Saturday, August 21, 2010

...Peter Pan.

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Kirriemuir, Scotland

This week we stayed in Thrums cottage. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland and attached on one end to J.M. Barrie's Birthplace. It is magic. I will do my best to describe it but my sense is that I will never be able to.

J.M. Barrie's Birthplace is a museum that seems to ooze magic from it's very walls. A replics of a modest weavers cottage on the upper floor and what would have been the loom and yarn store on the ground level is now a showcase for his work. In one part of the upper floor they have created a children's fantasy room with a bed upon which nightgowns are laid out and a trunk at the foot of the bed is full of handmade costumes to act out your favourite scenes from Peter Pan. One area has been designed to give you the feeling of flying. A platform with a cushion on top for resting your belly on while you outstretch your arms and legs in flying position. Then a motion sensor sets off a fan that blows the "night wind" through your hair. Murals painted all around and a mirror positioned just so that when the "flyer" faces the wind he will see himself flying through the air and audio of Peter Pan giving flying lessons floats into the room. Fantastic. Magic really.

This room in the museum shares a wall with my bedroom in Thrums Cottage. In the back of the museum is a yard with a wash house. This wash house acted as Barrie's first theatre where, as a boy, he created and acted out scenes of great action for other children in the neighborhood and which ultimately served as the model for the house that the lost boys built for Wendy in Peter Pan. And next to that, across a small lane from our cottage, is a garden. Open to all and for one week it feels like ours. It has a gorgeous border of flowering perenials and a lovely wooden bench to sit a spell. In the middle of the garden is a massive hedge in the shape of a crocodile, hollow down the middle and tall enough for Meg to walk into and play inside. She has played in there for hours this week while we have prepared meals, washed dishes or folded laundry. The crowning glory, however, is the Peter Pan statue atop a carved stump that sits proudly in one corner of the garden. Spellbinding. Magic really.

That garden is what I look out to from all the windows at the rear of the cottage. The best view is from my bed. When I lay down to put Lola to sleep each night I can see the statue and the hedge at the bottom of the garden. Beyond that is another row of houses and beyond that a horse pasture and beyond that a cow pasture and beyond that hills and countryside. And as the sun dims, the twinkling lights of the town of Fofar become visible in the distance. And this week the full moon shone brightly in the clear night sky backlighting the Peter Pan statue and creating the perfect stage for the bats that danced outside the window. Enchanting. Magic really.

The best part of the view is the windows themselves. They are old, big, low (just a foot and a half off the floor), wooden framed, peeling paint, no screen.... The latch is swirl of painted wrought iron. They swing open like a door. You can easily see why ones imagination could create a world where you could just step out of those windows and if you just wiggled your toes and thought happy thoughts you could fly.

This place has cast a spell on me. I feel swept up in the simple magic of this row of weavers cottages on this quiet street in this cheerful town in the heart of rural Scotland. J.M. Barrie wrote most of his books with bits and pieces of this town and it's characters as backdrop and players. His mother featured as a character in most. As Wendy in Peter Pan in fact. The tale of a boy that never grew up...

And this week in this cottage my girls defied the magic of Peter Pan. They grew up...just a little. Lola finally, if reluctantly, allowed some food to pass her lips. It didn't go much beyond her mouth but it's something. And then sometime over night on Monday she finally cut a tooth she has been working on for months. On Tuesday she began to stand unsupported for fairly long periods of time. And on Thursday Meg lost her 8th tooth. The same one Lola cut earlier in the week. The tooth fairy will visit here in Scotland tonight. I wonder what magic she will bring.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

...sand in her nappies.

Sunday, July 25th
Today we found our holiday stride. A relaxing morning at our new cottage, which is in the centre of a town this time. A stroll around the streets. And even though it is Sunday and nearly everything is shut and very sleepy, there was an excellent coffee shop open and the smell wafting from through the chain curtain in the doorway was divine. It was one of the best lattes I have ever had. There was even a little latte art leaf in the foam of my to-go cup. There was a lid on the cup when they handed it to me. I never would have known if I hadn't been tempted to peek. That is a sign of a barista that loves his job. A Love Warrior Barista, if you will. Putting everything into that cup of Joe without any attachment to outcome. Knowing that I might never see that artful foam. And I could taste the love.

The blue sky was beginning to show itself as we left the supermarket with our rations for the day. We packed them in our cooler and headed out in search of sun, history and a place to use our bandy net. We have our faithful sidekick Villie in tow this weekend. Dave's friends have been joining us on weekends or when they can get a day off work. Things seem lighter on those days. More carefree. I think there are many reasons for that. But one of them simply comes down to the fact that with at least one adult always on duty with child minding there is never a time that we are completely free to engage in one another. I often find myself sitting in the car with a sleeping baby and my iPhone or knitting while Dave explores a standing stone with Meg. But with another adult along it allows for at least two grown-ups to participate in some stimulating, intellectual (or completely juvenille) exchange. Funny that...connecting as a family seems to work better with a welcome and companianable interloper. It does help that Villie is one of the most cheerful, easy going and engaging guys I know ( and he's single - goodness knows why).

We wound our way over the country roads towards the coast and the ruins of Red Castle (which is indeed rather red). After hiking up a steep trail through nettles, thistles and very spiky bushes, which Meg calls a briar patch, we reached the spectacular ruins of Red Castle. We were even more taken with the vast, clear, sandy beach below. So Dave and Villie went back to the car for our lunch and the bandy net and we headed for the beach. By the time we made our way down the path the sun was ablaze and we were sorry we hadn't selected a slightly different wardrobe this morning. Shoes were removed, jeans rolled up and the wading began. We chased after little fish with our net and marvelled at how warm the North Sea water felt where it was shallow enough for the sun to warm and the tide was not yet coming in. Meg began to sing and wander about without a thought to the rest of us. You always know she is happy when she is singing to herself. The sun was warm but the breeze kept us cool. Lola watched it all from my back. Proudly perched in the carrier. Legs swinging, squaking and laughing as she watched Meg run through the waves. Eventually Meg opted to remove her pants and prance through the waves in her knickers. Lola was put down on the sand to play. We enjoyed our very sandy picnic lunch. This was it. This is what I had been waiting for. It's not as though I hadn't been enjoying myself for the last two and a half weeks. I really have. I've seen loads of new things, seen old things with new eyes and spent precious time with my family. Today felt different. The sun was shining. Over the last few days as the sun has shone briefly here and there I have realized what a difference that makes. We can sit on the grass, eat our lunch outside the car, let our children play... It has been hard being cooped up all together so much. And this country really reveals it's incredible beauty in the summer sun.

As the tide slowly moved the shoreline closer to our picnic spot the sky began to darken with stormy clouds. The water lapping in from the sea was cold now. Not so inviting for wading and beachcombing. We had spent a surprisingly long time on that beach. I think we'd have stayed much longer if those clouds hadn't signalled the end of our time there. We packed up our stuff, dusted the sand off of our feet and reluctantly put them back in our shoes. On the hike back to the car Lola fell asleep on my back. We shifted her carefully from my back to her seat without waking her and the journey turned quiet. Peaceful.

We were stopped at Resteneth Priory when she finally woke. I took her out of the car for a stretch and opened the boot to change her bum. I laid the change pad out in the bottom of the boot and popped her down on it. When I pulled off the wee diaper pants and a small pile of sand was deposited on the change pad I knew we were in for a treat. The poor sweet dolly had a bum full of damp sand.

You know you've had a good day when you find sand in her nappies.

Friday, August 6, 2010


We are finally home and getting settled. Thank goodness no one has to rush back to work. It feels so lovely to ease into our lives and our comfy home. Upon our return seeing our surroundings with new eyes and noticing things that we want to change and things we forgot we loved. The return many things all at once. I need time to reflect on it. Let it soak in. In the meantime I will post some things I wrote while we were away and off the grid. And try and get some pictures that reflect our journey for posting. I also promised some blogs from the vault and then promptly fell off the electronic map. So this is a time to catch up... Let's see how well I do.