Christine Grahame: Stand to attention and keep the kids occupied

Portobello beach is a reliable standby for grannies across the city. Picture: Greg Macvean
Portobello beach is a reliable standby for grannies across the city. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Parliament is in recess. The Summer Surgery Tour was week two and week three was pencilled in for looking after six-year-old granddaughter, to include for the first time “sleepovers”.

Now once upon a time keeping up with and tabs on young children was my modus operandi with two sons just 18 months apart. In tham thar days I had a big dug, a big garden and was aeons younger. Fast forward a few (too many) decades and there is granddaughter with luggage and high expectations of a week with granny and Mr Smokey (my cat).

Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Speaking of Mr Smokey I am fully cat–trained so I am used to not having the day pan out as I wish. You know, birds flying fearfully around the conservatory battering against the windows in panic, cat imprisoned in the living room as I throw a towel, capture and release with ruffled feathers, cat sick on the rug/sofa, mice playing dead until they are.

But that is as nothing to the energy, the demands, the flibbertigibbettiness (Ok, a made-up word) of a six-year-old. Attention span? Define. Anyhow day one and off to Porty beach. It was bracing but cunningly my plan was to have her run off her energy. Nae luck. Then it was settle down on her own bed at granny’s complete with assorted soft toys. Fortunately night one mum stayed over but it was then I learned that “time to get up” was 6.30am. Earlier even than the cat!

Day two, back to Porty beach in brilliant beating sunshine. Was this really Scotland? I managed to contain “getting up” to 7am by allowing her in my bed for a blissful 30 minutes’ intermittent snooze. By day three, I tell you I’m off to bed with her at 9pm. If you can’t beat ’em, etc.

But let’s be frank, once I succumbed to her activity patterns, things began to look up. In between the odd CD “movie” , her mum is Canadian, we went to Deep Sea World and Dynamic Earth in between a pop into my Parly office to check the odd letter or e-mail. Deep Sea World with the sharks swimming over us was a hit but not cheap so I don’t know how other folk can manage the charges.

But the best for me was Dynamic Earth. Again not cheap but with a lot more happening. We went into a mocked-up spaceship which would not have disgraced Doctor Who and then on a journey through millions of years.

I liked when the floor shoogled beneath us in the earthquake but the star was the 3D experience of the rhino and the snowstorm. As we entered, and there was only a small group of us, the guide said only the brave should sit in the front row of the auditorium. Well of course that was us. So the rhino charged right into our faces as we screamed, and actual show flakes fell on us during the blizzard and only on the front row! I was thrilled. Yes, apart from sleepovers there’s a lot to be said for a week with a six-year-old. Just a week mind you.

Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale