Thursday, Novemer 29, 2007
Many people here in the Scottish Borders seem to have been taken by suprise just how quickly we are nearly into the last month of the year.
Last Sunday, when Ally and I paid a visit to a local garden centre, we noticed cut Christmas trees on sale and I remarked it seemed a bit early for that.
However, my wife pointed out that it was only four weeks from last Tuesday until Christmas Day itself.
Why is it that the festive season is almost upon us without us really being aware of it?
Perhaps it has something to do with the unseasonal weather we have had until recently. In fact the last month has seen the Borders enjoying blue skies more commonly associated with the heady days of summer, albeit with bitterly cold temperatures!
It’s difficult to ignore Christmas, even in the last two weeks of November, with the airwaves and television advertising breaks already packed with exaltations to buy huge amounts of food and gifts.
As some of your readers may know, The Southern Reporter newspaper here in Scotland is based in the Borders town of Selkirk.
And this weekend, will see the ninth annual staging of the festival called Scott’s Selkirk, after its former famous sheriff - as in judge and not as in Wild West!
Sir Walter Scott, who went on to achieve worldwide fame as the author of such books as Ivanhoe, Redgauntlet and The Talisman, was the sheriff for the county of Selkirkshire for 33 years up until 1832.
His courthouse, which stands to this day in the middle of Selkirk, was where he would dispense justice.
The Scott’s Selkirk festival is always staged over the first weekend of December and currently the entire town is decorated with Christmas lights, trees and arrangements of winter greenery such as fir branches tied to every lampost in the town.
The festival itself will feature street theatre, music, food, talks on history and the streets filled with residents in period costume of the Selkirk of the first half of the 19th century.
It looks like it will be another success as even last year’s gales could not dampen the enthusiasm of local people.
However, it would be nice to get at least a light dusting of frost just to add that final Christmas and winter element.
Having said that, we’ll probably all wake up on Saturday morning to find three feet of snow outside!
Living on a farm has many attractions, but one drawback is that, because there is often spilled grain or animal feed throughout the year, farms tend to be home to a few less than welcome residents such as rats.
It’s just one of those things that comes with living in the countryside. Here in the UK experts say that, no matter where you are, you are never more than 10 feet away from a rat lurking nearby somewhere or even under the floorboards!
However, even I was unprepared for the sight that greeted me when I looked out of the window a few days ago.
My wife and I always put bird food out for the local feathered inhabitants and we do so all year rouund.
The result is a booming population of small finches, woodpeckers and even sparrowhawks and buzzards which are fantastic to see.
But of course, they are not the tidiest of diners and a bit of seed does tend to get scattered on the ground.
And, as the weather changes and we started to get a taste of sub-zero temperatures, the tempting prospect of some bird food can attract the odd scavenging rat from the farm into the garden.
But this was the first time I’d actually seen one climb up a small tree and then lower itself carefully onto the roof of a small hanging wooden bird table, before squeezing itself through the grill to get at the leftover nuts.
It was quite an acrobatic display but one which won’t be being repeated to often as the farmer’s son from next door is going to get a request to position himself in an upstairs bedroom window with his rifle.
Or maybe I should ask Santa for a really powerful slingshot!
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