The Aftersloth

Another huge gap with no post!

The late August wave of visitors had barely broken on the shore when the September tsunami rose. The Highland branch of the Bee clan finally made it down and, in nothing short of a miracle, both of the esteemed offspring came (down from Edinburgh and up from Surrey respectively) to complete the gathering. Eons have passed since we all managed to get together so this was a most welcome visit (and indeed the subsequent trip to the bottle bank rather underscored the family commitment to celebration). There was much dog walking, cake munching and putting the world to rights over a snifter in the evening.

This interlude was promptly followed by a visit to the wonderful garden at Wallington (which deserves its own post so more of that later) and then my birthday, when we had mum over and the sproglets stayed on for a few days. Lachlan cooked everyone dinner in the Masterchef style (no pan went unused) and Mum, Ishbel and I valiantly tried to walk the calories off the next day. It was damp and lowering when we set off so I was all wellied up and sporting the ultra toasty new cardi mum had knitted for my birthday and, for gifting balance, a scarf Ishbel knitted me for Christmas. Alas, as soon as we reached the precise spot when it was too far down the road to turn back the sun came out and I sweltered the rest of the way, eventually reconfiguring the scarf Carmen Miranda style to increase cooling airflow to the neck. I can’t see this look catching on and was not a little relieved not to meet anyone. The ultra toasty cardi (made with wool originally procured by Auntie Sybil to knit pouches for homeless Koala Bears) has since been claimed by Pingu as a cozy nest and I had to wrestle it off him yesterday when I wanted it for an early walk in the woods.

Dad’s birthday was next up and mum, Ishbel, Lyra and I all decamped over to see him, laden with Ishbel’s innovative birthday traybake (millionaire’s shortbread with a melted snickers bar layer – genius!) and a rather terrifyingly iced birthday cake (icing is emphatically not my forte). I understand that the entire cake has now been consumed and there are no reports of Waverly staff and residents collapsing with E number overload so I think I got away with it…

All this socialising has been delightful. However, the batteries were definitely running down and the warning light blinking by the time the stragglers departed so the last few days with no one around and nothing overly pressing to do (if I don’t think too hard about the need to split the hemerocallis and the couch grass by the stream) has been very welcome. I have tanked through a very awful novel (which shall remain nameless to spare the author’s blushes. In my defence it came free with my audible upgrade – there was clearly a reason for that!) testing my new noise cancelling headphones and finishing Ishbel’s Christmas jumper. Lyra and I have mooched far and wide, chasing squirrels, spotting strangely shaped fungi appearing, gathering brambles and generally getting into the autumn vibe. One very cheeky squirrel has been keeping mum and me hugely entertained by sidling out of the nuttery, looking furtively left and right, then burying his purloined hazelnuts in the middle of the front lawn. This prompted a speedy harvest of the remaining nuts (thanks Mum) and an epic shelling and roasting session yesterday. Two huge bowls of nuts have now been decanted into five depressingly small jars of honey.

Today, after a couple of days of rain, the sun is out so I am off to tinker in the borders for a bit and admire the colchicum. The leftovers of the huge quiche I made yesterday, to break up the nut shelling, will do for lunch and hopefully the pub will take us for dinner so that I can pootle away all day. By Friday I will doubtless be pining for company again, but just for now this splendid isolation is hitting the spot.

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