As Shakespeare so memorably observed in one of his Sonnets, ‘I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles’; but how far would I drive to avoid the Caithness County Show? The answer, it turned out on Saturday, is about 107 miles.
Each year the show alternates between Thurso and Wick, and this year was Wick’s turn. The showground is in the fields across the road from us, and we watched in fascination as within the space of a couple of days a village of marquees appeared, animal pens, a funfair and enough vintage tractors to plough Ohio. It was like the Field of the Cloth of Gold, only instead of jousting matches between Henry VII and François I we had stunt bikes and burger vans.
Now, agricultural shows are not altogether my thing, fond as I am in general of sheep and mud (and other stuff that looks at first sight like mud but really isn’t); so we tactfully made our excuses and headed south for Chanonry Point on the beautiful Black Isle. There we braved the cold wind and flurries of rain to watch a pair of dolphins or small whales (‘whalettes’ I believe is the scientific term) fooling about in the Moray Firth, their arched backs as they slipped beneath the surface looking like undulating coils of the Loch Ness Monster.
We took a scenic detour on the way back around the Dornoch Firth, so that by the time we returned home the show was just about over and only the funfair remained, as if life wasn’t sufficiently full of sadness already.
Meanwhile I’ve been working hard on the gansey, helped by the fact that so much of the sleeve is plain knitting and thus relatively quick to knit, and requiring less concentration than a full-length pattern. So I have finished the first sleeve, picked up stitches around the armhole of the second, and am now on the home straight. I should get it finished within the next fortnight, i.e., by the end of the month, if I’m lucky. It’s been a joy to knit.
As I mentioned last week, the St Fergus Gallery next door is using a couple of my ganseys as part of its exhibition of old photographs from the Wick Museum’s Johnston Collection. There’s a much-enlarged photo in the display of a fisherman (Fergus Ferguson) with a very fancy gansey; the image is so clear I think I can chart out the pattern, and if so I have an idea to try to recreate it for the museum, maybe next summer. Watch this space.
Against my better judgment I posed for a publicity picture next to my ganseys. Here it is, for what it’s worth; though I do rather look as though I’ve just been interrupted while eating the thighbone of a rather plump child, which I’ve hastily hidden just out of camera shot. The things one does for art…