Saturday, 28 January 2012

Honest Toun Move Means Honesty With Toddler

So the Big Flit is finished. Sort of.

We’ve mostly relocated from the Brighton of the North/Sunniest Town in Scotland/Tildawood to Musselburgh aka ’The Honest Toun’. I say mostly because this weekend we’re back north to scoop up final remnants from our house, give it a lick of paint and attempt to find someone who fancies renting it.

It’s been a whirlwind of events and emotions these past seven weeks since I landed my new gig at the Mither of All Parliaments. When we bought our place in Nairn five years ago I was pretty sure that was that. Being an army brat I’d moved home and school so many times I was determined as an adult to settle somewhere.

But the offer was too tempting and we are where we are, as the diplomatic cliche goes. Toddler has responded to the move pretty well. On the day we arrived in Musselburgh to collect the keys to our new pad we took a tour up the High Street looking in all the shops. Toddler went quiet and said she was a bit cold. When I asked what we could do about that she replied I could take her to her new house. Okay!

When we knew we were moving Wife-features had explained to Toddler what it meant and she seemed to understand. Why would we sugar-coat it? One of her wee friends had it explained to him by his mum and he seemed more concerned that our lassie’s train set would be moving with us! We have subsequently offered visiting rights.

In many ways our new digs are smaller than what we’ve been used to but importantly it’s got a much bigger kitchen so Toddler can be occupied at the table while a parent gets on with making breakfast, lunch or dinner. We’re also conveniently located near a legendary ice cream parlour, not to mention two butchers, two bakers, a fishmongers and a greengrocer. There is also a Goliath 24hr Tesco at the far end of town which we have already used but mainly due to being busy during the day with the relocation. And the pub across the road does karaoke on a Friday night, as we have discovered. Hey ho.

Although ‘The Burgh’ is twice the size of Nairn it’s similar in a lot of ways. It has a beach, a links, a park with a bandstand and by the looks of things lots of community activities. I’m also delighted to see the local theatre does regular cinema screenings so my services in that department won’t be required and I understand neighbouring Edinburgh has a wee book festival all of its very own!

And to cap it all I have a soon to be ex colleague who lives nearby and she has a wee girl not much younger than ours so we have high hopes of fun times ahead.

It’s widely acknowledged that changing jobs and moving house are incredibly stressful experiences so ideally I’d have a bit of a break at some point but alas I’ll be on duty till next Friday night in the current gig and the new one starts 9am Monday. Mind you, the Saturday will hopefully involve watching Scotland v England in the Six Nations or at least listening via the wireless while painting a bit of our property in Nairn. So, some relaxation via the medium of shouting.

The Sunday’s my birthday and the following day I’ll be starting a new chapter literally round the corner from where I was born.

Wife-features for some time suggested Toddler visited me at my place of work to give her an understanding of where daddy disappeared to each day. A few months back we did just that and she was instantly bored. An open plan office on the Longman Industrial Estate is as glamorous as it sounds.

I can only hope a Catalan-inspired swirl of concrete and glass with sticks on the windows and a view of Arthur’s Seat is a bit more interesting.

I’ll of course continue to be Green in the way I get to work. We’re on one of the main bus routes and there’s even a disused railway line you can cycle on between Musselburgh and Holyrood Park. I gave it a go the other day and it only took half an hour. It includes a really cool and pretty lengthy tunnel.

Moving our gear down the road was fairly fraught. I hired a long wheel base Transit van and instantly filled it with about a tenth of our stuff. Our main aim was to bring as many of Toddler’s toys and all her bedroom furniture so the new place would at least feel familiar for her. A lovely but heavy drinks cabinet (Wife-features and I are recovering lushes) had to come with us and a friend in Nairn helped me heave it into the van. My bodybuilding brother didn’t show up as promised at the Musselburgh end, causing me to drag Green Gran into action. My wee mum is now a nervous wreck and even shorter after helping me totter the cabinet the fifty yards from the van to the stairs leading to our first floor flat. Even the Chuckle Brothers would have clapped their hands over their eyes if they’d witnessed our routine.

Amid the stresses of changing jobs and moving house I’ve tried my best to keep a calm air around Toddler. It has been difficult, especially as Wife-features and I have been in conversation a lot more or on the phone so Toddler’s had to learn the hard way that it’s not always possible to talk to your parents when you want to.

Hopefully once the job gets going we’ll all get into a new routine. Meantime if the strains start to show we can get some relief at the ice cream parlour. I tell you, a hard day melts away when you are presented with three Neopolitan scoops, a snowball, whipped cream and melba sauce…

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Remember You're Rubbish

Toddler has developed a couple of hilarious/terrifying traits.

I now seem to be subject to a three strikes and you’re out rule when it comes to having a conversation with her. She’s pretty good with her words and can talk at great length but some of it isn’t always exactly clear. Her patience wears thin. For example:

Me: Sorry? You want to eat a piece of ham?
Toddler: No daddy! Vlam.
Me: Jam?
Toddler: No! Vlam.
Me: Spam?
Toddler: Och, you’re rubbish! (Toddler wanders off to speak to Wife-features instead.)

The other trait is her memory. It turns out she remembers things from ages ago. We now have to be careful what we say, do and promise in front of her. Recently we were having a laugh about me being ‘rubbish’ at something but couldn’t remember what it was only for Toddler to look up and calmly remind us it was my ability to apply icing to a digestive biscuit - something we’d tried several weeks earlier. Yikes.

Also, putting the Christmas decorations away the other day I used a ladder to access the loft and Toddler stood at the bottom, pointed up and said: “I want to play with my ball pit.” Some six to nine months previously we’d stuffed the paddling pool and its 200 coloured balls into the loft and assumed she’d forgotten about it. We assumed wrong.

I only hope she didn’t overhear me making that new year’s resolution about eating less cheese. It’s Saturday and we’re off the deli…

Whin Park - Flumes Are Better Than Fumes

Whin Park was a bit wet when we visited the other day! Still, if Highland Council get their way it could be under tarmac and concrete when their stupid bypass goes through it.

At the council elections in May keep an eye out for Green candidates and please give them your number one vote (you rank the candidates 1, 2, 3...). Only with Greens on the council do we stand a chance of getting across the fact that the Inverness bypass isn’t a bypass.

We should be investing what money we have on projects that benefit everyone and not just those who can afford to keep a car on the road and developers set to make a mint from further urban sprawl.

Night Night Veggies

An emotional day today, handing over the keys to our allotment.

Thanks to yours truly accepting a job in another part of the country, we're attempting to disentangle all the healthy roots we'd started to put down in the Brighton of the North so we can swiftly relocate to the Athens of the North. (I'm hoping Edinburgh's nickname relates to its reputation for great thinkers rather than feeble political leaders and rioting in the streets.)

There's a fair sized waiting list for allotments in Nairn so we can be sure our bit of mud will be passed into eager hands wielding rakes. We put a lot of work into the plot when we took it on back in the spring. It quickly went from being scrub ground to muddy ground to stuff you'd be happy planting veg in with bags and bags of rubbish at the side. I only managed to get the last of the those bags (containing Carslberg cans, rubber hosing and rubble) to the dump today.

The leaves have fallen off the surrounding trees, creating mulch heaven. A friendly robin kept following me about as if he were saying goodbye. For old times' sake I dug up a bit of ground to give him some worms. Ah, pecked worms. I'm such a softie.

I think I'm right in saying we haven't bought any tatties in the past six months and we still have curly kale in the fridge. I'm hoping we’re only saying a temporary bye-bye to homegrown veggies and once we're settled down the road we can literally put down a few roots/tubers again.

We've started to pack boxes and are being brutal about what's coming with us. We've accumulated so much stuff over the years. I started out thinning my vast record collection seeing what I'd be happy to part with. This didn't seem to make much difference to the CD mountain so I've begun tackling it from the other aspect - packing away the albums that I definitely want to hang on to. What's left is sickeningly large and I dread to think how much I spent acquiring them but now they're on their way to good homes, some of them earning us a few bob.

In our living room we had four large bookcases of books. These have been whittled down to one and a half with about one bookcase-worth packed for transit and the other one and a half dispatched for charity shops.

But Toddler's toys are where my eyes keep falling and I wonder how on earth we can scoop up every last piece of jigsaw or plastic Peppa Pig character. Slowly but surely we’ll get there.

The bigger issue is how we explain what’s happening to Toddler. She’s clearly twigged something’s going on. Our big jump south is possible because she’s only two and a half - hopefully she’ll make new friends easily. I wouldn’t have considered the move if she were in nursery or school.

We thought we had a place secured in Edinburgh but estate agents being the lizards they sometimes are it all fell through and we’re back to square one with only a few weeks till my new gig starts. We had planned to show Toddler some photos of the area we’d be moving to, including a super park round the corner, but that idea’s on hold now.

Wish us luck!