Tuesday 18th. February, 2014 – In the Hen House 

Today both Digger’s hens were walking around the allotment

Today it was fair when I awoke – the rains came later. Mix and I walked, I breakfasted, Tom arrived and we recruited Rachel, all going off to the Hen House to start work on the library there. In particular our task was to start to plasterboard the room – not as easy as we had imagined because none of the beams are level and the angles are all a little odd (well, it is an old building).

Mix went off to the farm house because it was too frustrating for him to be at the bottom of a ladder while we were on the first floor of a building to which he had no access. We collected the brooms we could find so that we could hold the plaster board in place while it was screwed on to the beams to make a ceiling – but brooms were not terribly satisfactory so we made our own plasterboard holding devices – bits of wood with a cross piece: the length was just a bit longer than the height of the room so that they could be used to wedge the ceiling in place until we screwed it on. (Now these are the kinds of thing I should be photographing but when we were fitting the ceiling it was all hands to the pumps and no time for photos.)

Rachel looks on while Tom works out where the first cuts in our plasterboard will be made

We had three sheets of plasterboard up by lunchtime and while the rest ate I went off to Pearsons to buy rolls of insulation to put above the ceilings. Then we got back to work and fitted another sheet – it was hard because nothing fitted quite as we had hoped but we spent a great deal of time on it and then gave up for the afternoon. We’ll start again tomorrow. Instead we settled down and watched some of the Olympics on the television while we drank coffee and ate snowballs and Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers – how good is it to be retired. (We watched some of the bobsleigh competition and some speed skating – as well as celebrating the British men’s victory in the curling.) We’ll complete our ceiling tomorrow and maybe get on to the walls as well (Rachel has been fitting insulation into the wall voids to enable us to get on quite quickly as our plaster-boarding skills develop.)

Tom has time to take a telephone call – the ceiling is taking shape

I spent a while in the summer house. I had intended to tidy but got waylaid into searching for staircase manufacturers. I may have found what we are looking for – but I will take advice from my journeyman tomorrow!

Rachel fits the wall insulation into place – all her jigsaw skills have finally found a practical use

We all ate together in the farmhouse in the evening – Mum had been out to have her hair done in the morning and had then been to lunch at our nearest neighbour’s home (Fiona, who lives in the Hermitage) where she also met Kay from Sinclair’s Hill (a tiny hamlet, a short walk away). Mum had had a great time and talked of nothing else for the rest of the day. Olive was off getting her hair done this afternoon while Rachel spent the late afternoon submerged in her bath. To complete the picture, Digger worked on building his dome and Rowan guarded the Granary.

In the evening we settled down in front of the stove and the television to watch the Referendum Debate from Kelso. Somehow the debate never really came alive for me. It was people sharing their entrenched positions even if the BBC had ensured that the entrenched positions were from both sides of the debate. What I mean is that people were making points instead of exploring the possible future inside or outside of the United Kingdom. I liked the lady who said that voting for independence was a leap of faith which if it came off would lead to a new kind of society, the inference being that it would be better and fairer. Of course the corollary of this is that the opposite could also be true. I would have liked to have heard more discussion around this premise: how could Scotland create a fairer society? And is there a will to do that? How could Scotland create more jobs by being independent? And why is that not happening under devolution? What is the alternative to independence ? because the status quo does not look to be very appealing? Maybe a debate is bound to be as this one was – what might be more enlightening might be a series of conversations – not arguments as normal interviews are, but conversations which enabled a number of people who had something to say to explain their own positions – we, the public, are capable of assessing what we are told for ourselves without the endless interruptions of a Newsnight-type presenter but helped along by an astute facilitator.

Still, it has been another good day.


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