Friday, 24 December 2010

NOLLAIG SHONA 2010

Christmas greetings to all my friends, wishing everyone of you a very, very Happy Christmas and year ahead in 2011.

Nollaig Shona is actually an Irish Gaelic greeting 'Nollaig' meaning Chrismas and 'Shona' meaning Happy. It was friends from Dublin who first told me this, all of 21 years ago when I went to Ireland for the first time. That Christmas they took me to see the Christmas Lights and oh what laughter at 'my name' being up there. And, remember how milk used to be delivered to folks doors in glass bottles with silver foil tops? My pals sent me the festive ones adorned with 'Nollaig Shona'. The little things people do, gestures of friendship, much more important than monetary gifts - how much longer these memories last.

In this current cold spell, I've very much enjoyed taking photos to share with my friends - tho' sometimes, the weather has caught me out. Double coats, trousers and jumpers - I haven't been cold but have laughed at my 'Nanuk of the North' image. -20 Temperatures, snowed in for days in the middle of a city and today, the River Esk in Musselburgh with great lumps of ice floating down it before it froze over at sunset.
How beautiful the scene was, birds spinning around in front of an orange sky and away from the setting sun, delicately coloured clouds tinted pink.  Colours I had seen in previous sunsets but everyone is of course unique - a most special work of art.



When the birds settled down for the night - the sounds of the ice being moved by the slow flow of the river. So strange to hear the sounds of the ice from this river I know through a lifetime of visits across the seasons. Visiting to feed ducklings in the Summer, pleased to see and hear the migrating geese in the Autumn and now, feeding hungry gulls and swans trying to survive this frozen land.


The poor birds and animals, how hungry they are as week after week the snow continues. Normally our average temperature is around 3 degrees, such sudden changes in the climate make it very difficult for nature to adapt. Feeding the birds really can make a difference between their life and death but be aware that white bread can cause rickets in swans and other problems for all birds so please ensure you help by giving brown bread, bird seed and, in your garden, try to have out a small amount of unfrozen water for them to drink. Full details of what to feed them (and what not to) can be found on http://www.rspb.org.uk/

Recently, I've also been to Arthur Seat, feeding the birds at the frozen lochs in the centre of Edinburgh. The other day a flock of Greylag pink footed geese had flown in from fields all covered with snow. What a lovely sound they make. Given my first diary as a child of five, the first entry I ever wrote was about visiting the park, further round at Duddingston Loch, having fed the geese on an outing with my mum and dad. How fortunate to live in Edinburgh, near to the sea and with parks and lochs which bring the countryside in to the city, indeed, Duddingston Loch being part of a Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve.


There are three lochs at Arthur Seat and the views from the hill are stunning - well worth the effort to climb up through the snow to look down on the city and see the other six hills that Edinburgh is built on.


Walking along 'the Radical Road' in Edinburgh I looked down on the city, Holyrood Palace, the Parliament, Calton Hill and Edinburgh Castle. The sunshine was weak through the frozen atmosphere yet, how beautiful the sunset over the Pentlands was.


Over the snow covered Pentlands, the setting sun was more beautiful to me than the Christmas lights that we put up but of course, such decorations also have their place.


At Musselburgh, by the Esk, a tree has been decorated with white lights - beautiful to see its reflections in the river. The flowing water making the lights shimmer even more , a sea of shimmering light.



And how could I post photos of this Winter Wonderland without including a photo from the coast and a snowy Port Seton as the fishing boats come home to land their catch, home at Christmas.




Over the years we build up relationships with family and friends. As time passes, we establish connections with people outwith our area - surely everyone wants to 'go home' for Christmas but it's because we want to be with those important to us. Now today, I think it is great how through the internet, we can easily connect to all those who are important to us in far away places all over the world. 

To all my friends and family, wherever you are, I wish you a very Happy festive season. For 2011, I send you my greetings for the year ahead. And lastly, I'd just like to say, I hope you have enjoyed my http://www.facebook.com/shonamcmillan.celticreflections Celtic Reflections and recent winter photos that I have shared with you all from my small part of this big and beautiful world that we all live in.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Best wishes everyone, Shona.

"NOLLAIG SHONA"

Thursday, 2 December 2010

WINTER HARE

Sunsets of pinks and purple hues and the ellusive Winter hare, as white as the snow covered land which it crosses so quietly.

This year the snow has arrived so early and in such quantity, it's been called the coldest spell to hit the UK for at least 17 years. Last year at this time, I was coming back from the Scottish Borders, crossing the Lammermuirs on the Duns road, the night sky sparkling with stars, moonlight casting long shadows across the land.


A sharp chill in the air I was driving slowly, scanning the road for the shine of black ice. Near to the view point over the Forth, I slowed the car to a crawl. Such a ghostly light, all along the Forth the hills were visible, snow reflecting back the moon's light through a cloudless sky. Not enough light for a photo or maybe, just one of these special nights that, as time passes, will become all the more memorable without a photo.  A personal, private recollection which becomes like a treasured feeling inside, a unique 'magical time' to be recalled.



Just before the road winds it way down the steepest of hills, having dropped my car to the slowest crawl -out from the snow at the side of the road, a pure White Winter Hare. So beautiful I stopped immediately and it stopped too, sitting up on its hind legs. I reached for my camera on the seat beside me but then, I let it go. I love to photograph hares but, somehow, this time felt different.



The hare dropped on to all fours and came towards me. Slowly I opened the door and got out. At the front of the car I stopped and the hare made a few more slow steps towards me. I crouched down and studied this creature of such beauty. Along the moors road there were no car lights in the distance, no sounds of any sort, just stars, moonlight and an intense cold. I shivered and, as slowly as it had appeared it crossed the road and moved across the land, it's white shape merging before me in to the snow and moonlight.



I have a friend who specialises in wildlife photography and I phoned him up the next day. He gave me a very plausible explanation. Dazzled by the car headlights the hare had been stunned by the light, when the effect passed it had continued on its way... Life can be full of mysteries, sometimes it is useful to look beneath the surface, to understand what factors have created a situation. But then again, there are also times when it's as good to just go with the flow and to enjoy the moment, the special moments which nourish the soul.




WINTER HARE ON THE DUNS ROAD

A full moon shone on the Lammermuir
As winter’s chill did still the air
When from the shadows, some hidden lair
Crossed my path, a snow white hare

It stopped to watch to stand and stare
Raised up slow and sniffed the air
This quiet being with no sign of fear
Serendipity? “I saw it there”

In moonlight shadow it seemed to sway
Some enchanted dance, as if its way
To welcome in a newborn day
The year ahead, come what may


All images and copy Shona McMillan ©
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 27 November 2010

FROZEN SILENCE

Driving around East Lothian today it was a winter wonderland of fresh white snow. Towards sunset the snow started to fall again and I sheltered for a while in a woodland, hoping the setting sun might emerge. Sound was muffled by the snow so everything fell silent and still. No sounds of bird song, the wee critters no doubt sheltering and saving their energy for the long night ahead. With no sounds and in such stillness, it seemed possible - the rest of the world had slipped away elsewhere.





A Frozen Silence

Falling snow, stills the air
Winter’s cloak, the trees do wear
Birds fall silent, as all around
Snow flakes fall, without a sound



Friday, 26 November 2010

LANGUAGE WITHOUT WORDS


Music: a universally shared language which crosses international boundaries.

Today, I was in Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres. I did not take my 'proper' camera with me but yes, my wee camera was tucked away in my bag. I was thankful I had that with me when the sound of beautiful music stopped me in my tracks. On this day, declared the coldest, worst November for snow in the UK for 17 years, an elderly lady was playing the accordion.

Her music went straight to my heart and I felt the sting of tears flowing in to my eyes. I knew I must go over to tell her how much I appreciated her playing.



From the other side of the street, she saw me approach. I smiled, I pointed to myself and made the action of playing the violin. Her face broke into a HUGE smile, excitedly she greeted me with a torrent of Romanian and then she repeated several times "violino violino violino" and touched her heart. I signed back "violino touched my heart" but took her hand and pointed to the accordion, then my heart - her music moved me.  She gestured to me to wait and changed to a play a waltz. Her head proudly lifted, her smile reflected by sparkling eyes as she played to me. I sang to accompany her and she swayed as she played. I took my camera from my pocket, touched my heart and she nodded, raised her hand to her lips and blew a kiss.

Me, in a smart red coat and black business trousers. This woman wrapped up against the cold, playing with one red and one blue glove and every so often, speaking to me in Romanian.

We must have looked an unusual pair but neither of us cared. 

People hurried past, to some we were invisible, to others there seemed almost a hostility in their expressions - "why were we taking?" I thought that few people in their assumptions would be correct.


This lovely lady was a musician like myself. I respected her skill, I understood and related to her in these short moments which we shared.  Like her, I had stood as a busker playing here and in other city centres in Scotland and around the world. I too, knew of  this experience happening 'now'. Many times I have met musicians on the road and the language of our countries has prevented verbal communication. Yet, music and gestures have shared what we have wanted to say. Music, a language without words.

Finally I had to go. She took my hand, gestured of the cold, pointed to the sun, pointed to my smile and signed that my smile had brightened and warmed her heart. For me, it was a long street to walk away from her and in her line of vision but, when I stopped to look back, she was still stood playing, smiling at me.




Catching the train back to Edinburgh, I arrived in the dark. The city centre was full of people rushing in and out of shops. Christmas lights illuminated Princes Street, yet the season of goodwill seemed more about spending money amidst loud music booming from the fun fair. The music here was not as sweet as the waltz played earlier to me by my friend. How much more precious had been her music, her smile and our shared exchange speaking a language without words.


video

If you have enjoyed reading my free Blog - maybe I can ask that, the next time you pass by a busker whose music you enjoy, please stop and give them some money. It takes many years of hard work and commitment to become a musician and there is a Celtic saying:

"A compliment doesn't pay the fiddler"

Friday, 19 November 2010

HIGHLAND REFLECTIONS


Kinlochbervie, Shona McMillan ©
Can a photo depict a person? To choose but a single image, does that risk conveying only one aspect of a multi-dimensional life?

People identified: consultant, photo-journalist, musician...

NOT a label, each person is a combination of parts eg: business skills from their day job, creative, sporting and artistic pursuits that nourish heart, body and soul. Their outlook on life - shaped by  home, family and friends.

Educated in Edinburgh, visiting East Lothian relatives, and after a lifetime of Highland holidays and music travels abroad, all these experiences combine to make up the person I am.

Durness, Shona McMillan ©









Returning from Sutherland to finish my weekend in Edinburgh, with Irish friends over for the Scots Fiddle Festival - it tugs on the heart strings not to be able to see all those I care for in different places when I want to but that is both the curse and the joy of the modern world.  Born in Edinburgh, I have been able to travel, put down roots in more than one place and develop friendships at home and abroad. Friends who, reflect and gel with different parts of my life in the ever moving social and business circles everyone forms over the years.

In Edinburgh, Arthur Seat the extinct volcano,
Described like a lion guarding the city, Shona McMillan ©

Yet, in Edinburgh now, still how powerful the feelings of having been with family. And, when I was alone in Sutherland, it felt like even the land seemed to welcome me home. So many memories, years of growing up in the place, shared lifes and times... With one friend, when we hugged, there was nothing said for the longest time but no words could have communicated more powerfully the depth of our unspoken bond.  A continuing friendship, built up over many years, through the love of the generations of our families now gone.

13.11.10: Durness to Kinlochbervie, Shona McMillan ©

Finally, when I left the area, the sun had dropped behind the hills and there seemed an incredible hush. The silence felt as powerful as the unspoken words in the embrace of my friend. I drove without music on and my window open but there was no sound of bird song. But, as I drove by a loch, a deer stood there motionless. I stopped, reversed and then got out but still, it did not move as I walked towards it. 


Stag on the Lairg Road, Shona McMillan ©

Coming in from Lairg, along the Kinlochbervie to Durness road, the mountains seem to tower over the land, almost like great, mighty beasts that are positioned to guard the communities below. Out of this photo to the left stands Foinaven, surely my most favourite mountain of all. In Kinlochbervie at sunrise, Foinaven is the first mountain touched by the rays of the sun as it rises over the sea at Durness. Now in the dusk, I felt so close to the old country, the land which endures the passing of the seasons, the years and all things.

Standing there, it felt almost as if the deer had come to bid farewell. For some time we watched each other, until I knew it was time to let go and journey on. I broke the silence with "Goodbye". At that, the stag slowly turned and moved away, it's long legs passing elegantly through bracken and heather without a sound, back towards the loch until it was gone from sight.

I walked back to my car to begin my long drive back, a journey south to friends, music and laughter. Yet in my heart, part of me was and ever remains at home in Sutherland.  My reflections on my friends and time spent in the Highlands (and similarly in Ireland) these relationships are so very important to me - wherever I am they are with me, an intrinsic part of who I am, my past, present and future.
 
Mountains on the Lairg Road, Shona McMillan ©

A long way from my experience on the Lairg Road, back in Edinburgh studying my photos of the deer, something in its quiet expression reminded me of a poem that I had written nearly twenty years before. A poem begun, not in the quiet beauty of the Highlands or even on one of my many trips to Ireland but started on an evening as I stood at a window in Milan watching the absolute confusion of an evening rush hour. A poem from my desire to climb a mountain away from all the noise, to be at home again in the Highlands, able to look down on the land from Suilven in Assynt or Foinaven at Kinlochbervie.

Suilven in Assynt, Shona McMillan ©

Staying in a friend's house, having travelled from Naples, this girl with a mix of the Highlands and a love in her heart had actually considered being married in Italy. Now, from the window in Milan, I saw so little greenery. Across the street, some poppies caught in a warm breeze. Above me, swallows that darted and dived. Like wild geese in flight, I knew they would be calling out to each other but their singing was lost in the dusty, fume filled noise of the traffic.

Portobello: Wild geese over  the Firth of Forth, Shona McMillan ©

It was at this moment that I knew so clearly where my home was. I would always love visiting Italy (and indeed, some years on I was seconded to work there and lived in Rome for several months). Yet, on that day in Milan, so far from Scotland and all the Celtic culture that was and is so very important to me, I knew that Italy was not a place where I could choose to live forever, settle and make my home - sooner first, my home was in a "wee fishing village" in Scotland. Previously in Naples, in the seemingly never ending noise, I had asked my partner - "How do you survive all this chaos?" He said he created a quiet place inside his head and carried it with him.  


Fisherrow harbour, as a boat comes in at sunset, Shona McMillan ©

Watching the scene from that window, I saw many visions of Scotland in my mind. From the strength of my Highland reflections, the words of this poem just flowed out of me. Words from the dawning of my own understanding that whether I be in Italy, Edinburgh or indeed, any other place in the world, everything of true importance was already carried within me, held so deeply in my heart.


From Polin beach Kinlochbervie to Foinaven, Arkle & Stack, Shona McMillan ©

As with the Highland photo which opens this Blog, one I have chosen for my current business card, I very much appreciate the beauty of Sutherland. However, I also KNOW it is not just the beauty of a place but the people and the memories which make it so very special.

Durness, where the community there and at
Kinlochbervie (KLB) so welcomed my family, Shona McMillan ©

My poem reflects how my family and friends contributed to my appreciation of the natural enviornment around me. In addition, how through travel, meeting new people and learning about their life, I could take the oppotunity to develop a greater appreciation of culture, music and the arts. I learnt too, how to turn around something which had not worked, to fully embrace the philosophy that it is better to try to do something (and fail) than to let a fear of failure stop you from trying to achieve it in the first place.


13.11.10: Saying farewell to Durness
The start point of my journey to Edinburgh, Shona McMillan © 

My poem finishes with the title of a book a dear friend in America gave me 21 years ago. Susan Jeffer's: "Feel the fear but do it anyway!" - a lasting quote from the book that I still repeat today is: "Ships in the Harbour are safe but they weren't built for that!"


Myself at Kinlochbervie, Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved


FEEL THE FEAR BUT DO IT ANYWAY

 I take my freedom, to soar as a swallow
Or dance as a poppy, which sways with the breeze
Breathing in deep, the soft scent of wildflowers
My spirit enlightened, by wind through the trees

In dew drops that sparkle, I see Nature's magic
Delight in the beauty, of land kissed by the rain
Inspired by rainbows, where others see storm clouds
Wise from the lessons, which caused me such pain

My heart it is strengthened, by every sunset I witness
My hope springs eternal, in each sunrise I see
Solitude my salvation, friendship my pleasure
Strength and conviction, to stay true to me



Oldshoremore beach at Kinlochbervie, Shona McMillan ©
 
Call of the wild geese, beckoning to adventure
Wind through a swan’s wing, encouraging my flight
Eternal sea surge, lullaby to life’s worries
Moon and singing blackbird, joy of my night

Music my companion, voice of emotions
Dolphins swimming strong, in my deepest of seas
Starlight that guides, the path of my journey
While moonlight awakens, the dreamer in me

‘Till one day at last, I’ll climb high up on Foinaven
And there cast my eyes, on my life as I may
And see that my strength, came out of life's learning
That ’tho I felt the fear, I did it anyway

  Shona McMillan ©


Foinaven and Arkle reflected in the loch at Kinlochbervie
All Photos by Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 11 November 2010

REMEMBRANCE POPPIES

The delicate poppy has become a flower which symbolises different things to different people.

The Common Corn Poppy (Papaver Rhoesa) - its seeds hidden in the ground, has risen to flourish from distrurbed land and in the carnage of WW1 it flowered in abundance in war torn areas where so many lost their lives. In area of large open farmland, Flanders covers the neighbouring parts of Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Here, at Ypres in April 1915, from artillery fire, exploding shells and toxic gas, more than 200,000 men were killed during three of the war’s most savage battles lasting just 17 days. It was called the "war to end wars"



 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields......

Lt Col John McCrae, Born in 1862
Died in active service in Boulogne, 28.01.18

East Lothian Poppy Field on the banks of the Firth of Forth
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved


Serving at the second Battle of Ypres, Scots-Canadian, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was working as a field hospital surgeon. Half the Canadian brigade to which he was attached was killed. Witness to such carnage, his traumatic experience proved to be the catalyst to his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”. Anonymously sent to Punch magazine, it was published in December 1915. Then, after his death in active service in 1918, McCrae’s poem was published posthumously in a collection of his work.

 
Reprinted in the 1918 November issue of Lady’s Home Journal, Moina Michael, War Secretary of the American Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), came to read the poem 2 days before Armistice Day. In progress was the 25th YMCA Conference of Overseas Secretaries and Moina had brightened its headquarters with flowers. In appreciation, delegates gave Moina a cheque for ten dollars. Shortly before she had read McCrae’s poem and showed it to them. Moina accepted their gift but explained she would use it to buy red silk poppies. She explained she had vowed to wear a poppy in remembrance of those killed. Buying 25 poppies, she distributed them amongst those who had effectively given the first ‘donation’ for remembrance poppies.


Raised in Georgia, Moina’s family had originated from Britagne, France. A deeply Christian lady, Moina was motivated to help others and worked in education until she resigned to assist in the war effort. Moina wanted to travel abroad in war service but at 49, she was considered too old so she relocated. At the YMCA, Moina worked in a part of the building described as a sort of canteen area with comfortable seating where servicemen met their loved ones for the last time before going overseas. At first hand, Moina saw the intense emotional pain caused by the separation of loved ones. Profoundly moved by McCrae’s poem, later she described it as an almost spiritual experience. Equating the poppy’s emergence from devastation, to the magnificent rainbow appeared in the sky after the biblical flood. For Moina, her vow on November 9th changed her life forever and the personal crusade she had embarked on was one from which millions of people would benefit.



Oh! You who sleep in Flanders’ fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew........
We cherish too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valour led.

It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead....

In Flanders’ fields.....
Wear in honour of our dead.

Monia Michael, 1869 - 1944

Largely at her own expense, Moina campaigned to persuade ex-servicemen to adopt the poppy and wear it in pride and honour for the fallen. A short while later, through the YMCA, Moina met war widow Madame Guérin on a visit from France. With significant success, Guérin took up the fundraising challenge and organised production of poppies in France for the benefit of children in war torn Europe. Guérin then came to Britain and approached Field Marshall Earl Haig who had been the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France and Belgium. Principal founder of the British Legion, Haig was so impressed by Guérin’s fundraising idea that he gave approval for the first Poppy Day Appeal in 1921.

Edinburgh on the banks of the Firth of Forth
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved

WW1 was not to be ‘the war to end all wars.’ Twenty-one years on, the first air attack of WW2 in Britain took place over the Forth, Lothians and Fife.

Today, wars continue around the world and soldiers die in countries far from home. Whatever a person's position is in respect of the rights or wrongs of these conflicts - it is important that we never forget those who have died as soldiers are not just numbers lost in conflict but are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters. People and the wars and causes in which they die should be remembered, not least to communicate how important it is in 'today's civilised world' human beings should be able to resolve issues without having to go to war in the first place. When I stand and look out over the calm waters of the Firth of Forth, it seems impossible that a war could have touched these shores - but it did and conflicts still continue. Time passes, yet it remains -

Humans have much to learn in resolving
their differences through peaceful measures. 


Looking up the calm waters of the Firth of Forth towards Edinburgh
Shona McMillan © All Rights Reserved


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

FAREWELL HIGHLAND FLOWER

The Yellow Iris is such a beautiful flower, when I see it I think of the Highlands where it can be seen to bloom in abundance on marshy land. I chose this flower today, as I share this personal entry, for a very dear friend whose courageous battle against cancer has come to an end.

Reflecting back on my friendship with Iris - I don't remember when I first met Iris Mather because, quite literally, I was just a 'babe in arms'. However, I do know that we met through my family, visiting Mather's shop in Sutherland. Back then, Durness was an even smaller Highland village than it is today. On the North West coast, over 260 miles from Edinburgh, crossing many miles of single-track road and before the building of the Kessock and Kylesku bridges, it was a very, very long trip to make and pulling our small caravan it took my family around 12 hours to reach there. With so few 'tourists' visiting at that time we were unusal in holidaying there but my family were  so welcomed in to the area that it became for us like a 'second home.'



In these early days the shop was owned by her dad, Jimmy Mather and oh, what a character he was, a really lovely man and Iris grew up to reflect his good qualities, his humour, compassion and kindness. At the heart of the community was Iris at Mather's shop and doing more than one job (as is the custom in small areas) you could meet her when she was driving a bus over to Cape Wrath and also, driving everyone to dances and other events all over Sutherland. In addition, Iris was always to be seen at the Durness Highland Games and, after her many years of involvement in their organisation, most fittingly, Iris was the 2010 Chieftain of the Games. As she had said to me in a phonecall in the lead up to that day, "if I have to get up from my sick bed to make the Games I will do it, this means so much to me". I am very pleased that it was a date that Iris kept!


On the cliff tops, where Durness Highland Games are held

For once the day was about Iris, tho' for me, my memories reflect all the other games, Iris ALWAYS running around, there to help, making sure everything was organised, going as it should and everyone having a great time. She was the sort of woman, as captured in this photo - in the middle of such a busy day, Aly Bain, that year was a Chieftain of the Games and having a drink, I had just been offered one but said "no, but Iris, have you any sandwiches?" and yes, she produced a plastic tub (peoples needs always well thought out so you could ask her and she'd always have a suggestion or a solution, always doing her best to help, with good grace and a warm smile).

2005 Durness Highland Games: Aly Bain, Iris and me

Over my entire lifetime I have called in to see Iris, at her shop or her house, on every trip to the North (it wouldn't have been a proper trip to Durness if I hadn't). On my last trip 'home to Durness' she was the last person I made special time to go and see and to hug goodbye to. And, it was that very special embrace you give a person when you have known them your entire life and... you know they are fighting cancer. Whether they are telling you the latest good or bad news about their condition, inside you quietly speak unspoken words - "please don't let this be our last goodbye". Yet, for us that was farewell and, after a long time blethering to her in her kitchen there she was, waving to me from her garden gate and me tooting the car horn as I set off to drive back to Edinburgh. That day when Iris hugged me she laughed, "ah the baby I held and the toddler I lifted on to the shop counter to choose which sweeties to give you" - "Aye well then, I quipped - it's all your fault I've had too many sweeties" and I gave her an even closer squeeze in my arms.



I feel fortunate to have known this woman, this special woman that you could call - the 'salt of the earth'. From her small shop in the North West Highlands, the relationships that she built up with locals and tourists alike have created many positive ripples out around the world so that Iris will be sadly missed by very many people. For me, like the sunshine Yellow Iris which flowers so brightly in the Highlands, my time spent with Iris Mather has brightened my life.

My thoughts go out to all her family and her many friends -
From her wee shop in the Highlands, Iris touched so many lives




FAREWELL IRIS

People and places, build up our world

These special friends, that shape us

Their warm smile, that lights our way

Laughter, love and words they say




So when it comes, their time to leave

Their special memories, still live on

And we reflect, how much they gave

For all of that, will keep us strong

Shona McMillan 10.11.10



R.I.P IRIS MATHER