I got back from London on Sunday evening, after a pretty typical journey – set off to Euston from South Ken on my usual tube but as I was about to change at Victoria onto the Victoria line there was an announcement that the Victoria line was closed for repairs/engineering work so I continued to Embankment and got the Northern line, which lands you at a station new to me called Euston (Charing Cross branch) - a long walk to the mainline station. On the concourse there was an announcement that because of the theft of copper wire, a whole area of signals had been knocked out and a train to Manchester Airport had been cancelled. There was a mile-long queue for (my) Glasgow train as a result, because all the Manchester Airport passengers transferred onto that one. I got a seat, and we proceeded to Milton Keynes where we came to a complete stop for nearly an hour because of the self-same signalling problems. Luckily, I avoided a three hour wait at Carlisle having missed my scheduled connection to Lockerbie because son in law Jim gallantly offered to come and pick me up.
Yesterday, I was to go to the dentist in Lanark but instead Jim and I spent the morning poring over spreadsheets to see where our business is going. We (Jim, Elly and I) have formed a family partnership, Forestry Purposes LLP www.forestrypurposes.com. Work should soon be starting to convert 21 Well Road (the 18th cent cottage previously used as a builders yard next to Elly & Jim’s house) into two offices upstairs and a ‘workshop’ and shower room/WC downstairs. We plan to let one office and the workshop, and will make a garden - fruit & veg ,hens etc plus a ‘sit-ooterie’ for me because I have no garden at my house in School Lane.
Jim had a setback with the spruce beer which was continuing to ferment in the bottles, then, having cracked that, the drink was losing fizz because he discovered that the bottles he had bought were only airtight if filled with hot liquid (don’t ask). Anyway, we should have some of - hopefully fizzy 0.5%, therefore 'soft', spruce beer for two occasions in Moffat this week: a Moffat Book Events Friends Evening tonight and the AGM of the Southern Upland Partnership tomorrow. Elly is o/c sales, and she and a friend Elaine will be swinging into action in Sept to do tastings with a view to get orders within an area roughly bounded by Glasgow & Edinburgh to the north, Carlisle to the south to begin with.
Plans for our Oct 15/16 2011 Moffat Book Event are shaping up nicely: a 'Transformers' workshop for children first thing, looking at shape-changers from Merlin to the present-day; Nikolai Tolstoy on Merlin and Moffat; Alistair Moffat on the ever-evolving story of our national DNA then after a break for lunch, Ruth Tittensor will lead a panel discussion on how to compile an oral history, drawing on her highly praised 2009 history of Whitelees From Peat Bog to Conifer Forest: An Oral History of Whitelee, its Community and Landscape. We hope to finish off a full day’s programme with a session by Moffat style consultant Moira Cox, on the presentation of self via colour and style before what is rapidly becoming our signature festive tea designed by Julie the baking genius at Moffat House hotel to match our Scottish traditional theme with some appropriate 21st century twists.
Sadly, all bar one of this year’s hens in the forest have been knocked off one by one in the past couple of weeks by predators unknown – leaving just little heaps of feathers. The sole survivor has stopped laying and our handyman Russell has installed two decorative silver pheasants to keep her company.
Looking to the weeks ahead:we (Elly, Jim, boys & me) have booked The Granary, a farmhouse just behind North Berwick, July 9-30. But I have a family wedding in NYC which means I will be away July 14-18 and have to be back in Moffat for a couple of meetings July 26-28. For some insane reason I am then booked to sail from Oban to Falmouth on a boat called the Bessie May July 31-Aug 6. Abi is doing her show Abi Roberts Takes You Up The Aisle www.abiroberts.com in Edinburgh in Aug – I thought I might catch it on Aug 10 with Elly for her birthday with the sister of a friend from university days who will be in Edinburgh that week staying with her daughter.
Next Mon July 4 I have organised a gathering up at Crookedstane to meet Michael Pawlyn, the architect of the Eden Project, who is coming up to suss out possibilities for a ‘destination’ visitor attraction to bring visitors to the area.