What a start to February we had up here in Caithness. Gusts of snow, howling winds, blue, tropical skies, warm sun, hard frosts – you name it, we had it. They always say that you can experience the whole gamut of weather in a day if you live in Caithness. We seem to be sorted out now, though, and the snowdrops are up. This year they appear to have very short stalks. My neighbour and I were comparing and she says that it’s the first year she’s noticed this. One of nature’s great mysteries to me is that each year patches of snowdrops appear where they have never been before. I thought that you had to plant them “in the green”, but I never set eyes on some of the new ones, never mind plant them. It must be the birds.
The bit of sun that we have had has started to ripen our lemon. Our one lemon on the tree in the conservatory. I think it must be the most northerly lemon in Scotland, but I will stand corrected if anyone can beat it. We are nurturing this lemon, because usually there comes a time when the fruit just falls off the tree, hardly ripe and quite useless. I have high hopes of this one. Watch this space.
I can’t say that there is much election fever up here yet. John Thurso, our Lib.Dem MP is doing more to get in touch than any of the other candidates. In fact, I’m not sure who the other candidates are. John is helping in the fight to get proper funding for our hospital in Wick. It is woefully short of doctors and surgeons and the excuse is that nobody wants to come up here to live. We are faced with losing 24 hour surgical care which to me seems a nonsense because the alternative is to put a sufferer in an ambulance and take it 100 miles to Inverness. Imagine being in labour and being told that the local staff can’t cope and having to spend several hours in a very rattly ambulance. There is a hospital helicopter, but if it is snowing or too windy or foggy it can’t take off. Wick may seem like the end of the earth to some, but a lot of people have moved here for the freedom of lifestyle, the education, the general ambience and I really don’t see that doctors need to think they are at a dead end. Nobody, after all, stays in a place for ever. There’s a big move locally to raise awareness of the situation – I don’t mean civil unrest, but there could be a march or two. Watch this other space.
Iain and I are looking forward to coming to Durham for the St. Donan’s Day dinner on the 18th April. This part of the world is familiar to me as my parents came from County Durham (Stockton on Tees) and my uncle farmed in Eaglescliffe, where we got married. It will be good to see my own “homeland” again and good to meet the Clan at the dinner that Ed Aksamit has arranged for us at Lumley Castle. I’m sure we’ll get a good turn-out for it. If you are reading this – do come along.