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Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Post Book Festival Depression Blues? Not Likely!

They really were here!
(L-R) Sophie Cooke, Margaret Elphinstone, Liz Lochead, (David Johnson - chair), Alexander McCall Smith, Kenneth Steven, James Robertson

Well it’s all over.  The authors have departed and today I spent the whole day playing with my children which was rather nice.  The book festival was great but it’s been quite stressful too.  Not least because Allan and I have been sleeping in a tent for the last four nights.

Sally’s sleeping had been getting steadily worse so we decided that we really needed to face up to the problem and take the dummy away (yes yes we shouldn’t have given her one in the first place – isn’t the retrospectoscope marvellous).  Things were really starting to improve and we decided that the last thing we wanted to do was cause any set backs by both moving back into our bedroom with her whilst Allan’s mum was here.  This left us Helen in her own room, Sally in our bedroom, Beth in the spare room…….oh dear – we had run out of rooms.  Pitching the tent in the garden was my idea and it seemed like rather a masterful plan initially.  Once the 30 mile an hour winds got up I must admit it seemed a little less masterful.  Of course we have all mod cons.  We ran an extension cable out there so we have a bedside lamp and an electric blanket on our air bed so we’re coping.  It’s not so much fun having to walk across the garden to go inside for the 3am feed.  Allan is having the same problem as he has to get up and feed Sally lamb at 4am!  Beth is going tomorrow but she’s the first in a long line of visitors this summer so I fear we may be spending much of the season in the tent.

Anyway on Saturday morning I arose from my tent and after a nourishing breakfast I headed round to the village hall where I was delighted to see a veritable throng of people waiting to collect tickets.  (Well at least 5 or 6).  The sun was shining and there were plenty of people availing themselves of the soup and sandwiches provided by Colonsay Pantry.  I sat outside with a bowl of carrot and coriander and chatted with my friends for a while.  You have no idea what  rare luxury this was for me – I had no children in tow and was able to laze around in the sun worrying only about myself.  Then when aforementioned friends started demanding attention I was able to just slip away to sell raffle tickets instead of having to get into a long and complicated argument over the wrongfullness of removing all of the roughcasting from the hall.

The first author to take to the low platform (we thought using the stage was too formal) was Margaret Elphinstone.  She’s a historical novelist and gave a great talk describing how she carries out her research and writes her books.  It made me feel really inspired and that the trip I forced Allan to take to Jerusalem three years ago when I was writing a bonkbuster about Pontius Pilate was totally justified.

After Margaret came Poet Kenneth Steven then – the headline act – Alexander McCall Smith.  He was really very funny.  As my Dad says he could easily have had a career as a stand up comedian.  I really enjoyed his talk and will definitely be reading his Courdoroy mansions series now.

I must confess that Saturday evening was a little disappointing.  Beth had kindly offered to babysit so that Allan and I could attend the whisky tasting with singer/songwriter Robin Laing.  Two problems arose from this – 1. I don’t like whisky 2. it became apparent that there was nobody there to wash the glasses.  Three hours later Allan, myself and my mum were standing in the kitchen only seconds away from smashing one of the glasses and using them to slit our own wrists. Two hours of solid washing up does become rather tedious.  Fortunately during my search for tea towels I discovered Gavin’s stash of chocolate for selling to those not satisfied by soup and sandwiches.  Gorged on Yorkies and revived, we threw ourselves back into the task with vigour.

On sunday morning I threw off my washing up hangover and headed round to watch Sophie Cooke give a reading from her novels and poems, very enjoyable.  Then James Robertson gave a hugely funny reading of Winnie the Pooh in Scots.  It was very amusing and later I accosted him and suggested that he ought to produce an audio cassette (it turns out I was not the first person to suggest this – he was very patient with me though).  Sadly the subsequent Q&A session all got a bit political.  The woman sitting next to Beth seemed to think she was on some sort literary question time – I was sorely tempted to reach for my whisky tasting glass razor and take her life instead of my own……..Three hours later she had finally been dragged from the hall and it was time for me to give my introduction of Liz Lochead.  Sadly I forgot all my carefully done research but fortunately I managed to remember her name and she made it onto the stage.  Her poetry reading was fantastic and so inspired was I that I found myself composing a poem about the tent this morning.

The festival was rounded off by a debate featuring all of the authors.  Sadly the take home message from this was that it’s going to become increasingly difficult for new writers to break into the market.  Rather disheartening for me then since I have a secret (or not so secret) desire to be a writer.

Then they all headed off to the pier and I headed home to my neglected husband and children and a rather delicious plate of meatballs.  This morning I woke up with a huge sense of relief (mingled with fear that the tent was actually going to blow away).  I’ve really been struggling in my capacity as head of social media.  I’m just not that good at working Twitter and what with my two children, dog, hens, lambs, online teaching students (who are a bit like pets in a way) and mother in law visiting I haven’t had much time to get my head around it.  Hopefully by next years festival I will be better at it – that’s if I’m not voted off of the committee at the debriefing meeting on Wednesday.

If I’m allowed to stay on the committee I have lots of ideas for next year.  I would love to get Julia Donaldson to come across.  If any other famous authors are reading this and fancy a trip to Colonsay please let me know!  For now though I’m looking forward to getting back to normality.  Or at least my version of normality where you sleep in a tent and get up at four am to feed the lamb living in a dog kennel at the bottom of your garden (next to The Weaves in fact!).

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Five signs your sheep is lambing

The flock at dusk

 

  1. She’s on her own
  2. She can’t settle
  3. She’s pawing the ground and maybe walking in circles
  4. Tilting head backwards
  5. Straining and grunting with bits of lamb sticking out of her rear (no shit Sherlock!)

Consider this – you never see a dead sheep right out in the middle of a field.  Oh no they always like to go off into corners to die give birth.  They do this on purpose just to irritate the kindly humans who, with their best interests at heart, are traipsing around the field checking up on them at all hours of the day and night.

I had Liz Lochead in the front of my car this evening.  Actually that’s not strictly true.  I had Liz Lochead in the front of the-mother-in-laws car.  Our own car smells too strongly of petrol and dog for me to invite Scotland’s premier poet into its putrid interior.  The authors arrived en-masse today and my Dad and I had the pleasure of meeting Liz (first name terms already), Sophie Cooke and Kenneth Steven.  All of whom seemed rather lovely.  They also seemed gratifyingly impressed by Colonsay’s scenary.  This island had pulled out all the stops.  The sun was shining and the sea was sparkling.  As poor Liz struggled out of the car where I had parked it jauntily on top of a small hillock she turned to look at the view out over the pier and even I, jaded as I am, had to admit it was rather spectacular.  After a few minutes of conversation in which I developed dreadful verbal diarrhoea and may have appeared like a cross between a star struck school girl and a tour guide on speed I ditched the celebs and headed back around the island.  (I’m missing out the part where I almost drove the-mother-in-law’s Micra into a Landrover!).

I pulled up about half a mile from our house.  I removed my Uggs and replaced them with wellies, zipped up my Barbour (real croftesses can’t afford Barbour but I had one left over from my previous life).  Stowed my iphone safely in my pocket (even Croftesses need a smartphone) and headed off around the sheep.

Going around the sheep is a tricky business.  It’s not like going for a walk.  You have to pay attention.  You can’t just wander around blogging in your head and thinking about how beautiful the scenery is.  You must look out for five signs above.  As I wandered the hillside (limping in a slightly pregnant fashion, I have a strange (hopefully not pregnancy related back injury)), inhaling the crisp sea air and admiring what will soon be our amazing view, and writing this blog in my head I  heard bleating coming from the other side of the hill.  I sneaked up to the top and looked down onto Sally lamb’s mother and brothers.  They were calling to her wanting her to stop and feed them.  She obliged and they tucked themselves underneath, one on each side and started feeding vigorously tails wagging furiously.  I raised my iphone to take a picture (camera still defunct!) and the battery ran out!

“Oh well” I thought to myself, “never mind the flat battery, there’s not much going on anyway.” As I crested the last rise and was about to begin my (limpy) journey home I spied a sheep with some rather unpleasant substance dripping from her rear.  My first thought was dread.  Here I was out in the middle of nowhere a potential lambing emergency afoot with no phone signal to call for help, I didn’t even have any 3G for looking up lambing guidelines on the internet.  I took a different route around the hillock and came upon her from another angle.  A tiny lamb, brand new and dripping wet was just staggering to its feet and searching  (rather haplessly I might add) for its mothers udder.  I have seen hundreds of lambs being born.  I’ve watched my parents up to their elbows in farmyard animals and have seen the highs and lows of lambing.  None of this stopped me from misting up a little over this baby though.  I didn’t go any closer.  I didn’t want to interrupt  its first feed.  So the pleasant job of catching it, spraypainting it, putting a ring on its tail and dealing with its testicles (if it has any) can all be left for Allan tomorrow.  He’s the real crofter afterall.

I met Allan at the gate – he’d been doing some sort of weird GPS stuff.  It was only after I had given him a long and detailed description of our new lamb that he pointed out that this was the first thing I had thought to mention – not the fact that I had been chatting with a famous author only an hour before.  Maybe I am a real crofter too.

Sally lamb and Helen. She is already bigger than this though. I will beg, steal or borrow a camera for more pictures tomorrow.

Lambs are like buses

Of necessity this post must be short.  This will be tricky as I am, by nature, verbose and I have imbibed two glasses of cava which will only make me more so…..

Our lambing started two days ago.  When I say that I mean that Monday was the first day that our sheep could have given birth.  Allan, bless his little cotton socks, has been trudging round the croft four times a day since then looking longingly at his sheep and dreaming of lambs.  My father prefers to take a more relaxed attitude to his lambing – his sheep have beenImage lambing for over a month and are showing no signs of stopping.  This morning Allan arrived in for breakfast and announced with joy that our first lamb had been born.  Much rejoicing ensued (well I rejoiced with as much joy as I could considering I had only had 3.5 hours sleep).  Just before lunch he headed off to check the sheep again and to mark the lamb (and possibly do something to its testicles that should not be mentioned on a mainstream blog).  I was in the midst of defrosting some rather questionable soup when he arrived home and announced that the lamb was now one of triplets!  For those of you who are not crofting experts this is not cool.  A single lamb is good, twins is better but triplets are too much for a sheep and are an abomination which should not be allowed.  Allan did the only thing possible and telephoned my dad.

My Dad arrived home from a hard morniings LDO’ing and admitted that in his 30 odd years of farming/crofting he had never actually had triplets.  After much deliberation and hopeful examining of our own and my dads sheep for a possible foster mother it was decided that we would have to take one of the lambs ourselves.  So there you have it.  Our first sheep has lambed and already we have a pet – pretty much the worst possibly outcome.

Sally lamb (named by Helen, she doesn’t know any other baby names) is now residing in Allan’s vegetable garden.  Hopefully she will not do the plants any damage.  The hens have already eaten all of the leaves off of his plum trees. I fear for her.  Allan and I both spent a large amount of time trying to feed her before we realised that you have to cut the end off of the teat to actually make a hole for the milk to flow out of.  I suppose in our favour is the fact that we have managed to keep Helen and Sally alive – they seem a bit more resiliant though.

Today was my first day in the shop.  It was rather overshadowed by events on the croft. I felt extremley guilty on leaving.  Both girls were sitting in their high chairs, covered in food.  I had just realised that Helen’s nappy was leaking.  Sally hadn’t been fed for several hours and Allan was holding a newborn lamb in his arms. Also I had been forced to admit that the soup was in fact beyond question and indeed inedible. When I phoned later to announce that the boat would not be bringing his mother to help Allan uttered these words “I’m going to have to go and put the lamb outside.  It’s keeping Helen awake.” He has a lot to learn as a father.

I would love to continue this and regale you with tales of the shop and further examples of our general unsuitability for the crofting lifestyle but time is wearing on and it’s nearly time to give Sally lamb a bottle.

Above is Sally lamb – less than an hour old.  Allan was holding her for my Dad to spray her cord with iodine.  Sadly my camera can no longer focus properly.  I put it into the pocket of Allan’s jacket and it came into contact with a very questionable substance.  Hopefully I will have more cute photos tomorrow.

Croftesses read books too you know

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Quick run away or he'll try and lamb you......

I’ll let you into a secret.  Before I became a croftess and started spending all of my days mucking around in the dirt with my hand up sheep’s bottoms I used to spend most of my time semi-reclined reading books.  Yes I am partial to a Mills and Boon but from time to time I like to dip my toe into something a little more highbrow.

Colonsay already has a very successful music festival run by my Dad and his chum Keith.  I love the music festival but sadly it came along at a rather difficult period in my life.  For the last few years I have either been heavily pregnant, the sleep deprived mother of a monster baby or 5 days post partum at the festival.  I must say I was proud of myself last year.  After discharging myself from the midwives and fleeing Edinburgh I took Sally to her first music festival at the tender age of six days.  She slept happily through a number of artists but found Lau rather noisy.  Helen had to be removed from the hall by the mother in law after trying to take to the stage during The Poozies.

Although I’ve done my best i’ve secretly always felt a little bit left out of the music festival.  I don’t play any instruments particularly well and I’ve never had the time (or, lets be honest, the inclination) to put together a decent performance for any of the sessions.  If I’m being really honest – and I seem to be having some sort of purge here – I’ve always been a bit jealous of my little sister who is a fantastic musician and has always really shone at the these events.  Anyway before you pull up a chair at my pity party lets move on……

I’ve always been good at reading though.  I used to pride myself on never leaving a book unfinished until I realised I was wasting my life with some really dire reads.  When I heard from my Dad in his capacity as LDO (that’s local development officer to you uninitiated) that plans for a book festival were afoot I felt really excited.  Partly at the chance to hear some famous authors speaking but also at the opportunity to actually organise something on Colonsay and, for the first time since I was little, feel like I was really part of the island.

I attended my first meeting 37 weeks pregnat – felt very enthusiastic and then dropped off the radar for several months.  By the time I returned to the civilized world of people who can talk about things other than nappies and don’t have sick in their hair the lineup was finalised and it was clear this event was really going to happen.  We even have some top notch authors booked including Alexander MCCall Smith and Liz Lochead.

I’ve found the whole process rather difficult though.  I’m not really a team player so having to take into account the opinions of others has been difficult at times.  Also by merit of being the youngest committee member by some 30 years I was entrusted with online promotion.  It became apparent fairly quickly that whilst I might be able to organise a birthday party using Facebook that is pretty much where my talents both begin and end…….I have a lot to learn.

In spite of my efforts the festival has forged forwards.  Sophie Cooke, Kenneth Steven, James Robertson and Margaret Elphinstone have been added to the lineup.  Members of the public have somehow managed to purchase tickets and the festival gets underway on Saturday.  The mother in law is coming to help tomorrow and my first showbiz task is to meet Liz Lochead off the boat.  I must admit that my excitement is being somewhat overshadowed by wondering if Sally will agree to take a bottle and if I will manage to express enough milk to make one for her ( if not Helen has some delicious tropical fruit flavour yogurt drinks).  I also have a secret fear that despite frantic revision reading sessions I may not be intellectual enough to attend such an event.  Perhaps there will be an IQ test before we are allowed into the hall, if so I may have to sit outside being bitten by midges whilst the intelligenti of Colonsay hobnob indoors.

I’ve just been given an idiots guide to Twitter by one of my fellow organisers media savvy daughter and I’m going to do my best to write a sort of festival mini-blog over the next few days.  If you want to take a look then this link may take you to the Colonsay book Festival Twitter account.  On the other hand it may not, if you have accidentally found your way to a website selling rain covers for off road buggies I sincerely apologise.

In other crofting news Allan lambed two sheep today.  He is so unbearably proud of himself I am beginning to wonder if he may actually have fathered the lambs too.

Fat Tracey did us proud

Today has been an eventful day.  Actually Thursday was an eventful day but with my sister coming home for the 2nd weekend in a row (nothing to do with a rather handsome young man on the island at the moment I’m sure!) and Sally staging a no-sleep campaign I haven’t had the time to blog.  This is particularly frustrating as so much has happened that I’ve wanted to write about.  Life here is currently so exciting I could probably take up blogging full-time.  Also my sister helpfully told me she had lots of ideas for my blog too – I suggested maybe she should write her own.

Anyway fat Tracey’s tale begins a few days before Christmas.  Allan suddenly started spending even more time than usual in my Dads shed.  It’s not unusual for Allan to spend several hours per day in the aforementioned shed.  The shed to Allan is like Harvey Nichols for me – it is filled with a heady combination of wood, tools, animal fodder, my dads quad and various items from my childhood.  My dad is often there too imparting manly wisdom whether Allan wants to hear it or not!

I wasn’t particularly amused by Allan’s disappearance shedward.  He informed me lovingly that he was creating an amazing Christmas present for me – I was unmoved.  Neither child was sleeping, we were well into the winter of discontent (by this I mean it had been raining for several months) and I had broken out in a strange urticarial rash all over my entire body (possibly brought on by excess food colouring in the Christmas cake).  I’m fairly insightful and from the various clues I was given I knew immediately that my present was going to be a pig.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like pigs.  Allan and I had discussed getting a pig and I did want one…….but I was tired and it was wet and the pigs would have had to live outside and at that precise moment I just wasn’t sure I was up to pig husbandry.

Christmas day dawned wet and cold with Max and Tiggy almost eating a sheep and my Dad having to throw himself into the sea in order to save it.  We worked our way through mountains of presents and a lot of food and drink.  I did my best to avoid Allan’s hints that I should join him in the shed.  Eventually I couldn’t put it off any longer.  As I squelched towards the shed I practised my fake smile behinds Allan’s back.  Imagine my joy when we entered the shed and there was not a pig in sight.  In fact the only livestock were Max and Spud.  I was actually able to show genuine enthusiasm when Allan presented me with my gift – the biggest henhouse you’ve ever seen.   Not only were its dimensions impressive but it featured a removable floor and a full size window (harvested from the shed of course).  The three-week old chicks were arriving by plane a few days later.

Sadly my euphoria was not to last. Hen enthusiasts amongst you will have realised that I have alluded to the inclement weather on more than one occasion.  Three week old chicks don’t have feathers and no matter how salubrious their henhouse it won’t be warm enough.  Somehow Allan managed to break the news to me that for the next 8 weeks we would be sharing our home with the furry bundles.  This was particularly hard for me as I am actually scared of poultry.  Yes really.  Chickens are scary scary creatures with their pecky beaks and their scratchy claws, they are not to be trusted and you certainly don’t want to be sharing living space with them.  Phobia of hens is not as rare as you might think.  In fact I believe it may be inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion as my father is scared of them too – it must be genetic. To make matters worse when the hens finally arrived and were safely ensconced next to the Rayburn it became clear that they were not the little yellow fluffy bundles I was hoping for.  Instead they looked a bit like the velociraptors in Jurassic park except with feathers and (thankfully) less intelligence.

I won’t lie to you dear reader.  The next few weeks were hard.  The hens were not pleasant living companions.  They were smelly and noisy and after a couple of days learned to fire their faeces out of the side of their cage – torpedo like- onto the kitchen floor. Their only positive was that they required such high temperatures that kitchen was permanently warm for the first time since we moved in.  We were even allowed to put coal on the Rayburn!

There’s a Julia Donaldson book called A Squash and a Squeeze.

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I won’t spoil the story for you but it basically describes an old woman who is displeased with her living space and choses to share it with various animals in order to rediscover its joys.  Well I can completely empathise with said woman.  When the time came to kick the hens out (and I may have aimed a few kicks when Allan wasn’t looking) I was delighted to have my kitchen back.  It was amazing to walk in the front door and only smell dog rather than the mixed scent of dog and chicken poop.

Since the hens have been outside I have become a lot fonder of them.  Even my Dad rather likes them as long as he’s not expected to enter the pen.  I quite like their homely clucking sounds and I enjoy saving all of our leftovers for them.  Sally is currently being weaned so there really are a lot of leftovers at the moment although the hens don’t care for broccoli or kiwi fruit!  My mum in particular has a real soft spot for them.  whilst we were on holiday she took to making them porridge every morning despite the fact that neither she, nor my father eat it.  I understand that for the first few days she was actually buying milk especially for the hens!

After three months I decided we ought to get around to naming them and so they were christened Stacey, Lacey, Casey and Fat Tracey!  I think perhaps they were waiting for this, perhaps they didn’t feel whole without a name.  Shortly after I named the hens Helen and I were rewarded by the gift of our first egg!  We were so excited.  Helen lifted it out of the hay with a reverent air and carried it into the house.  The children next door were invited round to view it and it has been photographed from various angles.  Sadly I can’t include the photo in this blog as my camera is in the bedroom with Sally but I’ll add them in tomorrow so check back then egg fans!  Fat Tracey (we’re pretty sure it’s her) has gone on to produce a further two eggs and hopefully the others won’t be far behind.  We enjoyed them for lunch with some home-grown cress – the smugness was overwhelming although admittedly between seven of us there wasn’t much to go round – they do lay very small eggs at first!

I may almost be ready for a pig now!

Fat Tracey's egg with one from Auntie Kate's grown up hen.

A return to gainful employment

It may have become apparent from my writing that moving back to Colonsay has been something of a dream for Allan and I.  To be honest I’m not sure either of us really believe it yet.  I was showing our house plans to a friend yesterday and whilst pointing out the large number of bathrooms and mud busting utility room it suddenly struck me that this is actually going to be our house for us to live in……………….  I’ve just read back that sentence and it’s no good.  I still don’t believe it.  Even once it’s built I’ll probably still come into this house instead. A bit like when I moved to a flat below my old one in 2nd year of university but kept trying to break into the old one.  It all rose to an embarrassing head one day when the new inhabitants had failed to lock the front door and I walked in and used the toilet before I realised I no longer lived there.

Here’s a link to the plan of our new house just in case you’re interested.

Over the years actually getting here seemed like the hard part.  Selling our flat (which was subsiding down the hill at an alarming rate), giving up our jobs and packing all of our belongings into one transit van seemed like a pretty tough challenge.  Now we’re actually here it’s become apparent that that was just the beginning.  Getting to Colonsay was relatively easy.  Now we have to stay here.  Of course we did produce a business plan before we were awarded our croft.  It was written utilising a level of creativity and inventiveness that J.K. Rowling herself would have envied. Whilst some of our plans were realistic the fact that our croft is still tied up in red tape means very few of them have come anywhere close to fruition.

We have been very lucky though.  Sally was a rather well-timed baby and for the last few months I have been the sole breadwinner despite never leaving the house.  Sadly my maternity pay will come to an end this month and we are now have to make our spreadsheets balance without a rather generous contribution from the NHS.  This isn’t as difficult as one might think.  Fortunately my father taught me the first rule of accounting many years ago.  Apparently you work out what you want your spreadsheet to add up to and then massage the numbers until they fit. Joking aside I think we’re both quite nervous about what the next year will bring.  As well as actually having to earn the money there are all sorts of terrifying prospects such as tax returns, declaring ourselves self-employed and family tax credits (I’m just making it up now) to consider.

In a way I’m looking forward to finding work.  I love my children dearly but that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes want to rip their heads off.  Helen is sitting next to me at the moment industriously sticking stickers in a book.  I’m quite concerned that she may be reading this.  As I typed those words she viciously ripped the head off of Gaston the Ladybird Dog.  Although I have been earning money whilst sitting on my behind it doesn’t feel the same as Allan coming in covered in mud (and other more unpleasant substances), reeking of sheep and devouring half a loaf of bread because he’s so hungry after working so damn hard.  All of  this has led us to encourage the advances of the new Shopmeister.

Until a couple of weeks ago the shop was run by my Uncle Mike (not really my uncle). He and his lovely wife have finally sold it on to the current Shopmeister who is around the same age as me (a rare thing on Colonsay, an island populated mainly be geriatrics). Sadly timing could not be worse and the Shopmeister’s girlfriend is due to give birth imminently.  Undaunted the poor woman is to be seen in there every day slaving over a hot till but no matter how mean the Shopmeister is even he will have to admit defeat.  You see it’s illegal to give birth on Colonsay.  Well I’m not actually sure if it’s illegal but it’s certainly not encouraged.  Once their pregnancy hits 38 weeks woman are frog marched to the pier, loaded onto the boat like cattle and are not welcomed onto the island again until they have expelled their sprog.  I hung around myself until 38+1 and every time I saw the GP for the last couple of weeks he looked as though he were going to cry.  Admittedly I did think it was particularly amusing to grab my bump and groan loudly whenever I saw him coming.

I actually have some experience of working in the shop.  Before Uncle Mike (not really my uncle) took it over it was owned by my Dad (actually my Dad) and I was engaged to work there the summer before I graduated.  Unfortunately I abandoned my poor father in order to pursue a young man to South America.  By the time I returned, dragging the poor man by his overly long hair, it was time to head back to university so I only really worked there for a few weeks.

Hopefully (a now short-haired) Allan and I will last a bit longer this time.  Not only have we agreed to look after the shop while the Shopmeister is away but I will be working there for two afternoons a week starting from next week.  So there we have it.  I am about to rejoin the rat race – from pathologist to shop underling in less than a year – I couldn’t be happier.

No more blog posts please.

………….Oops I forgot to say thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog and thanks too for all your lovely comments.  I have worked out how to add a follow this blog widget-me-thingummy-bob on the right hand side so if you’d like to receive an e-mail letting you know each time I post please click it.

There’s something at the bottom of the garden…………………

called ‘The Weaves’.  We don’t know what it is.  A couple of weeks ago Helen was playing with me and my parents on the small hillock in the garden.  Out of the blue she announced that she was going to the weaves and headed off towards the gate in a purposeful fashion.  During the course of the afternoon she returned to ‘The Weaves’ several times.  We followed her in a companionable fashion and more covertly but we were unsuccessful in ascertaining exactly what ‘The Weaves’ were.  Unfortunately on her final trip of the day to ‘The Weaves’ she fell and banged her head on the gate thus distracting our attention from this new phenomena.

I pretty much forgot about ‘The Weaves’ after that.  It rained a lot and I didn’t have much cause to spend a lot of time in that part of the garden.  Helen didn’t mention them again and whilst my Dad looked out for them we didn’t see any evidence.  Then, out of the blue, one day in Granny Mainland’s kitchen Helen informed me that ‘The Weaves’ were in her hands!  As you can imagine I was pretty excited by this.  She was waving her hands around all over the place (clearly ‘The Weaves’ are pretty slippery customers) and I called Allan through to have a look at them.  Imagine our disappointment when we weren’t able to see them.

After that incident ‘The Weaves’ were clearly never far from Helen’s mind.  She mentioned them several times and even talked about taking Sally to see them once we were home.  Sally didn’t show a lot of interest and wasn’t able to shed any further light on exactly what ‘The Weaves’ might be.  When we arrived home on Friday, travel stained and weary after a long journey Helen immediately headed down the garden to commune with her beloved Weaves.  Despite sending my Dad after her yet again we were denied a glimpse of them.

So there you have it.  Helen is clearly having a pretty intense relationship with someone or something at the bottom of our garden and I can’t see them/it.  I really don’t know what to do next.  Are ‘The Weaves’ a suitable thing for a 2.25 yr old to be playing with? Should I ban her from that part of the garden lest they assert a malevolent influence over her?  I’m wondering if we should set some sort of trap drawing inspiration from Winnie the Pooh and his heffalump trap.  I’m considering investing in some night photography equipment as perhaps ‘The Weaves’ are some sort of nocturnal being.

Meanwhile people make ridiculous suggestions such as ‘Maybe she means waves’.  No she does not mean waves.  If she meant waves she would say waves, she lives on a bloody island of course she knows what bloody waves are.  A google search has suggested that Weaves are a from of hair extension so I’m wondering if ‘The Weaves’ could be some sort of boutique mobile hairdresser.  If so I’m really not sure Helen should be getting hair extensions at her age.

Apologies for the lack of photograph with this post obviously I don’t know exactly what we are dealing with yet so any sort of pictorial representation would be misleading.  Should I be able to shed any further light on ‘The Weaves’ I will update immediately.  Meantime I am open to any suggestions………………BUT THEY’RE NOT WAVES O.K?

Home Sweet Home

“It’s nice to go on holiday but it’s good to get home too, and if it’s not there’s got to be something wrong with home.”

These are the wise words of our mate Martin, uttered as we came to the end of a weeklong ski holiday. Admittedly Martin had sustained a rather nasty knee injury (which may in some, small way have been my fault) and spent much of the week alone in the chalet wearing flip flops (yes he did bring flip flops on a skiing holiday) so perhaps leaving France didn’t seem quite such a sad prospect for him as it did me. Although I nodded along as he said it all I could really think of was how little I wanted to return to my life and career and when was the next holiday coming along to brighten up my miserable existence.

Those of you who sit poised over your monitors eagerly awaiting my next blog post may notice that entries have been a little thin on the ground recently. This is because for the first time in three months I left the island. I honestly can’t remember the last time I spent such a long period of time on Colonsay without a trip to the mainland. I’m sure it was wasn’t an uncommon occurrence during my childhood. When you’re an adult used to the convenience of city living three months without access to TopShop is a pretty big deal. I must say I survived it fairly well. There was even the odd day when it didn’t rain and the girls and I ventured out without our wellies on!

The occasion which finally lead us to set welly on terra firma was our annual cottaging trip. This is only slightly less seedy than it sounds. A group of friends from university rent a cottage in the middle of nowhere and then proceed to spend four days drinking, eating beige food and playing board games. This year 11 of us plus the 2 brats spent a lovely Easter weekend in Scatwell, somewhere vaguely situated between Inverness and Ullapool. It’s interesting seeing how the group has matured over the years. A few of us have got married, Allan and I have procreated and for the first time this year instead of surviving almost entirely on crisps we took turns to cook ridiculous amounts of food each evening – there were even vegetables.

After the cottaging trip we visited Allan’s mum and my grandparents in Edinburgh and managed not to overwhelm ourselves by attempting far too much and achieving far too little in a very short space of time.  Whilst we were enjoying ourselves I couldn’t stop thinking about what Martin had said.  I was almost dreading coming home.  Not because I didn’t want to come back but because I feared that I wouldn’t want to and I desperately didn’t want there to be “something wrong” with this home.

Friday did not start well.  It’s never a good sign when you have to unload the entire car to find the car keys at the bottom of the boot before you can actually start your 100 mile drive with two small children in the back.  It’s also not particularly good to get stuck in a half hour tail back behind a motorcycle accident, to have no food in the car apart from a box of Shreddies (gratefully accepted by Helen), to have a nappy actually disintegrate under the sheer weight of urine your baby produces or to still be in the checkout queue of Tesco 10 minutes before the boat is due to leave Oban.

Despite these grave obstacles we arrived home safely and the sight of my Dad and sister waiting for us was quite heart-warming. They had to pick us up because we had so much shopping in the car that there was no longer room for me, the buggy or the children.  The island was bathed in gentle evening sun.  The grass was green, lambs peeped out from behind their mothers and hordes of tourists were heading off on the boat.  Our house was chilly and smelt very strongly of dog (Max had been for his holidays with Spud in my Dad’s shed but sadly his bed had remained behind sort of like a dog scented Airwick). There was a load of nappies sitting in the washing machine (bleugh) and our entire kitchen was filled with dirty washing, food needing to be put away and half completed sticker books. Despite all of this I still felt a glow of contentment at being home.

This morning that glow may have faded to a glimmer as I have thrown myself wholeheartedly at the list of adversities mentioned above but I am still definitely glad to be home.  Although I am counting down the days until my next trip to civilization.

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