Monday, my day of rest,
And to that end, I did my best,
By cleaning the kitchen and bathroom floor,
Hovering carpets, and wiping fingerprints from every door,
The mirk had lifted and the cloud had begun to break up, time to go for a burl. I decided on my tricycle, it had been neglected of late. I shoehorned it along the corridor from the old kitchen and set about blowing up the tyres – skinny high-pressure tyres are always needing attention. My intention was to go over to Strathkinness, then over Knock Hill and drop down to the bridge, then into Dairsie and back via the main road. A tricycle takes something like 10% more effort than a two-wheeled bicycle, but again that would depend on the two-wheeled bicycle. As I neared the top of Knock Hill the inside crank started to work loose once more. This happened last time I had the tricycle out, ho-hum. Thankfully it was four-mile downhill, all the way into St Andrews from here.
I removed the offending crank – well it almost fell off. I could not see any real damage to the shaft, crank or set screw, still, something was amiss. I went along to the ironmongers and purchased a small bottle of Locktite (stops nuts or set screws from working loose), did you see the price of this stuff? I cleaned up the shaft with a file and cleaned the inside of the crank with Swarfega and then hot soapy water, to make sure there was no oil of muck on either one. I put Locktite on both the crank and the thread of the set screw and fitted it all back in place. I will give it a tryout tomorrow when the Locktite has done its work. We travel hopefully, and hopefully do not have the job of trying to remove it again.
I was reading the blog by Margaret Lear, a girl who lives in Perthshire, she is into gardening big time. Today’s blog was about wild Asparagus. Now I have cycled past huge Asparagus fields in France, and been told how much effort goes into its cultivation and its picking, the workers having to go out each morning and pick the stems, with a special tool that they thrust deep down to the root of the plant, but only when they are just right for picking, so labour intensive. However, surprisingly I had not given wide Asparagus a second thought, but I suppose every vegetable, grain of corn, barley and wheat we have today must once have grown wild in hedgerow and woods.
I pass a small woods down at Blebo House, which would have once been part of a large estate, wild Garlic has carpeted the entire floor of the wood. I’m sure, sometime in the past, this would have been cultivated into the Garlic we see in shops today.
When out the other day, I watched rooks at play above the trees.
Aerobatic ballet, how effortlessly they play,
Climbing, swooping, diving, clowning, in their own particular way,
I’m thankful of this time allocated now to me,
As nature unfolding, so wild, so free,
How I would love to join them, in their foibles,
Then possibly they, like we, poor mortals,
Have their own sorrows to seek.
I heard the Environment Minister, being interviewed on Sky News, he was telling us that as part of their programme to get to zero carbon emissions, the government was going to plant X hectors of trees across the four nations of the UK.
However they will not be doing so as we did after the war, by setting up the Forestry Commission, no we will give grants to farmers, as an insensitive.
The Minister also tells us that in England they will plant hardwood, in Scotland, conifer trees, which he tells us is a commercial product. I remember the same ideas bandied about when they built a pulp mill at Fort William, acres of trees were planted to supply the mill, all good, you might well think. There was a wee problem with their plan, paper could be bought much cheaper from the paper mills in Sweden, and the days of everyone buying a newspaper were on the decline. During that time Some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland became a sea of conifer trees,
“The Wiggins Teape mill at Corpach, near Fort William in Lochaber, which was later run by Arjo Wiggins, was one of the biggest employers in the area. The £20million (£10 million of taxpayers money) the plant, provided jobs for 700 workers when it opened in the spring of 1966. It also prompted a major house-building operation as new workers and their families poured into the area. However, advances in technology sounded the death knell for the mill as demand for one of its main products – carbonless paper – declined in the face of new chip-and-pin methods.”
Scotland does not suffer the harsh weather of Finland or any of the Scandinavian countries for that matter, and it is these precise conditions that allow slow growth in conifer trees, so tighter rings, leading to stronger wood. Commercial woodland in Scotland Minister, Aye right.
So we are going to be repeating the mistakes of our past, repeat the days of Economic Forestry, back in 1980. The government gave grants to farmers to plant trees. Economic Forestry persuaded investors, like top snooker player, to use the system as a tax avoidance scheme, offered to do the work for them, for a small fee of course. Acers of hillside, moorland and bog were planted with trees, destroying much of Scotland’s precious habitat. Then nothing. No proper management of the trees, no brashing, no first and second thinning, the money was only to plant trees not to look after them.
Still, ever the optimist, with the hillsides covered in conifer trees no English tourists will travel north to drive through endless forests of conifer trees, they will stay at home and admire the lush green hardwood native trees. No more camper vans clogging up our lay-bys. No more campers leaving all their rubbish behind them when they go. No more litter-strewn grass verges and hedgerows, All good, thanks Minister.