There may not be a Braemar Gathering tomorrow, but Her Maj seems to have had a superb gatherin’ of her ain folk over the past week.
Balmoral has been home to a crop of multi-generational royals. First came Eddie, Sophie and kids, then the no-nonsense Princess Anne, Sir Tim, her loon and his daughters. To complete the family get-together – with each “bubble” staying in their ain Deeside hoosies – came Wills, never-pits-a-fit-wrang Kate, gorgeous George, lovely Lottie and littlest Louis.
Oh, to have been a midge on the rhoddies during one of their picnics, when the chat inevitably got round to the California Dreamers; the self-exiling Sussexes. Word has it peer Harry would have loved to have joined his grunnie and bro in one of his favourite places.
It’s only a pucklie weeks since I hoped Her Maj would have a relaxing, peaceful break up-by after months of gruesome family headlines. Then fit happens?
Controversy once again when animal-lovers find out Wills took wee Doddie on his first grouse-shoot. (Can just imagine the horror were I to suggest that to my wildlife-lovin’ wee Jamie.)
However, I was on red alert because they were on the hills near Corgarff, which – by my mapping – is exactly where I was a grouse-beater around 50 years ago. The stunning Glenavon estate was then owned by the tobacco-rich Wills family.
Now I like birdies and the thought of helping others to shoot them made me cowk. However – hypocrite that I am – then I found out the sky-high weekly rate (inc accommodation and food) not to mention the fact we six girls would be sharing Inchrory Lodge with six lads from Aberdeen Uni.
Readers, I couldn’t resist temptation. Meanwhile, my mum had a hairy canary, convinced I’d be shot by some cock-eyed toff. Boy what a month that was.
My heart was broken by a hunky medic who fell instead for one o’ the other quines. But I was quite prood o’ masellie for turning out to be possibly the worst grouse-beater known to hunting-man.
Thanks to my smoking, I often struggled to keep abreast of the adjacent beaters, allowing lucky little cluckers to fly to freedom through my gap in the line.
And I “beat” my flagged stick through the heather with immense delicacy – like a duchess with a frilly umbrella – just to save a few more from posho dinner plates.In those sexist days, one of us quines had to stay off the moors every day to clean the lodge and prepare the evening meal for 12. Me who could barely boil an egg.
When it came to my shottie, I near laid one when the heid keeper arrived with our “supper” – two long, grey furry things a’danglin’ from his hand. Giant rabbits? Nope. Huge hares!
Sez he: “I’ll skin ’em. Are you OK howkin’ oot the innards?” He must have spotted the fetching green my face turned.
He ended up preparing them for the two vast pots. And I made a much better jobbie o’ cookin’ them than I did o’ my grouse-beating.
It’s all gone a bit wrong recently for Nicola
Oh dear, Ms Sturgeon, where did it all go wrong?
For most of the months of the pandemic, the first minister has been making a reasonable fist of things, ignoring Boris’s disastrous dithering and wrong-headed decisions and steering her own, apparently level-headed course through the emergency.
But in recent weeks, it all seems to have gone a bit pear-shaped.
There’s no doubt she opened our bars too soon (Aberdeen has paid the high price), I suspect because England had done it and she didn’t want a backlash from pub-loving Scots – especially younger ones – nae with Holyrood elections in May!
This week, when Covid rates rose in the Glasgow area, she imposed a fresh lockdown on gatherings at home but bars could stay open, ie: “Let’s take the whole family to the pub tae get infected!” Makes no sense.
Oh yes it does. Because, in almost the same breath, an intense Nippy Nicky declared her intention to set out a draft bill for an IndyRef2, to be ready for the May elections.
Yet again, she’s hell-bent on ensuring she doesn’t ruffle the feathers of the (hopefully Indy-pro) punters. Surely, at this desperate time, we deserve a first minister whose top priority is the health of the country, not political plotting.
Spaces for all the people
I’m not yet altogether clear what the plans for cycling lanes along the beach esplanade will mean.
Already there’s a petition on the go, reckoning the scheme will reduce the amount of parking in what must be Aberdeen’s most popular area for everyone from pensioners to toddlers.
I’ve nothing against cyclists, but I just wonder how many riders are passing through on their praise-worthy journeys hither and thither, compared to the number of families who can only get in cars (pensioners and toddlers) there to spend many happy hours.
Enough mistakes have been made at Aberdeen beach. Reducing parking spaces for visitors would clearly be a scandalous error of judgement by our councillors.