Thursday 17 November 2022

Big waves, threatening sky and no wind …

With the tide near its peak, I was out this morning for another great wander on both Rissers and Crescent Beaches. When I arrived and saw the big waves at both beaches, I was expecting to be dealing with accompanying high winds, bit there were none.

The threatening sky earlier in my wander at Crescent Beach, perhaps indicated that the high winds driving the large waves were probably far out at sea.

A few pics from this morning’s outing, starting with the waves at Rissers ….

Crescent Beach ~

Friday 11 November 2022

Remembrance Day 2022 ...

For Remembrance Day 2022, I attended the service at the Veterans Memorial Park in Bridgewater.

I may have mentioned in previous related blogs, that Remembrance Day has always been the most important day in the calendar for me. I am now 61 and cannot recall any November 11th when I did not attend an annual service. It is the very least I can offer in gratitude, to the 1,700,000 casualties from the Commonwealth who gave their lives during WWI and WWII, and also the many who have died in conflicts and peacekeeping mandates since then. 

Those who fell during WWI and WWII remain under perpetual care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) at 23,000 locations in 153 countries. Each and every one of them paid more than rent for the space they occupy within grounds of cemeteries or on the walls of memorials throughout the world, while we who came after to benefit from their sacrifice owe a debt which can never be paid. If you are ever fortunate and privileged enough to visit a CWGC cemetery, remember to respectfully step softly and with much care as many unfulfilled dreams lie buried below.

As always on this day, I remember those from my own family who were killed during WWI and WWII ~ 

Hugh Wright aged 26, 2003820, Royal Engineer, died 21 October 1944, buried at Leopoldsburg War Cemetery, Limburg, Belgium.

Hugh James Wright aged 21, 40539, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 10th Bn, died 2 October 1918, buried Joncourt British Cemetery, Joncourt, Aisne, France.

John Kerr aged 19, Clyde Z/4980, Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division, died 4 February 1917, buried at Hamel Military Cemetery, Beaumont ~ Hamel, Somme, France.

Hugh Wright aged 32, 4511, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), died 30 June 1916, buried at Southern Necropolis Cemetery, Glasgow, Scotland.

George Maxwell aged 63, Merchant Navy (S.S. Arbonne), lost at sea on 24 February 1916 and therefore commemorated at Tower Hill Memorial, London, England.

My thoughts on this Remembrance Day are also shared in the memory of two wonderful ladies who passed away this year, both of whom in a special, but different way had been an ever-present constant in my life ~

Jeanie Paterson Wright 

Always known as Jean, she was a cousin to my dad, making her a first cousin once removed to me. Jean was born in the family home, a tenement flat at 599 Duke Street in Dennistoun, Glasgow, on 8th March 1920, she died at the age of 102 years and 98 days on June 14th 2022.

Jean was enormously special to me, a person I absolutely and thoroughly adored. She never married and up until a few months before her death continued to live in the same family home in Duke Street, where her older brother Hugh, who was killed in WWII, was also born in October 1917. It was the location of her parents David and Mary’s marriage in January 1917 and is where Jean’s maternal grandparents lived.

See a blog about Hugh and his war activity at ~ “Hugh Wright” ~ click on the link below ...

Jean lived a full and praiseworthy life, which included being a member and officer in the Girl Guides for over 95 years. During WWII she was called up and served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the women's branch of the British Army, which was formed as a measure to free men up for the front-line war.

Jean during WWII wearing her ATS uniform

Jean with her mother Mary, brother Hugh and father David at Ayr in 1925

Jean with my dad Gordon Wright at Alexandra Park, Dennistoun, Glasgow in 1929

Jean with her father David, brother Hugh and mother Mary in Aberdeen 1940

Jean at my parents wedding, 22 August 1953

Myself and Jean at Blairmore, 7 October 2013

Myself and Jean at Blairmore, 19 September 2019

Jean at Loch Eck, 19 September 2019

Jean was a conduit to an incredible amount of family history, I truly loved sitting down and chatting with her, to hear stories of my great grandparents, my dad as an infant and of family gatherings at Duke Street. To the end of her life, her mind and the memories that easily flowed with it remained sharp, intact and crystal clear.

Use the following link (click on image or link) to see and hear Jean talk about 100 years living in Duke Street ~

After immigrating to Canada in April 1988, my visits back to Scotland were rare, but when I did go home, it was always a joy to spend as much time with Jean as I could, to visit 599 Duke Street where five generations of my family had crossed its threshold. When not in Scotland, I would always make a point of regularly phoning just to hear her voice and to have one of our lovely chats. She always ended our telephone conversations in the same way, with a reminder to me that she has had a good life, had great friends and felt extremely fortunate for all of that.

On this Remembrance Day my thoughts go to Jean, a day on which she would always take a break from her active social life, to spend it alone thinking about and remembering her long lost brother Hugh. 

She was a constant in my life, a person whose presence I felt over the many miles that separated us. She was inspirational and had an extremely positive outlook on life to a level that I have never seen equaled by anyone. Since her death in June, I have experienced an enormous sense of absence, emptiness and loss, I miss her today, I will miss her tomorrow and will miss her always ….

The photo below was the last taken of Jean, she was a guest at a Jubilee Lunch in Glasgow on June 3rd, 2022 just eleven days before she died ~ she is proudly wearing her ATS Badge.

H. M. Queen Elizabeth II 

The other constant in my life was Queen Elizabeth II. During her 70-year reign she was a reassuring presence to many. Like Jean, Princess Elizabeth as she was then, also doing her duty proudly served in the ATS during WWII.

On September 8th, the day on which she died I wrote in a blog ~

“She witnessed history and wrote it herself ….”

Princess Elizabeth WWII in her ATS uniform

Princess Elizabeth WWII in her ATS uniform

Queen Elizabeth visiting a CWGC Cemetery

With those two constants in my life now gone, I reluctantly accept that new chapters must begin. As time moves along, I am finding the pages of history and those of my daily journal are turning over far too quickly.

Below is a selection of photos from today’s Remembrance Service in Bridgewater, which incidentally was probably the warmest November 11th I have ever experienced ~

Bridgewater native Corporal Paul James Davis of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 2nd, 2006, aged 28

Thursday 10 November 2022

Hanging on to my hat …

With a strong, but warm wind coming from the south, this mornings Crescent Beach wander was once again wonderful. Due to the conditions, while sitting on my usual rock,  I had to carefully hang onto my hat.

The photos below were taken from my rock on the beach ...