My Dad’s a Goldfish – red kites

Not far from where we live is a red kite feeding station where visitors can view these amazing birds swooping down to grab the meat put out for them.

Red kites were re-introduced to bird-of-prey-302591_640Dumfries & Galloway through a joint initiative between various groups including Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the RSPB. In 2001, 33 young birds were brought to Galloway and released into the wild at a secret location in the Galloway Forest Park. Over the next four years, another 71 birds were released from there and 3 other locations in the Loch Ken area. Breeding occurred for the first time in 2003 when one chick was fledged from one of four nests. In 2015 at least 112 chicks fledged. Now the birds can be seen in lots of places as they spread out across the region.

I’d taken the Goldfish to the feeding station once but had got the time wrong, arriving an hour after the birds were fed. We were still charged the full fee although there was little to see and the Goldfish couldn’t walk any distance. I swore I’d never go back but then saw there was an Open Day and it was free to go.

The son-and-heir was at home for the weekend so with the extra help transporting the Goldfish was a whole lot easier. We arrived to find the visitor centre was already packed with spectators, including many with very large cameras, and lots of families with small children.

At the sight of elderly man in wheelchair, the parents of small children began to drag them, protesting, from their vantage point to let us push through so the Goldfish would have a good view. To my utmost embarrassment he immediately fell asleep. Deeply asleep.

He slept as the woman came out with her bucket of dead chicks and he slept as the red kites filled the skies, swooping down to grab their dinner before soaring upwards again. It was spectacular to watch but no matter how much I nudged the Goldfish, shouted in his ear and shoogled his wheelchair he slept on.

As the last few stragglers cleared the dinner table the audience dispersed. The Goldfish woke up. Wide awake, he wolfed down an ice cream and we thought he might be interested in seeing the sheep, lambs and goats in the field. By the time we pushed the chair to the fence, he was asleep again. We came home.

My Dad’s a Goldfish – have Doblo will go places

The Goldfish loves the new car. I love his car, too, though I find the accelerator is just at the right height to give me a dreadful pain in my ankle after a few miles. I’ll get used to it just like I will get used to actually getting the Goldfish into it – and out again.

If he’s sitting in his armchair he has to transfer to his wheelchair, using the stand aid. This is quite a performance on its own but we’ve all become well-practised and the Goldfish grips the handles as though


The stand aid is an amazing contraption andwithout it we’d have struggled to move the Goldfish when he could no longer walk.

he’s about to take off on a motorbike! With some manoeuvring and pushing and pulling the stand aid I position the stand aid so I can lower the Goldfish into his wheelchair. Unbuckle all the stand aid straps and put his seatbelt on.

I proceed cautiously, backwards, down the ramp, along the gravel path to the back of the car. Get the ramp down and push the wheelchair in. Sometimes it works and the chair slides up the ramp quite easily, sometimes it doesn’t and we stick half way with me braced against the weight of the wheelchair. It’s difficult to get a good run at it over gravel and I seriously contemplate having the drive tarmacked.

I then spend the next ten minutes fastening everything which needs to be fastened to ensure both the wheelchair and the Goldfish are completely secure. Go back to the house to collect handbag, the Goldfish’s bag and lock the door. Return to the Doblo – to find the Goldfish has managed to unbuckle his seatbelt. Fasten him in again, slide the ramp back in and shut the door.


The Doblo meant freedom for us all. I wish the drive at his house  was as smooth as this.


Get in behind the wheel, keeping an eye on the Goldfish in case he starts to unbuckle everything again. Once we set off he usually watches the passing countryside, commenting occasionally on the volume of traffic. Conversation, no longer easy at any time, is even more difficult when we’re in the car and he’s talking to the back of my head.

At our destination I park outside the Day Centre, run round to open the back, take down the ramp, unbuckle all the straps and guide the wheelchair backwards down the ramp. Now, I am faced with a steep bit of pavement and another slope up to the door of the day centre. I am exhausted. The Goldfish is greeted warmly; people rush off to bring coffee for him, a plate of biscuits. He smiles serenely at everyone and falls asleep. I leave, thanking my lucky stars the DH is collecting the Goldfish – getting him out of the Day Centre is even more difficult than getting him in.

Despite the difficulties of getting the Goldfish in and out of the car it is wonderful to be able to take him out. Being cooped up in the house would be so bad for us all. What I don’t understand is why, with all the pushing of wheelchairs and stand aids my upper arms still have ‘bingo wings’ rather than being toned and trim.