When you’re 7 years old you know that if you could just stay awake for long enough, while pretending to be asleep, then on the night before Christmas you might just catch a glimpse of Santa delivering gifts.
You’re also at an age when, if you lose a tooth at the swimming pool you will dive to the bottom in an attempt to retrieve it, twenty times if necessary because there’s a fairy ready to give you hard cash for the thing if you can place it under your pillow that evening.
So it was with anticipation and excitement that Kate’s twin boys set of with Rogan to look for wild haggis in the decaying bracken, while Kate and I caught up on old times, sitting on the hillside overlooking Castle Campbell, Dollar Glen and out across the Forth Valley in Central Scotland.
Kate’s originally from Scotland but I first met her at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada when I was on a student exchange some 15 years back. I last saw her 10 years ago when she returned to the UK for a short while, before realising her heart lay back across the other side of the Atlantic.
The fact that she was visiting family this week, thereby being only 120 miles away rather than the usual 4,000, was too good an opportunity to miss, so I drove up to see her, meet her sons for the first time and reminisce about how we used to look younger and see the world differently.
While Kate has no immediate desire to move back to Scotland, she misses the open mountains and hillsides. “Trees Kim,” she said, “I’m sick of trees.” Apparently there are an awful lot more of them in Canada than Scotland. I guess there’s a reason why the national flag has a leaf on it.
Throughout the day Rogan was superb. He talked non-stop all the way up and all the way back, helping me to stay awake on the journey, while giving me space to chat to Kate, and keeping her lads occupied while we swapped stories about life events and mutual friends. Although he’s only 12 years old, I couldn’t have asked for a better travelling companion than my son.
Despite near perfect conditions, the boys failed to bag themselves a wild haggis. Rogan had warned the young Canadians that with their left legs longer than their right, Haggis was notoriously quick running round the sides of mountains so very difficult to catch. However, to counter their disappointment, Kate assured her boys she would buy one ready caught and prepared from the butcher’s on the way back to her brother’s house that evening.