Family Ties

I’ve recently returned from a visit to see my family back in Scotland, hence coming off the rails with my #NanoPoblano effort this month (sorry!)

I think I needed the break to be honest. I haven’t been back all year and between work and my charity projects I was keeping myself so busy I hadn’t really stopped since the summer. I know we’ve just been away to Madrid, but it felt quite a relief to leave all the niggles and pressures of my life in London behind for a few days.

I spent some quality time with my parents and their dog Rory. Here he is on Instagram, having a ball in the park:

Quality time with Dad and Rory

A post shared by Daniel Mclaughlan (@straydogstrut7) on

It was my dad’s 60th birthday on Monday so we celebrated with a family meal at the weekend. I also got a chance to catch up with my brother and sister, and their children.

My nephews are getting so big! My sister’s three boys are 2, 5 and 11 years old and have distinctly different personalities. There was a lot of sibling rivalry over the Xbox games with the older two: “Uncle Daniel, it’s my turn now isn’t it?”

The youngest was easily pacified so long as he had whatever treat he wanted – and screamed the house down when he didn’t get it – and I loved listening to them talk. The middle child came out with the sweetest things and drew me a couple of cute crayon pictures, while the eldest is quite the technical wizard and enraptured us all with his singing talents.

My brother’s two are 6 and 3 and we had great fun playing physical games like musical statues and a variation of “what’s the time Mr Wolf?” – my charity experience came in handy and it was a joy inventing games to play from what we could find in the living room.

I brought them all some gifts from Madrid. For my sister’s kids, it was mostly sweeties but also a fabric dog that you colour in – they loved it but cue more squabbling over whose dog it was! – and for my brother’s kids, a couple of children’s books in Spanish, given their heritage. Soy un Artista by Marta Altés is a delightfully illustrated story of a young boy who loves to draw everywhere, much to the exasperation of his mother. The other – I can’t recall the name – was a book about Pablo Picasso with popups and touchy-feely bits inside.

Despite the break, my nephews all moved at 100mph, and it was quite exhausting at times just keeping up with them, as Rory (below) demonstrates. It was interesting too to see how they related to me in different ways: the eldest starting to ask questions about what I do in London and seeking my opinion on things; one of the middle children seeking me out as an intermediator when they didn’t get their way (like a proper grown up); and the youngest using me as a handy cushion to sprawl out and fall asleep on.

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You and me both, buddy

Being back in the house where I spent a lot of my teenage years also found me revisiting old memories. It’s amazing how little some things change – the creaky floorboards on the stairs, the worn wooden front gate, those odd DIY jobs that somehow never get finished – I wouldn’t change any of it. Then the things that have – and had to – change, like my old bedroom now office and the garden which transforms more each year. I have memories in that house that my nephews won’t have. For them its granny and granddad’s house, and they’ll create their own memories.

Since arriving back in London, i’ve caught the flu which has now almost shifted but has sapped my energy and enthusiasm this week, not least for blogging. This post is me getting back on that horse.

Have you seen close family recently? What did you do? What memories does your family home conjure up?

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