In Praise of Libraries

stack of books

Libraries have always been a big part of my life.

I remember the excitement of finally being old enough to join the tiny library in the village where I grew up; the responsibility of having a card to look after; the solemnity of the ritual where I would approach the counter with my chosen books and stand watching while the librarian stamped each one with a return date.

(25 years later I am still slightly ashamed that I was once careless enough to lose a book from that library. Sorry sorry sorry. I have no idea where it went.)

At primary school I was selected to be a student librarian. It was a pretty unexciting job – one for those of us who were diligent and smart, but not popular enough to be elected house captain. Still, it won me a red enamel badge with gold lettering, which I pinned to my denim jacket with pride. Continue reading

Old Friends New Friends

Boat Harbour Tasmania

We went away last weekend to the North West of Tasmania, an area of the state that I hadn’t been to before. It is so beautiful up there.

The drive is quite a long one – it took us about four and a half hours from Hobart – but that included a couple of short stops. The Midlands Highway is a very pretty drive, and DorkySon had great fun looking out for the metal sculptures that are dotted along the edge of the road.

We were staying with some of our oldest and closest friends, who have recently moved to Tasmania. We first met almost ten years ago in Edinburgh, when we were two relatively new couples. Now we are married and they are married. We have a son and they have a daughter. It is strange but wonderful that we have both somehow ended up on this small island on the other side of the world. Continue reading

No More Planes

DSC_0311

One of the nicest things about our holiday up the East Coast last year was that it didn’t involve getting on a plane. We just threw our stuff in the back of the car and off we went.

We’ve just made plans for a few days break over Easter and we’ve done the same thing – booked a cottage that is less than a couple of hours drive away.

I am not keen to get on a plane again for a good long while.

I’ve been trying to work out when it stopped being fun because as a child even the prospect of flying was brilliant. Growing up on Harris, I used to lie on my back in the garden looking at the sky. Tiny Loganair planes flew over the house, on their way to adventures in Inverness or even Glasgow. I would imagine the strangers in suits, quietly reading newspapers and sipping drinks that sparkled with ice cubes and slices of lemon. When I visited my Grandpa, down in Staffordshire, I’d lie and watch bigger planes that had taken off from Manchester. I always thought the rows of white jet trails looked like someone had dragged a fork across the sky. Continue reading

The Babysitter

scrabble tiles question mark

Welcome to my tourist guide!” DorkySon shouts with glee.

I have just opened the door to a potential new babysitter, who we have asked round to the house for a quick chat.

Let me show you round!” he says, bouncing up and down on his toes with excitement.

First he shows her the den, explaining that it’s where he watches TV and builds toy car traffic jams on the floor. Then he leads her through to the dining room, where he likes to draw, and to the kitchen where he likes to help cook.

What are you allergic to?” he asks. “I’m allergic to peanuts.

I watch his approval-meter rise as she lists her allergies. He likes this common bond.

But then the test starts to get a little trickier. Continue reading

Motherhood and the senses

motherhood and the senses

A few weeks ago I read Mothers Grimm, a collection of contemporary fairy tales about motherhood written by a wonderful Australian writer called Danielle Wood. There is a line in one of the stories which has stuck with me. A woman has recently given birth and is lying in hospital with her new baby alongside her.

“This night was the beginning of her new way of listening.”

It’s so true, isn’t it? Continue reading