Christmas with the Fletchcocks

Last year we spent Christmas with the Fletchcocks, with them travelling up to Edinburgh. This year we made the trek south to London.

A lot of the fun this year was that Jethro was fully into Santa Claus. Last year his understanding of the event was a little sketchy. He knew something unusual was happening, but didn’t really comprehend why it might be exciting.

This year, Xmas trickery installation is complete.

The random photos of tofu have gone missing. I don’t think much of value has been lost though.

I also recorded some audio of the excitement. From a quick review of the 17 minute clip, it seems to be mostly the adults rambling on like idiots with the occasional exclamation of excitement from small child Jethro. Editing is required.

Hope your Christmas was a cheerful one too.

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Trip to Oban

The nice thing about receiving rubbish news was that we had already booked a long weekend getaway to Oban. Or, more specifically, to Loch Melfort, about 17 miles south of Oban.

So we let it go and piled the family, the luggage, and the dog into the car.

Wait, we don’t have a car.

Fortunately it is possible to hire a car in Scotland. Angie finished off the packing while I caught the bus to Falkirk to pick up the rental car. I chose Mitchells Hire Drive, Scotland’s favourite vehicle rentals. Scotland must love low levels of service and product quality.

The next cheapest company was double the price of this bunch, so perhaps I expected too much. Most people probably don’t think they deserve to receive a clean car and full tank of petrol when they pay £40 a day for the privilege of using a Ford Ka. Yeah, it must just be us uppity immigrants. The dirty looks I got when I raised some objections. Sadly there wasn’t a lot of competition nearby, otherwise I would have walked out and tried to rent a vehicle somewhere else.

The beaten-up grubby car acquired, I travelled home and we loaded in all the gang.

Weather was our friend on this trip, and Scotland is a really beautiful place on sunny days.

The drive was beautiful. The place we stayed, Melfort Pier and Harbour, was beautiful. There was a tiny beach and Jethro loved splashing in the water. Bean had her first experience of a beach, and I had the impression that she approved. She seemed to say, “Surely, such holidays are fitting for a dog of my high status, and why have I not been treated to such things previously?”

We travelled a bit around the coast, visiting Oban and taking a boat ride around the seal island. Also got a look at some salmon farms up close.

Other short drives took us to the tiny villages along the lochside. Beautiful little spots like Craobh and Ardfern received our custom and appreciation.

Then we returned, and on the drive back we found a most wonderful spot for lunch. The pictures belong tell you more.

And if these were not enough photos, there is a larger collection available on Picasaweb.

Riding of the Linlithgow Marches! or: What an odd town we’ve moved to

A horse-drawn carriage, of which there were more than one

It’s the first Tuesday after the second Thursday in June, and everyone knows what that means.

What’s that? You aren’t familiar with the great significance of this day?

Admittedly, this is probably something that would never have mattered to me at all, had fate not sent me to live in the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Linlithgow. Such places are so old and steeped in history, that they are bound to develop eccentric mannerisms.

The particular oddity in this case is that it is a local holiday, all the shops closed, and people wished one another a “Happy Marches.”

Was this the inspiration for Lewis Carroll‘s mad March Hare? That is my theory at the moment, at any rate.

If you want to read more about the oddness, it is explained in detail over at the official Linlithgow Marches and Associated Madhatters website. If you click about a bit there are videos of previous years’ events to be found.

Alternatively, just have a look through the sample of the photos I took:

Bean Liberation: First Run Next to the Loch

Bean and Jethro walking next to the Loch

When I let Bean off her lead as we went passed the palace, Jethro became very concerned that she would take her new-found liberation and run with it. And not stop running.

He charged after her calling out for her return. Of course this just encouraged her to explore at a greater distance. In the end, i managed to persuade Jethro that she would follow us if we just kept walking.

Jethro loving the walk too

Edinburgh Castle Visitations

Back in November Edinburgh family Robinson went on a visit to Edinburgh Castle.

Photos were taken. These are those photos.