BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

16 October 2014

Claremont - June 2006

BBC Homepage
» Island Blogging
Northern Isles

Burray & South Ronaldsay
North Ronaldsay
Papa Westray
Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre
The Mainland

Fair Isle
Muckle Roe
Papa Stour
The Mainland

Argyll & Clyde Islands
Western Isles

House Rules

From the BBC

Contact Us

Fletcher Saga - 01 June 2006

Surrey, our white-furred, green-eyed cat, has been christened "The Claremont Attack Cat" by our local GP, Dr George MacKay. He is an avid cat lover who calls in from time to time to see how we both are but I'm sure he really wants to see Surrey. Unfortunately almost every time he calls in to see us he leaves with a blood-stained handkerchief wrapped around one or other of his hands because Surrey behaves herself while George strokes her then she suddenly decides to find out what a doctor tastes like. The other day Surrey annoying Maureen by getting in her way while she was preparing a meal so Maureen "shooed" Surrey onto the floor. Surrey retaliated by taking a running jump and leaping onto the back of Maureen's leg with all four paws and, for good measure, her jaws. Fortunately Surrey chose to attack Maureen's "good" leg and there was no permanent damage but it was still quite a shock for Maureen who uttered some very unlady-like words in several languages.

Like most cats Surrey enjoys scratching and it is good for her claws so, to prevent our carpet & furniture being shredded, I made her a scratching post out of a piece of timber and some heavy-duty carpet. I should have used an even heavier duty carpet because within a month or two the carpet was totally shredded and I had to set to and produce a new scratching post. However, I would rather make a new scratching post every few months than replace a complete floor carpet or item(s) of furniture.

Early in May my car was off road for few days because the automatic transmission had started to leak oil all over the road. Clive from Helmsley swiftly diagnosed the problem, a leaking oil cooler, and Tait's of Kirkwall provided a replacement within a day or two. Clive fitted the new cooler and the car was fine until I discovered a slow puncture in one of the rear tyres. I took the car on the ferry last Tuesday and it was soon fixed by ATS in Kirkwall - and for the very reasonable sum of just under ten pounds.

The journey to Kirkwall reminded us that although the ferry is frequently used to carry sheep and cattle it also carries other animals and at times it can resemble The Ark. A week ago it carried a trailer containing two kids (young goats) that were going to the vet to be dis-budded (de-horned) and a rabbit that was going to the vet to have an illness diagnosed and treated. The kids, Aphrodite & Bryony, belong to Margareth, one of the island's nurses who has kindly supplied a photograph of the kids

When I went on the ferry to Kirkwall on Tuesday I finished up taking six puppies and their travelling boxes in the back of the car. Malcolm & Sue were taking the puppies over by to meet their new owners on the quayside at Kirkwall. One of Malcolm & Sue's dogs (father of the pups) was also on the boat - he was visiting the vet so that he could have "the operation" to prevent any more puppies arriving on the scene; he was busily barking at all and sundry as if to say, "I don't want to go!" There was also a beautiful German Shepherd Dog (GSD) with his owner who has to try to dissuade people on the ferry from feeding his dog with bacon butties. The dog was quite happy on the boat, complete with his supply of surreptitious bacon butties, but only as long as he could not see the water around the boat; this did make getting on and off the ferry a bit difficult for his owner. On the return journey to Stronsay were the two dogs - the one who had had "the operation" was much more subdued, poor thing - and, in the back of my car, some tropical fish that Bob Wilcox had bought in Kirkwall.

The rabbit that travelled on the ferry last week was escorted by Viv from Ebenezer Stores who was taking her youngest son, Jude, to town to buy some new shoes. Next day, proudly wearing his new shoes, he went with his eldest sister and when she took her horses down to the beach for a swim. The horses enjoyed their swim, Jude enjoyed playing on the beach and at lunchtime Jude, his sister and the horses returned home. When Jude got in the door the first thing his mother noticed was that he was bare-footed. It transpired that Jude had taken off the shoes so he could paddle but had neglected to put them back on again - so his eldest sister was sent back to the beach to search for the missing shoes. As luck would have it the shoes had not been covered by the tide so all was not lost.

Rosie and Nessie, the four-legged, environmentally friendly lawn mowers are on loan to Bob Tateson from Clive & Tracy (Helmsley) and have enthusiastically commenced operations in Bob's "garden". Bob is an avid hill-walker and when he erects one or other of his tents in his garden to check their waterproof and windproof capabilities he has great difficulty in persuading the sheep that the tents are not sheep shelters.

A few weeks ago we were awoken from our afternoon siesta by about 30 cows & calves mooing as they were turned out into the field behind us. The 50 or so sheep and their lambs which had already been in the field for a week or two added their bleats and baas to the cacophony. Who said the countryside was always quiet and peaceful!

In May we went to a fund-raising card playing competition in the Fish Mart Café, run by Clive & Madeline. Cribbage is the only card game that I can play with any certainty of knowing what I am doing so when we found that euchre (pronounced "youker") was the card game it was a bit worrying. Fortunately John, an expert euchre player, took pity on us and called in to give Maureen, myself and Sue from the post office an hour or so of pre-competition enlightenment. When we got to the Fish Mart Café it transpired that we were not the only ones who had never encountered euchre before. The euchre experts spent the evening coaching the beginners - not only are the rules a bit complex but the rules about who moved after each "round" of the competition gave rise to some heated discussion! Neither of us still really understands the game but we had great fun, the event raised some money and everyone enjoyed the food that Clive & Madeline had supplied.

Here is a nice follow-up to the total immersion baptism of Isaac Erdman that was reported in the last Saga. As part of his preparation for baptism Isaac was asked to complete some kind of project that made use of his talents. Isaac decided to make two wooden flower boxes complete with bulbs and plants; the building, painting and filling of the boxes represent gifts given to him by God. The boxes have been placed either side of the main door into the church where they make a nice splash of colour. And it was Isaac who won the euchre competition mentioned above - it was the first time the he had ever played euchre!

Readers of earlier versions of the Fletcher Saga will remember Malcolm's hen, Matilda, which developed a liking for daytime television. Today Malcolm told me that he had found Matilda lying dead in the hen-coop a day or two ago when he went to collect the eggs. Matilda's age was unknown so the probable cause of death is simple old age.

On 04 May Golgotha monastery appeared in a feature article in the Orcadian newspaper

Bruce Fletcher
Stronsay, Orkney
See the most northerly passenger-carrying railway in the UK

Posted on Claremont at 06:39

Fletcher Saga 15 June 2006

Margareth, one of the island's nurses, keeps goats and also has two kittens - Tiger and Oxo. Margareth took a photograph of the kittens and entered it for a competition in "Cat" magazine. She had forgotten all about it until a telephone call informed her that the photograph had won a prize of a months supply of Felix catfood and a box of assorted kitty goodies. Margeth's continue to flourish; the flock now consists of Lara, Frivolous and Naomi with her kids Aphrodite and Bryony. Frivolous is taking her Auntie role very seriously and often baby sits them when Mum (Naomi) and Great Aunt Lara go walk about. Margareth tells me that Frivolous is now a goatling and is growing into a real beauty. I'd never heard the term "goatling" before so I asked Margreth to explain. It seems that goats from birth to 1 year are kids (males are billy kids), from 1 to 2 years they are goatlings (males are bucklings) and after they reach 2 years of age they become nannies or billies (or, depending which country you live in, does and bucks). Writing this Saga is proving to be quite an educational experience.
On Saturday 10 June a tractor passed the house a couple of times. Behind the tractor was a trailer packed with youngsters covered in mud, sludge (possibly slurry!) and other unmentionables. They were all singing, blowing whistles and banging a drum - it was another blackening. If you don't know what one of those is see the description on Sigurd Towrie's excellent website. Although blackenings are supposed to be for the males we have seen several where the bride-to-be gets her very own blackening, another triumph for women's liberation (although some brides-to-be might think rather differently after the event).
Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) is a charity that provides a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Republic of Ireland, the lifeboat service in the UK receives no government funding. Orkney has three RNLI lifeboats which are based at Kirkwall , Stromness and Longhope . Stronsay used to have its own lifeboat but it was withdrawn thirty years ago, the framework of the slipway is still clearly visible at the end of Lower Whitehall. This year Sunday 11 June was the day on which Stronsay set out to raise money for the RNLI. A group of people from mainland brought a bus over on the morning ferry and the Kirkwall lifeboat spent the day on Stronsay. After a short lunchtime service on the quay lead by Rev Dr Jennifer George, the Stronsay kirk minister, everyone headed for the Community Centre where there were raffles, tombolas etc. There was also the most enormous buffet lunch. I started to count the number of different hot and cold savoury dishes but, as I did last year, lost count somewhere in the mid thirties. The weather was perfect with bright sun and a gentle, mild breeze. In the afternoon a crowd watched as a helicopter from Her Majesty's Coastguard , based in Shetland, put on a display of winching crewmen from the Kirkwall lifeboat and back onto it again as the lifeboat sailed at 10 knots in and around Mill Bay. Bill Miller, secretary of the Stronsay RNLI committee, estimates that the day will have cleared over £1,600 for RNLI funds, not a bad effort for an island with a total population of less than 400.
The environmentally friendly, four-legged lawnmowers, Rosie & Nessie, have now ceased their spring blitz in Bob Tateson's garden and have resumed operations at their home base of Helmsley. It is amazing how quickly crops and plants (and weeds!) grow during these long summer days especially when the sun puts in an appearance and the temperature rises by just a few degrees. It will soon be the summer solstice or longest day, June 21, when the sun will "officially" rise at 3:59 am BST and "officially" set at 10:29 pm BST; to an observer on Stronsay the sun will appear to just dip below the horizon and then re-appear within a very short space of time.

Posted on Claremont at 23:49

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy