by Patrick Vickery
Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands and runs a small hardy perennial nursery (part-time). Patrick is also a part-time garden writer, and part-time special needs teacher.
Married to Liz, they have three children, two goats, two dogs, an assortment of small animals, and lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.
Patrick gardens using a raised bed system and all, of course, chemically free - a chemical free zone!
Visit his blog
His first book was published in January 2002 by Capall Bann Publishers, UK:-
"In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden" (ISBN: 186163 1480)
Also visit his website at www.patrickvickery.com
The Loopallu Music Festival in Ullapool, the ‘Little Fest in the West', heralds the beginning of Autumn for me: the nights are drawing in, there's a nip in the air and my woolly hat has re-engaged with my head during the receding daylight hours.
It was a good summer, 2009: Stuart Golabek re-emerged as a force to be reckoned with in Scottish football, we had an excellent barbeque at Sheila and the Master Mariner's abode by Invergordon, a Graduation Ceremony in Aberdeen and an atmospheric Inverness v Ross County derby match.
I normally sit in the Jock MacDonald stand at the football (no prizes for guessing my allegiances then?) a spitting distance (oops, can't say that, tantamount to an arrestable offence these days), a pie's throw (no, can't say that either), within earshot anyway of the visiting managers dug out where all manner of vocalisations can be overheard by these extravagant characters. Ross County's manager, Adams (didn't he have something to do with the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy?) behaved himself impeccably, which is more than can be said for some of the SPL managers last season, although Walter Smith, who says very little, and Gordon Strachan, who is totally unintelligible at the best of times, are to be commended for their wholesome behaviour.
During the summer we went to France (Robespierre, De Gaulle, The Man in the Iron Mask, Voltaire...), staying in Paris where we had a stunning view of the Sacre Coeur from our bedroom window. It's good to get away, isn't it, have a change of scenery and authentic croissants for breakfast? We had a snooze beneath the Eiffel Tower, a leisurely wander through the Tuilleries where the shrubs and trees accentuate the numerous sculptures rather than the other way around and a visit to Notre Dame to see where the mysterious Quasimodo (the legendary hunch back of Notre Dame) once resided in the upper echelons of the cathedral, followed by a latte in the Quasimodo café across the boulevard.
Not long after returning from our Parisian jaunt I happened across another legendary figure known locally as "The man in the cupboard". I was cutting grass in Tain, Ross-shire, when he passed by. We greeted each other with a casual wave of acknowledgement (nothing too overt really, the sort of thing you find at the Livestock Market from farmer folk comfortable in their own skins, a grunt or a twitch of something) and then he was gone. He'd visited our house some years ago to mend the telephone line and was instantly recognized by the children as being ‘The Man in the Cupboard', a legendary figure from a different dimension (an educational establishment in Ross-shire) who frequented a cupboard and was occasionally glimpsed within but rarely without. Further investigations revealed that he was a school technician and the cupboard not really a cupboard at all but a mini office from where the school's computer systems were co-ordinated and repaired. He left for other employment some time ago (one that obviously involved mending telephone lines) but continues to be accorded mythical status by a generation of school pupils who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this amiable character from another world.
With summer fading and autumn under way I look forward with glee to steaming mugs of coffee and home-made cakes in other folk's gardens, meeting people that I haven't yet met, the next derby match and possibly writing a rural gateway column in text speak. It's good to look back of course, but even better to look forward.
May ur Autmn b a gd 1.