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: A Dive-Bombing Kite

Sally Weir, back on the island of Mull after living for seven years in Australia and New Zealand, is constantly repeating a mantra: "It is summer, it is summer, it is summer...'' But the sun did shine in Scotland, there was a barbeque birthday party for a seven-year-old, and a jolly good time was had by all, despite being dive-bombed by a runaway kite.

My little boy has turned seven. He requested a barbeque with some of his friends. It feels strange him asking for one here…in Scotland.

When we were in Australia, even New Zealand, barbeques were a regular occurrence. One, you had the weather and secondly there wasn’t a rain coat in sight! In my mind barbeques represent summer time when the weather is above 20 degrees. I guess that converts into anything here over eight!

I have a constant mantra repeating in my head… 'It is summer, it is summer...' That being so, I must confess to checking the internet weather forecast for the big day. Apparently a high was coming in and low airflow from the north or south, it could have been both, foretold that the chance of rain was nil.

The thing I understood best was a big round yellow symbol with happy little lines radiating from it. That made me smile… Declare Monday be the day!

So Monday came and that big yellow symbol materialised in the sky. Family and friends were summoned to meet us at a place called Loch Na Keal. A beautiful place where the kids can run free. There’s vast land in which to roam, plenty of boggy bits for them to get fully dirty, a stony beach and a burn, or a big stream, depending on where you come from.

We all arrived. Shopping bags congregated upon the place where the cooking emporium would reside. It seemed from the contents of these bags that half the livestock on the island had been purchased, then broken down into burgers, sausages, chicken wings and the like. With four disposable barbeques on which to cremate them, buns, one tonne of tomato ketchup, a bag of mixed salad in case of any closet vegetarians, beer, wine, juice and the compulsory marshmallows, it was exactly what the Thinker (my even-year-old) wanted.

So, barby under way and the kids off to play, there was the relieved hiss of newly opened cans of lager and the scramble to find the cork screw for the wine. The food was charcoaling nicely.

The Thinker was presented with a cricket set and a sadistic kite with the face of a fire-breathing dragon upon it. The balloons I had tied to the trees were clinging for dear life as the wind randomly karate-chopped its way through our gathering. The sadistic kite however was not afraid. A gentle nudge, intending to help it into the air to amaze us with its graceful aerobatics, did nothing more than aggravate it into snapping its string in rebellion. It flew backwards then stopped for a moment to fix a target. Then down it swooped like a spitfire, gathering speed to plunge through our friendly party.

We ducked and threw our arms over our heads. It nearly decapitated the lot of us! In unison we demanded of Grannie, who had been the keeper of the sadistic kite, ‘Do that again! Do that again!’ But no such luck. Someone asked "Which end is the dragon on?'' but a chorus of "Oohs'' signalled that the questioner was on dangerous ground.

My children had never before experienced a birthday party with family. This had always saddened me. While overseas, I would do my best to make the day super-special. Not that I still don’t need to, but I organised everything myself. The presents, the food, the activities, the places to go, staying up till all hours to decorate the house with balloons and streamers for when they awoke.

I felt that everything had to be magnified to compensate for the lack of family presence. But now we do have family with us and it’s amazing to watch them all together. The looks exchanged between them express the most cherished and special emotion. Unconditional Love.

I guess I’ll think twice next time I ask… ‘Which end is the Dragon on?’!


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