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Wick IV – George McKay: 17 July

4W160718-1The European definition of an English summer is, apparently, three days of sunny weather followed by a thunderstorm; but what they’d make of Caithness in July one can only guess.

For it’s the height of summer here—the hay is being cut in the fields, baled and shrink-wrapped into what look like ugly black plastic bin liners; the lush, grassy meadows are filled with sheep, innocently thinking what lucky little sheep they are to be so well fed; and it’s raining—though there’s no wind today, so we’ve got that fine Scotch mist that hangs in the air like breath, or low cloud, or a traditional British power shower.


Wick Town Hall
15 July 2016

It’s rained a lot. Usually the rain up here is propelled by gale-force winds, so that even fine drops hit you like frozen peas fired from a blunderbuss; but this week we’ve just had downpours. A pool has developed outside the library: it’s now so deep, and it’s been there so long, that I suspect it of having its own Watcher, like the many-tentacled horror that lay in wait for Frodo outside the gates of Moria. (On Tuesday I saw two little girls step incautiously close; I turned away and when I looked back they’d disappeared; all that was visible was ripples spreading across the surface of the water, a few solitary bubbles and a library card.)


Castle Sinclair Girnigoe and Noss Head Lighthouse, and two soggy walkers.

The ground is waterlogged. Much of Caithness is swampy, boggy marshland, the land lying on the water table like algae floating on a pond: in the field behind our house a couple of cyclists have pitched a tent, and are now settling in for an exciting evening of, ah, well, settling in for the evening. In the half hour since they started their tent is already noticeably lower; I just hope they can swim.


The Carnival has come to town

In gansey news, I’m delighted to say that I’ve almost finished the current project: the first sleeve is complete, and the second sleeve is all but. I should finish the knitting perhaps on Thursday or Friday. (Because it’s been fashioned out of recycled yarn the darning in of ends will take longer than usual—up to five joins or frayed threads per 100g ball. Shall I let you in on a secret? I’m not looking forward to it at all.) It’s been great to rediscover navy yarn, though; I just wish I could see it better to knit in poor light.

And now it’s time to go do something constructive like watch the cricket highlights on television—either that or, seeing the tent is now listing to starboard, I could go and throw those poor campers a lifebelt…

15 comments to Wick IV – George McKay: 17 July

  • =Tamar

    Are there any planks available, to make a walkway from the safe area to the tent? (_Is_ there a safe area?) Better have a long rope attached to the lifebelt, and something solid to tie it to.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I decided to watch the cricket and see England being demolished by Pakistan. When I looked out the window next morning the tent was gone, vanished without a trace. Draw your own conclusions…

      Certainly I’ve had the uncomfortable experience up here of striding onto what looked like a solid, grassy meadow only to sink up to my knees in something more closely resembling a paddy field, or the Grimpen Mire out of the Hound of the Baskervilles. If ever I stray from the path I now make sure i have my inflatable life jacket and a whistle…

  • lorraine

    Gordon- On the flip side, we are having near drought conditions here in sunny Ontario. And heatwaves. Seriously, I don’t know what is worse.

    I am sympathetic about the dark colours- so hard to see. Looking forward to seeing what is next.

    • Gordon

      Hello, Lorraine, it got over 32ºc in the south this week, but up to 20-21º here. On the whole, I’m not complaining, and I’d take water logging over a drought any day.

      So long as I sit in the sunshine, I’m fine with a colour like navy—but as you can imagine, sunshine in the far north doesn’t happen every day (sunny today, though!).

  • Sharon in Surrey

    Yes, it was very thrifty of you to rescue & reuse that navy yarn. BUT – you only have two eyes so it’s time for another bright blue or even RED, Gansey. I’d say either one would be easy to see in the dark, rain & bog if you strayed from the path.

    Nice weather here on the southwest coast of B.C. in the Rain Forest. It rains, then shines, then steams & rains again. Weird summer. Usually we’re too wet with two weeks of really, really hot in August. Last year it was so hot & dry we were on water restrictions for months. This year, nada. Back to normal on the Wet Coast this year.

    • Gordon

      Hi Sharon,

      It’s going to be green, Frangipani bottle green to be precise. Possibly the most cheerful colour I’ve ever knit with, and definitely out of character with my usual style of “grey’s a bit too vivid, perhaps something a little more subdued…?”

      Weather this week has been lovely, apart from Wednesday when it was pitch black at noon in a Biblical kind of way, and thunderstorms with such rain that I saw three people fighting over which animals they’d get in the ark (they made the mistake of starting with a pair of cats who kept wandering off…)

  • Lois

    I vote for red too. It will be far easier to locate you in the midst of the Grimpen Mire. I was musing over a deep cherry red yarn yesterday in the store and saying to self “get thee behind me, Satan”.

    And on east coast Canada, it has been a very dry summer. Not to the extent of drought, but much drier than usual and hot. I don’t do well in hot, give me my comfortable fog and Scotch mist with an onshore wind off the water.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, surely the correct response is, “Don’t just stand there Satan, light-bearer and son of the morning, but just you start casting on and I’ll tell you when you can stop; after all, you know what they say about the De’il and idle hands…”

      Yes, I’ll take moderately mild-going-on-warm-and-damp any day. Besides, the alternative is me in shorts, and that’s not a good look with a gansey…

  • =Tamar

    Red is fine in daylight, but in dark hours or under certain streetlamps it looks black. So no night-time wandering in the mires!
    Either that or – gasp – knit a striped jersey, so the white stripes will show up at night.

    • Gordon

      Hello Tamar, the danger with a striped approach is that I’d either look like a convict or a stereotypical French onion-seller from the Simpsons…

      Alas, red isn’t a natural colour for me, except when I am embarrassed, when my face glows so much that Santa’s been known to ask me if I’m free on Christmas Eve in case it’s foggy and Rudolph feels like a rest…

  • Gordon

    Hurrah! The gansey, she is finished and washed and blocked and drying in the—well I was going to say sun, but, you know… Drying, anyway. Delighted with the pattern in this one, too. Pictures next Monday!

  • Jane

    Oh, well done Gordon. It is a smashing pattern and a super colour and very elegant. It will be lovely to see it completely finished.

    I believe one of the old “tricks” with knitting certain colour yarns, and I’m thinking black here as it can be a bit of an issue, is to use contrasting colour needles so the stitches stand out. So dark yarn, light needles, light yarn, dark needles, just a thought. The green sounds very nice.

    We travelled south for some sun, only to find it arrived in England when we got back. We came home dreaming a little of cool, wet days and sleeping at night, but shouldn’t complain. Take care!

  • Sharon in Surrey

    Congrats Gordon!!!!! I’m pleased you’re going for the green although Red would be MY first choice. hahah

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