Awning Yawning

25092010279.jpg This weekend Dee has been attending a CC training course at Oatridge College and so we have taken Lotte on her second expedition, to the Linwater Caravan Park in West Lothian.
We took this opportunity for our first attempt at pitching the awning. We knew this would be complicated but the afternoon was dry and bright. As is the way with caravan sites, we got some help. And it was helpful help not annoying help. We got a few things nearly wrong but in the end the awning was up, straight, pegged in place and glorious. We’re not making much use of it this weekend apart from admiring it from afar and using it as a towel drying area, but we hope that the awning will be immensely useful when we are on our travels. Anticipated functions include: additional storage, home for Bob and Aggie (just day care for Bob, as it’s unlikely she will sleep anywhere other than on the pillow behind Dee’s head), outdoor clothes removal and hanging, drying area, bicycle shed – plus some cooking. Then if time and space allows we might get to use it for the usual caravanners relaxation exploits, drinking gin, doing the crossword, watching the sun go down, criticising other people’s pitching …

26092010287.jpg Amongst the many handy hints we picked up from our helpers (one of whom was apparently married to some high heidyin in the Scottish Carvan Club) perhaps the most interesting was the advice to stow the brake failsafe cable carefully to avoid making it into a snare which might inadvertently catch a rabbit or a small dog. Then again, given the number of yappy Yorkies on campsites …

Our awning is Dutch by the way, and so are the instructions (which only adds to the challenge) and is a VanderHorn Sneek – now we have made friends with it we call it the ‘snook’ and not the ‘snake’.

26092010292.jpg On Saturday when Dee was on the first day of the course I embarked on a train journey across Scotland to visit Jean in Strathaven. This was the first time we have seen one another in more than 20 years but as is so often the case and despite all that we’ve both experienced in the interim (my life so banal compared with hers) we just started where we left off with a deep and unshakable connection. We talked a little about this – perhaps because of the intensity of what we were going through together and intimately (university, Germany, and the rest …) during our most formative years. We briefly skimmed through the main events of the intervening years and then talked in depth about what these mean, how we feel, focusing on the important things about what life is like now. We went for a long walk in the autumn sunshine, across fields, over bridges, along wee streams, through villages (Sandford). We talked and talked. We went for coffee in a cafe in Strathaven, shades of Plenderleith family Saturday afternoons of old.


It was a real privilege to spend time with Jean’s lovely (in the truest sense of the word) family. One of Richard Dawkin’s most acerbicly perceptive arguments in The God Delusion is based on the premise that while it is a truism that good people do good things, and bad people do bad things, for good people to do bad things, that takes religion. I’ve spent much of the last ten years or so railing against brittle, judgmental pseudo-Christianity. But I left Strathaven with a warm secure feeling that while not all truly good people are necessarily Christian, truly Christian people are indeed good.

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