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Bees and Loopallu
by Patrick Vickery
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

November 21, 2010

I was pruning shrubs in Tain when I encountered a swarm of bees. I was stung three times. My ‘fight or flight' response became one of rapid flight, discarding my jacket and T-shirt as I went. I would have had no hesitation in discarding all of my clothing had there been any hint of bees up the trouser leg. So if you spotted this incident and wondered what was going on, now you know - not a manic gardener on the loose but a well stung one in full flight.

The last time I was stung was forty years ago. I was barefoot and stepped on a bumble bee. Since then I have always given them a wide berth with none of this stand still, keep calm and don't panic sort of nonsense. Run like the wind, that's what I say.

A couple of days later - different location, different bees - I was stung again. This time on the elbow. I was a marked man. My arm swelled to such proportions that I popped into the Health Centre for some advice.

"Nothing to worry about, take antihistamines," said the pleasant young doctor, strapping a section of rubber lilo onto my good arm and inflating it. "But given your age," he said, " I'll check out your blood pressure as well".

Good Lord, I thought, not only do I have a fat arm, but I'm also perceived as being an aged patient as well - an observation not helped by the fact that the pleasant doctor didn't look old enough to be a doctor in the first place. He was but a youth.

Other youths recently encountered were a couple of police officers as we returned from the Loopallu Music festival in Ullapool who stopped us for not displaying a legitimate number plate on the caravan. It was handwritten, you see, sellotaped to the rear window. I once referred to the police as ‘rozzers' in an article and wondered whether the youthful ‘bobbies' might hold this against me. But no, there was none of that. Pleasant young chaps, they were, although we still got a ticket and a mild ticking off for not upholding the ‘laaaaw'.

There were no bees at the Loopallu Music Festival, thank goodness - too wet and windy for that - but plenty to enthuse about. Broomfield Caravan park (where the festival takes place) is a magnificent spot on the shores of Loch Broom, and the town of Ullapool itself is a rare West Coast gem with quirky shops, pubs and friendly locals. We chatted to the lady in the Ullapool Emporium (fascinating wee shop); the bar man at the Ceilidh Place (a youthful character with Dublin connections who persuaded me to have my first guinness for over 30 years); and enjoyed hot chocolate with lashings of cream and marshmallows in the Gallery café above the Outdoor Shop - and all this without missing any of the musical entertainment.

The musical entertainment on offer over the weekend was superb: Tain's own Laura Wilkie on the fiddle, Paolo Nutini, Mt Desolation, Magic Numbers . . . the list goes on and on. And, of course, that hairy man in the Celidh Place on Sunday afternoon playing acoustic guitar who was wholly unconcerned as to whether anyone was listening to him or not. I was certainly listening, so well done to you, hairy man!

We remained at the campsite after the festival was over for an extra day and observed the peace and tranquility return to the shores of Loch Broom through the caravan window. We read the newspapers, snoozed, chatted to the litter pickers and admired the waves created on the shore by the passing Stornoway ferry. It's a good place for a music festival, you know - and also a good place for a snooze.

Copyright Patrick Vickery 2010

Patricks Note: (wish him well on this!)

The Garden Media Guild Awards 2010 are announced on December 1st. The Rural Rambling Column has been entered. Category: Gardening Column (Newspaper). I suspect the Column is unlikely to feature in the Awards Ceremony but stranger things have happened. I am enjoying the anticipation - will it, won't it? Is it a gardening column? Or just a column written by a gardener with gardening bits in it? I look forward to December 1st.


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