October this year is beautiful in the Scottish Borders. Breezy at times but the blue skies and sunshine suits me perfectly. Love it like this.
I enjoy wandering around churchyards and suchlike. Some of the gravestones are touching to read. We have some beautiful abbeys, cathedrals and churches in the UK. I've visited many of them over the years. Chester, Salisbury, Canterbury, Lincoln, Norwich, St. Pauls, and Liverpool to name a few cathedrals. Liverpool has a relatively new Roman Catholic cathedral. Unusual in shape, rather like a large tent. Locally and irreverently called 'Paddy's Wigwam'. Inside the colours are breathtaking as the sun illuminates the multi-coloured leaded light windows. Fabulous. Virtually all these buildings are now charging casual visitors before they enter. The upkeep is expensive of course and most people do not object to paying. However, there is no 'enforced' payment - strictly speaking. There is a notice requesting a 'donation' of, say, £5 but this is a ploy to escape the dreaded value added tax (VAT) which would be payable by the church if they were charging a fixed entrance fee. A 'donation' is not liable to VAT. Just thought I'd explain that (the old VAT instruction book still resides in my head!).
Robert the Bruce and Melrose Abbey.
There is a well known story about Robert the Bruce, one time king of Scotland. It probably gave rise to the old exhortation: If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again. Robert the Bruce was in despair, resting in a cave. All seemed hopeless. It was at this time while secluded in this cave that he noticed a spider continually remaking its web. Every time a strand broke, the spider repared it. This was the moment at which he vowed to keep trying to free Scotland from the English.
On his deathbed in 1329, Robert the Bruce asked that his heart should be carried into battle against the "Infidels" because he himself had not been able to go on a Crusade. (Removing internal organs after death was a common practice in those days). His dying wish was said to have been carried out and his heart, in a casket, was taken on the Crusades.
When he passed away he was buried at Dunfermline - minus his heart.
His heart was taken on the Crusades by Sir James Douglas (aka Black Douglas), who, just before he was killed in Spain, hurled it at the enemy. The heart was recovered and taken back to Melrose Abbey where the then new king, David II (Bruce's son), had asked for it to be buried.
"Black Douglas" was a sort of 'bogey man' in England. English mothers would threaten their children when they were being naughty. "If you dont behave and do as you're told the wicked Black Douglas will come and get you".
Background music today is J.S. Bach's well known piece "Air on the G-String".