Meeting up again

Today, Jean, our friend from Penicuik, arrived to stay with us for three nights. We have not seen her since 2002 and it was a pleasure to welcome her to our guest house. When we first met Jean, we had recently moved to Howgate, just outside Edinburgh, and she and her husband, Ralph, made us feel very welcome at one of the churches we visited.

The Church of St James the Less in Penicuik, where we first met Jean and her husband, Ralph. (Photo courtesy of

Then, a few months ago, we heard the unhappy news that Ralph had passed away. Jean and Ralph would have celebrated 60 years of marriage this year had he lived. Both Hubby and I felt so desperately sad for Jean, who had been nursing her husband until a couple of days before he died when he had to go into nursing care because she could not cope anymore. We wanted to do something for her and asked if she would like to visit with us this Jubilee week.

So today has been a day of remembrances for Jean, Hubby and I. Jean, who will be 81 this year, looked well. Hubby and I would have liked to have her and Ralph to visit while he had been alive. However, Jean had been unsure if she could manage the steps up to our front door from our private car park and had never visited us before because of this. Well, we found out today that despite her arthritis and gamy hips, she managed very well indeed with a little help from moi!

The thing with running a guest house is that one always has things to get done and cannot stop until the chores are completed. Thus, we were not able to spend more than about 2 hours with Jean after her arrival before being called away by the busyness that characterises a typical behind the scenes day of a B&B guest house. Still, we have two days more with her before she has to go, and we hope that we will have more time together to reminisce and catch up with each other.

Some of the news we did receive today were rather sad though. Frank, a lovely man who was always smiling, had died about two years ago. I remember him vividly playing ball with his rescued dog, which has also passed away. Frank had a really vibrant personality, and Hubby and I used to enjoy spending time with him and his wife, also Jean, a lovely lady of deep faith and kindness.

Penicuik House: This is one of the places where we held a series of Alpha course meetings and Robert and Faye were wonderful hosts. ‘The stables block belonging to Penicuik House which provided the Clerk family with alternative accommodation after the fire of 1899 destroyed the old house.’ (Quote and photo
© Copyright kim traynor and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence courtesy of

We got to know the two Jeans and their husbands better when Hubby and I became involved in Alpha groups. The Alpha course is aimed at people who wish to find out more about Jesus and the Bible. Nicky Gumbel, one of the main architects of the Alpha Course, uses it to explore the meaning of life and how this relates to Man’s salvation through Jesus Christ. One topic commonly explored during these meetings is the existence of God. Is He real? If so, does He truly care for us puny individuals? Why does He want us to know Him? Why do we need Him? (

I hope that now Jean has found that she can manage the steps in front of our house, she will return for more visits. It will be so lovely to see her again and also some of the other people from St James whom we have not seen for so many years. We learnt today that besides Frank, other people we knew at St James are no longer in the land of the living, and a few others had been taken ill too but have thankfully since recovered.

Life is short, and it really is a shame that the busyness of our lives and the miles between friends and family make it difficult to meet up as often as we would like. For us, though, it has been a privilege to welcome Jean to our guest house. We so appreciate her making the journey to see us and are glad that we have had the opportunity to catch up after a decade apart.

One of our guest rooms at Blenheim Lodge, and presently Jean’s room while she is with us. Actually, we have since changed some of the bedroom accessories in this small double room, The Poppies, which is located on the ground floor of the house and has a view to the north of Lake Windermere.

‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

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