26 09 2016
It has been ages since I put finger to keyboard, newsletters seem to have been pushed aside by several other activities.
My apologies to any who read them and feel deprived.
The main culprit has been the Midge Club, and the main part of that dealing with questions from members and people applying to become members (£10), people who should be members but haven't got around to joining (but who need Midge based help now) and people selling Midges who would like to use the facilities. The problem would be simplified if I ignored non members, but the truth is they are much the same, and haven't realised there is no large professional team dealing with things Midge. Ah well, I like solving problems and every case is different so you can't really make up fixed rules, so I'll just carry on. They usually join in the end if they are running a Midge, and if they are just selling, then the new owner often joins. The second biggest time eater is the magazine, and I enjoy doing that in spite of it competing with my own newsletter, so as compensation you can have a look, it is open to the public anyway so I see no harm.
Not that it's going to be of much interest to non mechanical types, but you never know.
As a quick update on Midge work here are a couple of photos showing the merging of two midges. effectively the body stayed where it was and the chassis of the blue one migrated to the left under the red body
To be fair there are several other activities that use up daylight hours, not least my ongoing Midge rebuilding, the Wee Grey Fergie, odd other cars and machines. However there has been quite a lot of holidaying, general pottering around the country and local good works. More about those later.
In the meantime a couple of bits of my head fell off and needed a bit of repair work. Nothing serious, just a few old fillings that gave up after a mere 50 years or so. I was considering a head rebuild, but it's still too experimental. I’ll keep plodding on with this old one, in spite of its poor memory core, most of it works now that I’ve had the teeth and eyes sorted out and the hair hasn’t all fallen out yet. Seriously though I’m quite pleasantly surprised at the lack of wear and tear so far. I can remember when 64 was rather old, I’ve reset that to 90 and by the time I get there it may have moved again.
In the interests of sight-seeing, exercise and getting a bit of fresh air Fiona and I went down to a place near Peebles (an odd name when you type it) and had a squint at The Grey Mare’s Tail, a waterfall in the Borders. There was quite a bunch of us and it demonstrated how tolerant most folks are. The group was made up of photographers, botanists, geologists, historians and half a dozen other ‘ists’ so when, for instance, a photographer would point out a particularly fine view all the others would look and then a botanist would find some obscure plant that the historian was nearly standing on while the geologist would explain what the view was made of. At the same time the Ranger who was leading the walk would try to keep us moving so that we’d be back before nightfall. I’ve always been a generalist, so all the experts were a delightful source of precise, but random, information, even if the walking was quite steep and tiring. I realised eventually that we were probably a bit low on energy, having just ended our two day low-calorie days for that week so a food-bar perked us up and a packed lunch shortly after meant the return journey was much easier. One of the other walkers was rather wobbly on the return part, having over-stretched himself. Quite easy not to notice you are getting older until that kind of thing happens, so I shall be watching for that in a decade or two. The poly-tunnel has performed well over the last several months, and Fiona has identified several salad-ish plants that just go on and on producing. We haven’t gone down the total self sufficiency route since it is so much easier to buy than grow, but it’s nice to know we could.
I suppose chickens would be the obvious move, but that would make holidays rather difficult, and there are a few foxes in the area. On a similar basis I haven’t covered the garage with solar panels and built a small wind turbine. If we were off grid it might be worthwhile, as it is I’ll assume we will get a reasonable warning of civilisation’s imminent collapse and stock up on batteries and chickens then.
That’s both teeth repaired now, I find it odd that I can identify any number of artefacts and know which way up they go, where you’d find one and how to fix it, but have little concept of where things are inside my mouth. When the dentist had finished fiddling about I found my jaw was a slightly different fit than before, and had some difficulty in describing how it was different. However, as I suspected, it all settled down and feels natural again. In August we wandered down to the Wickham Festival which was very relaxed, not too loud considering and very entertaining. Most importantly it wasn’t a sea of mud, but actually dry and warm. Fish, a favourite of Fiona’s was playing and also the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (seen on the left here) were there. (That’s Pipers, not Peppers)
Several other bands including Lindisfarne and the Stranglers were playing and Bill Oddie did a talk against cruel sports. I still can’t see how anyone managed to weld those two words together, but I guess it’s a matter of what you consider fun.
There must be a whole lot of people I’d rather not meet, the half of the United States voting for ‘The Donald’ for instance.
We managed to visit Lucy (Davis) who lives there, having moved from the farm, and she’s doing fine. I’m not sure when she and Ron moved into the farm cottage, but I think I must have been about 9, which would make it 55 years ago. Time flies. The visit to Hampshire had to be rather hurried as we had appointments, duties and engagements all around it, and although we took our time we seemed to be back a few days later, much to the delight of Errol the cat, who is becoming more and more domesticated as the years go by. He used to completely ignore us and would go walkabout for days at a time. Now he announces his return at any time of he day or night, and expects some kind of recognition, be it 4 in the morning or mid-day. I’ve noticed he’s not too taken with rain, cold, snow or wind and prefers his electric toilet to the great outdoors when any of them are prevalent. I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to go on too much about it, a cat does have his sensibilities, suffice to say it has a sort of automatic sieve. Rushing back north of the border in time for a bit of can rattling for the Scottish Wildlife Trust and helping with the Village Heritage event (which went very well), we are hoping to set up a permanent Venue, but that’s a bit into the future, the village could do with a proper place to show off its short but very complex history. In September we took the folding caravan and a couple of sea-going Kayaks north to the Kyle of Lochalsh and Plockton (Lochdubh if you remember Hamish MacBeth) met up with Helen and Derek and camped in the folding caravan, an odd device, but comfortable and quite easy to tow. We’d tried the exercise before on Skye, but the weather at that time indicted that getting out on the water would involve a degree of risk, so we had gone walking instead up to the Old Man of Storr. This time however the weather was perfect, and we paddled about out of Plockton harbour and never hit any rough water at all. I did get wet on one day, but that was crossing, on foot, a small burn as it reached the sea. That was the time I found that my walking boots didn’t really grip slimy rocks, so having managed to get quite reasonable photos all day with my very sophisticated iphone4 while sitting in the Kayak in the sea, I managed to soak it ( in my pocket) in a couple of inches of fortunately fresh water. The phone was obviously a bit bewildered, and its light came on for a couple of days, but it seems to have made a full recovery now. Perhaps a waterproof case would be in order for next time though, otherwise Bill from whom I nicked it might want it back, citing cruelty to a device more used to the arid Australian plains. Trundling around Skye looking at art galleries, visiting the ‘Fairy Glen’ and generally doing the tourist bit we did run into an obstruction seen below that was so picturesque that I was wondering if it had been sponsored by the Scottish Tourist Board
Back in Tarbrax we were greeted by Errol who, I’m glad to say, follows his mother’s example and doesn’t sulk the way that Sheila used to. He decided to keep a close eye on us and did his small motorbike impression while I finished up the Midge Magazine. I even had enough energy to tap out a small Newsletter to let you know I'm still here...or there depending on your point of view before rushing off again around the country visiting all and sundry, or at least those on our approximate flight path. Apologies as ever to the thousands that will be disappointed. It's down to geography and occasionally mechanics, the engine management chip (ecu) in the Zafira blew up and nearly prevented the Skye trip, but having fixed that, the reversing light switch jammed on and the car decided it was in reverse and so wouldn't accelerate. Never get a problem like that in the Midge. Well I hope not anyway, it only has one bit of electronics and that's the flasher unit, so if the worst comes to the worst you can always stick your arm out. I liked trafficators, if the thing didn't pop out then the driver, or passenger, could bang on the pillar and loosen it.