Where to start? Saturday. With the weather. It’s going to be fine.
It starts cold and muddy, due to a Friday night deluge of rain. Kilby’s hills give me a nice challenge, fresh air and a feeling of happiness, as I vault collapsed tree trunks, giggling like a kid.
The afternoon affords us a couple of spare hours, so we bomb it to Loch Lomond shores for a quick walk, a quick shop and a glance at the mountains. I love how you can get to the edge of some of Scotland’s most awesome countryside inside 30, ahem, 40 minutes in the car.
There’s quite a few stalls, mostly for charity, and loads of bits and bobs for kids to do. We buy presents for friends, a bottomless chocolate ice cream cone for the boy, and coffee to sip as we take in an easy walk and a tour of the Maid of the Loch (which is free!).
On the way back we find the crazy golf stand. “How much for the crazy golfing sticks!?” asks the boy. “Three pounds!” the answer.
“Each?” I ask. “I’ll do you two for five pounds,” says the chap.
Counting the money to his hand, at four pounds, he closes his palm. “That’s fine thanks. Choose your clubs “. He won’t take another penny. I like him.
We decide to put the money we’ve saved to the charity stand. I give Robin some smash (Scottish term for a handful of loose change) to put in the Help for Heroes tin, which he slips in, one penny at a time.
And he’s a hit with the volunteers! He’s presented with a big loaf of bread (from a batch donated by Kingsmill), and after planting a well-aimed kiss, also receives a shiny keyring. We’re still in credit!
Swinging his loaf with pride, we head to the bouncy castle: “£1.50 for five minutes, but hold on pal, you got that loaf from the Help for Heroes stand didn’t you. Jump on”. We insist on paying, but the boy has well more than his five minutes. It’s feckin weird how a touch of kind is almost viral!
The day gets better still with good food & good company. Kids making tents way past their bedtimes and adults making merry, well past bedtimes too.
After resting on Sunday, and feeling good, I decide to do a big run. But it will be all on road, longer than I have ever run, and I’d need music and supplies.
I check the weather. Cold, misty, sun predicted. I grab a small bottle of water, pack some sweets, a five pound note, and a waterproof, just incase.
Three miles in and the sun begins to rule. Stripped down and labouring I keep changing my gait to stave off some lower leg pain. And that’s when the music starts to drip feed me some help.
Solsbury Hill is my personal trainer; Sympathy for the devil gets my back in line; Let’s get married has me effing bouncing; Speed of Sound, convinces me that I have been custom-built for the singular purpose of having this hill, albeit at a shuffle.
On the crest of the hill, the live version of Local Hero … well let’s just say, I challenge any Scotsman in the same situation, the sun low in the sky, the wind blasting in his face, not to find a bit of sand in his eye.
And near the end, just when I really run out of gas. The Only Living boy in New York kicks in on shuffle. Which is fine. Very fine.