A one horned sheep called Jimmy

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Unsure if summer has arrived on Uist. I think we had hail while I was at the Geireann Mill sea pools yesterday. Caught my first finnock (young sea trout) and put it back. A little beauty. Lambs are behind and crops a month late. I am told there is no sugar in the grass. Well I survived the winter so far. Weather is one thing, landlords another. Nil Carborundum

Jimmy has got himself into trouble again or else Bruno, the Suffolk ram has been giving him a bashing.   We had to remove one of his broken horns so he had a bad headache for a week.  He is now back to himself and looking sparkly after a shearing.

I am staying at Gearradubh, Grimsay where we have on tap, bagpipes, baby seals, several natural swimming pools and otters. It reminds me of time spent in a batch in Okarito, South Island of NZ, over twenty-three years ago: such richness and wildness in place.

No 4, Gearradubh is a sheltered spot with black currants and pink-spotted salt marsh and a shark fin mountain as backdrop. At spring tides I can step into the kayak off the garden wall. Some days I sense I am going back in a time. An A level geography project on the ‘life of the creek’ may have set the course of my future, that and a favourite childhood book, ‘Seal Morning’ by Rowena Farre

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I am running out of space for my fleece collection. When I venture off island I return with ‘exotics’. A Blue-Faced Leicester with crinkles and high lustre from Dumfries and Galloway, a Ryeland and Blue Texel from Penrith, a Herdwick and Zwartbles from Crieff. All add to my staple diet of Hebridean, Cheviot and Blackface. The washing stage is aided by fire hoses, lick buckets and drying takes place on farm gates and stone dykes.  Jimmy is currently in three buckets out front.

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I am still felting vessels and made my first garment for an 80th birthday: a shawl in Shetland and dyed cheviot with woolly pearls. I am revving up to start the big vessels and use the king size peg loom for some raw fleece rugs. The learning curve is steep. Others are seeing parallels in my drawings and wool works. I hope they will come together harmoniously. The winter-made drawings have been framed and are up in the Cowshed, Balushare, alongside work by Marnie Keltie and Gina MacDonald. The ‘accidental’ studies of crofting life are selling well. Must do more.

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Cheese news

On a trip to green and lush Perthshire to see Mr Cheese, I re-discovered ripe cherries, saw Jungle (the band) encountered a beaver while fishing on the Earn and delighted in swoons of swallows, house martins and swifts.  I also ate large amounts of cheese.

His home cheese repertoire, made from local unpasteurized milk is expanding and now includes an Asiago Pepato from northern Italy, a softish pressed cheese with a scatter of black peppercorns and another Blue Wensleydale which has evolved into a ‘gorgonzola-type’ with a scary rind (pictured). I am looking forwards to testing a brand new cheddar, bandaged in muslin and lard and some much less salty camembert J

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