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Wick 6: 20 – 26 January

WK140126aIt’s been a horrible few days here in Caithness, just horrible, gale force winds and driving rain. The best way to imagine what it’s been like is go find a trailer for one of those “Deadliest Catch” programmes showing lobstermen on a heaving deck somewhere of Newfoundland, drenched by icy spray and buried under waves the size of sperm whales—well, it’s been just like that, only with slightly more lobsters.

On top of that, we can’t get a television signal—the wind’s blown the dish out of alignment (though to be fair we’re probably ahead of the game still having a roof). I had a vision of several windblown seagulls and crows all impaled on the satellite dish’s spike and dragging it down, creating a “dish kebab”—but no; it’s just the wind.

Now, here’s the thing. I know we live in kind of an out-of-the-way place, a little off the beaten track; but there are over 14,000 people in Wick and Thurso, and a lot of them have satellite dishes. So guess how many tv aerial repair guys there are up here? (Clue: you won’t need more than one finger on one hand – seriously—look it up!) And he’s understandably a little busy right now; his waiting time is a week.

It’s a strange thing being without television. We don’t watch a whole lot, mostly reruns of old SF shows and the odd documentary, so it’s not exactly a hardship—but the thing I miss most is the news and weather. I feel oddly cut off from the world, even though the information can all be accessed online. Ah well; just a few more days and I can go back to watching reruns of Star Trek.


A view of the harbour lighthouse from the dry cleaner’s car park.

The eagle-eyed among you will see that I’ve not made a lot of progress on the gansey this week. Well, it had to come to an end sometime and, to be honest, I’ve just run out of steam. (That, and the fact that’s been so cold I can hardly hold a needle without my hand shaking so badly it ends up doing reconstructive nasal surgery.) But one of the nice things about this pattern is that it doesn’t take much concentration, so I can still keep plugging away even when I’m not in the mood.

I have instead been writing again, trying to finish a novel I started last summer, another Victorian murder mystery, just a bit of fun really. I hope to get the rough first draft completed this week. Then the fun starts: deleting it and rewriting the whole damn thing from scratch…

Still, at least I’m not distracted by wanting to sneak downstairs and watch television. But what does irk me is the thought that I wasted a whole £1.50 on a listings magazine I can’t use. Hey, look: Deadliest Catch is on—oh wait…

13 comments to Wick 6: 20 – 26 January

  • Judit M./ Finland

    Hi Gordon,
    Do you know that you may watch TV via internet ?
    Here is a link :
    Best regards !

    • Gordon

      Hello, Judit, well, that’s true – and the BBC has a brilliant app called iPlayer for watching their shows which I can stream to my Apple tv and watch in the lounge. But the annoying thing is, we can’t even watch shows we’ve recorded—they’re saved on the set-top box, but without a signal we can’t access them.

      We’re living in the future. people! Come on, someone sort it out! (You don’t see the Star Trek Enterprise repair crew having to go out and realign the antenna array after a strong solar wind just so Commander Riker can access “Red Hot Romulan”, or whatever his saucy channel of choice may be, do you?!)

      • Cathy

        Perhaps we should all move to Finnland – modern tech seems to work there.
        Or try the radio – recommend the shipping forecast for grim weather prognostications.
        On the bright side, no telly, lots of writing time…

        • Gordon

          Hi Cathy, yes, Finland sounds appealing—and I’ve always wanted to visit Sibelius’s home to pay homage—but Judit has pointed out the sub-zero temperatures and darkness in the winter, which has given me pause. Perhaps it would be easiest if Finland just invaded and conquered Britain? That way we’d get the best of both worlds…

  • Lynne

    I get the shivers just reading your ‘weather blog’, and – if I were you – I’d be applying for an archivist position in Devon!
    Regarding knitting, I’m in about the same place of boredom with an impressive, but too easy pattern that is ever so tempting to abandon for something more interesting. I’m on the second sleeve, so there is an end in sight. Plug on.
    Remember the kid on some ancient program that had aluminum foil wrapped around his head and receiving a signal? Maybe that will work for your TV.

    • Gordon

      Afternoon, Lynne,

      Well, ironically it’s rained so much down south this winter that Devon’s pretty much under water right now!

      Before I started the blog, when I went through phases of “not being in the mood” it didn’t matter if I just put the knitting aside for a month or two and did something else, like watching tv… Oh. Nowadays I just adopt a policy of “going slow” for a few days until it picks up again. Of course, having fingers too cold to hold the needles doesn’t help!

  • Jane

    Speaking from the Soggy South of England, it’s terribly wet and deeply muddy down here, but we don’t have the waves and the spray, although bits of the coast have been rearranged! The weather is mind boggling here and I sympathise with you all in Wick.

    Wonderful progress on the gansey. For myself, I would suggest that it’s at a pivotal point with completion in sight. Also cheered by thought of new Victorian book. As I reach for the wellies yet again.

    • Gordon

      Evening Jane,

      You have my sympathy, the pictures look horrendous. We watched a programme about Alfred the Great with Neil Oliver, and showed the Somerset levels—the programme was obviously filmed last year because he looked down on the vast plain of green fields and declared who in the middle ages all this was under water—if he’d only waited a few months he could have gone rowing in the marshes just like King Alfred did!

      Hang on in there—summer’s not far away now…


  • =Tamar

    Would fingerless mitts help? Though they don’t help with the fingers themselves, they can help with the hands and wrists, and novel-writing requires the use of hands even if writing with a pencil while tucked under a duvet.

    • Gordon

      Hello, Tamar,

      Yes, i have used fingerless mitts for typing and they work a treat. But they’re not so good for knitting as, largely because I lack basic motor skills, I keep getting the needles snagged on the fabric, which can be tiresome.

      My current plan is to move to Florida as being cheaper and, well, just simpler in the long run.


  • Judit M./ Finland

    Gordon, move to Finland. We have treble glassed windows and warm flats – no need of any mitts or even ganseys inside. The only thing is that it will be a bit more expensive as compared with Florida 🙂

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