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Sons and girlfriends, originally uploaded by ccgd.

Home – what is home, and what does home mean to you?

An interesting and intriguing question, posed by those good folk at the Scottish Refugee council who asked me to blog about Home, as part of the run up to Refugee Week Scotland Scottish Refugee week, which starts tomorrow – the 15th.

So what is home. Physical? Virtual? (I’ve just put down a Wiliam Gibson novel where the heroine notes that “the on-line forum is a way, now, of being at home …… one of the most consistent places in her life……”)

Societal? All and none I guess, but that does not answer the question. Home is personal, home is about you, and who you are, and who you want to be.

Or what you want, or need to be.

Lets explore that a little bit more. For example I’m not a home just now. I’m in Glasgow, on a Sunday night, in a hotel, when all I want to be is at home.

But Ministerial meetings at 9:00 in the morning on a Monday mean I have to away from home – grudgingly, and those of you who read my blog know that Monday morning meetings in Glasgow are a pet hate.

But…….

I’m away from home a lot, so I’m typing this from the 18th floor of the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. As I said I’m away a lot, so the Hilton has become, in a small sense, a home from home (and before you get all grumpy about expenses and extravagance, my company gets such a great B&B corporate rate from the Hilton it would be wasting money to stay anywhere else). Corporate hotels are good at that – they remember you (especially if you sign up to their membership programmes) – they flatter you, they do their dammnest to make you feel at home, so you’ll come back.

And that works – at least for me. Conversely B&B’s and guest houses do not work for me. Now this is just not snobbery, as I’ve stayed in many fine, comfortable, homely and welcoming establishments throughout the Highlands and Islands over the years.
But a B&B may be homely, but its not my home, its someone else’s home. I’m intruding, I’m there on sufferance, I’m not comfortable.

Now that’s not a universal view, far from it. I know many people, friends, family and colleagues, who love B&B’s (they make you feel so at home) hate Hotels (they are so bland and anonymous). But the question on what does home mean is about me, not them.

So lets try and answer it.

Home is ancestral, I was born in Thurso, family is from Caithness and Sutherland, so I’ll always be from the North Coast – even though I’ve never lived there since I was three. (but we have always had a wee croft house in Sutherland – a home from home, and interestingly where I’ve always felt very much at home)

But more importantly home is physical – its Albion House, Cromarty, where I’ve lived for the past 25 years and never intend to leave. Its only the second house that Ruth and I have ever owned, and one rented flat before that.

But even more importantly home is a people, is quite simply my Family, Ruth and the boys. That’s why the picture I’ve chosen to represent home is us, Ruth, sons and girlfriends, home in front of the stove, at New Year - home and hearth.

Home and hearth - a sentiment as old as the hills, and one that needs no repeating, because it means all sorts of things to all sorts of people, but what it what it means to me is comfort, and happiness, and pleasure in being where you are, and the people whose company you are in.

And for Scottish Refugee week, and for those good folk at the Scottish Refugee council, if it means that one – just one – poor soul finds some comfort, some happiness, some pleasure in calling somewhere in Scotland home, and finding some company in people, despite being far far away in a physical, political or a temporal sense from their ancestral home, its been a good week.

what a great source of pride and happiness - your fine family having fun together!
And congratulations on finishing the years of their high school - many more milestones lie ahead!

Keep up yr interesting blogging. I've written u before - christine mckenzie of fortrose nz formerly of farness and fortrose academy...

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cool family photo! Reminds me to take one from here. My great grandparents the Dunlops and Mackintoshes both came from the highlands and lowlands of Scotland, I'm attempting to trace my family tree now but it sure is hard work!

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