Up here in Caithness March kind of morphed into April without our really noticing it. It snowed, it hailed, it rained and the wind blew mercilessly – and you honestly couldn’t have said whether we were in Spring or the middle of Winter. There is a saying that “April is the cruellest month” but March wasn’t far off and May looks as though it is going the same way. We had tourists at Easter, shivering along the shores and huddling into cafes serving hot tea and coffee. Occasionally the sun would put in an appearance and all the young girls would appear in strapless dresses and very short shorts for about five minutes. During all this we had a number of events to do with tourism and getting people here earlier than the Summer. A good deal of hollow laughter was heard.
However all was not doom and gloom, I assure you. The St. Donan’s weekend in April was delightful. The dinner was held in Lumley Castle, near Durham and very splendid it is, too. When you arrive by car, the only entrance appears to be an open door at the foot of some very impressive steps. Entering there, though, finds you in the dungeons – or so it seems – and you get a good idea of what it must have been like to live there in days gone by. Gordonstoun school has – or certainly used to have – a similar sort of arrangement and you arrived at the headmaster’s study by way of the kitchens where various cooks and bottle-washers indicated the direction you should take. Novel, if not very quick.
Very slightly brighter weather prompts the movement of cows and calves between pastures. The field in front of us is currently receiving a new batch and I can seen the farmer trying to persuade them that the field is infinitely preferable to the grass verge outside it that seems to have taken their fancy. Lambing is almost over – we are late lambers up here, to try and take advantage of warmer weather. Some hopes this year! I’ve noticed a lot of triplets amongst the babies which is great for the farmer but must be bewildering for the mothers. The daffodils are just going over, but the white narcissi are in full and lovely bloom, although knocked sideways by the snow we had the other day. I’m going to stop this – I am becoming a weather bore. Let’s just say that the fields are green, the lawn has had its first cut and the gorse is golden and everywhere. The swallows should be here this week, but it may be a bit chilly for them (there I go again) and the Most Northerly Lemon continues to ripen.