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Rural Rambling from Scotland
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

December 9, 2011

The dog scorched her tail recently whilst leaping about in front of the wood burning stove. She put her tail on it. Unfortunately it was the only part of her body that wasn’t leaping.

The acrid smell of singed hair alerted us to the situation. At the time I was haphazardly snoozing on the sofa with one ear tuned to the television (‘Handmade Britain’, presented by Kirstie Allsop) when it became apparent that the dog’s rear end was about to ignite. A brief period of mayhem and pandemonium ensued until the dog was removed to a place of safety and all was well. The dog in question (golden retriever, shaggy tail now not so shaggy) was none the worse for wear, wholly unfazed by the commotion and most curious about the unusual smell emanating from her rear end. I guess that’s dogs for you.

I don’t generally make a habit of watching ‘Handmade Britain’ with Kirstie Allsop because men in big gardening boots don’t normally watch that sort of thing (excellent television program though it is), but following the flammable dog incident my senses were now fully alert to everything going on around me. I noted that Kirstie was enthusiastic about the handicraft activities of the Bramley Women’s Institute whose themed entry into the New Forest and Hampshire Show had something to do with the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I wasn’t really watching of course, so I can tell you no more than that.

After the program finished the usual round of television adverts followed. One in particular caught my eye – an advert about wrinkle cream. Now men in big gardening boots don’t normally concern themselves with wrinkles because wrinkles and raggedy hands tend to be the norm if you garden during the winter months (although having said that, I’m dousing them daily at the moment with olive oil and sugar) only this advert was different.

Buy their own particular brand of wrinkle cream, it stated, and thereby reduce the appearance of your wrinkles. That was the gist of it. The cream contains organic burdock and molecule ‘twenty four twelve’. Good Lord, I thought, how interesting, for who would have guessed that molecule ‘twenty four twelve’ could have such an effect on wrinkles. The molecule in question is also known as jasmonic acid. This is a plant derivative vital for good potato growth and without which a potato will not flourish. So you too, I conjectured, could have a face as smooth as a new potato. I’m sure it works. After all, when did you last eat a wrinkly potato?

What the advert didn’t say, however, is that a smile alone takes ten years off your age, costs nothing, and although it may do little for the wrinkle situation (it may even accentuate them) the overall impression is most agreeable.

Furthermore, engaging in pleasant conversation with a stranger knocks off another five. It’s all about social interaction. When it comes to this ‘engaging in pleasant conversation with a stranger’ bit, I would recommend interaction with a ‘randomer’. This is someone “of no real significance or importance in your life but is just there as part of the human population” (ref: Urban Dictionary): in the supermarket, train station or Post Office, that sort of thing. It never ceases to amaze me how pleasant and ‘smiley’ complete strangers can be. Smile and the whole world smiles with you. I would wholeheartedly recommend ‘randoming’. It’s one of those activities that makes everyone feel good.

Now turning to Christmas. It’s nearly upon us. My present list this year is relatively uncomplicated - good weather (!), a good book (Roddy Smith from Tain has a new publication out called MacLeod’s Law) and garden boots banished to the cupboard for a couple of weeks. Have a good Christmas yourself – plenty of smiles, wrinkles and laughter.

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