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North Sea 15: 10 – 16 December

Heb1216a  It’s not often that dear old Wick makes the news once in a week, let alone twice; but this has been a rather remarkable few days.

First of all, we were battered by storms and spring tides, culminating on Saturday in one of the biggest storms to hit the north-east coast of Scotland in living memory. (In my case, of course, that’s only just over a year.) Wick, helpfully described by the BBC as “near John o’Groats”, just in case you thought it might be in Cornwall, was pummelled, and the footage of tidal waves engulfing the lighthouse and breaching the sea wall is pretty spectacular, in a terrifying sort of way.

We decided to go up to John o’Groats (the one near Wick, in case you were wondering), which not only had rather good waves but also decent coffee, my prerequisite for facing the awesome power of nature. The harbour was swamped, and anxious fishermen could only watch helplessly as their boats were tossed about like toy ducks in the bath, the water foaming and heaving alarmingly, waves crashing over the walls or exploding in spray like artillery shells.

Heb1216dWick was also in the news this week because the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency has finally given the green light (if you’ll pardon the expression, which seems a bit glow-in-the-dark-ish for all things nuclear) to build an archive for the records of the whole nuclear industry here. It’s due to open in 2016, by which time you won’t be able to throw a brick in the town without hitting an archivist. It’s good news for us, because the Caithness Archive is going to be housed there too, albeit in much the same way, given our relative sizes, that Jonah was housed by the whale. Suddenly the future exists.

Heb1216cMeanwhile, progress continues on the gansey: I’m almost two-thirds of the way up the back yoke and you can start to see how it’s going to look. (Of course, until it’s blocked you won’t see it properly—the way the stitches pull it out of shape resembles a plastic model of the Millennium Falcon melted in the microwave—but you get the general idea.) I’ll stop when I get to the shoulder strap, so I can knit it from the front and make the join at the back.

I’m down to about 3/4 of one eye now, the right one, which makes knitting and using a computer a little tricky, but still possible. I’m revising the sequel to The Wraiths of Elfael, which is now essentially finished, just a tweak here and there—and preparing my collection of 15 fantasy short stories for publication at Christmas.


Dive! Dive! Dive!

The collection is called “The Dragon of Stroma and Other Tales” after the lead story, and will be launched on Amazon for kindle on Christmas Eve. It will be available for free 24-26 December, along with Inquisition of Demons and Wraiths of Elfael on 25-26 December, in the hopes that people who get kindles for Christmas (or tablets with kindle apps) and who are looking for high quality free stuff to download and read, might be tempted…

Red-Jersey-006My friend David in Edinburgh, for whom I knitted the bright fireman red Filey gansey, has yielded to my incessant nagging and sent me a picture of him wearing it. To my intense relief it seems to fit! (I’ve asked him not to wear it when he eventually visits the National Nuclear Archive, just in case someone mistakes him for a meltdown in the core reactor…)

Finally, don’t forget to check out our Gansey Nation store at Zazzle. Only seven days till Christmas! Think of the childish glee on their faces as they unwrap the present, then watch with malicious amusement as their delight melts away like an ice cream in summer when they find they’ve got a Gansey Nation coffee mug instead of the iPad Mini they were expecting…

12 comments to North Sea 15: 10 – 16 December

  • Gracie


    Gosh, I’m sorry to hear about the storm. Was there much damage?

    Whoa! The diving cardinal cracks me up. Is that a chopstick strengthening his perch?

    The gansey is absolutely beautiful!. It’s going to be a real work of art. Your friend’s red gansey looks perfect on him.


  • =Tamar

    The red gansey fits perfectly! It’s the same shade as the diving cardinal. Maybe you could knit the cardinal a tiny gansey. Or at least a hat. That’s a pencil, isn’t it? I think I see the metal band holding the eraser at the top end.

  • Gordon

    Hi Grace & Tamar,

    The cardinal bird is in fact held in piece by a piece of the True Cross and Faith, plus a twisty tie. In fact, I came perilously close to attaching a crosspiece to anchor the wings, but decided a crucified cardinal on a Christmas tree was a touch macabre, even for me.

    The storm did do some damage to property, boats and cars, but luckily that was all. The cleanup will be expensive. We put a note on the Caithness Archive Facebook page today, which is from the Harbour Master’s log book of 1872, recounting the great storm that washed away the breakwater erected by Robert Louis Stevenson’s father. (See http://www.facebook.com/pages/Caithness-Archive-Centre/453094824731641)


  • Marilyn

    Hi Gordon, thanks for the link to the storm waves, best to be enjoyed while warm and dry, but magnificent and hypnotic. I thought for sure I glimpsed foam horses from Middle Earth.
    David is a lucky man to have a gansey of yours! Long may your needles produce them.

  • Lynne

    And – another thanks for posting the link to the storm video. The entire time I was watching, I was wondering who was taping it and where he was standing! The pattern on the gansey is, indeed, showing it’s true beauty now – and won’t David be right in season with his red Christmas gansey! It looks very smart on him.

  • Gordon

    Hi Marilyn and Lynne,

    The storm was pretty special – I know what you mean about the LOTR foam horses, I’m pretty sure i saw a black rider being engulfed down by Keiss!

    I’m delighted David’s fits so well—he used to have one years ago but I think it got lost, so I thought he should have a proper hand-knitted one to replace it.

    I’ve been thinking about Tamar’s idea for a red gansey for the cardinal bird using leftovers—my only dilemma is how much of a gusset for the wings…?


  • Judit M./ Finland

    Good afternoon Gordon !
    Congratulations to this fantastic, new gansey pattern. Many thanks for all of your letters from this year. I wish you and all of the readers of this page a bright and happy new year !

  • Gordon

    Hello Judit,

    And thank you! I am currently practising expressing Christmas cheer in front of the mirror ready for next week’s blog, the last of 2012—I think I need more practice, but there’s still time…


  • Hi Gordon,
    Margaret gave me the link to your wonderful gansey page. I love reading your witty blog.
    Frightening to read about the storms! We had severe ones last year and although we did not have the water, we did have all the trees falling down around us.
    The gansey pattern is stunning and look forward to seeing the finished item!

    Have yourselves a lovely Christmas 🙂

  • Gordon

    Hi Chris,

    And thank you. It’s been pretty wild, and from my window at work I can just see the harbour—earlier today I saw spouts of water bursting above the roofs of the houses like Old Faithful as another wave hit shore. I’m starting to realise why there rae no trees in Caithness!

    Hope you continue to enjoy tuning in…


  • =Tamar

    I hope that new archive building is well above the current waterline.
    Dec 21, 2012, 7:31 AM here (or thereabout) – so far, so good.

  • Gordon

    Hi Tamar,

    It’s going to be up near Tescos, and I think you can trust a supermarket to build on solid ground! (I have a vision of watching boxes of archives floating out into the harbour like a row of ducklings following their mother, heading off towards Norway on an adventure…

    Very wet and windy all day, but central and eastern Scotland is due to get 80mm rain tomorrow. Santa better get his waterproofs ready for next week.


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