Arrived in the post yesterday – tokens of spring. Seed potatoes, onions and shallots. Checked off and stored in the potting shed for when the conditions are right. And Denise is home.
Our neighbour DJ received an unexpected email the other day. The sender offered a fee, in return for assistance with a certain valuable object that needed to be collected from where it had been deposited, and posted to the sender. We all get this kind of spam, don’t we just!
But you know what, not all those who send unsolicited emails are spammers or scammers.
This one was – ostensibly – from a research institute in California. . Okay, that’s easy to fake … but surely it would really be from some place in West Africa, or Russia. Wouldn’t it?
But read on:
Dear Proprietors of the Kilbride Campsite,
Greetings from San Diego, California, USA!
One of our oceanographic buoys has washed up on the shore near your campsite, toward Ludag. Please refer to the attached pictures to see the map. It’s last known position isLatitude 57 degrees 6.181' N ; Longitude 7 degrees 19.894' W
The buoy has traveled over the last 6 months all the way across the Atlantic, measuring waves and currents, and transmitting its data back to us via satellite.
I was wondering if you’d make the effort to try and recover it and ship it back to us? We offer a reward of $100.00US, and will pay all packing and shipping costs. It is a 15″ orange sphere, weighs approximately 20 pounds, with a drogue parachute attached to the bottom of it (if it’s still attached that is). It probably has a lot of algae and barnacles on it at this point, so it might be a bit stinky.
Please let me know if you’re available to help out. If not, I can continue my inquiries in Eriskay.
Thank you so much for your consideration,
Tony de Paolo
University of California, San Diego
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
The proof, they say, is in the pudding …
Here’s DJ and his wee nephew finding and collecting the buoy – the slow boat from California.
I wonder just what the customs paperwork is like for something like that.
Introducing Jonathon. He and Denise live in the Outer Hebrides. In their own words: (nicked from their blog). We live and work from our home at the southern tip of the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides – an archipelego at the Atlantic edge of Scotland. We live in an 18thC high-walled kitchen […]
We have lava at home in Uist too. You find it growing on the rocks near low tide. We cook it and make a rather salty paste a bit like boiled spinach. Mmm – if you like over-salted boiled spinach. The Welsh, rather ingeniously I think, call the cooked seaweed (in English) Lava Bread. Here in Lanzarote, the lava is found on the land as well as the sea. In the hot sunshine it must cook while still growing, turning very dry and hard. So no-one wants to eat it, even though it’s ready-made lava bread. You can find piles of the stuff, all of a tumble, across the landscape. In fact they even call them the lava fields.
Of course I’m making that up, but who knows, they might have here some kind mythical tale about all the lava. We have plenty of tales like that in Uist, though mostly about simple crofters outwitting the wicked lairds.
Live volcanoes are the stuff of myth and legend anyway, but factor in caldera from extinct volcanoes, hot springs, and there’s enough to keep generation after generation of shamans and old ladies telling stories. The same’s true of what lies below the surface of the earth too: all over the world, caves have been places where priests – perhaps with the help of halucogens – summon up the spirits of the elders. Now put together volcanoes and caves and what do you have? Lava tubes!
So, yes, today we’ve been down lava tubes again. This was at Jameos del Agua. Jameos means ‘opening’ ie collapsed roof inside lava tube. This tube starts at the Montana Coronado, just to the north of Maguez, and continues out to (or under) the sea. It’s very much a tourist attraction, with amazing artistic space of cave, plants, water. Plenty of spaces to just sit and relax and take in everything around you. 3 cafes and gift shop too. Had fun with mirrors in the ‘House of Volcanoes’: perhaps those halucogen-fuelled rituals of ancient times weren’t seeing their own elders – but all us stupid tourists in the future! Don’t you think, though, that the fact that these mirrors are here is somehow a manifestation of those ancient beliefs surviving into the modern world?
Believe it or not there’s WCs underground too, decorated with lovely ceramic pots and planting. Goodness, the photos we take when we’re on holiday!
Whilst Denise is walking in Lanzarote, I’m waiting in Limbo.
Waiting for the latest barrage of wind to wear itself out, so I can get outdoors and continue preparing the garden for the growing season ahead. I’m waiting for the poultry lock-down to reach its end without being extended again. Waiting for Denise to come home and togetherness to resume. Waiting for the electricians to fix a date for wiring up the croft chicken shed. And, dammit, I’m waiting for British Telecom to finish off installing the landline at Carrick Eriskay so that I can make good all the holes and trenches and get the house ready for guests again. (Wasn’t it enough that I had to do all the cabling work (indoors and outdoors – including under the road) myself? That was supposed to have speeded things up!) But above all, I’m waiting for my own restless anxious state to settle down, and find the quiet steady frame of mind in which I can get on with things that need doing – anything that needs doing, regardless of external frustrations.
Denise is good at that. Her answer to any difficulty is to just get on with it, especially if ‘it’ starts with dusting down and cleaning up. In fairness to myself, once I get going, I keep going. But more often than not it’s Denise makes sure I get going in the first place. That said, the learning-to-cook is entirely self-driven: I need to break through the wall of self-disbelief and move on …
Another bout of bad weather kicked off overnight, and has been building up all day. Tomorrow, Friday, will be worse. Rain – just showers, thankfully. It’s the wind. 50-60mph. Nothing catastrophic, just a bullying wind that grinds you down, wears you out, and not even with a name to attach the curse to.
Desperate to get outdoors, even at the risk of coming home soaked, Tilly and I set off up the lane towards Eiseabhal. I picked up the camera for just-in-case. The other day there’d been a group of Eriskay ponies hanging around at the old fank, sheltering from the south-easterly wind. One of the older boys looked like Midnight. It’d be good to get a photo of him, for old-time’s sake.
There were hoof-marks cut into the soft grass of the old track – but no ponies. What we did find, though, was a brief spell of sunshine that reminded us – all this will pass.