Fun with Five

Windows of opportunity

Summer is such a brief season up here on Shetland. The trees don’t get their leaves until well into May and they’re gone by October.  The grass grows slowly and for the bulk of the year we can shortcut across this field to the park on the other side.  But for a few weeks, that’s off-limits as the grass gets long enough for harvesting as silage.  When that happens, the kids start counting down until the farmer bales the lot and they can play hide and seek amongst, climb on and jump off, and generally race around the bales, turning them into whatever wonderland they desire.


This year, the fog’s been oppressive, the weather absolutely dreadful. We’ve hardly seen the sun and the farmer hasn’t had a chance to do a thing with his grass.  Until last week.  Last week he cut and wuffled the field.  Friday night he baled and wrapped it.  Saturday morning it became the world of Harry Potter for the kids.

Saturday afternoon, the rains came again and the farmer took the bales away.

But for that one brief wonderful morning, my kids made the best use of them they could.


Fun with Five

Summer fell on a Sunday

There’s a large puddle of water on the floor in the garage.  For once I’m not worried about it!  It does not originate from any of the plumbing, nor from either of the cars.  It’s from the wet suits hung up to dry.

And wetsuits for all

Wet suits.  In Shetland.  You read that right.

Well, if you’re going to go swimming in the sea you need a damn thick skin and even my whale-like blubber finds it hard going.  So the addition of 7mm of neoprene really does help.

This has been a golden weekend.  One that we will all remember for a very long time.  From the lazy, relaxed family time of Saturday to the more energetic pursuits of snorkelling in a couple of different bays, playing for a good hour at the playpark and rounding it all off with a stroll around the village.  Absolutely golden.

Snorkelling in Shetland is amazing.  The water is so cold.  SO cold that you can’t keep your head under for long, that your hands and feet submit their complaints very, very quickly (unless you managed to get a bargain pair of size 12 Gul wetsuit boots in which case your feet stay lovely and toasty warm).  But it is so clear!  It’s not like snorkelling on the reefs in the red sea, it’s not teeming with huge, brightly-coloured life – but it is teeming with life.  Tiny jellyfish pulsing past your mask, huge swathes of barnacles with their fronds snatching food from the passing water.  Snails and limpets making slow progress across the rocks, shoals of tiny fish darting in and out of the kelp.  Oh, and seals just popping in to see who/what is invading their territory.  And you have to watch out for the seabirds who have a tendency to dive-bomb anything entering one of their no-go zones.

I know all my kids are confident (verging on overly so) in the water, this is bolstered by the buoyancy of the neoprene suits.  Climbing the rocks to jump in from as great a height as they can find.

And it turns out my kids have picked up some new skills while they’ve been “doing nothing” at the park.  I did not know that Thing 4 can fly…

964209_10151955495037388_1696349663_oThat Thing 3’s balance had improved so much…

964671_10151955493722388_1594132884_oOr that either Thing 2 or 3 could do this…

964649_10151955495177388_600011783_o 964963_10151955495617388_95757277_oMy kids were made of pure Awesome this weekend.  We got out and we had fun.  Fitting the new hall carpet with the help of the kids was fun.  Shopping with the “help” of the kids was fun.  Even mowing the lawn in the gorgeous afternoon sun was fun.  A late-night stroll around the village with my wonderful wife was definitely fun.

I know it’s father’s day next Sunday, but even if it were celebrated in this house there’s no way it would top this day.  Besides, it’s also Thing 1’s birthday and that’s far more important.  Somebody turns 13…