Friday, February 5, 2021


After a decade of being boiled in the summer and frozen in the winter the standard roses have started to give up the ghost. Victims of climate change. 'The Font' phones the rose supplier in the UK only to find that they're no longer shipping to France or anywhere in the EU. ' They've been adding on customs duty which people weren't expecting to pay for  ' says the man who answers the phone. 

On our walk down by the stream Angus talks to his brother in the Hebrides. The first vaccinations have taken place in the doctors surgery on the island. There was much grumbling from the older generation of farmers but they , and their wives, all showed up. The inhabitants in the old folks home were vaccinated by a doctor from the mainland last week. There seems to have been greater concern about the skill sets of the 'mainlander' than of any after effects of the vaccine.

The farmers sheepdog comes over to see us. Like all Sheepdogs he has that ' I don't know what you're doing but I'd like to join in' look in his eyes. The farmers sheepdog is greatly enamored with Sophie. This feeling is not reciprocated.

Spurned by the love of his life the Sheepdog hurtles off along the road in pursuit of something only he can see. A sheepdog trait. Sophie thinks, briefly, of joining him but a) he's younger and fitter and has already gone a hundred yards and  b) he doesn't have metal knee joints. She watches him go.

The farmer is setting out the netting on the apple trees. At this time of the year the new netting looks like a large shiny grey scar on the landscape.

 So passes another pandemic day.


  1. Our roses have been blooming all winter out on the terrace. I don't remember them doing that before. We don't have Brexit issues in Japan, but shipping still sometimes raises the unexpected issue. This time, I have a package coming from the US that includes, among other things, iodized salt, which is not sold here. I also ordered a bottle of melatonin. It used to keep me going on jet-lagged business trips but I read recently that it may also prevent severe COVID symptoms, so I thought it might be good to have it on hand. But I didn't stop to think that maybe the reason it isn't sold here is that it's not permitted here. A nice lady from FedEx emailed me with my options - send the whole package back to the US or divide the melatonin into two batches, one including just thirty pills, which might be permitted in if I went through some special import procedures that would cost $170 and take 3-5 weeks. Neither of those options sounded particularly enticing so I asked whether they couldn't just toss the melatonin and send me the rest. That worked, although it's cost me about $50 in fees and a week's delay. According to the FedEx tracker, the package is now finally "ready for clearance." Good timing, the package also includes a handsome red harness for Charlie, who had his third round of shots today and will soon be cleared to meet other dogs, go to the park and do all sorts of fun things. Not sure how he would handle an encounter with a Sheepdog - the fellow in your photo is quite lovely, I wonder how Sophie can resist him? I thought of Sophie and her views on large mammals when I saw this today:

  2. Would it not be a good idea to try to source some roses locally, as they might then be better adapted to the climate, soil etc?
    Here in Aberdeen the attitude of the older folk to getting their 'jags' would best be described as whatever is the opposite of vaccine-hesitancy. Faith in the medical profession plus getting something for free equals unbridled enthusiasm for the Covid shot in the arm.
    Bertie is all too familiar with the experience of being outpaced by a working sheep dog, courtesy of the border collies attached to the neighbouring croft in Torridon.
    Cheers! Gail.

  3. Well, Sophie could at least have spared the handsome chap a smile!
    Her attitude is the same as Inca's - she too, repels all overtures of doggy friendship - from both sexes! On one walk, most days we see a beautiful Shepherd dog puppy (Anatolian or similar I think) who barks madly at everyone going by. He's already a big boy - much bigger than Inca, who is absolutely terrified of him. I've always stopped to talk to him when we pass his gate and now he doesn't make a sound, just wags his tail and slips his paws under the gate so that I can stroke them. Much to Inca's disgust - how could I fraternise with the enemy?
    Gail is right - locally sourced roses should stand a much better chance at survival. It might be worth a try.

  4. The customs duty on seeds is just one part of the massive Brexit debacle. I read that the govt consulted with the mega agricultural corporations, who have a brisk trade in importing seed from China. Smaller independent growers, including seed merchants who import a lot of seed from the EU, were missed out. Not only are there customs duties, but now complex and costly phytosanitary certificates which make exporting from the UK totally unrealistic for small and medium size businesses. They are no longer exporting to the EU, and also not to Northern Ireland, because the Brexit agreement treats it as being in the EU for this purpose. Scottish seed potatoes, much in demand in Europe because of our "Safe Haven" virus-free status, can no longer be exported to Europe or Northern Ireland. All in all a monumental **** up. To say nothing of the poor man making Cheddar cheese who would have to transfer his activity to the EU in order to have his business survive.

  5. Sophie! He's such a handsome fellow!