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February 16, 2012

A lovely late afternoon on Iona. The sun is low and casting long shadows over the bleached grass. Maybe this is winter drawing to a close. It’s been a bad one, with severe gales and what feels like constant rain. People talk of it being the worst winter in memory. Certainly, I am utterly tired of it and badly need some sun. Like today.

Just back from the beach with Snuffy the dog. It’s a daily walk, a circle across the machar, through the dunes of Calva to Carrie Robertsons old caravan, then back along the beach to Lagandorain. Some days the sand is criss-crossed with footprints and dogprints whilst on others it is pristine and squeaky clean, constantly rearranged according to the winds and tides. The bedrock disappears and reappears. In a perfect world the bones of an old ship would appear and vanish in the shifting sand. Apparently, in the 18th century the Earl of Wemyss had hulks beached along the sands at Aberlady to lend an air of the picturesque; the poignancy of ruins. Maybe I should try this, though the old North End dump probably serves the same purpose.  Not boats but tractor bits.

The hostel is slowly waking up. Rosie, Rike and Broachy beaver away, painting, gardening and generally sorting things out. They are a talented, friendly and quiet bunch who seem to spread an air of calm whatever they do. The hostel is in good hands which is a great reassurance for me. Better still, they’ve been holding it for me to let me go off island to visit friends and attend meetings.

A couple of days ago I was in Culross in Fife at a meeting of the Scottish Pilgrimage Route Forum. My interest ( I go as Convenor of Iona Community Council and also for my own interest) is in the development of the proposed Iona – St Andrews Pilgrimage Way. This has been long discussed but it seems that its time has perhaps arrived. It’s an exciting project and one that strikes many chords: spiritual, environmental, creative, cultural and physical. Pilgrimage is such a rich metaphor and to give it physical reality across Scotland is something that goes well beyond the creation of simply another long-distance walk. Mull and Iona already have a group formed to look at how we progress the idea in our islands. I’ll keep you posted.

Enough for today. The sun has gone down and there is a chill in the air. With such a clear sky it’ll be a cold night. One to be by the fire.

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