At the end of August, myself, Ads, Naughty N, Spouser and our combined offspring rented a cottage in Scotland.
The cottage (which looked like a 1960s council house painted white) was down a road six miles out of a marooned village that was the last village on a very long road in a far flung corner of Argyll. When we got to the end of the road we went through a gate, over a cattle grid and just before the track turned into a footpath, we found our house.
For Ads and Spouser this house was bliss. After all we were right by a loch. There was diving and spearfishing and normal fishing and collecting crabs and scallops and then coming back all windswept and wild, to cook chowders on the Aga. For Naughty N it was very blissful too. She leaned back in the kitchen watching Ads and Spouser slave in the kitchen, brewing gourmet seafood feasts, all the while drinking the finest red wine and getting dreadfully pissed.
I could not drink wine.
I could not eat/smell/look at the seafood.
I could drink tea.
Eat marmalade on toast.
And slowly-slowly, bit-by-bit, turn into Jack Nicholson from The Shining.
One morning Naughty N had been sitting in the Little Keillis kitchen awaiting the return of Spouser and Ads, who had taken three of the children to the beach to set up the lobster pots and harvest muscles. Time was ticking on. Naughty N sat tapping her fingers on the table and looking at the ceiling and humming.
I kept looking out of the window with binoculars to see if I could see a seal then eventually got terribly frustrated and plumped down the binoculars. “RIGHT, we should DO something.”
“Brilliant!” declared Naughty N, who just needed to hear the word.
We then struck upon the idea that we should visit the local town – Lochlothorin – for an adventure. So we piled the remaining children into the Beamer and made up the game.
We were to drive to town (twenty miles away) with the mission to:
- Purchase ingredients for carrot cake
- See who could spot the best looking man in Lochlothorin
- Find someone in a kilt
We were fairly confident about achieving No. 1 as there was a Co-op in the town.
No. 2, however, was a little more tricky. On arrival in Lochlothorin, it became clear that finding a ascetically pleasing male in Argyll is as tricky as making Yorkshire smile.
One of the dustbin men was slightly handsome in a scrape-the-barrel sort of way. A vaguely okay young man walked up the road as we headed to a cafe, but then he publically picked his nose and ruined it all for himself. When in the cafe a Kenco type good looking man came in. He was about sixty five and clearly a farmer (not that either of these is an issue, but by the time we reached the bookshop for Roo to purchase goods, I was feeling very shallow and a bit letchy).
Thankfully these feelings were instantly forgotten when A Man Wearing A Kilt came into the book shop.
“Hello, I like your kilt!” I said pleasantly, eyes wide and shining with excitement.
He was clearly uncomfortable with the attention.
“And your socks, and your little leather pouch!” I went on, eyeballing him up and down.
“Ooh, ooh, he’s wearing a kilt!” cried Naughty N, very excited and clapping her hands.
I then requested that The Man In the Kilt should pose for a photograph to be taken. Again, he wasn’t particularly forth coming, but by this point Naughty N had grabbed him and was smiling her best smile so I papped him with guiltless ease.
Once the picture was taken and the Man in Kilt had been released, he quickly evacuated the bookshop (with his scuttling wife), followed by our claps and grateful goodbyes. I took a deep satisfied breath and turned to the lady behind the counter.
“Do you think he was Scottish?”
“Noooo, Scottish people don’t walk round wearing stooff like that by day!”
“Hmm. That’s a bit disappointing. Do you think he was wearing underpants?”
The woman fell quiet, contemplating this, then said she thought it unlikely.
Satisfied that two out of three of our missions were accomplished, we went back to the car and drove to the Co-op to buy cake ingredients. In here, everyone seemed to forget about good looking men and instead got very excited about sweets. Pix purchased soft mints. Roo got fruit pastels. Princess F (Naughty N’s second) bought “build a burger” jelly sweets and I chose a bar of Lindt milk chocolate with almonds in. Naughty N turned down sweets as she was still bloated from the baked bean and haggis jacket potato that she munched whilst in the cafe and simultaneously eyeballing the Kenco Farmer.
As we paid for our goods, I decided to make one last ditch attempt to find an ascetically pleasing male.
“Excuse me,” I asked the cashier, “is there a fire station anywhere around here?”
“Yes there is,” replied the cashier helpfully and directed us with exceedingly clear instructions.
These instructions however, turned out to be misinformed, as he actually sent us to a deserted Army Cadet Training unit.
“Oh well,” said Naughty N dejectedly as we drove home. “It would appear that there are no good looking men in Argyll.”
“No,” I sighed. “Maybe we should just look for good hearted men instead.”
Everyone agreed that was a much better idea, then we drove home. Naughty N poured herself a glass or red wine. I made myself a cup of tea. Then we both put our feet up and watched Ads and Spouser cook us a lovely carrot cake. (That makes it sound a bit like Spouser and Ads aren’t good-looking, but they are. They are GODDAMN GORGEOUS. And we love them v much.)