Saturday, September 07, 2013

Whitchester House

This is where I lived, once upon a time.

It really felt like "once upon a time".  I was an imaginative seventeen-year-old, steeped in historical novels by Scottish authors like Sir Walter Scott and George McDonald, and suddenly all my imaginings became visible in this, my home for a year.

Once upon a time, it was a Bible college. Here I met other students from various different countries and forged many life-long friendships of the sort that last.  The "I haven't seen you for ten years but let's start where we left off" kind.

Nowadays, it's a rehabilitation centre run by an organisation called Teen Challenge.  We had a quick tour of the house, though regretfully were unable to see the corner room I once shared with two roommates.  Our tour guide was a Glaswegian, an ex-heroin addict, who overflowed with happiness over the changes in his life and his discovery of Jesus.  

The perfect gardens and well-manicured lawns I remembered were looking a bit shabby, rather worse for the wear, and though still nice, just not lived in.  When we were here, it was a homely house, full of people, fun, games, chores, and noise.  

Now, it's a much quieter place, a healing house.  Good... just different.

The flawless landscape around the house, the sloping hills [the Lammermuirs] still etch their beauty onto the enormous sky. Much of it looked the same as I remembered, apart from the tell-tale hint of time passing: wind turbines along the skyline, creaking and circling. I saw few sheep, unlike the hordes I remembered.  I'm not sure if they were away for shearing, or just not around anymore.  It did change the feel of the place, adding to the sense of silence.

We left, and I really felt as if I was leaving. It was my third visit to this house since 1998, and this time, I said goodbye.  I won't be back.  It is not the same anymore; it truly has passed on to a new stage in its history; maybe, judging from the tiredness of its appearance, the last.

Much more cheerfully, the final part of this afternoon included a visit with fellow students Pete and Sal.  I haven't seen them for nearly twelve years but sometimes people change less than places and it felt like old times again for a few hours.  


  1. Anonymous8:16 pm

    thank you xx

  2. It's funny about people and places, how they change or don't and how that affects us. Another nice read, Erin, one which adds to my impression you'd already taken me round there for a guided tour. It was photos and a cuppa at the time I think. So you're not only a writer, more a story-teller who needs nothing more than a chat to weave a story or give life to memories. Thank you Princess! xxx

  3. KATE HIBBERT9:45 pm

    we were in ecf and churches in Gloucestershire, so we know lots of the people who were at whithester house, including pete and sal, of course. we now live just along the road in Greenlaw in the borders and today I was talking to a lady in the village, Eileen who used to be the cook there. it's a small world.

    1. Hello Kate, Eileen taught me to waltz properly so I could dance at a local ceilidh! I kept in contact with her for a while. I have so many happy memories of that year in the Borders. :)


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