Hotel Miramar where we stayed
In the early 60s Don Matheson, a cousin of my grandfather originally from Drumbuie in Wester Ross, visited us; he had spent his life working on a ranch in Denver, Colorado apart from returning for the First World War. Don left a good impression on the family at that time. In 1970 into 1971, aged around 80, he came and stayed with us for quite a number of months. The pleasant task of accompanying him on holiday to Majorca fell on me just before my 13th birthday.
Very few people living in west coast villages did foreign holidays at that time so I was told that it was a great privilege… and it probably was. We flew out of Glasgow, my first time in a plane, and the bleakness of our flight path over southern Scotland really struck me having the impression that south of the Highlands was, in the main, good farm land. Heathrow seemed smaller than I expected and, of course, was comparatively small at the time. Our flight was delayed by 12 hours so we hung about and I got to know the place quite well. Even at that time many immigrant people worked in the terminal, some of them hardworking. Landing at Palma in the middle of the night I remember naively expecting the air to be somehow different and for it to be magical in some way!
It was of course just the same as London, Glasgow or Kyle only much warmer! My thought at age 59.1 is that the experience of a flight has not changed much in getting on for 50 years, apart from huge security and crowded terminals. We stayed at Hotel Miramar in Puerto De Pollenca and from the web site despite a huge bedroom extension it has not changed all that much in more than 45 years.
We hired a car-Fiat 500- the smallest car possible with a noisy motor bike engine in the back and Don, being a giant of a man with huge boots, kept inadvertently pressing the brake instead of the accelerator (or even worse vice -versa). He was used to large automatic American monsters not “stick shift” European junk! I ended up sometimes having to move it in small car parks on the edge of one of the many cliffs. My clutch control was dreadful and we both found selection of reverse very difficult. At least I did not press the wrong pedals, but it was pretty much a case of the blind leading the blind! Don liked to go to the quieter more rustic areas which were quite like the way the West Highland villages would have been when he was a boy in the late 1800s.
The evening entertainment in Drumbuie 70 years earlier had been going to each others houses and seeing who could tell the best ghost story! Don was a master in the art. I heard about mysterious sea horses, strange unexplained noises, apparitions and second sight. He made out that he was pretty offended when I told him that I did not believe a word of his superstitious nonsense and would be very happy to spend a night in the local graveyard. Needless to say I never carried that one through despite offers of a lift to Kirkton graveyard.
Meanwhile back in Majorca the weather had not been fantastic, so on the last couple of days I decided it would be good to get a sun tan. I borrowed some seemingly inoffensive lotion from some older girls, it was basically brown dye, and the first person I met in Kyle, Alec Robertson who ran the garage, asked if the weather had been good then burst out laughing! My neck was white and my face blotchy brown. These girls and indeed Don must have had a great laugh at my expense. Lesson learned, trust nobody….. and try not to be gullible!
What about spiritual lessons from a holiday at age 12¾? Here are three thoughts…
FIRSTLY The very first question on return my dad, who was very strict, asked was, ‘did you go to church?’ ‘Of course not’ was the quick smug answer,’ you surely would not want me to go to a Catholic church?’…. ‘Was the bible read?’ he asked… Now in a corner.. ‘guess so’ was the reluctant answer. Then some inspiration! Surely I would have been better off reading the bible and meditating at the hotel in English. NO NO NO Better to meet with fellow believers than sit reading on your own!
Was he right?…probably. His argument was that, although misled in many doctrines, the Catholic church had at the very least carried Christianity from the resurrection to the reformation. Having blogged now for a few months I realize that many of you who are believers reading this have given up on church of any type. There is, I believe, an exceptionally strong case for meeting with fellow Christians, even supposing they perhaps are not all they ought to be.
SECONDLY Superstition has no place in the Christian church. The bible is a great guide in life and by following the teaching of Jesus we can completely do away with horoscopes and ghost stories. Indeed all demonic forces, imagined or real have been conquered by him.
THIRDLY People are really much the same worldwide… the same nature as our first parents is within each of us to a greater or lesser degree. There is violence, injustice, illness and death everywhere we go…The answer is Jesus Christ who in love and mercy showed us a better way, died for our sins and conquered death itself, that ultimate enemy.
As Paul said to the Corinthians: ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!‘