Year of the Plague in 2020 a far from average year – self-isolation diary. Week 12.

 

It’s been a quieter week in so many ways from the frenzied worries of week 11 and most outstanding were the ginger biscuits I baked and a drive to the next town to pick up filters for our water supply which as many of you will know is private and is what drains through the land. The soil in this part of northeast Scotland is acid so the water draining through it without going through a chemical filter will turn hair , shower etc green and corrodes pipes. Our acid land grows excellent rhododendrons, however, see below.

mix 11

Week 12 was heralded in with a change in the weather. In place of weeks of warm sunshine came the wind – from the north by the feel of it – and some rain. I’ve been hoping for rain for several weeks (for the aforementioned water supply) and it arrived. Hurrah! But, not enough to raise the level of the local burns. Boo! The final day of our week 12 brought a return to very warm sunny, dry weather. Hurrah! and Boo!

Did I tell you previously our house martin’s nest collapsed? Well, the saga continues. I suspect the nest collapsed because of the drought and lack of sticky mud for building. With the rain showers came, I assumed, mud supplies but they continued to fiddle – going through the motions of building but not actually getting anywhere. Sound familiar in the human world? Are these martins too young? Too inexperienced? Not the brightest martins in the circlage? (apparently that’s the collective term.) They managed a tiny ledge and fly back and fore to it but don’t extend it.

Ver excited to see a colourful wagtail on a table in the garden. Thought it might be a yellow wagtail because it was so, well – yellow, but it was possibly a grey wagtail which belies its plumage. There are lots of pied wagtails around here but the first time I’ve spotted its more colourful kin. Oh, and before I finish on the birdies till next time, that most colourful and eagerly anticipated one, the lesser spotted woodpecker is/are stocking up on peanuts, big time. When they land on the feeder the other birds scatter. Very wise.

I have about 6 variations of manageable walk (for me)  in the immediate vicinity of our house – make that 7 for an old right of way that’s been overgrown by evergreen tree branches for years has been reopened. Hurrah! For years I felt I should be proactive and chop down the offending branches but wasn’t up to the job and now someone has done it. I believe the path was used by people further down country getting to and from church so was probably in use for a long time before someone’s garden encroached across it. Only downside was having to tip-toe between plastic doggy bags of poop, generously abandoned by dog walkers. There’s an awful lot of them being left around here for some reason. Someone new arrived in the area? No idea. Why put them into plastic and leave them? No idea. Hopefully the reinstated path will stay open and as horse riders are using it there’s a good chance it will.

The yellow broom lining part of the path adds to the treat of walking the novel right of way. It is spectacular this year, along with the whin which has been blooming in remarkable quantities. May blossom, too – the hawthorn is looking wonderful and smells almost as good as the whin though not quite. Ne’er cast a cloot till the may is oot – and it is so cast away, though in week 12 you’d have been well-advised to ca’ canny and keep haud o’ yer simmet for a bitty yet.

The verges and hedgerows are ablaze with pink and white bladder campion, yarrow, cow parsley, myrrh, daisies, pink polygonum, yellow fleabane and dandelions. Chestnut trees’ white candelabra are spectacular against green leaves and blue skies. Grasses – so many varieties and colours tangled in with vetches and birdsfoot trefoil. A skylark sang as it loitered over a field and an oyster catcher hurtled across the grass peep, peeping to clear the way. And joy of joys a tiny lizard scooted across the long grass at the side of the road on a roasting hot day. Coronavirus has meant the council hasn’t been cutting back the verges and they’ve been looking like they used to, full of plants and beasties – and immensely fascinating for us humble pedestrians.

mix 22

Our garden rhododendrons are mostly past. We have spectacular ones like the one that has enormous pale pink bells and grows tall to tiny pot azaleas. Tree peonies are big in our garden such as the rockii pictured previously. The Laburnum tends to flower prodigiously every second year and this year is one of those. Fabulous. Unfortunately the rowan next to it which looks lovely with its pale pink berries later in the summer is covered with blossom that smells like carrion, rotten flesh, somewhat detracting from the sweetness of the laburnum. The first year it did this had us searching high and low for some unfortunate animal’s remains. The smell must be attractive to some pollinators, presumably night-visiting moths.

Couple of films stood out this week. The highly successful Korean film Parasite which I didn’t much like. It questions who are the parasites – a poor family who worm their way into a rich household through deceit or the wealthy couple and their children who live in a stunning designer home and are dependent on poor people to help them live their lives. It began fine then degenerated into a Whitehall farce and ended up with blood all over the carpet – or rather lawn. Whatever floats your boat.

What did float my boat was an American film about a former army vet and his daughter living in the wilds of Oregon. Leave No Trace is a beautifully paced, totally absorbing film about how their relationship changes when the inevitable happens. It’s as subtle as Parasite is frenetic. Well acted. Recommended.

Bedtime reading has been mainly Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. My favourite book about doppelgangers is his fellow-Scot, James Hogg’s masterly, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. In fact, it is my favourite book of all. Stevenson’s work is, of course, a far-better known classic and a straightforward read. Our copy is an old one picked up in a second-hand bookshop many years ago, where all the best books spring from. It includes a lovely engraving and the font is large and easy on the eye.

Stay safe.

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