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Whitby, Mrs Laidler Week 11: 7 August

It’s the height of summer and the hatchling gulls have lost their infant charm and grown into hulking waddling ugly lumps of menace. Down by the harbour Wick seems to be recreating the early scenes of The Birds—every time I turn around more gulls, chicks and adults, are lurking menacingly behind me. Once I thought I caught one working out in the dust how many gulls it would take to overpower me, but before I could get my phone out for a picture it scuffed out the marks with a webbed foot and sauntered off whistling with an air of studied nonchalance.

I only found out recently that there’s no such thing as a seagull, just different species of gulls (ours are mostly herring gulls). It’s also illegal to kill them—or any wild birds. It’s obvious they’ve found this out, hence their swaggering “Yeah? Whatcha gonna do about it, copper?” body language any time they snatch a dripping ice cream cone and guzzle it in front of you on the pavement. They know, all right. It’s only a matter of time now before I’m up before the Bench and pleading guilty to gullslaughter, swearing it was self defence, while a row of gull-shaped heads peer in through the open window, sniggering.

Actually in the UK you can kill certain species of gull under special licence. Grey squirrels too, apparently, as a non-native invasive species (aka “illegal immigrants”, coming over here, stealing our acorns). I can’t help thinking that someone should tell the gulls, thus killing two, as it were, birds with one license…

Well, I have, as predicted, (just) finished the gansey. The washing and blocking will have to wait another week till Margaret gets back from her travels, but you get the idea. It’s still my favourite pattern, the gansey I’d take into the afterlife to keep me warm, even as a yoke-only pattern. (This style of shoulder strap was something of a Caithness feature, too, though not with cables, and of course it can be adapted to any pattern you like.) I started my next project on my ill-fated trip to London recently, so that’s all ready to go—it’s for a friend and is in Frangipani pistachio.

Finally this week I paid a visit to Caithness Horizons, the splendid museum in Thurso, where I found a set of animal costumes. Ostensibly for children, it seems that it’s adults mostly who’ve been trying them on. Well, I thought, if that’s your custom it would be rude not to…

8 comments to Whitby, Mrs Laidler Week 11: 7 August

  • SongBird

    Oh. My. God. Gordon, you’re the cutest frog EVER! I love every bit of that picture.

  • =Tamar

    On my monitor that next gansey waistband looks green…

  • Jane

    What a wonderful costume, great photo! The gansey is a total triumph, and I am very pleased this one is a keeper! Aren’t the gulls something, so cheeky! Take care!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, there I was, sitting on my lily pad waiting for a princess… As for gulls, it’s no wonder the same word is used for fooling or deceiving someone: after all, no one associates penguins with tricking people out of their ice cream cones…

  • Sharon in Surrey

    I hope you took that costume home with you – it’s sooooo you!! Love the Gansey, can’t wait to see it after it’s bath.

    Have you ever see a Gull swallow a whole cooked chicken leg??? I have no idea how it managed but after it stole the chicken off the plate, it flew to the garage roof & proceeded to turn it on end & swallow the whole thing – drumstick & thigh.

    • Gordon

      Hi Sharon, no the costume stays in the museum, sadly. Though I know what I want for Christmas now!

      Your gull story conjures an image of a python devouring a giraffe whole. On the plus side, gulls don’t have indigestion tablets (as far as we know) so think of the heartburn!

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