Ramblings from the Cove...
By Lars Gren
Welcome back to my UK journey traversing England, Scotland and Wales and I bid a special hello to those who waded through the last portion of the Ramblings and have the temerity to launch off into this one—which will be an abbreviated one (I hope).
Overall my trip encompassed both rail and bus. It was the latter that I took to Edinburgh. But one thing that I should mention about Oxford, and if you should ever go there, do not miss Blenheim Castle, birthplace of Winston Churchill. Have a nice guided tour of the place. It is truly remarkable. When I exited the bus to walk up the driveway, I looked at this huge palace which appeared to be at a distance.
For an estate such as this, how could it exist without a lake? So in order to rectify this, a lake was hand-dug, pick and shovel, by upwards of a hundred or so men. The series of four lakes contain 21 acres of water with a bank length of one mile.
I bid adieu to the Oxford area and boarded a bus to visit my friends, Tom and Katherine Scamman, the parents of the bride whose wedding I described in my January Ramblings. Katherine is the daughter of Addison Leitch, Elisabeth’s second husband, who also lived with Elisabeth and Add for two years, prior to her own marriage. The Scamman’s live a half-hour’s drive from Edinburgh in a lovely spot overlooking the Firth of Forth. Whenever Elisabeth and I were in Wales, we visited them and again I relived some of those times overlooking the Firth for it was in 1957 or 58 that I was on board the Steven Decatur DD936 a destroyer in the US Navy and our first Port of Call on a European NATO cruise was Edinburgh. I have wonderful memories of the Castle, the Tattoo (if you are there, by all means, try to see that—it will put a lump in your throat), and don’t skip the lovely stores along Princess Street. Those of you who have also been there must have relished that part of the trip. It was pleasant to have those few days there and to have the many walks that Tom and I took over the Scottish countryside which is really unlike any other place that I have walked. Some of our walks, or rambles, as they say, featured woods and lochs, ancient churches, even a deer farm, plus of course the very common sheep and cattle. We rambled through Hopetoun House (http://hopetoun.co.uk/) —another grand estate where we had lunch and tea in a converted stable. I also fondly remember “Falkirk Wheel” (www.scottishcanals.co.uk/falkirk-wheel/) where they still actively lift canal boats from one level of the canal to another.
After this memorable time I boarded the train for Wales for a short visit with Stella Price and her daughter. Unfortunately Steve, who was our doctor for many years, was in the Far East in ministry work. Again I thought back at times when Elisabeth and I were there visiting. Next door to their house is an old church which was the home church of Robert Jermain Thomas (1839-1866, whose biography Stella has written). He was one of the first missionaries to Korea where he was martyred on his arrival there. His Bible remained on the beach after his murder. A Korean picked it up, not knowing what it was, and used it as wall paper. Years later, when missionaries worked in that area, and came to that home, they realized what it was and told the people there what the Scriptures meant. Through this they became Christians. In these times there are many Koreans who make a pilgrimage to this church in memory of the work of Robert Jermain Thomas. With Steve living next door he has met many of those that visit the site And have a ministry to them.
Stella, Steve’s wife saw me off to the train station with no problem compared to my arrival. Due to repairs on the train track I had been switched to a bus for the final leg of the journey and had called Stella to inform her. She went to the bus station and when I stepped off the bus I found that I had been driven to the train station. Now what? No way to contact her, so I waited thinking perhaps when I don’t show up she will try the train depot. That is the way it went after an hour and a half Stella drove up laughing as she saw me. On a hunch she thought a switch in delivery was made and so guessed correctly. The irony of it was that the depots are but a good two stone throws from each other. A reminder perhaps of the play “Waiting for Godot” A bit of a kink in the trip which gave a few good laughs.
On my way to London a short couple of days were spent with Elisabeth’s granddaughter, Elisabeth, and her husband Mat Martin in Glossop, not far from Birmingham. It was my first visit to their home and one in which their seems to be constant motion but what else would there be with their 4 children ages 4 through 11. They are very well behaved and I think Elisabeth learned some lessons on such from her Granny. The stairs to the second floor are well traveled and if sunny and nice then it is on to the outdoors and backyard trampoline. It was a sweet time of getting to know them. Elisabeth and Mat are good parents who give discipline but with lots of love.
A couple of days later I boarded the last section of the trip which was to go up to London. My hope was to see David and Paulene Monro whose mother, Elva Gray, had been a friend of ours since our first trip to New Zealand, probably some 25 years ago. She and her husband eventually returned to London to be near their family--daughter, Paulene Monro.
Whenever we had a trip overnight to London we always added in a visit with Elva at her wonderful apartment. Since returning from this trip, Elva celebrated her 99th. It so happened that during the very time I was there, Paulene moved her into an assisted living home. Since she was widowed, she has lived in London, alone independently and could take care of her needs. Unfortunately I did not see her on this visit, but I had the enjoyment of talking to her on the telephone. She is still in the assisted living and doing well.
It was a most enjoyable time with Paulene and her husband David. Paulene cooked a wonderful dinner which we had in the enclosed backyard garden of their home in London--a fairytale atmosphere, straight from the pages of “Anne of Green Gables”. The next morning David got up early and drove me down to Paddington Station where I caught the express train to Heathrow. As I walked into the station, I again thought about the last trip with Elisabeth to London. It had been on a flight arriving late in the evening. We were both tired and decided to have a cab ride to London where Elva lived, in lieu of the Underground which also takes us to Elva’s apartment, just a block away. When we arrived in the cab, the fee was about 90 pounds. I think the driver perhaps saw me coming and it being late at night, thought he had landed a fish! It was worth it all, just to see Elva again, and now of course I enjoyed it once again, but alone, with the hospitality of her daughter and her husband.
I slept most of the way to Boston and arrived, as one might say in the South, “Man I’m as tired as an ol’ dawg. I’ll save for next time what happened to me three days after my arrival home, which, to put in a single sentence, one can say was a major change, and I’ll leave it there for now.
God bless and that’s it from the Cove.