Sunday, 15 July 2012

50 shades of grey and IrnBru

The summer holidays are well under way, the children are pretending not to be bored.

Pretending as one sniff of "I'm bored" finds them with something hoovery or tidy your bedroomy to occupy their boredom. Oddly, they are none too keen on my boredom fillers.

Yesterday, the sun made a rare appearance. The ground here is too wet to go and cut the grass for silage (hay is a distant memory).

We set off for the Aberfeldy sheepdog trials armed with wellies, a picnic (which looked suspiciously like three enormous loaves of bread, no butter and a big bottle of water although I did remember to pack a bread knife.)

The Farmer's face was set on neutral mode. He does not like sheep very much but had never seen a live sheepdog trial before.
"Bet you are thrilled that we are drifting into the realms of living wildly, new territory, sheepdog trials and things"
"I am inwardly happy" he said, face stuck in neutral.

After we went up the wrong farm track, shot past the trial ground, ended up in Kenmore where I bought another loaf of bread, we finally arrived at the ground. There was a big turnout, collies everywhere, wellies were the footwear of choice, wily wee blackface sheep were the sheep of choice.

We hit the big tent where strapping young men were hefting sheep around then deftly clipping them, some used hand clippers, the others used the electronic shears.

The lad had hands like shovels and coped admirably with the feisty little sheep who kicked him, slyly. I imagined it must be the most awkward position to work in - bent double, holding a sheep with your knees, hands gripping the big clippers.
Nobody clapped when the lad finished but we inwardly cheered.

Despite an almost cathedral like silence in the main tent, Rosie found it all too noisy. It is one of her issues. I offered her some earplugs but she was horrified. "I'm almost 16" she hissed, which left me a bit bewildered.
She and I left the tent to go and watch the sheepdog trials.

The unexpected heat from the sun warmed up the surrounding forest and pasture and the air had the scent of pine, birch and sheep.
Shepherd after shepherd took their turn at commanding their dogs to round up the small flock of sheep, some used a melodic whistle medley, some used what seemed like telepathy. One young chap stood and roared like a bull. "MON FLY MIN BYE LIE DOON FLY LIE DOON".
He roared so loud, I bet half of Aberfeldy heard him and lay down.

This is where the dog drives the sheep through the gates.

This is where almost every entrant came a cropper as the sheep did hard stares at everyone then ran off.

The shepherd has turned scarlet and is muttering Anglo-Saxon.

Rosie had plugged herself into one of those electronic gadgets that are permanently welded to youngster's ears these days. It had headphones. She had locked herself in an electronic bubble which was unburstable.
I took out my knitting.
A lovely gentleman tapped on the window of the car and said he was reminded of the women who knitted at the guillotine and he hoped I did not drop a stitch as the sheep would run off.
This statement made me ponder my hagdom and I made a mental reminder for emergency dental treatment for my one blackened tooth plus a comb to tame la tricoteuse tresses although I fervently agreed, inwardly, with the entire French 'let's tidy up the aristos' idea.

The Farmer returned with our son. Said son had a multi coloured face, bright orange smile, telltale smears of chocolate cake and was so sticky, he was in danger of attracting flies. He was also overly bright of eye and bouncing.

"What has he been eating?"
Rosie removed her earphones to clipe.
"Dad gave him IrnBru and chocolate muffins". She was terribly pleased to be a food informant as she knew there would be a spectacular reaction which was going to be more interesting than the sheepdog trials.
"IrnBru? IRNBRU? He is forbidden IrnBru until he is 21 and has a hangover and we will be 70 then and going for naps. AND he won't sleep tonight."

The last few entrants worked their dogs and the catherdral silence became even quieter. It got tense.

We tried, truly we tried to tame the sugar loaded hyper 5 year old.

Just as the competition reached a vital stage and everyone held their breath, our son's huff boiled over to a nuclear fusion rage, he found The God Particle and shook the Higgs Hadron collider with an ear shattering "NO".

The sheep scattered, the dog bolted, people turned and looked. Tutting was heard.

The Farmer and I turned 50 shades of grey then puce. We had to leave.

As quietly as we could with a Land Rover with dodgy exhaust and nuclear reactor five year old in meltdown, we left the sheepdog trials.

We aged visibly as we tried to get the little one to sleep, camomile tea, soothing bath, gentle stories to no avail.
Finally, I told him a step by step guide of everything we had seen during the sheepdog trials and this seemed to do the trick. Even the Farmer looked glassy eyed as I regaled tales of penning and 'come by".

PieDog and I have signed up for lessons and we are both excited about it.

Not off our face on IrnBru, sugar rush excited, just inwardly so.

I will practice a neutral face and 'come by' whistling.



  1. I used to go out with my grandfather's shepherd when staying on the farm when young.
    He reckoned a good dog would recognise the matriarch who was going to cause trouble and sort her out first....

    Good days...but not an IrnBru in sight...

  2. There were lots of feisty ewes foot stamping and hard staring. It was a brave dog indeed who faced up to some of them...
    Hope the dog does not see me as the troublesome matriarch ;)

    The Farmer, children and dogs all out for a loooong walk today.
    I am enjoying the peace and secretly trying to master the shepherd whistle but cannot get a noise out of it. Early days though!

  3. Thanks for this, it cheered me up no end on the start of my day off...

    IrnBru hasn't reached south Germany as yet, and nor have sheepdog trials. The only time I remember seeing a sheepdog actually looking after sheep was in Bavaria where a flock of sheep was grazing next to a busy 'a'-road with nothing but one very bored looking sheepdog between them and whizzing certain death. It seemed to work though.

    BTW, if you look in YouTube for "Mark Steel Vive la Revolution" there's a really funny talk on the French Revolution and how it has been maglined by history.

  4. IrnBru is one of those mysteries in life. It kills a hangover stone dead, rots the teeth and in an emergency, you can use it as a dye for curtains or wool if you take a notion for bright orange soft furnishings.

    Some of the shepherd/ dog teams worked like poetry in motion, the collies darting off a top speed then when they worked the sheep, they creep flat in the grass as if their legs are replaced with castors.
    I need to know how to translate the whistles and how the dogs know the sounds.

    I shall look on youtube but reckoned that the sheep shearing trailers could easily be adapted as a mobile guillotine and hitched to the back of a Land Rover. It would save the country a fortune in wind farm subsidies and free up vast acres of land.....

  5. I used to watch 'One Man and His Dog' on the tele. It was pretty compelling once you got into it.

  6. Bahaha, that sounds like a grand day out!

    'One young chap stood and roared like a bull. "MON FLY MIN BYE LIE DOON FLY LIE DOON".
    He roared so loud, I bet half of Aberfeldy heard him and lay down.'

    So accurate it's scary. XD