Best type this up before i forget it, i didn’t take notes, despite intentions of doing so!
Friday: After a busy but pleasant day of packing, we set off for Jan and Jonathan’s and despite arriving very late (sorry about that!) had a lovely, if brief, time with them. Little J is gorgeous and M is growing up so much – eeeek! Thank you very much for having us, it was lovely to break the journey.
Saturday: Set off reasonably early and stopped off in the deliciously decorated Meltham bookshop for my HP6 book. Was slightly distressed to discover i could have gone at midnight as they had a full on midnight experience with dressed up characters and everything – Fran would have loved it. Ah well, one more to go. Managed to get half way through the book by the time we arrived in Edinburgh and now is as good a time as any for a quick, spoiler free appraisal. Don’t think the love interest, traitor or dead were really a surprise but on the whole, i liked it a lot better than OOTP which left me slightly disappointed at the time. Having read this one, OOTP fits better as a dark, pivotal book but at the time i didn’t feel it moved much on really. HBP, for all its slightly obvious back story device, gave more to think about. Have to say though, there seems to be an AWFUL lot left for the last book, not least that Harry needs a considerable ability shift in magical powers, unless he’s going to love-lorn-strop Voldemort to death. And i am a bit worried – could it be that Harry himself IS the 7th part? I’m up for him dying at the end of HP7 as it is 😆 Hugely irritated not to be able to get in to COS – can’t get past the password for the HBP forums for some reason. I’ve asked for them to remove the IP ban and they haven’t and i can’t do much else – personal levels of paranoia prevent me from begging!
Anyway – we then started on the trip upwards, which went remarkably smoothly; went via the Angel of the North for Max as this was the furthest North he’d ever been and arrived at the campsite in good time. Now we are practised, we can get the tent up fairly quickly and i’ve got a lot better at minimalist packing too which meant we felt set up and sorted quite quickly. Then popped out for dinner as it felt too late to faff about with cooking.
Sunday: We all wanted a break from the car so decided to just bum about the campsite for the day. We were nice and close to the playground and Fran and Maddy spent a fair amount of time there through the week. Must admit that the up side of a growing family is definitely their independence. Both the big two were able to come and go as they liked through the week and could also take Ammi to the loo, playground etc as well. Which pleased them and pleased us and made me realise what a lot of stress and hassle HESFES feels like for comparatively little gain for the children. I think we’ll be giving it a miss until they are a bit bigger now and can really get their money’s worth. I’d rather spend money on going places where i can also relax i think.
Anyway, campsite was excellent, although i laughed a lot when Fran said “Mummy, i thought Scottish people talked like Hannah?” I answered “They do” and she then said “But everyone here says words i don’t understand, i think you must have brought us to a different country.” At which point we realised how completely confused the children were by the enormous quantity of Continentals there were – we barely saw a car all week that wasn’t Italian, French, Dutch or German. (Oh well, occasionally family from newcastle wafted through but they were nearly as incomprehensible.) And WTF is it with French teenage girls and 4 part harmony in the shower block 😕 Anyway, ironed out that and spent the day with Uncle Rich, who entertained them beautifully for us.
Monday: Having ellictied the “how to avoid terrorist targets in Scotland” guide from Joyce, we headed north for our first day, to visit The Trossachs. Drove around for a bit and eventually alighted in Stirling where we visited the Castle
Stirling Castle was really excellent (and half price with our English Heritage membership) and we could have spent much longer there – the girls enjoyed the bits of the commentary they heard, loved the great Hall and the Chapel and were very into the Palace, currently being restored. And it pretty much set the tone for the week as Fran (and to some extent Maddy) then got very into Scottish History and simply drank up everything to do with the places and characters that litter the countryside around there.
Fran bought some historical colouring in sheets (she never EVER colours) and worked at them all week in spare minutes – she now has a set of posters that she has worked so hard on and we are going to laminate them for her room. I was very proud of her. If you see this photo on the photosteam, the next one along is of Maddy’s entirely unhelped writing; she was copying the ornate writing on Fran’s poster and did a great job. We ended up buying a little set of Ladybird-alikes all about various characters and reading them in the evenings, plus a lovely (and cheap) book on Scottish history for children and a book on Tartans and the Clans (next BM kit i think!) I really don’t know much about Scottish history until Mary and then James VI and i was quite fascinated (awful lot of James’s though!) I’d like to get further North at some point and find out a bit more about some of the less English influenced Clan history.
Tuesday: Weather was a bit grim in Edinburgh so we decided to go out again after a lazy morning. Ended up taking a walk via Loch Katrine as well as making a short (but not paying, it was expensive!) trip to the William Wallace Monument. The photo for that is on my phone and i can’t get my phone to send me pictures by email. Its never simple, with mobiles, is it?!?!
Wednesday: Swallowed all my fears (you’ve no idea how brave i was being) and went into Edinburgh to visit the two free museums. Courage was required as for some reason, the road outside was swarming with vans full of police and then a large quantity of firemen. You could spend days in both, we probably liked the bits of the Royal Museum most, but we just did a bit of an overview as this was the day the kids seemed a bit cranky. Maddy like the Egyptian display, Fran liked the bits about Mary Queen of Scots, i think Ammi particularly liked the enormous quantity of stuffed animals. The extinct animals provoked a lot of discussion; “Look Mummy, its a Doom On You bird!!!!”
Thursday: Erm… except that i ended up removing a lot of nits from Fran’s hair (RAPIDLY running out of humour over this now) i can’t remember. oh yes, Callendar House – it was a nice day and so we headed over to this old house – its in an inauspicious area, surrounded by tower blocks and in what seems a pretty poor little town. However, it was a very beautiful park, filled with cheap bouncy castles and nice playgrounds and excellent walks, presumably to try and entertain a large number of easily bored children who might otherwise be doing less wholesome things. It seemed to be working anyway and i found it incredibly refreshing to see such a positive effort being made to provide a good environment for families where it might have been just as easy to board up and shut down the place. That probably sounds desperately middle class but i found it a really stark contrast to the area around the tower blocks i grew up next to. Kids loved it – forgot to take photos. Ended the day by going to Uncle Rich’s house and having tea with him and his exceptionally nice flatmates which provided a welcome respite from gas stove cookery, baths all round, some Lego Star Wars X-boxing and a bit of adult conversation. 🙂
Friday: The crowning glory to the week in many ways. Max got us up early and we headed out to the actual town of Callendar (as opposed to Falkirk where Callendar House is). Very pretty little town, surrounded by dazzling scenery. Kids spotted the Rob Roy Exhibition and wanted to go in, so we took them and were very pleased we did. Nicely done (film at the end was a bit schools tv but still!) with an extremely clever bit of animation done onto a dummy with a tv screen face that was actually face shaped… just long and detailed enough to keep them interested and they loved dressing up and trying out the box bed at the end.
After that we went for a picnic about Loch Katrine, which involved a long conversation about the plantation and tree felling programme up there. Much discussion about wooden goods, effects on landscape, post-war Britain, The Hans Christian Anderson “Little Fir Tree” story.
After lunch we went for a walk through an area that had been felled, which gave us the opportunity to observe what the process had done to the landscape and also some “geography in miniature” looking at where greenery had returned around the tiny streams and stretch our legs – we’ll gloss over Ammi wailing the whole way round and Maddy throwing herself headlong down a path and grazing everything (cue HUGE Maddy Paddy :roll:) – Maddy did take a picture of thistles i liked though
And i like this one too.
And the perfect way to end the week was on the Sir Walter Scott, an 106 year old Steamship.
So many high points – some quiet contemplation time for all of us, kids who love camping and do it well, fields entirely full of flowering thistles, a country that flies its flag with such pride, so much history, enjoying children who are happy to learn and partake of new things and listen and talk to me, watchnig Fran colouring and watching Maddy spend all week working on reading and writing completely independently, seeing Josie finally work out how to crawl, listening to Fran reading to them all the way home.
Great holiday – definitely going back next year.