Itâ€™s been a wonderful summer on the Black Isle. Iâ€™ve enjoyed many carefree evenings cycling around Resolis; it was light until 11 oâ€™clock at night in June; and I spent a week camping in the garden in July because it was unbearably hot indoors!
Unfortunately the weather has gone downhill in the last week and Iâ€™ve been forced to swap my strappy tops and sandals for fleeces and welly boots.
At 7 oâ€™clock on Monday morning, I was standing outside in pyjamas and a winter coat trying to rescue my gazebo from ex-Hurricane Bertha! I had known there was heavy rain forecast but the gale force winds came as something of a surprise. After half an hour of gazebo-wrestling, my partner and I had the gazebo safely tucked away in the stable (which was threatening to lose some of the felting from its roof â€“ another job to do before autumn sets in). I expect it will now sit there until May next year.
The high winds abated on Monday afternoon. I dusted off my telephoto lens and went out to the garden to photograph a distant tree, lit by the sun against a brooding sky, then discovered that it wasnâ€™t just the gazebo and the stable that had taken a battering in the storm. Our horse chestnut tree has dropped 99% of its conkers! I gathered up all the husks then cracked a few of them open, only to find the insides filled with mush â€“ no conker fun this year then!
I try and do all of my chores on weekday evenings so I can enjoy myself at weekends. After tea and washing up, I ventured outside again to put the bin out. To my dismay, I found a Swallow chick lying outside the stable door. Iâ€™d been aware of the small nest above the door but, until then, I hadnâ€™t known whether it was historic or still in use. With a heavy heart, I assumed that the bird was dead, and I carried on with the task at hand. Before turning to go back indoors, I had a closer look (lesson learned â€“ always do this first) and I was shocked to find the poor wee thing was moving. After a quick phone call to my other half, I found myself up a step ladder with the tiny chick in my rubber-gloved hands. I popped it back into its nest,Â to the sound of loud chirping. One of the adult birds flew off in search of food shortly afterwards. Nearly a week has passed, there have been no further casualties, and the Swallows appear to be doing well. Hopefully my wee friend has recovered from his traumatic experience and will grow strong enough for the journey to Africa.
Thatâ€™s not the end of the excitement!
MarkÂ and I had a bet on when the harvest was going to start. We both knew it was going to be early â€“ the barley was ready to go â€“ but we didnâ€™t think it would be as soon as 15th August. I arrived home from the office on Friday afternoon and, for the rest of the day, enjoyed the sight of the combine harvester and tractor rolling up and down the fields. They were still hard at work when I finally went to bed at midnight, long after it had gotten dark. The harvest must have displaced a few animals as we have since had a rabbit in the garden and Mark rescued a shrew from certain death on the road!
As I write this, the rain is pouring down on the roof of my study. The sun comes and goes and, with it, a rainbow on the other side of the house. Iâ€™m sad that summer appears to be over but this time of year has its own charm. I will miss the sound of the barley swaying in the breeze but I can now walk through the fields again, past the straw bales, to access the shore of the Cromarty Firth.Â One of my main complaints about living in the city was that I was unaware of the changing seasons. Itâ€™s not a problem anymore â€“ I can look out of any window in the house and know what time of year it is. Itâ€™s wonderful.
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