Well there was me thinking I’d done Ben Nevis so could pretty much relax for the rest of the summer and get ready to drive back to Vilanova after the Referendum towards the end of September. But no! “Could everyone change bus, please?”
First of all, my wee sore knee on the third of August turned into a very big sore knee by the time we were flying off to visit Tom and Margaret in Petten, Holland on the nineteenth. The day before we left, I had to get the doctor to send me up to one of the hospitals for an X-ray and I’m now waiting for an MRI scan on the knee. I suspect plain, old osteoarthritis will be the diagnosis. I was warned often enough that I should stop playing football before it took its toll on my joints but I’m afraid it was just too much fun!
So this year’s Munroamers really did for me but we had a laugh all the same. The boys went back to their partners and their work and Mary, fresh back from a great weekend with her side of the family at the scout camp in Powburn, North England, helped me look after wee grandson Ben each Wednesday and Friday until our holiday. We have a grand time with the wee man but he doesn’t half run me ragged some days as you can see.

I am NOT sleeping!

I am NOT sleeping!

Scott meanwhile started his new life as a Primary Teacher student at Dundee University. Although this might come as a surprise to some, I can assure you he takes these studies very seriously and is genuinely hoping to qualify next summer knowing he has a 1-year totally guaranteed job somewhere. Is that something else we Scots do better than most? Scott also chose this moment to bid farewell to my beloved football team Kelso after 7 good years in the lower divisions and sign for Barnhill, a team newly-promoted to the Midlands’ Premier Division. He has made a good start, even scored 2 goals and has high hopes of keeping his place in their 1st XI.
The weather forecast for our week in the Netherlands made grim reading and unfortunately it was reasonably accurate, but with hosts like the irrepressible Tom and Margaret Bakker, it was always going to be a fantastic affair, and so it transpired. We cannot thank our friends enough for the terrific 7 days they gave us in their beautiful country and we learned so very much about the Dutch maritime engineering feats. We were left awe-struck at the enormity of the Deltaplan for south-west Holland designed to ensure that the devastating storm of 1953 is never repeated, the incredible 32 kilometre Afsluitsdijk between Noord-Holland and Friesland annexing the Zuiderzee, not to mention the amazing polders, the reclaimed land below sea-level.

Tom and Margaret

Tom and Margaret

Even the water's orange!

Even the water’s orange!

Tom drove us miles and miles and miles around the whole of the Netherlands, ensuring we saw the best of his country, but he didn’t take us to the mountains as I had requested!! His wife Margaret (Greeta) was a domestic goddess in the kitchen as well and we ate and drank like royalty. This holiday was very different from others we have had but it surely must have been one of the most enjoyable ever. The only blot on the landscape was my silly knee which went from bad to worse, slowing me down when we went walking, making cars and stairs unbelievably difficult to manoeuvre into and out of. I even had to resort to using their stair-lift one evening when the pain was at its worst! I must admit that for a couple of days I felt seriously handicapped and began to wonder if I’d done myself a permanent injury. As luck would have it, it all began to ease over the last 2 days once I’d started popping Ibuprofen by the bottle and now I can walk again without limping.

They have great beaches as well!

They have great beaches as well!

One of the big surprises on our visit was to discover that there was place just a mile from Tom and Margaret’s house near some huge dunes called “Camperduin”. We Dundonians know all about this of course as we have Camperdown House in Camperdown Park, given as a reward to Admiral Duncan of Dundee who defeated the Dutch fleet at the battle of the same name in October 1797.

There you have it!

There you have it!

Three days after we got home, our gorgeous granddaughter Artemis celebrated her 1st birthday with her mummy and daddy, Eve and Gavin, as well as the rest of the 2 families. We had a lovely afternoon at their house in Arbroath on Saturday and it was good to see all the members of that next generation mingling on the lawn. It was also lovely to see Isobel, the boys’ mum, get to the event despite being in a wheelchair and I know she really enjoyed herself with her boys and grandchildren. God bless her.

Some of the guests at Arry's party

Some of the guests at Arry’s party

So, was it time to actually relax? Frankly no, as now I had to get my finger out and try to get “Wee Georgie” published. Just before we left for Holland, I had received the first draft hard-copy of my memoir and what an exciting moment that was! That sent me on a mission round the town trying to persuade people to give it a try. Surprisingly it was the biggest of them all, Waterstones, who took a look and deemed it good enough to sell in their Dundee store. The book will probably launch on Monday 22 September, the same day as I have a full-page article in the local newspaper, the Courier. That publicity should get me off to a good start and, although the shop is only taking an initial 10 copies, I think they’ll have to ask for more quite quickly, given the amount of friends and family showing interest in it here in Dundee.

I was scared to look

I was scared to look

Mary has been a gem, helping me create a website for my books. It is called of course http://www.socratesthesnail.co.uk and has all the information about me, my books and my future projects. You can also order copies of “Wee Georgie” and “Socrates the Sprinting Snail of Sorrento” by using the Paypal button and I suggest you use this if you cannot physically get down to Waterstones bookstore on Commercial street in Dundee. Please ask if you would like your copy to be signed.
Well it looks like the Referendum on Independence for Scotland is going to be a very close-run affair on Thursday 18 September. For the first time, just yesterday, the polls put the “Yes” campaign ahead of the dissenters and that has caused a great deal of panic from those in power at Westminster. They’re all coming up to Scotland tomorrow to woo us with the promise of greater devolved powers for the Holyrood parliament but Alex Salmond believes their case has just collapsed and is in no mood to thank them for the scraps from their table. So, I still don’t know if we’ll be Scottish or British the next time I post on the blog!
Don’t worry, readers. We’ll still be us!

Beware! Frogs crossing!

Beware! Frogs crossing!

The front cover: Joe, me and Auntie Lizzie

The front cover: Joe, me and Auntie Lizzie

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