Its that time of year again, when the goose is getting fat. Oh no, that’s just me getting fat, according to my medical check-up this morning! “I’m not obese,” I proclaimed to the young nurse, “it’s just for my weight I should be 7 foot two tall!”
I mentioned last month that we were heading to
Scotland, where I now sit, looking out to the waves in the Firth of Forth.
There is an added bonus that I can also see the beach today, as the weather
clears for an hour or two. Moreover, we now actually have a beach, right
outside our window, thanks to Storm Beret, or whatever the last one was called.
For the last few years we have had a lot of heavy rocks between us and the
water and the beach was 200 yards to the East. Well not any more. Somehow that
vast force of nature has shifted said stones, possibly 5,000 tons of them and
deposited them - yes, you guessed it – on the old beach. Instead, it has left
us with a vast stretch of soft sand for Haggis and I to run on without twisting
an ankle. They say its an ill wind that blows nobody any good, so better say thanks
to the big man upstairs for this natural rearrangement.
One of our
reasons for arriving here in mid-November is that I was judging a cattle show
in Stirling last weekend, which went off without a hitch. I appointed a few
very happy exhibitors with their championship shields, whilst avoiding the
dagger-looks from those left without the prize. One of the winners was a rather
fine specimen of a young Highland bull, complete with shaggy coat and jagged
horns, which may have raised an eyebrow or two. It was great to see such a fabulous
beast - that breed don’t often get their turn in the multi-breed spotlight.
When furnished with such an honour of judging such prestige event – the
National Calf show for Scotland – one is at least expected to dress the part.
And so it was that I went through my entire collection of (3) best suits before
we left home, only to find that they had shrunk in the wardrobe, as clothes
tend to do? Thankfully my sons live in quite an affluent part of middle
England, where folks tend to discard their old rags to the charity stores. To
be fair, it wasn’t quite a charity shop, but a purveyor of ‘pre-loved’ garments
where I spotted a rather smart Harris Tweed 3-piece, complete with crimson
lining and moleskin collar. And, for once in my whole life, it had been made to
fit someone of my proportions! It still cost me an arm and a leg, but at least
said arm and leg fit me like a glove. According to the compere at the cattle
event, I was the best dressed judge on the day, were it that there was an award
for such. Not sure I have ever been that before. Somewhere online there is a TV
playback of the whole event, should I wish to admire myself.
I have also
been notified by one or two friends that I was seen on National TV this week,
although not quite so well dressed, in my rain mac. I’m not sure how many of
you have watched the excellent BBC series called ‘This Farming Life’ but in its
last episode I can be seen and heard interviewing one of its protagonists at
the Royal Highland Show in July. The royalty cheque hasn’t arrived yet, though.
Stirling, I took the opportunity to check out our growing pedigree Ryeland sheep
flock, which are based at Dunblane. This year we have a total of seven ewes
running with the ram and they did look rather impressive, if not also a little
overweight. We will have to wait until March to see what they produce this time
around, but hopefully a few female lambs at last, so my cunning breeding plans
thing that the recent storm did was take down our internet connection here at
Sharps Close, which is really rather crucial to my day-job as a writer with
deadlines. Obviously ‘all our engineers are busy’ was the reply we got when
reporting it to whatever quango supplies the service to us these days. We
could, they added, apply for a fibre-optic line, should we so wish,
installation in four-weeks time? So, that’s us pretty much out of action until
Christmas unless I go out onto the ‘new’ beach and stand on one leg with my
mobile phone in hand, trying to connect to a signal from 8 miles across the bay
in East Lothian. I will admit doing this, trousers rolled up to my knees, has
solicited a few giggles from behind the twitching net curtains of one or two of
our more hostile neighbours. Ed, I will mail this article to you by pigeon
post, and hopefully you get it in time before ‘speckled Jim’ gets shot down by
the Rock Cross 12-bore brigade!