First family trip to Scotland

We visited my native Scotland earlier this summer on our first trip with our then 15 month old son. Just as I had wondered how he would react to his first taste of vegetarian haggis back in January, I was eager to see how he’d respond to visiting the land where I grew up. In fact, he started letting out some little happy noises just after we told him that we’d crossed the border into Scotland.

Our son may well have a very different relation to Scotland to the one that I had. I was born in Scotland and lived there until I left to study at Leeds University when I was eighteen. Our son was born here in Wales last year and this may mean that his relationship to Scotland ends up being similar to my own connection with Ireland, the land where both my parents were born. By virtue of my wife being from England, our son would be eligible to play football for Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.

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I had been slightly worried about our son making a bit of a mess at my parents’ house as it is a lot tidier and neater than our own house, in part due to the less frequent presence of food-throwing toddlers. He did have a go at re-arranging most of the contents of the spice shelf in one of the kitchen cupboards and ‘re-organizing’ a bookshelf (see 16 thoughts from my 16th month as a parent and Like father, like son), but thankfully my parents didn’t seem to mind. Indeed, he showed quite a commitment to tidiness by spending quite a bit of time playing with a mop as well as a dustpan and brush.

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It was great fun going on a family trips to places that I’d been to regularly as a child, even when it was only the local play park. I particularly enjoyed our trip to Craigtoun Country Park near St. Andrews, somewhere that had been a real favourite of mine when I was primary school age. I’d been sad to see that it was threatened with closure within the last few years, but thankfully it was saved by a community group that largely took over the running of it.

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The park’s attractions include a boating lake, crazy golf, trampolines, a play park, train rides and lots of space for having picnics and running around. I had worried that it would not live up to my expectations given how much I’d enjoyed it as a child but found that the play park had grown a lot bigger and that the track for the train ride was much longer than it had been. The train rides had been one of my favourite parts of the park as a kid and apparently I once insisted on going on something like eight or nine train rides in a row. Perhaps for this reason, the park now has a different ticketing system which involves buying tickets for a set number of rides (…although there is an unlimited day pass option).

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Our on wasn’t all that bothered about the train ride and almost nodded off to sleep during the circuit of the park. However, he did seem to really enjoy riding on some tricycles in an area where there was a perhaps misplaced sign telling visitors ‘no backflips or somersaults to be attempted’ and managed to restrain his gymnastic inclinations. Back home at my parents’ house, there were plenty of other things to enjoy (…such as being able to relax and being cooked for!). It was also great to see our son playing with some of my favourite toys from my toddler days. These included a set of plastic stacking cups that my parents have now kept for over thirty years.

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It was also great to go on trips with not just my wife and son, but also my parents. There was something special about three generations of our family going places together. These included Kinshaldy Beach, which is on the coast of North East Fife. Although it was a bit blustery, we all managed to have a paddle and build some sandcastles (…as well as take turns trying to prevent our son from eating sand).

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As we’ll soon be moving house, our trip to Scotland has been our only real trip away this summer. This trip home involved visiting many familiar places and these places became all the more special again as they took me back to my own childhood and I loved seeing our son enjoy them too. I’m not sure if he’ll remember his first trip to Scotland in years to come, so I might just have to show him this blog post!

Do you remember taking your kid(s) to places that you visited as a child? Did the places live up to expectations and what did your kid(s) think? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

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Related posts

Seamus Heaney, Haggis and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Will our son like haggis?

A Scottish dad’s thoughts about St. Andrew’s Day

Like father, like son

16 thoughts from my 16th month as a parent

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