Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lost and found

  I'm told that I'm one of those rare beasts nowadays that has spent most of their life in one place. I spent almost 50 years living in the same village - indeed the same house - before we moved up here to Unst. The only break was a year in Malawi southern Africa, going when our eldest, Sula, was 9 months old. As we were going to a relatively well furnished house, all we needed to take was our personal possessions etc and the rest of the stuff went in to storage. I can certainly remember us saying at the time that we managed without all of the 'stuff' we had in storage, so why had we still got it!  On returning home 12 months later however, the belongings came out of storage and I was reunited with things I'd forgotten about which gave me a sort of 'warm' feeling on discovering them. I used to feel the same when after a few months away from the hills - putting on my walking boots again at the start of a good mountain walk - it was like being reunited with a couple of old friends.

  Back here on Unst, it's been similar. From August 2008 until January 2011, we had three containers of things stored down in Gloucester, either waiting to be brought up here or (a less pleasant thought) us returning south. For me it was frustrating when I wanted a particular tool to do a job knowing full well 'it was in storage' but I had to go and buy another one that wasn't an 'old friend' if you know what I mean. Once we had moved in to Ordaal and  the storage stuff had arrived, we gradually went through it and over the following weeks/months I began to suspect that there were things missing. As it turned out, I've 'lost' a box of tools - some are irreplaceable as they were of sentimental value, others can be replaced but will be of a much lesser quality. Who knows where the box went, but someone somewhere has gained. Also, going through my books and cds, I still can't find some that I know I have; but I'm sure in time they will appear.

 One such missing item was a sort of family 'heirloom' - a loaf of bread ! A loaf of bread I hear you say ? - well it was not just any loaf of bread. This particular one was baked by my great uncle Leon not long after he left school and started in the bakery of my home village on October 4th  - 1910 !  Uncle Leon, was then drafted in to the army at the start of WW1, but  then received a honorable discharge after loosing a leg in the Dardanelles. From a very young age, Uncle Leon would take me across the fields and woods (bearing in mind he was on crutches) and taught me a lot about the countryside which I believe was a grounding for what I now know. One thing that uncle was well known for however and that was making catapults. When I was growing up in the sixties, every small boy had a catapult, and uncle was an expert at making them. From choosing the leather for the sling, the thin twine to bind the elastic to the stick and then coating the string with beeswax (collected by him) he was a perfectionist. I still have my 'Y' shaped sticks (minus the elastic)  and also my dads which is now probably over 60 years old. As to the loaf of bread ?, fortunately after 11 months I found it in a large box with some boxes of slides, phew !

 Uncle Leon and the loaf of bread - circa early 80s

  I mentioned at the end of the last post about the sheep fence down at the jetty, well, after spending and hour chasing the sheep around to get them back along the shore, I then spent another hour re-erecting the fence. Having the feeling of a victory, I was annoyed to see them back in the field the following morning - and even more than last time. Some off the sheep are of Shetland stock and are akin to mountain goats, ie will climb over or squeeze through the tightest gap. On this occasion it was through a small space which had been covered by seaweed that I'd missed. I've now got them fenced off in a smaller part of the field and will move them out later. 

  While I was down there 'fixing' the shore fence, the mum and otter cub where out on one of the rocks that gets exposed as the tide drops and didn't seem too bothered by me making a lot of noise 100yds away. Returning to the shore an hour later, they had come up on to the stone jetty and were resting - or rather the cub was. She (the cub) was lying on top of mum using her as a pillow and mum was obviously not too comfortable with this arrangement as she kept fidgeting. There was only a slight breeze which unfortunately was going from me to them, fortunately I was behind the high wall (one side of the old noost shed) so that did help; mum did know someone was around as she kept sniffing the air, but I can only guess the scent wasn't strong enough.

  Yesterday (21st Dec), there was a cracking sunrise - made even better by the fact we could see it from two rooms on the east side of the house without going outside.  This is because I've now manged to change the glass in a couple of the windows; two had obscure, frosted glass, which in this house seemed rather strange. The window in the upstairs bathroom is at shoulder height and can't really be seen into (unless you are on a ladder on the outside) and the window in the kitchen which used to be a loo window, also isn't over looked. It's also one of the mysteries (to us) why here on Shetland where there are so many fantastic views to be had from houses, that many, many, houses have net curtains and many of them are isolated houses..............

A couple of 'grab' shots from the car as I was doing the Baltasound school run at around 9am.

  We've now arrived at the shortest day/longest night, but the lighter days of spring and summer are still a long way off sadly.

  If I don't get the opportunity to post again before Christmas, I hope everybody has a good one. Thanks for finding a few minutes to look at the blog and also to those who've become a 'follower' - sorry I've not acknowledged you individually.



WPATW said...

Thanks for your great posts this year - fascinating, and educating reading . Keep it up mate


robbieb said...

Thanks Martin, and I thank both you and Dave for your brilliant blog, long may it last :) I wish you all a great Christmas and a very fulfilling photographic New Year.