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.
It seems a lifetime but it was only two years ago. We went on a big family holiday, right round the world. Cancer had been banished and our eldest was on the brink of leaving school; it felt the right time to spend a month together, the right time to stop putting things off. We took a collective deep breath, phoned Trailfinders and bought the tickets. Singapore (to break the journey) – Queensland (Barrier Reef of course) – Sydney (well, you just have to, don’t you) – Fiji (came recommended) – San Diego (to visit Kris) – home. We had wonderful experiences from cities to wide sand beaches and rainforest. The boys learnt to dive on the Great Barrier Reef and then tackled the Rainbow Reef as though born to it. We ate all sorts of food, made new friends and met old ones. We stayed in hotels, on boats, in tents. And amongst all that, one particular day, our last on Fiji, really stood out for me; that was the day of these happy faces.
We’d spent a week at Dolphin Bay, a most wonderful, tiny dive centre accessible only by boat. We needed 24 hours without diving before flying back to Nadi in an unpressurised tin can so chose to stay on the neighbouring island, Taveuni, and have a look about. We’d stood on the date line and messed about on a natural water slide (Wild Wadi eat your heart out). It was time for A Walk. The taxi driver agreed to call for us early on Sunday morning to take us along the island – there were a few paved roads – to Lavena in the Bouma National Heritage Park where there was a trail to a waterfall. Just time before our plane, everyone reckoned. You would think we’d suggested a spell in a torture chamber. A walk, for goodness sake! Why would two teenagers want to go on a walk!
So we set out and it was raining, on a path along the coast, past a village, through dense vegetation, over streams, Continue reading →