Monday, December 31, 2007

Another Hogmanay

Having enjoyed reading Jon's teary, nostalgic stories of Christmas past, I decided some reminiscing of my own wouldn't be out of place.

Christmas for us was usually spent in Dundee where your enjoyment of the festive season was generally measured by how much food you could consume between dawn and dusk - not eating meant not enjoying and that would simply not be tolerated. From the bacon stuffed rolls which left your dressing gown smeared with butter grease and tomato sauce to the industrial vats of prawn cocktail, it was heaven for a 9 year old with an appetite. Indeed there is a well worn family story where Gillian, who could be relied upon to work herself up into a vomitus over-excited wreck on Christmas Eve, was only cured of her boke by the ingestion of two cheese and tomato pizzas.

Another lasting memory is of the organisation involved when squeezing four or five adults and up to six children, plus guests, in a cottage originally built to house a crofter and possibly his wife. Place mats were laid each meal time in the livingroom on every available horizontal surface. A middle spot on a table was nice as there was less chance of things ending up on the floor, or of one of the dogs helping you to finish. Seats near the fire were at a premium earlier in the day when the house had yet to heat up, but by evening the furnace blast meant that only the cat and dogs could get within a few feet of it. This gave them the best view of the (off) TV and a perfect vantage point from which to let off casual farts in the direction of your Vienetta and Ice Magic. Feeding aside, the sleeping and washing arrangements alone were impressive enough. Bunk beds and inflatable beds were frequent friends as you were given your place in the sleeping hierarchy.

We were a family who still did "turns" - I did a mean Margaret Thatcher impression, and once an optimal amount of alcohol had been consumed the various uncles and aunts from many generations would indulge in some music hall classics to pass the time. One advantage that we had over the Broons was a "television", but this was in the days when the war for children's minds was still being optimistically fought by parents who believed two things - 1) that family derived entertainment was more fun than Tiswas and 2) this was a fight which could still be won. We could debate if either, both or none of these is true but it won't help me in 1982.

Anyway. Hogmanay as a child was perhaps less exciting, barring the thrill of being allowed up late. Once or twice we were taken along to parties then put to bed before being "gently awoken" at early o'clock when it was time to go home. I would not wish this torture on any child and will try to avoid it with my own. Jon's blog reminded me of those first few "allowed out" New Years when the rules of social etiquette were still being learned, then ignored. Hogmanay evening would be spent touring the houses of...people we knew. Calling them all "friends" would be a bit false considering many of them I have never, and will never see again, but we knew enough "friendly people" to organise or instigate quite the tour of Tain. Traps would be laid for us, though; on arrival at Tower Gardens for example I would be presented with a generous basin of neat whisky from my host or hostess which would then be refilled at a pace Oliver Reed might have called "a bit much". It was all my teen male ego could do to drink them as fast as they were presented. But then later in the evening any of my visits to the toilet would be accompanied by sharp intakes of breath and some tut-tutting as I weaved my wibbly wobbly way past vases and display dinner services before engaging other guests in inappropriate conversation. These truly were "the good old days". As time went on Jon and I became less of the social butterfly type and concentrated more on becoming connoisseurs of witty stories, droll recollections and the contents of other people's drinks cabinets.

We also frequently set out to prove that the right amount of alcohol prevented hypothermia. When it's 2 in the morning, and snowing, and you've been drinking whisky since midday, and someone says to you, "Let's go down to the beach" you really should say "No." But the memories of running my hands through my hair to dislodge the ice only serve to celebrate the anti-freeze properties of The Famous Grouse.

So, tonight Lorna and I will hit Tain town centre again after all these years. We are attending the Hogmanay street party organised, I think, by the Tain Gala Association Ceilidh band, fireworks (one assumes) and home by 00:10 if all goes to plan...

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Cold Snap

Ah, Christmas is almost upon us. Where has the year gone? We really knew it was this time of year over the weekend when I took part in the Santa Run, visited the German Market the braved John Lewis for some frenzied shopping action. The Santa Run involved 2500 people dressed as Santa doing two laps to Princes Street gardens in aid of a charity. I was hoping for a race but was disappointed to receive no race number and to be held up by children dressed as reindeer and babies in prams as I barged my way round both laps in search of glory. There was even someone on crutches for goodness sake - what's Christmassy about that? Anyway, it was well worth it for my Lidl bag containing water and a banana at the end, and at least I had support in the form of Little Santa, pictured.
The German Market is where German wanderers tempt us with their rustic traditional wares - salt crystal candle holders and models of motorbikes made out of nuts and bolts. You know, very German stuff. The mulled wine was worth a look though, laced as it was with rum.
The last week of term was as busy as usual, full of parties and plenty of "media studies" - our name for watching a DVD. It was Bugsy Malone for P7 this year, and before showing it we announced to them that we planned to put on the stageshow in June. Because they are such a keen class they began singing along, and claiming the parts they wanted to play - a good sign for us if the enthusiasm continues.
Kit enjoyed his Christmas Party at nursery. He won a Santa face cloth and towel set and didn't cry when the "big" Santa arrived, so that counts as a big success. People keep asking us what he's getting for Christmas but I'm afraid we are being a bit unimaginative and putting some cash into his savings account...boooring, but he still doesn't know what's going on and we reckon his other relatives will cough up enough sparkly wrapped goods to keep him happy.
In January Lorna changes to part-time hours at last. I say at last because it's something she's wanted for a while - more time with Christopher - and now she is able to plan all sorts for events and activities. Another benefit is that I have many Friday half days during the second part of the school year so we'll plan little trips swimming, climbing or such like.
Some bad news on the 24 hour cycle front... having neared the end of our training and bought most of the extras we'd need, including ludicrously expensive lights sent for the USA, we are having to pull out! Unfortunately Mike had a wee accident - he fell off his bike (!) and has craked bones in his arm and shoulder. It was his racer, not even the mountain bike, and he was caught out by a greasy patch on the road. Nobody is more fed-up about this than Mike. I have mixed feelings. Part of me is disappointed having prepared for it for so long. But part of me is quietly delighted not to have to do it! There were suggestions from people that I find a replacement partner, but that's not really in the spirit of teamwork. I felt it should be Mike and I or not at all. Besides, it was his camper van we were going to be using...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Strathpuffer Trial Run

Yesterday Mike and I took a drive up to Strathpeffer to check out the course for the Strahpuffer 24 race. All weather forecasts showed two rain drops coming out from a grey cartoon cloud so we bravely told ourselves that it would be a good practice for "the real thing".

Leaving at 7am we hit the A9 and had some breakfast at The Inn in Dalwhinnie. It's not somewhere I would normally have chosen but if you are looking to beat the lunacy of Bruar it's certainly worth a try. Besides, it's twinned with Las Vegas according to the sign which should give you some idea of the fun to be had there... It was a time to talk tactics - basically try to work out how many laps to try each at different parts of the 24 hours.

Full of breakfast we carried on to Strathpeffer and called into Square Wheels, the wee bike shop which organises the event. For a little round shop they manage to cram some amount of stuff inside, lots of ways to go into shiny debt. The canny man behind the counter (hmm, how can I get loads of bikers into my shop? In January?) sold us a map and drew the route for us in warning-red. He was also careful to remind us that brake-pads wear out extra quickly on the course; something to do with lots of mica in the soil...

Missing out on using the locked public toilets (tourists don't need to pee out of season) we found our start / finish point and ventured up in the hills. It was wet, very muddy and the course has a real split personality. It was either fairly boring slogging round forestry tracks (which all seem uphill) or incredibly difficult and technical sections with solid rock giving way to thick deep mud in an instant. Some bits were difficult to even see a way through. After 2 laps (managing about 50 minutes for each 8 mile lap) we stopped for some dried fruit and nuts (mmm) but the tea rooms were calling us... We noted how quickly we cooled down off the bikes too. We also realised that the whole "mind your brakes" thing was very real as Mike's rear went from fine to bad to gone... Anyway, time for one more lap then we called it a day.

Once changed we went to Strathpeffer's old railway station which is now collection of shops with a tearoom in the middle where we ate our own weight in soup and bread whle listening to the locals talk drivel. The woman sitting at the table beside us struck up a conversation on hearing we were cyclists - her partner had done it last year. "How many spare bikes are you bringing?" she asked brightly. "At least, brake pads anyway. They say they wear out very quickly..." Even the lady running the shop couldn't resist telling us that she's heard brake pads could wear out very quickly on the course. Message received and understood, everyone!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Arty playing


Playing
Originally uploaded by tcatcarson
We are just back from seeing the family in Tyningham. As the sun was setting we went for a play on the green in front of the house and I got snap happy. This is my new favourite picture of my family :-)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Generous people!

Week one of fund raising and already £175! Thank you all so much and keep it coming!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Strathpuffer24 08

Those of you unfortunate enough to be in my email address book will already have the gist of this, but Strathpuffer24 is a 24 hour mountain bike race held in the forestry near the spa town of Strathpeffer.

Earlier this year, sometime in the spring I think when the buds were beginning to show and winter's chill was fading, I mentioned to Mike that I had bought a mountain bike. A good one, like, with suspension and disk brakes and everything. His eyes narrowed and he asked whether I wanted to take part in an event next January - it sounded like ages away, and full of bravado and warm soup I agreed.

So here we are! January is only 12 weeks or so away... I have kept up my daily cycling to and from work as far as possible - sometimes I need the car to carry stuff and sometimes the motorbike if I have to be somewhere soon after work, but I've pretty much stuck to it, so that has helped me get fitter and faster. On top of this Mike and I have been visiting Glentress and Innerleithen, local mountain bike singletrack developments which, after some initial fear and reservation on my part, is absolutely brilliant fun. Sure we crash, and get knackered, but it's worth it for the downhill sections and the views from the top.

So the Strathpuffer is a reality. We both have a bit of a shopping list - waterproofs and lights seem to be pretty important as will be a Scottish January and 17 hours are in darkness. Brrr. Convincing some good friends and family to act as support crew will be important too - who else will make us soup at 4am if not them??

I'll keep posting exciting training stories and boring techy gadget details as we go along.

And don't forget the donation box on the top right of this page - I'm raising funds for Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital. I chose it as a kind of taliksman...if I give to them maybe I'll never have to use them ;-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ooh, that's a bit nippy


Ooh, that's a bit nippy
Originally uploaded by tcatcarson
Last Saturday we made the most of a dry day and headed to Seacliff Beach, 2 minutes from North Berwick and charging £2 for parking to keep the riff raff out. You can see from Kit's face that it was not the warmest of water but we promise, it was his idea to paddle and it was all we could do to get his shoes and trousers off before he waded in.
I been busy dividing myself between SQH worrying (I am ahead in this, though behind in the actual work), school camp, continued practice for the Strathpuffer (more on this to follow) and other general work stuff. Lorna's new term has started in earnest and with huge rewrites and restructurings of existing courses her time is taken up too.
The boy talks more and more - his longer mutterings include "Ready, Steady, Go!" -and has a fetish for the red light on the burglar alarm sensor in the living room. People think he's waving to be friendly but he's actually trying to motion-activate it.
Oh, it's my birthday on Friday but I've definately stopped counting and have to do sums to work out how old I am.
Anyway that's a short and vague update until I get a real one done. And that might be soon.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Nuts

Why do people insist on ruining a perfectly good bag of nuts by mixing it with dried fruit?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

“There's only one me, and I'm stuck with him.” - KV

It is a measure of how quickly time can pass that Kit not only became the "big boy" of the baby room, he has now outgrown it altogether and has enjoyed a nursery graduation into the next room, Little Roos. He is back to being the new boy again, but gets bigger toys, more time outdoors and - gasp - a mattress for nap time instead of a cot! We were surprised that he took to this so readily but apparently because they all go to sleep at the same time there is a mood of quiet to which he succumbs.

We have begun to get itchier feet house wise and even viewed a property in Balerno the other week. It wasn't the house for us, but we like the area so will be keeping our ears and eyes open should the right one come along. Lorna pretends it's all to do with countryside and catchment areas but it really comes down to the noisy teenagers who live through the wall from us.

I have just finished a couple of SQH days which have put the wind up me again as far as assignments and readings go. The good news is that I passed my first piece without a hitch - next comes the School Improvement Project which will keep me very busy until at least February!

Still, not so busy that I can't get out on the bike - in a couple of weeks I head down to Lincolnshire for a Thundercat run. I'm really looking forward to a longer trip on the bike, and especially as I will meet up with some friends I have not seen for ages. That, and a trip to see Dad in Carrbridge, will keep us busy enough for a while. Aye, the nights are fair drawing in...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I can slide all by myself...sort of.

We took the bikes along the old railway line towards Balerno today, and stopped off at Spylaw Park for a swing and a slide.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Japanese Learning English

I love this - essential phrases for that holiday mugging you've always dreamed of...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Jo Jingles

Kit's first experience of a festival show was Jo Jingles Goes To The Farm, this morning. Essentially a sing-along, he sat through it with look of entertained bemusement.

I'm a hero with coward's legs.

I am riddled with guilt having not helped someone yesterday. As I was unpacking the car of shopping there was shouting coming from the far end of the streeet. Two guys were running, being chased by another guy who was doing the shouting - it was obvious they had nicked something from him and he was chasing them. "Can you help me please?" he asked. They were running my way.

What I want to be able to say is that I blocked their way, shouted at them, demanded they give him back the personal CD player one was holding, looked menacing and saved the day. But of course, I didn't. Thoughts of knives and the real value of a CD player stopped me. They ran past, split up in different directions and the chasing guy picked one (the right one, as it happened) and kept chasing.

I am really cross and disappointed in myself for not helping, but in the same situation I would probably do the exact same nothing. I guess I am not a 'have-a-go-hero' this time.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Let a smile be your umbrella, and you'll end up with a face full of rain.

So it hasn't been the kindest of summers, as far as the weather goes. It feels a little churlish to gripe about showers and puddles when mother nature is slowly washing England into the sea one blocked drain at a time, but I reserve the right to expect more good days in six weeks than we've had. However maybe that just makes the sunny spells all the more valued.

My last post announced Jon and my plans to head north and visit the beautiful Sandwood Bay...so we did. A splendid time was had by both: the weather held up for us until late into the evening. The bay has little in the way of firewood but we found what appeared to be part of a wooden crate to burn - turned out it was made of solid, woodlike plastic which burnt very well, though perhaps was not the nicest thing to sit beside and inhale from. After family packs of Supernoodles, a couple of beers and a snifter of Laphroig we turned in, and next day were lucky enough to get a dry walk out and a most pleasant all day breakfast at Kinlochbervie's Fisherman's Mission - all the anus and eyelid you can eat for a fiver!

Our family week to Mull was everything we'd hoped it might be. The race from Tain to Oban via the Co-Op (then trying to stuff a week's worth of food into an already obscenely overpacked car) was a challenge, but once in the queue for the ferry I could relax and inspect the quality of the Oban port authority's seagull poo sweeping. Not bad, actually, but I could have done better.

Once on Mull we found our cottage and despite being a bit damp and smelling a bit like a wet dog we were pleased to call it home for the week. Walks, cycles, a visit to Iona and Tobermory kept us busy and Kit loved sticking his head into sandy puddles on the beach. Well, what are wellies for if not to fill with water? We lit the fire a few nights for no other good reason than it's fun to light fires and Lorna somehow took the Mull Scrabble title at three games to two. I managed to get lots of school stuff reading done - the benefit of no TV or internet cannot be over stressed here - and we wended our way home a week later feeling holidayed and happy.

Now back home my assignment is submitted, Kit is walking and babbling like never before and Lorna is...wait for this...getting a bicycle tomorrow! She ventured out three times on my mountain bike while on holiday. (Lorna is not the most experienced, or confident of cyclists. She can't change gear if there is a car near - well, if she can even see a car, actually - and only recently has been able to move her hand over to ring the bell. Before that she relied on a firm clearing of the throat to warn walkers to dive out of the way.) The first time, in Tain, it poured with rain so much that we hid under a tree until, realising it was never going to stop, limping home 20 minutes later in defeat. Our second run took us from Tain to Inver and all was going well until two low flying jets knocked Lorna into a ditch. You see...knowing how much she likes low flying jets, after the first one buzzed us I spotted the second one and shouted, "Lorna, stop". I knew she couldn't cycle and look at the same time, but unfortunately she thought I shouted, "Lorna, look" and proved I was right. One bruised shin later (it started off as a broken leg, but then got better) and I was off to get the car to ferry her back safely on four wheels. The third go was much more successful, on Iona, but we both agreed the mountain bike was not ideal for her so she's chosen one of these instead. Ding ding!

More on the bike front - Mike and I have been testing ourselves at the Glentress and Innerleithen trails. The Glentress red route was enough for me, but still we dared the black route at Innerleithen and lived to tell the tale.

So what now? Well, cramming as much as I can into the last week of the holidays, trying to get out on the motorbike (new rear tyre, woohoo!) and avoiding "back to school dreams", I guess.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Off to walk in the rain

Last night we went out for a seafood extravaganza in Portmahomack with Jon and Corinne to the Oystercatcher. Jon and I got wellied in to the "Port Platter" of crab, lobster, mussels, oysters and all other stuff. Mmm. The appetiser was an eyebrow raiser, though. See the picture and spot what we weren't sure about...



Yes, the syringe. It was full of a rhubarby-gingery juice which was very nice as we squirted it into our mouths...

So, Sandwood Bay today. Wish us luck against the forecast.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The horror of the Scottish barbecue...



So, Lorna's mummy pals have been asking for a while when she planned to host a barbecue. The date chosen was today, and didn't the rain just know it...

Thanks to the folk who showed up, and to the sun for an all too brief appearance. Now, where can we offload 6 tons of coleslaw and 200 sausages?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Freedom of speech is wonderful - right up there with the freedom not to listen.


I am knackered. I know that compared to, like, farmers and, say, children in Mali I have little right to complain but compared to the charmed life I usually lead, it's been a busy day.

I was one of two QPS teachers presenting at the Primary Science Summer School, jointly run by HMIe and Careers Scotland, at Dynamic Earth today. We ran two workshop sessions called "Enhancing the learning and teaching of science using ICT". Basically we covered using commercial websites, setting up a school website, voting tools and interactive whiteboard use, digital video work and the use of dataloggers. Two sessions lasting two hours each and it was 3pm before we knew it. But we did manage to get one group's work online, here...> The best part was having P6 on the other end of the phone ready to view the work of these teachers and comment on it, ha ha.

Then it was a quick cycle home in the rain, just enough time to grab a haircut and a Star Bar before heading back into school to deliver an "internet safety" presentation to the 10 parents who bothered to attend the PTA AGM. Sheesh.

Actually now that I see it in writing it wasn't that much at all - I don't think the half hour delay in the bridge traffic helped, mind.

Apart from that, there has been a bit of a Tain-Bebo surge of late. It's difficult - so far I have been in touch with a couple of people I am quite pleased to hear from, and interested to find out about. But how long will it be before some looney gets through...?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Edinburgh Trams - the vision


Just thought I'd share this with you - it appears to be an early website laying out the vision of trams in Edinburgh...but, come on, surely any moron with Photoshop and a brain could do better then this!? I mean, how did you do the tracks...crayon?

NETCo...>

Sunday, June 24, 2007

An engagement!

We just had a visit from Gillian and Gary who got engaged last week while in Mallorca. Congratulations to them!

Who built the ark?

This is getting ridiculous... it has rained for a week and a half (part of Glasgow got washed away on Friday evening, so it's not all bad) Yesterday, however, we took delivery of our new outdoor summer table and I went out and bought a barbecue. Today we are buying some cycle kit for Lorna so once we get Kit's chair we can have lovely hazy days pedalling along the canal into town for coffees and ice cream.
We are completely deluding ourselves. Come on, summer.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Comrie barbecue


Still got it!
Originally uploaded by tcatcarson
We are just back from a great weekend in Comrie visiting Neil, Janice, Cameron and seemingly the entire crew from Cumbernauld fire service!
Actually it was just Red Watch and Blue Watch, but despite the chromatic crossover there was only gentle ribbing and fun-poking between the two "sides". Unlike the 62 year old lady neighbour who got so drunk she had to get chucked out by Neil and me!
Kit was grumpy due to the heat and being too tired to party, until 7pm when he got his second wind just before bath time. It was a new experience to have to queue for his bath along with the gathered company waiting to use the loo!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Defying gravity


Defying gravity
Originally uploaded by tcatcarson
We spent some time at the park on Saturday, and Kit enjoyed his first swing! He laughed so much he got hiccups, which we took to be a good thing.
The park at Saughton is actually very good, lots to do and quite busy. It was let down by a broken bottle (and considering it was lying on the soft bark floor, someone had gone to a lot of trouble to break it) and the fact that someone seemed to have tried to set a swing on fire...

Monday, May 28, 2007

When toys were good...

This is all Mum's fault, mentioning Maskatron.

Let's also pay our respects to...

Star Wars - too obvious, but very few people remember Nien Numb, the strange vagina-faced co-pilot to Lando Calrissian in Return of the Jedi. What makes him special is that you had to save up tokens for him, send them off then wait like a, well, hyperactive impatient child until it arrived. Even now I can still gauge the quality of a Star Wars character by how it feels in your hand... TIE Fighter Pilot - good, AT-AT Commander - bad. I also have fond memories of having to make the characters stand at 90 degrees to each other because they couldn't hold their guns straight.

Micronauts - apparently the mission of the Micronauts was to put the eyes out of children across the country, such was the number of pointy firing things they boasted. This was the Force Commander which I remember owning. See those red rockets and the bullet in his belly button? They fired out, fast! Most of the rest of my Micronauts were hand-me-downs but that didn't make them any less lethal.

Evel Knievel - cunningly modeled on the real Evel in that it would career wildly round the living room crashing from skirting board to skirting board before collapsing in a heap under the dining table. Unless it wasn't correctly engaged in the "gyro energizer" in which case it would miss out the skirting board bit and go straight to the collapsing bit.

Zoids - I got this Zoid on my P7 trip to Edinburgh. I also bought a real fountain pen which felt very sophisticated in P7. I actually left both of these precious items in the hotel, but they forwarded them onto the school, which was nice of them. Zoids were wind up robots based on animals which you chose, bought, unpacked, assembled then left in a hotel room.

Transformers - the link shows "Hound", my first Transformer bought in the wee toy shop which used to be at the top of the Eastgate Centre in Inverness. The box had coded stats on it, only visible when you used the mystical "red cellophane"...quite expensive now, like. Special mention should be made here to the Rock Lords, who could transform into...rocks. Very impressive when all rolling down a hill into battle, less so the rest of the time.

Action Man
- I wasn't huge into Action Man, but I think a special mention should go to the well meaning person who bought me the Action Man deep sea exploration outfit. Nice looking it may be, but where is a 7 year old boy supposed to play with this? The bath wasn't nearly deep enough so mine ended up clomping his way round the garden in Fort William looking more like a charity marathon runner than a man of action...

...and then this baby arrived on the scene and nothing was ever quite the same.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Swimming

We spent this afternoon splashing about at Leith Waterworld having spent the morning watching the rain splash about in the garden. Kit is unbelievably confident in the water. We began with me supporting him on his front which makes him kick his legs in an "I'm doing it!" style, before plonking him into his inflatable thing for a trip round the rapids and on to the wave area. He likes this, but he like watching the girls more... His confidence really showed when I took him back out of the inflatable and allowed him to crawl in the shallows - every time he took himself deeper and deeper until I dragged him back as he spluttered and gagged on mouthfuls of water. Confidence is another word for lack of experience, I suppose. Any way he was happy enough to be ducked under the water (it's good for him) and certainly made an other little boy look like a bit of a wuss when he gurned his way round the pool.

And the best bit about the trip? We got a proper changing room this time, with a special seat to strap him into while I got changed. Aah, it's the little things...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Luke...I am your father

I have just made an advanced order from Amazon for the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I can't wait to find out that Harry dies......

Friday, May 25, 2007

If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.


So...

Lorna's off to Amsterdam for the weekend! She owes her current PhD student a visit to an international conference so they left yesterday morning and will be back on Monday night. But they are working hard - they have been to the Anne Frank museum, Van Gogh museum, on a canal trip, out to dinner.......eh? Do Napier realise what they're up to?

That leaves Kit and I to fend for ourselves for a few days, and so far we are managing I'm pleased to say. He now stands unaided (at 13 months I should hope so, but he is a lazy git and is in no rush to walk anywhere) and enjoys any thing musical or on wheels. We bought him a xylophone last week which he loves, though he does tend to play in a "punk" style. I have managed to drop him off at nursery (8am) and make it across town to QPS before the bell. This was my main worry so I can relax a bit now.

The sharp eyed among you will spot the new link on the right to my SQH blog. I have been accepted on to Edinburgh Uni's Scottish Qualification for Headship course, involving 26 months of homework and soul searching. Two weeks ago was the introduction to course 1 which meant 3 days at Peebles Hydro, which was nice if a bit overwhelming.

Oh, I have finally set up a Flickr account so feel free to check out my pictures and make me a buddy, or whatever it is you do on Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tcatcarson/

I am reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (again). It's dead good.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Kit Carson


DSCN2213
Originally uploaded by tcatcarson.
Well, what else would we dress him up as? About to stop the great train robbery...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kit's surprise big sister...


Well, half sister I suppose. Now how do I explain this away to Lorna?

It seems the CSA (Child Support Agency) have finally caught up with me. I received a letter this morning from them - all correct with my name, address and even National Security number emblazoned on it.

It says...(my asterixes / asterices?)

"Dear Mr Carson,

I'm writing to tell you that the application for child maintenance is no longer in force, for SUMMER LOUISE B***K C***NS" born on **-**-2004.

This application for child maintenance ended on 29-03-2007

If there is any child maintenance still to be paid we'll be in touch.

The reason why the application is no longer in force is as follows:

the other party told us they don't want the application or case to continue."

Well, that's a fecking relief then, isn't it? So, if this is an April Fool letter then it is the most convincing one I have ever seen. And if it's not...? Well, I know what I never done. This would just seem to be another example of our great government stuffing it up at the touch of a button.

I'll keep you posted once I find out more...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We have picked another good one...

A communication from our summer cottage lady...

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Carson,
Please could you e mail me your address and telephone no. as I am getting increasingly more worried about my computer, it was struck by lightening sometime ago and it is not working as well as it should, so if it fails completely I will have another form of contact."

Eh? Lightning?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live.

Hmmm, haven't been here for a while. Nothing to blame except bone-idleness but let's move on... I am staying late in school tonight to sign-off the old School Board and usher in the new Parents' Forum. I would actually welcome anything which gets more parents involved in their children's education, and I think the School Board has for long been a shadowy closed shop arguing eternally about the cleanliness of toilets and parking outside the school gates. I reckon a published agenda, given to all parents well in advance of a meeting, could draw some in. Then we can pounce on them and tell them to help their child learn to read...

Christopher has grown loads since the last post, of course. He now does pulling up, fast crawling, opening doors, teeth (2) and a nice routine of babbling sounds most of which, I have to be honest, resemble "dada". That didn't go down too well on Mother's Day, mind you. He is now a well established member of nursery and the daily report we get is always filled with tales of trampolines, toast and treasure boxes. My half day Fridays means I can usually collect him and it's always nice when he recognises me and gives me his smile. Nice touches like a Mother's Day card, home baking (eh? he baked?) and walks along the canal side have confirmed we chose the right kennel. I mean nursery.

Of course, his big news is being nearly one - gulp. It's too boring to say "The time goes so quickly" but there you go, I said it. Spring is definately my favourite time of year and now reminds me of joking with Lorna about giving birth to a lamb, and watching as the daffodils began to flower, her signal that baby was nearly here. So we are off to Applecross for his birthday, though that may be the last time we stay at the inn - they have put their prices up from £30pp per night to £45 - an increase of £60 for the two nights B&B. Too rich for us I'm afraid.

Speaking of holidays we have 2 more planned for the year, but I have to confess I'm not brave enough to venture abroad with the boy yet so we are strictly Scotland based which I have no problem with. The biker couples have booked a 10 person cottage in Appin for a week in April, so we are going to do one of the weekends. The exciting news? It has a pool table, woo! Of course it is the ride up I'm looking forward to...but more bike grumps in a moment... Our summer holiday is to be a week at a cottage on Mull, with at least one visit to Iona but mainly to get "away from it all"...meaning it has no TV and certainly no computer. Betting on who will murder who first will begin in June, with Lorna being the hot tip to smother me on night 3.

Bike woes? Well the Suzuki has been back at the dealers for 5 weeks after refusing to start and flashing me a "fuel injection" warning! After exploratory surgery they told me the throttle bodies needed to be replaced! This is very serious, especially on a 1000 mile / 5 month old bike. What's more, while they were in there they discovered the wiring loom had "lost its integrity" - what? Well, apparently part of the wiring looked like it had acid spilt on it, exposing the bare wires...the battery was intact, so who know what all that is about. Anyway, Suzuki keep all their spare parts on an asteroid past Saturn, so getting them takes weeks of patience and phone calls. I have a loan bike from them, but that's not really the point, is it? I wrote a nice stroppy letter to them last night so we'll see what comes of that.

And on the other bike front - I still cycle to and from school, and I'm enjoying feeling fitter and stronger as I cycle breezily up hills that previously used to make me want to puke. And I'm getting a new bike, a nice off-road suspension job for summer evenings I hope. Toys toys toys.

Ok, that's the update. If anyone is still there drop me a comment to encourage me to keep the blog going :-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.

2006 was a pretty big year. Despite having the same number of days as many other years, we seem to have squeezed rather a lot into it. Lorna and I have tried to start a tradition of climbing a hill overlooking Edinburgh and doing a review of the year - a bit like they do on telly except without so many competing egos.

It was the year Christopher was born, of course, but also the year Daniel Stark rolled a six and was allowed to be born too. We lost Gran Carson, but not before she got to meet her great grandson. Thomas was born safely in Cambridge, and is keen to remind Diane of this fact every morning at 2am... We bought a car, and a motorbike, and finally got round to decorating the house. And buying a shed. Dad only moved house twice last year, and introduced us to Donna, while Gill introduced us in turn to Gary. Jimmy got his pacemaker fitted allowing him to climb stairs again, forcing Jess to hide the chocolate biscuits somewhere other than on top of the cupboard. Lorna spent 9 months out of work, lounging around and flitting from one baby-related social event to the next. Bill, Dale, Jamie and Eliza made the trek from "down under" to "up over" during the summer, enjoying a range of events from standing in rain in Bo'ness to queuing for chips in Anstruther watching England's exit from the World Cup.

If 2007 is even half as eventful we will be knackered by 2008. Along those lines, who says the French have no sense of humour?

We had a great Christmas and New Year, finding the balance of family gatherings and quiet reflection to our taste. Kit spent the two week holiday mastering clapping, waving and crawling. Luckily he announces when he is about to crawl with a gasp of excitement and a squeal of anticipation; this makes it easier to keep him away from wires and fires. It won't last, however, so baby-proofing the house will be an early job for the year. He has already found the video player slot so it won't be long before we find jam sandwiches in there. Speaking of which he is also taking tentative steps towards "finger foods" - this is where he takes a piece of toast and rubs it all over his face then drops it on the floor to gasps of admiration and pride from his mother.

And so...Lorna goes back to work on Thursday! Is she looking forward to it? Well, yes, sort of, she enjoys her job and is looking forward to getting back into it. But it also means Kit starts nursery too - gulp. He had a half day trial on Monday and loved it, squealing with delight at the sight of the other babies. His daily report card (yes, really) announced that "Christopher has had great fun playing with the rattles and the soft bricks". Hmm. Well, I want him potty trained by 15 months, please.

We have booked Applecross for a couple of nights this Easter, but they have put their prices up to "who are you trying to kid" levels, so return visits will have to be curtailed for the sake of food and electricity.