Sunday Column (74)

As of the last two weeks, our wee family has been on holidays. Hence I am not sure where to start. Maybe with a family picture taken in Skye:

We took our XC90 from London up to Scotland on a few hundred, or more over 2,000 miles stretch. Whilst it took almost 2 hours to get out of London, the rest of the journey up North was ok. We drove from London all the way to Paisley outside Glasgow. From there we drove up to Skye the next morning where we spend the weekend with a really good friend who really spoiled us and hit off the holidays nicely. On Monday we went to Dingwall where my wife is from, and from there we drove up to Orkney for the remainder of the week. We stopped at a few distilleries on the way and had a fantastic time. I have to admit that I love the XC90. It is comfortable to drive, easy to drive and one feels safe in it both for us but also, and more importantly, for Colin. The idea of a rear facing car seat and the decision to buy a car that fits those requirements was definitely right. However, being on Orkney, a warning light came on that there is something wrong with the transmission. A local garage checked it and it seemed to have been a wrong signalling from the sensor. Never mind, just getting the car checked every now and then seems to be an expensive hobby 🙁 So far the car has costs more than anticipate, given the size of the engine it also eats on insurance and tax. We shall see how much use we make of it over the next 12 months. Having a family and being able to have a car at our discretion is important and helps a lot. Unfortunately, we don’t have the option to downsize due to the car seat and size of ourselves. And actually, I love “the machine” 😉

And Colin was great too. I finally got time to spend whole days with him. He was ok driving too, and I had a fantastic time being with him in every aspect of his day. It even went as far as that Colin cried when I left the room. Now I know how it feels to be a “mum” 🙂 He took his first steps just before we left London, however being in Skye he walked for at least 15 steps. At the end of the holidays he is walking properly, and he also looks very cute pulling up his shoulders when walking 🙂 His interaction is more fun and he starts tidying things up. At his great auntie Sally’s home he spent all evening tidying away cloth pegs. He also laughs so much. The only draw back of a long journey and the sight seeing is that Colin fell asleep in the car and we had to wake him up every 30-45 minutes to stop somewhere and do some more sight seeing. You felt sorry for him being fed up with being driven and pushed around, so we made sure we put a few hours play into our daily routine in either granny’s house or the local play areas. I managed to spend most mornings in the second week playing with him, and we had great laughs. He is so much fun to be around. I fully enjoy being a dad and seeing my son grow up. We got so many compliments from people of how handsome he is too 🙂 He is really taking after me!

The picture above was taken in Skype, below are the Churchill Barriers where you can still find wrecks of the boats that sank in the 2nd World war at Scapa Flow.

The first week we went to Orkney on a 90 minute boat journey and spend almost a whole week there. Jen’s family on her father’s side is from Stromness and the person in the garage where we got the car checked out was related to a Clouston too. A small world/island. So we met some aunties of which one had a dog. Colin took some time but ended up loving the dog and play with her. That was fantastic to see him engaging with animals outside his comfort zone. We visited some historic sites like the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae, Maes Howe, St. Magnus Cathedral, Churchill Barriers, Scapa Flow, and the Italian Chapel. You can google them all yourself, but Jen put a very nice programme together. Funny enough Colin’s godfather and his wife were on the island at the same time we were, so we met them too, mainly to see the Highland Park distillery. That was a bit disappointing as they outsource quite a bit of work to the mainland, e.g. the Highland Park Whisky is not 100% made in Orkney 🙁

Orkney is one of those places you automatically fall in love with. So was Skye and the Westcoast. But whilst Orkney is rather cold and windy, the light makes the environment come out in various colours and let’s the island show off its beauty. I find it nicer than Skye personally, although I could imagine living in either of them. However, that wouldn’t be before retirement age unless Talisker or Scapa distillery would offer me a job 😉 It really brings up our current discussion on where we want to bring up children, where we want to live etc. Maybe the UK, maybe Scotland comes back on the decision matrix?

Now I have written a bit about the whiskys. I got some “Distiller’s Edition” of Talisker, Clynelish, and Lagavulin (I know it is an Islay Whisky but they all belong to the Diageo Group which now owns 26 distilleries of the over 80 in Scotland). On the way back to Dingwall we stopped at my most favourite Whisky Distillery in the Highlands: Dalmore. I treated myself to one of the last two bottles of Dalmore MacKenzie 1992 they had sitting about. Ach well, I can either keep it for Colin and by then the bottle might be worth above £1,000, or I can enjoy it. The choice might be clearer than I originally thought 😉 Hence we actually tasted this “golden nectar” with a good family friend in Dingwall.

From the second weekend of the holidays, we stayed with the Mother in Law in Jenny’s home town, Dingwall. We attended yet another wedding where, although we only spend the evening there, I managed to get quite tipsy 😉 Also, we met with good friends from our time in Aberdeen in Inverness. Most have families now, so it is weird to be all “grown up”, seeing them with children (and vice versa I suppose), meeting at places where the kids can play, seeking child friendly places. I still find it difficult to comprehend that I am not “mummy’s boy” any more, not being looked after, not going to university or school with no or little responsibility.

Having some time off, I had lots of time to reflect and think where I am in life and where to go. Jenny and I have many ambitions, plans and ideas but we both agree that we need to focus on where we get the best in life for our children. It is about opportunities for my career, for our children’s education and the society our children grow up in. But it is also about happiness, environment and the combination of all of those factors above. The future will tell, and Scotland is not out of question for a place to settle down at some stage in life….at the latest when I retire 😉 Then I might be smoking cigars similar to the one you see on the “snapshot” my wife took of me on the ferry crossing. Daddy Cool I guess – just being me, being on holiday 🙂

I think that finalises our two weeks holidays, but of course a final and first game of golf at a lovely golf course in Fortrose. I think I might seriously consider playing golf. However, it might have been the last holiday for a while but I explain that maybe next week. Of course my wife will put more pictures up soon and share them with you. Let me know if you haven’t received them but would like to. The collection here are just a few chosen ones, but I have seen some of the ones my wife took, and they are amazing pictures. Yes, I am sure she will be starting a career in photography sometime soon 😉

Enough said. Two weeks. Thanks to modern technology I was connected to work, emails and Facebook. Should have I? Again, a question to be answered once you figured out what is the most important thing is in life. And, currently, that might just be the little fella looking around the screen of my laptop, shouting at me typing.

I better get off now.

Thanks to my wife for organising a fantastic trip and time away.