It is autumn, after all. Trees deserve several mentions. I went for a walk yesterday with Ray and Harvey, on a lovely autumn afternoon up through Ormiston Woods to find the yew tree. Ray has lived in East Lothian even longer than I have and, just as I had never seen the twisted pines until recently, Ray had never seen the Ormiston yew. Still, what’s 20 years or so in the life of this remarkable tree, which could be 1000 years old? It is recorded as a landmark as early as 1474 and John Knox preached in its interior at the start of the Reformation. It was presumably planted in the grounds of the original parish kirk, St Giles, which Continue reading
Tara’s prompt this week is T. Just that, T. So I thought I’d show you some trees.
The twisted pines are behind the dunes at Yellowcraig in East Lothian. All these years that I’ve lived here and I’d never seen them before – we always go straight down to the beach at Yellowcraig and never wander around the back of the dunes. But last week I was helping GP2 with his project on sanddunes for Advanced Higher Geography. Not only did we measure across the dunes from the sea to the trees, we did zillions of quadrats so I had to learn to identify some plants that weren’t seaweeds. GP2 had to learn to identify some plants. We sat in the sunshine and counted and named plants together and afterwards we both agreed we’d enjoyed ourselves. This is not an activity I would ever have believed that I’d be doing with one of my offspring, let alone a willing, happy offspring.
We saw some spectacular strangler figs on our Big Holiday. We have dozens of photos of trees – that’s what you get when you go on holiday to the Australian rain forest – but I thought I should show you these. It’s difficult to get the scale – suffice to say Enormous! We also saw lots of palm trees but this one from Fiji was my favourite.
Chemo days are long. They start in the middle of the night, 6 hours before the appointment, when I have a lonely midnight feast with a handful of steroids. Middle of the night feast, of course, not midnight. Do you remember those midnight feasts when you were little when you and your friends would hide away a bundle of sugar-hit goodies, and of course it was a secret and your mum didn’t know, but then you couldn’t last until midnight? Either you tucked in to the goodies at 10 o’clock, torch under the blankets, or you woke up in the morning and it was all still sitting there.
Anyhow, back to the chemo. My appointments at the moment are Mondays, and have moved from 9am to 11am. The 11am bit means I can get up at 6 to take my tablets, rather more civilised than midnight. Why not 5? Unfortunately the Monday bit means I have to get my pre-chemo bloods done on Friday, three days ahead, rather than the preferred 24 hours before. The way this drip-drip poison works is to kill off every fast growing cell it can find. Subtle, eh? Fast growing cells include Continue reading
Legend has it that teenagers have no affinity with soap. This is of course a complete fantasy, as any parent knows that modern teenagers must have at least one shower a day, preferably more, each involving a clean towel from the airing cupboard. So I wonder is the acronym SOAP an ironic nod by the East Lothian Outdoor Education team to this proclivity for cleanliness? Or does it have more to do with that early morning whiff that must have hit all of them at some time when they’ve unzipped a tent stuffed with teenagers on a Duke of Edinburgh trip, to try and goad them into action?
Anyhow the Secondary Outdoor Adventure Programme run by the Outdoor Ed team is taking a group of ten Sixth Years from the county High Schools into the Scottish Highlands for a series of weekends over the course of this year. Maybe it was the attraction of building snowholes Continue reading
Tara’s theme this week is White. I wasn’t going to post anything, and I know everyone’s bored of snow but… it is all so beautiful.
We’re not really snowed in but we can’t really get out. At least, not in the car; we’re saving a lot of money on petrol. There was a brief thaw at the weekend and the icicles regressed but the cold has come back with a vengeance this week. The icicles are now 2m long and there’s an inaccessible glacier teetering off the gutter immediately above our phone line. -13° C this morning. I know that’s not really cold, in the global scheme of things, but Continue reading
“I need to get back to Uni.”
Just 18, he passed his test in July and already, of course, he’s a far better driver than his mum. Never mind that the car is buried under a 3 ft blanket of snow and hasn’t moved since the weekend. Don’t worry that all the roads are single track and covered in slush, with cars abandonned all over the place, and as soon as the plough goes through and clears the path new snow fills it in again. So what if the AA has had 18,000 breakdown call outs and that the temperature is predicted to drop to record lows tonight? Even the buses are struggling to reach the village.
I was recently pointed in the direction of this series of videos by a friend. There’s an archaeological dig going on in Orkney and the team are posting a daily update on YouTube. Just the thing for the EduBuzz community, if you haven’t spotted it already. I’ve found it fascinating.
As an aside, Number 2 son did his work experience last year with a local archaeological consultancy. He’s got no plans to be an archaeologist, as far as I know (and after all what does a mother know about these things?), but he is interested in things environmental and did have a great time with them. They looked after him really well. He spent time in each of their departments, cleaning tiles, doing drawings, washing tiles, database searches, washing more tiles, and spent a day out on a job with one of the team. Before washing yet more tiles. He loved it and came back buzzing each day. Just what work experience should be about!
There was a real glut of fruit in the garden this year. The plum tree, which seems to live a charmed life and has survived the trunk splitting under the weight of fruit, produced more fruit than ever. Plums found their way into various concoctions but I’ve no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to make a double quantity of chutney. The industrial volume nearly defeated me. Even so most of the plums rotted on the ground as it was a good plum season all round. I knew there was no hope of off-loading much when GPD came home with a bag of plums he’d been given by someone else.
And then it was the turn of the apples. Continue reading
- March 31 2010
Dr Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain…
Torrential rain, snow, blizzards. It must be spring. The snow has only just melted Continue reading
It’s one of the best sort of Saturday phone calls to get. “Are you doing anything this afternoon? Would one of you like a balloon ride? There’s a spare place!” (I was just typing “Someone’s dropped out” but thought that might not be too appropriate.) Four of us into one place. Hmm. GP1 wondered why we might even consider that he’d be interested and so then there were three. “Why would I want to do that?” To be fair, he truly hates heights. Well, I gave in and just pulled rank. Someone had to make the decision, tough though it was.
Pete, partner of our diving friend Sue, runs Alba Ballooning and was planning on flying – or should that be floating? – from the edge of the Pentlands that afternoon. And what a glorious, clear, sunny afternoon! We took off from near Easter Howgate, to the east of the Pentlands and flew east and northish across Midlothian. There were spectacular views of Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat, the Firth of Forth, the Pentland and Lammermuir Hills and across East Lothian to Berwick Law and Bass Rock. It was quiet and still as we drifted along. Quiet, that is, until Continue reading
I was struck, at the school bus meeting, not by an angry parent but by the general negativity in the room. Scattered amongst the “what about your expenses” and “you’re not listening to us” comments were mutterings about the Curriculum for Excellence. Why, people were asking, was money being wasted on this scheme that people clearly didn’t want? Now, I can’t profess to knowing a huge amount about the CfE but from what I do know, I wish it had been introduced early enough to benefit my two guineapigs, now in the closing stages of their school careers. I think there’s a huge selling job still to be done.
I’ve always thought that it must be extremely difficult to introduce real change in education, change beyond tinkering around the edges. The problem is that everyone thinks that their experiences were the best. They want the system they know for their children. The popular pundits tend to bolster this view. And children are in education for such a short space of time. Yes, I know it seems forever on that first day when they walk up the road in their smart new uniform, clutching their superman lunchbox and you’re choking back the tears, but believe me, it zips by. Continue reading
Long, long ago, in my student days, I went to a talk by David Owen at Strathclyde University. It was around the time that the Gang of Four were breaking away from the Labour Party to form the Social Democratic Party. It was the first time I’d been to a public lecture by someone of his stature and I remember I was quite blown away by it. He may not have been the orator of Michael Foot’s standing, but it was still very powerful stuff. At around that time I also went to a rally where Shirley Williams, always one of my favourite politicians, was speaking. I had friends who were doing Politics, you see, and they made sure I went to all the right events. Anyhow, Shirley Williams was preceded by a local Councillor who introduced her with a rambling speech. When her turn came, it was immediately clear that Williams was in another league. She may not have been glamorous but she oozed charisma. I’ve no idea now what she said, but I do remember the enormous gulf between the presentation skills of this leading politician and the local councillor. There was no mistaking which of the two had made it to the top.
This memory returns to me every time one of our local councillors makes another gaffe and I try to remind myself that they’re surely doing their best and that it must be a truly thankless job being a local politician. For instance, there was the issue over the swimming pools when my two were small. Continue reading
Tuesday evening found us all glued to the radio listening to Sam, one of GP2’s classmates, in his new guise as DJ. East Lothian’s new community radio, East Coast FM 87.7 was launched on Monday, run entirely by volunteers and with a four week licence. Monday might have had Fish and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers to launch proceedings but Tuesday evening had Sam presenting a 2 hour slot for Ross High School and then his mum, Sally, with two hours of folk music. Of course we asked for autographs the following night at the brass Christmas concert.
Sam, I have to say, has been excited about this for weeks. There has been quite a long preparatory lead in that he and Sally have been involved in during what spare time they have Continue reading
So that would be GP1, GP2 and GPD.
It became a basketful or more after I collected 3 wet towels from one bedroom floor and 4 from another then went into the bathroom and threw a wobbly at the pile of clothes on the floor. I collected it all, dumped it in the sitting room, and proclaimed that henceforth any clothes I picked off the floor would go into a bin bag and then the bin. And I wouldn’t be the one replacing them. It worked for a while…
On the 2nd day of Christmas my 3 boys gave to me…
…two piles of ironing and a basketful of dirty laundry.
Nothing new there, then.
On the 3rd day of Christmas my 3 boys gave to me…
…3am vomiting*, two piles of ironing and a basketful of dirty laundry.
It was Friday morning. The end of a glorious September week of sunshine, calm seas and early morning mists. At about the time that you were all settling down to your desks with that first cup of coffee or struggling with the first class at the end of a long week, I abandoned my duties as an average mum, ignored the pile of laundry, spurned the siren call of the vacuum cleaner, forgot the data entry mountain and swam to Fidra. And, you will realise, back. It was fab!
Now I’m not what you’d call an elite athlete. In fact, those of you who know me will appreciate that ‘athlete’ is an over-generous term. But over the last few years I have taken part in a number of triathlons. No reason, really, except that, like Everest, they’re there Continue reading
We went to the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood earlier in the summer and had a very pleasant afternoon in the sun. Yes, the sun shone, a rare event this year. We didn’t chat with the Queen but did pass the time with some friends we bumped into. I didn’t eat the cucumber sandwiches but did procure a plate of gluten free goodies – the organisers have clearly done this sort of thing once or twice before. I didn’t wear a hat and noone seemed to mind. I didn’t take any photographs because GPD made me leave the camera in the car; after all, the invitation firmly forbade cameras. We enjoyed the bands and marvelled at their cunning scheme, involving flags and flag poles, that allowed them to coordinate their playing from opposite sides of the park. There was pageantry and there were spectacular outfits. All in all, a very pleasant, very British afternoon.
And then, towards the end of the school holidays, GP2’s football team went off to Edinburgh to hobnob with royalty. Continue reading
School’s out. It’s the last day of term. Yay!
But there’s a small problem, and I know I’m probably too late to post this. Everyone’s suddenly on holiday but we need to find a tutor for English Higher for next term. Can anyone in the East Lothian/Edinburgh area point me in the direction of anyone? So far I’ve only drawn a blank.
Breaking the habit of a year or two, here’s my email in case anyone has any bright ideas:-
christine at amisfield1 dot fsnet dot co dot uk
If you look carefully on the State Theta website, you’ll see a picture of Guineapigmum indulging in an arcane Pilates ritual. I’ve been doing Pilates with a local teacher over the winter; just what I’ve needed to get my much abused body back under control. Anyhow, Audicia is planning to hold a series of classes – various activities – in her brand new, very beautiful Ormiston studio over the summer, so do take a look at her brand new, equally beautiful website. The classes aren’t yet on the website by the looks of it, but they are on posters displayed at various locations locally.
My blog is fast approaching its first anniversary and I find myself in a place I couldn’t have dreamt of a year ago. As a family, we seem to have experienced a Series of Unfortunate Events this year, starting with the death of my father-in-law in January (we all hated those books, by the way). On the other hand, there have been plenty of highlights – that whoop! when GP1 saw his Standard Grade results, doughnutting on Coll, learning (perhaps too generous a term in my case) to surf, the end of week concert at NYBBS – there were lots more.
Whilst my blog began as a commentary on the boys’ goings on at school, it has evolved into a much more personal online diary, with random mutterings about family, work and, more recently, illness. Whether or not anyone else reads what I write, I have found being able to write extremely therapeutic
If I had taken a camera with me yesterday, I could have shown you one of our beautiful East Lothian beaches – blue sky, golden sand, glittering sea. Today, now my sister has gone home, I went for a dose of Vitamin D along the path behind the house to the woods. I should have had a video camera today, as I watched a real life action movie of a stoat chasing a rabbit to the death in a field of stubble and then dragging it off into the hedge. It was quite a fantastic sight, with the stoat lolloping and bounding above the stubble so that it looked as though it were flying whilst the rabbit squealed in terror. No video camera, so this YouTube clip will have to do.
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