Tuesday 7th June 2016
Once the local yoofs had gone home in their noisy Corsas and Fiestas it was pretty quiet and we had an early night. It stays light round here till after eleven and the sun rises again quite early. I got up to go to the loo at about three and it was light enough not to need to put a light on. Great in the summer but only four hours of daylight in the winter. No fear!
I took the dog out for a walk at seven thirty. It was quite misty. The dog seemed to have the same problem as he had on our Alpine trip. Limping on his right front foot. I hope not, that cost us three hundred quid.
I cleared up all the litter the local yoofs had thrown out of their car windows and we set off at nine, the mist having largely cleared. Northwards, up the M9 and A9 the overhead gantries were telling us to slow down because of thick fog. The sun was out and the mist had gone although there were thunder clouds in the distance. We stopped along the way to get some groceries in and again in Pitlochry for some other odd bits an pieces, travel sweets and some dog treats for our injured fella and some voltarol for Jo who had strained her back trying to hang onto two Toggenburgs keen to get to their paddock. That’s 100% of the team on the injured list but we must press on regardless.
After Pitlochry we turned off the A9 looking for somewhere for lunch. We’ve pulled up by a river and, as promised, the clouds have opened and we’re in the middle of a thunderstorm. Guess who’s got to get out and turn the gas on? A sign by the river said levels rise unexpectedly quickly. The storm didn’t last long and now we’re just getting a gentle pitter patter on the roof. Jo is practicing with her new water colour paints and I am about to join the dog and have a nap! I thought the rain would melt the snow on the hill tops but it hasn’t. A cuckoo is giving it 90 decibels in between the rain drops on the roof.
Joanna is studying and practising her water painting and I am reading a book on landscape photography. Got to know what to do when we get to Skye.
Monday 6th June 2016
The tinnitus in my ear was really getting me down. It was accompanied by losing my brain, or at least that was what it seemed like. My head felt hollow with the sound of my speech echoing round inside it.
Alice was due to go to her doctor’s surgery at nine so I tagged along. I got an appointment later in the morning and told the young lady doctor my problem. No real problem, your station tube is blocked. No infection or anything sinister, just keep taking the medicine and maybe some menthol sweets. I can do sweets but Alice prescibed Vick gently rubbed into my moustache. We’ll see.
Back at the farm we loaded the van ready to move off after lunch. We’d had a relaxing break and it was good to see the boys again and to see how much they have grown.
We headed north with the intention of staying somewhere near North Berwick, previous home to my neighbour in Spain, Briggsy. No such luck, all the car parks overlooking the Firth had height barriers. We plodded on through some heavy traffic, all due to the road building and construction of the new Forth road bridge, a stayed deck construction alongside the suspension bridge which is also alongside the more famous railway bridge. The one where the saying about never ending jobs comes from. “painting the Forth bridge!
All the overhead gantries declared there would be heavy rain tomorrow.
Across the bridge and heading west we passed the Rosythe dockyard where they are building the new aircraft carrier and onto a carpark overlooking the firth and a couple of miles away from the bridges and the dockyard. You can see the dockyard and bridges beyond if you expand the top photo.
Sunday 5th June 2016
Usual grey dawn. No hurry to get going. Dom, Alice and the boys were weary from yesterday’s events and a late night.
When we did get going it was to a horse show (yawn) but there were supposed to be classic and vintage stuff so after watching the horses briefly Dom and I went in search of vintage tractors, Ford, Massey Ferguson, David Brown and Roadless.
We both failed to understand the thrill in operating and watching stationary engines no matter how much water they pump. Sadly no classic cars but the sun had well and truly come out and it was quite warm away from the wind.
Hamburgers, beefburgers and roast pork roll later Dom and the three eldest were dropped back at home to get on with their homework whilst Jo, Alice, youngest son Atticus and I set off for the beach.
The area is vast and the beaches more or less deserted.
Saturday 4th June 2016
We had to take the milkers out to their pen. The rest had stayed out overnight as it was so mild. Gally found these woolly creatures a bit daunting. He is very wary of forest ponies and cows, not least because a hefty hoof is fixed to the end of their legs and can shoot out in his direction without any notice. After his first encounter he gives large animals a wide berth. The milkers are quite large but inquisitive rather than wielders of blunt instruments. Still he kept well away from the fence.
Whistlebare, “the shed” on the left with Angora goat asleep on the terrace and the yarn studio on the right
Dom and Alice and the boys had gone to Leeds where Alice was giving a lecture on goat keeping and yarn production. They expected to be back by early evening but as time wore on Joanna decided we needed to get the milkers in. We opened the gate with the intention of grabbing two each but so keen were they to get back to the stable block they shot off with us in hot pursuit.
Toggenburg goat, one of the milkers.
Next we decided (or at least Jo decided) they must be milked. Jo had watched Alice doing it but tried to do it by hand. Five minutes later and with weary fingers she puzzled out how the machine worked so the rest were fed and milked in quick succession
Friday 3rd June 2016
Away early from Liz’s huge farm after a good breakfast. Longer day today but should have been on good fast roads all the way, but the A18 was closed so we had to take a diversion through Grimsby. Lunch stop at Scotch Corner. Why is it called Scotch Corner? It’s nowhere near Scotland, indeed, the service station didn’t even have a map of Scotland. Mrs Sat Nav also took us off the wide fast A1 and instead threaded us through the centre of Newcastle. No problem as traffic was light. At least we crossed over a toll free bridge unlike the last trip up this way when Mrs Sat Nav put us on a ferry across the Tees at great expense, well, about three quid.
Bowsden is just a couple of miles or so inland from Holy Island (Lindisfarne). We have had some sunny weather up here but it can certainly blow at times. It is warm and grey and we arrive at Dom and Alice’s farm to the new venture. ( http://www.whistlebare.co.uk ) Angora yarn supplied by a score or two of Angora goats. Joanna used to keep goats on her farm in Cornwall so was in her element as well she needed to be as Alice was off to do a presentation in Leeds the following day and would be away till late evening.
Thursday 2nd June 2016
No nightingales to wake us up, just a mechanical digger.
About 300km to do today to get to Joanna’s schoolfriend Liz who lives at Scremby in Lincolnshire and a delicious meal. Jo and Liz caught up on the old school news. Hugh and I balanced the Government’s spending budget but could not make our minds up on the “in or out” question.
Wednesday 1st June 2016
Is it on or is it off? The holiday to Scotland that is. I had done a triathlon on 15th May in Buckinghamshire and contracted leptospirosis, presumably from the large quantities of water I drank during the swim leg. I felt unwell a day or so later but by Thursday I was ill enough to take myself to the doctor. After a few tests she just said “You’re very ill” and I returned home with a bag full of pills and potions. One advantage of growing old… they’re all free!
I have recovered to a great extent except for the tinnitus in my right ear. I’ve got a nasal spray for that. Yes, really!
Jo had been busy organising her art exhibition in Keyhaven with the other members of the group. I was in no state to do more that half and hour’s work at a time and anyway I would have been away at a triathlon in Nottingham if I was fit so loading the campervan was a very rushed and last minute affair. We will find out if we have forgotten anything substantial very soon.
Our first destination is the lady from whom we bought whippet dog Gally in South Marston near Swindon. Gally was to meet his brother, sister, Mum and Dad for the first time in 18 months. We like to think that Gally recognised them but I fear he just found them as more of his own kind, whippets, and whippets are great fun to play with. Gally was far bigger that both his siblings and his Mum and Dad.
We stopped the night in Nightingale Wood nearby.