Monday 19 August 2013

Secrets aren't safe

Siblings aren't great at keeping secrets from each other. Whether it's their lack of self-awareness (Angus and Rowan) or their bloody-mindedness in getting one up on the others (Finn), they are pretty hopeless. I took Finn and Angus swimming last week after work, to Loanhead, and bought them chips afterwards. "Don't say to anyone you got chips for supper", I cautioned. On our return, in storms Angus. "We got chips!" he immediately bellowed, tomato ketchup smeared across his face and greasy fingers waving in the air. Yesterday, since Sharon was going to a boat club barbecue, taking Sean and Angus, I agreed to Finn's request to go swimming with Rowan. "But don't say anything to your brothers," I warned. Down the stairs stomps Rowan, having fully changed into sun top and trunks. Had he been wearing a snorkel, flippers and a duck-shaped rubber ring, he couldn't have been more obvious! "Why is Rowan wearing his swimming stuff?" queried Angus as I bundled them out the door.

Sharon has enjoyed being back on the water in her few rows so far, although yesterday was rather windy and trying to organise a new crew was testing her patience. Finn also tested her patience on Saturday morning as she took him and Sean on their first 5k, a Park Run along the prom from Crammond. Megan and Freya were running with Gordon, the Barnes being up on a weekend visit. Sean managed his in 36 minutes and didn't stop once, which was a very good effort. Finn was in one of his more negative moods but did eventually complete the course. I met them with the wee two who resumed their swimming lessons on Saturday morning.

The Barnes girls came round on Friday afternoon and evening for a play and dinner, and Megan stayed over, much to the boys' delight. Sean had earlier proclaimed that "people from abroad and other places, like the Barries and the Kavanaghs and the Barnes are our real friends, more than the people from school" which reflects what a good time they've had over the summer, meeting others and playing amongst themselves, rather than seeking out their peers from school. We do tell them they are fortunate to have each other, but sometimes it can stop them making an effort to make friendships with others that they know through school and other activities, so they have to strike a balance.

Heavy showers have been a feature over the last while and Saturday was no different. Late in the afternoon, with Sharon at her Book Group afternoon tea, after the showers had cleared, I made a picnic tea and drove the boys down to Innerleithen, eventually locating the Golf Club by the river. Despite Angus's vocal dissent, we went for a walk up a forest path and down the deserted golf course, spotting some oystercatchers picking their way along the fairway. Dodging the showers, we drove further up the valley and parked by the river on one of the spots evidently used by wild campers. There we sat in a ring and ate our pasta and chicken sticks, in glorious peace and quiet (if Angus and Rowan would ever stop talking), until the dark clouds crept over the hill and the rain threatened once more. We timed it well! It made a nice change going for a picnic tea instead of a picnic lunch and the view north across the Lothians as we descended from the Lammermuirs was spectacular.

As well as completing some very good "kneeling dives" at Wester Hailes pool yesterday, Rowan also made an improvement on his cycling. He has been moaning, in inimitable Rowan, petted-lip fashion, that he doesn't have a talent (for sport) so we were encouraging him that cycling might be that talent. I put new pedals on the old silver bike and started wheeling him round the back grass, eventually giving him a shove to get him going. He did well on several attempts, travelling a good ten yards and braking to avoid collision with the trees or hedge. The next step is to get him out on a wider expanse of grass so he can go further, but he was pleased with his efforts.

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