I’ve moved

In case anyone’s still dropping by and wondering why all the tumbleweed, I’ve moved and unmasked myself.

You’re welcome to visit at http://www.patrickmackie.wordpress.com.

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More signs of spring

I’m up early on this Sunday morning and, as I write, I can look out at the red sky of the dawn. It’s fading a little now from a few minutes ago when I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea (Assam) before coming up to the interweb-machine, but now there is a delicate blue sky above the ruddy glow, with blue-grey clouds drifting in from the south, from left to right across my field of view. The village is in a glen surrounded by hills, which means that the actual sunrise and sunset can never be seen from here; they are rare delights which I usually only experience from the ferry to Islay.
The lighter mornings are the most obvious sign of the lengthening days and the renewal of the covenant between the earth and the seasons, but there have been many others to enjoy in the last few weeks.

Snowdrops are out in force, as this picture from a couple of weeks ago gives witness. Moles have been renovating their homes and fresh molehills have appeared in all suitable residential districts, which does not include the boulder clay and glacial deposits of The Grannary’s small patch of Eden. The drive down the road is now a switchback of toad-dodging after dark as they head down to the boggy bits between the lochs to consummate their seasonal passions – all you can see in the headlights are small white things that look like leaves, but aren’t. I was walking a week ago above Loch Fyne and found a frog on the summit of Beinn Ghlas, a small hill above Minard. Returning to the car, I found two goodly deposits of frogspawn in the ditch beside the track.
Although in Argyll in early March you can be sure that Winter hasn’t finished with you yet, these signs of Spring and the lengthening days are a welcome reminder that the auld bitch’s powers are at last on the wane.

SWMBO – definition

I find that someone got to Pat the Chooks by googling for “SWHMBO, Definition”. SWMBO, of course, stands for that illustrious female, Mrs Hilda Rumpole, known privily by her adoring husband as “She Who Must Be Obeyed”.

A milestone reached

This is the 400th post on this blog and the last one from The Chookery. The next post will be from The Grannary, and I am confident that I will be ranting about the appalling experience of transferring a broadband service when taking the existing telephone number with you. But it’ll just spoil the fun if I start on that now.
As a leaving present for the chooks, I have re-roofed their coop. The felt was in poor condition and had long ago started to tear off, causing some water damage to the roof. I had loads of felt left over from the shed at The Grannary, so it seemed only the decent thing to do to improve conditions for those old feathered friends before I leave them.
We’ve spent most of today in a peril of cardboard boxes, but the place still looks like a bomb’s hit it. Her Maj is off to work tomorrow and I’ll be entertaining four removal men and directing operations at two locations 200m apart. Should be good exercise – perhaps I should get the bike out of the shed for to-ing and fro-ing on the day.
Talking of the shed, I took the roof box over to see how I could get it in and was greatly relieved to find that it would just fit inside lengthways. The storage solution was to drill four holes in the rafters, fit lengths of rope and sling the roof box tightly up into the apex of the roof. Her Maj, being knee-high to a grasshopper, can walk comfortably underneath the roof box, but I have to duck. Still, it does leave the floorspace completely unencumbered for bikes, tools, lawnmowers and all the other collective clobber that is only ever found in sheds.
I know this post is disappointingly unstructured, when it should, by rights, be redolent with wit, reflective on the eighteen months tenure of The Chookery, reporting on the wonderful weather we’ve enjoyed today and the fact that the McNasties are now out in force again, but the old noggin is meandering all over the shop with tomorrow’s excitements, so you’ll just have to put up with it.
Anyway, I’m going to be off-line now for a couple of days. With luck, I’ll be back on dial-up on Wednesday after BT come to install the phone line in The Grannary (it’s only 30m to the exchange!), but Tiscali are promising me a minimum wait of 15 days before they will reconnect my broadband service – and that’s with ordering a broadband-enabled line from BT and taking the existing phone number with me! Damn! I was going to save that rant for later – I still will, I’ve only reported the facts, not my opinions on them.
Be patient – I’ll be back …

Battalions of bluebells

This is a good year for bluebells, everyone is saying so at the moment. They were coming out before I went to Ireland a week ago, but I noticed they were everywhere on my drive back into Argyll from the airport. Everywhere the sunlight can get onto the banks and braes and into the woods, bluebells are muscling their way into view. There are some particularly spectacular banks beside the road on the way into work which are heaving with their blooms at the moment, even better, the banks are below the road and the eye can peer laterally through several metres of the purple flowers. Even the bank opposite The Chookery is covered with bluebells, and, to distinguish itself from every other bank or brae in the county, it has a seasoning of white bluebells as well.
I’m a bit short of decent bluebell toggies at the moment, but here’s one from my trip to the Isle of Luing a couple of weeks ago:

Bluebells on Luing

Another rite of passage successfully negotiated

Strange to say, I’ve got through 45 years, two marriages (one of which endureth, and may it long do so) and three kids without ever building or owning my very own personal shed. Yes, dear reader, this totem of manhood has previously passed me by and I’ve not been all I should be as a husband, father, friend or neighbour as a consequence.
The Bikers, for such we now christen the friends who will be next door when we finally move, had a shed in kit form surplus to requirement. In need of some outdoor storage for bikes (push) mower (lawn) and box (roof), we negotiated the purchase of said shed (right, said Fred) and this morning I borrowed his skills and expertise in construction matters and we set forth to build the beast. All went very well for about a minute, and then we found we had no felt to create a dpc beneath each supporting batten, so off into town I went to procure the same. Back onto the job and all was going well, yea, even unto the raising of the rafters, when we discovered, on starting to put the onduline roofing felt up, that we’d placed the rafters so that the ridge had no visible means of support. After contemplating the damage that would arise from attempting to shift the rafters from their new security, it was decided to sark the roof. In Scotland, this means boarding over the entire roof surface to provide a secure and wind-proof base for the roof covering. I remembered that I had a large piece of marine ply in the garage at The Chookery, which was used originally in the construction of the CatFlap(R) when we moved the mog up from Somerset. Engaging the assistance of our old friend gravity, it was the work of a moment to liberate the marine ply from the roof of the garage and flatten the stepladder which had been the means of my ascent to the heights. Imitating a gibbon, I brachiated down to the floor and measured the plywood, to find it almost exactly the right size for one side. Neighbour had liberated some chipboard flooring panels for the other side and we soon had the shed securely roofed and, eventually covered. Well pleased with our efforts, I returned to The Chookery to find Her Maj surrounded by papers in the midst of sorting for the move.
Later this evening, I persuaded her to come and admire the Grannexe, which she did and, demonstrating that she remains the boss and I need to know my place, promptly locked me inside. Och well, at least I know it’s rainproof and can afford an old man some little shelter in moments of crisis.