Well it's time for another newsletter. Now stop screaming I find this as difficult as anybody, being the writer, you've only got to read it and then (as the nightmares fade) you can forget it. I can never do that, but I digress. Afterthoughts are in italics.
I should point out that these letters are constructed over a lengthy period, so you will notice the occasional anachronism. [And $5 words]
The summer here in Scotland went on and on, much better than for several years. Here we are in late September, [There's one now, JH.] (These letters get written slowly and this one will probably take to Mid November.) and it's still fine and dry most of the time. Well, it is when I need it to be. Even when it does rain it rarely lasts for more than an hour at a time, so if you nip out sharpish, with a definite mission, then you don't generally get drowned. Loitering does provoke the rain gods though. In all it has been unusually fine this last few months. If this is global warming you guys down south might want to consider a move north. In fairness, however I'd better tell you about the midges and the Glaswegian traffic system later. One drives you to the brink of madness and makes you wonder what kind of god could let such a thing exist.
And so does the other.
But this is supposed to be a newsletter (see what I care about gramma,punctuation or spelling) so here is the news.
Health: Fiona had a bad back for a bit while we were on holiday, it is not really fully better yet, but improving slowly, it usually takes a week or so to stabilise, perhaps the Osteopath can do some good.
Our Business: Progressing nicely (overly modest evaluation -it's exploding) Work: Fiona has moved from her previous job at the Halifax in Edinburgh and has been at "Intelligent Finance," the internet banking part for a while now, she is finding it more rewarding and it is also much closer to home with more varied working hours. (And a nice new Subaru Legacy to go to it in.) Jim is still working at the Western General, some new equipment and ever-expanding bureaucracy. Early retirement is required here. Especially since we have been short staffed for so long that we are beginning to forget what lunch looks like. Still, one advantage of our working in different places is that I had a perfect excuse for buying a Land Rover Discovery.
Pets: Sad to say our cat, Bast, passed on recently with the help of the vet. She had suddenly gone blind (because of the growth on her jaw) the day before, and didn't suffer as far as we could tell. Strangely, three days after she had gone, I found myself up a tree for the first time in almost 20 years, I had a perfectly good reason but it did strike me as odd. I've noticed no tendency to stalk mice to date.
So that's both of the dogs and the cat gone, the place seems a little empty. We have no particular plans for new pets at present. Mums' dog Tess will be visiting over winter [another one, she's here now] and she will be quite enough for a while. Anyway, all of our pets have turned up on the doorstep as strays, (with the exception of Midge who never fitted well into any category), and I've no doubt another one will, sooner or later.
Social Events: We finally got round to having a house warming party in the last weekend of August, about 5 years later than planned, but what the heck. It went very well, and in much the same style as the Hoolie Do down south. This one started at mid-day and went on to 3am. I think we ended up with more beer than we started with. We are working on it, and if there are any friends or relations passing, drop in for a drop. There is a fair bit of wine too. It was most embarrassing, we bought a cubic yard of various forms of alcohol and soft drink and despite pouring down as many throats as possible we still ended up with a small cellar full.
House progress; The conservatory is up and running, the pond filled, drained, reshaped, refilled and stocked with:-
Wriggly things, largely unidentified,
Frogs displaced from a small pond nearby that was redeveloped,
Damsel fly larva.
A lot of plants.
A small child.
The child was simply playing happily but inaccurately during the party and was removed again before he became part of the food chain.
Recent Constructions Outdoors: A wooden structure (I cannot call it a garage when sober) which contains the ancient Land Rover, and anything else that looks untidy in the open. The structure will soon be facing the might of the autumn winds. So until I have finished it I tie it down to the Land Rover. It's a sort of symbiotic relationship. The main part of it was once a G.P.O. Van, big and yellow and usually full of G.P.O. types making tea. Then it became a green shed in the garden. Green, ugly and very useful, it grew plants for Fiona under the translucent roof. Then we sold that house and the new owners didn't want the thing. Because we had only moved about 50 yards, I was able to offer to take it to pieces for them so that they could get rid of it. Having done that I realised that it had a mahogany frame. So, with the addition of some fence panels and the refitting of the roof, it became the new home of the old Land Rover. You might have enjoyed the scene of a half dozen of us carrying the frame out of one garden and into another, but you would have been roped in and given a bit to carry. After the irritating power cuts of the last few years, we bought a 1.3 Kilowatt electric generator. So now when the power goes out, we only lose the cooker and the kettle, (and I'm working on a Gas backup for those), it will run everything else, including the central heating. The mains electricity failed for 8 hours the day after I brought it home, so we felt well pleased with ourselves. The entire village was in darkness save a few candles and our house. Being the only lit bit in the totally black landscape for between 4 and 10 miles around I think that the aircraft were using us as a landmark.
Recent Constructions Indoors: At last I have started on the upstairs shower room, I'm hoping it will become more than that, but it's a start and I'll see what else I can get in there, maybe a loo and a basin. It will make an ideal place to hide mad old relatives.
Wild life: The field is turning slowly into a wood, it will take some time, as might be expected, and this seemed to be going backwards when a local child (looking for adventure presumably) set fire to the middle of it. Fortunately the path acted as a firebreak and the damage was confined. Since then almost all the trees have shown signs of regrowth, the few that did not are largely replaced, and Fiona got the chance to plant loads of wild flowers where the undergrowth had been cleared. Serendipity strikes again.
Scottish Wildlife Trust: The Hermand Birchwood site that we look after has had quite a few improving works. A long awaited drain for the blocked ditch. A nice new information board. Several bits of walkway, and a new fence all the way along the roadside. On the official side I got to be Convenor of Lothian Reserves Management Group, (Look at all those Capital Letters,) don't ask me what it means, I can only just spell it. This was not through any great skill or knowledge, I just didn't say "No" quickly enough. Fortunately Fiona knows what is going on and primes me when I get lost. What I really do best is things like digging ditches and climbing ladders to count bats.
Well, since you ask it was Sunday last. 20 boxes, 11 signs of occupancy, 8 occupied and 12 bats in situ. Several of which swore at me in bat, I now know 5 words in bat, none repeatable.
Most recently: In the village of Chetnole (where the Hewlett clan first got noticed) we went and helped dedicate the plinth to Dad and Michael and John. The Family made an impressive turnout from both sides and we all had an extremely good meal at the local pub, blew my diet clear out of the water.
I've been trying to construct a web page. http://www.jimhewlett.homestead.com/ That's a hyperlink for those who are impressed by such things. I've had some success, but if it was a car it would fail it's MOT on account of the driver being unable to get it to the garage. Partly because there is no visible steering wheel, (I think it's in the boot) but mainly because I don't have a clue.
Mums' dog Tess is here in Scotland now, while Mum is visiting Bill and family in Australia. She has been before and seems to like it. I noticed in Southbourne that she was putting on a bit of weight, so her tendency to chase rabbits and go for long walks without permission could benefit her general fitness. I'm talking about the dog here! All should be well if she doesn't run out in front of a car.
Anyway, that's quite enough of all that, and time I went and did a bit of D.I.Y. on the upstairs shower room, it's not waterproof yet and the video cameras keep fogging up.
Love to all
Jim and Fiona