Jonathan: It’s familiar as a Christmas Carol, but the season it describes – with ‘earth as hard iron, water like a stone’ – is more typical of mid to late January, and this year I’d even say it describes life in Uist. Not that I’ve seen Cherubims and Seraphims appearing in the sky – just snow clouds! The weather continues cold but calm, and that means no seaweed cast up on the shore; or rather no fresh seaweed, just an accumulation of rotting old stuff, which is little use for feeding the soil, much of the goodness having already leached out of it. Nonetheless, for a second time I’ve been to Smercleit Taobh a Deas to load up a trailer of the stuff: this morning I’ll be taking that load to the croft to put around the fruit bushes. There are bright spells during the days, and I’ve put these to use working on Tilly’s Fence – the new fence separating off our back garden here at An Gàrradh Mòr; collecting seaweed of course. At other times there’s been sawing firewood – every two or three days. But the main occupation for me right now is catching up on maintenance and decoration of our holiday let at Askernish – plenty to do there!
Jonathan: Between the morning chores and engineering work, I’m listening to Martha Tilston’s ‘Lucy & The Wolves’. Wonderful compositions and musicianship – a real delight. Thanks Becky! 10 deg C at 7:30am – mild enough for the grass to be growing, so I can reduce the supplementary feeding for the sheep. Perfect calm along the beach this morning: Tilly dashed away after a sheep but turned back at the first call from me – that’s a first! I wonder, did Bonnie Prince Charles, when he landed on this beach from France in 1745, have a dog with him? I doubt that history would record such a detail, but all the same I think he might well have – a French hunting dog of some kind, with a French name, as the Prince had been born and brought up in France.
Jonathan: I started re-routing a long line of electric fencing a couple of mornings ago, and finished it this morning. The weather has been grey and windy, but even with light rain I was warm enough working in my boiler suit of thick, tightly-woven cotton and a couple of layers of jumpers. Before heading home I let the sheep through to the lower half of the ‘pairc’ (or ‘park’ in Scottish English) by the sea, where there’s a good few weeks yet of grazing. Befor lunch – the weather now being so much milder – I took the lids off the beehives to check if they needed any sugar, but both hives seemed to have plenty of honey in reserve, and hadn’t touched the fondant I’d provided previously. After lunch I went along to the beach at Smercleit Taobh a Deas and filled the trailer up with 18 wheel-barrow loads of seaweed: back at the house Denise and I worked together to off load it all to the compost heap. It’s five or six weeks since we last got seaweed like this, and we really need to do it at least once a week, but the cold spell is because of calm weather, and that means no seaweed cast up on the beach. But now the weather is back to ‘normal’ (ie stormy!) and I shall have to make the most of it. Yet somehow I’ve also got to find time to design changes to a large roundabout on the A414 in Harlow, Essex!