12 Bright Days*

December 29, 2017

fishing in the river

It’s been colder than we’re used to these last few days – in fact we woke up on Boxing Day to discover it had snowed (and all credit to the little girl with the scooter who was scooting up and down the pavement with a snow shovel clearing the sidewalks her neighbours had neglected to shovel themselves), followed by overnight lows of -15C (that’s F cold in Fahrenheit) and days that didn’t ever get above freezing.

pawprints on ice

It’s curtailed our cycling somewhat – I’m fond of my fingers – but we’ve still been getting out and about even if it’s felt like a bit more of an ordeal than I really like.

throwing stones

If you get the right rock, and the right kind of ice, it sings

Tomorrow afternoon we will be flying home, so naturally the weather has started to warm up again. We still didn’t get out on the bikes but we did get a final stop for tacos and a walk round the State Park where it seems the beavers have been busy

beaver chewings

Back to normal Scottish weather service soon, you will be glad to hear. We’ll miss the sunshine. We probably won’t miss the sight of people walking in to restaurants to order tacos with a sidearm (not waving it about – they paid like a normal person – but still, a gun, in a holster, at their hip. I hope the food was served exactly how they liked it. America, I love you but you have no idea how strange this feels to a sheltered European).

seed heads

* I don’t normally do these things, but Findra’s 12 Bright Days of Christmas campaign seems as good an aspiration for Christmas as any.



Squelching Through

January 7, 2016
wet cow

George Monbiot said what??

There’s been a lot of talk recently about flood defences and the perils of over-zealous drainage of uplands, and how we might save our towns and cities from flooding if only the river catchments could hold more water. It’s an attractive idea, and I’m all for working with nature, planting more trees, not building massive flood barriers (Bigtown is planning to build a massive bund along its river front which, while practical and undoubtedly cost-effective, doesn’t exactly gladden the heart as a prospect) and definitely all for reintroducing beavers to help slow river flows – not because I think that they will necessarily do much for our flood defences but mostly because I just think it would be really cool to have beavers in Scotland again.

saturated field

The sad part is, this field actually had extensive drainage put in this autumn…

There is one tiny problem though. I don’t know about the rest of the country, and I’m sure that elsewhere there is more that could be done – but speaking as someone who lives in one of the catchment areas that is supposed to be holding all this surplus water, I really am not sure where exactly it is supposed to go

swollen river and waterfall

Or how the land could hold any more of it.

cows seek the higher ground

The cows don’t, either

So I expect we’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that, as most things are.

Speaking of flood defences, I was finally able to get the story of our own impromptu ones from the horse’s mouth. It turns out one of the junior landlords, up from London for the holidays, was responsible for the major works. ‘Well, we’re very grateful, and thank him for his efforts’ I said. ‘Oh don’t worry, he had the most wonderful time,’ was the breezy reply.

To be honest, I’m a bit jealous, because I love mucking around and damming things. Maybe that’s why I’m so keen on them bringing back the beavers…