Thursday, May 18, 2006
All mostly quiet on the Scottish front ... and it’s raining
Well, so far we’ve only had a handful of days where the weather could be described as ‘summery’ here in the Scottish Borders, despite now being halfway through May.
The swallows have arrived from their wintering grounds in South Africa, and there are plenty of flowers out in the gardens here; now all we need is a consistent period of warm weather and sunshine to get everyone in that summer mood.
Winter seemed to last a particularly long time in Scotland this year and I think that was due to the fact that we only had brief periods of snow. The rest of the season it was grey and wet and cold and that lasted from November to the end of March.
Anytime a recent weekend has been blessed with some dry weather, my wife, Ally, and I have made the most of it by getting out into our garden.
We actually have two separate gardens - one at the front of our house and one at the rear.
The front one has a lawn, borders, some trees and our vegetable patch, while the back garden more resembles what Americans would refer to as a ‘backyard’.
Covered mostly with grass and some wildflowers, it also has our washing line and a brick barbecue on a concrete area, which also has a couple of benches for sitting.
The weekend just past saw me building a fruit cage to protect our raspberries and strawberries from the attention of the local bird life, and to halt rabbits munching on Ally’s lettuces.
I have to admit I am not the world’s greatest expert when it comes to DIY (do-it-yourself). My brother is much more accomplished than I when it comes to that sort of thing.
I am fine outside with spades, shovels, lawnmowers and chainsaws - even tractors - but when it comes to carpentry, brick-laying or any tricky interior jobs, I am afraid I am often a bit clueless.
Actually, Ally is much better round the house with hammer, screwdriver and paintbrush. She always maintains this is because women pay much more attention to detail and have more patience in making sure something is just right.
However, even she was impressed by my fruit cage efforts on Friday and Saturday. Firstly, it involved digging six holes around the raised vegetable and fruit bed. Then concreteing these in place.
Once that had set, Saturday afternoon saw phase two with a timber rail measured, cut and attached to link the tops of the fence posts.
Now all that remains is for the plastic coated mesh to be fixed in place - when the weather turns dry again. Hopefully, that will be soon as I have spotted a couple of very young rabbits emerging occasionally from under our garden shed!
Sunday was a bit more physically demanding as it was given over to Wing Chun kung fu! I have studied and practised martial arts for over 20 years now and for the last 10 of those have been a student of Wing Chun, the style of kung fu first learned by a young Bruce Lee in Hong Kong.
I had arranged for my teacher, Master Paul O’Neal, to travel from his full-time martial arts school in the north-eastern English city of Newcastle, up to the Scottish Borders to give a seminar to 10 of my students.
The day was a big success and I had 10 people go away with big smiling faces. It’s always a great feeling when something you’ve organised works out well.
Away from the Entwistle household in the wider Scottish Borders world, it has been quite a quiet period. Our nine high schools are busy just now with exams.
Local firefighters were also very busy last week, when over 40 of them were needed to tackle a major grass fire on the Eildon Hills, near the small picturesque town of Melrose (it is in the grounds of the ruined abbey in Melrose that the heart of the famous Scottish patriot and king, Robert the Bruce, lies buried).
On the sporting front, the rugby and football seasons are coming to a close and our attention will be turning to cricket and athletics for the summer.
As for me, I am getting my fishing gear out of storage in readiness for a few trips with my dad.
He’s joined a small syndicate that has exclusive access to a loch brimming with brown and rainbow trout. I’ll tell you next time whether my fishing efforts have been as successful as my gardening and kung fu sessions!
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