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Flamborough, Week 4: 28 May

Summer has come even to Caithness, with blue skies, sunshine and temperatures in the high teens. It’s so gorgeous that a walrus decided to check us out, turning up on the shingle by the old lifeboat station on the south shore of the bay. (This even made the news on BBC Scotland; which either says a lot about them, I feel, or about us.)

The next day it was gone, off on another walrus adventure. Of course this didn’t stop us, and a lot of other people, going to stare at the place where it had been, like so many cats who stare fixedly at a spot on the kitchen floor where a saucer of tuna had once stood; and continue to stare at it today, because, you never know, it might reappear…

Wally has a kip

So we went inland to Forsinard, the great bird reserve on the border with Sutherland. It’s a vast area of peat bog, a flat bowl ringed by hills, which always reminds me of photographs of the grassy uplands of Montana where Custer led his men of the Seventh Cavalry to disaster; though if Custer had ever tried riding through Forsinard he’d have found himself up to his knees in watery peat in about three squelchy strides. There was a Highland breeze to keep the midges off, and it so was so quiet we could hear a cuckoo calling from the woodland a mile or so away, as though someone was tuning the reeds in an old-fashioned pipe organ.

Distant mountains and lochan, RSPB Forsinard

There’s a visitor centre, where the helpful young lady behind the desk tried to engage me in conversation. I could see the light dying in her eyes as I explained that I could just about distinguish a robin from a duck, but that was as far as my ornithology went; and while I conceded that golden plovers existed, I wouldn’t recognise one if it wandered over and pecked me on the ankle. Gamely she rallied and tried to interest me in bogbean, a flowering plant in the family Menyanthaceae, but beyond regretting I hadn’t had a firstborn child to name after it, it held no charms for me. Instead we walked the path over the bog to the viewing tower, the kind of thing Sauron might have constructed if he’d been into birdwatching, and basked like lizards in the stillness and the heat and watched the dragonflies skimming erratically over the ponds.


In gansey news I’ve started the gussets, am about halfway up them in fact, and should get them finished this week; and then it’s onto the back. The pattern and the colour continues to please (I like the idea that I’ll finish this one in time for autumn, which seems like the ideal season to wear it). It’s a very intuitive pattern to knit, essentially alternating pattern rows, so you always know exactly where you are.

Finally, few things have given me as much pleasure recently as the story, possibly apocryphal, that the Flat Earth Society is arranging a round-the-world cruise for its members. And leaving aside the mindset—surely as inconceivable as refusing to believe in gravity, or the greatness of Bob Dylan—I recently came across the best argument yet to refute it: if the world really was flat, cats would already have pushed everything off the edge…

6 comments to Flamborough, Week 4: 28 May

  • =Tamar

    The gansey is beautiful. It looks as though you may have gently blocked it already – did you? Or does it just flatten from being carried around?

    • Gordon

      Thanks Tamar – no, the gansey’s not blocked as such, but Margaret does smooth it out when she takes the photos so the pattern can be seen better. (In fact, with all the purl columns it bunches up quite a bit naturally; when it’s blocked they should delineate the pattern hands nicely.)

  • meg

    one thing for certain after reading your blog..I go away smiling into the day…..thank you Gordon

    • Gordon

      Thank you, Meg—having met me you’ll appreciate the effort involved is tremendous, since I’m usually about as cheerful as one of Dostoevsky’s characters in the middle of an existential crisis who’s just run out of vodka, but once a week I can just about rise to the occasion…!

  • Lynne

    Loved Margaret’s extra Blipfotos of the walrus – I thought they were more of a herd mammal – is it unusual to just get a single on the shore?

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne—our current idea is that it’s doing the North Coast 500 by sea! (Either that or it’s the advance scout of larger invasion force…)

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