Summer has come to an abrupt end in the north Highlands, as we’re currently being battered by strong winds and heavy rains; it’s colder too, just ten degrees this morning. (I know it all helps to keep the midges at bay, but still.)
When it rains it falls so hard the drops bounce back up off the ground like tiny tennis balls, and the puddles froth and churn as though filled with spawning frogs. The rivers are swollen and brown with mud, tumbling down from the hills; Usain Bolt could maybe play Poohsticks against the fast-moving currents, but poor Winnie the Pooh’s stubby little legs would stand no chance.
Incidentally, if anyone was wondering what the north Caithness coastline looks like, Mercedes have helpfully filmed an advert around Dunnet Head and Duncansby. It’s pretty true to life, too: honestly, you can hardly move up here for all the famous actresses hogging the roads in their fancy cars.
On the gansey front, I’ve knuckled down and have almost finished re-knitting the second sleeve (albeit mostly through gritted teeth). But the effort has paid off, and sometime in the next few days I’ll have it finished, after which we need never speak of it again (henceforth only to be referred to as “the unpleasantness”). The gnarled and be-kinked yarn has made it hard to keep the stitches even, but as ever I’m hoping that washing and blocking will cover a multitude of sins.
While cataloguing some miscellaneous collections this week I came across some reminiscences concerning one of the old Wick harbourmasters, Captain Cormack. One of my favourite stories has him going to collect the harbour dues from a Buckie boat one Saturday night at eleven o’clock. It was summer and, of course, still perfectly light, so the crew could see him coming. As the Captain approached, the boat slipped away to the jetty, then across the bay to moor on the far North Shore. Cormack had to walk all the way around the bay to reach the boat, and when he finally caught up with it the crew were singing hymns, and the captain “was in the middle of an unctuous prayer”. The exasperated harbourmaster had had enough: “Come on, now, ye hoary hypocrite,” he cried, “pay your way and do your praying after!”
Finally this week, many congratulations to Sarah, who’s completed a rather splendid gansey, which you can see here. It’s a slightly modified version of the classic Henry Freeman pattern, and is knitted in sports weight wool; and the colour brings out the pattern very effectively.