Thursday, 27 May 2010

A little frustrating

Following on from the helpful comments ntkathchat's comments on my defer post, I contacted David Fergusson, the principle of New College at Edinburgh uni. He gave some good advice, which I followed-up, but Edinburgh is full for thew academic year 2010-2011. I even asked about starting as a part-time student and transferring, but again, no joy. Once I've started part-time I have to finish and that could take 8 years!!!

So, I started to have a re-think of which uni to go to. I had already ruled out Glasgow uni, due to the excessive travelling time and expense, but what about St Andrews uni? Looking at the travelling times and cost, it's just about doable. With that in mind, I contacted the admissions person for divinity to see if there are any places left.

Unfortunately, there aren't. Oh well, looks like I'm back to hoping a place comes up through clearing.. Failing that, I'll apply for start in academic year 2011-2012 as soon as applications open.

I'll all work out in the end, even though it is a little frustrating at the moment.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

It's a small world

Spot and I had an overnighter last night near Loch Garten. Just as we checked into our accommodation, who arrived but the psychologist from my assessment conference and his wife! He did congratulate me on my success, so I couldn't have left that bad an impression.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Fish, Chips and lifeboats

We headed along the East Neuk and landed up in Anstruther on Saturday. The weather was lovely, though there was a bit of a cold breeze off the water, but that's the norm.

We were lucky to see the lifeboat being launched. The crew were off on a training exercise. It was quite a sight watching the Mersey class Kingdom of Fife pushed into the water with the Talus launching/recovery tractor.

I have always had so much admiration for those of the RNLI for their dedication and willingness to put themselves out for others. And all funded by voluntary donations, yet these guys and galls are among the first called upon by the coastguard when needed.

After watching the launch, we had fish and chips. Well, it's what you do in Anster! Though we took local advise and headed to the wee chippy. That's at the other end of the front to it's more famous rival. It was outstanding and hardly a queue in sight. I can see why the locals head there!

Keeping watch at the harbour is a beacon. I don't know how long it's been there, but it must be among the most photographed things in Anster. Not to go against tradition, I also took a pic.

Though the bad weather, the wind, rain, snow, hail and fog, it stands. Showing the way to safety. The way home. Could that be what church should be like? The light to safety; the light home. Enduring all things in God's love.

And to finish in Anster, while Spot tired to help a fellow biker fix his brake light switch, I looked up and love this almost Mediterranean looking colour combination:

Blue sky and orange tiles . Who'd have thought the tiles were only ballast when there was a lot of trade between the east coast of Scotland and the low countries. Pan tiles and delft titles brought back on sailing ships which had exported salt and coal. Could you imagine the East coast of Scotland, especially places like Anster, Pittenween and Crail without them? But they were only loaded on the ships as they were cheap and to stop the ships toppling over on the return journey.

Didn't we have a lovely day, the day we went to Glasgow?

On Friday Spot and I took the train to Glasgow. Now I remember why I don't take the train very often!!! Fortunately we had train vouchers due to a delayed train coming back from York in March, which pretty much paid for our travel. Without them, we would have been cheaper taking the car. My rant about the cost of public transport will come one day!!!

Anyway, the reason for the trip was to see the Glasgow Boys exhibition at the Kelvingrove art gallery and museum.

We really enjoyed it, though we were in the strange demographic of not retired nor a student!Given ow popular the exhibition is, I dread to think how busy it would be at a weekend.

I've always been a fan of the Glasgow Boys style.It's the way the showed ordinary people (at least to begin with) and their brilliant use for light. Them and the wider group of the Scottish colourists are among my favourite painters. Something which amuses me is the knowledge I've picked up about art. Looks like I listened to my Mum more than I realised. My appreciation of art definitely came from her and viewing the collections at the Kirkcaldy museum and art gallery.

After seeing the exhibition, we nipped out for lunch. Spot nipped back in, to answer the call to nature and I took a quick snap of the Kelvingrove for there.

While taking the shot, I heard someone calling. Spot couldn't possibly have been that quick! No, there was a recital on this:

Wow. Now, I love organ music. There's something about a good organ played well. Probably it's the love of sound which you feel as well as heard. My head sometimes tells me it's out-of-date, but my heart wins out every time. Besides, the children in  the Kelvingrove seemed to be enjoying it as much, if not more than the grown-ups, so maybe it's not that out-of-date at all.

The organist was brilliant and seemed generally surprised when he received a round of applause! He deserved it. I wonder where he plays on Sundays?!

Later on in the day, we ventured into the Gallery of modern art. As the title suggests, this houses the cities collection of modern art. I've always wondered when it'll stop being modern?

It's a great collection and is one of 5 museums throughout Britain to be awarded £1 million each from the Art Fund towards the acquisition of international artworks. That's pretty cool and quite a coup over the Scottish National Modern Art Gallery, but it does get national funding, whereas Glasgow museums don't.

Strangely, though, it wasn't the exhibits which really struck me, but the building. So I took some pics and these are my favourites:

Sometimes, it's amazing what can be seen when we look beyond what's on display. The second photo from the inside of the gallery was only possible because it was a beautiful sunny day in Glasgow. How much more do people change when light and love and hope pour out of them? Or we see them in new ways, in different circumstances and they appear different somehow. Maybe, we weren't looking properly all along. Just like many looking around the art gallery would have been paying so much attention to the art hanging on the walls, they would never have seen the light dancing off them.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Of the Holy Rude and Unicorn

Now Spot and I's holiday has turned into a staycation, we headed to Stirling for the day. We often pop through to see progress of the Hunt of the Unicorn series, being woven in Stirling Castle. I also needed to get a new pair of trainers, so we killed two birds with one stone, so to speak!

On the way from the city centre to the castle, we dropped into the Holy Rude church. It was the first time either of us had visited, despite walking by many times! What a beautiful church, with a rich and varied history. I won't bother going into detail here as it's all there on their webpage.

I was particularly impressed by this stained glass window:

The beauty and work of this window is outstanding. I just wish it was a brighter day, so the photo really gave it justice.

The church also has one of the only original hammer beam ceilings left in Scotland.

This ceiling was used by Historic Scotland when they were reconstructing the ceiling of the great hall at Stirling Castle.

A wonderful and historic place. It also felt like a very vibrant church. One member we talked to was really passionate about the church and its history, but definitely is part of its present and future. Sometimes, it is only when we look back we can learn to more forward in faith, showing God to all we meet.

Study options

On Monday, I had a long chat with the person from ministries support who is responsible for ministry candidates studying at Edinburgh. She went over the various options open to me, being:
  • Hope that a place becomes available in Edinburgh through clearing in the autumn.
  • Defer for a year and apply to Edinburgh at the earliest opportunity. You would graduate in 2014. You would become part of the conference programme and placement scheme when you begin at University in 2011.
  • Do your first year over two years through distance learning at Aberdeen and ensure that Edinburgh will give you credit for this when you apply again, looking to graduate in 2014. You would be able to continue working for the two years that you did this. You would become part of the conference programme in 2011 and placement scheme in 2012 (since you would still be working it would be better to postpone your first placement till then). The advantage of this is that it doesn’t involve deferring.
Apparently, I am not the only one in this position (and I suspect it may get worse as my assessment conference was the first this year). That's slightly reassuring, yet frustrating for all at the same time!

I don't really fancy studying and working full-time for two years. I also know Edinburgh can be a bit funny about accepting credits from other universities. They shouldn't be, but are. So, at the moment, I'm looking at waiting to see what spaces are available at Edinburgh for clearing. If I can't get one then, I'm looking to defer. Okay, so I won't be studying until next year, but the end graduating date is the same. I'm sure if that does happen, the next year will fly by.

A bit of me knows it's all meant. If I am to wait a year before studying, I can use that time to build up my savings a bit. I am not on a huge wage (though I do think I get very well paid for what I do), but I am the main breadwinner. Also, perhaps if I'm to wait, it is all part of God's path for me. Maybe there is a specific charge he needs me for which becomes vacant (or is created!) as I finish training, but only if I wait a year? Given how things have been going so far, I wouldn't be in the slightest surprised.

Of course, if a long lost Uncle's will left me his estate and living in Glasgow became an option, then off to Glasgow uni I would go. Somehow, I don't see that happening!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The coldest May in 20 years?

Spot and I have been away for three nights. As we haven't really camped since before out crash, we headed to The Duke of Atholl's campsite in Blair Atholl. Just an hour from home and a great base for walking, bird watching and wildlife spotting.

The things we saw were great - 4 (yes, 4!) red squirrels, one of which we spotted just after I took this photo:

Some ducks with their ducklings:

The broken and fallen trees, pushed down by the weight of the snow earlier in the year:

The underside of railway bridges:

And even a golden eagle, though you will just have to take my word for it!

One thing we didn't expect to see was this:

Or this:

Or this lump of ice on top of the 15 litre water bottle! (NB The feet are size 7!):

I had been a little cold overnight, in my rated to -3 sleeping bag. Turns out last night was the coldest for 20 years, with temperatures in the Blair Atholl area reaching -6!

So, Spot and I decided stuff this for a game of soldiers and came home. We've still a week and a half of our holidays to fill, but I'm sure we'll manage. I like camping, but not below freezing.

I wonder if this is global warming? Britain, the only country which could get colder with global warming. I love it!

Friday, 7 May 2010


Okay, I should have applied for a university place when ministries council recommended I did a few months back. I didn't. I suppose it was a case of not wanting to tempt fate and my personal thing of not wanting to take a place out of circulation for someone else. I know, I know. Highsight is always 20:20!

So, on a practical level, Edinburgh University is the where I'd like to go. I'm already used to commuting to Edinburgh for work and the other universities are just too far away.

I had thought of applying to Glasgow uni. It's my alma mater and I thoroughly loved my time there first time round. But I'd be looking at a 4 hour (minimum) commute per day. I just couldn't do that and do placements etc I need to do.

Edinburgh uni has no places left. So, looks as though I will have to defer my training for a year. On the bright side, that gives a year to build up a savings fund. I'm sure it's all meant.

Or God may have other ideas and "allow" something to crop up. Either way, I'm not worried, though I think I'll need to think what to do for the next 16 months, until I can begin training...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Selection conference - the letter

Yesterday, I was nervous and slightly distracted all day, wondering if the post would arrive and, more importantly, if the letter from ministries council had arrived.

It was there, behind the door, when Spot and I got home. It was a really small envelope. Not good, not good at all. Results like this should come in large(ish) envelopes.

I had decided during the day I would open the letter immediately - why let the worry go on for longer than necessary. I'd not been accepted, but needed to open the letter to read the report from the conference. To see were I'd gone wrong and begin reflection of where I was go for God next.

Quickly, it was opened. I began reading. It was good news! The assessors has decided to accept me as a candidate in training for full-time ministry. I was stunned, shocked, amazed. I'd done it!

Spot was really chuffed too, as are all the friends and family I have told since then.

God has guided me here and will guide me where I go next. But still. Minister? Me? Wow.

Monday, 3 May 2010

More thoughts from the weekend

Yes, I really enjoyed the conference. Since then, I have been going over some of what I said and did. I'm reassured knowing the assessors are looking for potential, not the finished article. I also know there was a few questions I could have answered differently/better/more fully. It's done now and it's out of my hands, so I'll not dwell on it.

The topic discussion I led went well. I very much went into leading the discussion. Trying to ask open questions and I did make sure all could have their say. I did give my opinion, but only because another of the applicants asked. I even managed to sum up our points (which were varied and interesting) with just about 1 minute to go. So, I did keep it on time.

During the discussion, I did come out with the cheesiest line I think I've ever come out with. There was nothing wrong with the sentiment, but smell the fromage!!! "It's not about the steeple, it's about the people". Excuse me while I go and throw up in that bucket other there, please!!!

I wish I hadn't told Spot and a couple of friends we were visiting yesterday. Did I get ribbed, or did I get ribbed? I don't think I'll live that one down. Oh well...

I should hear if I've been successful by the end of the week. At least it's quick. I will post the outcome when I know. Thanks again for your prayers and good thoughts.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Wow - that was fun!

This is a quick up-date from selection/assessment conference. It was really great. 8 people, all in the same boat. All working through our call from God. All nervous and excited and overwhelmed and humble.

There was laughter, mainly at the drop and egg from head height exercise (our team was successful; the others broke 3 eggs!). For me, there was challenging questions and affirming encounters.

I will be disappointed if I am unsuccessful, but I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world. I pray the assessors have made the right decisions for God, for the church, for the applicants. And I pray for all the other applicants - they will be find their call, whether now or in the future. God is with us all.

He kept his promises to me this weekend, as he always has and always will.