1 EAGLETON NOTES: April 2020



Thursday 30 April 2020

SID 43 Catching Up - That Was April

Is it really 11 days since I visited Blogland properly. I used the word 'properly' because I have made the occasional Covid-19 type skirmish there hoping that The Authorities would not notice that I was travelling further than strictly allowed when on gardening leave. We, on Lewis, have had one of the longest spells of constant sun that I can recall for a couple of years. We have had the occasional shower in the last few days and the wind has been very chilly from the North East but I have managed a great deal of garden and external house maintenance. Much, I have to say, to the detriment of my letter writing. My coffee's in The Woodlands have been replaced by virtual WhatsApp and Zoom coffees (or G & Ts depending on the time of day).  Well, everyone has to have coffee breaks.

I have discovered that it's easy to walk 4 miles in a day when gardening and add to that the 'hard labour' humping 100l bags of compost and removing small tree/shrub stumps etc and it's a good workout each day. Apart from trips to the local postbox and a trip to the medical practice for my Trial Review bloods and my 3-monthly bumjab I've not been off the property. 

Of course I miss the family (who are now out of quarantine but still subject to lockdown rules which are not quite as strict as my self-isolation) but I confess that the days are flying by at an alarming rate and I've hardly scratched any of the items off the 'To Do' lists. I am fortunate generally to sleep well but a day in the garden certainly leaves one pleasantly tired (I was going to say 'knackered' but that's not very polite). Apart from the news I've hardly even watched television.

However the birds have been enjoying the garden even with me working in it. 

Bird box in use. Note to self: clean it up next autumn.
Meadow Pipit: Bathing; Checking claws; Under wing clean?; Aren't I a pretty pipit?

 Blackbird. "These raisins are good." 

Golden Eagle exiting over the sea. 

Female sparrow looking for extra nourishment for egg laying in the form of delphinium leaves. 

Blackbird bathing in the waterfall.

Sunday 19 April 2020

SID 32 My Garden Needs Me

Sunday: I woke to the third consecutive dry day of full sun. Day one with a cold North Wind was a full warm clothing day but yesterday was very pleasant and almost warmish. Today looks even better. It's meant that the garden which has had two years of less work than it required, now has my undivided attention: 7 hours of it yesterday. So I apologise for my temporary occasional skirmishes into Blogland (usually during a mealtime). This weather won't last for ever and I'm making the most of it.


Wednesday 15 April 2020

SID 28 A Feast of Monarchs

Ten years ago today I was preparing to get ready to leave my New Zealand life for my annual 6 months in Scotland. Before that, though, I had a visit to make to Pauline in Northland. We stayed with a friend of hers near Warkworth. I had posted about Monarch Butterflies on my New Zealand blog many times but what I saw on that visit was special. In these trying times the beauty of nature looms large in my thoughts.

Sunday 12 April 2020

SID 25 A Penny Farthing Diversion

Sometime last year I sent a card to a friend in New Zealand. He is an engineer and a cyclist and he and his wife both have electric bikes. During Art Deco Weekend in Napier one usually sees some penny farthing bikes being ridden. So the card I sent had this picture with a challenge to electrify a penny farthing. Over the next four ot five exchanges of letters I received his suggestions.

This morning I woke to a golden orb shining out of a bright blue sky. "What happened to the horrible weather forecast?" I thought. Ah well. Two hours later at 9 o'clock there wasn't even a hill opposite to be seen through the rain and mist. It's blowing a hoolie too. C'est la vie.

Anyway to provide a little light relief I decided to share the modified penny farthings with you. I, for one, won't be in the garden today.

Sunday 5 April 2020

SID 18 Busy Skies

Gaz, C and B are on their was home. As I write this they are above the Indian Ocean just over half way between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur. It is one of the wonders of modern science that I can open my phone and find out where a plane is on a live map. Anyone who often picks up people from planes knows how unreliable airport sites are with their arrival and departure information. However, if I can see that a flight is in the middle of The Minch on it's way to Stornoway then I know exactly when to leave home so that I will be at the airport at the correct time.

So I shall track their progress across the globe until they land in Glasgow and are safe and sound on Scottish soil. 

When I took the screenshot to the right they were half way across the Australian outback. Their plane is the little red one with the route shown. 

However what really struck me was that with every airline apparently closed down what are all these planes doing in the sky? 

Lots of them will be cargo planes but lots will not. I thought the numbers flying over China and the Far East in particular was particularly interesting . I know from Marcheline that the skies over the US are almost empty. Which made me realise that if there are that many planes when the skies are 'empty' how many are there usually. Actually looking at the pictures now (10:04) London airport looks quite busy and the Frankfurt to Los Angeles flight is somewhere above me. It suddenly brought it home to me that if this is the 'empty skies' level of aircraft pollution what is the 'normal' level. Somehow my academic knowledge had not computed with my perceived knowledge. In short there is one helluva lot of planes up there and, therefore, one helluva lot of pollution.

Thursday 2 April 2020

SID15 Thankful Thursday

I am now limiting myself to a couple of news bulletins a day. Of course my iPhone beeps every time there is some piece of news that AppleNews decides I really must be told straight away. On the whole it's been reasonable and not sent me trivia. I was chatting to neighbours (at a distance of about 20 metres so hardly a 'chat' really) and we agreed that this isolation isn't too bad. Of course, we are fortunate to have big gardens and lots of space. 

My Woodlands coffee buddies and I chat either on the phone or on video chat for a virtual coffee. The phone is forever pinging with another WhatsApp message. The rest of the time messaging, emails and snail-mail are all going full pelt. Communication is at a remarkably high level.

It looks as though Gaz, C and B will arrive home early next week. They will, of course go straight into quarantine. They will, however, be home and, hopefully, safe.

The weather has been very varied so today I spent several hours in the garden in a coldish wind but a beautiful cloudless sky. Then suddenly a snow squall came through and I abandoned the outdoors. Within half an hour the sun was back.

I had not done a jigsaw for about three decades but a friend gave me one last year and I've started in in the conservatory. I won't be needing the big dining table for the foreseeable future.

At 8pm I joined the country in clapping for all those who are keeping things going. I think, today, I've been particularly thankful for my neighbours who do my shopping, the delivery drivers and the postmen who keep us supplied. 

For all this I am very, very thankful.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

SID14 Inevitability

Yesterday's news was that there are now 2 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the Island. Even though the Island is shut to tourists at the moment, it was eventually always going to be inevitable given all the students and workers laid off who returned home and those who are still trying to get home from abroad (like my son, daughter-in-law and grandson stuck in Australia).

I was having a virtual coffee with a friend yesterday afternoon when the news came through on my phone and at the same time she got a call from her husband. It has strangely altered everything in a way that I can't explain. 

This morning I was regaled by a 'news item' that the Scottish Government has abolished alcohol sales in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak. Then I realised the date and said "Rabbits". At least we haven't lost our sense of humour.

In the meantime Jules mentioned in a comment a recent post of mine that she was off on her Boris Bimble. That's as good a name for a short walk as anything in these strange times so I have adopted it too.