I was chatting to God the other day over afternoon tea, and I happened to ask Him about our Caithness weather: to wit, why it was so unpredictable. He smiled in an ineffable sort of way and brushed away a few crumbs from his beard—angel cakes with pink icing—and by way of answer pulled out a pack of greasy cards from inside his robe. When I turned them over I saw that each depicted a particular type of weather. Most showed heavy clouds, or rain, or gale force winds; a few showed all three. But some—perhaps one in a dozen—showed blue, cloudless skies and more or less unbroken sunshine.
Well, on Monday He shuffled the deck again and dealt us one of these. It was a bright, clear day, not much wind—for Caithness—and you could see for miles. Much too nice to stay indoors. So we jumped in the car and drove to Bay of Sannick, on the far northeast tip between John O’Groats and Duncansby Head. The bay sweeps round between those two points, all rocks and sand and sheep-cropped grass, and is as secluded as you could wish, with the land at your back and nothing before you but the open sea and the islands of Stroma and Orkney.
It was high tide, and the waves came rolling in, as regular as the grooves in a long-playing record, breaking on the rocks and exploding in a chorus line of spray all along the curve of the bay. Apparently seals sometimes come up onto the beach to laze about and bask in the sun, but there were none today; only flocks of seabirds riding the heaving swell. We’re pretty used to the sounds of the sea, the suck and sigh of the tide, but here another sound underlay it: the clatter of stones being rolled to and fro as the tide withdrew, rocks being ground down over time to tiny pebbles.
As you’ll see from the photos, I’ve now reached the yoke in the current gansey. The gussets are almost finished (at my standard rate of an increase of two stitches every fourth row), and in half an inch or so I’ll divide for front and back. But I’ve started the pattern, which will slow me down (all those purl stitches). This is a pattern I’ve always wanted to knit up. It comes from Gladys Thompson, page 33, and is her “Filey Pattern X”. She calls it “one of the best Filey patterns”—and I rather agree. It seems perfectly suited to the colour, too. (I’ll have more to say about the pattern next week, and will post a chart.)
Meanwhile in parish news, we have not one but two new ganseys to celebrate. The first is from Julie, in denim colour, and is a combination of patterns of her own devising. The second is from Judit, in cream, and realises the Filey lifeboatman’s pattern as a full-body design. They are quite different and each is splendid, and again go to show the infinite variety of ganseys and their patterns. Congratulations to Julie and Judit!
And outside the sun is still shining; but the wind has got up, and there are suggestions of some angry clouds on the far horizon. If I listen very carefully I fancy I can detect, just on the very edge of hearing, the faintest sound of a deck of cards being shuffled…