Sunday, 24 July 2011

A Real Sod

The grouse shooting season is fast approaching. Every year in preparation for this, we all 'do up' our grouse butts.

When the weather is fine and the butts are in good order, it's a pleasant and satisfying job. However......

However when the weather is as it has been, the ground is saturated. This quadruples the weight of the divots we cut (no wonder they are also called 'sods') and makes them as slick as a grilled politician.

In the photos you'll see some action shots and a 'before' and 'after' pic of a butt that was sore needing our attention. If you're wondering what the lads are pointing at, it's the hill from which we had to carry 5 posts, mell, pinch bar, wire, saw, hammer, nails, staples, spades, butterflies (wire tensioners) and adjustable wrench.

They're smiling 'cos we only have to carry half the stuff back again.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Flipping our Lids

After the hobnobbing and holidaying mentioned in the last blog, reality has hit home with a vengeance.

On my return to work it was an immediate priority to get flipping my lids. I am, of course, referring to the lids of my grit trays. This removes the medicated grit from the grouses' diet and has to be done at least one month prior to the grouse going for human consumption. There is natural grit in the compartment that is exposed. This keeps the birds in the habit of using the site. Allegedly.

It's a rather boring description of a rather boring job. I now have over 200 of these gritting sites and they are spread over some considerable area. (I sat in the rover for a full 10 minutes on Monday morning considering just that.)

And if that isn't bad enough, I know that number one priority as soon as the shooting is over will be flipping them back again. Flipping hell.

The photo shows a well-used tray. Those objects that look like a popular cheesy snack are, in fact, grouse droppings. Don't confuse the two.

When I see that, I feel my labours are worthwhile. Unfortunately there seem to be as many that act as litter trays for hares instead. Glad to be of service, guys!!

Monday, 11 July 2011

High Days and Holidays

I thought I'd better write something before y'all gave up on me.

The long silence is due in part to us being off on holiday for a week. We went to Oban on the West Coast. The West Coast is infamous for midges and rain but we had virtually none of either. Which is more than can be said for home. My first job on my return was to go and check that my hill roads weren't all in the North Sea.

I'm happy to report that they were intact. That digger work (renewing offlets on the roads, mostly)I had done just before I went off couldn't have been more timely.

It's amazing to see the difference a week makes. In the short time we were away, the Bell Heather has started coming into bloom. If you've never seen the way heather-clad hills turn purple overnight, you'd hardly believe it.

In a good year the colour is so intense it looks unreal. Just check out any Chinese made teatowel to get the picture. Just ignore the tartan clad piper in the foreground.

We had to take a holiday from our holiday to go to Edinburgh. Louise and I were invited to the Queens garden party at Holyrood Palace. I hesitate to mention it but, after racking our brains to find a reason for our invitation, we could only guess it was through my keepering or writing activitiies.

"Maybe it's because you're just an all-round good egg." Louise suggested.

I then pointed out that- in my eyes- a round egg would be a highly suspect thing.

Anyway we went. Us and 8,000 other worthies. All clamouring for a glimpse of HRH. I reckon we got within a stones throw but decided it would not be a good career move to put this to the test.

When the hubbub had died down there was nothing else for it- we drank tea, ate cucumber sandwiches (yes, really!) and swanned. I think most people had the same idea which resulted in the highest incidence of swanning activity this side of Slimbridge.

I confess to rather enjoying the whole affair. Especially the people watching. But, after seeing all those hats, I can't help thinking that the Queens garden party is to egrets what Christmas is to turkeys.

We came away with our curiosity satisfied and with a deep relief that we weren't doing the washing-up.