Monday 20 December 2021

A big wee storm

 Want to buy a Dalek? I do. But not for ten thousand quid, which is the guide price for a real one in auction this week. I wonder which spoilt child is getting that in their stocking? I have to admit it would be quite fun to be able to get inside it and drive around terrorising pensioners!

We have had a filled month, making our way to Scotland via the hell-hole that is Stanstead Airport. How can such a handy and central place deteriorate so fast into such chaos. We stayed overnight, as we often do, in the Radisson hotel which is pretty much attached at the hip to the terminal but, for reasons only known to politicians, no longer appears to employ any staff! Order your drink via an app that doesn’t work, and then watch one bewildered foreigner in an ill-fitting cheap waistcoat wander around an hour later, with no idea how to count, delivering the wrong thing. When it comes to food, a big sign says ‘we serve burgers.’ Great, I’ll get one of those then; except the burgers are only chicken or vegan! Since when did the word beef, let alone the product, become so offensive it can even be seen in public? Eventually I was press-ganged into an inedible pizza and went to bed hungry.

One of the reasons for going over was to visit the Scottish National Fatstock Show, except I am not sure we are allowed to call it that either? It’s now the ‘un-thin’ show, I guess?  With some top class animals on exhibition, it was great to watch on, as well as catch up with what appears to be a number of ‘fans’ of my podcast, many of whom had not met me in the flesh before, but knew my voice. It was a weird Bond-like feeling.  Unfortunately storm Arwen decided to rock-up that evening, which caused a few problems, not worst-of-all a lockdown in the Lanark Market Bar!

Sorrowfully, we got more news from back home, our dog wasn’t so good. Over the next day or so we got updates, but sadly, at nearly 15 years old, Louis the pointless pointer didn’t make the weekend. Losing a close pet is always a hard pill to swallow, but I am sure he wagged his tail till the end and, for those who take comfort in such things, may still be wagging it with his old pals in doggy heaven. He certainly left some indelible memories in his daftness, much of which has been documented in this column for over a decade. He won’t be forgotten.

I did get acquainted with another animal character though, one ‘Cellardyke Big Wee Eck’, to quote his Sunday name, the first Ryeland lamb we have bred, who is now 8 months old and some creature. What he lacks in size he sure makes up for in attitude and I truly believe we might to have bred a winner at our first attempt. Time will tell but, along with a few females from the new flock, he will hopefully get a walk out at some major shows next summer in his best haircut.

It was nice to get a week in our house in Fife, the first time we have been there long enough to unpack since we finished the extension. It was a bitter sweet time, taking in the above news, but we made the most of it, and enjoyed the uninterrupted view of the Forth with a few drams and some time off work. On that front, I am still up to my axles in research and writing contracts, to the point where I am turning stuff away, as my podcast is still gathering interest, both at home and overseas.

The festive season may be over once this gets published, as we career blindly into the next year and what it may bring.  If the status quo does return, we have another busy one planned, which includes two family weddings, two Atlantic trips, two national Ag shows, and at least four stag do’s.

We are now back home in France again today, this time choosing to travel through Dublin, where the covid rules are even more confused than ours. Thankfully we are still scoring negative tests, although I have a short stint in hospital next week, trying to diagnose my duff shoulder problems, which is often as good a place as any to catch a lurgy.  Christmas will be here in France this year, with just one dog and three cats, along with two vegetarians for lunch. I have no idea what they taste like!

A few days planned in Ludlow on our way back over, in the camper, and I’ll see you back in Scotland for hogmanay. Bring a piece of coal.