It’s been a very good month for me. Early in November, our new, first grandchild arrived safely. We were able to visit his city of birth, Edinburgh, to congratulate the new parents in person and hold and cuddle the little fella for the first time. Even in those first few days we saw him change and settle into a routine that is destabilising and sleep depriving for his parents but which looked normal. We miss him already and can’t wait to return to Edinburgh just before Christmas and again in 2022.
I’ve been looking forward to being a Grandad for a few years. So far, it is just as I expected. I feel proud and loving, but glad I can feel all that emotional warmth without all the challenge and awkward practicality of having to be a new parent. That looks as demanding as ever but Eldest Son (ES) and his partner are more than coping and their rewards will be immense too.
It is so great that I’m now retired and so we can pop up to Edinburgh without having to slip the visits between any work commitments. Also, the fact that the pandemic has curtailed any plans for exotic holidays abroad over the last year or so means that we can splash out on the rail travel and hotels without feeling too extravagant. If our other sons have children too (say, in Belfast and/or Bristol) than I can see these sorts of lovely, spirit-lifting Grandad visits are going to become a major preoccupation!
We saw Edinburgh this time in cold but mainly sunny weather – the haar was nowhere to be seen. As before, we were impressed by the number of small independent shops and cafes. Two of our three breakfasts (at Urban Angel and Union Brew Lab) were really excellent. We even managed a lunch and a coffee break in a couple of cool and friendly places with a completely relaxed grandchild.
The Royal Botanic Garden and Inverleith Park were also lovely and the preparations for the Christmas light show in the former looked very promising. We had a very pleasant time walking miles around the city and practicing our pram pushing skills. We also were able to meet with the other grandparents again over a tasty Indian takeaway meal they provided while the little one snoozed in his Moses basket. I understand that he snoozed a bit less after we left!
This month was also momentous for the passing of my Dad’s 90th birthday. I was able to visit him briefly in Nottingham to celebrate this big milestone. We marked the occasion with a very substantial and very satisfactory meal at Côte, which is an old favourite, and with a tipple or two from my Dad’s impressive collection of liqueurs. He misses my Mum, as we all do, but we had a quietly relaxed and convivial time comforted by the knowledge that at least she was aware, earlier this year, that her great grandchild was on his way.
In between all this celebration, Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I also managed a rather ad hoc visit to London to see LSW’s sister and then our Middle Son (MS) and his partner. I love going up to London to catch up with developments around the City and the East End, visit the galleries and just absorb the bustle.
Of course, that bustle is reduced during the ongoing pandemic. Nonetheless, the restaurant MS took us to (Sager & Wilde) was busy and had a great atmosphere (as well as good food) and the exhibitions at Tate Modern were booked up. Still, I loved meandering around the Tate Modern. The Turbine Hall had an interesting mobile exhibit and the general collection I walked through on the 3rd floor was, as usual, a little staggering in terms of the quality of the art.
Back in Gloucestershire, in the gaps between all these excursions, I have managed to sustain the normal routines of watching my football team (Forest Green Rovers still ‘top of the league and having a laugh’), walking, cooking, a bit of garden clearance ahead of winter, and some activity around our local Horsley Climate Action Network (HCAN) group.
A particular relief is that, following the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), I have managed to write and publish our quarterly HCAN newsletter. LSW and I plan to travel to Edinburgh on a more frequent basis next year to watch our new grandchild develop and we will also visit MS and Youngest Son when we can. Therefore my commitment to HCAN may reduce to simply sustaining that newsletter routine. It’s been a momentous month and momentum around family is going to continue to be the priority as we move towards, and into, 2022.