Thought for the Day

This is my Thought for the Day for BBC Scotland on July 5

The schools are on holiday but the holidays are not the same.  The United Nations reported recently that the crash in international tourism due to the pandemic could cause a loss of over $4 trillion dollars in 2020-21.  Much of that loss will be felt in the economies of the developing world which benefit disproportionately from world tourism.  So many jobs in the travel and hospitality industries depend directly on tourism.

My family have been part of that change.  We too took the staycation option and have just returned from the Island of Lewis and the North West of Scotland.  We had some amazing weather – the scenery is utterly spectacular.  And even this year it wasn’t yet crowded.

 But sometimes you stumble across the unexpected which catches your attention and which you won’t easily forget.  At the entrance to the magnificent Loch Ewe we found the memorial to the seamen who sailed on the Arctic Convoys in World War II.  The convoys would gather in Loch Ewe before sailing to Iceland and on to the northern ports of Russia.  There is poignancy about it because for a long time the sacrifice of the 3000 sailors who lost their lives was not fully recognised.  We stood quietly and looked at the memorial to Charles Edward Kennerley and his fellow crew on HMS Bramble who were lost in the Barents Sea on 31 December, 1942.  And we thought about the dreadful weather and endless winter nights and the constant fear of the torpedo which would end it all coming from a hidden U boat.

 Absorbing that unexpected richness of memory and experience is what turns a journey into a kind of pilgrimage – pilgrimage in which we learn and are changed by what we experience.  It may be a staycation.  But it’s an opportunity to get closer to our own context and history and so to learn more about ourselves and who we are.