The delights of Auld Reekie

The best cities have a unique feel about them. They will have the same shops as other places of course but there will be a distinct style and ambience to the place. Perhaps a sense of history will float amongst the streets and buildings, in fact almost certainly this will be the case. There is a sense of knowing a place but always having the chance to find something new, curious and delightful. Edinburgh is a great city, up there in my books with Barcelona, Stockholm and Prague. I would happily live here given half a chance and a decent job.





The Godsons

Jake and Max

I have two Godsons, Jake (6) and Max (3). My phone call to them yesterday afternoon made me realise once again about what happiness is. I could hear Jake bouncing towards to phone and excitedly thanking me straight away for the present I had given him (a rather cool Lego Star Wars model) and telling me about how he was half way through making it. And then he bounced off again, to be replaced by little Max who gurgled with pleasure about the digger that Mummy and Daddy had given him and wished me ‘Happy Christmas’ in his little voice. They are wonderful boys and I’m so proud to be their Godfather as so many little moments make it worthwhile, such as…
– pulling up to their house in my car and seeing Jake explode from the house with excitement, jumping up and down shouting ‘Uncle Pete’s here, Uncle Pete’s here!’
– between 6.45-7.30 in the morning when I stay with them, the door to my bedroom will open slowly and Jake will be there wanting to know if I want to play yet. A game of pirates will then follow, with him and Elephunkel, and then slightly later, Max will toddle in, climb up onto the bed and snuggle up next to me.
– as bathtime finishes, Jake and Max’s mum or Dad will haul them out of the bath and wrap them in their towels and ask where they want to be sent. Apparently, my house is always the destination of choice. ON my last visit last week, Max was discovered personally into my arms.
– it is 6.25 or thereabouts. Teeth have been cleaned and pyjamas are on. One or more books have been chosen and we are sitting on a bed, a boy on each side of me, laughing happily as we read the bedtime book.
Every smile, every laugh, every time one of them holds my hand or asks to climb on my shoulders, every time we talk on the phone, every time I get a card from them, I know what happiness is.
Thankyou Jake and Max, and thankyou Alex and Freya for letting me be their Godfather.

My favourite photo of 2011

The beauty of Scotland

My trip to Skye was perhaps a highlight this year. This photo sums up the scenery that inspires me most of all

There are taverns which are like universities

I like this quote. It comes from ‘The Carpinter’s Pencil’ by Manuel Rivas which I am reading, and very much enjoying at the moment. The way it shifts from past to present, evoking the tragic and the beautiful, the memory and the present is the style of writing that has made me want to blog again. It takes little to get my creative juices rushing again – just an evocation of nostalgia, of bitter sweet sadness, a rhyme, a song, an image, all mixed together with some alone time and in this case the rain and wind outside on this Christmas day.
As I read the quote above, I could not help but think or great times in great taverns and bars where I grew up and thought properly. The stuff that everyone should do in bars, rather than cloud their thinking with alcohol. Evening spent chatting with fellow European Erasmusians in Coimbra stand particularly at the forefront. A Sagres, a Superbok, a bica, the inevitable cigarettes, either rolled or packeted, a mix of languages, a meeting of cultures and minds. An innocence maturing, loves forming, friendships made for enduring (dez anos e mais). These nights from September to February, when I became 21, were as much of a University as any lecture I ever attended.

I have just listened to Coimbra tem mais encanto on Youtube, this version particularly.



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