A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle

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Lying – is it a natural human thing to do?

I’ve been reliably informed that we all lie. We who believe ourselves to be ‘good people’ may try not to, but there it is, that little white (or black) lie, creeping into our thoughts and conversations. download liar

We might just lie to ourselves, i.e have a pretty good opinion of ourselves for no apparent reason. Think about it – are you really that terrific person, or is it just that you see yourself bathed in the rosy glow of honesty, kindness and good deeds? If any of us really thought about it, I suspect none of us is as good (or as bad) as we think – we are human, after all, which as they say, is a rich mix of pretty much everything, good and bad.

This topic came to mind because I’ve been thinking so much of my granddaughter Matilda over the holidays. This cancer thing means no trips to the UK to see her, no trips for her to come see me. And it hurts. She is growing up so fast, and “grandma no hair”, as she now calls me, is missing a lot.

She’s talking great guns now, too. As part of that, soon her mum (aka my daughter) will be having The Talk with her. Soon, Matilda will here something like

I always want you to tell me the truth. If you tell me the truth, you won’t get in trouble.

I said the same to my daughter, my mother said the same to me. Ad infinitum.

And yet. I still lied to my mother as a child (not very well, though, as she always knew when I was lying). My daughter lied to me, rather more convincingly than I did as a child. And certainly, my darling Matilda will lie to her mother. Sorry, Peg, but it’s true, and your heart will be hurt by it.

Why? Why do they do it? There are zillions of articles that tell you why, and how to ‘fix’ it. But I found, that even if you follow all the usual good parenting advice, the little blighters will still do it! They will put that cute little look on their face, look you straight in the eye…and lie. As a parent, you feel so betrayed – even after all your Good Talks, it happens.

I don’t really understand it either, so I can’t offer any solutions. I guess my own theory is, that as children grow up, there are a whole host of reasons for lying. It may be to get away with something (like when I blamed the spilled orange juice on my sister), or it may increasingly just be a power thing. Do you remember the first time you made that big adult believe something you told them, and then getting away with it – what a power rush! Kind of like – HAH! I just knew mom wasn’t smarter than me!

In my case, I usually ended up telling the truth, and I still do. I’d like to say it was/is because I take the moral high ground, but unfortunately it’s more a case of being such a dreadful liar. Something happens in my face when I lie, such that even strangers know when I’m not telling the truth! Even as an adult, my face betrays me every time. Bummer.


Sometimes things just…WORK!

After a very frustrating week, we finally organised an appointment for me at a clinic on the coast. This involved getting the recommendation from our doctor, getting authorisation from our insurance company, and finally, getting an appointment at the clinic!

What could be easier, right? Well, it seemed not. The authorisation was slow in coming. My appointment could not be arranged because the phone system was down in the radiology department (say what???). By the end of Wednesday, we thought that the week was a washout.


Our darling Matilda (photo by kent@imagenary.co.uk)

Much to my surprise, the clinic actually did call me back to arrange an appointment! How seldom that happens these days, that people call you back when they say they will – why is that?

So yesterday, we toddled off to the clinic (an hour and a half toddle!). Again, to my surprise, when we arrived, my authorisation had come through, and had been forwarded to the clinic for me, thanks to Victoria from Sanitas health insurance company. The appointments for all my tests were one after the other, so by lunchtime, we were done and dusted!

Sometimes things really do work out! To celebrate, I thought I’d post a photo of our darling little granddaughter.


On mothers…

It’s Mother’s Day in Europe, or as the English often call it, “Mothering Sunday”. That always makes me laugh – are other days not for mothering, just the one? As if.

Today, I’ve read all sorts of tributes to mothers, articles about mothers, poems to mothers, seen pictures of mothers. I may be cynical, but it has always amused me to have one day to ‘be nice to your mother’ and give her cards, flowers, take her to lunch or whatever.

Although my lovely daughter religiously sends me a card (and now, so does the darling M), it’s never been a big day for me. For awhile, I thought it was because American mother’s day is in May, so the ‘other one’ in March was not that big a deal.

I’ve decided, however, that is not the case. I never really thought that being A Mother was a big deal, or even my only role in life. It’s a big responsibility, sure, and is not easy, but as pregnancy comes naturally and easily (and unexpectedly, sometimes) to most women, how feted should it really be as an achievement? Am I the only one who thinks since reproduction is an animal imperative, it’s not the be all and end all?

I don’t know about mothers and sons, as I don’t have a son, but mothers and daughters often have quite a fraught relationship. I’m not sure why this is, exactly. I thought that perhaps as I knew the pitfalls and problems of being female, I should try hard to make sure my own daughter could manoeuvre her way through to womanhood with fewer problems than I did. I think my mother tried to do the same, with about as much success as I did! Children very seldom learn from their parents’ experiences, and certainly daughters don’t want to, and usually refuse to, listen to their mothers. It’s normal and natural, and I didn’t hold it against her.

However, while raising my daughter, it consoled me to know that one day she would realise I was smarter than she thought. I think it was when I was about 22 for me – I realised all of a sudden how smart my mother had become. However did that happen? 🙂

So on this day, as on every other day, I think of my mother and wish she was here for me to hug. I think of my daughter, who now has a daughter of her own, and wish her good luck on the rocky path of motherhood!

Four generations of Larson women

My mom holding my daughter Peggy

My mom holding my daughter Peggy

Me holding granddaughter Matilda for the first time

Me holding granddaughter Matilda


Growing up

Our little Matilda is growing up so fast! It seems only yesterday that she was a tiny babe in arms, not able to do a thing except cry and eat. (other things too, but not worth mentioning in polite company!)

How quickly they learn how fun it is to be naughty! :-)

How quickly they learn how fun it is to be naughty! 🙂

She’s almost 18 months old now, standing, moving around constantly. Loads of teeth, and giving her parents what-for most of the day. She’s not that into sleeping, which is rough on her parents, but hey, at her age life is far too interesting to sleep! I’m sure her parents would disagree with her theory.

We miss her so much, despite the daily use of FaceTime. It would be so nice if we lived just down the road, so we could pop by, and she could be dropped off for sleep overs. I think she is really confused when she comes to visit us, because she is used to us being only as big as the screen on her mum’s iPhone! Yes, Matilda, we are real, live ‘big people’!

We won’t see her again until June; then, of course, time will pass far too quickly and we will be back to counting the days until her next visit.

Modern motherhood

I remember so well when I was a young mother, and my mum came to visit and help out. What a godsend she was – after 4 weeks on my own, I finally gave up and begged her for help! It’s very hard when you have so little experience with a baby, to all of a sudden be on your own with this small, squalling creature. My mother was wonderful – she didn’t have to do much, just let me know that I was doing ok.

One of her comments was that it was so much easier (in some ways) to be a mother than it was in her days. Cloth diapers, pails full of the things in the nursery, boiling them when you’re exhausted yourself. All baby clothes had to be ironed in those days – can you imagine the time that must have taken?

I was thinking of all this again over the holidays, because we had our daughter and family visiting. Baby Matilda is doing stunningly well and is almost always so cheerful!


Matilda enjoying Christmas at Casa Tyr (photo by kent@imagenary.co.uk)

My question would be this – has motherhood become ever easier (in some ways) with all the modern gizmos that are available?

For example. Any doubt or question can be researched on the web instantly – no need to ask your mother, sister or aunt, or read that pesky book to find out the answers to your questions.

And consider bedtime. There are baby monitors, so you can hear every whisper. There are special (very expensive) foam wraps for each individual slat in the crib  (the old style bumper pads are thought too dangerous today, though millions of babies somehow lived through the trauma of bumper pads). You can’t have any toys in the crib (they used to be fine). Depending on your beliefs, it’s either 100% right or 100% wrong to let your baby cry, fuss, or sleep with you. You’re told: put that baby on its back, Mother, not on its tummy, or there is risk of SIDS. (a 100% turnaround from my day, when it was thought there increased risk of SIDS if put on their backs!! Come on, guys, make up your minds!!!)

Then the advice. There are health visitors, breastfeeding guidelines, developmental guidelines, nurseries, discussion forums (waaayyyyy too many to mention), and “mummy meet” groups for everything under the sun. There are back packs, front packs, slings, and wraps for the baby – again, depending on your beliefs, some are right, the others wrong.

Doesn’t it all drive you absolutely ’round the twist, young mothers? Don’t you find it serious overload?

My own opinion is that, although there are many more conveniences than in my mother’s (or my) day, motherhood becomes ever more confusing. There is too much advice, too much information, too much paranoia about everything. Common sense does not rule, or usually even count.

In our village in Spain, it is the norm for a new mother to live quite close to her mother and sisters, and maybe even to her grandmother. There is plenty of advice from a group of women who love you and have experienced the same worries. There are always hands to hold the baby when you are tired.

This wasn’t possible for me, and isn’t for most modern mothers. However, at least technology gives us the next best thing – advice and chats face-to-face via FaceTime, Skype and others. And young mothers? Believe me when I say that your aunt, sister or mum probably do know a few things about babies, and would just love to be asked questions or give advice – she is probably just waiting for you to make the first move.

The Divine Miss M, the star of every show!

This post is for fans of my blog who have been begging me for more Matilda updates. Not you, you complain? Well, I’m sure someone did, so here we go!

Matilda’s baby book covered her first year on this earth, and her doting parents are in possession of The Copy. Since then, I’ve noticed that photos are not as frequent, videos either. Poor Grandma and Grandpa! 🙂 Actually, daughter Peggy has more than made up with it by regular FaceTimes, so regular that Matilda now recognises both Kenton and me, and ‘talks’ to us on the phone!

Technology can be such a great thing. I keep thinking of how much better Peggy would have known her own grandmother if FaceTime/Skype was available ‘back then’, but what can you do?

So roll on Christmas, when we are next gifted with Her Presence. Before that, central heating must be installed for her highness! (only you, dear readers, can decide who is the “highness” in that comment – Matilda or her mother, but I do have my own suspicions!)

Click to see M crawl through a tunnel!


Running to catch up

It’s been a hectic year at Casa Tyr so far. In fact, how the heck did it get to be mid-May already, I’m sure it was just yesterday we were celebrating the New Year!

Since January, I don’t think Kenton and I have spent more than 2 weeks together No, it’s nothing serious, honest, no imminent divorce! We have been taking staggered trips to the UK, spending time with granddaughter Matilda, slowly getting to know her.

It was a deliberate strategy, designed to ease the problem of getting to know a new soul who lives several hours away from you. We decided that each of us would go on our own, and stay with Peggy and Dan, getting full-on time with the babe. Going solo enables each person to get to know her, and her them. It keeps costs down too, as there is then no need to put the dogs into kennels.


Having tea at M&S

I’m pleased to report the strategy has worked! Matilda recognises us when we arrive, and now there is no “warm up” time needed, she will go to us straight away. We play, we walk, we talk, we read, we feed. It’s lovely!

Of course, the down side is that, with hardly any time together, many of our big chores back on the farm are running way behind schedule.

The garden needs preparing. Our summer vegetables need planting. Our entire house, inside and out, needs painting. Central heating needs installing. Wind turbine needs servicing. Wood for winter needs cutting.

Then there’s Lujos to catch up on. New products to launch, research and development projects to complete, agents to recruit, PR to write.

Add to that photography projects to complete, photos to process and new business to win.

And so the list goes on… and on… and on…

No matter, say we. We have almost a whole month before the next trip to get cracking on our list of endless chores. Put shoulders to the proverb grindstone, we say.

But hang on, not yet…there’s a little matter of the weather not cooperating, it’s raining again!