Monday 2 March 2009

The length and breadth of Scotland

Going to Aberdeen via the A93 in the afternoon and returning down the A90 at night is a lot of driving! We spent close to 7 hours in the Sharan on Thursday on a round-trip to see Snow Patrol at the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre. With Marie flown in to look after the boys we took the option of a more leisurely approach to Aberdeen by driving up the A93. This is something you do every few years. forgetting just how slow it is to negotiate the many bends and twists in the road up to Glenshee and beyond. We stopped for a most unsatisfactory dinner at the Waterwheel Inn on the edge of Aberdeen then located the AECC and fortunately got parked.

The gig was good without being great. FanFarlo were the support (we missed the first band on) and then Snow Patrol took to the stage. The venue is pretty much a flat, standing-room only cube but the sound wasn't too bad despite our position at the back wall (me for support and Sharon because she's not really into being jostled by a crowd when 26 weeks' pregnant). Sharon's the big Snow Patrol fan and she no doubt enjoyed it more than me. They were good, but their music is more for listening to than jumping about to and this, coupled to the wide demographic attending the gig and our position at the back (and the Aberdonians have a reputation for being a shade dour) kept the atmosphere low key. We were very tired by the time we'd driven home and tumbled into bed at 0145, not helped by Finn then appearing, unwell, at 0620.

Once we collected Sean from school on Friday we drove through to Largs to effect a houseswap with a family who Sharon has got to know through Pampered Chef. Their house is a fine three-storey Victorian terrace at the northern end of the prom with great views across to Cumbrae and down the Firth of Clyde. We had a typically blustery weekend with squally showers and bursts of sunshine. Sean and Finn had a great time collecting shells and sea-glass, Rowan nearly fell in the sea trying to throw the biggest stones he could lay his mitts on and we clung determinedly to Nardini's ice-creams in the freshening February breeze.

I met up with my Aunt May on the Saturday afternoon and brought her back for a cup of tea so she could see the rest of the family then Sean and I accompanied her over on the ferry to see my Uncle James in Millport. James hasn't been too well this winter and is looking more frail but still has the cheery disposition I remember. Although that was tested as we watched the scores roll in with St.Mirren losing 7-0 to Celtic. He was pleased to see Sean as I hadn't appreciated that Sean, Finn and Rowan are keeping the Wallace line going. My only other male Wallace cousin, Stuart, doesn't have any children, so I was the last hope. Looks like I came up trumps! May ran Sean and I back to the Cumbrae Slip for the return ferry. I was pleased Sean came with me as opportunities to meet and greet my side of the family are rare enough.

We had a fine lunch in Nardini's which is looking splendid now that it has re-opened. Sharon declared her pizza the tastiest she's eaten in many a long day and Rowan and Finn seemed in agreement. I had a creamy risotto and Marie a salad. Only Sean seemed less than enamoured with his macaroni cheese and the pieces of pizza offered by his brothers. There were no complaints on the ice-cream front of course!

On the Sunday we went for a walk up the gorge of the Kel Burn as most of the attractions of Kelburn Country House were locked up, partly due to the season and partly due to vandalism, unfortunately. The graffiti on the outside of the house is deliberate, however, and is quite eye-catching. Rowan described it as "the monsters on the house". "Monsters" seem to feature quite a lot in Rowan's playing. He did well walking up the path to the falls and only showed resistance when the rain came on on the return trip.

All in all we had a great weekend and the house was ideal for us and Marie, although her and Finn were a bit wary of the two cats. Given the place Largs has in my memory it would be good to repeat the swap some time in the summer. The Wilsons seem to have enjoyed our house so we'll see if this whets our appetite to do more swapping. Though it was hard work (but much needed) to get the house tidied before we left!

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