One beautiful year ago, my little girl was born. I still think of her as a baby, but look how she’s grown. Crawling, standing but not walking; saying mama and dad but not really talking. Laughing when she’s not crying; happy most of the time she’s awake. Good at sleeping. Very much a part of our family with her own expressions and her own voice. Today we celebrated with family and it was fun to have everyone here for a feast. I remember the relief I felt after when my other two turned one and I started to get a little more sleep and feel a little less exhausted and more of myself again. The peonies and poppies in our garden are blooming, just as they were this time a year ago when our little girl was born.
One of our favourite things to do, rain or shine (yes, I mean it) is to go charging down the sand dunes at Lunan Bay. We spent today there in the glorious east coast sunshine. As well as charging down sand dunes, we dug for treasure, paddled in the sea, flew a kite and ate sandy sandwiches. Exhausted by the pleasures of the beach, we finished with coffee, cake and ice-creams at the glorious little cafe, the Lunan Bay Diner. Walking back to the car park, we spotted this. I wonder if this is Banksy’s most northerly work? (Is it genuine?) This weekend is Angus Open Studios and after passing a few of the signs on our way, we pulled up at Red Castle Pottery on our way home. It was a lovely surprise to find that K could get her hands dirty. With R’s help, she made a little tortoise out of a lump of clay which Maralyn Reed-Wood will fire and post. Thank you, Maralyn.
For Easter weekend this year, we drove down to the Borders to stay with old friends and participate in their Easter morning sunrise hill climb and open air service. I spent ten years of my life in the that part of Scotland, from eight to eighteen – formative years indeed. The road over the Lammermuirs from Edinburgh is so familiar to me, I still know every twist and turn and exactly the right speed I need to go to get up each hill without changing gear. It was strange to see our old house in that landscape of low hills and sheep, only the trees we planted grown so high to mark the passing years. It stands across a field from the church, to which my parents devoted many years of their lives and where we buried them, side by side but almost twenty years apart.
I have been contemplating how and what to order as a memorial to mark Dad’s grave and suitably remember his life. I love the look of hand carved lettering on stone and love wandering through old graveyards and reading the inscriptions. Searching the web, I found this beautiful example. Funnily enough the inscription would have suited my father perfectly. It reads:
Whose greatest desire was that all should understand, that Christ abolished death and brought life and immorality to light through the gospel, and whose highest privilege was to be able to say and of this gospel I was appointed a teacher.
I think that is a paraphrase of 1Timothy 1:11. I know that Dad, characterised by faith and humility, would have liked this. I am still pondering what we can do and in the meantime, filling a pinterest board with grave stones I like (Gruesome? Not at all). Its going to take a while, but I’ll update you when we finally come to a decision.
This was the highlight of our recent holiday to Skye: a day when our planning, the weather and the scenery came together in perfect harmony. Our plan was a walk to the lighthouse at the Point of Sleat, about three miles. We expected this to take the morning. Thankfully, we packed enough sandwiches and snacks to last day. Just before we reached the lighthouse, the path came out onto the most perfect sandy cove you can imagine. The sun came out and we stayed all day. It was better, far better than even the best remembered days of my childhood holidays.The children played and played in the sand and the sea, requiring no entertainment from us. Ross found an old rope and spend a long time unravelling it. At the end of the day, Daniel and I walked back along the ridge. What joy to scramble hand in hand with my son, up the rocks and through the heather. I think this is the first time he experienced the pleasure of walking and climbing: I will look back on it as the day he discovered a love for Scottish mountains.Ah, April on the West coast of Scotland: so fair, so fair.
Funny to think of all we were going through nine years ago today: the preparations, the service, the gathering of wonderful, wonderful people, the celebrations. Our wedding day was really special in so many ways but it also had some stresses running in the background. I am so full of gratitude for the last nine years and looking back I can see so much more of the promise and fulfilment that the day signified. If I had known how these years would unfold, I would have been even happier to be marrying the man who took my hand that day.
Its only in Britain that we would have a primetime TV slot dedicated to sheep farming. I’m glad we do: there was certainly something wonderful about our own visit to a live lambing shed this morning. The little lambs are very pretty, clean and sweet. The mothers are not pretty but their care for their new offspring is beautiful and fierce. D was delighted to tell us he saw two being born. The smell of sheep and straw in the shed was rich and warm. The talk is of births and mothering and care. What a great place to be.
Yesterday it felt and looked like spring and we spent the afternoon tidying up the garden a little with the help of my sister. I love the yellowness of spring flowers and the way it is so often paired with bright pink or purple in combinations I would never enjoy anywhere else. Look at the colours of this flowering currant! And this forsythia. (I must pick some and bring it inside – the bush is need of pruning anyway.)We have daffodils and primroses coming up, and the hundred tulips I planted in November (very late) have beautifully healthy looking leaves about 8cm tall. I can’t wait to see the flowers. Little E was out in our tent, exploring the leaves and grass and sticks – and anything else she could reach and get into her mouth. D and E were running around in bare feet.Today is grey, again, and cold and wet. Still, we have our promises of spring. We can wait a little longer.
Spending time with people you love, in a place you love, doing things you love: thats a good enough way for me to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This time last year we were in CapeTown and I cooked a Valentine’s lunch for eleven, including both great-grannies. Here’s the table before we sat down to eat. (I made the big hearts with paper and a stapler. The little heart baskets are woven from two pieces of paper – I remember making them at primary school).
The display of orchids in the RBG glass houses were stunning. I love flowers and it is lovely to be given some. Last year there were giant protea’s on the table. This year, I am still enjoying a bunch of tulips R brought me. Cards? Of course there were cards. I think I like them best of all: little messages saying the things we so often forget, reminders for this year, 2014, of the things that we have committed to, the things that really matter to us and to our family. Valentine’s Day: a simple reminder to keep loving one another every single day.
As a family we seem to have rather more than usual to celebrate right now – mainly small things but worth celebrating.
And birthdays – my sister this week: a nice excuse for us all to enjoy cake and ice-cream sundaes. Happy Birthday, lovely lady.
Here are some photos from a weekend we enjoyed in Edinburgh at the end of November. We worked out the importance of camouflage for little fish at the National Museum of Scotland;
Walked through the Christmas festivities on Princes Street; stayed with my sister; met up with a brother and cousins; gate-crashed the National LIbrary of Scotland which was open to the public for Book Week Scotland; read and choose a children’s book to take away for free; Ate a winter picnic at Yellowcraigs beach; walked over the headland where Robert Louis Stevenson set the start of Treasure Island; drank hot chocolate in Gullane at the amazing Konditorei and Kaffeehaus Falko’s (well worth a visit for amazing cakes).We came home refreshed and exhausted by the pleasures of a weekend in the city.
Ah, Edinburgh, Edinburgh: never mine and mine forever. Its good to have a few more memories to place on my own personal map of the city.
“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth…”
― Alexander McCall Smith, Love Over Scotland