A little bit of Scotch mist

So many photos of my dad as a young man featured a sporty car (or a motorbike and sidecar) and he was often accompanied by my mum (and even his mother, who seemed to be a constant chaperone). Before I was born, dad and mum belonged a group called  “The Gypsy Motoring Club”. They and their friends would zoom around the countryside, participating in organised trips, time trials and treasure hunts. These activities came to an end upon my arrival, but driving out into the countryside on a Sunday was still our family treat. The shop was open 6 days a week and dad never let up. I can remember him often having to jump up from the table and rush downstairs to serve customers because the shop didn’t close for lunchtime.

I do have memories of standing behind the car with the boot down (yes down not up) and our big picnic box which just fitted in. Sadly, missing from the trips that I can remember, was Sheila, my parents’ beautiful Irish (red) setter which appeared on their photos but died before I was born. One of my older cousins was especially fond of her and, later, told me many stories. Apparently, she was a very giddy dog, who never quite grew up and often returned home in a very smelly condition due to her love of rolling in cow pats! This (the photos, not the cow pats) has just reminded me of how many photos I’ve seen of my parents out and about in the countryside, posing (sometimes in very silly poses) with dad’s two sisters and their husbands and children. Lovely family photos which have made me smile over the years and have helped me tell you – my children – about your grandparents.

I have real memories of one very early holiday, touring Scotland. This was a place that mum and dad (mostly with grandma) often visited. I was a small child – maybe 4 – but I have 3 very vivid memories. One was being lifted down from a ferry boat into the arms of a crew member in a small rowing boat as we visited the island of Iona. Iona is a small island in the Inner Hebrides, famous for its abbey. Part of the abbey, built in the Middle Ages, still remains and it is still a popular destination for tourists. The sail, from the small town of Oban, takes you past the beautiful houses of Tobermory (or Ballamory as thousands of parents know it today) and the atmospheric Fingall’s Cave, before arriving at Iona, where the only way to land is by transferring to a much smaller vessel. I made the same trip with friends as a twenty-year old, but that is another story! My dad told me the story that there were some American tourists on our Iona trip and, being interested in history, they were asking “Who was Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father?” It seems nobody knew the answer – except me. I whispered to my dad that I didn’t understand why nobody could say – that “it’s the Duke of Edinburgh of course”! My second memory was being in a bed screaming,  because mum and dad had gone out and left me with my grandma. They never went out together, even though they had a potential live-in babysitter. I never asked why but I realise now that I am showing distinct signs of having “only-child” syndrome! My third memory was of the moment, during our drive home, when I realised that my little plush dog, Ricky, was not with us and dad obligingly turned back to Callander to collect him. Thanks dad!

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Life is a bowl of soup!

I’m full of enthusiasm!  Resurrected with the help of my cousin. We spent a few days away and, as usual, we meandered down memory lane.  We grew up together, more like sisters than cousins. Two girls, born just a few weeks apart and both only children. 

We laughed at the things we remembered and filled in the blanks that the other had forgotten.  We laughed a lot! Into the early hours of the morning.  We talked about the blanks that we can no longer fill in, because the people with the answers are no longer with us and how we don’t want our own children to be in the dark as they grow older.  So, I’ve decided to write this blog for my three children.

Writing a blog?  Well, I keep a diary when I go on holiday.   In fact I’ve just been reading all those diaries written since 2004 when I did my first big trip abroad.  I wish I’d kept the diary that I wrote when I was a teenager and totally in love with a boy I worked with.  You don’t think you’ll ever want to read those again or maybe they are so embarrassing that they just have to be got rid of.  I’m excited to be going away again in a few weeks’ time. To India. It’s sort of a goal, booked as soon as I got the all clear after having a kidney removed (on my birthday too!), because I had to cancel this same trip earlier in the year. I shall be taking my pen and notebook with me as usual.

I’m feeling a similar enthusiasm about telling the story of my family for my children and grandchildren.

Is it over the top to put 12 year old Calvados in soup because I forgot to buy cider?  Well, the leek, apple and spring greens soup tasted very good.