The Old Manse, Tarbrax August '01 
Dear all 
Well here we are again, wondering what to put down, and what to keep under wraps. Secrets? Well not really, just avoiding the really embarrassing bits without drawing attention to them by overt omission. None the wiser? Good. 
Recent events included the 3rd annual "Hoolie do" which went very well, although I should concede that it always does, because it involves large amounts of food and drink and a bunch of people who have every intention of having a good time. Sadly several friends and relations were unable to make that particular date because of holidays and other commitments, so we have made the date of Saturday the 28th of July 2002 our next target. The special attraction of Ben's spectacularly short haircut afforded much wincing and sucking of teeth, along with sage advice and pithy comments. It was, it must be said, an act of some considerable intelligence on his part to do it on my head, since, that way he could appreciate the effect from a distance. He maintained that distance for several minutes, presumably to allow others an unimpeded view. 
Hilda Hewlett 1864-1943 emerged, rather surprisingly, at the same time. Cindy did the research. She was the focus of some attention on the web and in other media as the first qualified female British pilot (no 122). She part owned the company "Hewlett & Blondeau" building aircraft for the '14, '18 war, taught her son, who later became an air commodore, to fly in less than 48 hours and generally did more in her life than most of us could manage in five. 
Daily Express 21/7/01 
I would imagine there is a book in there for somebody with the skills and enthusiasm, it's startling to find so much behind somebody who we had identified only as Great uncle Morrie's wife. 
Other happenings included a trip to the bird sanctuary at Arne. That is what we had intended to do when we were diverted by finding the church. We, or rather Fiona, spotted several species of bird including a little egret, which is actually quite big, and a black tailed godwit. My classification method identified most of them as small brown jobs or waders. I suppose that it's an improvement on sparrows, pigeons and seagulls, as I had them before. Later we visited the village of Tyneham, which was borrowed by the army about 1943 and never given back, rather to the disappointment of the owners and tenants. You can see why if you go there, it makes an ideal firing range and has its own excellent beach. I imagine the owner would quite like to hear that "For you the war is over" eventually though. 
In the meantime, sad to say, employment continues for both of us, bringing in a few pennies, but I feel the title "idle rich" would suit us much better, so the Business is never far from my thoughts. Certainly the omens of buying trends are very favorable and the new web shop seems a great success. 
Current household projects include the long awaited decorating of the main bedroom, more painting of the outside of the house, and the completion of the upstairs shower room. Much progress has been made in all areas, especially in the shower room where the electric lavatory is now operational, as is the shower. 
The Discovery (Liz) is presently having some bushes replaced, so I am going to work at the moment in the 109, Boris is not as quick but given his rather agricultural steering that's no bad thing. I think I'll try to park next to Dr Shaw's Bentley on Monday, 
That always gives the parking attendants a good laugh. I have noticed I get a bit more clearance than most. 
The various committee posts seem to be under control, I became secretary for the Village Community Council, and treasurer for the Upper Clydesdale Community Alliance, they don't seem to take up too much time, and the Scottish Wildlife stuff (Reserves management group convenor) is much quieter in the summer. They all have the advantage of getting me off my bottom, out of the house, and meeting more people. 
The cats are now well settled in and are at the moment luxuriating in the conservatory, Errol, has taken to settling upside-down, legs splayed and snoring gently in the bowl shaped chair he has claimed as his own. Maggie brings in the occasional shrew or bird, but since they all seem quite unharmed, it's no great problem. The frog in the dining room seemed a little upset, but she got over it and watches the cats from the middle of the pond if they get close. 
The Lothian Conservation Volunteers came over to do some work today, 19th August for Hermand Birchwood, the Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve we are Convenors for. We cut back a load of bramble and raspberry that was encroaching on a public right of way, the rosebay willow herb that was getting into the meadow and the birch seedlings that were getting into the raised bog. It rained the entire time but much has been achieved. I am still puzzled how midges fly through such heavy rain, perhaps each drop blows them out of the way. Anyway, the weapon of choice for this kind of herbicide is a sharp flat blade like a billhook or a cleaver on the end of a six-foot pole. It hasn't changed in seven hundred years. They called it a sickle, but I don't think that's the right word. (I think it's a halberd, but that should have a pick on the other side). You'll have seen the things wielded by mobs storming Dr Frankenstein's castle in old films. Great exercise for the cardio-vascular system though, you would have been impressed by my prowess at carving swathes through the weeds at shoulder height, it's most dramatically used at full length with both hands, (and more muscles than me) and well away from anybody else. Properly sharpened, the device contravenes health and safety regulations even when it's lying in a locked box in a dark room, but it works. 
Well, it's back to work now. We have a brand new Cardiac Lab in the Western General. It has the added interest value that nobody has seen a plan or anything of a description of it, the Trust expects us to be able to work it with a couple of hours training. I do like optimism. 
Here I am after a day working in the new lab.  It’s very shiny, rather over complicated and cumbersome, and built slightly back to front for reasons that will, no doubt, become clear later.  I like it, mainly because if I decided not to like it then I would not to like working in it.  Since I have to work in it any way……….. See what I mean?

Love to all,