Category Archives: sport

What Would the Wee Man Do?

When I found out Edinburgh schools go back on the 10th of January, I was tempted to call the council.

What on earth was I going to do with them? When would I ever get back to work?

When in doubt - balloons

When in doubt – balloons

Rod probably wouldn’t admit it, but he must have been glad to get back to work on the 3rd. No one pulling anyone’s hair, repeating his name over and over and over or undoing everything he did… Actually, he works in the car trade, maybe that’s exactly what he went back to.

Thank God the nursery reopened on the 4th – only the Wee Man to entertain for three out of the six extra days.

Two days in and I’m kind of astonished to realise I’ve loved it.

What? So we're at the park again...

What? So we’re at the park again – what’s your point?

If anyone is struggling to stick to their “Healthy January” resolution, may I suggest hanging out with my son? He makes every minute of the day count – and I love that about him. Some of my friends’ kids are content to watch movies, play with their Christmas presents and generally hang out at home. Not him.

Yesterday, after dropping KD at nursery, we went straight to soft play. We were the first ones there and he whooped with delight. One other family arrived, with two small kids, one of whom introduced herself to the Wee Man and off they went. She was adorable. I played football with them and cheered them coming down the slides. They got on so well that her mum and I swapped numbers and arranged a playdate.

After a couple of hours at home we were off again, to visit Auntie Kaka and play with all her daughter’s toys. Then it was the big one: his first swimming lesson. That half hour in the pool made me so proud I could burst. For once his general lack of fear played in his favour – he was leaping into the water, swimming valiantly as he sank lower and lower and laughing the whole time. I think his instructor fell in love with him a wee bit – I could see she was proud too.

Today we went back to the pool after the nursery drop off and practised. To say he was delighted was an understatement, I actually feel bad for keeping his arm bands on this long. There was an aqua aerobics class going on at the same time and he kept trying to join in, dancing even as he drowned a little bit. There’s a soft play at the gym so I managed a quick coffee as he played, but soon we were off again, home for lunch and a wee bit of telly before donning full waterproofs and heading to the park.

A dot in the distance

A dot in the distance

As he shot off across the field with his football in the sunshine I thought “He’s just a free spirit,” somewhat indulgently. With no KD to slow us down we must have covered the length and breadth of that huge field several times over. He only stopped to hang over the fence and chat to the woman poo-picking in the horses’ field. She’d heard the rumour JK Rowling owned the sprawling stables across the bypass too and we commiserated in our jealousy.

After an hour in the zero degree cold we headed back to the car and popped in to see his great pal and her brother who, in his mother’s words, is “mad on the Wee Man” (rather than mad with him)… His energy was undented. They tore around the house, laughing their heads off, as Allison and I drank tea and discussed whether boys or girls were more of a challenge to parent.

"You be Anna and I'll be Elsa"

“You be Anna and I’ll be Elsa”

In the end the only thing that stopped us was a clamp on the wheel. Yes, they may be saving paper by doing away with tax discs, but they have opened up a whole new cash generator. I had just loaded KD into the car seat and was going back for the Wee Man when I realised the junk mail on the windscreen was in fact a £100 fine.

Drinking through the pain...

Drinking through the pain…

We have a joke in our family. Whenever we’re stressing about something we think of Big B, my so-laid-back-he’s-horizontal brother in law, and say “What Would Brian Do?” I’m thinking of adapting it to “What Would the Wee Man Do”? He is joy personified. It’s exhausting, but when it’s all about him, it’s incredibly uplifting. And fat burning.

So whenever you’re fed up, go ahead and borrow my new catchphrase. At least it will get you through January.

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There’s a new boy in my life…

I seem to have acquired another boy to look after – but this one is only two days a week. Meet Lucas:

LUCAS

I can’t quite believe my luck.

Since I was seven years old, I have longed for a horse of my own. I used to actually shake with excitement before my riding lessons. Every year from the age of about eight to thirteen I asked for “Pony for the Week” for my birthday – it was the highlight of my year to spend five whole days at the stables, grooming and feeding and riding the ponies.

Of course around the age of 14 it became more important to spend my money at Topshop than the tack shop. I’d spend the weekends planning, going to and then analysing who we’d kissed at the Archaos unders. My purple grooming kit lay forgotten in the garage, I outgrew my jodhpurs and my horsey days were over. I always tried to go for a hack on holiday – I still loved it and it’s a great way to discover a new place. My friend Dionne and I rode ponies western style across the Andes in Chile in 2005 and my friend Mairi and I would randomly book a three hour hack on the beach – took us days to recover.

But now I am right back there in the midst of my childhood obsession and I am happy as a pig in shit.

It’s all thanks to Facebook. A friend reposted Louise‘s request to find a new person to horse share and I happened to see it. I saw how close her stable was and thought I’d just send her a message and see what happened. The next evening we met up, had a chat, went for a ride (she has another horse called Corky) and it all just fell into place. It was as if it was meant to be.

Lucas and me

It has taken a fair bit of juggling to find the time to properly commit to this. Luckily Louise is flexible and I work for myself, so between us we make it work. I turn up, I muck out his stable, I lay new shavings, I fill his haynet, I collect him from the field and bring him into the stable where I take off his rug and groom him. He is so affectionate and easy to be around – the only thing he’s not too keen on is having his rear hooves picked out – we do a wee dance round the stall while I try to persuade him. When he’s gleaming I tack him up and have the joyous freedom of what happens next. For someone who’s only ever had lessons on riding school ponies, this is definitely the best bit. Today we did some work in the school without stirrups so I could improve my balance and then we went for a hack through the fields in the sunshine. Bliss.

IMG_6485

I’ve come to realise that horse riding is the ultimate exercise in mindfulness. While I’m out with Lucas all I think about is him and me. He’s a big horse (16hh) with plenty of energy and strength, you can’t afford to lose focus. But more than that, when I’m out in the countryside, with the sound of the birds and the gorgeous views up to the Pentlands and across empty hayfields, you lose yourself in the experience. It’s exhilarating and relaxing at the same time. It’s one of the only things I do that doesn’t involve any technology. No one talks to me. I don’t need to say a word (except maybe “whoa” or “good boy”). It’s very far-removed from my noisy, harassed daily life, and I appreciate every minute of it.

I even got that old grooming kit out of the garage.

Now, where’s the nearest tack shop? I need some new jodhpurs…

 

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Baby’s first swim

First dip in the water

Sporting a very fetching baby-trunk borrowed from our neighbour's wee boy who's too big for them

Distinctly unimpressed with the experience

And slept like a baby afterwards!

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