I’ve moved flat

Last weekend I moved flat—from one side of hall to the other—to make way for a development company to come in and arrange for the demolition of my old flat. Not quite the scene from Pixar’s Up!, but because the student hall of residence in which I live and work is to be extended over the next year.

So, I moved from here…

Lounge (before)
Lounge (before)

…to here

Lounge (after)
Lounge (after)

Yeah, I know. It’s almost identical.

That’s certainly made it easier to unpack, but it has been unexpectedly unsettling.

On the morning after I moved, I woke up in my (almost identical) bedroom and wondered where the wireless network point, that I previously could see from my bed, had gone from the ceiling in the hallway.

I got up and walked into my (almost identical) living room. It simply looked like someone had packed everything into boxes, changed the view outside my windows, and then left.

This flat has different creaks and noises at night. The heating system sounds different, as does the washing machine. Not things that I would have anticipated, but when everything else looks so similar it’s quite disconcerting.

This flat also seems to have more avian visitors. There is a small family of I-haven’t-worked-out-what-yet living in a nest near the front door, and a few nosy jackdaws that have got up close and personal, as well as ripped open a black bin bag that I’d dumped outside for a couple of hours while I waited for the rain to go off.

What is nice is that on this side of hall, I can hear birds singing in the morning. There is less foot traffic on this side, too. I’m looking forward to the relative quiet, and fewer disruptions at night—my previous flat was on one of the main paths in and out of hall.

After only a few hours, last weekend, my oldest, Reuben, said, “I’m really beginning to feel settled in your new flat, daddy.” After a few days to unpacking and getting used to the new sounds, so am I.

If you want to come visit, you will be made most welcome.

Gardening, stamina and Joshua’s chalk drawings

Our back garden in a state of order
Our back garden in a state of order

One of the delights of this past weekend — apart from almost seeing the blood moon eclipse last night (there was too much cloud cover at 03:47 when I peered out of my south-westwards facing study window) — was getting the back garden tidied up.

Of course, the front garden still looks like a jungle. (Sorry neighbours!) But the back garden looks splendid and neat. The secret to tidy-looking gardens, I believe, is simply in defining straight lines and borders. It’s a bit like web design. But without the benefits of flexbox.

What is frustrating, though, is that my stamina still hasn’t returned after last year’s headache.

It’s been over a year now since I was in hospital. When I got out my GP said that I shouldn’t expect to begin to get my energy back until January or February; it was more like April when I began to feel that I was making some improvement.

But then in July the headaches began again. I know I was pushing myself too hard: cycling every couple of days, staying up too late, and I need to get my eyes tested again (appointment booked for Monday).

Time to reel myself in a bit and be a bit more sensible and disciplined.

Still, in the meantime at least the shed is tidy. And who doesn’t love a tidy potting shed?

Look! You can now walk in through the door and not tread on something.
Look! You can now walk in through the door and not tread on something.

And I think I may have discovered that Joshua is the secret identity of Banksie.

I love this cheerful drawing of a man and... a thing.
I love this cheerful drawing of a man and… a thing.

Seemingly to the right of the cheerful man is his thought bubble. I need to ask Joshua again what he’s thinking. Because I seem to recall that it was something random. Like a pie.

Christmas 2011

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Above: Isaac gives a knitted Santa a cuddle a few days before Christmas.

Christmas Eve

“I was very surprised that you agreed to preach at the midnight mass,” said Jane on Christmas Eve, “after you’d said last year that you were going to take a year off this year.”

“Did I say that?” I asked.

Apparently so, but I’m glad that I had forgotten because the midnight service at All Saints’, St Andrews was beautiful. The nave (where the congregation sits) was in darkness, lit by hand-held candles, there was a procession during which the baby Jesus was placed in the crib, which was then blessed. The choir was small but enthusiastic; and daring (In dulce jubilo in German). My sermon was warmly received, with another member of the clergy team saying to me afterwards that he thought that it was “spot on”, which I found encouraging.

I drove back to Anstruther around a quarter past one, glowing and thanking God. While I was waiting for the toast to pop-up at home I tweeted:

Fabulous midnight mass at All Saints, St Andrews. The good news of Jesus preached. Feeling very blessed. Happy Christmas one and all. x

I retired to bed for about four-and-a-half hours.

Christmas Day

The drive to Selkirk wasn’t quite as I had planned; particularly the 30 mph winds. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared while driving. The Forth Road Bridge was closed to high sided vehicles, buses, cars with trailers, caravans, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians: pretty much everybody apart from us. I crept across the almost deserted bridge at 30 mph, driving mostly down the line between the lanes.

Just south of Edinburgh, at Newtongrange we discovered that Isaac had a very dodgy tummy. And that we’d forgotten to pack a change of clothes. He turned up to St John’s in Selkirk wearing his pyjamas: a George Pig (Peppa’s brother) fleecy sleep suit. Very sweet.

Jane stayed at my Mum’s to prepare Christmas lunch while the rest of us (minus Reuben, who wanted to stay with Mummy) went to church.

We had Christmas lunch round a wallpaper-pasting table covered in a table cloth, which was a great idea and fit the space perfectly. Jane’s lunch was cooked to perfection—even the parsnips in honey and mustard which always go wrong for us.

Before and after lunch presents were opened, mostly by Reuben and Joshua regardless of whose name was on the label—they were so excited, it was great. And all too soon we were packing up bags and boxes and loading up the car again for the equally-windy drive back to Fife.

Once back home the boys all transferred effortlessly (and for us thankfully) from the car to their beds. We unpacked the car, reheated some Christmas dinner and crashed out in front of the telly to watch the season finalé of Merlin that we’d recorded from the night before.

Then bed.

Boxing Day

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Above: Joshua (left) and Reuben rip open a present on Boxing Day morning.

This was our stay-at-home day, with the majority of Reuben, Joshua and Isaac’s presents still to open. It was nice to stretch out their presents over the last two days rather than overwhelming them with everything all at once.

Jane had picked up a big box of action figures: underwater, mountain, space, etc. which you can see Reuben and Joshua opening in the photograph above. They have loved playing with them all day. At one point they were both lying on top of the dining room table totally engrossed in their play: fabulous!

It was also a tired day, as the busyness of the last few days caught up with us. Jane crashed out on the sofa around mid-day; I went for a sleep mid-afternoon; Reuben fell asleep on the armchair just before dinner.

That said, bedtime still took about three-and-a-half hours. And everybody wanted Mummy to put them to bed.

And to be honest, that’s where I should be now, so I’m going to be uncharacteristically sensible and catch up with as much sleep as I can get. That is, after all, the only thing that I asked for for Christmas: a sleep.

Night, night! And Happy Christmas!

Coming home to Reuben and Joshua

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When I arrived home this evening Reuben wanted ‘up’. Initially ‘up’ into my arms but then ‘up’ onto the car roof. Who was I to deny his wishes?

I think every car needs a Reuben Roof Accessory™. It would certainly prevent you from speeding!

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Fast forward twenty minutes and both Reuben and Joshua were on my desk with a camera each. Thank goodness for digital cameras: I hate to think how many 35mm films we’d have gone through by now!

They love taking photos, and I love taking photos of them taking photos.

I love coming home in the evenings to Reuben, Joshua and Isaac (who was already in bed when we were messing about with the cameras).

Isaac and Jane are home

Baby Isaac asleep in his cot in the living room
Baby Isaac asleep in his cot in the living room

This morning I dropped off Reuben and Joshua at their grannie’s house, the plan being that I’d drive up to Dundee to the hospital to spend some time with Jane and Isaac before grannie brought them up later at visiting time.

I arrived on the ward just after 11:00 to discover that they were keen that Jane gets home today. Quick change of plan, followed by a long six hours wait until various physical checks to Isaac and Jane and whatever items of paper work were completed.

We drove away from Ninewells Hospital at 16:45 feeling decidedly less nervous than when we had made the same journey 26 months before. This time we didn’t even stop in St Andrews to see if he was breathing!

Thank you

Thank you so much to everyone who has sent, emailed, Tweeted, ‘Facebooked’, voice mailed messages of congratulations, and for everyone who has prayed for us and kept us in their thoughts. We love you all. x