Jonathan: Still August -just! – but as everyone is saying it already feels like late September. There’s something about the light, the temperature, dew on the grass, the smell of the soil … and already dry soils and hot winds have resulted in some leaves turning golden already.
But how I love this time of year! Winter and Summer are straightforward in what they promise (though rarely live up to!). Spring and Autumn are seasons of contrast and contrariness: Spring of glad relief and untamed hope; and now in Autumn a time of poignant reflection … and a solemn dread of what must yet comem (not an exaggeration for Hebridean winters!)
How soon would I tire of life in a place that knew no seasons!
Jonathan: Motorhome, Welwyn Garden City. Bank Holiday weekend – Sunday. Dark outside now, curtains drawn, listening to Canadian band Blue Rodeo – Five Days in July: great stuff. Introduced to this seriously great band by my colleague Tia Nagi. Tia’s a Sikh, from Kenya, now living in Hemel Hempstead, but brought up in Calgary, Canada. The only Sanskrit-speaking cowgirl I’ve ever come across! Thanks to Tia I’ve developed a real curiosity about Canada. Thanks to Google Earth and street view I’ve driven from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway to Banff, looked round the shops and explored the back streets. I’ve even turned off the main road at random and nosied around small settlements, looking for houses for sale! Yes, lots of time to kill, here In Exile: Yet so many jobs back home left undone and unfinished.
Jonathan: Here I am in my old motorhome, on a caravan site at Welwyn Garden City (N of London). This is where I work – well not the campsite, but in an office here in WGC! – designing maintenance and improvement works, mostly in Hertfordshire. Three weeks away, one long week at home: that’s how its been for the past year and a week: Yup, we need the money! I’m supposed to be designing major works, but the little work that comes my way now is trivial. Designing bypasses, upgrades to motorway, new tram systems, that’s what I’m used to: right now I’m down to sorting out broken pipes and resurfacing roads! And even that work I’m having to stretch out. Driving me mad! Brain going dead! Anyhow, back in Uist, our finances are now not in so desparately bad shape, and our various enterprises are slowly making progress and giving us increasing confidence in the future. So now it looks like there’s a change coming up, one way or another. I’m looking forward to it!
Jonathan: Further report from home. Denise arrived at croft this morning to find ewe back with the rest – just her lamb still on the wrong side. Opposite of what I’d have expected, since gaps tend to favour the small and lithe, not the big and rotund. Best not to dwell on that, not a good time for base assumptions to be challenged. Anyway, Denise turned off the electrics, opened up all the ‘gates’ in the dividing electric fence – and the little one trotted meekly back to its Mum. And to think this is my breeding stock – in a few years time I could have dozens of sheep all with the same genetic propensity to wriggle under or somersault over electric fences.
Jonathan: Message from home: one of the ewes and her lamb has got into the ‘other’ half of the field. How is currently unknown, why is almost certainly beyond knowing. Okay, yes, the grass is greener and longer. But that’s not what the draw appears to have been: they just stand there looking back at the rest of the flock, bleating to get back. Not home for another five weeks (heaven help me) so can’t leave them like that. If they do find their way back under (or was it somersaulting over?) the separating electric fence, then they may get the idea that 10000V electric shocks every second is what every hardy native sheep is supposed to be able to handle. Denise will have to do something …