Sunday at the river
Last Sunday was about doing what the boys’ daddy wanted to do. Like last Father’s Day, he chose a barbeque down at the river: easy, relaxed and close to home. The weather was doubtful, but what is a British barbeque without the risk of rain? We made a picnic and bumped down the track to the river in the rusty green Land Rover, the faithful facilitator of many of our happiest days as a family.
It was one of those lazy afternoons where you do nothing very much but everyone is happy. The fishing boat was moored nearby, providing endless fun for the boys: they love clambering about in it, practising rowing, escaping from baddies and so on, all while safely at anchor in the shallows. (On fishing days, the ghillie takes them out in it and teaches them a bit about salmon fishing, but there is no fishing on Sundays so we had it to ourselves to play in. Oh, and if our ghillie should ever read this: don’t worry, daddy keeps a strict eye on proceedings!)
Fun for the pater familias was provided by our little barbeque in a tin bucket. ‘Man: eat meat, make fire’, he grunted, happily charcoaling some sausages. Afterwards – retreating to the nearby fishing hut as the weather turned showery – we all toasted marshmallows on sticks, an essential ritual for any barbeque, I think.
As for me, I was very content pottering about the river bank after lunch, admiring the mille fleurs tapestry of wild flowers. The wild lupins are just past their best, though still very striking,
and there were any number of other flowers to enjoy.
What could be more peaceful than a flower-strewn river bank on a Sunday afternoon?
It all seemed timeless. Our boys love these rare days of pottering about at the river, with no-one else about, just us four enjoying family time together. So often, their father’s summer weekends are taken up with weddings or other functions at the castle. These occasional days off are what the boys remember from one year to the next. Some of my own favourite childhood memories are very similar: picnics by Scottish highland rivers with my mum and dad and brother, plus our dog and a few million midges. Somewhere there are photo albums full of faded pictures of these happy family outings, showing us in all our Seventies glory, all flares and freckles. Down at the river on Sunday, I was was playing with the Hipstamatic app on my ‘new’ (read second-hand) iPhone, and found that the deliberately dated-looking photos it creates made me feel nostalgic even as I took the pictures. Here are instant family memories, all good.
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