There are days when I feel so lucky to be living in this country. I mean, I'm generally quite happy living here, just that there are days when everything is right. And one of those days was yesterday.
I left Glasgow in the pouring rain, arrived near Stirling in mixed weather, yet we still decided to go ahead with the plan to visit Vane Farm near Kinross, in the hope that going further north east would keep us dry.
Nobody had warned us that it was going to be such a glorious day, with warm sunshine, unreal skies, birds buzzing right past our heads.
We went to Vane Farm, which is part of the Loch Leven Nature Reserve and run by the RSPB. Our walk took us up Vane Hill, apparently a 2km walk up to a viewpoint at 250 metre (750 feet) height. The ascent was steep and it was our first proper hill walk. Now Cubling is a reasonable walker, but this was tough going and there was a point where she pleaded for no more steps please. How hard must it be for a small person to get up step after step sized for big people? I have to admit that her pace served me well, not being the fittest and pregnancy not exactly doing my already meagre fitness much good. She was more interested in climbing trees, collecting sand and stones than views, so we had our very own highlights.
The round trip took us a good 2 hours, which isn't all that bad considering the steep incline, the fact that we had 3 3-year olds, a 20 month old, an 8 month old and a fetus in tow and that there were a great deal of stones, sticks, bugs, and even wigwams to be explored.
We rounded off the day by relaxing in the cafe (which had already shut but sometimes cafe staff are nice and they let you regain your energy) and the kids being shown all the birds which can be viewed there with the help of fixed cameras installed across the area. I can definitely recommend a visit to the centre, it has a nice shop and really friendly RSPB staff who will explain all about the local birds to any child, regardless of age. Cubling left singing "Alle Voegel sind schon da" (a German children's song about spring and birds) which speaks for itself.
We even brought home a souvenir: Cubling's first ever tick and with it, hurray, a trip to A&E because my previous two attempts to remove ticks weren't very successful and I wanted to make sure I didn't mess up again. So for anyone wondering how to remove a tick professionally, without exposing their child to a big, bearded and rather scary doctor of the Stirling Infirmary A&E: get a pair of tweezers, and pull the tick out straight (no, no turning!!!) and gently, until it lets go. Don't force it and do it as soon as detected, the sooner the better. It looked easy!
And yes, I was tired as a dog, and would have slept like a log, if it hadn't been for all those birds singing all morning...