Longest Day

I finished college on Friday, which came with mixed emotions. I emailed in my last piece of work and now it is all finished. What I have spent the last 2 years moaning about is now over. What am I going to moan about now?

I was looking forward to fixing up the garden which looks a bit like a weed-ridden  junk yard at the moment, but it has rained, and rained and rained. I managed to do a little bit on Sunday between showers.

Today is the longest day of the year but we still haven’t seen any Summer…. the nights are drawing in from here on in….

How depressing!

The bad weather has also seriously dented the grouse population. A week or two of unusually warm weather back in Spring encouraged them to lay their eggs and then , when the majority had hatched, we were hit with cold downpours. Since then we have had unbelievably strong winds which means the little grouse chicks or “bumblebees” get swept up and separated.

Five plump and fully fledged swallows have appeared from the nest in the kennels though so it has been a successful year for some..

Dress Club   is my new project and as for  the other half of Ginger & Pickles well, it’s not all bad….




It has been a while since my last post, so I thought I’d update briefly.

It’s the busy season again for Gamekeepers, out seemingly all hours trying to protect the nesting birds. I think we must have had Summer already a few weeks ago with a spell of blisteringly hot weather and now it has returned to freezing,wet and windy.

My college course is so very nearly over which is really exciting. All of our costumes and designs have to be handed in by next week for the exhibition. I can’t actually believe I am inches from the end because I still have a mountain of work to get done, and it seems impossible that it will get done but it HAS to, so I suppose I’ll get there somehow.

I don’t know what I will do with myself when the last essay is written and the last stitch sewn…. but I can’t wait!

our chooks have done us proud this week we have almost a full egg box!it is speckledy,or miss hennypenny who is doing all the laying, but hopefully Sally will soon catch on I think we will have an omelette tonight.
still no internet at the house and now no heating or hot water again…
I bought myself a fancy new phone yesterday but even that doesnt work here. vodafone has 99.7% coverage but I’m not surprised we are the point 3!!

I was left in charge of the animals yesterday, and I managed to fail at most tasks. T is away at a stag-do for an old school friend. All I had to do was walk and feed the dogs, (which I never do because there are 5 and they don’t listen to me) and feed and put the chooks away. It was the chickens who caused the most problem because they wouldn’t go in their house and I eventually tried a sneak-attack tactic and ended up pressing their door hard shut in triumph, with my thumb over the sharp end of a nail.

I should explain that it really is a Hen Fortress, it has nails sticking outwards when the door is closed. I don’t think this is an intentional design feature . It is because the door is also the ramp  and it has some grippy stuff nailed on.

Anyway there was lots of blood and I had to hurriedly remember where I kept the plasters. I’m used to getting pins stuck in me, and recently at college I put my whole weight down on a fat embroidery needle but a nail, I think, hurts more.

It’s mother’s day today, but I can’t get home (home-home) and anyway T managed to sneak in my card and present yesterday (hastily wrapped in a plastic bag)(for environmental reasons?)

Next weekend going to this wedding and it is my nieces first birthday party, and then the Easter holidays!

How cultured!

This week I’ve been cracking in to the college work and feeling a lot better about my tailoring skills. (ignoring the 150 years of costume history due in next Tuesday) On Monday I visited a Dressmaker friend of my mum’s in her lovely,calming studio and got some tips, but actually had to unpick everything I did while there so might not have been such a productive morning.

On Tuesday  my classmates and I took a backstage tour of The Playhouse in Edinburgh. It was really interesting actually. We learned all about the building’s history and the fact there have been shows staged on that spot going back to medieval times as the landscape lends itself to a natural amphitheatre. We tunnelled through the labyrinth of dressing-rooms and workrooms in the bowels of the theatre-which are always the most interesting bits I think.

In the evening we headed to the Traverse for Staging The Nation, an evening with the original writer, director and cast of The Slab Boys. Well none of us had seen or even read the play (we were given no notice about this!) so we didn’t have high hopes for an enthralling evening but it really was. All the usual Scottish suspects were there from  John Byrne and David Hayman to Bill Patterson and Robbie Coltrane. I was sitting next to the booming voice of Joyce MacMillan and had Liz Lochhead behind me. There were probably many people in the group with “Guest Appearance in Taggart” on their resume.  It was a friendly bunch anyway and a good laugh. I really should have stayed in the bar afterwards it would have been a great way to land a job…

Yesterday I was back at college, working on this tailored coat. It’s a bottle green melton wool cutaway tail coat from the 1830s. I’ll have to post a picture if it ever gets finished. I have 2 more lessons and it is due after the Easter Break along with the waistcoat,shirt,stock and trousers.

It’s a really beautiful day today. T and I have been coaxing the chickens out into the sunshine ( a mixture of chatting to them and shutting their henhouse door so they can’t get back in) There are grouse everywhere at the moment, the cockbirds have lost any fear they have, as they are too busy fighting each other, and the air is full of their distinctive qua-qua-quacking. It is so warm we even had our cups of tea on the bench and I was able to wear a lovely summer dress I found loitering in a Morningside charity shop on Tuesday ( was I loitering, or the dress? I think both of us were)

I am now going to work on that 150 years of Costume History….

So I have completely neglected the blog for a while, main factor being that I have had nothing nice to report and also haven’t been on the internet much because our connection has gone suddenly slow ( 0.06 meg)

The sad news is that we lost one of our lovely dogs on Thursday. Skye,our grey and white lurcher, who was a good friend. She was put down after an injury which we had thought wasn’t too serious but turned out to be very and upset us both more than we prepared ourselves for.

Moving on to hopefully more positive happenings…  We went out for a lovely lunch at the Cringletie for T’s Grandma’s 80th  birthday. I say “lovely” – it was lovely to see everybody and it was a nice spring day but we didn’t think much of the place, it was a bit of a shambles.

It has been really nice to have the sun peeping out and I have been feeling a little better about my mountain of college work…. but longer days means a lot more work for the grouse keeper!




Last night I got a real fright. Our agoraphobic chickens had actually ventured out and  flown over the fence towards the kennels and I was trying to coax them back to their house with bread and general nudging… when 2 of the dogs (the same culprits who tore the workshop to shreds) came bounding up to me or the chickens or both. There was lots of shouting and a flurry of feathers and our biggest dog actually caught Sally. It was horrific I thought he had eaten her. I was just screaming at him and he rounded the corner.

AAaaanyway the dogs returned sheepishly and we eventually found Sally and she was fine, a little ruffled and squawky but fine. I clipped her wings when we caught her so that hopefully she won’t fly into trouble again.

Our Border terrier pup Jock is still terrified of the chickens, which is lucky for them but not so hopeful for his future as a working dog.

Today has been the first real day of burning on the hill. We have both been out together setting fires in the heather. It’s good fun, but very smokey,hot and extremely tiring… for me at least.   It can be a constant struggle to keep control of the fire but a day like today is good because you know it is not too dry and when the fire reaches a large patch of moss it will put itself out. There are horror stories of whole hills being set alight and the underground peat catching fire…. so it can get a little scary.

 We didn’t get into any trouble today, the worst that happened was my shoelaces got singed and we both got very red in the face but we saw two hare (still snowy white) and plenty of grouse which is always encouraging.

This next part turned into some sort of  Gamekeeping Fact of the Day but I’ll include it anyway….

It might seem stupid to be burning the grouse’s habitat and food source, but careful burning actually helps them. It breaks up the huge swathes of heather on the hillside allowing the cock grouse to form separate territories on the same hill and when the heather is mature and shrub-like it is only useful as shelter and not any good to eat so burning it allows fresh young shoots through.

Mostly when you see smoke rising from the hills in the spring it isn’t gamekeepers it is usually shepherds burning off all the heather to give the sheep more grass to eat, which is obviously in their interests but not in the interests of any other wildlife living there. (Not that I would ever rant about shepherds!)

Anyway in other happy news – the lapwings have arrived behind the house.

Burning the heather