Blog of the North – December 2019


Afore ye read on, don’t forget to note the details for the Mini Gathering in the North April 2020 – Click Here

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Lybster Harbour courtesy The Telegraph

I’m writing this  wearing a thick jumper, mittens and with a rug over my knees because it is an extremely cold day and the central heating went off during a terrific storm overnight.  The side of the outside boiler – which we were told was proof against any tempest  – blew off and escaped we know not where.  And it is Sunday, so the heating engineers, no doubt cosily sitting over lovely open fires, will not be out.  We just hope they can fit us in tomorrow.  It does make you think, though of the awful conditions suffered by rough sleepers and be thankful for the roof over your head.

I was talking to a Caithness friend the other day and realised that there are a lot of wonderful dialect words that you may not have come across.  

My car, muddy and leaf-spattered was, to her, fu’some i.e. ‘foulsome’ – filthy,

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The weather having been dreich (pron. dreek, but with a soft ‘k’ sound, like in loch), meaning grey and rainy, probably misty too. 

The gardener, wrestling with our weeds, would coup (pron. cowp) the barrowful onto the midden which in our case is not founded on kitchen or any other waste as it was in the past but is a sort of glorified compost heap. 

It houses, from time to time, a toad which leaps out naughtily, causing your ‘hairt’ to fail which, in the terminology of the day is ‘not handy’.

And then  there’s ‘swak’ – probably pure Norse – which suggests that you are hardy, maybe doing things you might not be expected to do – perhaps clean out a blocked drain or strain a fence – particularly if it is a woman doing it all.

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Then if somebody is trying to pull the wool over your eyes they are “takkin’ a loan o’ ye”.

But possibly my favourite was overheard by me in the local Tesco.  I was queuing at the check out with two elderly men ahead of me.  One said to the other “Now then, Jamie. I’ve no’ seen you for a whilie. How’s it going?”  The answer, terse and rather grumpy, was “You’re seeing it!”

And so to the festivities ….

I am sure everyone is getting ready for the festive season and Iain and I wish you all a very good time, children playing nicely together, no enforcement on sprout-eating, goodwill among the relations, a stand-by television wand in case the usual one goes missing and no need to organise a hunt for the corkscrew or the nutcrackers. 

A Happy Christmas to all my readers (!) and every good wish for a prosperous New Year.

Also, don’t forget to note the details for the Mini Gathering in the North April 2020 – Click Here