Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Easter Weekend from Hell: Prelude, Part 3

After my conversation with Lukas* about our respective Iona visits, I realized I’d better make sure I had a place to stay. My plan for my Great Britain tour overall was to book into bed and breakfasts night by night, depending on wherever I happened to be. But I knew of only one lodging place on Iona, the St. Columba Hotel, and it’d be foolish to expect them to accommodate me on the spur of the moment.

I got the number and gave them a call.

Oh, dear, they couldn’t put me up in March. Why, I can’t recall now. Maybe they wouldn’t be open yet for the season. Or they were undergoing renovations. Or they were all booked up already. However it was, there’d be no room at the inn.

"But dinna ye worrit," said the St. Columba’s clerk [Pardon the Scots dialect. I’m going for a wee bit of atmosphere here]. "The Abbey has biggit a luvely new Guest Hoose, an tha’ll be takin ye in. Ye just tak doon this number, an ask for Christine MacLean. She’ll git ye sortit!"

This was before the Internet, of course. You go online now and Google "Iona" and "accommodation" and you’ll get a whole list of places to stay. Maybe they existed back in 1989, maybe not. But from where I sat in late February or early March nineteen years ago, it looked to be the new Abbey Guest House or nothing.

And when I called and spoke to Christine MacLean, the prospect looked very good indeed. I told her when I was tentatively planning to arrive, and she suggested, "Why don’t you come for Easter weekend? We have a lot of things going on and we have a special programme for people staying in the Guest House then." The Guest House, named the MacLeod Centre, wasn’t altogether finished, so they were offering a really good rate for the first group to stay there. I can’t recall now exactly what it was, but my memory urges me that it was around £10 a night with all meals included.

Golly, can’t beat that with a stick!

I would need to stay the entire Easter weekend to get that price, from Maundy Thursday afternoon to Easter Monday morning. But now that she had mentioned it, I liked the idea of being on Iona, the holy isle of Iona, over Easter. I’d attend a service or two, my friend Lukas* would be there to be a familiar face and to compare notes with now and again, and the rest of the time I’d roam the hills and draw and paint and rejoice in God’s creation and Christ’s passion and resurrection, all at once.

So I sent in the prepayment they required. I let Lukas* know our time in Iona would overlap after all, and I began to look forward to what that Easter weekend would bring.

Here endeth the prelude. Let the service, such as it is, begin.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

OK. Now you REALLY have me hooked!