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Sunday at the river

June 21, 2011

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.

Happiness is an old Land Rover Defender

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!)

Happiness is messing about in a boat

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.

Happiness is a gooey marshmallow

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.

Happiness is Father's Day spent with daddy

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb permalink
    June 21, 2011 12:51 am

    I remember reading “The Wind in the Willows” when I was young, and loving the part about the picnic by the river. It was one of my first introductions to the British countryside which produced a lifelong interest. Your day sounds like my idea of a perfect summer outing.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 11:47 am

      Despite wanting to like it, I could never really get into The Wind in the Willows as a child. I think perhaps I sensed the very un-childish overtones of the story and resented not being able to understand them: Pan and so forth. Since my boys so enjoy their water-ratty, riverbank days, perhaps I should give it another go with them and see if they get on better with it.

  2. Margaret Lambert permalink
    June 21, 2011 12:59 am

    What a perfect way to spend the day! I love the boat, in its’ natural wood finish, instead of paint. And the bucket campfire is just delightful! I’ve never heard of doing that, but it seems to work. Toasted marshmallows are one of the best things ever.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 11:50 am

      We love the boat, too. It’s quite a new one and we are a bit house-proud about it. The tin bucket is great, although it set alight its own wooden handle this time, so we are down to bare steel! We hang it off the tow bar of the Landie to come home. As for toasted marshmallows – they are just about perfect, aren’t they. 🙂

  3. hmunro permalink
    June 21, 2011 2:39 am

    What a sweet, lovely post, DB — and what *gorgeous* photos! Again, I feel as if I’ve been transported to Scotland for an idyllic Sunday summer afternoon. (Loved your “Wind in the Willows” reference too, by the way. Brilliant!) I have a feeling that your sons will treasure these memories for the rest of their lives.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 11:52 am

      Aw, thank you very much. Yes, these are good memories to make. It’s a pleasure to share them with you. 🙂

  4. June 21, 2011 3:36 am

    I love the variety of wildflowers you have by your riverbank!
    With having so many visitors encroaching on your space, it must be a treat to have to yourselves once in a while… to create memories like this.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 11:53 am

      You are spot on. Days like this are to be treasured.

  5. Daisy Jane permalink
    June 21, 2011 5:11 am

    You see that’s why I keep coming back. Your perfect day has been captured so beautifully in your natural poetic tone and it makes me so delighted that you experience so much of the beauty that Scotland has to offer.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 11:55 am

      Hello! What lovely, generous comments. Thank you.
      I am having trouble getting to your own blog and am dying to read it as invited! Will drop you an email.

  6. June 21, 2011 7:15 am

    Stop it – you’re making me homesick for Speyside and my childhood summers messing about by the river with friends, going fishing with my father. I apologise to my children for giving them a city childhood with only occasional forays north, but they seem to think they have the best of both worlds. I’m not so sure.
    Your Sunday by the river looks as if it was doubly precious given the weather for the rest of the week.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 21, 2011 12:00 pm

      City kids grow up with different skills from us country bumpkins, which will stand them in very good stead in the big wide world. I would guess that every parent wants to give their children the best of their own childhood memories, but it does sound to me as if yours have a wonderful mixture of town and country.

      We were very lucky to have a few hours of relative warmth and even some brief sunshine on Sunday. We finally got driven back to the Landie by a tremendous cloudburst, and today it is still bucketing down – so much for midsummer!

  7. Toffeeapple permalink
    June 21, 2011 6:19 pm

    What a marvellous way to spend a lazy day. Very relaxing and the scenery is beautiful.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 26, 2011 12:01 pm

      It’s lovely, even in the rain as today. You can’t beat lazy days by the river.

  8. June 26, 2011 11:30 am

    The boys will have such wonderful memories of growing up, not only because of living in such a special place but having parents who create special “memory days” for them too!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      June 26, 2011 12:02 pm

      Aw, thank you. I hope so.


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