Life at the end of the road

December 16, 2012

The Buddhist connection :-)

Filed under: Croft house for sale, daily doings, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:38 pm

I dunno where to start really, for todays ‘doings’ has been bizarre to say the least, for I’ve just returned from a Buddhist monastery and what may surprise some readers is that it is not my first visit. Not that I’m contemplating  taking up whatever it is that Buddhists take up but there is more to this ‘synchronicity’ stuff than meets the eye.

My first visit to the Kagu Samye Ling centre in the Scottish borders was some twelve or thirteen years ago and was the result of a few remarkable coincidences.

It all started with some notelets that I purchased, made from recycled OS maps . Not from there for this was a decade before I got the internet and in those days I did much letter writing, priding myself on always being able to identify where abouts in Britain the map was. Of course most of the time it was easy as there would be a road, town, hill or bit of identifiable water.



Not on this one though, it’s not the exact note pad as that is packed away at home somewhere but it’s the nearest representation I could find on a map on the web. No this one had me stumped for years until one night a Buddhist friend phoned me, something that was in itself a little freaky for I happened to be watching Seven Years in Tibet    as he phoned.



Now my Buddhist, or probably more correctly ex Buddhist mate, or more correctly occasional neighbour, had been living between Raasay and the Samye Ling centre for longer than I’d stayed at Arnish. During his frequent returns to Eskdalemuir he’d lived in a rented cottage out in the sticks, but had now decided to cut all his ties in Dumfriesshire and stay on Raasay permanently.

Of course in line with many of the residents of Raasay’s north end he couldn’t drive!!!!! Call me a wimp but I would not even consider living in a remote community 10 miles from anywhere without a car or the ability to drive it. For reasons beyond my comprehension Arnish seems to attract non drivers Sad smile One of the people looking at before I bought the place had hitched up from Wales to view it as a potential home for wife and four children despite the fact that none of them could drive!!!!!

Anyway I digress, my mate phoned me to ask if I could move the last of his furniture, something that I’d been reluctant to do. None car owners seldom realize the cost of fuel or effort required to drive 600 miles and my mate was no exception. However whilst on the phone I was scribbling down the details of the place on the back of the above notelet. “What was that name again” says I, “Raeburnside” he replies, “you are f*****g  joking”  I retorted in disbelief, “is it near Shiel Rig and Wisp Hill” I blurted in shock, “yes, why” he answers, “because I’m looking at it right now on the map” Smile

Well, after that how could I refuse to go Smile I’m not superstitious, airy fairy, or seeking the meaning of life, but you have to admit I’d have been pretty sceptical not to have gone. Anyway, I did and also visited the monastery whilst I was there, I was much impressed by the calm and enlightenment of all who stayed there and left the place feeling much better for my visit.

Fast forward 12 years

Much has happened in the intervening decade or so, I’ve acquired a wife, child and wind turbine but still life goes on Smile I gave up clam diving and became a ferryman, bought some pigs and decided to sell my house and build another but still the wheels of life keep turning. Having decided to leave my trusty Proven 2.5Kw turbine with the current house I’ve been on the lookout for another to supplement power for the new one.



I know it’s a carp picture but it was dark and pishing with rain when the Dude took it yesterday on his iPod Smile

One came up for sale recently in the borders and I was very interested, I remember the turbine being installed in 2006 having read about it on some years ago. It was only six years old, had been serviced regularly and the owner was moving on. Upon making serious enquiries I discover that it is the house next door to my ex Buddhist mates !!!!!!!

So, this morning mum in law and I set off for Dumfries and Galloway in the trusty but rather slow and expensive to run Land Rover, having been told that the road to Raeburnside was treacherous.


We found it no problem, well I had been there before Smile



and I am now the owner of another Proven wind turbine Smile All I have to do now is collect it Sad smile

Interestingly this model is actually a ‘grid tied’ version designed to feed into the house AC bus via a GTI (grid tie inverter) rather than charge batteries. However this is how we plan to run the new house using a combination of both ‘DC coupling’ and ‘AC coupling’. Both systems offer advantages and disadvantages, for example coupling straight into the AC bus via a GTI means that any power not used is converted twice so less efficient. DC coupled inputs are at battery voltage so require much heavier cables or higher losses so a combination of both is advantageous. One thing about the Proven or should I say Kingspan now is that the grid tied version has a higher output due to the higher voltage that it operates at Smile For a much better explanation of AC V DC coupling see Stephen’s blog here

After sealing the deal with a handshake we headed for the monastery and a snack.



If you ever need ‘to chill’ this is the place to do it, I kid you not, even the crows are relaxed here Smile



You can also get excellent freshly cooked and cheap grub in their tearoom.


Not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ I’m sure, but like ‘steak tartare’ it would do you no harm to try it Smile Far far healthier than a day out to Braehead and a

UNTITLED: McDonald's ad

Samye Ling will leave you feeling happy and relaxed and not out of  pocket despite the drive Smile



Not exactly regular Scottish architecture but then religious establishments do not need planning permission, wish I’d have thought of that two years ago before attempting to build a house, I could have built a church instead of a dwelling  Smile



Anyway, that’s it, I’m off to bed, tomorrow is the big launch of MV Hallaig and I need to be fresh and rested Smile By Tuesday night I’ll be back home on Raasay Smile


  1. Did a ‘gardening course’ there and thought it a beautiful place. Liked the HUGE bottles of tabasco on the dining room tables! How was the new build getting on?

    Comment by may cruickshank — December 16, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    • Hi May, the new building is finished, when I was last there it was just being started 🙂 I wish I could have stayed longer but time was marching on and i hate driving in the dark.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

  2. Here’s what your Proven will look like once you get back to Rasaay:

    Comment by drgeo — December 16, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    • Hi DrG, that’s got four blades not three 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

      • That’ll be the clean air and wet climate – it’s grown another blade.

        Comment by Gary Sutherland — December 19, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  3. Hi paul, i,ve been at the samye ling a couple of times, and im the least religious person your likley to meet but the buildings and the atmosphere is just something else, the best thing about the place though is no one comes preaching at you, the monks will happily answer any questions you have but if you have none then no one bothers you, hope you and the family are good.

    Comment by jimmy mcmillan — December 16, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

    • Hi Jimmy, I’ll second that, well worth a visit whatever your persuasion 🙂 We’re all fine thanks, though you’d hardly recognize the Dude and Emma is coping well.

      Hope all is peachy with you, wifey and the girls.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 16, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

  4. I so wish I was up north to see the launch, but a sadly my wide is away and the kids are still at school. Haven’t been to that buddhist place, but the one on holy island off the coast of Arran sounds similar in it’s peace and welcoming nature. I always wonder how these religious lots manage to afford such magnificent places.

    Comment by Simon. — December 17, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    • Morning Simon,

      I always wonder how these religious lots manage to afford such magnificent places.


      I’m sure Richard Gere can spare a dollar or two 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 17, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  5. Paul,

    I hope all goes well for the launch today, it must be quite a site to have seen some of the large liners being launched back in the day although I am sure todays launch will be just as exciting and personal.
    Good to see the dude shares your thoughts of life through a lens & the house is coming along.
    Is that you passing the corner of your new house closest to the camera or a ghost? 🙂
    Does your new Proven break down into small pieces or will you be hiring a HGV?

    Safe trip back Norf.

    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — December 17, 2012 @ 9:03 am

  6. Very interesting Paul, been past the Kagu Samye Ling a few times while down in the borders visiting with the wifes family and friends but never actually been there, must add it to the to do list!
    Hope all goes well with the launch, should be on the news tonight so will keep an eye out for you jumping with joy! 😉
    Great to see the house progressing, seems only yesterday you where putting the shed up!
    All the best to you and yours

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — December 17, 2012 @ 9:53 am

  7. Paul,

    Buddhist Monasteries can be interesting places 🙂 .
    In 1996 ,while on Holiday in the SW of Ireland, we accidentally booked the (last available) family room in a Buddhist Hostel (Kerry area) for a few days. The others were there with a special purpose as the top man had come over from Asia to teach in Ireland. This for instance also meant one full day the scholars were not allowed to speak. We were allowed to speak but to respect that the others were not speaking. Anyway, the morning after our arrival my wife Martine went for a walk/stroll and bumped into the Guru/Lama(?) with his followers. He said hello, good morning to my wife. Back at the hostel she told about meeting him and everyone was in complete awe as he had SPOKEN to her. She was told that she must be having a very good Karma 😉 . Apparently these Guru’s/Lama’s don’t speak to ordinary persons …. But Martine just considered him as a friendly man, as any other friendly man. We still wonder whether or not the distance between European Buddhists and their Asian leaders is a misunderstanding between them and there Guru’s don’t react as equals as they are not treated as equals.
    Anyway it was an interesting stay meeting lots of people seeking mental and physical health and maybe because of that didn’t appear to be mentally and physically healthy … 🙂

    Comment by Leonard Fintelman — December 17, 2012 @ 11:31 am

    • Hi Leonard, there is much more to this than ‘meets the eye’ I think Mrs Leonard was privileged indeed. I have a lot of time for these dudes 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 17, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

  8. All the best for the LAUNCH, Gaelic news mentioned it this morning. Have a safe trip north to your own piece of peace…x

    Comment by SOTW — December 17, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  9. Does the word ‘keel’ apply to the new ferry,and why is a stormtrooper guarding it ? (Yesterday’s pics).

    Comment by SOTW — December 17, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

    • Hi She, all went well and I can’t wait to get back to Arnish, even if it is only for one night 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 17, 2012 @ 11:15 pm

  10. Samye Ling looks amazing and so different to my home town of Cottingham I wish I had traveled more you’re very lucky

    Comment by cottingham — December 17, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

  11. Wow, I must say that your blog is always funny to read since there is so many different things happening. (Maybe it’s because things like this never seams to happen to me or maybe it’s because it’s so far away from my studies for exams and so on…)

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by malinsdailypicture — December 17, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

  12. this sounds like an excellent expedition, so thrilled so see your mother-in-law smiling and out and about. you’re a good son in law.
    the notion of a tibetan buddhist monastery up there in the highlands (?) isn’t so strange, i think the weather in tibet is cold enough to prepare one for anything. i like to think of them safely and peacefully in scotland.
    thanks for a wonderful post, glad you’re headed home, merry christmas.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — December 18, 2012 @ 3:04 am

  13. Sherab Palden Beru
    Sherab Palden Beru, who has died aged 101, was a Tibetan artist and monk living in exile in Scotland, where he played a leading role in building the first Tibetan monastery in the western world.

    As a master artist at the Samye Ling centre in the village of Eskdalemuir (pop. 265) he strove to preserve the traditional religious art of Tibet. Somewhat incongruously installed about 20 miles north of Gretna, the centre became a base for Sherab Palden to work on his renowned Buddhist murals and scroll paintings, known as thangkas, which depict different aspects of the Buddhist pantheon, including mystic diagrams of Tibetan astrology, pharmacology and theology.
    Used as a focus for meditation and prayer, at one time thangkas adorned every monastery and family shrine in Tibet. Sherab Palden’s painting was strongly influenced by the lucid, spacious and meditative Karma Gadri style from Eastern Tibet.
    Sherab Palden Beru was born in 1911 into a nomadic family that had lived in the eastern Tibetan province of Kham since the mid-15th century. At the age of nine he entered the Namgyal Ling monastery, where his aptitude for drawing was quickly recognised.
    His formal training as both a monk and an artist began at the age of 13 and he also attained high levels of skill in other disciplines, such as ritual music and cham dance. He completed his first thangka at the age of 23.
    In 1956 Sherab Palden left for Lhasa, where he stayed for three years, until forced to flee to India following the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese. During his escape on horseback he was shot in his right arm, but the bullets passed through the flesh and caused no permanent damage.
    Based for a while in Kalimpong, he began painting thangkas again, but was then asked by the senior lama, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, to teach at the Young Lamas’ Home School in Dalhousie.
    Sherab Palden remained in India until the late 1960s, when Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and his fellow lama Akong Rinpoche asked him to help found the Samye Ling Centre (named after the first monastery to be built in Tibet during the 8th century) at Eskdalemuir in the Scottish borders.
    The centre had originally been a hunting lodge on the banks of the River Esk, but in 1965 it had become the Johnstone House Contemplative Community, a retreat centre founded by the Canadian Buddhist Ananda Bodhi.
    Ananda Bodhi had met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Akong Rinpoche the previous year at Oxford, where they had been sent to study. In 1967 he arranged for the ownership of Johnstone House to be transferred to their Tibetan Karma Kagyu order and subsequently returned to Canada. Shortly afterwards the two Tibetans were joined by Sherab Palden.
    The early years of the new monastery were overshadowed by negative publicity over the behaviour of Trungpa Rinpoche, who had taken a little too enthusiastically to the western lifestyle, acquiring a taste for alcohol and sex and causing consternation among the Samye Ling board of directors.
    By the time Trungpa Rinpoche married one of his students, a former pupil at Benenden who was 15 at the time their relationship began, he had been divested of his position as an official representative of the Karma Kagyu lineage. In 1969 he left for America, where he acquired a large following as a “crazy wisdom guru” (his pupils included the poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman) and was eventually reinstated as a Kagyu lama.
    Back in Scotland, Akong Rinpoche and Sherab Palden became the main driving force behind the creation of the Samye Ling monastery, overseeing the construction and decoration of an ornate gilded pagoda temple and accommodation for monks, nuns and guests.
    Over 35 years Sherab Palden devoted himself to creating intricate murals and thangkas of outstanding quality to adorn the monastery and its offshoots in more than 20 countries. He set up an artists’ atelier, where he passed on his skills in all aspects of the arts and crafts to western students.
    He also helped to retrieve, restore and preserve thangkas from Tibet, and later he was joined by his nephew, Gyamtso Tashi, in reviving these traditional skills in Nepal and northern India, where many new temples have been built in recent years.
    Sherab Palden’s students and colleagues regarded him as a profound practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, an outstanding master artist and a gentle, kind and compassionate teacher.
    Sherab Palden Beru, born 1911, died November 29 2012

    Comment by rICHARD — December 19, 2012 @ 9:53 am

    • Do you know Richard, I’m fairly confident that I actually met him on my first visit!!!!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 21, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

      • Good morning Paul,

        I know that it sounds very odd, but like yourself I believe that things in life happen for a purpose, and these linked events seem to illustrate this. I found the obituary in The Telegraph, on the same day that I read your blog re the Monastery. It was obviously meant for you to see, and me to link it to your blog. Or something like that anyway. Changing the subject, I don’t know whether you can recall but my initial e-mail to you was about Land Rovers? Well after much messsing about, I now have one of the last Defender 90 truck cabs with the 300tdi engine. I must be mad, but it now sports a ZF4HP24 automatic box, and various other upgrades. Absolutely superb to drive, the smoothest and most refined Land Rover of any that I have previously owned, and this No.12. Chuffed to bits with it. 🙂 I think that only Land Rover buffs would understand?

        Comment by Richard — December 22, 2012 @ 8:57 am

      • Aye tis a small and interesting world indeed Richard, wish I had an auto box in mine for all the driving I’ve been doing 😦

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 23, 2012 @ 7:37 am

  14. Funnily enough my father-in-law is a Buddhist monk. I kid you not.

    Comment by Gary Sutherland — December 19, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

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