It’s Friday which means they are frying tonight in Aviemore. After a day spent variously filming and walking we send out for F and C all round. Except the two eldest boys who go for battered sausages. No deep-fried Mars Bars are requested, fortunately 🙂
The joys of fish and chips are enduring. It’s possibly Lola’s favourite, she eats this after her swimming lesson every Sunday. She has recently achieved a length of the swimming pool on her back, aged 4.
Fish and chips will always be associated in my mind with visits to my paternal grandmother who lived at Portsmouth. She, one of 10 children, the eldest with 8 brothers and a sister. All those great uncles told such stories of childhood mischief, often scrumping was involved. Do children still scrump?? One of my uncles would take me to see the lights in the famous Southsea Rock Garden or to the funfair on the sea front: pink candyfloss and terrifying rides on the Wild Mouse …………….which the internet tells me is still there. My grandmother was great on spontanaeity and rather permissive, she allowed me to dress up in her clothes…………. and go to the corner shop in them.
On Saturday more Lights will be melting away, meanwhile the snow still lies on the ground, crisp and white, preserved by the very low temperatures, especially at night. First we need to get the Cholseys to Aviemore to catch their 11.30 train. Armed with a fat picnic, their 3 laptops with DVDs, and a Nintendo DS which Sam seems pretty devoted to, they pile into 2 cars and are delivered to their waiting train. It will take them 7 hours to reach their London mainline station and another 3 to get to their door in Oxfordshire.
Shortly after, the Sunburys are on their way. They will break their journey twice to give Ted a good run around and do some shopping.
So it’s Nick, Dan, Lola and me to rattle around the mansion for the rest of the day. Nick spends most of it in the farmyard working on Petal the Land Rover with Walter. Dan has started to edit his sequences and needs to can one or two more. One involves Nick standing unseen below the crest of a hill and throwing up shovels of snow to simulate explosions.
And there are a couple of scenes with dialogue which Lola will deliver, including the final line. When she is not throwing sticks of dynamite made from empty loo rolls covered in red paper, or plodding through the snow with an improvised flame thrower strapped to her back, we sit at the kitchen table and colour fairies and princesses all shades of pink, and make waterlilies with the polystyrene chip containers. She has undivided attention and intends to make the most of it.
As we have leftovers from Thursday’s dinner we invite Lucy, Walter and Malcolm Handoll (who has come from Orkney to run a one-day course in survival and bushcraft skills at Inshriach) to supper. Malcolm and I talk shells in archaeology and he describes some of the many uses to which one can put a limpet shell. For example, Malcolm tells me, you can transport an ember cupped in two shells by inverting the shells periodically when the lower one gets too hot to handle. Is this how the Neolithic community might have transferred fire from site to site?
When sensible people facing long journeys on the morrow are thinking of going to bed, Dan and Walter opt to go to the pub. The trip turns into a lock-in. At 5.30 a noise in the house wakes me. I lay there for a while then think I’ll just pad along the gallery to check on Lola, who chose to sleep in the huge fourposter of the master bedroom. But there is no sign of her father. I check all the bedrooms and he is definitely not in the house. With a sense of rising panic (it is minus 14, there are ditches and the lanes are treacherous) I phone Dan’s mobile but he does not answer. Thankfully Walter does answer when I ring his and I learn they are both in the bothy about to settle down for a session of their VHSVideo club. Dan will be back soon…………….
Soon drifts on and in the end Nick has to fetch our lad, who then sleeps in the car, virtually all the way home to Hackney. He wakes up intermittently to post a Tweet courtesy of my Orange dongle. Lola is an absolutely brilliant passenger. We stop at one of the watering holes Dan and I used to use on journeys to and from Edinburgh when he was up there reading English, and Lola orders her usual. Dan tells Lola that there is a kind of very large school in this big city, to which he and Mummy went and met each other. “What do you think we did at that big school, Lola?” “Colouring?” asks Lola hopefully. “Well yes, they called that Geography”.
Nick and I eventually fall indoors at midnight, 14 hours after we left Inshriach. We have already put our marker down for 2011.