Sunday, June 17, 2018

Glasgow science centre

There's nothing quite like a sinister sky to set off a photo. Here's a wee something snapped on my phone while walking along the Clyde yesterday. Cool!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Charlotte at 18

There's no denying my first wee girl is no longer a wee girl. She may be shorter than her brother who is six years her junior but there is a reason she and her big brother have taken to sharing ciders in the local pub when she visits him in Edinburgh.

Gone are these two tiny people who were my first babies. In my head this was taken last year, or maybe the year before, but in reality it was fifteen summers ago...

Amaia was so impressed yesterday, when Charlotte finally shed the jeans, t-shirt and Vans in favour of an evening dress, high heels, curled hair and make-up, though she did stick to her guns on the 'there is no way I am paying £37.50 to have my nails done' front - that's my girl, stubborn to the end.

She looked upon her in awe and wonder - a look that says 'I am the girl who is lucky enough to have the real life Rapunzel from Tangled as my very own big sister!' And she refused to let go of her arm!

Anna looked on more hopeful than awestruck. I could definitely sense she was daring to wish that in just seven years time when she is attending her high school leavers' prom, she hopes to have grown a little and lost the puppy fat that is plaguing her early puberty.

Childhood really doesn't last very long, does it?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Probably the biggest jelly I've ever seen!

We found quite a beast the last time we were on Irvine beach. I was going to blog it at the time for posterity but I completely forgot - so here it is today. Thomas isn't convinced it's a jelly; thinks it might be an alien who has fallen to earth!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

We have come to a decision

And so at 11-30 last night, with one click of a button, Charlotte's life split into parallel universes.

There was the one where she left home and joined Marcel in Edinburgh to study Law at Edinburgh Law school - rejected.

There was the one where she stayed here and joined my old Alma Mater to study Law there too - rejected.

There was History, again at Glasgow, also rejected.

After many months of agonising over whether to go for a course, she knew to be prestigious, difficult and worthy of her 6 A Highers but which held no interest for her and which would lead to a job, which again was not in her heart of hearts right for her, we reached May 2. May 2 at midnight is UCAS deadline day. Marcel has been an absolute star for the last month, downloading her past paper exams and course materials and talking her through what is actually involved in a Law course, an invaluable source of advice, which he, as oldest child, had no recourse to three years ago when he was deciding.

He underlined to her the fact that even the maximum SAAS loan on offer could not cover the cost of university accommodation, let alone food, travel, books and social life, so she would be looking at a minimum 16 hour a week job on top of full debt. He had her imagine how it would feel to read 500 pages a day on a subject that she was not interested in. He also explained that even if she does what she loves, preferably something reasonably challenging to get into, she can still to a postgraduate conversion to Law if she suddenly had a change of heart. He's been showing her the dissertations he's had to hand in this month (as part of his Honours finals) and having her read through them. Like many of her friends, Charlotte had applied to Law because it was hard to get into and sensible, rather than because she could ever see herself in that field. Shockingly, some who have already accepted their places know nothing of what they are going to study, as she found out when she, in turn, showed them the past paper exams last week.

She loved the idea of moving to Edinburgh, as Marcel had done but she knows he works 20 hours a week for Apple to pay to live there. Apple pay well compared to many student jobs and Lots is more reserved so less likely to get that type of sales job. She decided as a compromise, to promise herself a year or two in Edinburgh after graduation, maybe even a postgrad at Edinburgh.

So she had to find a compromise... something difficult to get into, but which matched her skills which are both literary and numerical, which leads to a well-paid job but doesn't mean she has to drop out of her language learning which she enjoys, something where she can work if she needs to but can also not work if the workload is too heavy.

So she has gone for Glasgow, my own uni, where I hope she will meet a lifetime of friends, just as I did, and where I hope she will walk through the quads in spring and be bowled over by the sheer beauty of architecture mixed with nature.

And as for the course itself - Economics with Spanish, or as she put it 'Maths but with a purpose' and the amazing opportunity to follow in my footsteps as an English language assistant in her third year, but in Spain. I think she'll be happier than she'd have been studying something just for the sake of it, and to be honest, I still wish Marcel had followed his first passion (English) and done a conversion afterwards, rather than watching him, as I am doing now, running between the Apple store and the library, with little time to appreciate the wonders of the beautiful city he's living in.

A theme that came through strongly at Mearns Castle's graduation ceremony was that you should follow your passion, and choose a career you want to get up for in the morning. You only get one life, so spending it doing something you are not passionate about, would be rather sad.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A week off

We spent the Easter break in Germany. Like every time I have stepped on a plane since June 23rd 2016, I felt a heavy physical weight being lifted from me as I ascended the steps of the aircraft. Being away from the UK is definitely good for my mental health at the moment. I could suddenly get on with life instead of holding my breath while waiting to see which mad alley the UK government is going to drive my family. When I look at the spring flowers in my garden, I wonder if I will be here next spring to see them bloom. In Germany I simply looked at the spring flowers and enjoyed them. In Germany no one is talking about Brexit, it is not on their horizon, so insignificant it is in their scheme of things and that is immensely calming, until you remember that while they are happily getting on with their lives, yours is still in limbo.

I'm home less than a week and I can already feel my levels of anxiety increase. My mood goes with the ebb and flow of each successive Brexit article as it speeds past me on Facebook or Twitter; I've long-since abandoned most mainstream media. Obviously the whole Windrush scandal has huge implications for families like mine. People who have lived here their whole lives are being taken from their homes and families and deported 'back' to a country they have never been to, because their paperwork doesn't conform to rules the home office has put in place retrospectively and we're told not to worry as the status of EU citizens is 'more or less done and dusted'. Forgive me my scepticism and lack of trust.

Charlotte now has twenty days till she must definitively pick her university course. When her Higher results came in last August, I assured her we would know with plenty of time to spare what we would be doing. At that point I figured we would know the shape of Brexit by Xmas at the latest. With that knowledge on board, we would be able to decide whether it was safe to stay or whether leaving together would be our only chance of guaranteeing our future together as a family. We had decided we could live with EEA/EFTA, in fact with anything that incorporated free movement, but that without that we'd need to seriously weigh up leaving. It was inconceivable to us that with twenty days to her deadline, Brexit could still fall anywhere between hard Brexit on WTO terms and cancelling it altogether. She has to decide whether to stay with her family and go to Glasgow or uproot her life and join her brother in Edinburgh and that decision was to be made based on whether her family would be here or not. For six hundred and sixty three days our family has been in limbo. For six hundred and sixty three days, I have not been able to answer a question as simple as 'Will you still be living here when I go to uni?' Just try for a moment to imagine living six hundred and sixty three days not knowing if you are about to have to move country. I'm so sick of it. Totally and utterly fucking tired of everything. I won't even apologise for swearing because I am so drained by the whole thing.

Our next deadline comes at the end of June. By the end of June she will need to apply to SAAS for her university tuition fees and student loan. Obviously the amount of money she will require living with us in Newton Mearns will differ greatly from the amount she will need if she suddenly has to rent a flat in Glasgow if we leave. Again, we can't answer her question of where she will be living and how much money she will need.

Leaving at the very least means selling a house, closing down our company and all the paperwork that would entail, revoking three school places, finding two new jobs in the same country, finding two new schools and somewhere to live. It means boxing up the belongings we have in our five bedroom house and finding a way to move them and the money to do so. It means selling two cars. It means paying a fine to get out of our fixed term mortgage. It means preparing Marcel and Charlotte and my mother who lives alone and is in her mid-70s for our leaving. It means preparing the three other kids for losing all their friends and family, their home, their school and their language... everything they have ever known in their lives. It means finding the money to suddenly pay for the two older kids to live with no base. All this takes a lot of time and we've already had six hundred and sixty three days of that time wasted.

How much longer are the government planning on slowly spit-roasting families like mine? Is it too much to ask to just be able to enjoy spring without worrying?