Monday, 15 June 2009

New Arrival

On the 6th of June, Fisher and I took an exhausted and in much need of respite Koios out for supper at Creelers. We had a lovely time, joined by Janus and Badger, but I was disappointed that Blar and Spar couldn't join us. Apparently, Blar was 'feeling a bit funny.' Pah. I sent a text saying that Sister was pulling a plough between her TEETH whilst 'feeling a bit funny' and that Blar should either sprog up or stop whining. Well, my pep talk seemed to work because at 8.20 that evening, ten minutes before we all met at Creelers, Blarney spat a small sprog out into the world. The youngest member of the Cheese Board had not only got the good sense to be born female, but arrived in good time to join us at Creelers. Unfortunately for her, Blarney and Spartan were too selfish to fork out cab fare from the hospital and failed to bring her out for a well deserved supper.

Despite their obvious lack of proper enthusiasm for our company, we were magnanimous enough to be delighted for Spar and Blar. Baby Belle was a healthy 7lbs 3oz (none of my nephews were less than 2lbs heavier) and, despite giving her parents a bit of a scare during the birthing process, seems happy enough to be a part of the SparBlar family.

Our first meeting took place on Tuesday. We had, in our company, Sister and all three sons. Sister had been to a funeral in Edinburgh, whilst Fisher and I had taken Gemmill and Wrecker to butterfly 'world' near Dalkeith - which was terrifically successful, despite looking like a run-down polytunnel from the outside. We knew it would be right up Gem's street, as he's a real insect and plant boy, but the look on his face when he walked through the door and saw all these fluttering butterflies flitting from tropical plant to tropical plant was priceless. Wrecker, too, was enchanted - particularly by two butterflies joined together. He kept dragging me back to look at them. I almost felt like apologising to them - but, hell, if they're going to be that exhibitionist about it they can hardly complain. The highlight of the visit has to have been the handling of live critters, though. I don't mind admitting that I am NOT good with creepy crawlies, and I'm afraid I only managed to touch the giant millipede - I avoided letting it crawl over my hands with its flittery fluttery legs. The handler dangled it over his top lip in a millipede moustache, which entertained the boys no end. To be honest, it was more the fact that he'd told us that, after handling, the millipede would wash every inch of its body to rid itself of human stink that put me off. If that's the case, I can't imagine being handled is much fun for the 'pede. Anyway, next up was a python called Monty (obviously) despite it being a girl. That was fine - no problem with big snakes - and she was beautifully smooth and pliable to the touch.

Last but not least came the tarantula. Being a bit of an arachnophobe, I was determined not to flake on this one. I would conquor my irrational, stupid fear. After all, spiders are harmless and do more good than bad in this world, being the consumer of dirty filthy flies that puke and poo on my food. My FOOD! Of course, I'd pushed from my mind that tarantulas aren't quite as harmless. But it turns out their poison is pretty mild, only needing to be strong enough to kill their prey, of which, thankfully, I am not one.

When the big fat hairy monster was produced, my initial reaction was a shudder and sudden feeling of nausea. I listened while the handler told us to hold our hands flat - FLAT - and not to touch her back. Apparently she has fine hairs that disengage when touched and cause a nasty reaction on skin. If you should touch her then rub your eye ... urghurghrghr ...

So, my courage well and truly in its sticking place, I stood alongside a quiveringly excited pair of boys and laid my hand out flat. The tarantula was placed upon it and sat there, deeply unimpressed with everything that was going on. And in the end, I had no qualms whatsoever. The thing is, tarantulas are furry and, well, kind of cute. They don't have hundreds of flutterly little legs. They're almost like little 8 legged pooches. With mandibles.

After the tarantula experienced the joys of my hand, it then marched onto Gem's and, lastly, Wrecker's. I was a bit concerned about Wrecker, as he'd had to be told a few times by the handler to listen - no, listen - or he wouldn't be able to have a go. Luckily, he obeyed perfectly and the 'rantula had an unmolested stint on his hand. Of course, the minute the handler removed the beast, Wrecker lurched forward and attempted to stroke its back. Fortunately the handler was wise to the ways of little boys and whisked the tarantula to safety.

With butterfly world absorbed and delighted in, we piled the boys in the car and went to pick Sister up from the funeral. We'd said we would drop in on Blar and Spar at 4pm, but were running hideously late, which I felt extremely bad about. Our plan, originally, had only been to drop some more useful baby stuff off and make ourselves scarce - but Spar and Blar had professed themselves amenable to seeing us, so we were hardly going to pass up the opportunity to make Baby Belle's aquaintance ... even if we did have two over-stimulated boys with us and a baby. On the other hand, it was a wonderfully sunny and warm day, so we were able to turf the boys out into the garden to play with Blar's birthing ball while we had a good natter and poked BB with a stick. Actually, watching the boys play with the big birthing ball was hilarious. Wrecker kicked it, then raced after it, then tripped and fell on it and promptly bounced a good foot in the air before landing in a heap on the grass. Brilliant.

I think the visit passed relatively painlessly. Spar and Blar were noticeably knackered, for some reason, but managed to hold up their ends of the conversation without too much (noticeable) effort. We were briefly interrupted by the sounds of Gem's howls from the garden, but as it transpired the only thing wrong with him was a bite from the savage jaws of his brother, it was sorted pretty quickly.

Baby Belle she is, of course, quite lovely, and there will be more on her later.

The arrival of Sister and sons actually occurred on the 8th - Monday. It should have been the night before, but owing to some shenanigins with the car losing battery power, Sister was forced to spend a night in Oban with three fractious children. Not fun. When they eventually arrived on Monday, Wrecker was fast asleep in the car - which usually means a crying fit on awakening - but Gem came rushing in and enveloped his Auntie A in a massive hug, saying "I'm so glad to be here." He then came and gave me a big hug too. Fabulous. And then, when Wrecker did actually wake, there was only a tiny bit of crying. He was far too interested in the idea of playing the Monster Game (PS2) to be really upset.

In fact, they weren't allowed to play any PS2 at all, because Fisher and I took them off to the Adventure Kids park in Stanley. There they ran themselves totally, utterly ragged and loved every swinging, jumping, pedalling minute of it. Fisher and I also had a good time, being full of energy and joy, and delighting in the charge of two extraordinarily happy boys. We were there for 3 hours, until the place shut, and then took them home without a modicum of fuss. It helped that the treat of the Monster Game was still on the table.

Next day was Edinburgh and Butterfly World - as formerly described - precluded by a massive (and I mean MASSIVE - even by my terms) Dim Sum meal at Saigon Saigon. Sister went a bit mad with the ordering, clearly attempting to force several months worth of Chinese food into her straining tum in order to store for the winter, but I can't say I wasn't delighted. There was so much to sample. A real treat.

On the boys' last day, Epona was kind enough to bring Tony Pony round to our garden for the boys to ride. Both absolutely loved it, but Gem more so because he didn't, unlike his wee brother, turn out to be wildly allergic. Poor Wrecker started rubbing his eyes on his second turn, and by the time he'd finished he had one enormously swollen eye and was feeling pretty miserable. Luckily his Auntie A was on hand to cuddle him and give him warm milk and the TV. Gem, meanwhile, was merrily following all Epona's instructions - stretching his arms out in an aeroplane, touching Tony Pony's tail, ears, his own feet ... all without any loss of balance or nervousness. Epona was great, chattering away to him, making sure he was safe while I watched from afar, taking pictures and video for future chuckles. It was kind of idyllic, actually, except for poor Wrecker's allergy and the fact their mother had to miss out on yet more fun because of a Tesco run.

Lastly, we took them all to Stewart Tower for lunch and ice cream before bidding them farewell. It was hard - very hard - to say goodbye. The boys were obviously pretty unhappy to be going, and it only made it worse that Sister then phoned Fisher 10 minutes later, who relayed to me that she'd suggested a wonderful plan that we simply couldn't manage. She wanted a night at Ardanaiseig, with adult chat and some fine food and wine, while the boys ran ragged in the grounds before bed. Unfortunately I had a meeting at the Blind Society the next morning at 10, and a 3 hour drive would have meant getting up at 6. I had to phone back and say no - but Gemmill answered, and his first words were:

"Are you coming to see us tonight?"

I had to say no to a 5 year old, who was obviously pretty upset. Not fun. Made me feel like bawling myself.

Anyway, on the plus side it was obviously a very successful trip. Always leave 'em wanting more, that's my motto.

Next up was the 'official' meeting of Baby Belle. Spar and Blar sent a text round offering the chance to peer adoringly at their new offspring, so, on Friday night, we met up with Janus and Phid and did just that. We all took turns in holding the little rugrat, who screamed unhesitatingly throughout the entire experience. Naturally, no-one ever wants to judge parenthood, but the wean was starving and her legs were freezing cold. It was almost child abuse. Clearly Spar and Blar are useless as parents and need to have someone more responsible take Baby Belle off their hands. Someone like me. She'd be much better off with me. With me, she'd be weaned onto solids in about 10 days and therefore able to sample the delights of Devonshire Gardens cuisine. I've also got 2 very fine baby sitters in the form of Baffie and Bridie, who would teach her to kill rabbits and how to tunnel under fences. What more does a girl need?

Hmm. I wonder how young is too young to start educating the alcoholic pallate?

Anyway, I'm not sure what BB thought of her Tsia Se, or of all the other odd women holding her in varying degrees of awkwardness, but we all thought her enchanting. Now, with that said, I must go and help Fisher clear out the stable. It is very important to do this now, as we may well be having a horse in it.

This winter.