Monday, January 31, 2011

We’re back. It was tough. No knitting content today.

It was spring in Edinburgh when we left on Tuesday (colder now) –but still deep midwinter in Strathardle. We got there in good order, with some light to spare.

We couldn’t open first one and then the other of the gates across our driveway – they were held shut by frozen lumps of mud. We vaulted over the gates (=I climbed heavily over) and chipped away at the ice with the trowel we carry in the car for such purposes.

We got down to the house eventually, and I turned the water on. I came back from doing that pleased to hear the sound of water running. The ends of two pipes had separated from each other in the kitchen, unnoticed until too late. Water was pumping out onto the kitchen floor. We turned it off again, mopped up, and called for help. If you have any problem requiring emergency out-of-hours assistance, you’re far better off in the back of beyond.

Eric Ogilvie came at once from the village and stuck the pipes back together. We turned the water on and all seemed well. Then Mr Ogilvie and I went upstairs to look at the hot water system and when we got back to the kitchen another leak had sprung from a totally different source and was haemorrhaging water all over everywhere, far worse than before. So we turned the water off again and he fixed that one and my husband and I spent the rest of the evening mopping and wiping and rescuing things from the floor-level cupboards and trying to dry the cupboards themselves.

It was all rather dreadful, the more so because my husband can never employ the gallows humour which could make a disaster, if not exactly fun, at least an adventure. He just gets crosser. I think I remarked something of the same after the recent power cut in our bit of Edinburgh.

The experience took a lot out of both of us. The weather was too inhospitable for much serious outdoor activity anyway. The ground was frozen solid – no hope of lifting Jerusalem artichokes. There were patches of ice everywhere, and larger patches of snow which had started to thaw and then frozen again, fully as dangerous as ice. I fell twice, going out to look at my vegetables the next morning. No ill effects – maybe my once-a-week osteoporosis pills are working, maybe it’s safer to fall backwards onto one’s well-padded bottom, as I did, rather than forwards or sideways.

The deer have had the kale, alas, and also have eaten my beloved bunching onions, although I think they will recover. I did get my fruit hedge pruned (blackcurrents, redcurrents, gooseberries).

Then we found that the byre door was frozen shut. The same sort of problem as previously with the gates, except that this time there was no way to get behind the door to see what was wrong. And our firewood is kept in the byre.

We solved that one, just as light was fading and hope almost extinguished, by using a funnel to pour kettles-full of boiling water through fissures in the door. My husband’s inspiration, my execution.

I worried, for the first time ever, about how much longer we are going to be able to go on Strathardle’ing. All will seem better when the weather eases.

I didn’t even cast on Joe’s socks. I’ll do that this afternoon, when I accompany my husband to a boring routine appt at the Royal Infirmary respiratory dept where they are unable to help relieve his breathlessness.


  1. Oh dear. The things that have to be endured in the name of taking a break.
    Sympathy from me.

  2. Theresa I2:37 PM

    That sounds a little grim but hopefully after all the problems were sorted there was some pleasure.
    How do you prepare the Jerusalem artichokes? I watched a chef on the food network slice them thin and deep fry them.

  3. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Wow! What an adventure.
    Ron in Mexico

  4. Oh my. It sounds like it was a horrible experience, possibly made more so by the lack of good humour on the part of your husband. I have noted that husbands often seem to be missing that key feature.

    I am glad you made it home safely, and honestly, from the sounds of it, that trip would have proved daunting for anyone, no matter what their age.

  5. Glad you are back in Edinburgh safe and sound. Yes, the severe winter is taking its toll re property maintenance - and personal maintenance as well, I guess. Strathardle is just so special to you - it would be an awful wrench to give it up.

  6. =Tamar10:02 PM

    Perhaps Strathardle could remain as a summer destination. I am in awe anyway, since I do my best not to have to leave the house (much) in winter, let alone go out to the hills. I even leave the gate open so I won't have to climb over it if I want to get out without shoveling.