Sunday, 4 December 2011

Wet inside and out !

    This week has been pretty much like last, wet and windy. The wind has still been coming from the west or south west and for most of the time has been Force 7 and above. Fortunately, the gales have been relatively short lived, blowing through in a few hours, dropping down a couple of notches before picking up again later. I've been over to Westing again a couple of times and the sea has been pretty much the same although on Friday it was breaking up on to the parking area which is probably around 10-12 feet above the normal high tide. For a time today (3rd), the wind had been forecast to rise up to Force 11 (Violent storm on the Beaufort Scale ) west of Unst but fortunately it seemed to pass by much further offshore. The first picture below is across to our house, the entrance to Balta Sound is two miles to the left (east), this is taken from almost at the western end, wild weather ! (absolutely no apologies for the poor quality of the pictures)............

Balta Sound, Force 10

And two more from during the week...................


'Smoke on the Water' - on the sheltered side of the island

  With all of this wind, the driving rain has once again found its way though the cracks in the lime mortar pointing on the west side of the house and into our living room, so out came the bowl again. Next summer we are planning to re-tile the roof and as we do so, also put roofing felt on to the sarking boards underneath the slates; doing this will certainly help make the house a little less drafty. Once the roof has been done, then the very slow and laborious job of 'picking  and pointing' the mortar joints will get underway which will also help to dry the old house out. As we'll need scaffolding for the roof, we can then move down the building, taking the scaffolding down as we do. Another job will be to refit guttering all the way around the main house; incredibly, the house hasn't had any for a least 50 or 60 years which again doesn't help with damp problems.

  During all of this heavy rain, we had a leak through a ceiling in another area which has only happened once before. I then spent a number of hours over last week, moving furniture, taking up floor boards etc trying to trace where the leak originated from. To cut a very long story short, it wasn't weather related at all but from 'dodgey' plumbing by one of the previous owners. I know we all might have a go at a trade or job that we're not really 'qualified' to do, but a least please try and do it in a professional manner. In this case, it was a plastic heating pipe joint (I'm still not convinced this stuff is better than the good old copper pipes) which had gone through a hole in a joist where the hole was exactly the same size as the pipe. So what happens is, when the pipe gets warm it expands becoming tight in the hole, the other side of the joint (which was along side a joist) expands and puts pressure on the plastic fitting and distorts it slightly creating a leak. So always make sure there is enough space around pipes that either go through or over floor joists - you also won't get woken up by creaking pipes when the heating comes on or goes off !

  As I've mentioned before, I wasn't too keen on having cats. The thought of them bringing in a small dead migrant bird that is a rarity or even a mega rare one didn't please me too much when the family announced they wanted cats. However, now they are growing up, they are starting to earn their keep so to speak. At first it was a small mouse or rat, now it's full grown rabbits - that I have no problem with. Unst and Shetland in general is over run with rabbits, although in many places they don't cause a problem - unless, like our neighbours, you have a flower and vegetable patch. This week, the smaller of the two cats (which looks like it was the runt of the litter) brought in a full grown buck rabbit which weighed considerable more than the cat. Not only that, it had to drag it up 12 inches to get through the cat flap, which in itself is a bit of challenge as it has a small tunnel on the outside to cut down the wind blowing the flap open.

  On the wildlife front, the main interest this week has been the number of Bean and Whitefronted Geese that are still around. During the week Brydon had a Rough-legged Buzzard just south of
Baltasound, lets hope it stays for the winter feeding on the rabbits. Closer to home, we're now getting a few Jackdaws coming to feed with the Starlings, House Sparrows and Rock Doves. This morning (4th Dec) we had 9 Jackdaws on the lawn, not something to get exited about normally, but these birds however are most likely to have originated from Scandinavia. Some of them have a pale neck collar which suggests their origin - for a more detailed account on the races, take a look here. With the weather settling down a bit for a few days with possibly some SUNSHINE , I'll try and get some pictures of them this week.

  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I grew up with racing pigeons (or homing pigeons as they are also called) as my dad used to keep them. They were around for most of my life and as they were always around, I did resent them a bit. However, times change and having true Rock Doves in the garden (which all racing pigeons have descended from) is quite nice. Maybe it's because I don't have to feed them or clean out their pigeon loft - but I do still put out food on the ground for these birds - I think my dad would approve...................

A true Rock Dove will always be in this plumage and always have a white rump

  Yesterday while driving back from the shop past the Houb in Baltasound, I saw two otters heading out across the grass from the saltwater towards one of the small freshwater burns. At first I thought it was the two which come along our shoreline but was surprised to see it was the family from the north side - minus one cub. Speaking to Bydon about this, he said that when the cubs start to mature, often a male cub will go off on its own on occasions - maybe that's what happened to the other one along our shore? Comparing the pictures of the mum from last week, it looks like her nose is slowly starting to heal,  it still looks pretty raw though..................


1 comment:

Graham said...

Super piece Robbie. Really enjoyed reading that.

Those storms must be something!

Cheers, Graham