Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Friday, July 23, 2010

To end the confusion, this is a tricephalos....

And this is Godzilla fighting three-headed Gidorah, a tricephalon


Oh dear – I have made a silly typo, no doubt influenced by my addiction to the Godzilla films, It was indeed a tricephalos which was dug up in my garden, not a tricephalon, which I seem to remember was an alternative name for three-headed Gidorah. Monsters never rampaged over the orchard , Rodan never flew overhead, and Godzilla, (played by a succession of dedicated Japanese actors in the famous rubber suit), never waddled up from the Clyde and flattened the house.

In fact the real history is a bit dull.

I looked up the record of the tricephalos, and it was actually dug up by John Mahon, the retired civil engineer who modernised the place, not by the 1913 archaeologists. This is what he found:

"A boulder, on which two heads are carved in high relief and a face in low relief, a variant of the well-known and widely distributed pagan Celtic tricephalos, was dug up at NS 7769 5347 in 1967 when Mr J L Mahon was constructing a rock garden close to his house, Carbarnswood Orchard. The site of the discovery is 680m from and 32m above the right bank of the River Clyde.
The boulder, of local grey sandstone, stands to a height of 25 cms from a flattened base and measures 21 cms in width and 24 cms in depth. The heads and face are placed in a singular manner, the two heads - which closely resemble each other in appearance -being set on one side of the stone while the face, completely different from the heads in style, is on top of the boulder.
If the tricephalos was found in situ, its close proximity to a well may have some significance, although household wells abound in the district, and this well may be of comparatively modern origin. However, the possibility that this originated as a sacred well cannot be ruled out. However, the find-spot is also close to a source which flows into the River Clyde, and may perhaps be associated with this.
The tricephalos is now in Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum (Accession no: A 6716)."

So I may have a sacred well also., although it was covered over by the same John Mahon in his rather excessive rockery construction – the rockery was huge, and never really under control.

The tricephalos is what is called a “ritual object” which means that scholars really haven`t a scooby about its real function, and is an iron age artefact, probably from about the first century BC.. It is associated with wells, and that`s about all we know.

Triplicate heads and human heads in general are often found in conjunction with holy wells, most of which also date from the Iron Age

However, I think the Godzilla hypothesis was a lot more fun.

But that`s just me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The old house is indeed old. When I bought it – very cheaply as it is in an area where there is no planning permission allowed : no extensions, no visible external improvements, which puts off a lot of buyers – the solicitor doing the conveyancing discovered that the earliest recorded sale he could find was in 1680 for “seven pound scots”. But it was inhabited long before. In 1913 there was an archaeological dig here, which brought up a lot of prehistoric celtic remains, including a tricephalon. There is a well, which then would have been a spring, and I suppose that would be the attraction. The well is now covered, but a lot of hastily hidden weapons were discovered there, probably from covenanting times.

Well, in the last century the property was brought into the Hamilton estate as part of a dowry, and remained there until bought out by Patrick Waters in 1947. The Waters brothers lived here, supplying horsepower to agriculture and timber nearby, I am told without running water or electricity, until a retired civil engineer bought the place in 1955 and proceeded to modernise it. The stable which had housed Daisy and Clover became a sitting room (the low part of the building you can see), and electricity, water and a state of the art septic tank arrived, with a lot of landscaping and infill. The next owner left when he was denied the permission to build an extension, and then I arrived, 28 years ago.

It is officially an orchard. Now there are a lot of orchards in the valley, mostly plum, and they were all planted just after the Napoleonic wars to supply the growing city of Glasgow with fruit and jam. This has a few plum trees remaining, and traces of older pear trees – this is a south facing slope, good for early flowering pears. But before that, this would just be a smallholding, I suppose.

Nowadays, short of growing illegal substances, it would be hard to make a little holding like this pay. My former neighbour ran his as a market garden, and only just made enough to live on. He was one of the old school, and used to load the shotgun with rock salt to fire at the boys who climbed the trees to steal his plums. (Gun control was a great deal less stringent in those days, and any little problems with the law could usually be eased over with a bottle of Bells.) When my good neighbours moved in at the far end of the road, their goats provided a problem, and I still remember the morning when I found old Peter raging as he found his field of cauliflowers mutilated – the goats had carefully eaten all the white curds but thoughtfully left him the leaves. That took more than a bottle to settle. There are stories about Peter shooting the wasps and other such scenes from country life further back in this blog.

I`d love to say I have done a lot to the property, but I haven`t. I used to run sheep, but sheep require a lot of upper body strength, and I had to give them up. Nowadays elderly dogs just run wild on it.

And so do I.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"I had a GREAT time! Every girl should elope!"


A fraught hectic week. The old house, first recorded for sale in 1680 for seven pounds Scots, is as readers will know, prone to peculiar plumbing disasters. Total loss of main drainage has not been the least of them. I called the trusty plumber, the one who carries his whole stock in trade in a little van and is amazingly cheap. I told him that the bath and toilet were OK, but the basin was blocked, and something had leaked all over the floor. He got out a trusty plunger and set to work....

Some time later there was no visible result. He turned to the leak near the bath and we made the happy discovery that the free running bath drain was in fact finding freedom through a convenient hole in the floor, not via the drain at all....that is most of it – the rest was saturating the floor around the bath. Fixing the drain resulted in a bath full of filthy water. Totally blocked.

Cue an outside inspection. He eyed up the sixty year old cast iron pipes and pronounced that there would be no way into those and they would have to be completely replaced, With visions of having to sell Fidget to pay for all this, I insisted that even in 1955 there were building regs, and there had to be rodding points. There were, but rusted shut. A lot of sawing later the rodding began. No, gentle reader, I am too old for that sort of body building activity. He rodded and I encouraged and ran water down from inside. And eventually I had a functioning bathroom again – and an amazingly small bill. Mind you, when I said I would have more work for him later on a really scared look came over his face and he beat a remarkably hasty retreat

As for Allegra`s proposed romantic assignation – it ended in disaster. Early in the morning before the arranged event she escaped into the wood with her uncle, Florian the Climbing Dog . I ranged calling and searching through the wood for two hours, but they were invisible and not answering. As I trailed back home in despair the rain started. Soon it was torrential – and there was a little scratching at the door. In slipped the eloped couple, very muddy and content.

Disappointment for me and the canine version of the Morning After Pill for Allegra.

Both Allegra`s romantic needs and the remaining plumbing work will remain on the to do list for now.
Watch this space.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sleepy Fidget


Well, Riot went to her new home yesterday.

On the way we visited another little dog, a son of Marcus who closely resembles him. A happy little fellow with lots of toys and not a care in the world – but a picky eater, who had refused his dinner that day. We went into their garden, and he invited Riot to play. She said she would – then, having studied him rather closely, broke off and went into the house. She reappeared with two dog treats, stolen from his personal store, and proceeded to eat them in front of him. He was puzzled, the innocent. Would she share them?

She favoured him with a look I have seen often before. It is the essential look of a Papillon bitch communicating with a male. She is saying “You are a male and therefore my inferior. All treats, toys and other privileges are now mine by right. You on the other hand, have no rights. Welcome to my world”.

He stared, and enlightenment began to dawn. He rushed into the house. We found him gulping down the rejected dinner, glancing around nervously. The penny had well and truly dropped. I thought it wise to remove madam Riot, who was already eyeing up his toys and bed.

Riot, however, is now the proud owner of a mother and daughter, a pink bed, a pink jewelled collar and a lovely house and garden. Perhaps that will satisfy her.

Fidget is maturing rapidly, and yesterday managed the leg elevations that are essential to the adult male.

His career in the ring approaches rapidly.

And Allegra is contemplating a romantic assignation.

Lots of potential there.

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