Sunday 20 December 2015

A Footballing First

Well, it took a while, but yesterday, Rowan became the first Wallace boy to accompany me to a football match. Rowan and I were the 2 in the 912 who went along to watch the Championship (first division to you and me) relegation battle between Alloa and St. Mirren at a blustery Indodrill Stadium in Alloa. With both teams having replaced their managers within the previous week after poor seasons to date, the game was never going to be a classic, but a goal in each half from the Buddies sealed the points.

Rowan has shown a modest interest in the sport this past year, mostly because his classmates play and talk about it all the time. To his credit, he was patient throughout a moderate match played on artificial turf but notably didn't cheer when the first goal went in and contrived to miss the second goal as he'd gone off to the toilet! Still, he was happy with his square sausage on a roll and a few fruit polos. It reminded me of my first match back on a sunny August afternoon in 1972, again following St. Mirren's relegation from the top flight, when I sat on the grass bank at the top of the Caledonian St End of what was then the vast, crumbling oval of Love St, the Buddies' erstwhile home. That day St. Mirren ran out 5-1 winners over Brechin City and my induction into a life of supporting also-rans was complete. Time will tell if Rowan repeats his trip to see another match with me, but it was good to have his company yesterday. Maybe Santa will bring him a pair of football boots after all.

Thursday 26 June 2014

Milestones for Angus and Sean

A big day for Angus today as he graduated from pre-school nursery at Pentland then went on to spend the rest of the day at Fairmile Nursery, which was also his final day. He said he felt proud to be going on to P1 and certainly didn't seem in the least bit sad. He's enjoyed his time at Fairmile and made lots of friends there, as well as been very popular with the staff. Only last week though, he was climbing over the safety gate from the back garden when I went to collect him so it's fair to say he's outgrown Fairmile!

At Pentland he'll only be moving a short distance into the P1 corridor. There's a big intake this year and he'll be part of a "tag team" class of 40 which will have two teachers. His graduation today was attended by Sharon and Linda and Angus was reportedly very pleased with himself, his chest puffed out as he received his certificate dressed in his robe and mortar board. Sean saw him too outside, so the biggest and the smallest got to pose together before one leaves Pentland and the other starts.

Last week Sean had his three transition days up at Firrhill High School and loved it (apart from the one or two disruptive influences in his class, trying it on even in the three days they were attending). There's not many from Pentland in his class, 1A2, but he said he made friends with someone from Bonaly and someone from Craiglockhart so I'm sure he'll find peers of a similar mindset to his soon enough. He enjoyed the classes, especially making pizza in Home Economics! The earlier start is going to be a challenge however, and he's going to be tired after the later finish. He also had a busy Tuesday this week, with his P7 leavers' trip to bowling and to the cinema to see Godzilla, then to Mhairi's for an after-school party, then back to the schhol for the P7 leavers' disco and finally over to Portobello to join Finn for the last half hour of the gymnastics class. Finn was showing off his "front summies" into the foam pit while Sean was doing back somersaults off the vault and practising his walkovers. "Why walk when you can cartwheel?" seems to be Sean's motto at the moment.

Rowan got his 15m badge at swimming last Saturday (and was a bit miffed because the rest of his class got their 25m badges, but he doesn't work hard enough to be hones, he's more interested in mucking about) and Angus was delighted to get his 5m badge as he powered his way along the pool with no armbands. He's very close to being able to swim all the time without them. We did more swimming in the afternoon, as I took the four lads to Dunbar swimming pool where the slide (with timer) and wave machine are big favourites. Sitting in the shallow end where the waves were breaking was adjudged to be the best option. We picked Sharon up from doing a show in Ballencrieff and headed to the East Sands at North Berwick for the midsummer evening. It was dry but a little cloudy, but that didn't stop us having a fab time on the rocks, cooking up a barbecue tea and watching the tide come in and the sun slide down. It's great being able to take the whole family out later now that Angus is five and less reliant on an early bedtime (though he did have a nap to sustain him earlier in the day). The boys found a new sweetshop in Dunbar to rival Sugar Mountain in North Berwick and were pleased with a rare haul of sweets - as a rule Sharon and I don't buy them and to the boys' credit they don't usually pester us to. Sean does have a sweet tooth though!

So it's been a busy end to the summer term. I golfed with Scott and Steve at Braids last night, a definite blast from the past, before we had a drink in the rarified atmosphere of the (jacket and tie) New Club on Princes St. Steve is now a member. Far removed from when we first met at St. Andrews thirty years ago, but Caldwell always had the social-climbing pretensions!

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Welcome to 2014

Sharon headed up to Kirkcaldy on Hogmanay for the funeral of Mary Flaherty, who died a few days ago aged 93. Mary was the cousin of May Coen, Sharon's gran. Sharon got to meet a lot of second and third cousins she'd heard a lot about and enjoyed doing the Irish family thing which she misses, being domiciled in Scotland. Although she was able to "facetime" Marie later now that Marie and Michael have an iPad courtesy of their children. As it was yet another grey day, and I wasn't feeling the best, the boys had another day indoors, a bit of high jinks here and there, some eating and mostly playing electronics.

We didn't make a big thing of them staying up for the bells, we just let them be and saw how it went. Angus did not flag one bit as the minutes and hours ticked by. Had we all sat down and watched TV, I suspect he would have flagged, but he was in tip-top form. If anything, Rowan was the one getting weary and teary as 1030 came and went and we enjoyed a nachos supper. Finally we asked them all to get dressed up for an outdoors walk and so, with the weather pleasantly calm and the temperature reasonable, we drove to Braid Rd, parked, and set off up Braid Hill with a number of other families. Angus insisted on being the torch bearer (after Sharon had piggy-backed him for a stretch) and led the way up the path as the twinkling lights of Edinburgh were revealed to us through the broom. We got to the top with ten minutes to spare and surveyed the stretch of the city, identifying the castle and spotting a fireworks display off to the east somewhere, which seemed to have gone off in advance of midnight. Angus kept asking how long to go and wanted to do a countdown when suddenly the fireworks exploded from the castle and, simultaneously, from Calton Hill. There was a fine display of all sorts, including smiley faces and Catherine wheels and flowery starbursts and, after a slight delay, we could hear the booms too. It was eleven years since we last climbed Braid Hill on Hogmanay with a seven-week old baby Sean in our arms. Now, with Angus four and a half, we finally had children old enough that we could return. We had a family happy new year hug and then made the descent back to the car, home and then into bed. Needless to say, the boys went to sleep pretty quickly, but Angus was up at 0720 on New Year's Day. Not for him, these long lies!

We had a lazy morning, a light lunch and then headed to the Patersons along with the Fletchers, Alison and Phoebe and one or two others, for a pleasant late afternoon of chat and good food served up by Wendy while the boys played out of sight and almost out of earshot. Welcome to 2014, the year when our building work will be finished!

Monday 30 December 2013

Last shout for AB/CD

Part of my Christmas present from Sharon was two tickets to see the old tribute band stalwarts, AB/CD, through in Glasgow on Sunday. To make a day of it I went through to Glasgow early and picked up Paul Last from Cambuslang en route to Paisley to see the St. Mirren v Hearts game, my first league match in almost two years. Things started well with a goal in the third minute and a first half onslaught but the Buddies failed to capitalise and the match ended up 1-1 after a Hearts equaliser at the start of the second half. At least it was dry and not too cold.

I took Paul on the scenic route back through Paisley and Glenburn, up to Barrhead and then via Hurlet and Clarkston before he took over the directions to get us back to his house. The rest of the Lasts went through to Edinburgh to stay over at our house - I think Paul and I got the best of the deal! We got the train into Glasgow Central as the rain started to come on and eventually got into La Tasca for a quick (far quicker than Christmas Eve) tapas tea before heading down Union St to the Cathouse. I saw AB/CD a couple of times around 1999 and 2000 and, it transpired, this was their swansong, with the Monday night show in Glasgow the last they would be performing as singer Alan Moore has decided, at the age of 64 and with unspecified "health problems", to call it a day. All credit to him, he still managed to belt out a good 18-20 songs. It was deafening though! I'm not sure what Paul, as someone who had never heard any AC/DC stuff before, made of it, but it was a good blast from the past for me. We had to leg it before the end to catch the last train back to Cambuslang. It revived memories of running down Renfield St. from the Apollo and all the way up Glasgow Central station (it was always platform 13!) to get the last train back to Paisley after a gig!

Monday was absolutely miserable in Glasgow, wet and grey, so after a lazy morning and bacon sandwich with Paul, I headed back east and met up with Sharon in B&Q for some serious light, sink, tiles and taps shopping as we try to finalise the purchases required for the interior work which will recommence next week. Robert Lind babysat for the boys who were delighted as it meant they had an extended run of TV, Skylanders, Minecraft and so on. It's been electronic heaven over Christmas as we've been rising late (the boys haven't), the weather has been miserable and it's been dark by half three, so they've been indulged in inside play most of the time.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Lazy festive days

Sharon served up a fine Christmas dinner, with a starter of parsnip and chestnut soup being lapped up by the boys some time in advance of the main course, a big chicken and the traditional glazed ham. Following on from last year's success, the dessert was a repeat - poached pears and an orange-flavoured creme brulee - eaten by candlelight in our big new space as the wind whipped ever stronger outside, testing the new windows to the limit. I had a very pleasant doze in the middle of the extended meal, sitting with the boys watching Tangled on the TV.

Angus played with his dinosaurs while his brothers get stuck into Rowan's Dungeon board game which kept them quiet upstairs for a good two hours before bedtime. Sean said it was the best Christmas he could remember and all the boys seemed to have a good day without any tears or tantrums. Sharon got a lovely pendant from Sean and I got a handwarmer. It's the first time he's really bought any presents, rather than made some, and I think he got a kick out of giving rather than receiving this year. He bought a few little gifts for his brothers too, which was nice to see.

Boxing Day (or St. Stephen;s Day, if you're Irish) was a very quiet affair. The weather calmed down outside but we did very little inside, enjoying a much-needed long lie and then some lazy lying about watching telly and, in Sharon's case, reading and dozing on the couch. In fairness to her, she never usually dozes during the day despite feeling tired and was feeling a bit poorly so she was due some rest and relaxation. I did the cooking - anything to take my mind off England's continued horror show in Australia. Having already surrendered the Ashes 3-0 in three tests, the Boxing Day Test was a snooze-fest of tight bowling and slow run-rates best watched on fast forward. But England managed to get into a commanding position only to self-destruct yet again in the third innings. It has been depressing viewing. At least a game of Dungeon took my mind off it for a while. It took me back to evenings playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) in Billy Pennie's bedroom over thirty years ago.

The St. Johns came over on the 27th as the wild weather returned. We went for a walk along the Hermitage of Braid, taking the high path and having to negotiate a fallen tree at one stage. Angus was the only one small enough to duck under it. The rest of us got pretty muddy clambering over it. The Braid Burn was in full spate as we crossed it and returned by the northern path. Angus did well keeping up with the older boys. It was back to ours for soup, sandwiches and a lazy afternoon listening to the rain lashing against the windows.

Sean has been the one who has taken to the piano most of all. Finn prefers mucking about with the microphone and creating a cacophony while he's supposed to be eating at the table, but Sean has been picking out a few tunes, aided by the play along function. Sharon took the big two to the cinema in the evening, to see Catching Fire which they all loved. A late night for Sean and Finn, who fell asleep very quickly.

Bobby came over this morning with a reckoning of what work remained on the build and what extra costs we had or may need to incur. It certainly looks like we'll be over our budget plus 10% contingency, and the coffers will be looking pretty bare come the springtime. It will be worth getting the work finished though, and now is the time to do it before the boys are bigger, to make sure we make the most of the space. We may not be able to afford to furnish it in as nice a fashion as we'd like, and we may have to look for more purchases like the £125 sofa Marie spotted and which Sharon picked up from a charity shop in Morningside on the Monday before Christmas.