Today has been a frantic admin day with a fixed and wonderful purpose that has seen 4.47 miles walked while climbing 196.19 feet.. The flat refurbishment has, for many good reasons, been a long time in the making. The new kitchen and bathroom have been ordered but there is a delay in their delivery until well after the new year and the rest of the flat is on hold until the kitchen and bathrooms have been replaced for many good and practical reasons. But for me it has been a liveable space in which I have been able to keep warm and dry, work, cook and even bathe. More importantly it has been a space in which the children have been able to come and see me, be fed, and in return make beautiful music on the keyboard.

Until now the children have not been in the least bit interested in camping at the flat with Dad. Until last night. Heather texted. She wanted to come and stay and practice all her piano and singing pieces for her music mock exam which they call prelims. In my excitement I thought that she meant that she wanted to stay the night. All I had for her to sleep on was 3 old cushions from an old arm chair that was in the flat before. That was never going to do so I came up with a plan. I had to keep the plan mobile so that it could be moved around the flat but I needed to find a bed. It was obvious. I needed a camp bed that would be far more comfortable for her to sleep on than the three old cushions. So after a short 1.5 mile walk around Doune Ponds followed by breakfast and morning prayer I was on the No. 59 bus bound for Stirling before jumping on the P1 bus for the Springkerse Retail Park. My camp bed came from B&Q so I was going to B&Q.

Once in the Springkerse Retail Park my fantastical shopping adventure began but began with a disappointingly long succession of Nos. Did B&Q have a camp bed? No. Homebase? No. Bensons Beds? No. Halfords? No. Argos? No. Harry Corry? No. But then a plan, a wonderful plan hatched. As I looked down in disappointment when being told No but then given a long list of shops to try that I had already walked around, I suddenly realised that I was stood right next to an ex demonstration single bed that was being sold for next to nothing. Why? I had just walked into a closing down sale and had no idea until that second, that that was what I had walked into. I looked closer. The bed was in good nick and one of those solid metal framed beds but with solid bolts that made it easy to put up and take down again to be moved around the flat. It would have been super comfortable for Heather, I would need a bed any way when the flat is finished so it seemed a shame to let this gift go by me. I told the lady shop assistant who it was for and a little of my story. She had been offering me a brand new one for a little more but when I explained that I couldn’t afford that, especially with the mattress on top, she sold me a brand new one for the same knock down price. I was amazed and that gave me a little more money for a lamp for Heather’s bedside cabinet which I of course needed. The same lady led me to one that was perfect and just within budget. She saw a slight scratch on the top so knocked off a further 10%. Perfect, I could then afford a cool bed in a bag duvet set so that Heather had a brand new, clean smelling set of bedding to snuggle under in her bedroom in the flat. Then I discovered that I couldn’t collect it until the closing down sale finished. It was too good a deal to walk away from and I couldn’t take it on the bus anyway so it gave me time to sort out a lift to help me collect it. Awesome. But I still needed a bed. I was sent back to Argos with a top tip. Search for a folding bed, not a camp bed. So back across the retail park I walked to be helped by a delightful shop assistant who not only helped me find one but also organised a delivery for tomorrow. It was a perfect bed to stand the gap until the flat was finished and Mum arrived with a load of furniture that she has been storing for me after her downsize. Not only that it was the perfect additional bed that could be stored in a corner and rolled out when an extra friend came to stay. So now all I had to do was make something work for Heather for one night. On my way home was the Cotswolds camping centre. I jumped off the No.59. They must have a campbed? No. It was now well past lunchtime so I stopped at Dobbies for a coronation chicken baguette with a Mocha. I was able to relax and enjoy lunch as it was an hour between each No.59 bus but then, out of the blue came the memory of Heather on Sunday saying that she couldn’t possibly stay at the flat. I had no shower. She couldn’t wash her long hair in the bath even though it was clean. She needed a shower! I understood entirely and one is on order to get fitted with the bathroom but right now all I could do was get a shower head with those cups that I could push onto the taps. Did Dobbies have them? No. I had promised Heather that I would be back at 4pm to meet her so I had to move quickly. I rushed outside but at the bus stop saw that there was at least 45 minutes until the next Stirling bus. There was nothing for it to catch the Callander bus back to Doune in time. I had to walk. 1.5 miles later I was passing the massive tescos. Did they have a shower head I could plug onto the taps? No. But poundstretcher might. 2.97 miles and 162.40 feet later I arrived at poundstretcher. Did they have a shower head that I could plug onto the taps? YES!! Job done I had 20 minutes to catch the next bus to Doune. Mountain Warehouse. Do you have a campbed? No. I was going to have to give Heather my campbed and sleep on the cushions myself.

I wanted to make it as good as I could for her so once back in Doune I set up her bedroom remembering first to switch on the storage heater to warm the bedroom in the evening. I swept the floor. Then I laid down the tent carpet which with it’s bright blue checks looked quite cool. Then I stripped my bedding from the camp bed and carried it in before then putting her new bedding on to it ready for me to stuff the duvet and pillows into when she brings her stuff over. Then I ran to the village store and scrounged two loads of cardboard boxes. I made one into a bedside table and put a set of old curtains inside to weigh it down. Taped it up and then got my desk lamp and set it onto the ‘bedside box’ for a reading light. Then I hung some of the lovely curtains that my wonderful accountant Elizabeth, who is providing all of her accounting to the challenge for free, had most generously given to me. It was looking fabulous and I had a stash of cardboard boxes that I could have great fun making cardboard furniture similar to mine with Heather. The buzzer went. I answered nervously. ‘Hello?’ It was Heather back from school. ‘Come In!’ Bzzzzzz. Here she was. I stood her still in front of me. Blind folded her with my hands over her eyes then guided her along the corridor to what was now her bedroom. I stood her at the door. ‘Tah Dah’ I exclaimed as I removed my hands from her eyes. ‘Aaaaahhh Dad! She exclaimed. It is lovely, but what is it for?’ ‘ For you’ I explained, and then Heather explained that she was only coming over to stay until about 10pm to do her musical preparation for tomorrow’s prelims. She didn’t mean stay overnight. I felt so silly but Heather was hugely appreciative of the effort that I had made even if it was only an old campbed hidden under a cheap duvet cover!

I made Bangkok Style Pad Thai while Heather played beautiful music on the keyboard then sang like an angel. Tea made, we sat and for the first time ever Heather made it all the way through grace without laughing and then we ate and talked and laughed and talked. A great and hugely successful day and wonderful night which continues with Heather doing her Chemistry homework behind me.

Happy Dad.