An Englishman’s home, it is said, is his castle; a Scotsman’s home, in Caithness at least, seems to be his hurricane shelter. Either way, we’re now in a position to find out, being the proud (and rather nervous) owners of a property in Wick.
On Thursday we “concluded missives” as the convention goes in Scotland (my plan for world peace now involves shifting one consonant and developing arsenals of tactical nuclear missives). We won’t actually be moving in for a couple of weeks – we have a lot of packing and sorting to do in Edinburgh, not to mention getting the “parfum de dog kennel” odour out of the carpets – but at least we can relax now.
It’s a lovely old semi-detached house about five minutes’ walk from the centre of town down a cul-de-sac. The south-facing front garden is a long, thin strip of land, ideal for tobogganing or practicing the perfect length for an off-break in cricket. There are fields to the back and front (the front windows look out to the river, which you can see glittering in the distance). I was going to say it’s very quiet, but since the neighbours have kids, including a young baby with a good pair of lungs, that may not be altogether accurate.
There are three floors and numerous bedrooms; so many, in fact, that we finally have room for all our stuff. All we have left to decide is whether to redecorate or simply hide the hideous wallpaper behind bookcases and cupboards.
So it’s perhaps not surprising I haven’t got a huge amount of knitting done this week. I would have done more, but (shameful confession time) I dropped a stitch and somehow failed to notice for several inches; well, as I’ve said before, my eyesight isn’t the best, and the light in my rented house is pretty dim. Anyway, Margaret ripped it all back when she came up and I had the great enjoyment of Doing It All Over Again. (My “happy bunnyometer” wasn’t needed that day.)
Meanwhile I’ve been hearing lots of interesting tales about Wick during World War Two: how the house opposite where I’m living now, being near the airport, was taken over by the RAF to examine aerial photos from the planes as they landed; how the Peenemunde V2 bombing raids were inspired by intelligence gleaned from there. How, because there was an Admiralty station up here, Caithness was the only county in Britain that you needed a special pass to enter; there was a military post at the border and if you didn’t have a pass, you were turned off the train.
The kind of thing that will vanish from the memory and be lost, as that generation passes. I asked the man who told me this if he’d write it down. “Och, it’s only history, he said. “It’s what happens now that matters.”
Finally, I have received an e-mail from Peter Spurgeon (Peter.email@example.com) asking for people to help with a knitting e-book project (see below). If anyone’s interested, please contact Peter directly.
“I wrote ‘Easy Guide to Fair Isle Techniques . . .’ some years ago for use by machine knitters. Now, with some of my books available as ebooks, I wonder about re-working that book to make it suitable for hand-knitters also and formatted for eReaders. Whilst my original book was spiral bound to enable it to open flat it is relatively expensive to post, particularly foreign. As a .pdf download for Kindle etc. it would be easy to access and, by using the magnify function, to keep your place in the text whilst knitting with the other hands.
I should like to know if any of your correspondents are interested in helping with a knitting ebook project.”