Holidays and harvests
Down here in Edinburgh they're called the 'October break', 'October half-term', or just plain 'October holidays'. In the North East however they're still called by the name I knew as a child - the 'tattie holidays'. In those days the potato harvest was gathered by hand, with women and children following the tractor and picking up the potatoes, or 'tatties'. I was always annoyed that my mother vetoed my earning pocket money in the same way as some of my classmates. This week, in the window of a travel agent's in Elgin, I was pleased to see that mass market package holidays and Scottish farming tradition were brought together.
The Scottish potato harvest is forecast to be the worst for several years, with yields down 50% in some areas. Our wet, cold, dark summer means that the grain harvest is also late. Below, cut fields in Aberdeenshire. No vast, flat acres here - it must be alarming negotiating a combine harvester over the contours of this hill.
The slightly reddish tinge of the soil in the shot below situates these fields in Angus, between Aberdeen and Dundee.
Some fields are still waiting to be cut, as in this field between Huntly and Inverurie. I can't quite make out what it is - either barley or oats I think. It looks more like barley. While I wasn't allowed to 'howk tatties' (gather potatoes), I did accompany my grain merchant father to many farms at harvest time and became familiar with the various crops.
And here's another of Scotland's harvests - the wind. This wind farm is to the west of Aberdeen, beside a stretch of road notorious for being blocked by snowdrifts in winter. The taller white poles with the red tops by the side of the road are snow poles. These help drivers to have a vague idea of where the road is when the surface is obliterated by snow. Hard to imagine that we'll soon be at that time of year again.