Sunday, 29 January 2017

Lights, camera, action

At this time of year, when you live in a part of the world with no street lights or any hint of illumination apart from that which you create yourself, it becomes all about how good your head torch is. No one wants to be shoving a classic old torch in their gob whilst trying to grab some ailing kale leaves for dinner or scrabbling around in the muck trying to catch a chicken. A fine head torch is what you need……and I had no idea just how many different types were available until we moved here. You have big ones, small ones, some as big as your head….  You try going out for a run with one of those bad boys on your bonce; it’s like wearing one of those deep sea diving helmets and you end up with neck muscles like a prop forward. But when you find the right one, the world (literally) lights up in front of you. I barely even notice that it is dark now when I’m out on the hills before daybreak. And it’s amazing what you can surprise at that time of the day. I’ve lost count of the number of snipe and pheasants and rabbits I’ve nearly trodden on. And I’ve just about stopped freaking out when I see the barn owls sweeping towards me at point blank range. Trust me, LED lights, a large white feathered face and zero sound are an eerie combination.

Take yer pick

But it seems that not everyone is in possession of one of these indispensable pieces of equipment out here in the sticks. I arrived back panting and spluttering and covered in mud from one of our early morning forays the other day to find a pick-up parked up on the drive, headlights blaring, engine running. Very odd. Lapsed momentarily back into my City mindset and thought, “just ignore him, just carry on, just go away and pretend you didn’t see anything” but then I realised this vehicle was on OUR land and was clearly not right so I plucked up the courage to go check it out (the dog most unhelpfully pissed off back to the house at this point). So there I was, sidling up to a complete stranger, trying to sound cool and relaxed when inside I was screaming “this is it, he’s going to bloody kill me”. At which point he emerged from the darkness behind the vehicle, squinting menacingly into the beam of my head torch, brandishing an enormous crow bar. “Well that’s it then”, I thought, “Game Over”. And not even the Skippy the sodding dog to witness it or spread the word. But instead of being bludgeoned to death on my own drive, it turns out the chap had a flat tyre and was a long way from home and just needed somewhere to change it. In the pitch black. Flooded with relief that I was in fact still alive, the milk of human kindness suddenly started to pour forth from me and I offered him (my very favourite) head torch and even suggested I bring him a cup of tea (even my husband doesn’t get this treatment when he’s working outside!). But he politely declined and so I retreated to the house asking him to leave the torch on the gatepost as he left. Which, to my great surprise, he actually did. Perhaps there are some good people still left in the world.

Although it seems my husband struggles to believe it. His latest gadget du jour is an infrared wildlife camera which you can cunningly disguise in the bushes and capture anything that moves – mice, rabbits, children, unsuspecting villains up to no good. Unfortunately it has also rumbled our farm cat, Cooper, who has now been caught on camera wilfully letting the mice and rats gorge themselves on goodies in the workshop, barely flickering a whisker as they cavort about the place as if they own it. So the Go Cat is now being very much rationed in an attempt to persuade our kitty to damn well get out there and earn his bloody keep.

Big Brother is watching you...
And finally, it’s not often you feel delighted when your husband comes home looking like the cat that got the cream (or the cat that got to watch the dance of the sugarplum rats without having to lift a single paw) to tell you that he has Finally Got Some Action.  Yes, after months of abstinence he has finally managed to secure some deer stalking not too far from the house. For a man whose entire existence is seemingly geared all around deer (perpetually dressed in camouflage, house adorned with various deery body parts, a veritable arsenal of weapons in the downstairs loo…) I cannot underestimate what a significant breakthrough this is. And although he has yet to shoot anything on his new ‘patch’, the wildlife camera has afforded us tantalising glances into the large herds of fallow and roe deer whose days I fear are now numbered. His trigger finger is twitching already…


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