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We went up to see Gavin & Eve last night (and also to watch the Scotland v England game). We half expected Eve to go into labour, especially when Scotland twice scored! But she held on, although it looks like it won’t be long before she supplies us with grandchild no. 2. I recalled with amusement how Gavin’s mum went into labour with our first-born, George, at the start of a Scotland v Belgium European qualifier in November 1979 and I persuaded her to hang on until the final whistle before driving up to the Perth Royal Infirmary (or the Perth D.R.I. as one of my pals used to call it!).

Out on my walk a couple of days ago, I came round by the lovely gardens to the east of Victoria Hospital to find a daughter of about my age sitting on a bench beside what appeared to be her elderly father in a wheelchair. His right leg was propped up on a support but the part below the knee was missing, apparently recently amputated given the bandaging on the remaining stump. I offered him a hearty “Good Day!” and quipped that he seemed to have an awful sore leg.

“Not half as sair as the bit that isnae there” came the immediate reply, followed by a grimace and a wicked chuckle. “Dad, behave!” pleaded the daughter with a reddening face. “Laddie” he continued, “you wouldn’t believe how sore the heel I dinnae have is! And my leg is really itchy but there’s nothing to scratch”.

To keep the conversation in this bizarre vein, I offered to sign him for my amateur football team, Kelso, adding that I felt he might, despite his present predicament, improve the overall quality of the squad. “Sorry, son” he retorted “Saturday afternoons are when I play dominoes in the ward at Roxburghe!”

Roxburghe is the section of Victoria Hospital for the terminally-ill.

I hope I’m that upbeat when the Grim Reaper comes a-calling!

Going back


Well, how time flies! Here we are settled back into our old life and it’s time to think about returning to Vilanova. We took the bull by the horns a couple of days ago and agreed to return to Spain by reversing the route we used to come home, so I’ve now booked us on the evening crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge on the 4th September and 2 motels in Troyes and Clermont-Ferrand to take us through France.

Last week I was offered a last-minute walking guide job with Rob Roy Tours so found myself walking the West Highland Way and climbing mountains with a group of 14 Germans. It was interesting and a challenge but also quite hard work and very long hours every day. I did however survive (just!). Mary and Scott picked me up in Perth on the Friday afternoon and we drove to the scout camp at Powburn for our annual Robertsonfest which was as always good fun although I wimped out on the walks this year just to give my legs a rest.

We are of course all getting excited about the imminent arrival of grandchild number 2, this time courtesy of Gavin & Eve. The baby should make its appearance in the next 3 weeks so we’ll have a wee bit of time to get acquainted before we leave. Unfortunately the planned time looking after Ben has not worked out as we had hoped and we are disappointed that we have seen so little of him during our time back in Dundee. Hopefully we’ll see a bit more of him when he’s older.

Greg is still doing well as a volunteer worker at Barnardo’s in Montrose and we were up having tea with him and Karen a couple of weeks ago. As for Scott, well he has settled back in to living in our flat in Dundee and he will be looking after it for us over the next 10 months along with a friend as flat mate. Scott is hoping to get his old job back as a lifeguard with Dundee City Council but now at the new swimming pool which opened recently. He is naturally uncertain as to his future permanent employment and is considering a couple of ideas but nothing definite as yet.

Mary has now passed almost all of her TEFL course with full marks and will be qualified to teach English as a Foreign Language by the time we get back to Barcelona. So with a bit of luck she will go out to earn some pocket money while I crack on with my writing. Like you do! I have started the process of finding an illustrator for the printed edition of Socrates and am awaiting a response from an art student friend of a neighbour downstairs. The book has now reached 90 downloads throughout the globe with most in the USA.

I haven’t yet decided how often to blog once we’re back in Spain but I suspect a couple of times a week will suffice. I definitely won’t stress myself with a daily page like I did on the adventure! We’ve bought quite a lot of stuff to enhance the Magic Caravan such as a new step, new door lock and some trim and we’re looking for a slim TV and washing-machine to take over as well.

My beloved amateur football team Kelso are now on pre-season friendlies and it was great to see Gavin and his wee brother Scott turn out for them on Wednesday evening in Blairgowrie. I hope to see some competitive games as well before we leave.

We were up in Lochcarron a few weeks ago to visit my brother Joe and his wife Morag. They live in the most idyllic spot imagineable and are oh so lucky to have the panorama they can see every morning from their huge south-facing windows. We went on a walk in the hills and Mary quipped that we hadn’t seen anything more beautiful on the whole of our travels in Europe. Joe and Mo also have a “get on and enjoy life while you still can” attitude and they are great supporters of the decisions Mary and I have taken to spend some time away. Thanks guys!

Anyway that’s the latest news from us. Please let us know how you are all doing and you are welcome to come and have a farewell drink with us anytime after midday on Saturday 31st August when it will be open house at the flat. (Sorry Mike & Het, this means we can’t be at your own party in the Lake District!).

Remember, if you download “Socrates, the sprinting snail of Sorrento” please please write a positive review at the end once you’ve read it. Thanks in advance.