Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Good Life

It’s Tuesday. Day two of my annual leave and I showered with a smile on my face this morning – and the smile has barely left my face since.

Sloth was the order of the morning. Sloth and caffeine. And the Herald. And a croissant with jam. And then some more sloth. The most energetic I got was to press the lid down on my coffee bean grinder and then to turn the nozzle on the milk steamer. Meanwhile, the wee fella was brushing up on his American accent with some cartoons. (An excerpt from a subsequent conversation: In Scotland we cut the grass, son, we do not mow the lawn. And for the record, a trunk has got feck all to do with a car.)

Eventually I raise myself from this stupor to actually do something. Which I manage with unerring precision, to time with when the sun decides to blast off the clouds. How good am I? When we arrive at Culzean Castle the sun is doing its hammer on an anvil thing and the day is glorious (just the way it started, actually).

We go to the duck pond and believe it or not we have prepared. With bread and everything. If it was an outing where a woman was present we would have had sandwiches, crisps, fruit, water, a rug, a hat, possibly a wee fishing pole, a ball, suntan lotion, wet wipes, plasters, disinfectant, anti-histamines, a change of clothing for the wee fella, a portable loo and a minesweeper. And it would all have been in her handbag. No wonder women can never find their car keys.
What were we carrying? Four slices of the white stuff for the ducks.

A swan was the first to approach, followed by a cluster of ducks. What is the collective pronoun for ducks? I’m liking cluster. Can we change this convention on this one? Anyway, my son got a wee bit nervous with the size of this swan and threw the bread a tad too short. He’s sizing up the length of the swan’s neck and the size of her beak and feeling kinda unsure. I suggest he edges closer and pushes the bread forward with a foot. I would have done it myself, of course, but he was nearer. At this suggestion he just looks at me and says -hell no, the swan can freakin’ starve before I get any closer. Just what cartoons were you watching this morning? I ask. He mumbles something and points out a group of ducklings. A cluster.

Bread spent, we head back to the car. Whenever we do any sightseeing it’s at breakneck speed. See the ducks. See the swans. Right, let’s get the hell out of here. On the way to the car park we pass a family of twelve. Mum, Dad and cluster of weans. I’m liking this word cluster. They’re carrying bags and bags and boxes of food and drink. Mum sees me sizing up the goodies and smiling says I can join them if I want; they have enough to feed an army. I look at the kids and think that’s exactly what they have and leave them to it. Ten kids! Let me repeat that exclamation mark!!! Mum looks like she is in her element. Dad looks like a haunted wraith. He looks like he stepped out from behind a desk only five minutes earlier to find himself wearing shorts and a t-shirt and to have suddenly acquired a life’s worth of children.

Next stop is at the opposite end of the Culzean estate. There are 125 steps just beyond the visitors centre that lead down to a white cottage, called Segganwell where I used to go for my holidays when I was a kid. This always prompts memories... like the time me and my cousins tried to walk along the coast to Maidens but got caught in a cave when the tide came in. Apparently the adults were worried sick about us, but we just climbed our way out to safety singing Patridge Family songs.
I am a slave to this blog am I not, admitting shit like that?

Today the tide is out, way out and we walk to the water’s edge. We spot a pair of herons; a couple of swans and a cormorant perched on a rock with its wings out to dry. I have a moment. I am in the now. Life is good. I’m in a beautiful setting. The sun is strong and warm on my back and my son is hale and hearty and quoting some crap from a cartoon he watched earlier.
-nice to see you, Mrs Jones, he says in one voice.
-it’s Mr Jones. I’m a man, Doctor, he says in another.
-you just keep telling yourself that, sweetheart.
He giggles.
-Son, exactly what cartoons are you watching?

I’m wearing shorts. I know, I shouldn’t. Frightens the horses. At one point in the day I look down and notice that my legs are SO white they look like they’ve been covered in enamel. There is a local phenomenon called an Ayrshire tan. Brown face, neck and arms, while everything else is so pale it’s almost translucent. Actually, scratch the Ayrshire and go for Scottish. Apart from the folk who live along Dumbarton Road in Glasgow. It’s one of the longest streets in the city and it has a tanning parlour every twenty yards. And each tan shop has a Chinese takeaway on one side and a kebab shop on the other. It’s so the local population can look healthy while they eat their way to a heart attack. (Did you hear our Jessie died last week? Clogged arteries. She looked great in her coffin, but.)

We walk for a couple of miles – I’m sneaky and take the long way back to the car – he’s giving it, are we there yet? Just round this bend, son. An hour ago it was just at the top of this hill, he moans. As he says this he’s making quotation marks with his fingers.

Got home. Got pizza and salad. Got a movie. “Get Smart”. My son laughed himself into a coughing fit.

He’s now in his room settling down for the night while I write this. As a parent there can’t be a more pleasing sound to hear than their child, safe and secure and playing in their room overhead. He’s making those lovely wee noises he makes when he pretends he’s murdering aliens. Bless.

Time for bed and I’m still smiling. Ain’t life good?


  1. There's loads of collective nouns for ducks, like brace, paddling, badling, raft, team, flock, flush and flight - so cluster does just fine!

  2. Eeeesh, Sara do you like, know everything?

  3. Glad you had a fun day. Smiling is good for your health !

  4. Sounds like the perfect day. Ah, sloth & caffeine -- two of the writers' major food groups. :)
    (followed you here from Rachel G.'s blog.)