Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I got me some Bling!

To mark her Golden Jubilee, the Queen has issued a medal to be awarded to certain volunteer groups and specifically to members who have worked for them for 10 years. Mountain Rescue England and Wales were one such group and I have been a voluntary (we all are!) member for 11 years. So I was awarded a medal!!!

Rubbish picture but I haven't taken a picture of myself in a mirror before and I was concentrating!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Angus and the Mini North Run

This blog is partly a news update and also shameless advertising.

Angus is going to be running in a short (1 mile) race later on September 15th.

This is his story:

When we moved to Newcastle we were introduced to Eleanor Brown, an experienced and talented cellist (try googling her). She offered to continue teaching Angus cello even though she wasn't used to teaching such young children. Angus was only 4 at the time but loves playing (even though he is rhythmically challenged!) Eleanor explained to me that she had a rare form of cancer and so her health was unpredictable. However, she was amazingly patient and creative with Angus and he loved her lessons which usually went on way beyond her allotted time. At first Eleanor came to our house saying that this gave her a good excuse to get out. We could see that some days she was well and others were a struggle and sometimes the lessons were moved or cancelled. I explained as best as I could to Angus about Eleanor's illness and he was understanding but had a lot of questions. Later, after a lengthy break for treatment, Eleanor's husband would drive her.  Eventually we had to go to Eleanor's house as even the trip out was too much.

Eleanor died earlier this year from her cancer. Telling Angus was difficult: he had been practising a piece of music that he had been too uncertain to play before. He kept saying, "I need to practice this to play for Eleanor for when she gets better." He has struggled with not being able to say "Goodbye" or play for her.

Last year friends came to stay over the GNR weekend, their children running the Mini and both parents running the GNR itself. Angus was challenged to enter this year and so has decided unprompted that this is what he wants to do: run the mini and be sponsored to raise money for people with cancer. St Clare's is a local hospice so this seamed appropriate.

He wants sponsorship. I want him to be sponsored too, not only because it will raise money for a good cause, but because it will help him to deal with his grief, and he is grieving. Just a couple of nights ago he again told me about needing to say goodbye, both to Eleanor and to Blue, our dog who died in March. If you can, visit his justgiving web page and encourage him.

Thank you. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Let's Have Another Go

The internet guy came this morning and confirmed what we all know - our internet connection really is pants. Apparently the only one who can make it any better at all is an anonymous politician in Whitehall who must sign some document to release money to upgrade rural cabling. No hope there then.

Let's try some more photos of our hols:

Some rare island sheep that graze near our holiday house. Jo knows what type they are. They are a very primitive breed brought in from a west coast island that do well eating seaweed.
A close up of the rare sheep. They were very nervy and I had to sit still for a while to get this one. The midgies had some fun but I didn't.

Another type of sheep but on the main street at Sheildaig (it's made from old car parts.)

We went out to dinner one evening in the local seafood bar and thought this looked amazing. Apparently it tasted amazing too! The Sheildaig Bar - highly recommended.

And after dinner, you get to look at this. Beautiful.

Angus finally worked out what climbing was all about. He was so proud of himself and so were we. Dad, spot the helmet he's wearing! Isla wants/needs one too.

Because Isla had no problems working out what to do whilst on a climbing rope! She was a natural, finding toe holds, finger holds and working out exactly how to change her centre of balance. Look, no hands! Confident or what!

And then we revisited the glass-bottomed boat trip that we did last year. Not unsurprisingly they remembered "The little blond boy who quoted David Attenborough" from last year! Angus and Isla loved the chance to steer the boat in. They were so good at it (Isla listened and then told Angus what to do - good team work) they even moored the boat. Angus was told he could have a job when he was 14 - I am not sure all the tourists would want entire David Attenborough documentaries quoted at them, but he would try!

There. All those pictures behaved very well and uploaded in 30 minutes, rather than the nearly two hours it took me to not finish the last lot.

In summary, we had a fabulous week and loved catching up with all the family: Ken walked mountains, Angus and Isla discovered climbing (phew), and we all feel rested and recharged with the most amazing sunshine. We are going back again next year.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Post Holiday Insomnia

I am experiencing post-holiday insomnia, probably brought on by the seven hour drive back from holiday followed by the frantic unpack. Consequently I slept for about two hours, woke at 2.00 am or something like that, and haven't been back to sleep since. I could probably sleep now, but then who would look after Angus and Isla, and I would become nocturnal. I will just have to slog it out until later. So, in my sleep deprived brain I have decided to make use of the early daylight and catch up on my blog. Forgive any literary mistakes please, excusing them to fatigue.

I haven't been writing much lately, as you have probably noticed. In the interim, Angus has finally left pre-school and is VERY EXCITED about starting year 1. He has loved school so far and came home with a glowing report on everything which didn't involve concentration. Lack of co-operation? Come on, Angus is a born conformist; any lack of co-operation is almost certainly due to him not having heard in the first place or assuming the instructions didn't apply to him. Or he is off in his own little planet: literally, as I have explained before that he is currently interested in space, his obsession with dinosaurs having morphed that way via the asteroid that may or may not have finished them off.

Isla is still adoring Angus, talking far too much, (or singing, or humming), still being charming but also quite defiant at times, smiling when told off. She can be wonderful and cooperative, but loves pushing her luck and seeing how far she can go before she oversteps the boundaries: a healthy two year old attitiude if trying at times.

Despite my backward body clock, we haven't been to a different time zone on holiday, we have been to Torridon in Scotland again. Mind you, with the weather we had, it could have been a different country. From the weeks of drizzle, rain, storms and clouds which left to many of us fantasizing about foreign climes, Scotland was amazing. It is not the most reliable of countries for weather, but we have had an wonderful week and I have actually come back with a tan having spent a day on the beach which even involved swimming (it was really cold if you let your feet go too low!)

Here are a few pics:

We were staying near Sheildaig: a beatiful coastal village, but it has mean midges. Mind you, doesn't most of Scotland? In daylight it llooks charming.
Isla developed an interesting technique which seemed to involve unhinging her jaw, enveloping the entire marshmallow and then pulling it off the stick. Sometimes it went wrong.

Cooking marshmallows on the stoney beach near our house became a favourite activity started by Grandma. Both Angus and Isla loved it. The main problem was obtaining decent marshmallows in North West Scotland. The best supply was Lochcarron which is 15 (?) miles from where we were! Angus became quite expert at toasting them to a golden brown, delighting in giving them to Grandma.

Okay, I am going to give up. These photos are driving me crazy - it has taken an hour to do these four. They keep doing weird things and I don't have the sleep quota to work out what I am doing. Combine that with a rediculously slow internet (currently 280kbs on the speed test) and I have had enough. Maybe more to follow.