Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Recent activities

Our last ten days or so have had several little tidbits to share. So here's a little this and that of our recent life:

Friday: We had an in-home appointment with a nurse from the National Health Service (NHS). This was a 20-30 minute appointment at noon, welcoming Jackson to our local medical practice. Kate and I both previously had short appointments at the doctors' offices, primarily to get paperwork filled out and some basic health data recorded. This meeting for Jackson ordinarily would have happened shortly after birth, so the NHS could get him in its system for health care. But since we just moved to Scotland several months ago, the appointment allowed a nurse to expand a file for him, look over his U.S. medical records, immunizations, etc. She explained we should register at our local pharmacy, which can be a first stop for minor illnesses and provides free over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol for children. The nurse also gave some information and suggestions regarding the daycares/nurseries in the area (all Scotland residents are entitled to 15 hours per week free childcare for every child age 3 and older). 

Saturday: Kate and I went to see American Hustle, our first chance to see a movie in a theater in months. We thought the movie was good, but not necessarily deserving of an Oscar for best picture. It's one of the frontrunners; we'll see what the Academy voters decide. Of course, the only other contender we've seen is Gravity (which we thought was excellent), so we're not the most informed viewers. For both movies, Justine has been our babysitter for Jack. Justine is a first-year vet student from Canada, and she just adores Jackson. He adores her back. She's the first non-grandparent we've ever let babysit our kid. She also refuses payment for her work -- genuinely refuses -- so we have put an envelope on our refrigerator to hold all the cash we've tried to give her:

If she keeps this up over the next several years, she'll have a sizable graduation gift.
Sunday: One of the English pathology residents, Josh, invited us over to his flat for "elevenses." For me, that's a term that conjures up hobbits from the Lord of the Rings. It's a morning snack somewhat equivalent to afternoon tea. Typically, elevenses involves sweets or cookies along with tea or coffee. We all enjoyed a spread of scones, biscuits, cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet snacks. Josh and his girlfriend also got us some glazed doughnuts from Tesco (a British grocery store), which are the closest thing you can get to Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Glasgow. (There is a Krispy Kreme in Edinburgh, with hopes they may be expanding in Scotland.)

Monday: We had another in-home appointment for Jackson, this time for his 30-month checkup. He hit the 30-month mark in December, but a backlog and holidays pushed his appointment back to late January. The checkup was performed by a nurse, though it didn't really include anything requiring medical expertise. Heck, they didn't even check his height or weight. It was really just answering a questionnaire to check on developmental goals, as well as an unmentioned but obvious screening for autism. Jackson is doing well; no worries at this point.

Tuesday: On Tuesday mornings, Jack and I generally head either to a playgroup or a toddler movie time (i.e., 30-45 minutes of cartoons like Peppa Pig, or short animated films like Room on the Broom, etc.). This Tuesday morning we went to the playgroup, followed by a walk to a construction site to watch some diggers and forklifts, and then finally to a little playground.

"Daddy, I need coal!"
Wednesday: Jackson and I headed to a different playgroup, as we usually do on Wednesdays. In the evening, it was Play-Doh time.

Kate: "I think Play-Doh may be my medium."
Thursday: On Thursdays, Jackson and I usually go back to the same playgroup we meet on Tuesdays. This Thursday, however, was forecast for no rain and the possibility of a little bit of sunshine. So I loaded the kid into the car, grabbed the hiking backpack, and drove off for some exploring of the Antonine Wall. While you may have heard of Hadrian's Wall in northern England, you're probably less familiar with the Antonine Wall in southern Scotland, which extended the Roman frontier in the second century AD by creating an earthen wall all the way across the width of Scotland. Since the wall was a wooden palisade built on top of stacked earth, not much of it survives. Truth be told, there's little to see, and only a real enthusiast for ruins will enjoy hiking along various sections. Nowadays, it just looks like a ditch and a slope.

A section of the Antonine Wall located by Watling Lodge, near Falkirk.
Cattle watched our ascent up Bay Hill toward the ruins of a Roman fort.
Friday: I like our Fridays to be something different than our usual routine. Rather than going to a playgroup or hanging out around the house, Jack and I will go off to a museum, or head downtown, or hang out at a coffee shop, or explore new parts of the city, etc. This Friday we headed to the Garscube Playrooms, which is a toddler play area within a converted warehouse. On Friday evening, we picked up Kate from work and headed out to dinner at the Firebird, one of our favorite restaurants in the city. Kate ordered wild pigeon for her entree, which is the second time since we've been in Scotland that Kate has had pigeon for dinner.

Racing in one of the Garscube playrooms.
One of the rooms has been converted to a "soft play" area, which means the kids crash and slam into things as hard as they can.
Saturday: We went downtown for brunch at Cafe Wander, a coffee/tea shop that serves breakfast all day on Saturdays. 'Twas quite good. Kate wants to explore the city for weekend brunch options, and we're trying out different spots. Cafe Wander is a charming basement cafe which nonetheless has lots of natural light. Good food and drinks, with friendly service. If it were closer to our house, I think we'd go frequently. After brunch we walked a few blocks to Waterstones, a British bookstore chain akin to Barnes and Noble. We find it impossible to leave a bookstore without buying Jackson -- and often ourselves -- several books, and the kiddo came home with four Julia Donaldson (of Gruffalo fame) books. I spent most of my time perusing travel books, as we gear up for more traveling this spring and summer.

Chocolate milk mustache at Cafe Wander.
Sunday: Super Bowl Sunday! We had a busy day of cleaning, going to the grocery store, cooking, and prepping for the Super Bowl. Though the game is broadcast live in the U.K., it starts at 11:30 pm -- not an ideal time to watch a three hour game. Nevertheless, we had a couple of people come over to watch with us. One was Josh, the English pathology resident. The others were our American neighbors Justin, a second year American vet student, and his wife Brett, along with their six year old son, Clayton. They brought Clayton over around 11:00 pm, still asleep from home, and tucked him in one of our guest bedrooms. The hope was he would stay asleep until after the game was over, but he woke up after halftime and they headed home soon after. Josh, a former rugby player, was keen to watch the game, so he and Kate and I watched the blowout until the end, around 3:00 am. We were rooting for Denver, in support of some of our family members who live in Colorado. Ah, well. Even more disappointingly, we didn't get to see any of the U.S. commercials during the game. I usually like to make a Super Bowl commercial bingo game to keep us entertained during the adverts, but that was a no-go here. {Sigh}

So, a fun and varied ten days. In the next couple of weeks, I've got plans to visit one more site on Antonine Wall, tour some local museums, watch some of the Six Nations rugby tournament in a pub, and perhaps get away for a weekend of travel in Scotland or northern England. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly the Super Bowl commercials were as disappointing as the game. Maybe 1 or 2 good ones, but not up to their usual level.