Short Nights, and Long Days to sit on Perfectly-placed Stones
So you are wandering across the coastal machair, the rolling grassland of wildflowers, clover and knee-high plants that abounds on the Hebridean coastline. Bees are buzzing as they pollinate flowers, and a myriad of insects bounce about. Above, a lapwing circles uttering its high-pitched craw, swooping elegantly and just a bit too close, as it tries to draw you away from its hidden nest that you are blithely wondering towards. On the pond-like ocean, a seal pops up its head and imperiously gazes towards you, before opting to dive to hunt for more fish. The sky is a fierce blue, with a few speckled clouds in the shimmering haze. And the sunlight is harsh: strong enough to burn unprotected skin. Yes, it is 10 pm on Harris.
There is something very curiously disjunctive about experiencing the magic of the summer solstice in the far north. The longest summer days mean that tonight the last light will be at 23.52, and first light will be at 03:32. And the sun will often blaze right up to a blistering finale sunset.
Up at the ancient stone cross in Callanish, crowds of druids, pagans, and various wonderfully odd people have gathered to mark the event around those mysterious runes. But here on Harris, you can just soak up the late-day sun, enjoying your ability to cast very long shadows. Before retiring to bed wearing an obligatory eye-patch.
And after sunrise, and once the wonderful blue-sky day is in full swing, one of the great joys of the Estate is wandering along the headland, soaking in the coastline. We are fortunate in that nature has provided perfectly-located stones to sit on and do some pondering. Towards that we give here a selection of these iconic sitting rocks,in the order of:
Apples to Zucchini Protected by Scary Scarecrows
Alphabet soup could be on the menu at Borve: all the following foliage currently being grown in our bountiful gardens by our vegetable maestro, resident horticulturalist Fiona Tor….
Apples, Baby Salad Leaves, Basil, Beetroot, Blackcurrants, Broad Beans, Brocolli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Celeriac, Chard, Chinese Cabbage, Chives, Coriander, Cucumber, Curly Cabbage, Deer’s Tongue Lettuce, Fennel, Flat Leaf Parsley, French Beans, Frilly Red Mustard Leaves, Kohirabi, Lamb’s Lettuce, Leeks, Mai Crop Potatoes, Mangetout, Mint, Mizuna, New Potatoes, Onions, Oregamo, Pak Choi, Parsley, Parsnip, Peas, Pea Sprouts, Purple Cauliflower, Purple Sprouting Kale, Radish, Raspberries, Red Curly Lettuce, Rocket, Rosemary, Sage, Shallots, Spinach, Spinach Beer, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Swede, Sweetheart Cabbage, Thyme, Tomatoes, Turnip, White Beetroot, Winter Cabbage, Zucchini.
So a pretty good offering for our 2014 season, and the splendid haul is available, as it ripens, to guests and participants in our community vegetable box scheme.
When Fiona is not tending her crop, she is ever on the lookout for vegetarian predators. She recently received a group of students from the Tarbeart Secondary School as part of their activity week before they peel off for summer. The task at hand was to create scarecrows, and the 22 students proved very creative, in swift order making several fearful effigies. For internal purposes only these have variously been given descriptive monikers and graded by scary-factor, ranging from mildly menacing to totally terrifying. Results of this ranking are listed:
- Deranged Coastguarder
- Stornoway Psycho
- Leverburgh Lout
- Mean Vegan
- Football Hooligan (English of course)
- New Estate Manager
- Evil Banker
- …and the worst of the worst.. .. .Lewis ‘the nibbler’ Suarez
We anticipate corvids will now steer a wide berth from our crops, and for this, we are grateful to the creative students of Sir Walter E Scott school.
Be a Laird at the Lodge
Within the Lodge itself, an army of workmen (and one workwoman) are beavering away implementing long overdue renovations. The crew are knocking down some walls, and erecting others. Tired stuff is being ripped out. New stuff is being installed. Paint is being slapped on in a variety of hues. Something called a ‘functioning heating system’ is being plumbed in, to make those winter months a bit more toasty. Stonking hot water capability will be installed to ensure everyone in the Lodge can simultaneously get a good evening soak. No longer will the halls of the Lodge echo with oft-heard cry: ‘which swine used up all the hot water?!!’.
The aim of all this thumping, crashing, dust-creating activity, fueled by a steady diet of Irn Bru, is to restore the Lodge to something of its former glory, when it was a key sporting destination during the Victorian era. The building has been through many permutations since it was built in 1868, and in certain ways its style strayed from the original incarnation. So we are aiming to be very sympathetic to an older Lodge style. The Banquet Hall will once again be a fitting location for grand repasts, and Lord Leverhulme’s old bedroom will be one of the most wonderful locations in the world in which to merrily snooze in a 4-poster bed.
Once this renovation phase has been completed, we will be offering the Lodge to parties interested in staying at the central property on our wonderful estate on a weekly basis. Families or groups will of course be able to partake in fishing, stalking and all the other estate activities on offer. And in the evening, guests will be able to chill within one of the grandest coastal sporting Lodges in Scotland. We will keep you all posted on the offering as the works complete and the plan takes shape.