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.