Sunday, October 21, 2012

Update for September-October: Adventures and European-UK SPR

Entry for 20 October 2012:

Over the past 6 weeks I’ve been extremely busy dealing with the move from Jordanhill and various work crises, on top of the usual things, and also being behind from all the time I missed between May and August.  I’ve never really caught up, and things keep piling up.  All of us are feeling overwhelmed and that includes me.  Meanwhile, I’m doing my best to keep sane and healthy, which means that a lot of things aren’t getting done when they should.  At times it really does feel like a crazy life, and it’s been hard to keep up with things like blogs.

One thing that hasn’t been sacrificed is our Saturday Adventures, of which we’ve had quite a few since early September.  Glasgow Open Doors day in mid-September was great for scoping out interesting churches and places in the Blytheswood area in the west side of Glasgow city centre.  In late September, we visited Crichton Castle, south of Edinburgh, and then Inverarary Castle, in Argyle, both of them getting ready to close for the season.

A high point was a trip to Falkland Palace in Fife the first Saturday in October.  This was another of the favourite haunts of the Stewart royalty in the 16th century, really a hunting lodge, restored in the 19th century and still inhabited by the current Keeper.  The little village of Falkland is lovely and I was particularly taken by the lovely Catholic chapel in the Palace and the larger than life-size wicker figure of Mary Queen of Scots with her favourite falcon, near a tree labyrinth in the orchard below the palace.  However, the most amazing thing was discovering on the grounds of the palace the oldest extant Real (or Royal) Tennis court, the original form of tennis, with lots of wacky rules, like having to serve the ball so that it bounces off the roof of the observer stand!  Apparently, this was all the rage with the nobility in 16th century Europe.

Last weekend, we went to the European-UK SPR meeting in Porto, Portugal.  This was my make-up SPR conference, since I’d missed the international SPR in Virginia Beach in late June, so I was very glad to go.  It was very well-organized and in a great site, the Portuguese College of Physicians; and Diane and I had a very good time, and ate a lot of fish while we were there.  The European-UK conferences are smaller than the big international SPR meetings, but have quite a lot of diversity.  This year I heard quite a few presentations by different groups of Psychodrama researchers, who have taken up various of the suggestions I gave them when I met with them Edinburgh several years ago.  They bring a lot of creativity and energy to their research, and are doing very interesting research, including a couple of new randomized controlled trials. 

This week I’ve been trying to recover form the Portugal trip while managing a very heavy teaching load.  Exhausting!  Nevertheless, we managed a drive out to Kilwinning (= St. Finnian, the teacher or St. Columba) today, where we visited the ruins of Kilwinning Abbey, dating back to the 13th century.  The village of Kilwinning is a bit depressing, but the ruins are lovely.  After that we went to Eglinton Country Park, which contains the ruins the Eglinton Castle, the site of the last major medieval tournament in the UK, which took place in 1839.  Like Kilwinning Abbey and its village, the Eglinton castle and its estate fell on hard times and only a few bits have been restored.  The theme of the day seems to have been an autumnal one: faded glory, decay and deterioration, but we’ve had plenty of chances to see signs of life over the past 6 weeks!