Movement

If I want to go over there, I can. I'll just get up, move my legs, and then I'll be there. And if I want to come back I can repeat the events that got me here and I'll shortly be back where I began. This whole movement thing is pretty easy, isn't it? I am the master of my own dimensions - X, Y and Z, I've made them work for me for years and years. I've learned to move myself using my body and limbs, and then a bike, and then a car, and then trains, buses and planes are all at my disposal.

Joni has, up until a few days ago, not had this luxury. She would be placed in a bit of this world and she'd be at that bit of the world's mercy; she couldn't move from it, rocking back and force and stamping her heels on the ground in fun fury. One day, a few months ago, she realised that by holding onto Connie or I's fingers she could hoist her self up from lying to sitting. Then that sitting moved onto standing up, which obviously moved onto walking, slowly, stumbling-ly forward and backwards. Her eyes lit up with delight; her brain started to make neuron links with the muscle movements, and suddenly she realised that she was meant to move in this world. Being still was not her natural position.

Which has lead her almost crawling. She can pivot 360° in a wide circle and can roll onto her back and front rolling around the play-mat and the room at will, even linking the motions to objectives, moving towards a book or a drawer. It won't be long before we're having to bump-proof all the edges in our home, covering plug sockets with little covers, and reinstating that baby-gate we bought all those years ago to keep Frank out of our bedroom.

Speaking of Frank, he's fine with all this. He'll sit there happily and watch us roll around, occasionally coming over to check out what's going on, but most of the time he's happy to sit and get her scraps from her high chair and get the attention after she has gone to bed. He's coming along okay, running away a few times and barking still, but he certainly is more sedentary than he used to be.

We are on the verge of no going back - once she's finally mobile, crawling and walking, the cats out of the bag. Everything that we used to do to keep her safe needs to be revised and corrected. And, most excitingly, we will get to play with her.

In the past week we've rejigged the second bedroom to essentially be an entire playroom, with a large play-mat covered floor. On it, I can crawl around being silly and she'll spin on her belly, writhing trying to get going but not quite there. Her excitement is so high she can see what I am doing and wants to do it, but can't yet. And, as it stands, this is already the best thing we can do together, I cannot imagine how much fun it'll end up being when she's able to actually chase me, run with me, Connie and Frank, and actively be the silly little girl that she almost certainly is going to be.

Then, it's time to teach her how to ride a bike. Skate. Ice skate. 

Biking About Glasgow

Seven years ago (almost to the day) my sister and I went to meet my mum and dad in Paris as part of a surprise in support of their wedding anniversary. As with several things that have happened within the life of this blog, there is a post about it (though it’s a confusingly written post, at first). There is two different stories in the post (as was my style back then) and it’s the second of the two stories that I wanted to call back to.

Bikes.

This was the first time in my life that I had came across a Mass Public Hire Scheme for bikes, or what you might call today a Boris Bike scheme – I’ll describe it to you now, even though you already know what it is. Bascially, there are hundreds of bikes located at tens of different stations around the city. You rock up to one, select the bike you want, and you can cycle it away and then, once finished with it, drop back off at any station and it’ll charge you a fee for the time you had it. I noted at the time regarding the Paris system that

"In fact, there are so many that I think you could probably assume that anywhere you fancy going will have one very close."

and I was so enthused by the whole system. I thought it a revelation for a big city, and one like Paris, and I really really fancied hiring a bike and booting about the city. But I didn’t. And then, in 2010, London launched the Barlcays Cycle Hire and I was suddenly very excited.

Interestingly I added a short post-script to that post back in 2007 regarding bikes in Glasgow.

"I think it is amazing, but it would not work in Glasgow. For one the bikes would never come back to the station…"

Well, guess what? Last night I was proven entirely wrong, for I hired my first ever bike here in my home town. And it was great.

Photo of a Nextbike (not the one I used) taken outside the Glasgow Green Templeton Station ( photo credit: Michael Doherty )

Photo of a Nextbike (not the one I used) taken outside the Glasgow Green Templeton Station (photo credit: Michael Doherty)

Nextbike Glasgow launched a few weeks back and it is a pared down scheme compared to the widespread Velib and Boris Bike scheme featuring simple locks and codes and a need for a mobile application. There are around 30 or so stations (some temporary for the Commonwealth Games) and 400-ish bikes, and the stations are simple bike lock stands. To hire a bike you simply need to sign up via the website and then use the app to find, hire and return a bike by entering the code of the bike into the app, and it’ll tell you the unlock code for the bike lock. Then you’re off.

I found the scheme to be a little easier to use than I expected, and to be honest the fun and exhilaration of riding a bike from Glasgow Green near to West Brewery all the way along past the Barras and then up Glasgow Cross, Argyle Street and then along Buchanan Street was part of my enjoyment. Cycling on the roads in Glasgow is given a fair beating by regular cyclists (Car-Sick Glasgow is a bloody excellent blog at ripping apart the bullshit fed by the council) due to the poor attitude they get from drivers, and the road layouts really aren’t very good for biking. However, I found it fun – the off-road cycling near to the Barras was excellent, the advance stop lines at the traffic lights, which I don’t really consider that important when driving, are actually amazing for cycling and give you a sense of power at the lights that I think you are sometimes not au fait with when a total novice biker.

As a short journey it was ideal – I was squashed into a train on the way to the Hockey event and I really didn’t fancy trying to get on a train at Bridgeton with a couple of thousand other folk, so and a couple and myself made a bee-line for the cycle hire rack (sign posted by a lovely bright pink sign), and we later met again at a set of traffic lights in the Merchant City, sharing a knowing nod.

The total cost the ride was £1. I did have to top up my account with £10 (that never will expire according to the site's conditions) and there are options for a cheaper annual subscription (currently £40 as part of a promotion) that makes your fisrt 30 mins free and then a maximum charge of £5 a day (a little more than a bus ticket, but cheaper than the combined SPT Rounabout Train, Bus and Underground ticket).

I can’t wait to try out the bikes again the next time I am in the city, and if I was a student I’d be using the system every day to boot about the city. The next time I am heading to the west end from town I might aim for it, as it has opened up usage of the new Fastlink lanes, or the new bridge across the M8 at Charing Cross, or even the canal route or the Kelvin Way.

As for my original rservations; time will tell. The bikes might go missing… but the GPS trackers will get them back. 

Hidden Minutiae

There are always quirks to the inner workings of a healthy relationship that only those inside the relationship know about. Sometimes these are intimate, or in other cases, they are just simply inside jokes. It is interesting to consider the black hole that must exist when you think about the relationships of friends and family that you just don’t see – what happens behind these closed doors is oddly interesting to me; don’t get me wrong, not from a perverted perspective or a nosey perspective (I don’t actually want to know what goes on) just that I know what happens in my relationship that other people don’t know about - the mundane little ticks of a stable relationship - and wonder what mundane stuff that happens between my friends and their partners.

In my relationship with Connie, one in which we’re married and have a child on the way, we have loads of these, all normal I think. There are small ones that are subtle, worked in by habit (like remembering to lift the bathmat from the floor after I shower), and there are others, borne from ritual and conversation. Of course, I am not going to divulge all these small minutiae, because they are boring – but one thing that a lot of people won’t consider is one of the most important.

As you will no doubt be aware, Connie is Canadian. Now, how many of you have honestly considered the “how” of how she gets to stay here? Have you thought about her as an immigrant? As someone who technically has little “right” to live here? You probably haven’t because she’s just my wife, just a friend, or just six letters that appear on this blog every so often. So here’s the thing – much of our relationship has been dictated by her need to legally be able to stay here. What that entails is a shocking amount of beauracy and a scrutinising of your relationship of the like that very few other people will encounter in their life, never mind in our case which has been every two years since we started seeing each other.

You see, Connie originally didn’t come here to settle. She was on a transit visa, part of the Youth Mobility Programme, which gives out cheap and finite visas every year to commonwealth countries to allow people to go off and live a new experience. After we met, she decided that she wanted to stay here with me, which is nice – so in 2012 we applied for her to get an extension to her visa as my partner, which was granted. The couple of days around this event, where we went to Glasgow’s Home Office centre to apply in person, saw us have a short holiday to Stirling (we were living in Aberdeen at the time), have a rough night’s sleep before the interview, and then on the way home we bought Frank. It’s a pivotal moment in our history.

And this week past we have had another – you may notice that was 2 years ago, and now Connie, having lived here for 2 years as my partner, is now able to apply for Settlement or “Indefinite Leave To Remain”. This is another larger form, more money spent, and a further check to make sure that we do live together. Once this application has been accepted (we hope it will) she will be able to stay in the UK free from the prospect of her stay expiring. And, because she managed to pass the Life in the UK test in a years’ time she can apply for British Citizenship and be a dual-national of Canada and the UK.

So yeah, that’s one of our hidden things. It’s a big one, and one that someone might not even think about.