Saturday, 24 March 2012


I rather nervously went in to the gubbins of the blog settings and footered about with bits here and there.

The snow has vanished from the hill a long time ago, there are cattle in the field instead of sheep and I had a notion to put up a new picture.

The photo I chose, one of the little stream in front of the house, ended up so large that you could almost sit with your feet in the water and slap wildly at the midges.
The size of the picture vexed my computer and set the fan off to tornado mode.

Next day (because I had no technical clue what I had done so shut down the computer and went to bed), the computer went crazy as it was fired up but settled down once the vast picture was removed and replaced by one of Bonnie the Wensleydale.

For Luddite technophobes like myself, computers tend to do irrational and unexpected things, whirring and the like. You have to have a basic language understanding of, oh, timelines, up and downloads, side loads, faffloads.

It is a great muncher of time, faffing and footering with a machine which remembers everything you have asked it to do. Unlike me.
The computer is forgiving of the Kafkaesque interruptions which occur when you are in mid faff and borderline panic at having pressed a key which makes the whizzing start again only to be asked "Mum. Do humans eat sea horses?" or "Why are Jupiter and Venus in a line?"

This has been a week of change for all of us.

The land around the farm has changed colour from the buff coloured pastures which slept all winter to the rich brown freshly ploughed soil. The fields are ready to receive fresh crops and new grass.

We have all responded very well to the sun which dried out the wet fields and warmed the earth, warmed our exposed limbs and started the hens laying eggs again.

I changed into my heron mode. I told my family that one day, I would stop colouring my hair to the colour it had been all my life and let it turn white.

I had gone through being The Maiden, had been enriched by children and learning during The Woman/ Mother years and felt ready to embrace the Wise Woman/Crone phase of my life.
Each stage overlaps and is intricately interwoven, creating a whole.

I see the vulnerability and fresh beauty of the Maiden in my daughter and feel able to guide her through her journey using the wisdom and experiences learned during my fifty one years.

The Woman and Mother are eternal.

The Wise Woman is just beginning her journey; slower in step, more astute and perspicacious, ready to embrace the new experiences.

I like the change. It brings freshness and regeneration.

A reflection of the Spring and synchronicity to the heartbeat of the seasons, the land.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Happy World Water Day!

World Water Day trended this morning on Twitter.

So many people never give water a thought; it is just there. Turn on a tap, washing machine, shower, it is there and good for use.

So many people also give water a though. It is not there. For many it is a travail to gather it, a worry to drink it.

I wanted to show what is happening to our water supply. Just to recap, we are in temporary rented accommodation as our farmhouse is uninhabitable and our farm water supply is undrinkable.
Last winter, we were without any supply at all for 39 days.
My husband supplied us in the temporary home with raw water taken from our farm, a few miles away.
I believe that the physical effort of lugging by tractor 200 gallons from farm to here, every three days, led directly to his heart attack.
The raw water which we had no alternative to use (due to being blocked in by snow) was directly responsible for our family's gastro intestinal problems and ongoing medical treatment for inflamed oesophagus problems.

These pictures are taken from our 'temporary' home. It is fed by a private water supply which is collected from hill water.

It really is a beautiful view.
Note the scar made by the Beauly to Denny power line. The Roman fort (to the left) will house an enormous pylon.
Note also the large white pile of stuff to the right of the picture.
I hope you are not eating as I zoom in on the next picture.

This is a picture of several hundred tons of human faeces. Note how well it is fenced off and how well the public notices are displayed.

And a few hundred tons more although this was taken a couple of years ago. The smell is indescribable and can make people vomit.

This is our water holding tank. Leaks a bit and had a huge crack 2/3rds down it. Green slime oozes out of it. I have an assumption that if things are able to ooze out of it, things are also able to ooze in to it.
The tank belongs to the landowner. The hill is dotted with such tanks which feed individual houses. Mine is one of the better tanks.

This picture shows the human faeces being spread. The water tank is slightly to the right of the spreader. A fine mist of human faeces can clearly be seen being spread very close to our water supply. The line of reeds which are centre right of the picture, grow over the old cast iron in parts/lead pipe which leads to our house.

This is a picture of human waste being spread just beside a small lochan - you cannot see the water as it is surrounded by trees and shrubs but it is fenced off for duck shooting. The water from the lochan runs into a burn , past a local beauty spot and famous salmon jump then runs into a tributary of the Tay.

Cattle were grazing the day that the human faeces was spread. Their pasture had a good coverage of 'sludge'. It would have been impossible for the cattle to avoid ingestion.

This is a picture of our water filters. They were changed a week ago and will need changing in another fortnight, perhaps sooner. If the filters are not renewed every three weeks, we do not receive water.

Our own farm water supply does not have a water filtration system as we have not found one which can cope with the level of pollutants and organic matter in our water.

Please give thanks when you turn on your tap and clean water pours out.

This is happening in Scotland, 2012. Many thousands of people are supplied by private water supplies.

I wish we all had clean water.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

We Believe You

It has been a few days since my last blog and I felt amazed at the response. Thank you to all who wrote, offered support, who posted incredibly moving stories on Mumsnet and on blogs, who posted on Twitter or who read the Story of the Young Girl.

When I wrote the blog then pressed the 'publish post', I will admit that my hands were shaking.
That day, I cried an awful lot, felt very wistful and read many stories other women had written - different women, the same devastation. I felt utterly wretched and angry at our vulnerability and strange legal system.

Where do you begin once you have shared an enormous secret which changed your life?

Tears dry, practical head replaces wistful head; food has to be cooked, work done, back to life and back to reality.

I feel different now. I feel lighter and have a greater understanding about how other women have been affected.

The realisation that the woman I am today is very different indeed to the young girl who had the course of her life altered in a few hours.
Today, the person I became can assess people very quickly, can stand up and defend myself against those who try to violate your life in alternative ways eg harassment. I have learned not to feel fear and to fight for what is right.

Some people go through life and never seem to have been affected by trauma, losing loved ones when young, violence, moving house. I am never envious of these people but wonder if they hide the issues which have affected them or am genuinely glad for them that they have had a straightforward life.
Those of us who do recognise and have been wounded by the less pleasant aspects of human nature; we try to heal ourselves of the pain, try to make sense of what has happened. We become different people to who we were. We work almost on a Shamanic level to redress the imbalances. Silently.

I have come to terms with my trauma. I did not like the journey as it was long, difficult and lonely but I've reached a place where I feel safe and prepared now.

To be believed was a crucial factor. For women and men to say from their heart 'We believe you', unconditionally, anesthetized the pain I felt when sharing my story. It felt empowering and positive. The years of loneliness fell away and left a huge space filled with love.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A story of a young girl.

She was 15 years old - just newly 15.

Her family had newly moved to a tiny village beside the sea. She loved her new bedroom which was only a few feet from the sea itself and she liked to sit on the old fashioned heater under the window and watch the constant change of the water.

On the third night in the new village, her mother asked her to post a letter. She was glad to get away from all the unpacking and disorder so she ran up to the postbox. It only took her five minutes.
The postbox was beside the red telephone box and this was where the village kids hung out.

One of them, slightly older than the others, asked her if she was the new girl. "Yes" she said.

He said that he lived near by and he would walk her along the road.

When she went to turn down the little vennel to her house, he grabbed her arm and said he wanted her to walk a bit further...she said she had to be home and her mum would be cross.
He insisted.

He pulled her in behind a shed. She could smell the creosote on the wood. She could not make a sound as he had his hand over her mouth.
She was terrified.

She did not know what happened to time. She was now no longer behind the shed but on the sea front. She did not know how she got there.
He was there.
He was telling her that there was little chance of her becoming pregnant as he could not have children.
He had used a knife.
She was confused, in enormous pain and felt strange.

He put the knife away, told her that if she told anyone he would find her and kill her then he put his hands around her neck and she did not know what had happened again.

When she came to, she was on the sand. Alone.

She walked home with difficulty.

The house was locked.

There was a small caravan in the garden, the one which the family went away in at weekends or holiday time. There were blankets which she pulled over herself.
She did not cry, despite the pain. She did not know what had happened but she knew it was a bad thing.

Her mother came out to the caravan in the morning. She was dressed in her nurses uniform and was ready for her duty on the district.

"Were you with a boy?" she snapped.
"Yes" said the girl although she had never been with a boy before. No boy had ever kissed her.

The girl did not know what whore meant.

She was then beaten very badly by her mother. The mother used the metal pole for holding up the caravan table.

The girl told nobody what had happened.

She coped with the bleeding herself; there were maternity packs in her mother's surgery cupboard and she used them for a long time.

Years went past and the girl grew up. She had never told a soul.

She sometimes forgot about what had happened but sometimes she did not.

She learned that there were good men, good men who liked her and wanted to be with her.

She had a son.

The good man she had the son with left her for another. She brought her son up alone. She finally knew what love really was and she loved her little boy.

She is half a century old now, the little terrified girl who was once mute with fear, bloodied, confused, beaten.

She married not long ago to a man who loved her and her children and they loved him too. He was kind and non judgemental. He adored her and she trusted him.

She learned how to come to terms with the picture which ran like a video in her head. At first, she went nowhere without being armed with something, she was always on the defence. It was wearing on her nerves and exhausting.
She learned how to switch it off. She learned forgiveness and how she was not to blame.

After spending years trying to heal the little girl, the woman found peace.
The wound would never truly heal but it became managable.

All those years and she never told anyone.....

This is a contribution to the Mumsnet rape awareness campaign called "We Believe You".
I hope it helps somebody. There are many who will recognise the young girl and her story.
This is with love to them. x

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A Brief History of the Universe... Hebridean wool.



Theory: The Creator of the Universe had a four year old boy plus a collie named Grace.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

L'eau de Laird

My car finally fell to bits last week or at least bits fell off. The bits held on with bailer twine.

The farmer drove it off to Killin to be fixed and was promised a car to do us until mine was repaired. He had returned late on Friday night and being a fairly quiet man, never said anything about the trip.

Saturday morning, The Farmer announced he was off to 'up the back of Aberfeldy' and would we all like to go. The bairns scrambled to get ready, find wellies, argue, coats and hats, dogs rounded up and sandwiches made for the journey.

I went to help them settle for the journey and saw it for the first time.

"What is that?"
"A Range Rover" said the Farmer.
"What was wrong with a Fiat Punto?"
"They only had a Range Rover"
"Well, I'm not going. You know how I feel about Range Rovers. Lairds and things drive them. They are elitist unethical piles of crock".
"And, how many times have I been forced into a ditch by a Range Rover while the driver looks at you with mean eyes saying you did not get off the road fast enough?"
"And it is going to look like we are slipper farmers".....

"There is a new tea shop which does good home baking. I thought we might stop by"

Reluctantly I got in but pulled my hat down incognito like.

Then it hit.

"OH MY GOD, what is that smell!"

"Laird pee" he said.

It truly was eyewatering. If Jilly Goulden or Oz Clarke had been where we were sitting, they would have launched into the description. "Overwhelming whiff of 'fual' treated Harris tweed, after whiff of Bunnahabhain, a lick of leather, a brace of ripe peasant (sic), a lungful of Havana cigar, soupcon of wind farm subsidy, a snatch of land grab, a hint of eviction by stealth annnnd yes! there it is, the thump of Eton and arrogance!"

We set off, heads out the windows like the collies. Even the children were quiet and silently sniffed their scarves rather than the customary bickering.

The tea shop was refined. My cheese toastie came with potato salad and real mustard bits. Posh tatties.
I knew that things were going to go hideously pear shaped. Small boy would utter his first swear, loudly, the dogs would go off on one spying new sheep on yonder hill, we would get the wobbly table and subsequent spillage, Rosie would huff, the Farmer would take the 10,000 mile stare whilst eating a biscuit.
Stink car would honk noisily to remind us that it honked inside and out when the alarm was triggered off. Often.
My bottom lip would quiver as I apologised to the nice families about the noise and that it was a loan car. We were not lairds really although we stunk a bit.
Withnail like, we were on holiday by accident.


We left fairly rapidly. The tea room was lovely and smacked of elegance, all the things our family were not. We were unlovely and stank.
Schiehallion scowled at us with the disapproval of a Highland minister catching you hanging out washing on a Sunday..

We passed by a house which looked like it was made of gingerbread.

Loch Tay looked bruised.

We arrived back at the farm and went to see our eldest son.

He is always glad to see his younger brother and sister and enveloped them in a big hug.
"Mum, the wee brother and sister stink, OMG what is that smell, you all smell funny!"

"L'eau du Laird" came the weary reply. Don't even ask".

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The Woolly Fairy

There has been lots of activity by Mumsnetters recently.

We have been knitting or crocheting squares for blankets to give a woolly hug to families in our forum who have been hit by tragedy. We hope our blankets can offer some comfort to those who are feeling bereft.

We knit and natter online, sharing patterns, donors sending wool to knitters (wool and chocolate!), helping novice knitters to cast on for the first time, then marvelling over some of the magnificent squares created by many talented hands.

I moaned that my wool was slipping, that I was using a child's needle and a bigger one of the same millimetre size. They were a brilliant size for a 6 inch square, just slippy and odd.
Patterns flummox me so my squares were plain.

Today, a parcel arrived.

Inside were a pair of amazing needles. Child size, non slip bamboo and an absolute joy to work with.

A note said they were sent with 'much love from a Woolly Fairy'.

I cried.

So I want to thank you, Woolly Fairy for such a kind and loving gesture. The needles are at work as I write, the wool no longer slips and knitting is easier.

Bless you for your thoughtfulness. x


Today was one of those days when the sun comes out, things go well and you sing the same song as your surroundings.

The Farmer and I made a critical tour of the farm this morning. Pen and paper to hand, noting all that we intend to do, which fields to plough, which will be given grass, which ones to oats.

The sun was so warm that a thin mist of evaporating moisture hung over the first ploughed field, perfect for drying out the waterlogged soil and ideal for breaking the ground up so it would be soft and crumbly for seed. A little more work and soon the field will become a grass pasture for a few years.

It is good work, sandwiches and a tartan flask work, music in your ears work, lunch with the red kite wheeling overhead, listening to it mewing like a kitten, a good tired and proper sleep sort of work. You dream of furrows and the dreams are sepia coloured.

The countryside surrounding the farm slowly turns into little patchwork squares of brown (or green if winter barley was planted.) Perthshire's beautiful trees throw up a contrast with their bare and elegant forms. You can still see the countryside through them, devoid of leaf but waking rapidly from the winter dormancy.

The old drystane dykes grin toothlessly, a coping stone fallen here and there or a bigger gap where cattle have knocked some of the stones over and then used the hole as a new throughfare, the fieldstones scattered in their wake.
I think of the people who built the dykes, miles of dykes. Sometimes an old lemonade or milk bottle appears from an old hiding place; a rusty tobacco tin left by the dyker. What skill and strength made these stone dykes.
They mark boundaries and offer protection for many animals. They say 'This marks the Farm at the Back of Beyond".

The builders of the dykes are long gone but certainly not forgotten. Their work an object of beauty, practicality, boundary and protection.

What legacy will The Farmer and I leave when we hand the farm to our children one day?

We hope we can offer clean water, maybe even a roof for the farmhouse!

My husband has worked and respected this tiny area of Scotland, never harmed it and has worked to the heartbeat of the land and seasons. He teaches the fifth generation the same respect.

It is not organic here but fertilizers and chemicals are rarely used; some areas have never had anything other than help by sheep or cattle.

How sad then to see disrespectful people pollute wantonly on areas which were unpolluted by Man.

The work put into this farm was often done on a shoestring. Respect and manners cost nothing, common sense would advise that loutish behaviour and newly turned out cows with calves do not mix well especially when their grazing and territory has been marred by clays, cartridges and environmentally unsound shot.

We want to hand over something lasting to our children, a farm which has been tended with care, a respect for the land, our animals and the wildlife. A farm which is not tenanted. Where bullies do not exist.

It could happen.

Then we have a legacy to pass to the next generation.... With respect.