Summer 2009 – Week 1 ending July 8th

13 Jul

Seven weeks of holidays. And nothing booked. That’s a challenge.

July 10th marks 365 days until our next actual vacation. We have booked a villa in Florida. I have 84lbs to lose. That’s a challenge.

7lbs a month will do it. That’s not much of a challenge. Is it?

Anyway, this summer week 1 began with lots of exercise, 2 hour walks, swimming lengths, bought the kids bikes (there’s intentions in there somewhere). This week also included BBQ, Pimms and Wimbledon but we’ll not count that. The upshot? I’ll count from the 10th of each month and weigh in that day and not once in between (it just depresses me!).

Summer started on 1st July with a heatwave, a real live heatwave. It lasted until sundown on the 2nd. That’s about the best we can expect from a Scottish heatwave. So with a esponse so typically cultural we rushed to Poundstretcher and bought water guns and a paddling pool. You gotta.

Jul01_01 When shooting with your eyes shut fails you can always just shout “I love you you’re my best friend!” and see if that works for you (it doesn’t).

Jul01_02

Yeah I’ve seen more meat on a butcher’s pencil too.

After the disappointment of Andy Murray exiting Wimbledon in the semi-final followed the disappointment of Andy Roddick losing in the final. That Federer just nips my heid. We bought a little gas BBQ for the occasion and got the champagne chilled. Uncharacteristically it stayed dry.

Jul05_01BBQ – man cook, woman drink and watch tennis on Mac in garden. I like.

Later in the week we took a drive North to the Highland Wildlife Park primarily to see the new baby Amur Tigers. HA! The AA even had signs up on the A9 pointing the way to the tigers.  They even had car-park attendants to manage the parking. Never seen the like. Never seen the tigers either for that matter. Mum and Dad posed about a lot, kinda teasing us. But the babies stayed well hidden. We managed to see this 14 year old otter make a move though, which is a first in several visits. She’s getting on a bit the old dear! Nice to see she’s not a stuffed exhibit.

Jul08_04

The “safari” bit of the park is probably misnamed, but I like the fact that the species are adaptive to the climate. I can’t imagine big African game would be all that comfy in the snow. We managed to get close up to the Przewalski’s Horses (I love these guys they look like something straight off a cave painting) along with the European Bison.

Jul08_01Jul08_02

We managed to spot one baby. Paul took the map (he’s got a thing about maps, in the same way my daughter had a “thing” about flight safety instructions – just got to have them) and we headed off the see the Snow Monkeys (Japanese Macaques).

Jul08_03

Then it rained. As it does. So we got out the real map and figured Culloden wasn’t that far away….

Jul08_05

Even Andrew would have to duck to pass through the door of this cottage.

Jul08_06

Apparently the battlefield wasn’t all heather and brush back in 1746, it was pasture land. I’ve always wondered what numpty picked the site, believing belting over 2ft heather in a kilt wasn’t very well thought out.

Jul08_07

Politically speaking I am a nationalist, of the self-determining ilk. I truly believe that Scotland will be a successful and prosperous nation separate from the United Kingdom. I am a card carrying member of the Scottish Nationalist Party and I never miss an opportunity to support them at the ballot box. One day I might even get off my lazy arse and get active in the party. Maybe.

I used to be a rampant nationalist. In sport, politics, historiography, education, you name it I could stick a bit of tartan on it and call it “ours”. I have been close to being physically sick watching England take penalties against West Germany anyone in World Cup matches. In 1977 I lived in England and dug up a piece of turf to take to school after we demolished Wembley. I was at the last ever Scotland v England Rous Cup match at Hampden (we lost 2-0). I broke my young heart many a time over the injustice “we” suffered at Culloden and through the Highland Clearances. And I have proudly told tale of “our” triumphs at Bannockburn and Stirling Bridge (neatly sidestepping the Battle of Falkirk), whilst lamenting the Parcel o’ Rogues who sold our country to the English. Don’t even get me started on North Sea Oil! I do not consider myself British. Nationalist enough for ya?

The creeping realisation that all this shortbread tin Victorian construct of Scottishness was just that, a construct, left my patriotic fervour in tatters. I’m not a Gael, my family were never “cleared”, I’m still here for crying out loud. I can barely even lay claim to a tartan. On my mother’s paternal side I clutched at a spurious sept link to the Gordon clan and picked that tartan for my own. At Culloden “we” would definitely have been on Cumberland’s side. And that’s the bottom line. After William Wallace it was less a Scotland/England battle than a Protestant/Catholic or Highlander/Lowlander or peasant/feudal lord/political aristocracy battle and I lost the “we” in it all.  Prince Charlie fought at Culloden for the Jacobite cause, not Scotland.

Jul08_08 Still find it moving though.

Jul08_09

At the shop in the visitors centre we found the best nut allergy warning in the world – they apologised – how sweet.

On the way home we stopped off at the House of Bruar. Kathryn warned us not to do it (she’d been before). She was right. Many pounds sterling later we left with macaroons, pate, pickles, cheeses, sticky toffee pudding, oatcakes, Clamato, Uncle Toms and more. I dunno how I managed to tear myself away from the liqueurs and the venison. A seriously decadent place.

Jul08_10

And that was Week 1.

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