Friday, 30 August 2013

Our new Scottish friends

Our new Scottish friends
30 August 2013

So a while ago, Luke came home super excited and chuffed with himself.  PV was hosting a sports touring team, and players were asked to volunteer to billet a player or two.  In other words, to host one or two players.  From Scotland, no less.

Luke didn’t have to beg too much, as quite naturally we agreed, and asked to please have two boys staying with us, for the two nights that they needed accommodation for.  We felt that it would be easier for them, if there were two of them.  As they would possibly not feel so foreign, shy and alone.  A mate from home, makes most things all right.

Grant had been very hesitant at first, as our home is rather small.  Where would we fit them?  How would it work?  Men!!!  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Mattresses on the floor in Luke’s room, instead of en suite guest rooms, would perfectly suffice for teenage boys.  It would be more homely and welcoming even, and make them feel more like a part of our home.  Which, as it turned out, it did indeed.

Though the boys would be with us for two nights, we only had to feed them for the first night, as the second night would be spent at the principal’s home, Ledbury House.  The touring teams and host children were invited to a meal, and this also involved great excitement.  As a night out, even at the headmaster’s house, still meant a night out, mingling with fellow teens.  Go figure!

I had given the meal I should serve them, a fair bit of thought.  And decided against the traditional South African braai and boerewors option.  For one, the weather was not conducive, and secondly, I thought that roast chicken, a potato dish and huge big salad was a rather safe bet.  It turned out to be a clever decision, as the boys admitted to having had a braai for the preceding six nights, before they came to us.  Numerous helpings were had by one and all.

From the second I met them, I appreciated how very, very lucky we were.  What fabulous boys!  They were confident without being cocky.  Knowledgeable, without being know-it-all’s.  Humble, polite and kind.  They simply fit right in.  And we never had a single quiet moment.  I’m so grateful that they were talkative, as it made everyone feel more relaxed.  Awkward silences are just so awkward.  All of us were chattering non-stop.  Our meal together was a joyous one and we felt so blessed to welcome them into our home.

They are both well-travelled boys.  They hale from Aberdeen in Scotland and shared many tales about their lives back home.  They had both just returned from a cultural and music tour to Canada, and so at the young age of sixteen, they certainly seem to be seeing a fair bit of the world.  What a wonderful opportunity for them.

Before their arrival, we had been given their names and were warned about their allergies.  Most of these, were fairly easy to avoid – like shellfish.  And a nut allergy, in particular a peanut allergy, is fairly common too.  However, the one boy, had the peanut allergy rather bad, as he carried an epi-pen with him, as he can go into anaphylactic shock, if he accidently ingests any peanuts.  And so in an attempt to avoid killing one of my guests, I took particular care to de-peanut my home.  The kids often have peanut butter sarmies and raw peanuts in their school lunch boxes too.  I even went so far as to wipe out the drawer that we normally have the peanuts in.  Lest there be any peanut traces left lingering and I accidently touch something peanutie and poison one of these kids.  Would really ruin my day.  And my reputation too.

Cole in particular had been most concerned about the whole allergy thing.  In advance he asked if the boy would die if he just touched peanuts?  What if he smelled them?  Even worse – can he die, if someone just says the word, “peanut”?  Now admittedly this is taking things to a whole new level.  And I assured Cole, that the word, “peanut” was still permitted, and would not be fatal if accidently uttered.

It was lovely for all of us to learn more about a part of the world, we weren’t very knowledgeable about.  And furthermore, for them to learn more about our world.  We asked them their opinions of our beautiful and normally sunny (though not for their visit) South Africa.  And they admitted to absolutely loving it.  The people were friendly.  The food was really good.  They enjoyed the cultural exchanges.  And the girls were reportedly rather pretty too.

Luke simply beamed from ear to ear.  So delighted with his role.  In fact, he was rather talkative.  A rare-ish treat.

However the absolute downer to the evening was the pudding I served.  Chocolate brownies with Ice-Cream.  It would have been all okay, if I hadn’t forgotten in my eagerness to find a suitable and delectable dessert, about the peanuts.  I mean seriously!  How stupid can one person be?  Apparently lots!  Before the arrival of our guests, I showed the kids our pudding treat.  And Cole turned eyes filled with horror, up at me.  “But Mommy!!!  There’s nuts on the brownies!!!”.  I know – what can I say?  I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.  I’m guilty of being over eager, and not very bright.  You’d think I’d have remembered.  Instead, I simply never even noticed them.

Long after the supper was finished, and the littlies went off to bed, Grant and I were sitting in the lounge, watching a wee bit of TV.  And we could still here Luke and the boys, laughing and chatting away.  I gave them some snacks and cool drink and left them to talk and bond, over a mutual interest they had found.  I think it was Call of Duty, on Luke’s PlayStation 3.

The following day promised matches against the touring team.  And we faced the driving rain, to go and support.  Sadly, we got ever so slightly whipped.  Still, it was a great match to watch.  And always encouraging for our kids to play against a worthy opponent that puts up a good challenge.

After their match, there was much showering and zhooshing for their supper at school.  As well as the hopeful wish that they would get to mingle with girls.  This I suspect from the touring boys and Luke too.

And once again, after the boys came back, there was talking and chatting late into the night.  The lot of us, even watched some hockey on TV together.  Learning more from each other all of the time.

We were all sad to see them go and feel lucky that they’ve kept in touch.  Their parents can be proud of them.  Their country too.  They were wonderful ambassadors and have truly piqued our interest in Scotland.  We find ourselves looking out for all things Scottish.  Even just looking at an atlas with the kids, our eyes all drift to Scotland now.

It was wonderful having you here, Allan and Daniel.  Wish you could’ve stayed longer.

And in the wise words of Lord Dingwall, from the movie Brave, playing tribute to the Scottish Highlands, all I can say is “Feast your eyes!”

Och, we really hope to see you wee laddies again soon.
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A very social supper

The Match!

Boys all ready to go out


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