Saturday, 6 June 2009

True History

So my family came to stay: two sisters, brother, and their various additions. I didn't get the group photo I wanted, I tried on the evening they arrived but Angela wasn't letting the camera near her after her long sweaty journey, and by the next day we had settled into familiar mode and I forgot about recording.

Apart from my best friend and my son my siblings are the only people I can be entirely myself with, without worrying about causing upset, so it was a welcome relief to spend some time with them; like getting out of the hot, stuffy, polluted city to the mountains or coast, suddenly breathing is easy. Like when we were kids home from school, with the added benefit of being able to cook a decent meal. Actually being with them is a bit like having three mums, I know that as long as I have them I will always have three distinct places of refuge and will never have to go hungry. I put on three pounds during the course of the week.

We mostly just hung about chatting – and eating – though we did have two trips out, one to Edinburgh where we did a tour of the Vaults and then went for dinner; the other to Drumlanrig castle which I hadn't been to for some time but liked so much I went back with Stevie once they had gone.

The Vaults are supposed to be haunted and our tour guide told us all sorts of stories of people who experienced strange happenings during or after visiting them. One of the rooms is considered to be so spooky that most people refuse to enter it. We were told of a woman who suddenly fell to the ground and had to be taken to hospital, a man who discovered scratches all over his body once he got home, and spontaneous mobile phone activity. Our tour guide refused to go near it and only my niece, Lois, her father, Paul, and me were brave – or foolhardy – enough to enter. Later, as we were mooching about looking for a restaurant, a bird we didn't see but which must have been very large and very sick emptied its bowels all over Lois's pale pink mac. Luckily it was machine washable and she was able to wear it again for our visit to the castle later in the week.

Over dinner one night, cooked by my brother Eugene following some of our mother's recipes, Angela told of how her best friend was hijacked by one of her husband's less lovable traits: he had a habit of trimming his toenails in the sitting room – bad enough as far as I'm concerned – and rather than gather up the clippings and put them in the bin he'd just toss them behind him. She was vaguely aware of this but for whatever reason didn't beat him about the head and make him stop. The couch was one of those huge corner things, too heavy for (let's call her) Louise to move, so the vacuum cleaner never got behind it. Then they moved house. The kids were at school, the husband was at work, and Louise was alone with the removal men, cleaning each room as they cleared it. When they moved the couch, there in the corner, was a monumental pile (seven years worth) of (let's call him) Nigel's toenail clippings. The men dropped the couch and everyone stared in horrified disbelief. No doubt in years to come Louise and Nigel's two children will talk over dinner about the day they moved house and mum ripped dad's head off when he got home from work, and wonder.

Paul in the spooky room.

Lois at Drumlanrig in her newly washed pink mac.

It was Angela's birthday on the Tuesday and the kids knocked up this cake for her after breakfast in their bedroom.

They had bought the sponge cake and what they thought was ready rolled but turned out to be ready to roll icing so they had to roll it out with a hairspray can.


savannah said...

i am still laughing, sugar! what a handsome crew! xoxo (gotta love family stories.)

debra said...

That would be one hell of a lot of (shudder) toe nail clippings!
Thanks for a good laugh.

angryparsnip said...

Wahahahahahahahhaha ! the toe-nail story was funny and gross at the same time !

Birthday Cake is so sweet, love the candle hair. Reminds me when my children would decorate the cake for everyone's birthday we had some great ones too.

What wonderful memories to store away, Thanks for sharing !

Eryl Shields said...

Savannah ~ aren't they just!

Debra ~ I know!

Parsnip ~ children are so good at this kind of thing aren't they? Pity they have to grow up!

Mary Witzl said...

Sounds like you had a good visit, and I would LOVE to go back and see Drumlanrig again -- and we've been four times.

Thank you, Eryl, for NOT displaying a photograph of Nigel's toenail clippings. I scrolled down with great trepidation and breathed a great sigh of relief.

I knew a woman in Japan who claimed her ex used to keep a jar with all the stuff he scraped off his skin before bathing. Wish I were kidding.

PI said...

Perfect visit - loving intimacy, cooking for each other, blind terror and a horror story. Something to keep you warm on cold winter days and a happy memory when you're feeling down. Just great.

Eryl Shields said...

Mary ~ No wonder he was an ex!

If I'd had a photograph of the clippings I would have been tempted to share, no doubt about it. As it is I'm still trying to imagine what such a cache might look like.

Drumlanrig is gorgeous, one of the best things about having visitors is seeing such places again. Somehow it seems extravagant to go there by myself, silly.

Pat ~ it was a perfect visit, I have a mental scrapbook full of them now for the dull days.

Kim Ayres said...

My father used to have a gallery at Drumlanrig in the old stable block. Used to be out there a great deal.

Love the cake - I'll point Rogan to it to give him ideas :)

Eryl Shields said...

The old stable blocks at Drumlanrig are eerily pristine to my eyes, like a Disney version of stables.

Kanani said...

Toe nails! HAHAHA!

Anyway, love the cake, love all the photos.

The World According To Me said...

What a fab cake!

I don't like the sound of those vaults. I'm intrigued by all that sort of thing but I'm also a bit scaredy cat!