Well, the Camp was a huge success – you can read peoples’ comments in the Oakleaf Campers Yahoo Group.
We had the usual disaster on the way there – this time our car engine blew up and we spent 36 hours stranded on a layby on the A66. It made a change from the wheel falling off, or the petrol tank springing a leak. At the same time, our mobile decided to die, so we couldn’t talk to anybody after the first few hours – we got in a call to Carol, and that was it. And we didn’t belong to any recovery organisation. Luckily, we had the fully-stocked caravan to pass the time in, but it wasn’t exactly fun. We read a lot, did crosswords, listened to the radio; I drew a lot of sheep (it was on the very top of Stainmore, which is a windwept, open treeless moorland that is pretty featureless apart from the sheep.) We both sat and watched an awful lot of traffic thundering by and waited for somebody from the Camp to come along with a tow. Eventually, on Friday morning, we decided that we just had to get to the Camp no matter what, and called a breakdown truck to haul us there. I won’t say how much it cost us, but we could have lived for a couple of weeks on what we handed over to the breakdown driver. We then had to go buy a new mobile phone and join the RAC (so that we could get pulled home for free after the Camp finished) – another couple of weeks money gone. Sigh.
But it was a good camp for everyone!
In the meantime, does anybody want a Vauxhall Cavalier with a busted big end and a brand-new petrol tank?
The fun starts Friday! Carol is buzzing around doing umpteen things at once – as always, I marvel at the woman’s energy.
Brian & me are are far from ready for the Camp – the car has suddenly developed a leaky fuel tank that will need replacing, the caravan needs cleaning out, we have to go and buy all sorts of stuff. And people keep ringing and emailing about the Camp, and I have to keep the office work up to date, and get on with the Elfin shopping website, and, and… So we are busy here. To be honest, much as I like the camp, I’m always glad when it’s over and we can relax for a while. In fact, I’m wondering just how long we can keep doing it. Neither of us is young any more – Brian has angina and a bad back, I have my wrecked knees (we stopped by the surgery this morning and put in our order for our respective drug supplies to see us both through the weekend!) We simply don’t have the physical energy for it all. But, we are committed to it.
Anyway, there is going to be a record attendance this year – we’re expecting well over 300 people. That at least means more people to do the physical work of setting up and maintaining the camp. And it looks like we’ve found a good caterer. Beki the Mad Witch runs a professional food van and is promising all sorts of delights, including a Saturday night barbeque. And Fran has more or less taken over the ritual side of things, with a written-out ritual for the Wickerman thingie on Sunday. And Carol is marshalling everyone for recycling and rubbish collection. And we have a proper play-leader to keep the kids busy. And there will be lots of stalls.
So, it will be good one. Hope we get some good weather to go with it!
Not been posting much in here lately – way too much work. We’ve foolishly agreed to produce a desk diary version of the Elfin Diary and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proving more tricky than we thought (we’re doing it in the Adobe Pagemaker DTP program that I always use for the Diary – Brian is supposed to be doing it, but he hates the program, swears he can’t handle it, so I’ve ended up with the job; sigh…). Plus, I’ve got to redesign the Elfin website, putting in the Netbanx shop page. And, as usual, Caro wants me to fill it with big photos and her own twiddly graphics, all of which will have to be optimised. Plus, I’m still deep into the Oakleaf Circle redesign. But I’ve got most of it done now – I just have to finish putting in the new navigation on all the pages. Hopefully, that will be done by tommorrow and I can finally upload it.
The weather’s been beautiful here and this area isprobably at its best in early summer, with fresh green grass and flowers bursting everywhere. So I wish I had more time for walks!
Last Friday was Graham’s 40th birthday, and he had a surprise birthday party at his sister’s house. Carol, John, Pauline & I went up there for the night. She lives about 60 miles away, on the Solway Firth. She has a wonderful house – halfway up a wooded hillside overlooking the Firth with uninterrupted views; there’s a stream running through her garden with a small natural waterfall, and it backs on to a private forest, with access. The only real drawback of the place is that it’s only about 100 yards from the major A-road that runs to Stranraer and all the other ports, so that you get a backgound rumble of traffic all the time.
The party was OK – quite a few people turned up and we all sat ouside around a bonfire. But there was an awful lot of whiskey going around – I stuck to my rhubarb wine – with one man in particular, a kilted Scot, getting really obnoxious and loud. I no longer like parties where everyone gets off thei heads and create noise; I prefore to talk and listen. So, eventually, I made my excuses and crashed into bed well before any of the others. I got off to sleep OK, but was soon woken up by strange scratchings and sqeakings from under the bed; it was the cat, Rosie, and her three tiny kittens. Alarmed by all the people and noise, she had taken them from their box in the kitchen and bought them to where she thought they’d be safe. There was no heating, the night was cold (I had most of my clothes on) and I was worried that the kittens would get hyperthermia. In any case, they wouldn’t stay under the bed, but were crawling around in search of mum, who was very agitated and had left them to prowl around the rest of the house. So I picked them all up and cuddled them into my sleeping bag for a while. Then the others came to bed – John very much the worse for wear – Carol took the kittens back to their box and persuaded Rosie to stay there.
It was probably around 3 am before everyone got off to sleep. I woke up abut four hours later, and crept out to get a morning cup of tea. I made up for my unsociability the night before by tackling the mounds of washing-up, with the intention of going for a walk through the woods after. But by then, most other people were up and telling me what I’d missed – the obnoxiously drunken Scot had finally collapsed into the bonfire and set his kilt alight! Luckily, he only had a few scorches.
Still, not many people have their birthday party enlivened with a display of burning kilts!
Public transport up here can be somewhat ramshackle. “Charmingly ranshackle”Â? is how I usually describe it to people; like, for instance, last Saturday when I went to Castle Douglas from the village and found myself, eventually, as one of twelve adults and two children trying tofit into an 8-seater mini-bus. A not altogether uncommon experience. All part of the appeal of living in a remote rural location.
There are two buses a week that run from outside my house straight to Dumfries 30 miles away. I can get on one at 9.35, step off in Dumfries at 10.30, enjoy three dizzying hours whirling around the town’s metropolitan delights, get picked up at 1.30 and step off outside my door at 2.30. It’s very useful for shopping trips and the route meanders through some beautiful countryside as well.
So, this morning, I decided to go to Dumfries. I stepped on board, offered my money, had it waved away. “Sorry, I’m new here, I’ve no idea how to operate the ticket machine. So I can’t take your money!”
Fine by me.
“Errr…”Â? continued the driver “I’m not too sure of the route – can you tell me which way to go”
Well, since I was getting a free ride, how could I say no? So, for the next half-hour, until we got past Corsock and were safely heading for Crocketford and the A75, it was “Right turn next!”Â? and”No, no, turn LEFT here!”
By some miracle, we arrived at Dumfries, and only a few minutes late too. Then the driver turned to us and said “Err… I’ve got an emergency dental appointment to fix my missing filling – so I might be a bit late picking you up.”
Well, OK – I wasn’t in a hurry. Not much.
So, come 1.25 and I was stationed at the pickup point. 1.30 came and went. 1.35, 1.40, 1.45…. Perhaps my driver had been delayed at the dentists? Maybe, fuzzled by the painkillers, he had got lost? Was there a a yellow-and-red single-decker driving all around the town, with a novocained driver at the wheel desperately looking for some passengers? “Excuse me, but do any of you want to go to Dalry? No? How about Mossdale? New Galloway? Crocketford? Anybody?”
Whatever, at just past 2, a bus to Castle Douglas pulled up. There was still no sign of my driver and his bus, so on I hopped. (Disappointingly, I had to pay a fare.) Got to Castle Douglas just in time to catch the Post Bus which, conveniently, goes down my road. So I eventually hauled myself – chilled, exhausted, hungry – and shopping in through my door at 3.30.
A ramshackle service, yes. Charming, NO.’
We’ve had some fabulous weather this weekend – warm and sunny. This afternoon, me & Brian went for a walk in our favourite bit of woodland. The bluebells are just coming out – by next month, the ground under the trees will be a haze of blue. Lots of other wildflowers are out as well – wood sorrel, celandine, primroses. The path meanders alongside a rushing stream, overhung with mossy trees. It’s on the edge of the Galloway Forest, which covers thousands of acres, so you could just walk into the trees and get lost for a week. It’s a terrifically peaceful place. I’m so glad we moved up here.
Hallo, back again. Really must try to update this thing more often. But I get so busy sometimes.
Well, my birthday last week passed quietly enough – got a prezzie of chocolates and a CD from one of my daughters. The CD was the music from the Morse TV series. Hmm, bit puzzled as to why she chose that; I like the music OK, but as far as I know, I’ve never expressed a burning desire to possess it. Anyway, it’s the thought wot counts. And the choccies were deeelisicious!
And I got a card from my ex-BIL John – he’s been sending me a b/day card every year for yonks, the sweet old thing.
It’s John’s birthday on Thursday (not ex-BIL John, but next-door John) – the idea here was that we would have a joint birthday party at Carol’s house last Saturday night. However, I came down with a horrific migraine all day Saturday. By the evening, I was well enough to totter into Carol’s for an hour – the party went ahead anyway – where she plied me with honey and herb tea. Which was wonderful. It’s soooo nice to be looked after sometimes! We’re having another party next Saturday, around the bonfire if the weather is kind, to celebrate the Solstice and to have a belated birthday celebration for me! This time I shall enjoy it!\r\nBut I do have lots of things to get on with. The Elfin Diary is a good way towards being finished – have to print out the calendar section and go through it for typos; then I have to get on with the Astrological Association stuff. Then I want to start reorganising the Oakleaf Circle site. It’s getting bigger almost by the week, and the navigation is unwieldy and awkward. Plus, I really need to sort out the geography in the Moots pages – I’m sure some towns are listed in the wrong regions, which won’t help people trying to find a pagan contact.
Then, preparations for the Lammas Camp will start. Beginning with sending out application forms by email (at first, postal stuff will follow). That will save quite a lot of money on postage.
And I need to thank Tony, who takes all the pictures at the Camp, for his photos that he sent the other week. I’ve used one of them on the front page of the OC website (photoshopping by me). Thank you Tony!
So, that’s the news for now. Work calls!
…for not posting in such a long time. Been pretty busy this lazy month. Finally got Transit launched on Monday – you can admire it here. Getting it together was an anxious time – I was so keen to impress. And I had loads of Elfin Diary work to do at the same time – there were piles of corrections to make, and I had to proofread the whole thing. So last month was a bit fraught, and I took Monday off to relax. Yesterday, I meant to post something, but I had a reaction to my painkiller – I have slightly arthritic knees, they were aching like b*ggery on Monday, so I necked my painkillers. These work very well – sometimes they are the only way I can get a good night’s sleep – but they have an aftereffect of making me very tired and muzzy-headed the next day. I just cannot do anything that needs concentration. So yesterday, I was trying to burn some files onto a CD for Caro, but got it completely wrong, and transferred all the wrong files; it was a write-only CD that I couldn’t delete anything from, it was the last CD I had left and……. gahhhhh. So I went to bed for the afternoon, until my brain cleared.
Anyway, thatÃ¢’s all there is to report, folks!
Today we had another wood-fest at the Steadings. It stopped raining this morning, so Graham went over with his chainsaw and cut up lots of the logs that had been left at the bottom of the hill. In the meantime, Brian & John set to work on chainsawing the big pile of birch logs that had been left for us. Trevor, Carol & I got busy with wheelbarrows; Graham’s nephew Aaron got busy with his uncle’s axe, splitting the logs into burnable pieces. (Normally, a 14-year old kid swinging a full-size axe would make me very nervous indeed, but Graham is a fully-qualified forester and has taught Aaron to use tools safely.) Pauline, the housewife of the Steadings, made sure that everyone was supplied with tea and bikkies. It was very hard work, and after a couple of hours, the rain returned. But there was still plenty of wood to be shifted and cut, so we had to carry on. We all ended up wet and covered in mud and sawdust; I’m stiff and aching.
But, we have some wood – even though it will have to be stacked all summer before it becomes burnable. And it was good to do some real physical work after days and days slumped in front of the computer. Of course, that means I now have to work extra hard tonight to get the computer work up to schedule!
Here in the Steadings, the afternoon was devoted to wood.
First of all, Graham and John (the Steadings’ two “muscles”) chopped a pile of logs into fuel, which Carol, Brian, me & Pauline, plus Graham’s sister Fran and her two boys, generally ran around shifting the wood, piling it into barrows and getting it to everyone’s wood stores.
We get our wood free, from the landlord’s woodlands; we don’t get to chop any trees down, but we can go in and take any fallen trunks, or spare wood that has already been logged. Last month, his spruce wood across the road was logged. First the harvesting machinery went in – huge grabs on caterpiller tracks that stripped each trunk of branches, sawed it off at the top and the base then stacked it onto a loader; the loader took the trunks down the hillside to a stacking area, where 15-foot high piles of trunks accumulated. Once that was done, wagon after wagon arrived and hauled off the wood.
The land will be replanted, mostly with native hardwoods; that will start next autumn. Before then, the land will be cleared of the piles of debris – branches, stumps, small trunks that litter the place. But, before that happens we have the freedom to go in and take any wood that’s left.
So Carol, John and myself went up there to have a recce. There were huge amounts of good wood left just lying around, everywhere we looked. Enough to keep our fires going for a year, at least. But, getting it out will be a problem – Graham is the youngest of us, and the only one who is completely fit; the rest of us have various combinations of arthritis, back problems, heart problems and chronic illnesses. There is no way a car or van can get up there, so everything will have to be handballed through the debris of ruts, stumps and branches and down the rocky hillside. Getting any useful amount of wood out will take us weeks, perhaps months.
But, maybe not. We all have teenage/young adult children/nephews/nieces – and they all have friends. What if we offered them a free holiday in the same week sometime during the spring, perhaps in the college break? A clutch of healthy youngsters, competing with each other to carry the heaviest logs and show off their muscles, would soon see all that wonderful wood brought down and into the log-store. Yes, a cunning plan indeed…
One of my little rituals is to walk up to the village every Sunday morning to buy a Sunday paper. This morning, as usual, I passed by the cottage with the trilithon in the front garden.
It’s not a full-size trilithon, obviously; all of two feet high, it’s made from two six-inch wide slabs of granite stood on end, with a third slab balanced on top. And I always wonder what it is supposed to be. Is it someone’s attempt at a rustic garden seat? A souvenir of a visit to Stonehenge? A homage to Spinal Tap? It’ss impossible to say – with the sort of people who settle around here, it could be any of them!