Quick Visit Back to Our Old Stomping Ground: Day 1

Friday 8 April, Day 7 of the Easter Holidays

We all felt sad about not getting out camping and were getting fed up rattling around the house – the week had started well with visits around and about but the weather forecast was miserable for the entire weekend. In occasional bouts of nostalgia and wistfulness, I sometimes check the forecast for the area where we used to live. This weekend it would be mild and dry there. A quick Google showed me I could get a nearby campsite place for under £15 for Friday night. It didn’t take me long to convince the rest of the family that we should go.

We loaded the car on the Thursday night and set off for Elgin before mid-morning. With that Historic Scotland membership still shiny and new and with the sun splitting the heavens, we made a bee-line for Elgin’s ruined cathedral. Despite Elgin being our nearest large town for 6 years, we’d never explored or even looked twice at the cathedral. Within 5 minutes of entering, I was regretting leaving our visit for so long! Elgin Cathedral made an even bigger impression on us than Melrose Abbey the week before, which is why I’ve written a separate post about it (I’ll amend this to add a link).

30 seconds before the tent was up and ready

30 seconds before the tent was up and ready

tent home

The nerd tent: bigger on the inside than the outside.

A quick packed lunch in the car and an emergency outgrown waterproofs purchase (Maxi and Midi are growing like weeds), and it was time to drive to Silver Sands campsite just outside Lossiemouth. As it’s mostly laid out for static and touring caravans, there’s only a little grass area set aside for tents. There was plenty of space, though: not many campers fancy pitching a tent in sub-5degC weather. We didn’t hang about: our little Vango Halo was up in a couple of minutes, every tent peg we owned holding it into the sandy ground against the wind! The minxes were delegated the job of jigsawing together the foam floor and placing roll-mats, sleeping bags and pillows. I tried hard to ignore the wails and screams that constituted kids negotiating who slept farthest from whom and closest to “Squashy Mummy”… Camp struck, we hopped into the car and nipped off down the back road to see whether the fish and chip van still visited our old village on a Friday evening.

We were so overwhelmed at seeing the fish van and some old friends in the queue that it took us a wee while to notice that the land it was parked on had been substantially prettified: beautiful plant beds and borders and decorations. Colourful, beautiful and a visual testament to great community spirit – the villagers had done the work themselves.

fish and chips by the seaWe strolled round the corner to the sea front to gaze out over the Moray Firth towards Cromarty while we ate our chips and creamy fish. All 5 of us sat silently, 3 minxes on one bench, us crumblies on the other, happily munching and smiling and reminiscing. Ahhhh, despite the chill, life just doesn’t get any better than this!

climbing wallTummies full, we walked back towards the car with a quick detour via the brilliant climbing wall along the side of the school. We should have driven back to the campsite then, but only got a few feet before all agreeing that we had to stop for a quick play at our old swing-park.

zip wireI think that was our mistake – by the time light was fading and we had to leave, we had 3 sad little faces in the back seat. Mini burst into tears and declared that she never wanted to hear the name of our old village again. “Never say that word again!” she sobbed. Amongst the family, she wanted us to rename it “The-village-where-we-used-to-live”. I think a lot of the tears and emotion were down to being so very tired out. However, I didn’t feel too even myself. I’d have loved to have said hello to our old friends, but I couldn’t really face walking up our old street and it would have been rude and too much of a surprise to just drop by unannounced.

Mummy's 'special' water bottle

Mummy’s ‘special’ water bottle

Back at the campsite, we quickly got sorted out. We could have been very distracted by the tvs in the wall of the bathrooms, but were too tired to linger over teeth-brushing. The girls sleeping-bagged up and collapsed in a big huddle. There were snores almost immediately. The Boss and I just about managed to stay awake to enjoy a shared bottle of Tiger beer (I volunteered to have my half in a water bottle – classy) before we squeezed into the huddle, too. For once, I enjoyed a little bit of insomnia, lying there listening to the wind rattling guy-ropes, the scree of the oystercatchers and the insistent swoosh of the waves, idly NOT planning the next day’s fun.

Putting Up A Pesky Fence With A Pesky Cold

Thursday 7 April, Day 6 of the Easter Holidays

In spare 15 minutes here and there, I’ve been turning some of our front lawn into a fruit and veg garden. I have a 5 year plan that I’m working towards. I find it frustrating not to have it all dug into raised beds YESTERDAY, but there’s only me doing it, and I have a lot on. As a result, it sometimes resembles Steptoe’s Yard. I persuaded The Boss that a nice little low picket fence would be just what we needed to hide the veg garden behind: discreet and distracting. And it would make an awesome windbreak for tall vegetables, like broad beans and my lovely brussels sprouts.

Well, I’ve been waiting since September to get The Boss to help me get it in the ground, along with a load of plants I’d bought. They’ve been clinging to uncertain life in too-small containers all winter while I’ve waited on the fence’s erection. The arrival by post of 2 big carnation plants was the last straw.

Finally, today, I coaxed him into life with the promise of saws, drills and other power tools. It’s been too cold, wet and windy for the girls to have much interesting in helping, so I helped. I sneezed whilst I held fence and spirit level, and coughed while he wielded the mallet. And… It’s up, it’s straight and I like it – it’s pretty inconspicuous. Satisfyingly I also got 10 dianthus and 40 gladioli bulbs planted along it, and a line of snapdragons planted behind it: the idea is that the fence will be softened by the flowers. Now I just need a big arch at each end of the fence. I’ve given The Boss my strict directions and told him to Make It So. Maybe before the end of 2017…?

Glasses Go Gishhhh

Aside

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Porca Miseria Hanging Lamp by Ingo Maurer. Photo from http://www.designophy.com 

Must be a High Gravity day here at Garrison Grumpy – my Trout underlings are smashing glassware like a Greek tourist dinner party. I spent most of this evening hugging a sobbing Midi, who lurched from one disaster to another; Mini precariously balanced bowls on the final micron of the edge of the table for others to look at the wrong way and send plummeting to their fate; then The Boss did his usual smash-it-all-into-the-dishwasher so it would only wash whatever survived.

On the bright side, the floor’s now swept spotlessly clean.