walk with Rhona and Isabella

I meet up with Rhona and her 10month old daughter Isabella in the Square. We decide to walk out past the castle hotel, and to turn right rather than left as neither of us have been that way before.

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As we walk we talk about Huntly, Rhona has lived here for a couple of years, but before she had Isabella she was commuting into Aberdeen so didn’t spend much time in the town. She and her husband moved here so that they could buy a house, it’s just on the edge of the area that they wanted – just feasible to commute to Aberdeen, but it has more character than some of the towns that are a little nearer.

We talk about work and returning from maternity leave, and being trapped by the desire to work part time, and about falling into a job, and about childcare and being near enough to get back quickly if something’s wrong.

We talk about sleep, Isabella hasn’t been a great sleeper so far – she suffered from silent reflux as a small baby, which wasn’t diagnosed for ages, so she cried a lot and they had quite a worrying time. She tells me how unhelpful the doctor was – and how difficult it was actually finding out what was wrong with the baby. We talk about co-sleeping, and feeding in the night, and trying to move babies into their own beds, and disruptions like teething and other illnesses.

Ruby is grumpy (uncharacteristically) I think tired. But can’t settle. I put her into the sling, and feed her as we walk along, she soon falls asleep and I transfer her back into the pram. Isabella, like Ernest, will only nap in her pram. We talk about this, and how good it can be, apart from in very bad weather. We talk about tricking babies into thinking they are going for a nap walk – putting them in the pram and ‘getting ready’ to go out, hoping they’ll fall asleep in the hallway.

We talk about food, and where to buy stuff in Huntly, we marvel that there seems to be no organic milk in Asda, and that fromage frais all seems to have sugar in in – even the ones specifically meant for babies and small children (Rhona knows one brand that doesn’t have sugar added). We talk about breakfast cereals (and added salt and sugar) about fair trade and local produce, about farmers markets and supply and demand.

The road we follow (turning right from the Castle Hotel) turns into a track, we go through a gate and see that we are heading for the river. I hope that we can reach it. Through one more gate the path gets a little rougher, this would not be easy going if the ground were muddy, but it’s dry and we make it to the river bank. It’s a beautiful spot, there’s a fishing hut, and a path leading in each direction along the river. We don’t attempt either of them – they are narrow and I don’t think we’d get more than a few metres along, but we note that with the carrier this would make a good circular route – following the river back towards the town.

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We turn to walk back and the path seems much harder going this way – up the hill the surface seems much rougher. On the walk back we talk about growing food – Rhona has planted potatoes this year, and I am looking forward to moving to a flat with a garden and starting a veg patch. We talk about Huntly’s monster slugs, and cold frames, and snow. We talk about walking with a pram in the snow – it’s been a mild winter so this hasn’t been a problem for Rhona and Isabella, but I’ve heard from other people that it adds a whole new level of awkwardness to getting around Huntly.

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We part ways at the Linden Centre, where I’m picking up Ernest from Messy Play.

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