It’s been exactly one month since my dad landed in the UK. Since then, he’s been setting up his home base in Scotland and enjoying Edinburgh. It’s been a little more difficult for him than he expected, but he’s still enjoying every moment of it. I’ve also included a story he wrote about sailing a dinghy the last time he was here.
After arriving at Luton Airport, I had a special surprise set up for my dad: a beautiful house with a playful Terrier to dog sit, organized through Trusted House Sitters. We stayed in the countryside for three days, and then drove up north to Edinburgh, arriving late at night.
We hit our first snag shortly after this. Earlier I had mentioned I had a huge surprise to announce. That was supposed to be that I had a new flat in Edinburgh, complete with a loft bed. It’s not a big flat, but was supposed to be my home base. A place to leave my bags and an address for mail. Before I got the flat, I talked with the lady I rented from to let her know I planned to have my dad stay there while I was out of town. Unfortunately, this fell through shortly after we arrived.
Two days after getting back to Edinburgh, I left to France for a week in Tignes, part of a prearranged trip with Nomadic Hippie. While there, I received a text from my flat mate saying that she wanted my dad out of the room I was paying for. From France, I had to arrange getting my dad to a hostel until I could get back and sort things out. Unfortunately, when I did get back, I continued to run into trouble with my flat mate. After having to pay rent and keep my dad in a hostel, I’m sad to say that this will be my last week in the flat.
However, I’ve managed to arrange something else which has my dad positively bubbling with excitement. Through one of the two games I play online from time to time, I found a friend living in Aberdeenshire who needs help with the farm, tending the horses and doing repairs. When I asked my dad if he would be interested, he asked if we could please go NOW! It will take a week to get the caravan ready for him, but then he will have a place to stay for the whole winter! Not only will he have a wonderful family, horses and a dog for company, he is thrilled to be back on a farm, which is how he spent his childhood. As to me, well, keep reading.
Since my dad has been in Edinburgh, he’s been arranging everything he needs to have Scotland as his home base. He has applied for his pension and a National Entitlement Card which will give him discounted transportation around the country. He’s reached out to the Royal Air Force (RAF) to see what benefits he can get from them, and he’s sent away to find out what his National Insurance Number is (since he received it before the data was computerized). He has also spent the time exploring Edinburgh and finding good places to eat (with my help). The hostel I put him in is one of my favorite in town, the Belford Hostel. It was built in an old church, and is also located directly next to the enchanting Dean Village.
The only real trouble he ran into was when he asked his daughter to unlock his iPhone so he could get a UK SIM card. Instead of helping him, she cancelled his account with his international data plan and asked him to send the phone to her. Despite the setback, he now has a UK phone and number which he’s been using it for all his calls to get his pension and benefits.
Now things are smoothing out for him. His final hurdle is simply waiting another two months in Scotland. He has to be in the country for three full months before he can start collecting his pension. Good thing we now have the perfect location to spend that time. We’ll be heading up to Aberdeen next weekend, and I’ll hang around for a few days to get him established, meet the family and help out on the farm.
Then, while he stays on the farm for the winter, I’ll be headed to the Abu Dhabi in the UAE for a week on December 4th, and then to Thailand on December 11! My brother is finally leaving the US (just for a one month vacation), and I plan to meet him in SE Asia and explore. While there, I also plan to take the next level of Thai massage training, and hopefully get a job as an English teacher too, utilizing the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate I got last year.
And as mentioned, here is the story my dad sent me about sailing a dinghy in Edinburgh back in 1968.
This is another story apropos (concerning) sailing my 14 foot (about 3 m) dinghy on the waters of the Firth of Forth – the sea estuary to the North of Edinburgh – Scotland. This time my only mate on board with me was a lad who keenly wanted to accompany me sailing – little did I know his level of competence until – as we sailed out of Grantham Harbour – the wind speed increased to near gale force – I was soon to witness exceptional “yachtmanship” competence – with the main and jib taut and close to the wind – the mast was close to and all but horizontal with the water speeding past the “gunnel” [gunwale] as we sped along under full control. I had never experience such joy – or almost fright of having to be totally in the moment of now to keep our vessel safe and seaworthy. A similar experience for me was as a passenger in a race car being driven at high speed around a closed circuit track with a very competent driver using every scrap of adhesion the tires could give as we sped – under full control through the bends before attaining full speed along the straights.
Not so was another occasion when I had a less able crew – after I had purchased a spinnaker – to take advantage of the sometimes light breezes of the firth.
I had instructed him as rudder to run with the wind – to have the wind dead astern so that I could raise the spinnaker – which I proceeded to do – and as the wind filled this huge sail – I noticed too late that our course has been changed to having the wind abeam – an “oh, no! moment” – and the spinnaker pulled the mast down to the water’s surface and filled with water, drawing the mast from the vertical upright to the nadir – pointing downward to the bottom of the ocean. In short order we were sitting on the hull – holding onto the center board – having to figure out how to lower the sails and “right” the hull and return to the harbour.
But – alas – yet another “oh, no!” moment to relate – I was training my yachting crews in seamanship – the exercise was to belay – to secure the dinghy as we approached the shallow water of the launching slip when – to complete a period of sailing we could take the dinghy to storage in the boat yard.
On the command “belay” the jib and mainsail came down, the center board and rudder came out – or they would be fouled in the shallows – and the person holding the painter – the rope attached to the bow – who did not fully understand her purpose stepped overboard – not onto the slip which by now was ankle deep – but managed to step short into deep water – and was observed to disappear below the surface of the water – a useless act – the actual purpose of her action being to secure the motion of the dinghy in the shallow water of the slip prior to “taking the dinghy out of the water.” For me it was a lesson of not ensuring that another had fully gotten what I had intended should occur.
“That’s all, folks” – to misquote the end of cartoons we enjoyed so much in our earlier years. Thanks for reading and sharing the lighter moments of my life.