suggested, and we agreed that was a good way of describing it.

I don’t miss Scotland’s winter solar inequality but sometimes I crave those magical light summer nights in the north of Scotland when it hardly gets dark at all.

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Another random observation

In Scotland, there does not seem to be an accepted correct cheek for a kiss of greeting.

Just as often than not, it’s the left one, not the right, like I am used to in Colombia, causing many of those embarrassing head dances as you try and agree on the cheek to go for, and just hope you don’t meet inappropriately in the middle.

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Eight reasons why I consider Edinburgh my home town

1. I wasn’t born there and nor were my parents but my maternal grandmother was.

2. It’s the only place I’ve returned to live in several times: when I was 3, 8, 18, 28 and 32 years old.

3. It’s where I bought my first flat.

4. I’ve lived in at least 9 different Edinburgh addresses.

5. It’s where I did all my post-school education.

6. Nowhere else on earth has so many associations: the good, the bad and the wonderful.

7. I recognize people in the streets, random people from different moments in my past.

8. My spirits rise on the approach to Edinburgh when I spot Arthur’s Seat.

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Missionaries have tour dates, too

At the end of next week I’ll be setting off for the Highlands, all being well.

I’ll be catching up with family and friends, as well as taking meetings in churches. I’ve added the dates to the Events so, if you live up there, check to see if I’ll be anywhere near you.

By the way, if you are the minister of one of these churches and there is something wrong with the information, do please let me know.

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Small joys (2)

This may not resonate widely with my small band of loyal readers, but I was oddly cheered by a tiny glimpse on TV last Saturday of Alex McLeish, currently manager of English Premier League side Aston Villa, and hero of Aberdeen and Scotland in the 1980s.

It had the same effect on me as hearing a snatch of bagpipe music would have.

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There are seven shades of hibiscus on the path,
and one stolid, homely gorse bush.

Picking a flower, I smell the coconutty smell of home.
It crumbles into petals I can carry, and press in my diary.

Scotland is not so easy to be had.

(23rd July 2008)

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