Leaving Scotland at the end of August was bitter-sweet. The autumn was on its way. There was no denying that distinctive tinge in the air, the bite in the wind, and the internal clock signifying that the height of summer was over, and everything now was in decline. So as I departed for sunnier climes, I began to reflect on the Scottish summer I’d had with five grandchildren under eight and a mini book promotion tour to undertake for Vikings and Skylarks on Cumbrae.
During the first week I arranged a sewing course at I Sew 2 in Kirkintilloch. I was worried that my six-year-old Sophie and eight-year-old Jessica would be attacked by the sewing machines, but on the contrary, it was quite the opposite as they launched an unstoppable attack on the foot pedals, producing several amazing pieces: tote bags, pencil cases and hair bands
The second week I was scheduled to do Author Workshops at the Irvine Maritime Museum. The night before Jessica and Sophie selected the dresses we would be wearing but what they didn’t predict was that it would be one of the coldest and windiest days of the summer and that the picnic we’d packed to eat on Irvine Beach, was hastily consumed in the car. But the workshops went so well with parents and children participating and the predictions of what might happen to the characters Moranna and Sten before and after the Battle of Largs were excellent. The added bonus was that Jessica and Sophie were there to help tidy up!
Week three was a quiet week in Millport. The girls enjoyed rock climbing, walks to the crocodile rock and ice creams. I had a Book Signing at the Isle of Cumbrae Soaps and Candle shop. I was so amazed by the number of people I met in one afternoon and how far afield they’d come: Italy, Poland, Inverness, Carlisle, London. What conversations! What a window on the world! And so many teachers on holiday but already mentally preparing for the classes and topics for the term ahead.
But if week three had been quiet, week four was full on as we made our way up to Inverness and Belladrum Tartan Hearts Family Friendly Festival. We stayed in the Pine Chalets, Lentran 7 miles west of Inverness overlooking the Beauly Firth, and we were immediately treated to the most magnificent sunsets starting with fiery flashes of amber before paling into calm rosy glows. At the festival, the traditional music mixed with mainstream pop was a hit as the audience, including Jessica and Sophie and all the kids, spontaneously danced and reeled. The festival food was delicious and the crepes with chocolate-spread became a staple, if not the healthiest, for three days. We glided on ferris wheels, “It’s just like flying,” said Jessica completely composed, and we got bumped on the dodgem cars and experienced the delights of festival toilets, (not too bad, incidentally). The girls assisted in my Author Workshop at the Verb Tent: Jessica on microphone taking Q and A’s and Sophie on sales! What a team.
Back at the Pine Chalets they fed hand reared lambs, collected eggs from hens, rolled and wrestled with other kids in the fields and had the full Highland childhood experience.
And then we had one week’s grace - time to ourselves before the grand finale - all five grandchildren spread over the week. It was agreed that they’d come to our holiday home on Cumbrae. This time we’d include Jessica and Sophie’s baby sister, Abby who we hated dropping off at nursery each week. We couldn’t leave her out so we had the three girls for three days and then our grandson Adam and granddaughter Romy for four days.
And we did every sea-side activity ever known: crabbing in rock pools, building sand castles, rock-climbing, swing park trips, crazy golf, ice creams, bouncy castles and finally face-painting. On the last Friday of the school holidays, North Ayrshire Council funded a Fun Day for children in the Garrison and this was so appreciated by exhausted grandparents, families and carers alike.
Soon it was over. Adam, didn’t want to leave,
“But it was raining yesterday. We should get an extra day!” he pleaded. But before he knew it, he was whisked back home, later to be seen in his new school uniform. Romy returned to her last year of nursery unperturbed. She was going to be welcoming in the new three-year-olds now that she was a big four.
As I drew breath, I began to pack for my own holiday. But I still had one school pick up of the girls to do. As they tucked into their after-school snack, I began to explain:
“Now girls, this will be your last visit here for a while because we’re going on holiday.”
“What?” cried Sophie. “So where are you taking us now Nana? We’ve just gone back to school.”
If you would like a copy of Vikings and Skylarks on Cumbrae – press here.
If you would like to contact Maura for a School Visit, or to purchase a Novel Study Guide or Activity Workbook, please contact her via 'Drop Me A Line'
Maura is pleased to announce that after her September holiday, she will be presenting Viking Workshops in Cumbrae Primary in October and at Baljaffray and Bearsden Primaries in November to celebrate Book Week Scotland.