I have just returned from a week at home in Scotland, with my mother. Going home is a sanctuary for me, heaven on earth. My mother collects us all in her beetle, we squish in, all the children piled on top of each other, and if we're lucky, without the dog breathing all over us. Mum always looks a little shell shocked at the end of the first day, since my Father died, she has become used to life on her own . By the 2nd day, she has acclimatised to the change in gear, and by the end of the week, she is always sad when we leave. Or at least that is what I tell myself.
We had the most beautiful weather up there, cold, but beautiful. The first thing I do when I get home is rush into the boiler shed and adjust the heating to come on for slightly longer than the original setting of 3 minutes a day. By the evening, it is just about warm enough to take my coat off inside. I secretly enjoy the cold house, as it means sitting in the fire place and if you manage not to go up in smoke, you warm up quickly and happily.
The days are filled with trips to the local bakery for a daily cake; Empire biscuits, sponges and doughnuts filled with jam. Everyone is Beauly is used to our trips north, and the bakery asks when ' the wee warriors will be in'. We climb hills, visit the glen, breath, and there is no-where I am happier. My heart and soul sing, and we run through the woods and swing amongst the trees. I feel unbelievably lucky to have it as my home, and being there with the children is my idea of paradise.
My mother is a wonderful character, who becomes more wacky as she ages. An unusual style, and a sense of humour and generosity that is boundless. She often sends parcels to people she hardly knows, that have complimented her on something she is wearing. She is also a force not to be reckoned with. During the week that we were there, one of those telephone calls which begins with a pause, and then a distant sounding voice, reading a speech out, trying to sell something, was made to her. I watched as she grabbed an antique police whistle from beside her knitting needles, and she blew, very hard, straight down the receiver. ' It's very effective , darling '. That's one way of dealing with nuisance calls.
One of the big treats of being there, means that I don't often have to cook. My old nanny , who I talk about in the cookbook, always comes to see us, and makes my favourite macaroni cheese. There is half a pat of butter that goes into it, and it is the creamiest , most delicious thing, that I would choose as a last supper.
We had flown north with an unbelievably good deal on the tickets, but on our return, the man at the gate said that my boarding passes were for the following month. How can I have been so stupid. Cue, having to spend a trillion pounds buying new tickets, to land at the wrong airport in the south. We were collected by my ex-husband, and driven home full of tales of the north. The boys complaining to Dad that I had left their iPods that he'd given them, behind in the village shop, and had banned them from bringing them to Scotland. It is something I will be doing again when we return in a few weeks time. Please don't mention it to them though.