I’ve been travelling again this past week to stay for a few days with my daughter and grandson (Fraser) in Mid-Argyll.
Whilst not at all keen (or confident for that matter) on motorway driving, I love driving on the scenic A roads with Loch Lomond, Loch Long and Loch Fyne for company. Having passed my test in the seventies, and spent the majority of my childhood holidays in Scotland, I am much more comfortable and relaxed driving in these types of areas.
My dad was a keen angler and particularly loved the River Aray. He and my mum spent a lot of time there and I always remember her commenting on feeling a tinge of sadness at the dramatic change of scenery and faster pace of life on return journeys as they approached Dumbarton and “civilisation”. Her words always echo in my head each time I do my own return journey.
My daughter has been living in Mid Argyll now for over two years and has settled well, and it is a wonderful environment for Fraser. With COVID restrictions easing, we were invited to a friend’s house for a “play date” and I discovered another living room floor to sit on! Five boys under seven were having a marvellous time playing with trains, cars, lorries and cranes and a five-year-old took great delight in showing me what I was doing wrong when I couldn’t get one of the trains to move forward!
"Supporting children to play requires us to remember what life is all about. It’s not about getting from A-Z, but rather dreaming beyond both.”
~ Vince Gowmon
The following day I was looking after Fraser (aka playing on the floor!) while my daughter dealt with some admin and phone calls for the local toddler group which she has recently re-started. She was discussing plans they had in place for autumn/winter sessions and how they would deal with ventilation etc. One suggestion was that they could devise some activities and exercises to keep warm.
I was immediately transported to my first year at primary school and our early morning warm-up exercises! Our day started with star jumps and swinging our arms and rubbing our hands together – oh the joys of Victorian school buildings.
The fun of the exercise session was trumped only by the playtime delight of a third of a pint of milk in a small glass bottle with a straw. Cold and occasionally frozen in winter and often tepid and sour in summer, I can still conjure up the smell and taste. And woe betide anyone who didn’t finish it.
During my stay we popped into the local butcher/greengrocer and fishmonger. This type of “slow shopping” took me back to my childhood and my mother’s daily trips to the village, with a weekly “order” placed on a Friday and delivered by the shop – transported by bicycle. An online delivery complemented our foray to the local shops, and I guess is the 21st century version of the weekly “order”. Although I know some fast food delivery companies use riders on bicycles to deliver in urban areas.
Despite the recent lifting of COVID restrictions, local residents and shopkeepers were still vigilant with limited numbers allowed into shops, hand sanitiser prominently displayed and most people wearing masks in the main street. I wasn’t surprised at this approach and it reinforced the sense of care and concern for the community that I witness each time I visit.
As I drove home in the evening, once again with the lochs for company, childhood memories occasionally surfaced as I passed a particular place or section of the road. I also reflected that Fraser is being raised in a close-knit and very supportive community which will stand him in good stead for the future.
He will reap the benefits of the “slower” pace where people are welcoming and take the time to chat, but even at his young age (almost three) he is already digitally able and aware, so will benefit hugely from the advances and strides which will unfold over his lifetime.
And just think…he will never have to break the ice on a bottle of milk or gulp down a tepid lumpy summer offering in case the teacher tells him off!
"The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. "
~ Mitch Albom
Take care, lead well