My Dad

Mum & Dad - 3At this time of year, Remembrance Day, I always think of my Dad. That young man who was sent off to the army, giving up his studies of the classics with thoughts of becoming a minister.

His experiences included an overland journey to India and several years of service there, away from home and family and my mother, waiting for him so they could start a family of their own. I was born nine months after they married when he returned home, the first of the “post war baby boomers”.

The only time he talked about his experiences was to tell us about being on board a ship on the Mediterranean for three days en route to Egypt, unable to go out on deck and under constant threat of bombardment. He held his Bible close to him, reading passages to keep his mind occupied.

His life changed immeasurably when he returned, and he never did resume his studies and 11 years later made the decision to emigrate the family to California to start a new life, never really to settle there either.

So many lives disrupted by these horrible conflicts, many much worse than my father’s.

But I think of him especially, handsome in his uniform, grateful that he came home and married my mother and my life began.



This lovely photo of Glen Ashdale Falls by Nick Milloutou is exactly what I think of when I think of ‘exuberance’. Unrestricted beauty and joy. I see it in the 4 year olds when they visit us from nursery and hear it in my granddaughter’s voice when she tells me about her soccer practice. All very ordinary things in life causing a lift in spirits and a feeling of ‘glad to be alive’.

I am celebrating that feeling in spades today as tomorrow is the third anniversary of my liver transplant operation. Three years of everydays with something to be grateful for and a sense of exuberance and excitement about what might be possible.

The other day I tripped myself up by being sad and angry about the things I couldn’t do as I wait for my hip to heal. I decided to take some action and find someone who could come and help me with the things I want to do, but physically can’t. I placed a wee ad in the Arran Community Forum and found Shona who is setting up a business to provide exactly this service to her customers. Already my kitchen cupboards and drawers are well and truly in order and a very big box of ‘stuff’  has gone to ARCAS for recycling and a donation to the Arran cancer charity. All my CD’s are in order and I so look forward to her next visit when we tackle another room. She is also going to help me set up the garden now that the new paths are completed. So glad I didn’t let myself dwell on the negatives.


Glen Ashdale Falls 2017




Honouring my Inner Child

My living room is twice as sunny with the new door (photos soon). Today is one of those absolutely perfect autumn days, coincidentally the birthday of my youngest son.

I’m still giggling after a coffee hour this morning with four members of the Brodick Nursery (age 4) who are joining us for the next six Fridays in a sort of intergenerational session based on the recent Channel 4 programme. The chat round the table was relaxed as we all decorated funky figures which were then folded into cress planters and now stand proudly on the window sill. Watch this space! Full marks to Ann, Bobbi & Lorraine for bringing the children round on this stunning day and we all agreed we look forward to next week. I may ask for some help with a tabletop Duplo next week as it was a tad impossible for me to crawl around the floor.

Other news from Glen Estate was the very welcome news that the Lottery has awarded the Tenants’ Association a grant of £10,000 towards “Learning and Laughter at Glen Estate” a year-long programme for pleasure and learning new skills which are designed to combat Alzheimers and break isolation in older people in the community. Sometimes it is really worth slogging through the application process and finding the right words to explain what you want to do.

All this makes being housebound fairly bearable though I am looking forward to next week when I have a go at walking with a stick. (the practice went OK) and finally get out to walk my new garden path and plan which pots are going where. Thanks to Gavin for making this possible. Even the thought of it lifts my spirits.



Permission to Underwhelm

Of course, being me, I would bring home a tummy bug from the hospital to complicate recovery and give me something else to think about apart from leg exercises.

In the typical spirit of ‘why me’? I’ve been asking in my prayers for understanding of why I have to take a tummy bug on board along with everything else.

Of course, the answer has been staring me in the face waiting for me to catch on that it’s OK now and then to slow down completely and just be overwhelmed. That unexpected trip to hospital with a broken hip was not in the ‘recovery from liver transplant’ programme. More like ten hurpling steps backward and a regroup and  a recognition that I was overwhelmed by the whole experience on top of the transplant recovery.

I am asking for permission to be underwhelmed for a while and just live my daily life celebrating the ordinary and gradually healing back to myself again. With the sun shining in my new door and the red chrysanthemums blowing in the breeze outside it’s not a big ask.

This year the Liver Transplant Unit in Edinburgh is celebrating 25 years in existence. They’re having a party which I won’t manage, but you can send a donation to their work to: Scottish Liver Transplant Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 51 Little France Crescent, Old Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh EH16 4SA.

My life is testimony that it is money well spent.


Starting Again


My recent hip fracture in the midst of my recovery from my liver transplant has reminded me again that I’m not in charge and that I need to listen in prayer much more than I speak.  It’s working.

I was baptized in the Church of Scotland at 2 months old and ever since Christianity has been a focus of how I chose to live my life. I’ve had my times of doubt and skepticism, especially with two failed marriages, when I thought I’d followed the ‘rules’ and struggles with alcoholism which destroyed my liver.

God’s hand has always been guiding me and supporting me and now at the age of 71 with a liver transplant, I once again find myself full of gratitude and excitement as another chapter in my life unfolds.

I have just discovered Two-Way Prayer recently thanks to my friend Phil who came back into my life four years ago through a school reunion. We hadn’t communicated for 50 years and after a few emails realized that our spiritual paths had followed the same basic journey although we had not been in touch.

Phil introduced me to the concept of Two-Way Prayer and the power of listening for an answer in the midst of daily chaos. I am new at the practice but find each day that it makes my life worthwhile and has become an important part of my daily prayers & meditations.

I live on Arran, an island in the southwest of Scotland where we are fortunate enough to have 4 AA meetings every week and this welcome discovery of Two-Way prayer and contact with friends in Texas is something to be very grateful for. And I am.

On Lemon & Ginger Tea, Chair Yoga and T’ai Chi

 Woodside Farm

A new venture on Arran is providing a wonderful weekly delivery service of organic veg and fruit which are inspiring new recipes with delicious produce. Today’s experiment with fresh ginger was

Ginger, Lemon & Star Anise Tea

Generous slices of lemon and fresh ginger

1 star anise

Honey to sweeten



Place ingredients in a lovely tea cup or mug or double the amount of ingredients and place in your favourite teapot. Pour enough boiling water to cover and leave to soak for at least half an hour. Fill up with more boiling water and add honey to taste.



A visit this week to Crosshouse hospital to the eye clinic was mildly worrying because the optician had found a wee spot on my left eye — always a concern for a diabetic like me. The outcome was amazing. Not only had the wee spot healed itself, but the scan of my eyes was clear and I don’t have to go back for a year.

Add to that three mornings a week of exercise – Falls Prevention on Tuesday, Chair Yoga and T’ai Chi on the other two mornings and all either here at Glen Estate or the Sports Pavilion round the corner and MyBus to pick us up and take us round there. Still can’t walk as much as I’d like to, but my body is very grateful for the attention and I feel like a healthy person with a couple of conditions instead of the invalid I was for nearly four years before my transplant.

Plugging Back in Again

This week was lovely.

Letter from the liver transplant clinic to say that my next  review is in December by phone so I don’t have to travel to Edinburgh. T’ai Chi practice and a session with Jane Sloan combining T’ai Chi for Rehabilitation and Chi Gong exercises completely energising and destressing the body.

Arrival of daughter and granddaughters from Galway for a few precious catch-up days with Simon and me. I made much use of MyBus to go to places I would otherwise not have managed. Today we went up to the new Adventure Playground up behind Brodick Castle and walked up to the Bronze Age house by which time on the way down it was absolutely bucketing town and the consensus was to head for the cafe to dry off and reconsider our options for the hour before the bus came back. Simon and Fern decided to brave the weather and explored the playground thoroughly, Fern dressed in my climbing raincoat. Well, what else can you expect from an Arran July? The last official heatwave was in 1976.

Yesterday afternoon was spent at the Eco -Savvy workshop on recycling fabric in Whiting Bay Hall. Barbara I’Ansson asked me to come along and exhibit some of my weavings which are on a recycling theme – I took along a rag rug I made in 1973 which is still going strong, but because I didn’t have a loom with me, I suggested that we cut strips of fabric and start a braided rug. The process was fun and the result was impressive in length and I plugged in to an old skill I used to practice before I discovered weaving. If you want to have a go, EcoSavvy will be holding similar workshops around the island in the next few months and the craic was definitely as good as the soup and cake.

Today while drying out I took advantage of my two visiting IT and web experts and updated my weaving website Lynn Gray Ross  and the knitting pattern website for The Arran Knitting Company with traditional patterns with a contemporary twist which I designed a few years ago. The marketing had to be put on hold during my years of illness but it is great fun to meet these old friends again (and the models who are also old friends). The patterns are for sale on the Etsy page for The Arran Knitting Company.

I’m not allowed to post photos of teenage granddaughters on Facebook (their demand). Just as well, because this afternoon we would have been a drookit bunch, i.e. extremely soaking wet.

I shall miss them as always tomorrow when they leave, but it pleases me enormously to know that they are doing so well in school and as they go out to explore the world, they will have a unique string to their bow in their fluent Irish language. Their impatience with the language lessons will be rewarded at some point when they least expect it.





“Heading Back to Arran” Philadelphia Style

That thing where my son Chris was stopped at a football match in Philadelphia by a friend of his teammate who incidentally runs a Greek food van (the teammate, that is. Bear in mind that Chris is Arran born and raised.

This friend told Chris that he had just posted a song on You Tube he wrote after a visit to the island called “Heading Back to Arran” with a video of our beautiful mountains and glens.

It is true that no matter where you travel, there is always someone who has an Arran connection. Not always the friend of a Greek food van entrepreneur.

Here’s the link to the song and the beautiful video which is promoting Arran and expressing a longing to return.

I Reacquaint Myself with my Inner Weaver


The setting was Janie’s at Duchess Court, drinking cappuccinos with Simon Thorborn’s relocated pottery all too temptingly in the background ( I gave in and came home with a minivase for my collection). The purpose of the outing was to brainstorm with Rorie to work out the set-up for the Iron Age loom that sits in the Roundhouse by the Ranger Centre at Brodick Castle.

We talked loom weights for a while and found a suitable handspun warp in Rorie’s magical collection to hold the unspun Shetland fleece in shades of dark brown, white, grey and moorit (reddish brown). If all goes well the roundhouse will be enhanced by a handwoven woollen rug to help keep out winter drafts.

I am looking forward to visiting the Ranger Centre next week and meeting the loom face to face to see if today’s plan is a keeper or adjusting it confidently if not.

It took me back to learning how to weave in Stockholm at HV Skola, plotting and planning with new friends and coming to terms with how those magic machines actually worked and what beautiful objects you could produce with the stash of available materials.

For more information on Stone Weight Looms check out my website Lynn Gray Ross

To be continued once we’ve been to the Ranger Centre.

The Family Tie that Binds – “The Closer We Get”

Today the Screen Machine offered a free add- on  to LaLa Land and Trainspotting 2, a film  which took place a bit closer to home in Largs,  just up the Ayrshire coast and in Ethiopia.

Local filmmaker Karen Guthrie set her camera in the midst of her family and portrayed an amazing dynamic that came about when her mother had a stroke a few years ago,  bringing the family together to work out her care, including her father who returned home post-divorce to help keep her mother at home.

Karen answered questions from the audience after the showing of the film and it was clear that the openness of the film, the warts and all portrayal of a typical West of Scotland family in crisis spoke to those present. It certainly did to me, the  similarity between her father and mine was astonishing in their ability not to show emotion and place the blame elsewhere when questioned. This made me realise that while I always thought my family was singularly dysfunctional, here that was protrayed in such a way as to make it clear that this similarity was cultural. The friend I was with could relate to it as well, West of Scotland lassie that she is.

I won’t tell the story or the twist in the tale, because it is possible to watch the film on or purchase the DVD and I highly recommend either.

We are so fortunate to have access to the award-winning musical and this very real Scottish film in the same weekend just up the road, not to mention the Auchrannie Spa nearby for apres-film cappucinos and fresh-baked scones.

The Closer We Get


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