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Scarborough / Wick (Donald Murray): Week 5 – 22 April

It rained last night: just a few light showers, but still worth celebrating. You see, it’s been such a dry spring so far, barring the odd downpour, that the fields are parched. The word “dustbowl” comes to mind: farmers ploughing on their tractors are surrounded by billowing clouds of topsoil like the drifting smoke from fires; while along the hedgerows huddle groups of discontented crows, coughing and looking murderous. There’ve been moorland wildfires in Caithness too, no mean achievement in a landscape that’s basically a saturated peat bog. 

Rocks at Scarfskerry, with Dunnet Head in the distance

It still being fine this Easter weekend we betook ourselves to Scarfskerry, a little hamlet which has the distinction of being the most northerly settlement in mainland Scotland. It lies on a little peninsula between Thurso and John O’Groats. The name comes from Old Norse skarfr (a cormorant) and sker (rocky island); though even on sunny days a scarf is also recommended. (I do like the name. I keep wanting to work it into a limerick.) There were no cormorants when we were there, just a fisherman having a quiet smoke, a pier leading nowhere in particular, and a general air of desuetude. All in all, we felt, it could have been worse.

Waves at the Trinkie, Wick

In gansey news, we keep on keeping on. I’ve finished the half-gussets up the body of the Scarborough pattern and have divided for front and back. Usually I situate the stitch markers at the fake seam stitches separating the front and back; on this one I’ve been placing them at the point where the pattern changes from double moss stitch to the cable and ladder sections: I found I was so getting into the rhythm of knit two/ purl two that I kept missing the pattern change and having to unpick stitches. The Wick pattern is still growing slowly too; but I can tell I’m making progress because it’s getting harder to stand it upright, like a house of cards in danger of overbalancing.

Ackergill shore and Tower

Finally this week—oh, all right then. A limerick, you said? Well, if you insist:

There once was a young man called Terry,
Who ran for the Scarfskerry ferry—
But he’d drunk so much beer
That he fell off the pier,
So they’ll bury poor Terry in Scarfskerry.

8 comments to Scarborough / Wick (Donald Murray): Week 5 – 22 April

  • Lois

    All that rain that you are missing is here in eastern Canada. Between rain and snow melt, there is severe flooding throughout the province. Enough to call in the army for assistance.

    When this happens every spring, I thank my lucky stars that I live in an old house, where the oldtimers knew to “build high”.

  • Kirsten

    I love a good Limerick, although I tend to remember that the ones I learned in my youth were often more daring:)

  • =Tamar

    A Polite Limerick

    There once was a bird of Skarfskerry
    That pooped upon every ferry
    Till a brilliant man thought
    To offer a pot.
    Now passengers never need worry.

    [“every” must be carefully pronounced]

  • Gordon

    Kerry enjoyed catching ferries,
    Her favourites those of Scarfskerry’s;
    When a thief for a laugh
    Tried stealing her scarf,
    He was told, “Put that back, that scarf’s Kerry’s!”

  • charles cameron carruthers

    BBC tv prog `Scotland from the sky` by the lad Crawford featured Wick and the Whalagoe steps which I thought was well done and the History man that Jim Crawford spoke to was`nt Ian Sutherland who I spoke to when I was gathering info for the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther in the Kingdom back in the 80`s.He must have moved on !

    • Gordon

      Hi Charles, he spoke to Harry Gray, a local man who usine of the few I’ve met who can match Ian Sutherland for local knowledge! Both are utterly charming gentlemen. Ian’s not been too well though I understand and is taking things easier these days.

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