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Thurso: 28 June

ThTh150628-1According to the BBC’s weather presenters Britain is experiencing a heatwave just now. Standing in front of a map alarmingly coloured orange and red, they flash their unnaturally white teeth and warn of dehydration, sunstroke and death.

And it’s true. Here in the far north of Scotland the temperature has touched the giddy height of 15ºC, and in the fields hecatombs of sheep and cows lie panting on the parched earth; and lambs, instead of frolicking gaily through the meadows, drag themselves wearily along on their bellies, as though swimming the breaststroke through grass.

Truly no one can survive such temperatures for long, and I fear the worst: soon clothing will be shed, and then where will we be? Only yesterday I saw a Scotsman in shorts walking his dog, and the motion of his bare knees reminded me so strongly of someone juggling a pair of potatoes I had to go and lie down in a darkened room until my pulse returned to normal.

ThTh150628-1-2Ha! It’s unfair, isn’t it? England gets a heatwave; we get 15º and the rain stops for a few hours. Not that I’m complaining—not really. I remember one summer in Somerset when it was in the 30s and actually too warm to sit and knit with a gansey in your lap.

Well, there’s no danger of that up here, and so I’ve been knitting away like billy-o. I’ve almost finished the back, just an inch to go and then it’s onto the shoulder straps. The pattern stands out clearly, the chevrons so well defined you could practically grate cheese on them—if it was a hard cheese like parmesan, say.



I started the pattern a little before the gussets because I wanted to give it room to breathe. If you recall the chart I posted a couple of weeks ago, the gansey is split vertically into two equal halves: 14 inches from the very bottom to the garter ridge, and the same to the top of the shoulders, making 28 inches in length. (That’s the plan, anyway!)


Marsh Orchid. Probably.

In parish notices, Den has sent me some more baby pictures of her Filey gansey, which is coming on apace. I must admit, I’m a big fan of incorporating moss stitch into designs, it gives a jumper a really three-dimensional, tactile quality.

Finally this week, the neighbours are back so their cats no longer need us to serve as mobile back-scratchers. Now they stare at me with an aloof, cold distain and, if I ever get too close, strop their claws on the stone wall in a meaningful sort of way, like a movie gangster playing idly with a flick knife; I half expect to wake up with a severed hamster’s head in the bed next to me, as a warning. (Until, of course, the next time the neighbours go away.)

We’ll be taking a break next week while Margaret is off enjoying herself in France. Gansey Nation will return on Monday 13 July, no doubt laden with joie de vivre and a dash of sophistication, if Margaret can manage to smuggle them through customs…

6 comments to Thurso: 28 June

  • Jane

    Superb knitting, Gordon, and what a wonderful colour. The pattern definition is lovely, quite lovely. You must be so pleased with it.

    The weather your end of Scotland looks nice too, what I call manageable. The weather in the South is good, but not awfully comfortable, heavy, perhaps thunder to come, who knows.

    The cats do like you and Margaret, it’s just that the familar hand that feeds has returned and a bit of readjustment takes place! Baxter and Daisy who belong to my daughter, but live with us far from the bus route, look at me with readjustment in their eyes every day! An uninvited cat has come into the garden. My boy Spike, the third cat, has been bitten twice and had his ear torn, antibiotics and painkillers, poor lad, and the vets on Saturday morning. Never a dull moment! Have a good break and take care!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, I’d rather have my temperatures than the 30ºC + that’s forecast for the south of England, but at the same time I’d like to be able to turn the central heating off and maybe even abandon the hot water bottle for a few days!

      When we lived in mid Wales we discovered that the army trained its soldiers in observation and stakeouts by posting them to guard red kite nests and keep them safe from poachers—sounds like you could maybe have a word with the local territorials and get them to “sort out” your uninvited feline visitor—a few heat-seeking missiles up the cat flap should sort him out!

      • Jane

        Thank you for your kind words regarding Spike, my rehomed lad. He is getting over his nasty experience very nicely, and we are on the watch for the Bad Tabby Cat ready for the big shoo. It is a great shame, he is the gentlest of souls.

        The South is clear, blue and very, very hot, 35 degrees, too hot. The shadows cast are very long and deep, and dark green in the garden, quite strange.

        I have ordered the yarn for Gladys’ s Print o’ the Hoof cardigan, finally. I have swatched with different yarns and needle sizes. I think I have achieved a reasonable resolution to an old pattern, it is my old friend, that tension thingy that I don’t think I will ever entirely understand!

        • Gordon

          The problem is, a serious talking-to doesn’t really work with cats. Or most humans, now i come to think of it.

          I’ve been seeing the weather reports from down south (this includes Inverness just now) with a sort of appalled schadenfreude. It’s nice when it’s sunny and warm, even hot, but 35º and humid is very uncomfortable. Still, last night I only needed my hot water bottle for an hour, so you tell that summer is truly underway here in Wick!

  • Sharon in Surrey

    I wish for a little cooler temps here on the formerly Wet Coast of BC. We have now been told we’re at Level 3 drought conditions & are having to cut back our water use by 30%. With the temps in the high 30s, we’re all huddling in front of fans with icy drinks in hand. Very few homes bother with air-conditioning here with our usual week of high temps every couple of years but everyone’s talking air-conditioning right now. Even my freezing basement is too hot!!! No knitting going on since I can’t bear to have ANYTHING on unless I have a fan going!!! But I dream in wool. LOL Enjoy your holiday & eat lots of cheese.

    • Gordon

      Hi Sharon, well it reached a giddy 20ºC here today, briefly, and very humid with it, and i was putting up an exhibition and moving some heavy boxes and I resembled an extra out of Apocalypse Now by the time I was through (hence my wide, staring eyes, and my habit of muttering, “I’ve seen some things, man…” to strangers in bars).

      It’s cool enough of course for me to knit, but that’s because it’s mostly in the mid-teens. Anything from the mid-20s upwards and I’d be like you, laying it aside and waiting for autumn. Hope the drought conditions change soon.

      Oh, and cheese – Margaret’s the fan of French cheese. I’m too squeamish. (My motto: if it looks and smells like a three-week-old dead baby, don’t eat it!)

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