About Me

I was born in Luton, known for hat making, Vauxhall cars, London Luton Airport and a great football team who once beat Arsenal at Wembley in a Cup Final, currently languishing in non-league football for the 4th season. I moved to Edinburgh in 1990 and now live in Leith, Edinburgh's 'waterfront'.

Married for 24 years to Louise (who is on day release from Fife), I have 4 children: Holly (aged 28) who's studying medicine at Dundee University, William (aged 26) at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, Alice (aged 23) and Maddie (aged 16).

We live in a 226 year old Georgian house which we are slowly renovating. We once had a note from an artist posted through the letterbox asking if our semi-derelict house was available to rent as studio space. Things have improved lately; the stonework has been repaired and we have shiny new railings. Just the inside to do now then.

Current CNPS score: 999

Header Image: Richard Bloomfield

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    Back on the DIY

    OK, time to resurrect this blog! It’s going to get a new title and a redesign to use a lot more Wordpress plugins and widgets. I want to use Wordpress for a number of upcoming projects and I need to get up to speed with it so this is the place.

    Alice is one week away from the summer holidays and in August she joins Holly at George Watson’s so I’m making a concerted effort to get this flat finished and sold so we can pay the school fees and still eat, get a holiday somewhere and get the house in Constitution Street finished.

    Right now it’s time for lunch and Joseph Pearce’s beckons. I’m taking the laptop to do some research into how to fix this bloody leaking drainage pipe. I need to find a supplier of 60mm/50mm rubber couplers with big jubilee clips.

    In-flight Entertainment

    I’ve jumped on the ‘You Tube’ bandwagon and uploaded some of our family videos. I’ve embedded one in this post as a test and started a new category of links in the left hand sidebar called ‘In-Flight Movies’ which links to the individual movies.

    Click to continue reading “In-flight Entertainment”

    School days

    I don’t think it can have been a very difficult decision for my parents. At the age of about 18 months, we moved to a new housing estate in the suburbs of Luton which had a newly built infant school (ages 5 to 7) about a quarter of a mile away. There was one primary school about a mile away and really only one secondary school about 2 miles away. So when it came to choose where my sister and I went to school, there really wasn’t much of a decision to be made. Here in Edinburgh and with my slightly more complex family structure, the choice of both primary and secondary schools is a much greater and the decision making process much more difficult.

    Holly was the first to go to school, closely followed by William a year later. Their mother, Clare, is Catholic, so she chose to send them to a Catholic Primary school. I didn’t have any say in the matter. In Scotland, if you have children out of marriage, you may as well not exist as a father from a legal perspective, but that’s another matter. Oh, with the exception of The Child Support Agency, of course.

    I have to say that initially I wasn’t too happy about this choice of school as I don’t believe Catholic (or any other segregating label) schools should be allowed. But their mother made the decision and I had to go along with it.

    Three years ago, Louise and I were faced with the same decision with Alice. However, the local primary school has a tarnished reputation to say the least, so, partly for convenience and partly because I had come to see what a good school it was, we chose to send Alice to the same school as Holly & William.

    The time has now arrived for Holly to move on to Secondary school and, once again, I have been largely excluded from the decision making process. During May, Holly sat entrance and scholarship examinations at a number of private schools, although Clare was apparently favouring the Catholic Secondary school, St. Thomas of Aquin’s. To cut a long story short, after a tortuous decision-making process which saw her change her mind more times than the Scottish weather in an average week, she has chosen a private school. Personally, I’m pleased with the choice, albeit still at loggerheads with some of my principals and beliefs.

    At primary school, I think children are still too young to be ‘labelled’ as different by attending a certain school and I don’t think that Catholic religious beliefs are forced upon them too strongly at that stage either. Certainly Alice only seems to be achieving greater understanding that differences between people do exist; she occassionaly attends Sunday School at the local Church of Scotland church, as well as attending the odd mass at the Catholic cathedral. I have greatest difficulty with Catholic schools at the secondary school level, when I think that it’s definitely wrong to isolate one set of children, especially on the basis of the religion they happen to be born into.

    However, I’m not very comfortable with private schools either. It’s still a sad world where opportunity can be ‘bought’ and not made available to everyone on an equal basis. Sure, private schools do offer the crumbs of a few token scholarships to the gifted, not only being seen to bring quality education to the less fortunate but boosting their exam result figures at the same time. It cannot be denied that here in Edinburgh it is important which school you go to, that the tie will open doors for you. I’m pleased for Holly of course, but I wish we lived in a society without these class structures.

    I’m not paying for the school by the way, it’s way above my means, Clare is paying and Holly receives a good bursary. Even if I could afford to send one child to private school, what about the other three? It’s likely that William will follow suit but it does leave me with a big problem in four years when it’s time for Alice to move up.

    Sun, sea and barbie

    Scotland has some beautiful beaches, a few of which are only a stone’s throw from home, but it rarely has the weather to enjoy them, Sunday being no exception.

    We were invitied on a day trip to Yellowcraigs, a lovely sandy beach about 20 miles away, by trusty neighbours Frank’n’Steph. In keeping with the cosmopolitan nature of Leith, the full party consisted of: Louise (token Scot), Me (Luton), Frank (Manchester), Steph (Canada/Germany), Mieche (Frankfurt, Germany), Mel (Darwin, Australia), Stuart (Belfast) and of course the kids (all natives).

    Despite the heavy cloud, it was warm enough and at least we didn’t have to worry about sunburn. Mid-afternoon the weather front finally crossed with a short downpour and people left the beach in droves. We huddled round the barbie and half an hour later and we were rewarded with some sunshine to round off a very pleasant afternoon.

    It was Mel’s first visit to a Scottish beach which she politely described as ‘different’. Hailing from Darwin in The Northern Territories where the temperature rarely drops below 30° C, she must have thought we were all bloody mad.

    By coincidence, my eldest daughter, Holly, was at her class barbeque at the same beach. She is just finishing the last year of Primary School (P7) and faces the daunting step up to a new school in August.