Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I ache in the places where I used to play*

A lovely but unusually active weekend has left me feeling (a) achey and (b) my age. I scooped the boys up from school on Friday, got them changed out of their school uniform, threw them into the car together with bags of food, changes of underwear and several duvets and set off for sunny Arbroath. Oh wait, we picked up Husband on the way too.

I will confess to having mixed feelings as we set off, for the weather forecast was abysmal - gale force winds accompanied by torrential rain. Not a good combination when your accommodation for the weekend is going to be a hut with no electricity or plumbing, necessitating a hundred yard dash to the main house in the dark if you want to use the loo after bedtime. I was pinning my hopes on the fact that none of the weather forecasts this summer had been even close to accurate so hopefully this one wasn't either. Fortunately it wasn't. At least not entirely.

We stopped off in Arbroath itself for fish and chips in what used to be a wee chippie with a couple of plastic tables and chairs you could use. It has been "poshed up" somewhat and now boasts carpet! And napkins! And waitresses! We were slightly taken aback, but reassured by the steadfastly stodgy menu. Husband briefly toyed with the idea of sampling the heresy that is Arbroath Smokie in batter (yes, you read that correctly) but then sanity returned and he plumped for haddock and chips like the rest of us. I went off to visit the ladies before we left (last chance to wash hands in HOT water!) and noticed that the restaurant had cunningly placed a copy of the dessert menu above the hand dryer - I was almost lured into trying the Chocolate Lumpy Bumpy as a result (the name alone was enticing enough!).

We arrived at the cottage in darkness, which is always fun as we try to locate the right unmarked, unsurfaced, unlit, single track farm road among many unmarked, unsurfaced, unlit, single track farm roads. Luckily it did not rain as we hauled sheets, duvets and pillows for four into a small garden hut on the edge of a cliff in preparation for the night.

Do you want to see the hut? Here it is in daylight:
As you can see, it is very important if you pop out in the dark to answer the call of nature that you make sure to turn right and not left. This was taken on Saturday morning when the promised gale force winds arrived, although thankfully without the rain. In the background you can see the beach in the next bay, most of which is airborne.

We had a nice day, slobbing around the house, reading and pottering about the rocks. The boys in particular like to clamber about down by the water. Given the wind, we made them wear lifejackets as a precaution.

It was blustery enough at times that I thought we were going to have to tether them down like little balloons! That night it was very cosy in the hut as the wind howled around outside. Before going to sleep, we played a game which has become sort of traditional when we stay there: we come up with summaries of the plots of movies and TV shows. Played backwards. So that Frankenstein, for example, becomes the tale of a monster rampaging around a neighbourhood, who is lured into a castle by a mad scientist, tied to a table and killed by a convenient bolt of lightning. The scientist then dismantles the creature and buries the evidence in a number of local graveyards. The End.

Get the idea? We amused ourselves greatly with TV shows - Strictly Come Dancing (some judges hold up a score and then a couple have to come on and dance a dance to precisely that standard before leaving); the Olympic 1oo metre sprint (some very fit men have to run backwards very fast and synchronise their speed so they arrive in the starting blocks at exactly the same time); Bagpuss (if you are old enough to remember, is the story of a bunch of destructive mice who steal perfectly good items from a shop window, smash them up and then make their accomplice, a small girl called Emily, take the debris away and dispose of it). Silly, but it kept us laughing.

On Sunday, the wind had dropped so we decided to walk across to the beach in the next bay, but instead of taking the clifftop path, we decided (I cannot now for the life of me remember why) that it would be more fun to go round the bottom of the cliffs, over the rocks. The big rocks. See?
That's First Born in the grey and the beach we are heading for in the distance.

That's Second Born, proving that somewhere in the mists of time, one of his ancestors was part mountain goat. Seriously, the boy was scampering along there. The rest of us were more sort of lumbering. And sliding down rocks on our bums, while squealing in alarm. Sadly, the tide beat us by about 20 minutes and we could not get round the last headland to the beach. Which left us with the choice of clambering skipping all the way back over the same rocks. Or climbing up the hill you can see on the left in the photo of First Born up there. Guess which option we chose.

Yes, that's SB at the top of the hill, encouraging the less agile. The scrap of pink in the bottom left corner is a bit of me. I don't know how Husband managed to take that photo. I think he was holding onto a clump of grass with his teeth.

We all made it though, and this is the view back down where we had climbed up. Had I seen that first, I don't think I would have done it.
The aching muscles in my legs and bum still wish I hadn't. But it was fun and we got to the beach and wandered around in the sun, and drew pictures on the sand before wandering back across the cliff.

And now we are back in Edinburgh again, and looking forward to our little trip to Yorkshire in a couple of weeks. I hope that will involve just as much walking and laughing and eating, but slightly less pulling myself up cliffs by my fingernails while holding my breath and praying.

PS To all of you who are coaxing me into the warm shallows of Facebook, thank you. (Whee! I have friends!!)

PPS *Name that tune.


  1. It sounds like a wonderful time.

    (Except for that part involving no hot water.)


  2. Oh my, you wouldn't want to have a sleepwalker amidst your crew! What a spot!!
    Ah, yes, the bum muscles...first to go and first to remind us after a bit of strenuous activity that they don't like to be neglected:)

  3. That sounded so fun! Will have to try out your backwards game sometime - like it. :)

  4. Leonard Cohen!!Tower of Song!
    Your family sounds like so much fun I'd like to be adopted by you. I could be the big sister who is actually older than the parents. I'd cook and clean up and be a free babysitter for my little brothers. And I'd get to run to the chippie every once in a while, wouldn't I?

  5. What a beautiful place; worth the 'no hot water' bit. I love the photos, even the looking down the (gulp) cliff one.
    I can't locate you on Facebook - if you want to try to find me, I think I'm in as Mary P Gilmour and the email would be marygother@gmail.com. I think.

  6. Pictures, a rare treat! And such a lovely family trip it seems. Whenever the day comes that I get to visit Scotland, I will be emailing you for the location of rustic cabins!

    And what is this about Facebook? I do admit that I use it daily, but the glut of information has got me overloaded and I've moved on to Twitter for the most part!

  7. Well, that sounds very nice except that can I remind you that you're a rich lawyer and so why are you spending time in a cabin without plumbing or electricity? I mean it looks very scenic but plumbing is good. This is 2009. Just asking.

  8. Leonard Cohen? I thought it was the Freedom Jets.

  9. Arbroath smokies in batter? that sounds totally howfing, only surpassed by chocolate lumpy bumpy. what fun you had, lucky things.

  10. Good grief. You're a stronger woman than I. I couldn't have done that; I would just have to have been left to die.

    The hut looks fab! Having said that, I'm certainly not going.