Last week was fairly manic for both HunterGatherer and Yours Truly workwise, and the recent weekend has been equally busy, albeit in different ways. HG spent Saturday zapping a range of weed and/or buglife with horrible-sounding sprays at Farmpa’s farm over near Crieff from the comfort of a tractor, while his wee wifie (aka moi!) spent another day baking in a car park at Bellahouston in Glasgow, working in the car and waiting for Son+Heir to complete a 6-hour hockey training session. Said sporting warrior returned from this epic athletic endeavour bearing the dottled imprint of a hockey ball surface on the side of one knee and bemoaning the considerable damage-inflicting properties of a 5cm diameter plastic sphere when it impacts on human flesh at the speed of a bullet.
Sunday saw the much-anticipated “Big Lunch” Jubilee celebration in the local village (see photos). As ever in this fairly traditional neck of the woods, a committee of stalwart locals had done an amazing job of organising a community event that was enjoyed by young and old alike. Tables festooned with flags were set out in the road that runs through the hamlet, and there was a hill-billy band playing music – not to mention a balloon man and a magician wandering around in the audience creating balloon creatures and doing tricks. At one of the tables sat local brothers-in-law adventurer Mark Beaumont and chef Tom Kitchin, enjoying some well earned family time away from the media.
As I surveyed the trestle tables, the bunting, the flags and the smiling faces, I pondered what a lovely and memorable way this was to mark 60 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. There was something almost surreal about singing the national anthem to the sound of a hill-billy guitar. And not that I would ever want to gloat about the weather (let’s face it, the opportunities to do so up here are rare!), but judging by accounts from London, we definitely had the better deal meteorologically. The sun shone throughout the entire street party, whereas down south it sounds as if they were rained upon fairly relentlessly. Wonder how many inches of rain = a 60-year reign …?
Meanwhile, back at the Sparrowholding, somebody had to be doing some work, and HG had drawn the short straw (or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that he was handed it!). Sunday was one of his rare days off from bashing fence posts into the farming land of Perthshire and stringing wires between them so tightly you could play them like a violin (though not sure what you’d use as a bow?!), but there was much to be done on the smallholding, so he elected to stay at home.
Consequently, while we’d been scoffing sandwiches enthusiastically at the street party, he had been shovelling compost and firing veggie seeds into the ground with equally great gusto. When we returned, bearing a couple of balloon animals which a helpful street entertainer had kindly taught Daughter No2 to make (another useful life skill for a student), our heroic gardener had already weeded and dug over one section of the outdoor veggie plot and planted two rows of potatoes – one of Charlotte and one of Rooster – plus multifarious rows of carrots, peas, beans, parsnips and beetroot in raised beds (see photo). He’d certainly earned a beer by the time we sat down that night en famille (minus DaughterNo1) to tackle a traditional “British” tea of roast beef, potatoes and veg.
The local hamlet’s extended weekend of festivities was brought to a rousing conclusion on Monday night with a concert by a local folk duo Gaberlunzie. Both well into their 60s, these veteran musicians could teach younger performers a thing or two about holding an audience in the palm of their hands. The music which filled the small but bijou village hall was harmonious and compelling; the jokes were slightly risqué and extremely funny, but without a swear word in sight. Younger comedians take note! Originally DaughterNo2 (the music student) was supposed to have accompanied her mother (HG is working till all hours during these long, clear nights), but a better offer (i.e. sortie to nightclub in Aberdeen) came along. So it was that 17-year-old Son+Heir reluctantly trailed along to keep mum company – the surprise of the evening (to him and to me!) was that he actually really enjoyed it. In fact, as we drove home, he was busy keying some of the jokes on to his iPhone for use at a later date. Funny how things work out…