When your grandson Hezekiah is born in Oxford, England, it’s imperative he gets instant Scottish encouragement. We didn’t go as far as drip feeding Wee Eck with Irn Bru or wafting haggis his way but surrounding him with Scottish accents at the start of his impressionable young life was his grandparents’ privilege.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my English neighbours and found them very friendly and helpful. As an interlude to washing dishes, changing nappies, winding wee man, and cuddling Hoots mon Hezzey, I gravel biked for a day and got loads of helpful directions from locals on the ‘Ridegway’ between Chinnor and (P)Uffington. Glorious sunshine lit up gentle green rolling Oxfordshire hills. The Chilterns are a chalk escarpment, northwest of London, covering 660 square miles across four counties, and its Ridgeway one of the oldest tracks / roads in the UK, a mere 5,000 years old. Alas the walkway and cycle path are rather rutted in parts and I was thrown from my bike twice.

I took a break in picturesque Wallingford and sat next to Agatha Christie, who lived there in the last 42 years of life. Sat there, statuesque and stunned, she scanned my grazed napper, elbow, knee, and one lens missing sunglasses, and asked “Whodunit!?” I confessed, “Me, Agatha! I’m the wally responsible! But my bike seems to be okay!”

On the way out of Wallingford bells pealed from St Agatha’s belfry. Intrigued, I swung by to see if there was a wedding or special occasion, but the bells were simply swinging and ringing for the joy of it. I googled St Agatha and was relieved that the church’s name wasn’t some misplaced worship of the murder mystery maestro, rather in celebration of Agatha of Sicily (231 – 251 AD), a virgin martyr and patron saint of breast cancer patients, rape victims, bell-founders, and bakers. It is awful what the man who tried to force Agatha to marry him put her through. Clearly used to getting his own way, this brute tried to break Agatha’s resolve and vow of chastity by confining her to a brothel, throwing her in prison, and torturing her, even removing her breasts. The inhumanity of some people, and yet this innocent young woman, in the face of such force, declared that her freedom and joy was in Jesus, her Saviour.

Sobered and spurred on by St Agatha’s story, and buoyed by the bells, I sped onto Wantage where Alfred the Great, the West Saxon King, was born in 849 AD. A John Knox type of figure, he is credited with restoring education, reviving law-keeping, renewing the Church, and delivering his people from a fearful enemy. Well done Fred!

At Aldred’s statue a friendly local gave me directions to get back to the Ridgeway and I reached White Horse Hill where St George allegedly slew the fearsome dragon. Another kind passerby pointed me to The White Horse Inn at Woolstone, where I supped a pint and awaited St Dorothy of Waterside’s sweet chariot to carry me home. Conveniently England v Denmark was on the telly allowing me some jovial banter and respite from Scotland woes. Then it was back to grand-parenting duties, with a fresh appreciation of limbs intact, English history and a land of lovely people and beautiful countryside. Meanwhile, whether Hezekiah ends up supporting Scotland, England or both, I love his name, it literally means ‘God strengthens’. English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish or whichever our nationality, Wee Eck is a great reminder that we all need God’s daily grace and strength!