In the past month, I've been to a mosque at Cordoba in southern Spain ... to a convent and mission hospital in Kashmir ... and now to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Scotland.
Samye Ling, founded in 1967 and the first Tibetan Buddhist Centre in the West, is in one of the most remote corners of the Scottish Lowlands - near Eskdalemuir on the long, lonely road from Langholm to Selkirk. I went there to interview the abbot, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, about his memories of Freda Bedi (Sister Palmo). That was hugely worthwhile, but so was the opportunity to spend 24 hours in this serene spot, now very much on the Scottish tourist trail.
I went to a couple of hour-long meditation sessions in the shrine room, and really appreciated them. On both occasions I was intrigued by the discipline of the monk (you can see him on the right in the photo above) who remained motionless through both sessions Later, I discovered his secret ...
The centre lies on the banks of the Esk, and there are riverside walks as well as a kitchen garden, Tibetan tea rooms, lakes and stupas. The well stocked shop sells everything from devotional literature to woollen shawls.
And among the bird life - I know the photos aren't great, so just take my word - were tiny coal tits crowding round the bird feeder, and a dipper in the river making repeated jaunts into the fast-flowing water
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!