I am sure I have mentioned before, each day unless it is blowing a gale, chucking buckets of rain or I am just too tired, the girls, Artie and I walk down the half mile track so they can catch their ride to school.
Back in the Autumn Jay disappeared in his shed for a few evenings and weekends. There was much banging of wood and whirring of table saws and when all was finally quiet, he had made a fantastic little bus shelter for AJ, Bart and I to wait in.
When it was finished, we loaded the shelter onto Jay’s tractor and headed down the hill to put it at the end of the track. Jay had flattened a patch of ground with a whacker plate and with the help of a neighbour (and AJ) the shelter was put in place.
We have used the shelter on a daily basis and it is great for changing wellie boots after tramping down the muddy lane. It gives Artie and I somewhere to shelter from the wind while waiting for the girls to come home and is also a great landmark for people to find us.
Earlier this week we were doing our usual speedy trot down the hill (late again after hunting for and finding missing shoes, gloves, homework as well as last-minute emergency hair brushing). AJ went on ahead to get her shoes changed. Seconds after disappearing into the shelter she came out screaming “Mum, there’s a Christmas present in here!” and waved a large red Santa covered gift bag in the air. “It’s got our names on it!”
Bart quit her dawdling and rushed down to investigate. Being the clever sort who can now read and write her own name she glanced at the gift card and started bouncing around yelling about Santa and gifts and “CAN WE OPEN IT MUMMY! MUMMY! CAN WE OPEN IT NOW!!!”
I have more of a suspicious nature, so upon reaching the girls I took the parcel and instructed them to change their shoes while I had a look. I opened the gift card and found a picture of a pretty little angel/fairy.
The bag contained an assortment of Angelina Ballerina items, sparkly cutout shapes and a CD. The girls were over the moon with it and headed off to school full of tales about the Christmas Fairy and surprises in the bus shelter.
But who is the Christmas Fairy?
I have eliminated some candidates including the girls’ Grandma, my friend Linda and after and wee chat this morning, our neighbour whose house is at the bottom of the hill.
So, I have narrowed it down to a few possibilities including a lovely lady and her family who live nearer the coast in another house on a hill. Or a fabulous neighbour who has a number of woolly friends. Or maybe a friend who lives for trees. It could even be a conspiracy amongst more than one of them
Then again I could be totally wrong.
Who ever you are Christmas Fairy, I just want to say a huge thank you. That was such an amazing thoughtful thing you did. Both AJ and Bart were so excited and have talked of little else.
I hope you, your family and your friends have a wonderful Christmas time. Sending lots of love and hugs from those of us keeping dry in the bus shelter.
This morning while walking down the track to get the taxi to school, AJ’s school bag opened and out rolled the lovely big apple she had picked for her morning snack.
Unfortunately, Artie thought it was a tennis ball and immediately pounced. When he realised it was in fact food, he thought he was in puppy heaven.
After playing with it for a wee while, he left it on the side of the track when I put his lead on as we approached the road.
Artie was really patient waiting for Jimmy to arrive and collect the girls, but he was desperate to get back up the track to his prize.
Now with that extra exertion and a full belly the little chap is having a well deserved rest. I on the other hand have to make a quick trip to the girls’ school to drop off another apple for AJ’s snack time.
The impact from Willow passing away so quickly left us reeling for a while, but as the summer holidays marched on and two very noisy children took up so much of my time, it became easier.
As the warm days passed Jay and I talked about waiting to get another dog and then started to talk ourselves into not having a dog at all.
It wasn’t until the girls went to school, Bart starting Primary 1 that the full impact of a Willow-less house hit me again. We have a half mile walk down the track to reach the main road where the girls are picked up by a taxi, which then take them to school in the nearby village. I had it all planned out that this was going to be mine and Willows time to take a lovely walk together twice a day. Even with the Dixie Chicks blasting my ear drums from my Walkman, I was so lonely trotting up and down the hill.
Although AJ is the big animal lover out of the two girls, it was Bart who really missed having a dog around and she would ask me two or three times a day when would we be getting another dog.
We love Collies, but the thought of another one in the house was too painful so we thought about getting another type. Again, James chose the breed and I went searching.
We decided on a whippet. We had heard they have lovely temperaments and James really liked them, especially after meeting a friends whippet Italian greyhound cross. Living as far north as we do I thought I would have a lot of trouble finding one, and I was right. I finally came across an advert on the internet of some puppies in Inverness, but on further investigation I realised the ad was over a month old. I thought it worth a try, so contacted anyway. I heard back from Lorraine the next day who told me there was one puppy left, a silver boy. I know Jay really had his heart set on a girl, but when a photo came through of a gorgeous gangly pup, being cuddled by a little boy, I was smitten.
The following morning, with a crate in the car, money in my pocket and a whole bunch of lies told to the girls on why I had a dog travel cage, (we hadn’t told them about the puppy in case it didn’t work out) I waved them off to school and headed out to view the little whippet.
I picked up my friend Lynsey on the way through Inverness and the pair of us followed the directions sent to me.
It was love at first sight. Lorraine came to meet us carrying this big eared, gangly legged little scrap and I just knew he was mine. We headed into her house to have a chat about his needs, food requirements and see his parents, then a short time later armed with a lead, collar, bag of food and his favourite toy, the new puppy and I headed home.
I had several names rattling around in my brain, but after meeting the little chap, Artie came to me and the name just wouldn’t leave me head. So Artie he became.
Now a few weeks later, it is as if he has always lived here. He is a fabulous little chap with a funny personality. He gets on great with my in-laws dogs and cat… now. Our cat Sparky doesn’t seem to mind him, although Artie can be a bit of a pest.
Jay is over the moon with him and they have started puppy/human training classes together.
Once again we got lucky and found ourselves an amazing dog.
Summer seems to have arrived in Scotland and fingers crossed it is here to stay. With sunshine beating down from the sky and both girls occupied with school/playgroup I grabbed the opportunity to dodge the ironing… again… and take Willow for a walk. Armed with two bottles of water (one for me, one for the dog) two apples (mine) mp3 (again mine) sun hat, sunscreen and mobile phone (just in case I fell into a ravine and Willows Lassie impression was not up to scratch), we headed out.
The two of us set a reasonable pace and I had reached the river path before I knew it. Huh, it had only taken us twenty-five minutes. I have gotten so used to timing walks around the speed of a three-year old wearing Wellington boots continually filling with stones (some real, some imaginary) or a five-year old stopping to admire every flower, stone, bug, feather and leaf, I was amazed at how fast my four pawed companion and I were.
An hour and one very long hill later we were closing in on our starting point when I spotted a friend pottering in her garden and waved. I am guessing Willow and I looked pretty exhausted as she invited us in for a cup of tea and a bowl of water.