NOTES FROM THE NORTH – APRIL 2019

Such a lot has happened since I last put fingers to keyboard for another Note.  I’ve had a heart operation and while we were in Edinburgh for my recuperation, Swiney House was flooded out.  This was in March 2018, since which time we became gypsies for a year.  A pipe, above the heating and insulation, froze and took out a bedroom, a bathroom, the dining room and the kitchen.  What a mess!  And the smell!  Swiney was like a ghost house – you could, from the kitchen, see right up to the roof through three floors and through the walls where the plaster had come off, leaving the laths behind.  It was actually quite interesting to see how the rooms had been divided up by some previous and early owner but of course it meant that we had to find another house in which to live.

Now – if you aren’t insured with the National Farmers’ Union, I strongly advise you to change.  That company has been quite marvellous.  OK, so we had paid to cover various contingencies, but they were remarkably generous and accommodating and made it all so easy for us, putting no obstacles in the way of our finding living space and allowing for the furniture to be restored.  I can’t recommend being flooded out, but the NFU was very understanding.  And they have been almost apologetic about having to put our premium up this year!

And every cloud has a silver lining – I got a lovely new kitchen as a result.  I am still ‘learning’ it because nothing is the same as in the last one.  Very good for the brain function.

Enought of all that.  Apart from about ten boxes containing things we never knew we had, we are almost straight.  And it’s Easter Day;  sun shining, a bit of mist but no wind.  Oh the joy!  There are several ewes in the field in front, clearly waiting for their little bundles of joy.  They lie about, lolling I think is the word, munching whatever grass happens to be near enough without their having to move.  It reminds me of those pictures of Roman feasts.  We have had wonderful daffodils this year.  We had some work done on the drive last year and the ground, opened up, has let things flourish beautifully.  Sadly, the garden was not touched for a year because our part-timer was ill.  However we’ve contacted a most cheerful man who tells us he can sort us out.  Watch this space!

Locally there is a fuss being made, if I dare to raise the subject, about “The Public Conveniences.” It has always seemed strange to me that these very useful lodgings are tightly closed during the winter months. Is one meant to ‘hold on’ until home is reached?  There has been a lot of discussion about whether they are going to open again this Spring.  But, as I say, it is Easter and as far as I know they are still not available.  In very early days these wayside stopping points were called “Necessary Houses”.  Now wouldn’t you think that might speak to the Council somehow? We get a lot of tourists in Lybster, particularly now that the North 500 route is so well used – and these public amenities are necessary.  This is another space to watch!

I wish you all a belated Happy Easter.  I do hope your Spring and Summer are healthy, fun and productive.  Iain joins me in the good wishes.

Bunty Gunn