Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Inspector Calls.

The daily dread at Treshnish is of the unannounced visit from 'the Dept'.  Any strange car arriving in the yard strikes terror in the heart until we realise it is a new guest or a PV salesman. The man (or woman) from the Dept. can walk in at any time of year, and ask to see our records, to look at our animals or check that we are GEAC compliant. You never know when they might appear.  You don't know what they will want to look at and check.  It could be the environmental management agreement to make sure we haven't over or under grazed the different habitats we look after, or it might be that they want to count each individual animal and check its eartags.  It makes for an exciting life, spontaneous even.

We haven't been checked since 2002, so I guess it was only a matter of time.  Every now and then, we wonder when they will appear, and quickly banish the thought, just in case it happens to be today.  So when I had that little thought this morning, I put it to one side.  I couldn't have done anything to prepare in any way.

So today, about midday, a strange car comes up the track. And a minute or two later, a friend staying with us, says there is someone at the door looking for you....

Please let me explain. The people that work at the Dept. are all really nice and helpful human beings, but I don't know any farmer who doesn't dread a surprise at his/her door in this form.  Today he wanted to see our sheep records.  Our farm holding number had been pulled out of the bag for a 'sheep count'.   We have to keep a running total of the sheep - and record births, deaths, movements on and off the farm, ear tag numbers, when you tag your lambs, what numbers you use, double tag this, single tag that, it can all seem so confusing.   

I went into the office to search for the paperwork he wanted, and realised that I had gone into that frozen play dead brain mode that antelopes adopt when the wildebeest are after them.  I couldn't think, let alone read.  S was whispering 'what can I do?' which was better than what I thought he might have said ('why is your office such a mess..'). 

Thankfully we produced everything we needed to.  Part 1 was over.   Part 2 the inspector goes to the advisors in Oban to make sure the paperwork they hold tallies up.  Part 3 is the actual sheep count, where we have to produce the right number of sheep, in about 2 weeks time!  They will have their ear tags checked and be counted through the fank. 

After he had left, we felt quite shell shocked.  We took the dogs for a walk and let Coco and Walter meet properly.  We let them run wild in a field with no livestock anywhere around.  The only times Walter got anywhere near Coco was when she let him.  She is a considerably fast runner and could duck and dive out of his way. 

And the night before Halloween... the northern lights again.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Walking Walter.

Walter, the new dog, waits by the gate.   Farmer is beginning to take Walter with him now. 

The light this morning - from cloud to sun in seconds.

And at lunchtime, the Coll ferry passes the point.

Calgary bay.

Walking the dogs. Down below the house.  Farmer needs to re-hang a gate so he can let the cows into the graveyard field.  The silage ground has greened up so he wants the cows to munch it down before the salt from winter storms blackens the green grass.

Fleeting clouds, bring rain and sun and rainbows.

The 'bathing pool'.

Looking towards Calgary.

Not many berries left for passing fieldfare, or waxwings even..

We walked back through the woodland, more of a scramble than a walk.  The wood, which was a garden once, is reverting to wild-ness.  Trees are falling over, and brambles spreading. You have to clamber over fallen trees, circumnavigate bramble patches and rotten bridges.

You can see the regeneration of the hazel coppice - in the cluster of young shoots coming up from the base.

Evening light.

The holiday and a vanishing trick.

Apologies - there is not a single photograph of Treshnish in this post, due to Farmer having a holiday.  Rest assured, he is back at work today, filling potholes in the wind and rain...

We did fly to get to Barcelona.  We will try not to make a habit of it.  

The view from the apartment in El Born.  This quiet looking street did not sleep at night.  It became a social thoroughfare, voices carrying up to the open window, and footsteps thundering away and towards.

The entrance to the stairwell was on this narrow 'carrer'.  We were on the 4th floor, so raced each time in the dark, to beat the timer on the lighting, with its very loud tick tock.

Graffiti was one of the highlights.  Wherever there was a roller shutter door or a slightly neglected doorway, there was street art.

There was this sort of street art on the Ramblas, which we walked up once but did not linger.

Not many takers for a portrait...

A very stylish cafe in the busy Plaza Reial.  Street performers doing acrobatics at each cafe.

A herbalist at his counter.

Having a laugh in the S Caterina market.

Outside a municipal building on our second and last afternoon in Barcelona.  The afternoon my messenger bag vanished.. and I spent time in a police station filling out crime reports. Thankfully passports were in the apartment and the camera was on the cafe table (my bag was on the floor when it vaporised - aided by a very clever man wearing a decoy baby carrier on his back) but I lost everything else. Note to self: next time do not relax your guard however small and quiet the cafe is, there will be someone somewhere waiting for you to look the other way...

Next day. On to Cadaques - by super fast train to Figueres, where we then caught a bus to take us the winding road over the arid hills and down to the coast.

A sea front bar.


The tallest of cacti.

Sunset from our Airbnb balcony. Bliss.

More bliss.

Inside the church.

The journey back began again with the bus to Figueres where we had 3 hours before our train.  We tried to go to the Dali Museum but it had a very long queue.

The market was buzzing.  It was a wonderful market, really vibrant and full of amazing produce.

The market was in a new pupose built shelter, rooved in solar PV panels (you can see them reflected in the window of the white van). The roof generates electricity whilst providing shade.  Ingenious!

A fine ending to a great holiday.  Equally good to be home though.
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