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16 October 2014

Claremont - September 2006

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Fletcher Saga - 16 September 2006

We've had some good weather recently so I've been busy digging the weeds out of the garden and Maureen has been busy in the greenhouse. One day it was so quiet that Maureen heard seals "singing" on the beach behind the house and at the same time she heard the Angelus bell from the monastery which is almost a mile away. Maureen is finding it increasingly difficult to bend or kneel to do any weeding so we decided to have some "raised beds" constructed and I ordered some concrete blocks and cement from Jimmy Allan, one of the main builders on Stronsay. The goods have arrived and Malcolm, our handyman, together with his brother, George, have set out and laid the concrete foundations to Maureen's exact specifications. All we need now is some more good weather so that the work can proceed and be finished before the bad winter weather sets in.

Last year we looked after Growl Myrtle whilst Jack & Simone were on their holidays. Poor Growl Myrtle is, alas, no more so this year we are cat-sitting another of Jack & Simone's cats - Timber, a 15-year-old "chunky" female tabby who has taken over Maureen's workroom (usually known as her "pig pen"). Maureen has found that she is making errors in her cross-stitch because Timber insists on squeezing alongside her in the armchair or, worse still, jumps up onto her cross-stitch chart thus causing her to lose track of where she has got to.

Just before Timber arrived Maureen was sat quietly sewing in her pigpen one evening when something made her look over at her old-fashioned Singer sewing machine on the other side of the room. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end when she saw that the sewing machine's handwheel was slowly rotating all by itself. Fortunately it was not a poltergeist but Surrey who had discovered that the foot-treadle of the sewing machine made an excellent seesaw. I just hope it has not had any serious ill-effects on the mechanical bits of the sewing machine. Surrey is now two years old and has become quite "grown up" (for most of the time) in that she is much quieter and calmer - and our visitors, including the island's cat-loving GP, no longer leave with bloodstained bandages wrapped around their scratched hands.

Our neighbour, Bob Tateson, still has not bought a lawn-mower so Jack (the Shetland pony) & his friend, Dale (another, larger pony) have spent the last 3 or 4 weeks grazing Bob's grass down to manageable proportions before winter arrives.

About 9 months ago Maureen was in Ebenezer Stores doing her shopping when the shopkeeper invited her to see a new Great Dane puppy. The dog's name was Primus (apparently named after a pop group) and he was so tiny that Maureen could easily hold him in her arms and cuddle him. Shortly after this Primus and his owner moved down to Cornwall and we thought no more about him until a few days ago when Maureen saw something flash past the window of her pigpen; it was Primus, whose owner was visiting Stronsay for a holiday. We both went outside to see Primus and discovered that the little puppy that Maureen had cuddled has become a huge, loveable monster of a dog whose head comes up to my waist (I'm 6ft 3ins tall).

Every year Orkney holds a Science Festival but as most of the events are on mainland I am not able to attend them. However, this year I was able to attend one of the Science Festival events - the "H2Orkney conference" - because it was held in the Stronsay community centre. The core message of the conference was that we should change from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy. It was far from boring and the speakers - who came from as far as Iceland - were very enthusiastic. Several member of the Orkney Amateur Radio Club live on Stronsay so the Club set up a radio station (callsign GB1H) in the Stronsay community centre. The electricity for the amateur radio station came from a fuel cell powered by hydrogen; it was only the second such radio station in the world to be powered by hydrogen. In just over 30 hours of operating time the radio station made over 1,800 contacts from 66 different countries including one from New Zealand (over 10,968 miles)

At the end of August Stronsay received another of its regular visits from the tourist boat, MV "Hebridean Princess". I mention this because it is the same ship that was used by the Queen for her 80th birthday tour of the Western Isles a few weeks ago.
Posted on Claremont at 10:38

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