Ikea’s Christmas Party

Ikea’s dance floor
Originally uploaded by viralbus

We happened to notice that Ikea were organising a Santa Lucia and Christmas party on the 13th of December. We didn’t really know what it involved, but we decided to go along.

It was brilliant! At a cost of £5 for adults and £4.50 for kids (age 12 and under), you got a huge buffet with unlimited crayfish, herring, salmon, ham, sausage, meatballs, sausages, chicken, cakes, soft drinks and coffee and much more, as well as a small glass of snaps.

There were also games, an opportunity for the kids to make their own Xmas cards, and a dance floor.

My only concern about blogging it is that I’m worried Ikea might stop doing it if it gets too popular.

32° Rally del Casentino

My parents have retired to the house in Italy that they bought when I was a child. A car rally — the “Rally del Casentino” — takes place every year and the cars drive through the village where they live.

I’ve never happened to be there at the time when the rally takes place, but this year we were lucky enough to be there.

The cars drove through the village twice, once during the day and once at night. We watched the day-time race from the play-park which provided a good view, and the circolo gave the kids an ice-cream each.

For the night-time race, we decided to go down to Talla, although it meant not getting home till after midnight when the roads were reopened.

We found a rather good place to watch it on the pavement near the bridge, where the cars had to take a hard turn. Most of them managed, but one of them turned to the wrong side and nearly crashed into us — it was less than a metre from Charlotte when it stopped. Some other spectator recorded it for posterity:

On our way back up the mountain, we passed three rally cars that had crashed — rather interesting that professional drivers have so much trouble with a road that I’ve driven up and down so many times!

Back from Tuscany

We had originally planned to go camping in England this summer, but when my dad broke his foot, we decided to go and visit my parents in their home in the Apennine mountains between Florence and Arezzo instead.

Given that the northern half of Europe (including most of France) has had abysmal weather for the past few months, while Italy and the rest of the Mediterranean have had beautiful weather, that turned out to be an excellent decision.

We have had full sun for 99% of the past fortnight (well, of the daylight hours anyway), whereas it seems likely it would have been closer to 1% if we had stayed on this island.

It would have been lovely to have stayed for longer, but the three big ones are going to France on Saturday, and I have work to do. I just hope the weather patterns will change soon!

Dougie’s funeral

Cowglen Golf Club
Originally uploaded by viralbus

The funeral of my father-in-law, Dougie, took place today.

The ceremony was held at Linn Crematorium at noon and was conducted in a very nice and personal manner by a lady from the Humanist Society Scotland, just the way Dougie would have wanted it. He was always very insistent he didn’t want “any of that religious shite” at his funeral. 🙂

Afterwards we went for refreshments at Cowglen Golf Club, where Dougie spent a very large part of his retirement, and the club had therefore put the flag at half mast in his honour.

There were lots of people at both events, as was fitting for a man as popular as Dougie.

In spite of the horrendous weather, I think the day was a beautiful tribute to the man and his life.

Douglas Buchanan 1943-2012

Dad with Anna and Amaia
Originally uploaded by PhylB

My father-in-law, Douglas (Dougie) Buchanan, passed away in the afternoon last Friday, the 11th of May.

He had been diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago and told he only had a few months to live, so making it past his 69th birthday was quite an achievement!

Even so, we didn’t expect his death so soon. He was out playing golf less than two months ago, and the scans were good, so we had hoped he might have stayed around a little longer.

In the end, it was a stomach ulcer combined with a chest infection that proved too big an obstacle for Dougie, and he spent the last few weeks in Hairmyres Hospital (where parts of Ninety Eighty-Four was written).

I’ll miss him. Apart from being a loving grandfather (“Pumpa”) to my children, he was a fellow blogger, and like me, he was passionately in favour of Scottish Independence, proudly wearing the “Independence 2014” wristband I gave him until he went into hospital. One of the last things he said was that something needed to be done about BBC’s bias. I wish he had managed to hang on until the Independence referendum — he would have been so keen to go and vote Yes!

He was always very helpful — we have put down a good number of laminate floors together, and he and Ann (his wife and my mother-in-law) wallpapered many of our rooms. He was also very good company and a great host.

He will be sorely missed by all of us.

Free open-air gyms

Originally uploaded by PhylB

Gyms are generally priced in a way that makes sense if you visit them several times a week, but if you like me just want to do fifteen minutes once a week, they’re horribly overpriced.

I spent the past week in Paris (or rather, Champs sur Marne) with Phyllis, Marcel, Charlotte, Léon, Anna and Amaia; I was working the entire week at a local company while Phyllis dragged the kids round Paris.

One day we noticed a tiny open-air gym on our way to the RER station.

It was tiny — just four machines — and made in cast iron painted yellow and green (see the photo).

For real gym aficionados, it would be useless, but I wish East Renfrewshire would put up equipment like this in our parks — I’m sure it’d be good for the general health and well-being!

Besøg fra København

On Luss beach
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Min søster og hendes mand, deres datter og hans to sønner besøgte os her i weekenden for første gang nogensinde. D.v.s., de besøgte mig alle for fem år siden, da jeg stadig var single og Ursula ikke var født endnu, og de besøgte os uden Felix og Theodor for 3½ år siden, men det var altså første gang, de alle fem besøgte os alle syv.

Det var meget hyggeligt!

De var her i tre døgn, fra fredag til mandag, og vi spiste traditionel skotsk mad og gik tur ved Loch Lomond.

De fire små legede utroligt godt sammen, og Léon og Anna blev bedre og bedre til at tale dansk til Ursula. Marcel og Charlotte var vist lidt overraskede over, hvor store Felix og Theodor var blevet, og omvendt!

Vi håber, de snart kommer igen.