A momentous event took place yesterday, one that’s been a long time coming and that’s been greatly anticipated by all interested parties, every one of whom had their own opinion of how things would turn out, with most being optimistic of a good result.
No, I’m not talking about the England v Scotland game at Wembley, but Heather’s first day of school. Actual school. How did we get here so fast?
I actually had the chance to go down to London for the football, but didn’t take it once I realised the horrendous date clash. There will be other games against the Auld Enemy (hopefully sooner than the 14 years we waited since the last one) but Heather will only ever get one first day at school, and there was no way I was missing out on it. How could I?
Naturally we took a bunch of photos of the new schoolgirl in her new uniform, and I’m pleased to report that Heather even posed nicely for some of them. Some of them. One of my favourites is one where she’s holding up a sign saying what she wants to do when she grows up. Gem got that idea from Pinterest, and it’s a cracker – the idea being, of course, to do the same thing every year. Heather’s chosen career path, owning and running a toy shop, shows a certain entrepreneurial flair, and is definitely more sensible than my ambitions at a similar age (circus clown, if you must know).
After photos, we walked along to the school, where the playground was heaving with all the other new starts and their families. Heather spotted her friends from nursery and was off like a shot, sharing hugs and catching up on the summer. Not wanting to miss anything, Megan climbed out of the pushchair and ran off to join her, although it wasn’t long before she headed off to the other end of the playground, to play with some of the boys. I need to watch that one…
Once we got inside the school it was all a bit chaotic. The corridors are nowhere near wide enough for the volume of people who were there, and it was made clear that the kids were to be left as soon as possible. I never even got inside the classroom, staying in the corridor with Megan to keep out of the way. And… well, that was that!
We headed home one down, killed an hour or so, then went back to collect her. This time we got to spend some time in the class, which was good, not least because it’s very different to the classrooms Gem and I remember. One of the things I remember vividly from my own first day (aside from the boy who cried and wanted to go home) was having my name taped to the top of my desk, and thinking the boy next to me was called LAN. How was I to know that a “l” and an “I” might look the same, but are quite different things, and his name was actually Ian?
I’m not even sure there are desks for every child in the class (there are 35 of them! And two teachers!) but with activity stations dotted round the class and even a PC in the corner I’m sure finding somewhere to sit/play/learn will never be a struggle.
After that we headed off to Pizza Hut for a celebratory lunch (Heather’s call) and that was that. Day one over. Being me, I did some rough calculations, and worked out that there are roughly 2,500 school days before Heather leaves. So that’s one down, 2,499 to go!
It will be interesting to see how Megan adjusts over the next few weeks, without her partner-in-crime by her side. I guess this first couple of weeks will be similar to when Heather was at nursery, but when she full days start in a couple of weeks it’s a whole new ballgame. I think it will be good for her though, and will give her more space to be herself instead of copying everything her sister does.
And of course, it’s a big change for Gem as well – moreso than for me, because I’ve always been used to Heather being away from me all day, every day during the week. She’ll cope though, and getting to spend more time with just Megan will be nice too.
Last night, watching the football (which I don’t regret missing, and that’s nothing to do with the result) I realised something else – if it takes another fourteen years to stage a game between the two oldest footballing nations in the world, Heather will have left school before the next one.
Which was possibly the most frightening thing I heard/saw/thought all day!
Regular readers (and I believe there are some these days!) might remember something I wrote a while back, about potentially ditching the car and cycling to work. I’m very pleased to announce that just shy of two months later I’ve turned that idea into reality, having this morning covered the 15.5 miles to work using nothing more than pedal power.
And it feels fantastic!
Obviously there’s been a lot of planning and work to get to this point, but not as much as I’d anticipated, which has surprised me a lot to be honest.
Buying a bike was the first step. Having not even ridden a bike for at least 15 years, and never having bought one myself, it was a pretty steep learning curve deciding what I wanted and trying to find it within the budget I’d set myself. A budget which, it should be pointed out, grew several times as I learned more. I decided to go for a hybrid bike (a cross between a road and mountain bike) because I wasn’t sure I was ready for a pure road bike, but knew I didn’t need the strength (and added weight!) of a mountain bike. After poring over specs, weighing up various pros and cons, I plumped for a Trek 7.2 FX, financed by selling our about-to-be-surplus-to-requirement second car.
After that, it was a simple case of building up to being able to cover the 31 mile round trip. My original plan was to build up gradually, parking at railway stations and advancing a station every few days. However, once I started riding I realised that with a few practice rides I should be able to jump in with both feet and cover the full distance.
And that’s what I’ve done. Today’s morning commute tipped me over 100 total miles in the month since I got my bike, with my longest ride being Saturday’s 25.6 mile ride, scouting most of the route to/from work in a single journey. Managing that in one go was a real boost, and made me sure that I’d manage both legs today without any problems.
There’s been a lot of effort off the bike too, planning a route that was safe – keeping me away from the busiest traffic – without becoming a long, meandering loop that added time and miles. The route I’ve settled on goes through three parks and follows the courses of the Rivers Clyde and Kelvin. And the bits where I’m on the roads almost entirely involve cycle lanes, which is ideal.
Next achievement is cycling both ways, five days a week. I’m not expecting that to be this week, and possibly not even next. But it won’t be long. And then? Who knows. A year ago I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d have bought a bike, let alone planning to ride 150 miles on it every week, so I’m not going to make any bold predictions, and I’m certainly not taking on any crazy challenges quite yet.
Actually, thinking about it, my next challenge is the 15.5 miles back home. With the added incentive of an amazing welcoming committee when I get home. Better than I arrived to here this morning, that’s for sure!