Winter here in the Isle of Lewis has few upsides. Everything is dead or dormant on the croft. The drain clearing work done over the summer has done little to stop the land turning to a morass of wet bog and big puddle and the track precariously tramped to the loom shed and back has turned to mud. The animals bleat and beat a path to the fence-side every time I make an appearance pleading for another serving of supplementary feed in lieu of the poor, ungrowing grass left on the ground. The novelty of wild weather wears thin after a while and even though the loom shed has a nice new wood-burning stove on the go, life is lived under many layers of thermal cotton, wool and waterproofs. Few folk are on the go save to make the journey from from door to their car and visitors are seldom seen in comparison to the summer months. But one upside is literally looking up.
The dark nights bring with them an insight into the wider worlds around us, the great expanse of black sky that dominates our long nights exposed in a way that it never is in the city. Streetlights blink off in our village around midnight, leaving us in darkness save for the odd house with an unnecessarily bright, but doubtless reassuring, outside security light and the distant blink of the lighthouse just over the hill. On clear nights the celestial ceiling above is pin-pricked with stars innumerable and the aurora borealis, or in gaelic Fir Chlis, is common, its green ribbons of charged particles meandering high above us like sky-bound strands of seaweed in unfathomable atmospheric currents. I have a brilliant little iPad app that reveals the location of constellations and stars, handily pointing out the more uncommon mythological figures pre-fixed in pointillism and pinpointing planets depending on the direction I’m facing. Ursa Major and Minor, Cassiopeia, Polaris, Taurus, Orion (and with it Rigel and Betelgeuse), Pleiades and others all on show, the Milky Way too, lying almost perpendicular to the horizon.
It’s all very humbling. And the glories of that huge expanse above my head isn’t even a fraction of what is out there. Earlier this week NASA/ESA released an image which captured the largest and sharpest image ever taken of the Andromeda galaxy using the Hubble Space Telescope. It is the biggest Hubble image ever released and shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of the galaxy’s pancake-shaped disc stretching across over 40 000 light-years. It’s too big to share here but a Google search will help you out if you want to investigate further. Meantime, here’s a video which shows a trillion star flythrough of just part of the Andromeda galaxy captured by their work. I have nothing cod-philosophical to say about any of it (for a change) save for the fact that the universe is a big and baffling place and our misplanned place in it is beautifully beyond insignificant. Which is more than a most comforting thought to think…
The beach at Port of Ness is far from the finest beach on these islands. Which, given how fine it is, says quite a lot. The big scythe of sand half a mile away at Eoropie dwarfs it in size and stature and even nearby Stoth gives it a run in terms of beauty. But as it’s the nearest beach to the croft, it’s the beach the dog and I walk most, at least once daily. Visiting the same place every day for a year gives the flux we find ourselves in some nice perspective. Far from unchanging, treading the same path over and over only seeks to highlight just how much of the world around us constantly shifts. It can also be very focussing. With little to dwell on for the half hour or so it takes to walk from one end of the shallow bay to the other, thoughts can’t help to turn to the surroundings.
A relatively inquisitive mind or someone of an autodidactic bent can learn a lot from the banalities of the process. For instance, waves, those relentless, unending stalwarts of the sea, for the first month or so of dog walking at the beach I thought a lot about them, the multitude of differences in their size and noise and direction, variations in movement and action. Where they started to break and why they break from left to right or vice versa. Pondering the how, where and why of the four classifications of spilling, collapsing, plunging, and surging. Inevitably, old internal physics lessons were dragged up from the recesses of more educated days and words like amplitude, wavelength and refraction remembered and thought through. Old experiments explaining why the gull bobbing out at sea isn’t swept in with the onward, rolling water, why the waves are perpendicular to the shore and so on.
While a walk might open up memories of school lessons it often opened up new areas of learning. The great striated sheets and curls of long cooled, pyroclastic past events led to research on local geology upon returning home and new-found knowledge (for me anyway) on Lewisian Gneiss, some of the oldest rock in the world. The less steadfast cliffsides surrounding the beach show a more sedimentary side, slipping and sliding downwards with each passing storm, changing the contours of the coastline, contorting old fences into ever new directions, the adjacent croftland itself always shifting, quite literally under sheeps’ feet. The seaweed that litters the place to varying degrees demands identification of taxonomy and research into how best to use this free source of fertiliser after filling bags with the good for growing green stuff. Shells get collected as does interesting flotsam and jetsam, plastic toy soldiers, bowling ball-sized fishing net bhoys, yards of beautiful old coir rope.
The sand itself is different every day. Tides determine the area of beach exposed twice a day, the pull of the moon subtly revealing just that little bit more or less depending on time of year and nearness to ebb or neap. Sometimes there is a vast expanse to walk, islands of often unseen rocks laden with jade ribbons of bladderwrack are suddenly exposed, secret paths to further afield parts of the beach opening up for just a few hours a week. Other times there is but a sliver to step upon as the water rushes towards the land leaving just a few meters to trek across tentatively, always looking back to make sure one does not get left cut off. Depending on the time of day and year there can be a thousand footprints from man, woman and beast or, best of all, none at all. I like the fact that, whatever the previous day’s activities, each new morning begins pristine, the sands shaken smooth again like a giant Etch-a-Sketch, a fresh start, a bank canvas on which to write anew.
The beach is full of nature, alive and often less so. A small colony of Northern Fulmars nestle in snug roosts for the latter part of the year, usually as pairs and confused threesomes. The males dive-bomb passers-by half-heartedly, more for show than grievance, returning again and again to chatter to their irate partner until danger is long gone. Out on the sea, but never close to shore, oblivious black cormorants bob along and above them the darts of diving terns pierce and plunge into passing shoals of silvery darlings deep below the surface. In winter months storms bring bedraggled guillemots and razorbills ashore, usually dead but sometimes found flapping wearily in the surf. In summer too, trouble far out at sea can wash up schools of multi-coloured jellyfish, netloads of small, sparkling fish and the odd young grey seal, common porpoise or even, once, a minke whale, brave failures in the rigours of ocean life. Year round, oystercatchers and peewits paddle at low tide or perch on rocks paying their small part in this abounding wee part of the world.
Once again weather is always being watched, where the sun is in relation to the horizon as the seasons move onward inexorably. After heavy rain two streams cascade off nearby croftland in dark waterfalls, making their own mark on the beach as this freshest of water makes its way to back to its saltier cousin for recycling, eventually, back to cloud. Rinse and repeat. And as the dog and I walk in driving rain and full waterproof gear, it’s easy to reflect on being here on past days with bare feet and shorts on, it feels like a lost lifetime ago but thankfully it will come around again. With the dark sky which looms not long past 4pm starting to give way, we look forward to being able to tread the same path in a few months time, with light long into evenings, bringing a mutual sense of return through the turning of time.
All in all, it’s the deep feeling of change that makes this simple routine meaningful. Life and death, ebb and flow, everything in motion and nothing staying the same, regardless of the timescales involved. I see my dog Mara growing up too, how she’s grown physically, how her behaviour has changed, I think about how many more years we’ll make this stretch of sand our daily routine, will we still be doing this when she’s too old to chase a ball, when will our last walk here together be? I think a lot about how life has changed for me also, the people who have come and gone, the problems that have been resolved and the issues that need to be faced still. Regardless of control or outcome, one things remains true, this is all just a fleeting moment of little importance, with no purpose other than to take from it the deepest of meaning one can, in the briefness we are allowed to glimpse it, through this great churn of energy and atom.
Of all the meteorological phenomena that assail this island, wind has to be the most defining. The long island string of the Westerns Isles often buttresses the Scottish mainland from Atlantic blasts, taking the full force of whatever gales are blowing Britain’s north west way.
If there’s a high pressure system over Scandinavia it will be cold, dry and easterly but mostly it’s a year-round mobile south-westerly to westerly airstream that’s driven on a succession of warmish and wet Atlantic frontal systems. But come this time of year these gusts swing more often to north-westerly or north bringing a wintery cold.
So basically it’s very windy a lot of the time, the absence of any long-established trees testimony to the toughness of taking root here with few serious hills to provide significant shelter. Here on the croft there are a few attempts at woody growth, stunted willows that look like diminutive versions of their more statuesque cousins in kinder climes. Bigger than bonsai but only just, clinging on like limpets in an otherwise barren landscape.
Unlike the old blackhouses which were built with their slipstreamed ends to the prevailing, hunkered in lees and shallows, the cubic house here is orientated onto a south west / north east axis, perched on the prow of an elevated spot. The remains of the original stone and thatch dwelling lie closer to the road in a more sheltered, wiser position but now no more than an overgrown outline in among the reeds and creeping grasses.
The upshot is that when the wind blows the house gets battered. Add rain and hail to the mix and it makes for a noisy existence, especially at night-time when the bedroom window gets a non-stop, snare-drum percussive solo, as if the local fire brigade is hosing down the double-glazing for a bit of midnight mirth. The chimney of the open fire roars unlit, pressure changes producing a sub-bass rumble and the doors and windows flexing as they’re tested by the ‘hoolie’ outside. But it’s a very solid house, build in the 1950’s with a spartan enough architecture on the exterior to withstand everything thrown at it decade after decade.
Working in this weather can be both exhilarating and draining. Trying to maintain balance in 80mph gusts with feed bags over the shoulder and mud underfoot can be fun. There’s a certain satisfaction in meeting the elements with the right clothing. Stepping out of the back door in full waterproofs, an unflappable hat and good gloves to do a job that can’t wait can feel a bit like a moon walk, except gravity feels twice what it should be and is pulling unusually horizontal.
Most of us here are wise to the wind’s predilections at this time of year when the gales are at their peak. Weather forecasts are scrutinised and discussed in every conversation and casual discourse. There is little sympathy for the superfluous, woe-betide the garden trampoline that hasn’t been packed away or piece of garden furniture that isn’t stashed somewhere safe. Wheelie bins tend to be tied up and down or weighted with heavy breezeblocks to prevent them turning into autonomous lifeforms and rattling off through the village like drunken daleks. Then hen house here is weighed down by hefty rocks to prevent a repeat of last year’s incident when the roof became a wooden sail and set the coop off on a seaward journey across the croft overnight.
With all that said, there are still slip-ups. I can see feed two buckets blown to the far end of the field and the big, heavy Adirondack chair I stashed to the side of the barn has been flipped over into the potato patch. The tarps that cover the rubble remnants from the barn renovation have been torn to shreds over the course of the season leaving things rather unsightly. But that can wait until things quieten down. The animals are hunkered down in the reed beds, although the hardier of the Heb sheep are still grazing undaunted. The chickens look unimpressed however and won’t budge from their spots for fear of looking like rum coves staggering down the Stornoway Narrows on a Saturday night. There are few things funnier than watching hens in high winds.
The storm forcer today feels different for some reason, somehow rougher, punchier, more pummelling than normal. The house feels assailed from a few sides rather than the constancy of one. While it’s cool watching the clouds zip along overhead, like ships at full steam, and a drive to the lighthouse or harbour nearby provides some pretty awe-inspiring seascapes as the crowds of crazier camera wielders attest, it can also be dangerous. As passengers on this morning’s flight off the island found out the hard way. Hopefully they’re all ok, and thankfully, as with everything in life, it will all blow over soon…
Yūgen is a Japanese word pertaining to a profound awareness of the universe which evokes feelings that are inexplicably deep and too mysterious for words.
The word itself is like an extension of awareness, the aesthetic perception which allows us to conceive of the vastness of the universe but carries it beyond into an inconceivably mysterious realm. The feeling of Awareness is induced by confrontation to the brevity of life, and yugen is initiated from the awareness that even ‘aware’ itself is an ephemeral thing.
Zeami Motokiyo’s description portrays a medium through which one may experience the unspeakably deep, stirring, feeling of yugen:
“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.”
…Over The Hill
It’s been the most beautiful of days.
From sunrise, a fishing boat blinking past Port of Ness harbour, the sky grew from peaches and pink to ever-changing blues. It was frosty and hundreds of spiderwebs strung between the spikes of the croft reeds shimmered with fat beads of dew.
The air was sharp and cold and the nearest house, down and across the village road, was already puffing out peat-smoke which filled the air with its reassuring reek. As the sun rose so did a mist, settling into the hollows of croft land for miles around and Venus, alone, pinpricked the sky.
The rest of the day was cloudless and still, just sunshine, which burned off the fog and frost, and I worked outside all day just to be in amongst it.
And tonight everything reversed, the sun set in familiar deep colours, those eerie clouds of moisture rose again, the moon appeared.
As I locked the hens in their coop for the night I spotted the cat perched on a fencepost, silhouetted against the darkening sky, just taking it in also.
I’ve had more happy days in recent memory than in years of Glasgow living and for no other reason than nature provides.
I feel privileged to be here.
I’d mentioned previously that there were six hens and a cockerel now on the croft.
Chickens are pretty much a basic for any crofter or smallholder and so after the wee starter flock of Hebrideans it was a no brainer to get some chooks on the go.
They reside in a hand-built wooden coop, nice and simple design, waterproof roof / lid, 4′ x 3′ x 3′ in size, roosting perch, single nesting box, small door, brass air vent…that’s it. The coop gets a good layer of wood shavings and a bit of straw, all very cosy. They are hemmed in by a 5m x 5m square run of dark green, heavy, nylon netting held up by spiked poles that allow me to move the pen around to let the ground recover from all their scratching and crapping. I’ll probably let them free-range at some point but this will keep them safe until they start laying and encourage them to keep to the coop and nest box when they do start dropping eggs.
I got the critters at 6 weeks of age which made them pretty scrawny, feathers not fully developed, quills poking through as if they’d been plucked alive in parts. Kinda gross really. This was their first venture into the open air and they still needed protection from predators (seagulls, cats, crows…) so I took a roll of small-holed plastic netting and added a a very small porch to the coop so they could hang out and find their feet, so to speak. They get fed growers pellets and whatever else they can peck up from the grass and ground, there’s water of course and I need to sort out some grit and poultry spice at some point I suppose.
I’ve been amazed at how quickly they’ve grown, every morning when they get let out at sunrise they seem to be bigger and better looking. They’re also much bolder, the protective inner pen is wide open now and they run around the main run doing their stuff. If they catch sight of the cat or a large bird flies overhead they bolt back under cover but they’ve been taking on thieving starlings who come near their feeder and generally look like they can handle themselves more. Yesterday the Ram tried to get at the feeder of food and ended up tangled in their netting but somehow doubt they felt able to take him on, but in future who knows?
There is one Rhode Island Red, two Frizzles and the rest are hybrids of RIR, Marans and Barnevelders and hopefully they’ll start to lay in December. Right now they’re just eating and growing and sorting out their pecking orders.
The weather here is cold, windy and wet today, they came out to eat and drink but haven’t ventured very far from their front door at all. I pegged a piece of off-cut tweed across the coop entrance as the prevailing was blowing straight inside so they have a bit of a windbreak at least.
All very exciting huh?
To be honest I thought they’d be pretty uninteresting, just good for eggs and perhaps one for the pot every so often but their behaviour is fascinating and I’ll happily kill a tea-break watching them chase flies or interact with their new environment.
They remind me of little dinosaurs…
There names? Dolina, Murdina, Kenina, Alexina, Katrina, Christina and Tiff Peaches.
We (the dog and I) got back to the croft as the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon. That perfect time of day when the northern latitudinal Lewis light, so beloved by photographers and artists, takes hold, casting high contrast shadows across croft land, fence posts turning to sundial arms, streaking the golden grasses of Ness.
The fridge was full, so after Mac was fed the menu options were multiple thanks to the butchers of Cross stores, the local emporium that supplies everything from a needle to an anchor as well as good meat. There were lamb shanks and liver, local eggs and marag dubh but I had a big bag of mussels to use so that was to be devoured.
Olive oil, garlic, white wine, pepper, parsley and slosh of cream and they were done in minutes. The rest of the wine washed it all down. And as a case of decent red had been delivered earlier another bottle was cracked. It would be rude not to.
I built a fire in grate. Rolled and knotted pages from the Stornoway Gazette, kindling chopped from old wood found in the byre by a Finnish axe, a pair of split logs and a little coal to maintain the burn. The lit paper flared and the rest of the little pyre takes care of itself.
Weasels the cat arrives, popping in through the slightly ajar kitchen window looking for food and an armchair in which to spend the evening. He and the dog have been really wary of each other but seem to have found an uneasy truce based on non-interference of each other’s dinner arrangements. He gets fed a packet of cat food I keep in for when he shows his ginger face and then settles himself into the chair opposite mine.
I stream music from Spotify on the iMac next door, loudly so it carries through to the living room and over the crackle of the open fire. Alan Lomax stuff, old Americana and folk tunes. I catch up with old friends on the iPad, by email, Facebook and and a Twitter, happy to be connected to two old friends in particular, one in New Zealand and another heading for India.
I can handle solitude. I was slightly obsessed about Thoreau’s Walden and this move has proved interesting in many similar respects, despite the stigma associated with loners and hermits it doesn’t phase me in the slightest to go a day or few without socialising. After 15 years of non-stop big city hedonism, part and parcel of working in the music industry and licensed trade, this peace and quiet feels like a relief. But I’d struggle without an Internet connection. Thankfully, the world doesn’t feel too far away despite the remoteness. I can live without the usual male banter about football, birds and techno but lack of female company is rapidly becoming a drag…
The bedroom is lit by candlelight, warmed further by 13.5 duck down togs and a Harris Tweed blanket. There’s a book pile beside the bed and I dip in and out of a few on charcuterie, guga, sea fishing and a little Steinbeck until drifting off.
As the day draws to a close I can see the flash of the lighthouse nearby through the uncurtained window, intermittently, and I reflect on just how simple a day it was. Nothing of particular note happened, there was no drama or big event, no endeavour to brag about, no great achievement to speak of. Nothing but a profound happiness, a series of humble occurrences that added up to a perfect day.
Perhaps the bar is set low on my satisfaction scale?
But there was no pressure to do or be anything, life unfolded at its own pace and in doing so revealed a great many truths, beautiful things whispered so discretely they are seldom heard, so untuned to them our ears usually are.
It was a good day, I went to sleep glad and grateful to be here, looking forward to whatever tomorrow might bring, aware this might not last but willing to take it while I can.
The long arc of beach at Eoropie is probably my favourite place in the world.
I’ve been here a thousand times, at all times of year, in all weather and seasons and it always feels a very vital place. Once upon a time Viking longboats were hauled ashore here and it takes very little to stretch the imagination far enough to picture the sight today.
Legend has it the Vikings liked the islands so much they tried to drag them home to Norway from here, the loops of their rope fastened through what we call The Eye, a natural arch in the rock to the far north of the beach, seen easily from the sands, a peephole of light through dark Gneiss to the Atlantic beyond.
I feel a profound connection to this place.
My great, great Grandfather drowned in these fierce waters aiming for this very shore in the Cunndal drownings along with other relations and men of the community. In more recent times I have buried hopes and dreams with an old flame in the machair land nearby, a wee time capsule lost and buried after a special holiday a long decade ago. The family croft is but a stones throw from here.
Tonight, as Mac and I took an evening walk, the place was as beautiful as I’ve ever seen it. So hard to put into words really. The sea was a tumult of incoming tide, breakers nine or ten deep, cresting prematurely far out to sea, rolling and roaring in wave after wave on to the sands. The beach faces directly west and the sun was beginning to set and as it did so it fought through clouds of such epic size and scale, cumulonimbus’ of fat, deep, greys all pregnant with rain, beginning to glow pink with sunbeams.
And the sun beamed through, great swathes of rays, ramroddings of light piercing their sky, stitching air to sea. It was just glorious.
I’m not a religious man but sometimes it’s hard not to feel in the presence of God. Or at least a higher power, a bigger picture, the great tapestry of LIFE.
As we walked towards the beach across rabbit hewn green grass the whole scene just revealed itself. A fresh wind blew every cobweb and the salt sea air cured the soul with every breath. The beach was empty save for a lone photographer, wrapped to the nines, a fancy camera on a tripod and a second DLSR stuck to his eye.
As we passed, we both grinned, nothing needed to be said, just an exchange of looks to say “fucking wow!!”
I threw stone after stone for the dog and just soaked it all in. The sun had cut through a huge rain cloud in the bizarrest manner, for all intents and purposes there was a mile high and wide Acid Smiley Face leering over us, as if a tripped out God was grinning at his own handiwork, eyes all ablaze at his creative madness.
As we turned for home the horizon filled with two shadowy clouds, shifting shape and moving erratically, far too quickly to be wind borne. As the disparate patterns in the air drew closer we saw geese, Grelyags most likely, fighting their own currents as the sea below them ripped. A duplicate pair of V-shaped formations converged right over our heads in a cacophonous crash of birds that emerged from the collision in an even bigger arrangement of black silhouettes, squawking loudly heading for who knows where.
The camera guy had spun 180 to capture the fly past and I just craned my neck and laughed in guilt free joy.
The dog, oblivious, padded towards home, a stone still clutched in his broken toothed maw, sandy, salty and as happy as I, despite missing the point completely.
What to do with the rest of the day was decided for me as I stood at the back door looking over the croft.
I’d taken on six six week old chickens and a similarly aged cockerel recently and had them safely ensconced in a new hen run. 5.5m X 5.5m of sturdy nylon netting, with holes 5cm squared to a height of 24 inches and then 10cm squares hioles to twice that height. The bottom of the netting was securely pegged into the ground by over a dozen tent pegs and weighted down by stones.
Their new wooden chicken coop was fenced in further by some green, plastic netting on all sides and above to keep the chicks safe until they grew old enough and brave enough to venture further without being lifted by airborn predators like crows, seagulls and our local birds of prey.
So I considered it to be a Fort Knox for fowl and lazily looked on from 30 yards away as they squeaked and pecked in their well protected haven, feeding and drinking from the three bright orange feeders I’d placed in the run…
There should only be TWO.
And there, just inches from the new birds, separated only by the inner wire of the green plastic mesh was Weasley, the feral ginger cat I sometimes give bed and board to. The wee blaggard had somehow got through the first perimeter and was now studiously assessing how to get through the second and help himself to some fresh chicken.
So I legged it down the croft waving my arms like an irate rooster, yelling at him to get the fleek out of there and watched in wonder as he leapt onto the roof of the coop and bounded clean over the netting, landing on a raised bank of turf on the other side. The raised bank was the weak spot, by standing on it he’d given himself another couple of feet of height. And the chicken coop roof was right on the other side at a similar height and so it took no great leap of feline imagination to make a great leap into the run.
My thinking had been that the bank of turf would provide some shelter from the wind and had moved the coop close to it so it lay in its lee. As it was it simply gave sly ol’ Weasley a launch pad for his hunting endeavours.
So out came the spade and scythe and I set about levelling the offending turf. Pretty soon it was flattened and I tensioned the netting even further to make sure it was at its full height all around. Then I grabbed some more tent pegs and secured the bottom even further. All the while Weasely sat watching passively, waiting for me to finish. And when I had done so he set about trying his luck a second time.
For the next hour, in full view of me, he paced the fence line looking for chinks in the armour. Time and time again he returned to the spot where the turf bank had been, head swaying from side to side to analyse heights and distance, slowly raising up on his haunches to see if the larger holes were within reach. He chewed at the nylon and tried to poke his head underneath in dozens of spots, all to no avail. At the point I thought he’d surely have to give up he paced away some half dozen yards, a supposedly defeated cat, but before I could raise a smug smile he turned and ran full tilt at the netting…
With a leap that had to be seen to be believed he pounced himself through a netting hole some 36″ off the ground. Clean through, front paws first, head and shoulders and up to his rib cage. With his claws he grabbed onto the roof of the coop, which was still within a few inches of the fencing, and hauled the rest of his skinny body through. It was like something out of The Matrix. A gravity defying jump of pinpoint accuracy, perfectly finding his mark with the form of an Olympic diver. Within a few seconds he was back in his spot, staring at the final barrier to his prey, trying to work out how to best me a final time.
Again I seized him and threw him out of the chicken camp and set about moving the wooden coop well away from the sides of the netting. Again he watched.
By now he was clear on the effacy of his method but knew he had nothing to grab hold of on the other side. Could he make the leap again and get himself through alone? He weighed his odds, found them worth the risk and went at it again.
This time the jump was the same, millimetre perfect, an arc of grace and aplomb, beautifully executed and scarily accurate in its aim. But with only half his torso through the hole he quickly found himself undone. With nothing to help pull his second section through the small hole he just hung there, trapped like a herring, wriggling and meowling in great discomfort, completely caught.
Mercifully, I walked over, laughing all the while, to release the sad feline from his ignomy, pulling him backwards by his back legs like a breech birth. Free again, he sheepishly padded away into the long grass, defeated. Triumphantly, I returned to the house, pleased that once again man had bested beast, the human genius outwitting the lowly animal, the greater mind had won.
The next morning I found a very cat-sized gap under the netting at the spot of Weasles last stand, the tent pegs lifted clean out of the ground. Touché Weasely. Thankfully the chickens had been locked in their coop for the night and until such time as the cat fathoms how to undo a door catch and open the dashed thing then they are safe, at night at least. However I suspect it won’t take him too long…