Mrs Heathbank. Because we are relatively lithe and active (I know, but that's church for you...) we undertake an area with a hill in it. On the very outskirts of town. This year's collection included not only the hill, and its strangely bleak little community in a new development which is unfinished and half empty, but also some new houses on the shore that we'd never visited before, so the afternoon promised some variety and a bit of interest.
In the event, there was much with which we were all too familiar. The people who had no money (it's Sunday). The man who said "I'm afraid I'm the only one in," and shut the door. The people who had already been given an envelope by their own church (come on, chaps, they're for door-to-door collections, you know - not for an easy way out for all concerned). Less familiar were the lovely people who gave us these envelopes for our bag notwithstanding, and the people who invited us in for a chat regardless of our hiking boots (you go prepared for anything in this part of the world). Most annoying moment of the afternoon was reserved for four persistent and very rude small boys who dogged our way round one group of houses making such a racket that we were sure the forewarned denizens of the place lay low as one man. It's the difficulty of remembering that I'm a Christian Aid collector and therefore must bite my tongue that really gets to me in these moments.
And then there were the dogs. I don't care for dogs. Fortunately Mrs H does, and fielded most of them. I had one great success in ordering one beast back into his house; it went, and its owner offered to hire me to complete the animal's training. I declined.
All this time it rained. Most of the time it was a fine, wetting drizzle, with occasional outbursts of something more substantial. As we trailed up the half-made road to the last houses in our patch, we reflected on how different it is doing this sort of thing in a city. I once helped a friend in a residential area of the Edinburgh suburbs; she did one side of the road and I did the other and the whole operation took us half an hour and yielded a heavy haul of filled envelopes. Where we collect in Dunoon, we have to reckon on at least two hours to get round our allocated houses, and will be lucky to have half the amount of the city collection. But I'm not complaining - not really. Except about the churches who make our journey a waste of time.
And next year I'd like it to be warm and sunny. Please?