All posts by viewvin

About viewvin

Always looking ahead with hope! having learnt from the past, and living while learning in a faithfilled present.

A Miracle Steam Engine Ride

Fort William is well known for the highest mountain peak in UK. The ropeway to this peak was one of the attractions . However it has been discontinued due to an accident.

Among others there is a cruise wherein one gets to see seals and birds .

The one which appealed to me was the Jacobite Steam Train ride .

I had made a trip a few years ago to Fort William only for a day and could not experience all this .

Recently my wife and I decided to take a short break from Glasgow to Fort William . I checked at the possible places of interest to see before our departure. My wish was to get on the steam train ride, but no seats were available as they had been booked online for the entire year . This was very disappointing.

Out trip commenced with the ScotRail train from Glasgow Queen Street station to Fort William.
We were one hour early at the station. I thought the timing of the train was 1207 hours. It turned out to be 1222 hours. At 1215 the platform number was announced and we immediately moved to it. We were told by the railway checker that we should occupy the middle carriage. However our tickets showed carriage A . Being a bit confused we were about to enter the last carriage with A on it. The guard frantically told us to occupy the middle carriage. This is important as 2 rear of the 4 carriages separate at Crianlarich one going to Oban and the other 4 to Fort Willaim .

We settled in our seats and enjoyed the journey . City landscape gradually changed to country scenery . There were open meadows with sheep and cattle grazing. As we approached Fort William we saw hills and rivers.

We also saw waterfalls. Forests passed in a flash. In 41/2 hours we arrived at Fort William.

At the station I enquired about the Jacobite steam train ride. Here is where our little miracle began . The ticket checker told us that the operator for this ride was independent of Scot Rail, and we could try for tickets at 8.30am next morning at the same platform .
We then proceeded to the hotel Cruachan . After checking in we went for a walk and got a few photographs on my camera.

Since it was about 7 pm we decided to go for dinner, and were in for a shock as practically every restaurant was full with diners. The Tavern looked good and we entered . There was already a couple waiting to be seated. After about 20 minutes we got a table and had a good meal.
The city center of Fort wIlliam looked quite desolate as we stepped out . So we returned to our hotel. The rooms were very comfortable. We showered and retired, to wake up next morning to a pleasant day. The buffet breakfast was sumptious.
It was then 9.30am and we were told to come to Fort William Station at 8.30am to buy tickets on cash payment as just one carriage would be available.This was for the Jacobite steam train.
With a prayer on our lips and hope in our hearts we proceeded to the station. Lo and behold the queue of passengers for tickets was being allowed to enter the platform to buy tickets at carriage A. Surprisingly we got tickets for the last two seats .

I got a nice picture beside the steam engine. The train steamed out of Fort William for a two hour ride to Malaig a tiny port famous for fishing . We had good weather ideal for photographs . We passed through forests and hills with mountains in the distance including the famous Ben Nevis. The train stopped for 20 minutes at Glenfinnan station. Passengers walked around. Since the engine was still emitting steam we took a few pictures with that at the backround.

On leaving Glenfinnan station the train proceeded to its destination not without a breathtaking view of the famous viaduct over which it was passing through. It has a long curve and one can get beautiful pictures. This part of the journey is famous for being featured in the Harry Potter film.

To add to that we had good catering on board. The staff had black úniforms with a hat that had a caption ‘éngine driver’ on it. One of them was quite amusing . He blew a long whistle which sounded like the hoot of the engine; and chatted away with passengers as he served. He was the most hardworking in serving and clearing.

In an hours time we reached Malaig. There we stopped for 11/2 hour . At this port , we walked around and again I pulled out my camera to get a picture.

We decided to have lunch when again we were late and every restaurant was filled to capacity. Eventually we discovered a family run cafe just opposite the station. I had a roast pork roll with apple sauce. The apple sauce was new to me and delicious.

The wind and rain began just when it was time for departure so we hurried to the train, which left on time.

The train passed the Neptune Staircase on the Caledonian Canal which consists of 8 locks The weather gradually changed and was not suitable for photographs

I recorded the sound of the steam engine chugging along, something I remember as a child when travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore.

In two hours we arrived at Fort William station where we spent about an hour to get our train to Glasgow Queen Street station. The time was 1720 hours and few passengers were on board , a far cry from the Jacobite train journey which was buzzing with excited passengers.

The sunset on our return train journey brought a peaceful end to our memorable trip to Fort William.

My embarrassing moments

The WhatsApp message

My cousin had always hoped that I would accept his dinner invitation , which somehow did not seem to happen .

Finally , I messaged him that this time I was ready to accept it , on my trip to Goa.

I asked “ Will 27th May work for you ‘

He replied “ Yes Vincent, you and your wife are welcome to dinner ; you can come here and I’ll drop you’ll home .”

I typed out a reply on the WhatsApp accepting this invitation.

We travelled to his home . However we were in for a shock . His home was dimly lit . It looked as if there was no expectation for a dinner invite. I tried calling him but got no response. I thought that he may have gone to church, which is nearby.

We then rang his door bell . Roy (name has been changed ) just out of his shower opened the door and said quite seriously“ I called you for dinner.”

I replied “ Yes , we have come for dinner.”

“But you did not reply to my message; and we were wondering whether you were coming or not.” said a surprised Roy.

“I did reply”

“No you did not “ and out came his mobile and he showed me the messages . It was true that my message had not reached him.

I checked my phone and realized that even though I had typed the message , it was not ‘sent’. This left me very embarrassed.

The outcome of this episode was that Roy hosted a delectable dinner , ordered from restaurants nearby.

Roy’s wife Jane regretted that they could not give us a home cooked meal , though we had a good chat to catch up with times gone by .

A tale of two ‘Alloysious’

Sometime ago , I received a video call from a person I knew . He had a broad face and quite bald .

I gladly spoke “Hello Fr Alloysious , so kind of you to remember me after such a long time “ (Fr Alloysious is bald)

He responded “so how are you Vincent ?”

I then realized moments later that it was not Fr Allosious but Alloysious .

I was embarrassed at this gaffe.

However Alloysious carried on the conversation as if he did not notice .

Did he really ?

PS: names have been changed


….with another mistake

This incident occurred while we were on a short holiday in Goa .

Anjean and I drove to church for the early service at 7.30 am. I normally don’t carry my mobile phone to church .

After mass, we decided to refuel at a petrol pump nearby .

The attendant asked me “How many litres do you require ? “

“Full tank” I replied

When he finished refuelling for us , I told him

“I’ll pay by card “ as I was not carrying any cash .

I searched my pockets , and found nothing.

I realized my card was in the folder of my mobile which was left at home .

Thankfully my wife spoke in the local language , Konkani

“ Ami rokdo yetha “ ( we will return fast)

The man was gracious enough to allow us to go home and return to complete our payment .

People were surprised that the attendant allowed us to go inspite of our car having an out station registration, which the locals find difficult to trust .

Discovering Happiness

Two friends grew up together. Both had different approaches to life .

Errol was the serious one and devoted himself to studies in school . Merrill was fun loving and enjoyed games but also studied .

This approach was noticeable when they went to university.

“ Errol will you take part in the the football team selection ?”

“ No , Merrill , I am preparing my notes for history .Are you prepared ?”

“ I have made some points and will elaborate on them as I prepare for the exams, “ replied Merrill. “ However , I’m taking part in the team selection.”

Merrill went ahead and was selected for the college team .

During those days there was also a social . They went for it .

“ Merrill , guess what , I met Daisy , and she showed a lot of interest in me . She is also very studious“

“ Oh, that’s good news “

“ I met many of our friends, but will not get into any serious relationship so early.” said Merrill .

“ I have a tournament very soon , and will be involved with practices. “

Exams began in a few months .

Errol did very well , whereas Merrill had average marks .

Merrill did well in football . He devoted time to studying, and balanced his time , with sports .

Errol’s relationship, took a toll on his studies.

In the following year, his performance in the exams was just average. Merrill too did okay .

“Hey, Errol , why don’t you take time off from all this serious stuff and get into recreational activity .”

So Errol decided to play badminton .

That was the turning point for him. His grades improved .

They both finished their education . Merrill secured a good job , and so did Errol with his all round approach .

They married and settled in their new homes .

Errol worked hard and long hours . He had less family time . This affected his relationship with his wife . Very soon troubles started .

Merrill was happily married . He continued to have an all round approach to life and work . He enjoyed family time . He worked hard and never brought work home .

One day they met and shared their highs and lows .

“Errol , I am doing well in my job. However my relationship with Daisy is poor. What shall I do ? “

“ I believe you should balance work , recreation and family time . I make it a point to take Rose and the kids for outings, and help at home of course . “

“Do you pray , Errol ?”

“ I have no time for that .” replied Errol .

“ Try, doing what I just told you.”

In a few months, Errol experienced joy in his life . His relationship at home improved .

He also did well in his job . He made it a point to keep his off day to rest. recreate and help at home.. He kept time daily to pray .

“Thanks Errol for your help . I’m now much better . Happiness has returned to me .”

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord ; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near . There is no need to worry ; but if there is anything you need, pray for it , asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 4: 4-7)

An Empty Crib

Christmas was fast approaching in the home of the Smiths. Decorations and lights were being set up at home .

Little Daniel was trying to help his parents specially with the Christmas Tree and the Nativity Crib .

“ Mummy , why is the star at top of the tree?”

“Oh dear , we keep bobbles and little toys and other decorations on the sides, but the star is special!” replied Sarah.

“ Years ago, at the time of Baby Jesus’ birth, the shining star led the shepherds and the wise men to the stable, where he lay in a manger.”

Daniel ‘s face was downcast ,” Did he not have a proper room at his birth?”

“There was no room anywhere , so a kind man gave his parents the stable nearby.”

Daniel walked away quite disappointed.

Christmas Day dawned finally . Many visitors came wishing . They admired the beautifully decorated home of Daniel .

But something was amiss .

Where is the Babe in the crib ?

Sarah enquired from all at home . Much later Daniel told his mother “ I wanted to give Baby Jesus a better crib , so I kept him with me, to sleep in my bed.”

In a more serious vein, if the Babe is missing from the crib , where will one find him ?

Can we celebrate Christmas without Christ at the heart of it?

Can there be a crib without the babe ?

Winter Wonders

Winter beckons with snowflakes

blowing in the breeze

they cover the rooftops

with white coats

for winter wonders

Can you see the stars above

on a cold wintry night

then see the shining star

that leads to the babe

wrapped in swaddling clothes

Snowmen and snowball fights

children in woolly hats

the snow covered pine trees

and soft snowy roads

it’s Christmas very soon

Why look at a dim winter

when there are cosy nights

and shortened days

and Christmas lights

to cheer us on

A photo excursion to Glasgow University -Kelvingrove Park-Art Gallery and Museum

A good friend offered to take me for a photo excursion to Kevingrove Park , Glasgow university and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

He is passionate about photography.

We drove first to Kelvingrove park . The weather was cold . We got a few pictures since there was no rain .

The Oak tree intrigued me with its majestic appearance. Moreover it’s leaf had 5-6 parts . Autumn changes led to the colour change happening .

We crossed the bridge over a river. I saw two students feeding a bold squirrel and missed a picture as my dslr needed a correction . Tony did the needful .

We moved on to the Glasgow University.

The exterior structure was impressive. As we entered I was surprised to see the Mid-wife department among others .

Two students were practising kick boxing . What was unique were the arches where I was photographed. We entered in and saw the grand staircase with a beautiful carpet all the way up

On leaving we walked down a path and I learnt that some of the grounds were sold to the University by a hospital earlier which has shifted to a larger area nearby .

Most interesting was the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum . Before viewing the various items on display we took a break at the cafe to have their soup of the day .

There was a lot to see at the museum on art, design,and much more. Items on display change periodically.

The paintings were most interesting. I saw many original paintings of the Glasgow team of artists . There were country side themes, a station scene and tennis players of old times . The model of an antique car interested me most . The designer was James Anderson. The car had unique features . It was believed to travel at 100 Mph . The speedometer was on the bonnet , headlights rotated in the direction of the steering . A full windscreen could be replaced by aeroplane style smaller screens at the turn of a handle when increasing speed.

Dali’s painting of the crucifixion of Jesus was stunning . It gives a view from the top – down . Below is the world for which , Jesus came as Saviour .

Let’s hope that world leaders give importance to the recent climate changes at the Conference in Glasgow, to ensure precautions needed to preserve our environment.

Our trip ended with the drive back . The various roads we drove through would soon be closed for the Climate Conference.

Seasons of Life

Why do we have seasons

of sunny weather and white winters

Autumn of hope

And the birth of Spring

Can we overlook autumn

Cos it causes Fall

Wait a while

Before the fall of leaves

There is the riot of colour

Green to red and rust

who could imagine that

Uniform green could change

To such diverse colours

Life changes with years

Newness of life to mellowness of age

Is it all about the bold and beautiful

And what about wisdom of the wise

Discovery of talents

coffee chats and creativity

Time for tennis and golf with friends

To follow football and cricket

and critical comments thereafter

Cherish quiet times with loved ones

Specially with the Master of all

Who we return to

at the end of all seasons

Squirrels ahoy ! ( Fluffy and Duffy )

“Hey Duffy , let’s visit the garden below .”

“What’s the hurry Fluffy ? “ responds Duffy .

“Do you realise winter is approaching? We need to stock up our food reserves .” says Fluffy.

“ I think we can manage for the week Fluffy .”

“ Just think. will that last for the long winter months ?” asks Fluffy

“You have a point there , but where will we store our reserves ? “ enquires Duffy .

“Simple ! ! We hide them at different locations in the garden and the bark of trees.” answers Fluffy .

“Another concern is the scarcity of our food type ; buds , fruit and nuts will not be easily seen in the winter days .” worries Duffy .

“Oh Duffy , do you see the bird feeder this human family keeps replenishing ? Let’s try getting some of that . “

“ Listen Fluffy, that feeder can be difficult to reach . It’s meant for birds only .”

“ That’s no problem .I’ll show you the way. You remain on the ground below the feeder .”

So Fluffy went to the top of the wooden frame and accessed the feeder by descending downwards . He began feeding on the bird food . Duffy waited below for any feed dropping on the floor.

“Listen Fluffy. I have an idea. Chew onto the string holding the feeder and let the feeder fall . Then we can have a feast .”

Fluffy chewed the string and down came the feeder. They both enjoyed the feed .

Now what happened next is interesting .

The family took time to restore the feeder to its original position and thus ended the squirrels adventure.

Fluffy and Duffy resumed their search for food in berries , flower buds , and nuts.

They both realised that it’s always good to

‘Save for the times when there may be scarcity .’ ( the saying commonly used – save for a rainy day or the wintry days ! )

The bird feeder provided food for that day , and depended on the compassion of the human family to restore and replenish it.

Autumn leaves and life

The trees beckon me as I walk pass them . I noticed one tree with leaves well marked and serrations at its edges . I picked one and walked further . How about the new leaves , I thought ,which looked appealing . I returned to pluck the little fresh leaves and walked home .

Aging of life struck me . Just as man ages so does all life . However the life lived is important. Have you noticed the old leaf has a few tears , may be due to the weather . It has good markings and well shaped . Of the Young leaves , one looks good while the other has tears.

Environment has an impact on the life of the tree and its leaves . How does the tree adjust to the strong winds , heat and even polluted atmosphere? There will be some wear and tear when it is exposed to such weather. Good rains and a good environment will help the growth of this tree .

In mankind, our lives get affected by our surroundings and our adaptation to them. Whether young or old , how one lives is important.

Do I live a life of moderation or one in the fast lane ? I am sure you will know the effect of either .

Wear and tear can occur at any time, irrespective of age . The day we are born , one begins to age ….however one can live a full life with grace from God. Facing the challenges of life become easier.

In autumn, leaves begin to change colour . There is beauty even when a leaf ages . It’s colour can be very attractive.

Inner beauty gets reflected on the outside in a person , no matter the age.

Jesus helps to live a full life .

He says ‘ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)

Emma vs Leylah: the crucial point

Emma Raducano won the US Open Tennis Grand Slam 2021 . It has been a fantastic achievement for a qualifier ranked about 150 in women’s tennis.

She won her match with Leylah Fernandez another teenager 6-4, 6-3, after a pulsating final , which the score line hardly suggests .

What was the turning point of this hard fought match ?

Without detracting from Emma’s game the point was when she fell while returning to Leylah and was 30-40 on her service . The momentum was with Leylah. She could have broken Emma’s service at the next point . However Emma began bleeding a little from her bruised leg . The referee called for a medical timeout .

This got extended while her wound was dressed . On the other side we saw Leylah expressing her anguish at the length of time being taken . Her protests with the tournament supervisor went in vain .

When play resumed , Emma held her serve and went on to win the match.

My dear reader what is your opinion ?

Leylah had come back from the previous rounds after being a set down. She won matches against Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Kvitova and Sabalenka all in 3 sets . These are previous champions or in the top 5 .

Do you think Leylah could have won this match with Emma ?