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                              PREPARING THE GROUND


Recently I have found I have had more time to spend in the garden, which is good, because I do enjoy the garden, and maybe even fancy myself as a bit of a Monty Don.  So, off I go trying to grow things again.  Sprouts, carrots etc. Fingers crossed for a wee bit more luck this time.  I have had varying successes in the past.  For example, last time I tried sprouts, all I managed was to become the feeding station for hundreds, and I mean hundreds of cabbage butterflies.  I never even knew they were a thing.  I just thought ‘look at those cute white butterflies’ next I know, caterpillars everywhere.  But not one sprout!!

So, this time I am prepared.  Watching and waiting, netting up, trying to protect these fledgling plants.  With a bit more time on my hands I am hoping I can see things early, and I am a bit more savvy with it all.

But I do know this.  With the gardening there is a certain amount of preparation required, the ground has got to be ready.  But the biggest requirement is patience for anything to grow, never-ending patience.

It is a new season as I take up my role here and there is a certain amount of preparation required to make sure that the ground we lay for the future is ready for new growth, protected from dangers.  But patience is also required, because the growth of anything strong doesn’t happen overnight.




So, let me take a moment to introduce myself.  Dexy is my name, born on the 20th September 2020 in Alford Scotland.  Now I live with Alan, Grace and Lara (Grace’s daughter) and Nero.  He is something they call ‘cat’.  He used to be bigger than me, but now I am bigger than him.  I'm not sure if he has shrunk or I have grown, but anyway we get on fine.  I have spent the last 4 years training my humans, they are hard work, but I think they will get there eventually, and I thought it might be fun to share some of the adventures that we have had.

My first holiday with them was to Gairloch in the northwest of Scotland.  It was November 2021.  November!!  They wanted to go climbing the hills, I wasn't sold on the idea to be honest, the warm and cosy house was good for me.  Anyway, we set off up Sithean Mor to the fairy pools in a slight drizzle, by the time we got there is was like a force 10 gale with the rain to match.  There was a huge pool, but would they let me go swimming?  Oh no, they had their car to think of!  But, I was beginning to warm to the idea cos there was mud....lots of mud.  My humans didn’t want me to go in the mud but, why bring me here and not let me have my fun.  It was great, mud up to my chest, puddles everywhere.  Alan jumped in the mud too, although he called it falling and didn’t enjoy it as much as me.  After a few hours in the wind and rain we made it back to the car, I thought for a moment they had changed their names as they constantly called each other ‘drookit’ and ‘drenched.’ However  I thought it was a great day.  Afterwards we went to a dog friendly cafe called the GALE Centre.  Boy I was ready for a nap, so I curled up under the table.  When they were ready to go, they woke me up from my nap.  I was by then in the mood to give myself a good shake, which I did.  After I finished I looked up to see the horror on their faces.  Turns out all the mud, grass and bits of twigs that were attached to me were now making patterns all over the nice clean floor.  And I mean all over!!  We all left with our tails between our legs.

The moral of my tail is........there is always a price to pay for rolling in things you shouldn’t!  P.S. There was also a shower involved...not a fan of that either....

Until next time




Thursday 30th May 2024


        This Induction Service was a very happy and Faith affirming occasion in the long history of our Church which dates from 1833.  The congregation of around 100 gave unreserved witness to the joy being shared throughout this special ceremony which was evident before, during and beyond the actual induction of Rev Alan Gibbon as the minister of Dundee Congregational Church.

        Those present included friends and representatives of some of the local churches,  and warmly welcomed were many of the Christian friends who had willingly taken services and helped throughout our sixteenth month interregnum following the heart-breaking and unexpected death of Rev Alan Livingstone in January 2023. Appreciation was expressed of the presence of Mrs. Chris Livingstone to honour the induction of Alan as the  successor to her dearly loved husband.  Taking part in the ceremony was a distinguished gathering of Rev Alan Gibbon`s fellow clergy with professional friends and family members in the congregation  which only emphasised the high regard which surrounded him from all aspects of his life both private and professional.

        The Service was conducted with great charm and sincerity by Rev Gordon Campbell of Perth Congregational Church.   Poignantly Alan himself was ordained at Perth Congregational Church in 2000, having been preached in by our late minister Rev Alastair Keddie.    This lovely connection continued with the presence of Mrs. Elizabeth Keddie in our congregation.  The special Prayer and Readings were given by Rev Ian McDonald, Mr Andy Foster and Rev Bob Wightman.  Bob having been a tower of strength to our congregation throughout the past 16 months guiding, leading and caring for us through some very dark days.

        Mr Lindsay Craig, Chair of Kirk Session, in his Welcome Statement echoed the joy and appreciation of the appointment of Alan which had been such a unanimous choice from all levels of our own church family.   This was followed by a heart-warming Acknowledgement by Alan himself which gave us an unforgettable example of his special personality – not overlooking his welcome sense of humour!.   Following the hallowed Act of Induction by Rev Gordon Campbell  the Charge to the Minister,  and the Charge to the Church,  were given with distinction and warmth by Rev Anne Findlay and Rev Patrick Sullivan and everyone must have felt honoured merely to be present.

        The evening  sun gracing the  beautiful interior of our church created the perfect backdrop for this special occasion,  and indeed was much appreciated to enhance the rousing and haunting organ music of our Director of Music Professor Norman Beedie leading the singing unforgettably  to reach the rafters.  He brought the occasion to a fitting close with his Improvised Celebration Postlude before we all adjourned for convivial refreshments.

        Praise needs to be given to the relatively small team who have worked so hard for quite some time to achieve the preparation and organisation for this special occasion.  Of particular note are Jessie, Carol, Irene Stephen, Marguerite and Lindsay  – and of course our indefatigable Brian.  Young relatives of Brian`s  helped superbly  to serve the refreshments during the happy socialising in the Collins Hall and the Church Hall with Karen and Skhue also serving tea to enable some of us, including me, to “mingle” as he phrased it so delightfully!

        Mention must be made to the last minute presence of a very welcome group of young Sea Cadets and their Company Commander who are hoping to become affiliated to our church in time to celebrate their 85th Birthday  this summer.  They were extremely courteous and helpful to some of our less able members and were encouraged to fill their own plates well before going home.  In fact the caterers had done a tremendous job in the quantities and several `doggie bags`  (now existing as boxes) were distributed at the end of the evening. A perfect end to a perfect and unforgettable day.





        Our first event in April was a visit from six members of ‘The Dee Ukes’.  They are an amateur ukulele group who have visited us on other occasions and always declare that we are their most appreciative audience.  There were fourteen of us and we certainly joined in with gusto.  We needed little encouragement to sing along to modern and maybe not so modern songs as well as favourite Scottish melodies.  We even managed to show them some moves to songs which we remembered from our seated exercises.  We will be sure to have them back again.  We finished up with lovely refreshments courtesy of Jessie.  The fruit is most welcome as it is the one time I, for one, get my 5 a day all in one sitting.  For those who didn’t manage to come along they, along with many other amateur ukulele groups from the Dundee area, will be performing in the Space on October the 26th.  The tickets are £10 and the money raised goes to various charities.  There is a poster in the church hall advertising the event.


        Our next meeting was on April 23rd which was our Gift Day.  For health reasons the original ‘Surprise Event’ could not go ahead but we were far from idle.  First we had a game of bingo.  Nothing could be heard but the sound of concentration.  This was followed by much amusement after the first game as some of our players had made up their own rules on how to play. (No names will be mentioned but you know who you are.) After that we had a quiz.  As there were 15 members we had 3 teams of 5 in each.  There was much whispered team discussions, especially when team members didn’t always agree on the answer.  There were 5 sections – Food, Famous Names, Words and Sayings, Miscellaneous and The Past.  Each section winner was given some chocolate and the overall winning team were given more chocolate.  An excellent choice of prizes. We finished up with another game of bingo.  By this time everyone had mastered the game and Nancy Fawns was the winner.  Refreshments and, of course, fruit, followed.  Once again, as in all our meetings we exchanged news, laughed and chatted, and were grateful for our time together.


        Our much anticipated Summer Outing took place on May 7th.  We met in the church hall for 11 o’clock where a coach picked us up and we were driven to the Glen Esk Folk Museum.  It wasn’t the brightest of days but it wasn’t raining and it was good to get out of the city and into the mountains.  On the way we passed through Edzell.  Before going through the arch into the town we are all familiar with the lovely avenue of dense trees but, since Storm Arwen, much of this has been decimated and it was indeed a sorry sight.  Once we reached the Folk Museum which is 8 miles into the glen we were made very welcome by the team who work there, mostly volunteers, and were given a welcome cup of tea in the community room which is part of the cafe.  We were assured it was for our use for the day.  No sooner had we downed our cuppa than we were given soup and sandwiches.  After a jolly lunch with chatter from every table we were given a demonstration on how to make butter and cheese. A very comprehensive demonstration.  Some of us recognised some of the tools used so they can’t be that old, can they?


        Then it was time to look round the museum.  A fascinating incite into glen life.  Some of the museum is outside and relates to the agricultural life of the glen.  Upstairs are beautiful photographs of the glen today and the changing of the seasons.  It also houses the archives with many old documents and photographs.  Despite the apparent size of the museum compared to the city variety it requires return visits to fully appreciate its contents. It is believed the museum has another 30,000 items which have still to be displayed.  Greta Michie (1905-1985), founder of the museum, was born at Cairncross Farm in Glenesk. After attending Tarfside Primary and educated in Edinburgh, Fife and Montrose she graduated from St Andrews University with honours in Modern History and English.  After teaching in Brechin and Monifieth she became sole teacher at Tarfside School. It was claimed she had a natural instinct for finding stories of the past to explain the present.  She began to collect local objects, documents, photographs and memories to tell the stories of a rapidly changing community.  By 1955 she and the Glenesk community had accumulated enough material to make up a museum.  Every glen family had contributed.  She is quoted as saying, “One cold, winter’s day, I looked out on the hills opposite Cairncross, observed the path to Lethnot outlined against the snow and wondered about those who had gone that way.  This was the start of my searches….”  The team were on hand to guide and answer our many questions.  During our visit we were all drawn to the shop which sells many beautiful and unusual gifts. 


        Finally we went back into the community room and were given an afternoon tea with three-tiered cake stands on which were a variety of scones and cakes.  It was delicious.  As well as saying Grace for us Graeme gave a vote of thanks to the museum and its workers who made our visit such a delight and that the trip was a gift from Alex McMichael who had been a devoted member of our church and our guild.  We all returned to the bus for our journey home.  The sky brightened and the tops of the hills were more visible as we headed back to Dundee.  Back in the hall we telephoned Shirley who couldn’t come as it was her 90th birthday spent with her family.  We all sang happy birthday into the telephone.  Later we learned that she had been really touched by our gesture.  We were sorry too that some of our members couldn’t come because of health issue but we were thinking of them and wishing them well.  We all departed for our homes.  Tired but with memories of a happy day together.


Marguerite Ruffle


(This was a delightful afternoon enjoyed enormously by every one of us and we never forgot the love and respect we all felt for the memory of her brother Alex McMichael which brought us all together for such a special day.  Our sincere thanks are extended to Marguerite and the rest of her family.  EMC)

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