Sunday, 7 October 2012

Oh well. That's Summer over then

                    I suspect that, after only about ten weeks of relative calm, winter is already returning to Sanday.  One of the most obvious signals of a chilly night is the sight of steam rising from the small loch beyond the bottom of the garden and the geese there arguing with their mates about when will be the best time to head off. It’s that time of year when the locals start walking around their property to look out for anything that they’ll need to have nailed down before the winds come. Whereas I, on the other hand, tend to harbour the opinion that if it managed to survive last winter then it’ll continue to be fine. I never was very bright. If I’m able to pick up some corrugated plastic sheeting, I might repair the shed roofs, although I don’t suppose the local avians will be too happy about it. Furthermore, the thought occurs that if, then, it were to get blow off, there will be no way to deny that it was MY fault and that if I’d just left it the hell alone it would likely have been alright. Prevention cannot always be guaranteed to be better than the cure, especially if I have anything to do with it. Presently, I’ve resolved to let all hell break loose and then any effort I make is assured to be an improvement on whatever carnage the storms may leave in their wake. I’m quietly confident that I can manage to pull that off.
It's a lake and it's steaming. That's just wrong.
                Although the turbine is still offline, there continue to be matters arising. The guy who is paying for it, and for a couple of others at sites on the island, dropped by to get the necessary leases signed. Jonathan and his dad were a great laugh, so we certainly don’t anticipate any problems in the future. They’d driven up from Leicester in Jonathan’s smart BMW and he was in no mood to rally it across our wild ‘garden’. They’d explored the island and very much liked what they saw. Sure, they’d come on a nice day but senior was seriously threatening to mislay his return ticket. Within days of their visit, Scottish Hydro had changed the old token meter for a flash new one and ever since then we’ve been straining at the bit to get it turned back on. To their credit, they sent an engineer straight out to us late on Sunday night. Rick, for ‘twas his name, was staying on the island overnight to work a full day on Monday and came out to us before he had even been to his B&B. Our hero. When he switched it on, however, it was clear that something was wrong. It was making far too much noise and when we went to investigate, the whole foundation was shaking. He shut it down quickly and admitted that there was nothing he could do today, in the dark. It was pitch black out. Nothing will get done now until the 18th when they’ll likely have to bring the head down and see what the blue blazes is going on.

                The island development trust advertised a vacancy for a bus driving job, only the second post to arise to my knowledge, so I applied for this one too. The interview went pretty well but the post went to the current relief driver. But at least I’ve shown willing and the operators appear keen to get me on board in future, to get involved by taking minutes at their meetings and training for any driver positions that may come up later when they implement a planned expansion of the service. I think I may have a foot in the door at least. First aid training is high on the agenda and what with us looking to start lifeguard training at the pool, it all seems to be coming together quite nicely.

                Conversely, I’m not doing very well at becoming a more determined vegetarian, as I had planned. It doesn’t help when Gail herself suggested trading vices, her penchant for coffee treats for my legendary, and dare I say hereditary fondness for ‘dead animal’ ones. Her need for cappuccino meant that I was able to celebrate international bacon day on the first of September in style. On shopping expeditions previously, I have been not only permitted but openly encouraged to reacquaint myself with tinned corned beef and spam, black pudding, beef burgers and a range of tasty sausages and hams. At least I haven’t made another order from the German deli in London, but I must confess that cost is the primary de-motivator on that front. I’m far from happy with my weakness for it all. My waistband isn’t happy either. But I can hardly tell the missus that she can’t enjoy her beans so, I’m afraid to say, cute little critters will continue to come a cropper.

                Nothing seems to be able to curtail Gail’s enthusiasm for life on Sanday. I dragged her out on another walk with me but after only five minutes heading along the windswept beach we got absolutely drenched so headed back home, laughing our socks off. The very next day we had to return some books to the mobile library parked outside the school. It was still more than a tad breezy and the truck was being pitched around quite severely. Gail was getting seasick and within minutes went the same colour she had gone when we crossed the Pentland Firth in December. There is a distinct lack of sick-bags aboard the library, so she picked out a couple of tomes in double-quick time and hastened back to the relative security of the car. Now things are beginning to look up for her. She has joined the choir. They are meeting up regularly down the pub and getting some voice coaching. As her chauffeur, I am left at the bar nursing a couple of bottles of J2O during the proceedings. I kicked myself for forgetting to take my i-pod along, but I must admit that it was not that much of an unpleasant experience while I read. She very much enjoyed herself, too. There certainly was a lot of rather unmusical cackling going on.

Andy has to hide his wallet when Gail sees something that looks like fun!

                Earlier in the year, I disturbed a feral cat that had been sheltering in one of the stables. He’s a cute Siamese that doesn’t wear a collar. Gail cannot believe that he is fully feral, but when he next appeared he had an abscess on his leg that did not look as if it was being treated. He still has the flappy bit of skin on his leg, but he otherwise looks very healthy these days and is still gorgeous. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to feed him as he has started to drop by fairly regularly these days. There was quite nervous moment when I opened the front door to let Smokey get some fresh air and the pair came almost nose-to-nose in the hallway. To their credits, neither chose to engage in fisticuffs. Smokey was too shocked to do anything other than stare for a few moments before starting to hiss. The Siamese growled in an almost canine manner. I’d heard that the breed were quite gobbie, but not actually witnessed it for myself. Smokey was kept indoors and our visitor was evicted as gently as possible, with a bribe. There are also a couple of predominantly black cats wandering around. I’ve caught them both sheltering in the stables at times recently, but they are very shy and run away quickly when they see us. Their hunting prowess beyond reproach, as the number of fresh rabbit carcasses testify. One of our neighbours is associated with Cats Protection in Kirkwall, so it may be that we'll soon need to get them captured and neutered before we're falling over even more fluffy bundles.

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