Monday 24 March 2014

Shedding some light

Our Lass is currently away 'sooth', visiting The Two Ones and twitching rare bird species such as Magpie and Jay. As England is much nearer the Equator than Orkney, she has also mentioned that it's rather warm. This leaves me holding the fort on my own, or 'Gnome Alone' as one of my blogger colleagues calls it.

Fortunately, I haven't been bored or stuck for things to do. One of the many pleasant side effects of moving to this island community is that I have (and this will be hard to believe) developed a social life (see, I told you it was bordering on the incredulous). So last Friday I went to a very interesting talk by Eric Meek, arranged by the Orkney Field Club, which shed some light on the final season of a five year Scottish project to confirm and map the locations of dozens of species of plants. As you can probably imagine, the rarer plants tend to grow in some rather remote and stunning places, so the tale and accompanying slideshow were very enjoyable.

The following day, I drove across to the Stromness in West Mainland to attend a Spring Fair organised by Orkney ZeroWaste, a charity promoting the mantra Reduce, Recycle, Reuse. On the way there, I was fortunate to spot my first Short-eared Owl of the year (a proper definition of the abbreviation SEO, rather than all that Search Engine Optimisation malarkey). The main reason for the trek over to the diametrically opposite side of Scapa Flow was that there was a plant sale at the Fair. In fact, not just any plants, specifically trees.

Our Lass is keen to begin planting shelter belts in and around our half acre of mud, to provide windbreaks for less hardy things, like cornfield annuals and me. To this end, before she left for the sooth, I was entrusted with a shopping list and a budget.

Another blogger, Sian from Life on a Small Island, had tipped me off that the lady I needed to speak to was called Jenny, who is a bit of a tree expert. On arriving at the Town Hall, it was immediately obvious who Jenny was, as she was stood behind several tables laden with all manner of native Orkney saplings. I patiently queued for a chance to ask Jenny's advice and when I was able to introduce myself, she remarked that she knew who I was because our neighbours had told her. Orkney is not a place to keep secrets!

With Our Lass's list and Jenny's sage counsel, I was able to select 24 saplings of 6 species, as well as 80 Willow cuttings for the south easterly perimeter. There was one tricky moment when I couldn't read my nearest and dearest's writing, so had to choose between Alder and Elder.

All that retail therapy was thirsty work, but happily there was food available too. Before I ordered a light lunch, I was able to introduce myself to one of the caterers, Fay from The wind and the wellies blog. It was great to have a bit of a natter about our blogging experiences. The soup was very tasty, as were the cakes. 

Yesterday was much less eventful, spent at home putting up more pictures and photos on the walls. After a video chat with Our Lass, I went to bed quite early, to read for a while. I am re-reading Terry Pratchett's Snuff, a tale of slavery, drugs and oppression, which uses a race of goblins as the allegorical downtrodden masses. I put the light out at about 10pm, briefly woke up in pitch darkness at 1am and went straight back to sleep. When I awoke again, it was very bright and I dozily thought it was morning and I must have slept in. However, it suddenly dawned on me that my bedside light was on and it was only 4am. Odd, I mused, I must have knocked it in my sleep (it's a touch-activated device). But that didn't explain why Our Lass's bedside light was also on, which was most definitely out of my reach (it's a big bed, you see. In fact, so big we normally have to text each other "Good night").

Hmmm, it's the middle of the night and, bizarrely, our bedroom lights are switched on, all on their own. 


A swift tour of the house confirmed that everything was secure and nothing was missing. But it was a bit of a puzzle. As it proved impossible to get back to sleep, I spent some time interrogating the internet for an explanation. It would appear that touch-activated lamps can be triggered by a surge on the electricity supply, and I recall that this may have happened once before, many moons ago, but in the daytime.

I can vouch for the fact that it has much less impact in the daylight!


Ruth Walker said...

In this new social society that you've found yourself in...have you discovered the phenomenon of leaving the house with a midwife means you will find other midwives wherever you go? We found two in the biscuit aisle in the supermarket and one in Buckingham. How does she do it!

Tales of a Bank Vole said...

Can we assume that having suddenly awoken and fearing an intruder, you did not also decide to ventilate the bathroom door?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Steady on, that's my life for the past umpteen years you are describing there!

Imperfect and Tense said...

Had I done so, I think that the evidence would be so stacked against me that the prosecution's case would leave me without a leg to stand on, I'm afraid.