Saturday, 26 April 2008

too expensive to drive

There was no diesel left in the petrol tanks and we live 15 miles from the nearest filling station, shop, school everything. The fuel crisis in Scotland has to be having the biggest effect on ordinary people who live rurally. We have to be able to drive our cars. What is worse is that the filling stations are bleeding us dry hiking up their prices. It is now over 120p per litre. Every journey has to count now and we can't just nip in to town because we fancy it. It cost me £62 to fill the tank the other day.

the secret to a long life

We had a visitor at the weekly oil painting class. A male journalist came to photograph our teacher for a feature he is writing on her for a local paper. I told him he should come back in June when Kitty turns 90 and that she is our oldest resident. Never! he said, shocked. What's your secret?
Usually old people when asked that question say things like always have a purpose in life, my family keep me young, I never drank or smoked. But what, Kitty said had us all laughing. Her secret is Catch them young, treat them rough and tell them nothing!
It wasn't until after he'd gone that Kitty realised he was from the paper. What a laugh we had imagining her picture with that caption. It was funnier still when he popped back to check some details with the teacher.
I didn't know you were from the paper, said Kitty.
It's too late to rewind the tape now, quipped the journalist.

It was funny observing the effect of a man coming into our class. We did have a male member (no pun intended!) but although middle-aged he didn't exude much masculinity and was more like an over-grown child. The journo had them giggling, saying silly jokes about male models and had us all posing for a picture for the paper.

So now you know how to live to a ripe old age.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Do you promise to stay faithful?

Yeees, I reply expecting yet another mundane question about the lunch I am preparing.
Do you promise to stay faithful to Daddy forever?
The question comes bolt out of the blue and I stop what I'm doing. There's only one thing I can say, "I do".
Do you respect him?
How do you get married?

My three-year old loves to watch our wedding video but I didn't realise she was absorbing so much of the ceremony. Now she is reminding me of my wedding vows and holding me to them. Next time I show little sympathy when he has man-flu or complain we have no money she will be quoting the whole "for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health" bit to me. We were married 6 years ago, long before she was born. She listens to the whole ceremony and takes delight in spotting people she knows and copying the dancing. Now she is planning her own wedding to her Daddy in our village church where her brother was christened. She doesn't care he is married to me. "We can share him!" she says. And, "It's okay Daddy, you can get married again." I must have missed that bit - hand me the remote I need to rewind.

Now she's having a tantrum because I won't give her my wedding ring!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Why did you marry Daddy and how did you make me?

My wee girl who is 3 years old is always thinking and her questions are becoming more and more challenging. She asked her daddy, "How did you make me?" He said, "Ask your mammy!" So she waited for me to come home from a meeting and greeted me with the question. I was surprised as I thought it would be another few years before we would be having this talk. Anyway, I spared her the mechanics and just told her that "daddy put a little seed in mummy's tummy and it grew into you. Aren't we clever to make you?" The moment I said it I thought Oh hell she's going to ask how he put the seed in, but, thankfully she didn't and was satisfied with the answer - for now.

She also wants to know what everything is for, why we have to eat, why everything grows, why are there trees and why is everything the way it is.

My girl found our wedding video and loves to watch it. "What's married for?" she asked. I told her we got married because we loved each other and so we could have her. Now she is planning her wedding in our village church where her brother was christened. She is going to marry her Daddy. "But he's my husband", I said. "But I want to marry him too", she said. Then she wanted to know why I married Daddy. "Because I love him and so I can spend my life with him", I explained. "Me too!" she said. She told him he can get married again - to her!

She is so full of plans and in such a hurry to grow up. She wants to get married and have babies. She has also been thinking about her career. For a while she wanted to be a teacher, then a doctor and now she wants to be a clown - a falling down clown! She is looking for someone to teach her to juggle! She wants to be bigger and go to the big school and to drive. Actually she thinks she should be allowed to drive now. "I don't want to be 17 and drive I want to be 3 and drive!" What a character we have on our hands.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

no delivery today

Where is the picture? In February I ordered a framed print of a painting by Pam Carter for my mothers birthday. It has still not arrived. The delivery company lost the first one and now the replacement has not arrived.

Every day I am looking out the window every time a car passes and nothing! Aargh!

Okay, so it is a big region with a scattered population but I have never, not ever had this problem before. Nearly all my shopping is done online (except food) and everything arrives quickly. I don't think I would be so happy to live here if it wasn't for the internet and online shopping. When you live rurally with little in the way of services or shops the world wide web really does put the world at your fingertips.

Monday, 14 April 2008

94 years in a flash

On Saturday I went with my mother and the two kids to visit my grandfather. It should have been a two and a half hour drive but it took us longer because we stopped for toilets and again for lunch. It was such a long journey but we were still in the Highlands. I forget how vast the region is and how diverse the landscape. We left the mountainous rugged wildness of the west for the flatter, more manicured landscape of the east.

Papa is 94 soon but would pass for 80. His skin is unwrinkled despite his years and more than his fair share of hardship and sadness in his life. He should be a medical mystery as his health is relatively good and he is very old. He was born in a highland croft and reared in a house that was very poor; a stone cottage with a thatch, no water or electricity. Basic survival entailed hard hard work. His diet consists mainly of sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat and a good sprinkling of salt; lots of meat, milk, butter, white bread, jam, cake, potatoes, a few veg and little fruit. His drinks are sugary, stewed tea and full-fat milk. Since turning 80 he has become partial to the odd can of cola. Of course with a diet like that he has false teeth; but he is slim and healthy. The positive aspect of his diet is that it is simple, unprocessed and homemade. Porridge for breakfast and homemade soup. No fancy sauces and no ready meals. Although lately he has become partial to a microwave lasagne!

Papa said he can scarcely believe how old he is and that all those years have just passed in a flash. Imagine that, 94 years in a flash. Perhaps that reveals a life well-lived with people well-loved.

sunny days and self-building

The weather is uncharacteristically glorious so the children are outside as much as possible. When you live in the Highlands you feel you have to be outside on a good day just in case it is the last good day of the year and then you would be kicking yourself for not having made the most of it. The only downside to the recent good weather is the bright mornings. My kids are getting up earlier and earlier. Either I will have to fit a blackout blind or just resign myself to becoming a morning person and getting up at 6am. I could only do it with the help of coffee. It wouldn't be so bad if the baby wasn't waking me during the night as well. I don't think he is hungry I think he just feels like a bit of company. The benefit of breastfeeding is that I can just bring him in with me and feed him as I lie with my eyes shut. Most times we both fall asleep and the night limps on until the early morning games begin. It must be amazing to wake rested with a big smile and ready for action.

We are making good progress with our self-build house. We have finished foundations and have filled them with hardcore. This week we (when I say we, I really mean my husband) is going to whack it with a whacker plate. I had never heard of such a thing but it is a way of compacting the base. Then perhaps the following weekend we will pour the concrete floor. Also we have to drill holes in the foundation walls for drainage pipes as the brickies never left any spaces and we have to get the brickies back to start the chimney. We need to get all this done before 20th May when our timber-frame kit arrives. As I write it I am thinking it is quite a bit still to do before the kit arrives as we only have evenings and weekends.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

mums group baking frenzy

5 of us have had babies in the last year which is something of a population explosion so we decided to set-aside a couple of hours every Thursaday to get together with the children. There is no village hall or anywhere to meet other than each others houses so we take it in turns to host. When we first started meeting a packet of biscuits would be brought out with the coffee. Then someone decided to be a domestic goddess and we were greeted by the smell of muffins fresh out the oven. This raised the bar somewhat and now they are all baking. Today it was raspberry and chocolate brownies that were so sumptiously delicious that I do not know how I had the restraint to refuse a second. She did cheat though as it was her brilliant chef husband who baked them. Next week it is my turn and not to be outdone on the domestic goddess front I am already thinking what to bake. As my toddler is already planning to help bake for the ladies I can already envisage cupcakes garishly decorated with multicoloured animals and millions of hundreds and thousands.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

a little introduction

My first post was a little premature as I haven't properly introduced myself so I will give you a little summary of my life as a happy highland housewife. I live in a small village of around 100 inhabitants. I have a husband and two children. A 3 year old who is a lively, intelligent wee character and thinks she's in charge and a 9 month old son who likes company, exploring and playing with his big sister. We are in the process of building a house - quite literally. It will be a beautiful big house and we have planned it for years. At the moment we are crammed into a two-up two-down. The reason we are crammed is because we have got too much stuff. We try to be kind to the environment and bring our children up happily and healthily. We are too busy most of the time and never get stuff done and that is frustrating. Unusually for a remote place there are lots of families with young children living here which is great. What isn't so great is that there is no shop for 15 miles, and the town, nursery, supermarket, doctor and all useful and / or necessary services are 18 miles away and a 30 minute drive. We spend a lot of time and money driving cars.
I am a housewife but I find domestic chores boring and I only do them because I hate to live in filth. I hate the house to be too messy but I naturally clutter the place. I do like cooking. In fact, I enjoy food a lot. I look after the children and try to find a bit of time to do things I enjoy just for myself. I enjoy walking, writing, reading, photography, painting, watching television and talking to friends. I really enjoy the occasional night out even if it is just to the pub for a drink and a craic. Craic isn't a misspelling of the popular drug. Craic means having fun chatting, sharing jokes and stories and a laugh.
I'll tell you more in future posts...

Baby sprays friend with pasta sauce

Meeting an old friend in town for lunch today so decided to make a bit of an effort and blow-dry my hair properly, put on make-up and smartish clothes. Like me she has left her city life but she has gone to live on an island. Her move was more recent and she has no children so she still retains some city glamour and I didn't want her to think I'd let myself go. I just had the baby with me and my friend was dying to see him. Her boyfriend was meeting her later in the town and probably a little nervous that she would be broody after our lunch. The baby was so slouched in the high-chair because he kept pushing himself down and he was being awkward. My friend in her nice clothes, perfectly straightened hair and delicate jewellery (I clocked it straight away as a potential target for little fingers to pull and snap, hence, I was relatively unadorned!) offered to hold him while I spoon-fed him spaghetti in a tomato sauce. Well, if she had any notion that babies were so sweet and adorable it went out the window when out of the blue he twisted his head round and with a mouth full of orange-coloured sauce blew her a raspberry and for good measure a second one. Fair play to her, she kept smiling even when I picked a piece of pasta off the side of her face. Now that's what I call a real friend.