Author Archives: guineapigmum

Whither GP1?⤴

from

It seems a long time ago since I started this blog. My concerns at that stage seem so distant. Life has indeed moved on. It is over a year now since Tim (aka GP2) left school and Standard Grades, Highers, SQA, Curriculum for Excellence, Leaps, are now of no more than passing academic interest. Time for a round up.

So, Chris/GP1/Ginger left that fine academic institution that is Ross High School three years ago with a respectable assortment of Highers, Advanced Highers and various other SQA offerings. I can’t really say, hand on heart, that he ever quite got studying but hey, he did what he needed. We suggested he took a year out to figure out what he really wanted to do before moving on to more studying but he didn’t want to, so onwards it was. I think perhaps he couldn’t visualise the alternatives to the school-college route – it was a sort of comfort blanket that didn’t require too much thinking. LEAPS summer school (he didn’t really get that, either) was followed by Sport Science at Heriot Watt University.

Oh dear. Oh Heriot Watt – do you have no student support system that flags up when things are not going as they should? It was obvious to us by Christmas that things were not going well. By Easter we were seriously worried. He simply didn’t manage the transition from a very structured, highly timetabled final year at school to the unstructured environment of self study that was his first year at University. The course and department didn’t help; it turned out that his was the last intake into a course that was being discontinued. He had seven timetabled hours a week and, in the entire first year, the only set work he appeared to have consisted of one essay and one group presentation. His tutor went on maternity leave in his first few weeks and wasn’t replaced, at least not by anyone who made contact. Of course, I realise we were getting only one side of the story and it may have been edited highlights, but he really didn’t appear to know where to turn. He quite simply didn’t cope and made the entirely correct decision to leave in the summer term. Better to drop out of university than to drop out of life.

The past two years have been a bit of a mish mash of many things, all good. For most of the first year after the demoralising HW experience he taught swimming and racketball (not together) at locations all over the Lothians. The racketball was a programme run by Scottish Squash with money from the cashback scheme which puts confiscated proceeds from crime back into the community. At one of his dodgier venues he had two policemen to help out each week, just making sure things didn’t get out of control. He also volunteered as a classroom assistant at our local primary for a day or two a week and was accepted onto the East Lothian supply list for classroom assistants. This led on to a job at the primary for a full school year: it was great to see him come home each day with a smile on his face. Afternoons and weekends he spent teaching swimming. And partying – that boy is a party animal. And as well as all that he has now spent two successful summers teaching sport at Summer Camps in the States.

So where now? Two years working in a variety of environments have restored some self confidence and two summers in America have broadened his horizons. He realised himself that he needs some form of further training or qualifications to move on. We looked together at a number of options from being a paramedic to teaching and then I arranged a meeting for him with Jackie Cameron, a life coach I met through this blog. I hoped that someone from outside would help him sort out what he really wanted to do rather better than his parents could. He came back from Jackie having decided that he would give university and Sport Science another go and so here we are again. He is off to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in a couple of weeks to do Applied Sport and Exercise Science, a less academic course than Heriot Watt and Stirling, a city based rather than campus university, and further from home than Heriot Watt. He is on a warning that he has to pass his exams! No pressure then. But this time he is 20 going on 21 rather than 17. He was selected by interview and likes the look of the department and course. He can see opportunities for moving on afterwards, for example into physiotherapy or teaching. And we have our fingers firmly crossed that this time he will be happy.

After all, that’s what we all want as parents, isn’t it? We want them to be happy.

Whither GP1?⤴

from

It seems a long time ago since I started this blog. My concerns at that stage seem so distant. Life has indeed moved on. It is over a year now since Tim (aka GP2) left school and Standard Grades, Highers, SQA, Curriculum for Excellence, Leaps, are now of no more than passing academic interest. Time for a round up.

So, Chris/GP1/Ginger left that fine academic institution that is Ross High School three years ago with a respectable assortment of Highers, Advanced Highers and various other SQA offerings. I can’t really say, hand on heart, that he ever quite got studying but hey, he did what he needed. We suggested he took a year out to figure out what he really wanted to do before moving on to more studying but he didn’t want to, so onwards it was. I think perhaps he couldn’t visualise the alternatives to the school-college route – it was a sort of comfort blanket that didn’t require too much thinking. LEAPS summer school (he didn’t really get that, either) was followed by Sport Science at Heriot Watt University.

Oh dear. Oh Heriot Watt – do you have no student support system that flags up when things are not going as they should? It was obvious to us by Christmas that things were not going well. By Easter we were seriously worried. He simply didn’t manage the transition from a very structured, highly timetabled final year at school to the unstructured environment of self study that was his first year at University. The course and department didn’t help; it turned out that his was the last intake into a course that was being discontinued. He had seven timetabled hours a week and, in the entire first year, the only set work he appeared to have consisted of one essay and one group presentation. His tutor went on maternity leave in his first few weeks and wasn’t replaced, at least not by anyone who made contact. Of course, I realise we were getting only one side of the story and it may have been edited highlights, but he really didn’t appear to know where to turn. He quite simply didn’t cope and made the entirely correct decision to leave in the summer term. Better to drop out of university than to drop out of life.

The past two years have been a bit of a mish mash of many things, all good. For most of the first year after the demoralising HW experience he taught swimming and racketball (not together) at locations all over the Lothians. The racketball was a programme run by Scottish Squash with money from the cashback scheme which puts confiscated proceeds from crime back into the community. At one of his dodgier venues he had two policemen to help out each week, just making sure things didn’t get out of control. He also volunteered as a classroom assistant at our local primary for a day or two a week and was accepted onto the East Lothian supply list for classroom assistants. This led on to a job at the primary for a full school year: it was great to see him come home each day with a smile on his face. Afternoons and weekends he spent teaching swimming. And partying – that boy is a party animal. And as well as all that he has now spent two successful summers teaching sport at Summer Camps in the States.

So where now? Two years working in a variety of environments have restored some self confidence and two summers in America have broadened his horizons. He realised himself that he needs some form of further training or qualifications to move on. We looked together at a number of options from being a paramedic to teaching and then I arranged a meeting for him with Jackie Cameron, a life coach I met through this blog. I hoped that someone from outside would help him sort out what he really wanted to do rather better than his parents could. He came back from Jackie having decided that he would give university and Sport Science another go and so here we are again. He is off to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in a couple of weeks to do Applied Sport and Exercise Science, a less academic course than Heriot Watt and Stirling, a city based rather than campus university, and further from home than Heriot Watt. He is on a warning that he has to pass his exams! No pressure then. But this time he is 20 going on 21 rather than 17. He was selected by interview and likes the look of the department and course. He can see opportunities for moving on afterwards, for example into physiotherapy or teaching. And we have our fingers firmly crossed that this time he will be happy.

After all, that’s what we all want as parents, isn’t it? We want them to be happy.

Guineapigmum moves on⤴

from

It is time to grow up, venture into the world alone, stand on my own two feet. The guineapigs are guineapigs no more. They’ve left school and are off doing other things. So I called in a PR company and, just as British Petroleum became BP and Environment and Resource Technology became ERT, I paid them many thousands of pounds to change Guineapigmum to GPM; I have, after all, become attached to it.

I’m relaunching my blog which has languished unloved for some time, partly because I want to share my plans for this summer’s Big Adventure, the Shin Swim. A friend and I are planning to swim coast to coast across Scotland. Well, swim and cycle – we can’t really swim upstream and crossing Scotland does mean crossing a watershed as any self respecting geographer will tell you.

Before closing this blog, I do plan to write a post with an update on the guineapigs, for those Edubuzz readers who have been with me all this time. But please don’t leave me – drop in at GPM goes wild!

Guineapigmum moves on⤴

from

It is time to grow up, venture into the world alone, stand on my own two feet. The guineapigs are guineapigs no more. They’ve left school and are off doing other things. So I called in a PR company and, just as British Petroleum became BP and Environment and Resource Technology became ERT, I paid them many thousands of pounds to change Guineapigmum to GPM; I have, after all, become attached to it.

I’m relaunching my blog which has languished unloved for some time, partly because I want to share my plans for this summer’s Big Adventure, the Shin Swim. A friend and I are planning to swim coast to coast across Scotland. Well, swim and cycle – we can’t really swim upstream and crossing Scotland does mean crossing a watershed as any self respecting geographer will tell you.

Before closing this blog, I do plan to write a post with an update on the guineapigs, for those Edubuzz readers who have been with me all this time. But please don’t leave me – drop in at GPM goes wild!

Yesterday’s conversations No.2⤴

from

Tim (GP2) to Chris (GP1): “Those are my shorts you’re wearing! ”

“All my things are in my suitcase. Mum told me to wash everything so I did.”

(So why, if he’d washed and packed everything, was I hanging his washing on the line this morning, I wonder.)

“I was going to wear them today! What am I supposed to wear?”

“Well, they were on the radiator not doing anything.”

“I put them on the radiator to dry. So’s I could wear them.”

“I needed some shorts.”

End of conversation.

It was the blatant complacency that got me. Big Brother was entirely in the right for the simple reason that he wanted a pair of shorts and those ones happened to be to hand.

I should be grateful, I suppose. In the old days this would have deteriorated into violence.

Yesterday’s conversations No. 1⤴

from

“I’m in Aberdeen tomorrow” he said casually, as we drove home from the station. Nothing unusual about that – sometimes he’s working in Aberdeen several days a week.

“Oh,” I said, “what time will you be back?”

“Usual time. Maybe a bit later. I’m on the 4pm train.”

“What! We’re booked for 7pm. Don’t say you’ve forgotten.”

“Oh… Perhaps I could get out of the meeting a bit early.”

We’re going out for a posh meal this evening, en famille. It was our silver wedding anniversary last week and, of course, we didn’t get around to organising anything. Tim, our younger son (and yes that is GP2) has just finished school, leaving as Dux of his year. School Dux, for those who may not know, is an award given to the student with the highest academic achievement. Cue proud parents. And Chris, our elder son and otherwise known as GP1, heads off to Massachussets tomorrow with BUNAC to work in a summer camp. We will see him again in early September. As you can see there are multiple reasons for a family celebration and I’m sure you can also see that there is no scope to organise an alternative date.

So, a little advice to my dearest husband:

Come out of that meeting early. Get an earlier train. Do not be late. Do NOT be late.

Not, that is, if you’d like another 25 hours of happy marriage, let alone 25 years.

Yesterday’s conversations No.2⤴

from

Tim (GP2) to Chris (GP1): “Those are my shorts you’re wearing! ”

“All my things are in my suitcase. Mum told me to wash everything so I did.”

(So why, if he’d washed and packed everything, was I hanging his washing on the line this morning, I wonder.)

“I was going to wear them today! What am I supposed to wear?”

“Well, they were on the radiator not doing anything.”

“I put them on the radiator to dry. So’s I could wear them.”

“I needed some shorts.”

End of conversation.

It was the blatant complacency that got me. Big Brother was entirely in the right for the simple reason that he wanted a pair of shorts and those ones happened to be to hand.

I should be grateful, I suppose. In the old days this would have deteriorated into violence.

Yesterday’s conversations No. 1⤴

from

“I’m in Aberdeen tomorrow” he said casually, as we drove home from the station. Nothing unusual about that – sometimes he’s working in Aberdeen several days a week.

“Oh,” I said, “what time will you be back?”

“Usual time. Maybe a bit later. I’m on the 4pm train.”

“What! We’re booked for 7pm. Don’t say you’ve forgotten.”

“Oh… Perhaps I could get out of the meeting a bit early.”

We’re going out for a posh meal this evening, en famille. It was our silver wedding anniversary last week and, of course, we didn’t get around to organising anything. Tim, our younger son (and yes that is GP2) has just finished school, leaving as Dux of his year. School Dux, for those who may not know, is an award given to the student with the highest academic achievement. Cue proud parents. And Chris, our elder son and otherwise known as GP1, heads off to Massachussets tomorrow with BUNAC to work in a summer camp. We will see him again in early September. As you can see there are multiple reasons for a family celebration and I’m sure you can also see that there is no scope to organise an alternative date.

So, a little advice to my dearest husband:

Come out of that meeting early. Get an earlier train. Do not be late. Do NOT be late.

Not, that is, if you’d like another 25 hours of happy marriage, let alone 25 years.

On islands⤴

from

I recently spent a couple of weeks working on the beaches of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Life can be tough sometimes. It was the beginning of May, pre-midges and so often hot in Scotland. We did have lots of sunshine whilst the rest of Britain swam in rain but oh, so cold! There was a bitter north east wind for most of the trip which brought in hail storms for at least a couple of days.  Despite the wind, and dressed in our best winter outfits, we walked miles across some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and counted cockles, worms and anything that didn’t escape the sieve. We also found a little time to look around the islands and managed to visit the magical standing stones at Callanish at dusk one chilly, damp evening and then again for a proper look on a rather better afternoon. We saw golden eagles, lapwing, golden plover, oyster catchers, snipe. We heard cuckoos, unusual these days on the mainland. And on our last night on Harris, we realised that the strange krkking sound outside the  bed and breakfast was from newly arrived corncrakes, at least one of which was in the yellow flags 30 metres or so from my bedroom window.

Coincidentally I was reading Isles at the Edge of the Sea by Jonny Muir, the story of a young journalist’s summer spent travelling throught the Hebrides wtih his tent, taking in a number of fell races on the way. Not the best literature but enjoyable nonetheless. It set me wondering about the Scottish islands I’ve visited over the years for diving trips, family holidays, work, and with the help of Number 2 son I made a list of islands I have at least set foot upon. I surprised myself with its length and with the memories and stories it generated for me.  There are too many stories for this post but I will try and write about some of them in the coming months. Mind you, I always promise these things and it never seems to happen!

So here, in no particular order, is my list:

  1. Bass Rock
  2. Fidra
  3. Isle of May
  4. Cumbrae
  5. Wee Cumbrae
  6. Bute
  7. Arran
  8. Gigha
  9. Islay
  10. Jura
  11. Seil
  12. Scarba
  13. Lunga
  14. Garvellachs (3 islands)
  15. Easdale
  16. Canna
  17. Eigg
  18. Rum
  19. Mull
  20. Ulva
  21. Linga
  22. Little Colonsay
  23. Staffa
  24. Coll
  25. Luing
  26. Skye
  27. Scalpay
  28. Scarp
  29. Barra
  30. South Uist
  31. Benbecula
  32. North Uist
  33. Harris & Lewis
  34. St Kilda group (does this count as 4 as I’ve trodden on all four of them?)
  35. North Rona
  36. Sula Sgeir
  37. Rockall
  38. Orkney Mainland
  39. Hoy
  40. Sanday
  41. Shetland Mainland
  42. Yell
  43. Unst
  44. Papa Stour
  45. Foula
  46. Out Skerry

I’m sure there are several I’ve missed and there are a number of notable exceptions which perhaps I’ll have to rectify over the next few years. It doesn’t include islands I might have dived next to but haven’t set foot on. I have friends who will have visited far more islands than this and will probably have climbed all the Munros as well, but hey.

So here’s a challenge to my blogging friends:- If you were going to make a list, what would it be?

IMG_1237 (640x427)
IMG_1128 (640x427)
IMG_1156 (640x427)
IMG_1218 (640x427)
IMG_1220 (640x427)
IMG_1307 (640x426)
IMG_1350 (383x640)
IMG_1197 (640x427)
IMG_1215 (640x427)
IMG_1210 (640x416)
IMG_1085 (640x427)
IMG_1297 (640x427)
IMG_1149 (640x444)
IMG_1160 (640x423)

On islands⤴

from

I recently spent a couple of weeks working on the beaches of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Life can be tough sometimes. It was the beginning of May, pre-midges and so often hot in Scotland. We did have lots of sunshine whilst the rest of Britain swam in rain but oh, so cold! There was a bitter north east wind for most of the trip which brought in hail storms for at least a couple of days.  Despite the wind, and dressed in our best winter outfits, we walked miles across some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and counted cockles, worms and anything that didn’t escape the sieve. We also found a little time to look around the islands and managed to visit the magical standing stones at Callanish at dusk one chilly, damp evening and then again for a proper look on a rather better afternoon. We saw golden eagles, lapwing, golden plover, oyster catchers, snipe. We heard cuckoos, unusual these days on the mainland. And on our last night on Harris, we realised that the strange krkking sound outside the  bed and breakfast was from newly arrived corncrakes, at least one of which was in the yellow flags 30 metres or so from my bedroom window.

Coincidentally I was reading Isles at the Edge of the Sea by Jonny Muir, the story of a young journalist’s summer spent travelling throught the Hebrides wtih his tent, taking in a number of fell races on the way. Not the best literature but enjoyable nonetheless. It set me wondering about the Scottish islands I’ve visited over the years for diving trips, family holidays, work, and with the help of Number 2 son I made a list of islands I have at least set foot upon. I surprised myself with its length and with the memories and stories it generated for me.  There are too many stories for this post but I will try and write about some of them in the coming months. Mind you, I always promise these things and it never seems to happen!

So here, in no particular order, is my list:

  1. Bass Rock
  2. Fidra
  3. Isle of May
  4. Cumbrae
  5. Wee Cumbrae
  6. Bute
  7. Arran
  8. Gigha
  9. Islay
  10. Jura
  11. Seil
  12. Scarba
  13. Lunga
  14. Garvellachs (3 islands)
  15. Easdale
  16. Canna
  17. Eigg
  18. Rum
  19. Mull
  20. Ulva
  21. Linga
  22. Little Colonsay
  23. Staffa
  24. Coll
  25. Luing
  26. Skye
  27. Scalpay
  28. Scarp
  29. Barra
  30. South Uist
  31. Benbecula
  32. North Uist
  33. Harris & Lewis
  34. St Kilda group (does this count as 4 as I’ve trodden on all four of them?)
  35. North Rona
  36. Sula Sgeir
  37. Rockall
  38. Orkney Mainland
  39. Hoy
  40. Sanday
  41. Shetland Mainland
  42. Yell
  43. Unst
  44. Papa Stour
  45. Foula
  46. Out Skerry

I’m sure there are several I’ve missed and there are a number of notable exceptions which perhaps I’ll have to rectify over the next few years. It doesn’t include islands I might have dived next to but haven’t set foot on. I have friends who will have visited far more islands than this and will probably have climbed all the Munros as well, but hey.

So here’s a challenge to my blogging friends:- If you were going to make a list, what would it be?
IMG_1215 (640x427)
IMG_1210 (640x416)
IMG_1197 (640x427)
IMG_1307 (640x426)
IMG_1237 (640x427)
IMG_1297 (640x427)
IMG_1128 (640x427)
IMG_1156 (640x427)
IMG_1149 (640x444)
IMG_1085 (640x427)
IMG_1218 (640x427)
IMG_1350 (383x640)
IMG_1220 (640x427)
IMG_1160 (640x423)