Summer Holidays - Week Six & Six and a Half

Tuesday 18 September 2018

The last week of our summer was a much quieter one than the rest of the summer had been.

It started with lunch at Auntie Anna's. It was nice having lunch cooked for me after a week cooking at camp.

Auntie Anna always takes fun photos of the boys.

We spent the start of week six unpacking everything from 5 weeks away. I made space for my beautiful new picture that I was given as a thank you gift from camp. It's a picture of the Western Isles from Skye and goes perfectly with my new plaque.

Exam results came out this week too. Both James and Calum did really, really well in their exams. James had sat Advanced Highers and Calum had sat National Fives. They both worked hard for their exams. Calum had worked particularly hard and had such a methodical study plan he had worked out on his own. I was so pleased that his hard work had paid off so well for him.

We did think about going out for dinner to celebrate, but if you live with food allergies you will know that this isn't usually the most relaxing option and so we decided to go with a special dinner at home instead, including some free from sticky toffee pudding.

I was pleased to see that my little veg garden had survived for five weeks without me. I do have lovely neighbours who watered for me during the heatwave while they were out doing their own veg gardens.

I had loads and loads of green beans.

Carrots, onions, kohl rabi and beetroot.

More carrots and onions.

And a selection of random flowers.

After a week at camp, and with the boys all involved in lots of sport, with several changes of clothes a day, you can just imagine how much washing I came home with!

Once the washing was up to date and the unpacking all done we took a trip to the cinema to see the Incredibles 2.

Towards the end of the week we prepared to say goodbye to James.

He had always planned to take a year out this year after finishing school, to work for a year and save up a bit for maybe going to Uni, to try and get some work experience in the Gaelic media and to just try and decide what he wants to study and Uni - should he do music or art or media?

When we were in Lewis he had been chatting with someone who has a Gaelic media company and had been hoping for maybe a week's work experience while we were there. Instead he was actually offered a job with them for a few months!

We were so happy for him, but also so sad for him to be going away. But it's not a big scary leaving home for him as he's staying with my mum and dad so he has a home away from home with Granny and Shen. He already knew plenty people in Lewis and is making new friends now too. He is learning loads in his job, and is really enjoying it. It's so lovely to see him thrive in it, and we are getting used to life without him here, but that doesn't mean that we don't miss him loads too.

The boys came with me to see him off at the bus station a week after we got home from camp.

When he left we thought he was going to be away until October, but his contract takes him up until Christmas. Again, this is absolutely fantastic for him, and he also has some holidays he can take so we are looking forward to him coming down in a couple of weeks.

I've heard and read so many things about how boys are terrible at keeping in touch when they leave home, and I'm so glad to say that this has not been true of him at all! It's great that we can video call each other and if he calls then it will usually last for about an hour and a half. Although I suppose by the time he has spoken to everybody then that isn't that long.

The first couple of days without James were a little strange. David was missing him more than he thought he might and so we took him, and the other boys, to the driving range. David loves all sports, and golf is his new found love. He seems to have a real talent for it too.

Ally wanted to make a chocolate cake for supper one night and so he did.

Like we do every year at the end of the summer holidays, we took the train through to Glasgow one day so that we could go to the Lego shop.

I think UNO will be the game of our summer as we played it just about every day and several times a day too. Fraser absolutely loves it. We passed the time on the train by playing it too.

Fraser spent his holiday money on an Incredibles set, which Calum was only too keen to help him build.

Ally got some new Ninjago Lego.

And then, far too soon, it was time to go back to school. I didn't remember to get a back to school photo this year, but Calum has started S5, David S2, Ally P5 and Fraser has his last year at home.

As a little back to school treat I had bought tickets for myself, Fraser and Ally to go to a Gaelic Oor Wullie event at the book festival after his first day back. He just loves Oor Wullie and The Broons just now.

It was a lovely little event. 

We arrived early and enjoyed some Ginger Beer and Popcorn in the cafe first.

In the event we learned lots of facts about Oor Wullie, or Uilleam Againn as he is known in Gaelic, and had a step by step draw along with an illustrator.

This was Fraser's drawing. He put so much detail into it!

This was Ally's.

And this was mine.

Now it already seems so long ago since the summer, I'm so glad I got the chance to get everything written down in my weekly summer holiday posts.

Summer Holidays - Week Five

For the week of shinty camp I'm counting Week Five as starting on the Saturday and not the Sunday or Monday, just so that I keep all the shinty camp things together in the same post.

So the campers arrived in time for dinner on the Friday night and then camp got off and running properly on the Saturday. Most of the children knew each other as they had been at camp the previous year, so everyone settled in really quickly as there wasn't really any of the start of camp getting to know each other stuff to do. They also knew the routines and where everything was in the hostel.

Every morning I pinned up the day's menu, which was always illustrated by James.

I have to mention here how good Fraser was all week. He loved when the campers were around as they were mostly all so keen to play with him and keep him entertained. But the campers were often away playing shinty and then it was just me and him left in the hostel. I would have things to get on with in the kitchen and so he would sit at the table closest to the kitchen and entertain himself with different things.

From where he was sitting in the picture above, I was right by him here in the kitchen.

I would love to have one of these dishwashers in my kitchen at home!

Timing when everything was ready was made much easier with the hot server in the kitchen. This is what we had for Sunday lunch - roast chicken pieces, veggies and roast potatoes.

On the Sunday afternoon I made it out of the kitchen and went along with everyone for a lovely walk at Braes beach. It was a beautiful walk, and the mountains in Skye are just spectacular, but as a Lewis girl I have to say that a Skye beach isn't quite up to the standard of a Lewis one :-) 

As well as helping me in the kitchen, James' girlfriend was also the official camp photographer. I love this action one she took of Ally.

I wasn't in the kitchen all day every day. There were times when I could sit back and relax a bit. Fraser enjoyed playing the Wii when the campers were all at training.

This was one of the super easy puddings we had one night. Dirt cups with worms. Thanks Pinterest!

One of the campers taught Fraser how to play draughts.

As we did last year, we spent our wedding anniversary at camp. This year we celebrated 20 years married, and I've now reached the stage where I have been married for half of my life time!

It was a far from glamorous way to spend a wedding anniversary. The day was wet and miserable and the campers were out canoeing.

A couple of the girls didn't want to go camping and so we took them to a coffee shop in the next village along rather than stand in the rain watching the others.

Dinner was chicken pie followed by apple pie.

The campers and other leaders knew it was our wedding anniversary and so they set a table for us both, covered in clean white towels since there was no table cloths, and with a pot plant for decoration.

When dinner was over we got some lovely gifts, flowers and a card signed by everyone.

So while it certainly wasn't the most glamorous or romantic of wedding anniversaries, it was certainly not a dull one and was lovely in it's own way.

At shinty camp we don't have a tuck shop with sweeties, but instead have the 'Shinty Shop' where kids can spend their pocket money on balls, grip tape, bags, jumpers and even sticks.

You wouldn't believe how popular grip tape is!

Here is David modelling one of the hoodies available.

Fraser back on the wii with some campers.

A spot of training on the astroturf.

My end of July cross stitch progress.

At the end of the week the local church again provided a bbq for us. We held it in the courtyard of the hostel.

Andy had bought these beautiful slate medals as prizes.

The week flew by and soon we were on the road home.

Cooking at camp is hard work but is something I've really enjoyed doing. A dinner time probably takes at least four hours, from the moment you start preparing the meal, serve it all and then finish the last of the clear up afterwards. Lunch would take about an hour and a half to two hours from start to finish and then breakfast would be similar. As well as those 8 hours of work on the day there is also all the planning that happens before hand. Writing out the menus, working out quantities, sticking to the budget of £4.50 a day per person (which is actually really generous and leaves plenty room for treats), and ordering all the food. It really helps having a good team who will step in to help without you having to ask them, as has happened the last couple of years. It was also an amazing help that the ladies in the local church provided so much baking for us and so all the home baking needed for suppers and treats was all done for me.

After a week when I was so focused on organising, preparing and cooking for so many each day I wanted nothing more on the way home than to stop off an indulge in a Big Mac!