Well, we’re back in Wick after our 1200-mile round trip for my father’s 90th birthday. Cold weather descended on the Highlands for our return: all the moisture was frozen out of the air, the moon rose like the pale ghost of itself and the sky had the thin, clear look a balloonist might observe round about the point when he wished he’d brought more ballast, or failing that an oxygen mask. The A9 twists among the Cairngorm mountains and the peaks had a light dusting of snow through which patches of soil showed brown, so that they looked like the cracked crusts of so many artisan loaves.
It’s still rather cold here, at or below freezing. We had to evict several spiders and a nervous starling when we got home, driving them out into the icy night like villains in a Victorian melodrama foreclosing a mortgage (the reproachful look one spider gave me as I shut the door behind it lies heavily on my conscience still). Now all we have to do is find a way to make the house warmer on the inside than the outside…
We stopped off in Edinburgh en route for a little light shopping and a concert of music by Dvorak and Shostakovich. Alas, the concert was marred, on the one hand, by a man sitting on my right who breathed through his nose with an audible whistling, like someone trying to pump up a bicycle tire with a hole in it.
Then there was the woman diagonally to my left who kept switching on her mobile phone to check emails and take photos of the concert, causing the darkened hall to be illuminated with a sudden brilliance as though she was signalling to an alien spaceship. (I am a man of peace, which is why I merely had a quiet word with her during the interval, and why her midriff does not now light up like a flashlight every time she receives an incoming call.)
With just the cuff to go I laid the Matt Cammish gansey aside and started a new project on the trip (another Wick gansey in cream, about which more next week). I finished the cuff on the Sunday after we got back and darned in the ends. Now the gansey is washed and blocked and drying on its frame. As you can see, the pattern opens out amazingly—it’s no surprise this pattern is so popular, is it? And the Frangipani pewter yarn really shows it off.
By the way, another highlight of our brief stop in Edinburgh was bagging the last unreserved seats at our favourite Mexican restaurant, on Rose Street. The food was, as ever, excellent; and the experience was made all the sweeter as we watched twenty other people being turned away over the next hour and a half—providing a perfect illustration of the truth of Gore Vidal’s celebrated epigram: “It is not enough to succeed—others must fail…”