Letter from Edinburgh 23.10.09

Cameron has been making “Ler­wick” monopoly. The family were struggling with the Star Wars version of the board game, so overlaid with white paper, a new board was constructed.

The stations became the Leirna, Grima, Brenda and Norna. Jail became the Lerwick Police Station and the hard parts were choosing the correct Lerwick streets to match Park Lane down to Old Kent Road.

I thought about perusing Dowle Smith & Rutherford’s window to assess values but in the end it was more a question of thinking of streets on the way to Bell’s Brae.

It was an indoor afternoon after a morning spent “scarifying” what is meant to be a garden lawn, but is actually a fine showing of moss.

I had attempted to cut this last weekend but the mower made heavy weather of the surface to the extent that I was pushing rather than fol­lowing the machine.

So after many years of putting off the hard labour, we hired a machine from Lerwick and attacked the lawn. It looks different now. Grass seed and fertiliser will be needed in the spring.

In many ways we should have brought the tractor down from the farm and ploughed the whole area up. But there’s nothing like a new piece of kit to try.

The kids had done some online research into grassland management and have concluded that we will need to aerate the lawn next spring and preferably core it as well. This is all part of my master plan to get them interested in building a golf course, or more possibly, rebuilding the greens on the old course up behind the farm which was used for many years in the 1960s and 70s.

There are a few new challenges such as the fact that their grandfather and the late Lollie Sutherland built a garage on the first green.

But these are not insurmountable if the boys get the bit between their teeth.

We’ve been pushing the pram up to the farm to get the next generation to sleep. Shetland’s air is good for many things but number one is encouraging babies to sleep.

On one such visitation this week, with contented snoring from the pram, the farm boys were demon­strating the benefits of the new Ifor Williams stock trailer. It carries more expensive Suffolk cross lambs to the Marts I observed, but in return I was informed that all the additional income from lambs had gone in the new luxury mode of transport.

That’s often the point of agri­culture. You come ahead financially but re-invest in the unit to keep the place moving forwards. But the ben­efit is the sales to supplier businesses and the wider economic gains of agricultural activity.

Time to make that argument in Parliament again. It will certainly beat trying to explain what’s happen­ing in the Town Hall. That is truly beyond me!

Tavish Scott MSP


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