Benches, broken noses and birthdays

19 Aug

Our annual family pilgrimage to the Island of Islay was very different this year.  It is the one time of year we traditionally spend two weeks in close proximity to my parents and my brother and family visit from overseas.  This year my brother was unable to come as his wife was due to give birth in mid August and there was obviously a gaping hole left by the recent death of my father.  I can normally feel the stress of everyday life leaving me as the Balamory-style ferry reaches the island but this year was marred by constant anxiety regarding where the bench in his memory would go, when we would be able to bury his ashes and how my mother would cope in a cottage on her own.

As musical beds is my childrens favourite past-time they were happy to increase their reach to include the spare beds at my mothers cottage and we took it in turns to have sleepovers there.  The Golf Club were extraordinarily sensitive and positioned the bench within easy access of my mothers cottage with views towards the first five holes of the golf course, the sea and the farmhouse where he first met my mother.  My sister-in-law was also extraordinarily compassionate, squeezing out the baby two weeks early which gave us a much needed distraction and which will ensure that my new nephew always celebrates his birthday with us in Islay, the day before my older daughter who is also a ‘Cross Week’ baby.

The Kildalton Cross golf competition draws people from all over the world and is the reason my father visited Islay in the first place. This year would have been 50 years since he had won the much coveted silver celtic cross.  My husband has no interest in golf whatsoever so we opt to stay in a cottage on the beach where he reverts to hunter gatherer mode, foraging for wood by day and burning it by night, dram in hand.  As a result he knows the bays, cliffs and waterfalls of the imposing hill behind our cottage almost as well as my uncle who has farmed it for the last 65 years and was able to leap into action when we heard cries for help as we were about to go to bed one night.  Donning head torch he and a friend ran into the darkness where they rescued two 17 year old girls who had found themselves completely lost when the sun set and there was no reassuring sodium glow to guide them home.  Meantime, left at our cottage with the children, I ran in to get my phone lest they need to contact me from the hill, not realising that the rescue party had pulled the plate glass door closed as they left.  There was a resounding crunch and I reeled backwards, realising as the days progressed and my nose swelled to gargantuan proportions that I had broken it. It’s ironic that the foolish campers who had got lost and their brave rescuers returned without a scratch and I was the only one who sustained an injury.

Thankfully with the help of arnica and ibuprofen it subsided so my daughters 8th birthday photographs are not marred by images of a disfigured mother.  As ever she had her first celebrations on Islay with what is now our traditional barbecue on the beach.  Some campers had also brought paper lanterns to light and send up into the night sky which I cunningly pretended to have arranged specially for her.  It would have been a lot cheaper and more impressive than her actual party on our return which was a limo for 8 children and the opportunity to record a four track CD in a recording studio.  I had only booked the limo aspect to save parents crossing the city and negotiating the industrial wastelands in search of the studio but as it transpired the limo was half an hour late, failed to set up the karaoke for the children to play on the way there and then got lost with the result that even I, with my appalling sense of direction, found it before them and had ten minutes of utter terror wondering where the driver had got to on his own with 8 young girls.  Thankfully, apart from mild travel sickness, the children didn’t realise that anything was amiss and were unaware that the actual party organiser had to leave early.  The owner of the studio gamely stayed on and allowed the children to record their ear- splitting renditions of the Black Eyed Peas, Mamma Mia, Katy Perry and High School Musical which they proudly took home with them instead of party bags.  The delay meant that the limo got the kids home so late we only had ten minutes to feed them tea and do birthday cake before parents arrived for pick up at which point I justifiably withheld some cash from the envelope I handed over to the driver and said I would be speaking to the owner of the company.  He went bananas, cursing me, threatening me and aggressively squaring up.  The children were horrified and the talk of the party then moved from the fun they had had to the scary driver who shouted at us.  The limo company still haven’t been in touch but the recording studio who weren’t even at fault were hugely apologetic that we didn’t get the whole experience we had been promised and have promised us a repeat visit free of charge either for kids or their mothers.  I know exactly which frustrated X Factor contestants will be taking up that particular offer, they’re not 8 years old and they certainly won’t be taking a limo.


3 Responses to “Benches, broken noses and birthdays”


  1. …and the new blog emerged from it’s shell and waddled down to the sea. « Sleepless in silence in suburbia - March 24, 2012

    […] January we have had our baby baptised on the Island of Islay, I have returned to work, I have abandoned my family to go on business trips to London, we have spent […]

  2. Charity begins at home | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - June 17, 2013

    […] scared of nothing. Apart from sand. That is going to make our summer holiday on a remote beach in Islay an interesting […]

  3. Our deaf toddler is 70% Deaf. 100% Boy! | Sleepless in silence in suburbia - August 15, 2013

    […] summer was the day after he turned two at the end of July. We went on our annual pilgrimage to the Island of Islay where water didn’t pose nearly such a problem. Apart from the fact that he refused to dip a […]

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