Braeside is The Missing Link. Someone from the electricity board told me and, as you know, I never argue with or question what I'm told by the powers that be, so that's that settled. Anyone out there who's still looking can stop and do something useful instead. The chappie came up the hill with an electricity cable detector thingummy which fascinated the hens. I think they confused its beep with my whistle call that usually means treats ;-) lamb chops, sausages, CHEESE — you know ... stuff they like. Digression: I was talking to someone at the netball club recently who grew up with chickens on Shetland. When I told her we fed any leftover scraps of any kind of food to the hens, she said didn't know that chickens ate meat! "They eat everything," I said. "Even meat?" says she. "Especially meat," says I. She also didn't know that the dafter ones like to roost in trees especially in the winter. Not knowing that is understandable in a Shetlander as there aren't a lot of trees in that part of the world. So yes, three of our daft chickens — the ones with Scots Grey genes, now I come to think of it — have gone back to the trees now that the nights are beginning to freeze again. I think Beefy the boss cockerel just got fed up with all the squabbles: Saffie objecting when Rainbow chick (now renamed as Miss Brown), who is now our biggest hen though still only a pullet, started snuggling up to Auntie Grizel, and poor Smokey chick (alias The Big Yin) having to dodge out of everybody's way. There was quite a rumpus in the henhouse some nights. So I think Beefy went out for some peace and quiet and the two smallest hens (the 'mummies' who have hatched eggs this year and last) followed him. The big Wyandotte chicks are at the bottom of the pecking order but when there were seven in a bed and the babies said "Roll over!" it seems everyone did! BTW, we gave our other cock chick to Ursula as she has six hens now too. His name is The Bruce.
Towards the end of the month, after a day of gales and downpour, all seven chickens roosted in the henhouse, so those Scots Greys have more of the survival instinct than I gave them credit for.
Electric Man was looking for our mains cable which is underground. It runs from the den side of the house, down the 'natural gully' close to the southeast bank, alongside one of our ancient christmas tree stumps, and out the gate. So not, as Electric Man had been told, across the field, although once it's out the gate it connects to the lower run of poles that go along the bottom of the field to the Back Road. (For the elucidation of non-Clynderites, Clynder consists pretty much of two roads, the shore road and the back road running parallel but up the hill a bit, and a few connecting bits, and the two roads are called Shore Road and Back Road. Braeside isn't on either of them, nor is it on one of the connecting bits, though it is on a bit that connects to the shore at one end and a field at the other). It was my telling Electric Man that during power outages, we are not 'synced' with the rest of old Hattonburn, that gave him the clue he needed about the missing link. Seems the old maps and plans are incomplete. All the old poles and overhead cables up the hill from us— including Own Particular (see Jan07) running along what was the boundary between fields and moorland when the poles were erected (now fields and what I call "cropping forests"), everything hauled up there by horse and cart and the human work done by prisoners of war (so Electric Man said) during WWs I and II — are to be removed and, so I understand, all the cabling to be put underground. If a tree falls down in winter gales and messes with the power lines we end up with electricity cuts and, because you still need horses to carry stuff up the hill as there is only foot access and this whole area is too close to MOD-sensitive areas to allow helicopter hoists, making the power supply lines more easily maintainable makes sense. Anyway, somehow or other during historical 'updates' of Clynder's electrical power supply, Braeside stayed linked to the old Clynder lines while the rest of Hattonburn (four houses) was linked up with the new build that is now The Soundings, Straid Bheag and Straid a Cnoc. Electric Man said he'd send me a map of where our cable lies for future reference. I hope he remembers.
Talking of the MOD, I'm writing this as HMS Astute is due to slink quietly into Faslane after the shenanigans in Kyle Akin. There's a buzz outside on the loch — one of those noisy MOD police boats. Even if Astute could slink in quietly, the escort tugs and police boats can't slink anywhere. However the gods of mist and confusion are being kind to Astute and have sent some low foggy cloud to hide its embarrassment.
..... Later I did see Astute coming in. I guess the gods got fed up waiting and went to mistify (sic) somebody else. I'd gone up the hill on a hazel nut hunt as part of a survey to help dormice. Seems the pilot waited for the fog to lift before trusting the navigational skills of the Astute crew.
September was hectic on several counts. I was very busy with scouting stuff as I had the role of organising the programme for a group Beaver, Cub and Scout camp for forty kids aged between six and fourteen. I enjoyed doing it but it used a lot of energy. The camp was great. We are lucky to have a fabulous site by our scout hut that has cliffs and caves, seashore and raised beach among its 'amenities'. The weather was kind enough after a morning wide game under and between showers that we didn't need to use most of my wet weather alternative activities inside the scout hut so they are still available to be used throughout the scouting year. All the feedback the leader team has had from the kids has been very positive. Makes it all worthwhile, including the exhaustion afterwards.
The weekend after this camp, I was at another camp with adult scouts — leaders from other groups. It was an activity-packed leaders' training weekend. Also great fun but also quite tiring.
I began to help out with Cubs just over two years ago. This August — the beginning of my third year — saw the beginning of the final stages of cubness for the group that moved up with Flic from Beavers. This month and next month, in two stages, the whole group will have moved on to Scouts. There is a nice feeling about that. Having seen them grow and develop, having got to know them quite well, and in some cases their parents also, it feels like quite a big moment even to me to watch them move on. I hope they will all enjoy being scouts as much as they appear to have enjoyed being cubs.
Also in September, when I was busy finalising camp details, the level of Flic's complaints about some harassment at school rose a notch. It is always difficult to know what to do in these cases, what I had suggested so far had not worked, and I had no spare energy for new ideas just then. So, I pointed her at the school's own system for dealing with tiresome behaviour from other kids. She used it. The school reacted in an exemplary fashion and helped the kids sort things out. All fine. Except that one parent has decided to have a grudge against me and has not recovered yet. I have yet to work out how someone else's child being mean to my child is my fault. Actually, I think the parent is only aggrieved because the school now knows about the problem. I am glad they know. I think it's important that people in charge of children should strive to recognise the dividing line between telling tales and complaining about unacceptable behaviour that they haven't been able to deal with on their own.
Flic so enjoyed her holiday in upstate NY this summer that she wanted to make a present for the aunt who hosted it. She needed some modelling clay for this so she poured some water into a twenty kilogram sack of bread flour and started stirring. Realising, after a while, that perhaps this wasn't such a good idea she abandoned that and came to ask for some air-drying modelling clay. It's the kind of thing mothers have kicking about for just such eventualities. I gave her some and she went off to make a mess on the floor of the den. (This is why we have a virtually childproof floor in there!). Next day I discovered the lumpy flour. I've sifted out the lumps — that's a lot of sifting! — and fed them to the hens. Fortunately the damage was not so great that I couldn't carry on using the rest for bread.
We left October looking forward to plenty of school-related disruption: Argyll & Bute Council announced its decision to close both Kilcreggan and Rosneath Schools and amalgamate them with Garelochhead School by August 2011. Kilcreggan School recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and, if W.C.Maughan's history of Rosneath is to be believed, there has been a school at Rosneath since at least 1820. Maughan mentions a Mr Dodds "who, for fifty years, taught the youth of the parish and died in 1870."
Later I spoke to a member of Cove & Kilcreggan Community Council who assured me that there has been a school on the peninsula for over 400 years. It strikes me as ironic, to put it mildly, that now we are on average richer than ever before, according to our illustrious council we can no longer afford a primary school. Something, somewhere has gone badly wrong. Parents will not take this latest insanity from the council without a fight. We are not the ones to have wasted our taxes. Watch out for the next Peninsula Wars!
On the last day of the month we visited Lang Craigs near Dumbarton. This is a piece of land The Woodland Trust would like to acquire and on which they hope to plant more native trees and get rid of the dreaded rhodies. Photos from our visit (see below) taken by Alun.