Blowing a Hoolie

From Cumbria we travelled north to Scotland for a night with friends. Brian and Susie live in Eskdalemuir, the location of the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Europe. We stayed with them during our spring tour, and were happy to fit in another visit on this trip.

The weather has turned to autumn here in the UK, and leaves are blowing. The skies are quite changeable these days, too, and there were a few days of wildly stormy weather before we arrived. Eskdalemuir is on a smaller road – not very straight, not very flat, and quite narrow in places. The rain had flooded parts of the road, and we had to be very careful driving. But we made it.

We arrived in the afternoon, and had a lovely relaxing day with Brian and Susie. Well, maybe not entirely relaxing: they kept checking the state of the garden and the property near their house. The “burn” (read: stream) next to their house was rising rather dangerously, and they were keeping an eye out for flooding.  In fact, there was quite a bit of water flowing through their garden. Everything but the raised beds were under water.

We expected their neighbour Fiona to join us for dinner.  At about 5pm, she came over and asked Brian to look at the water on her property – it was about 6 inches away from coming into her house – and it was still raining and blowing hard. They called the Council, who arrived with two men and 30 sandbags.  Perhaps not quite enough, considering that it was “blowing a hoolie” (as they say in Scotland).  We all expected them to return with more sandbags later, but we didn’t see them again.

Happily, the water level subsided (despite the fact that it was still raining), Fiona came for dinner with her greyhound, and we had a lovely evening. We woke this morning with sunshine streaming into our room. The backyard was no longer under water, and life continues.

It seems that every time we visit Scotland, we come away with another wonderful phrase to use. The first time, we learned that having a chat with friends is “having a bit of a blether”. We noticed that many Scots sprinkle “wee” liberally into the conversation to express diminution (ie, having a wee blether – a short conversation). And in the spring, I was starting to say “aye” instead of “yes”, and rolling my “r”s!  The next time we’re in such wild weather, we will remember to use this very evocative Scottish expression. Can we say “Aye, it’s blowing a wee hoolie”?

There is something ironic and sobering about all this — we are about to continue our travels to the driest continent: Australia. I wish we could bring some of this excess water with us there.

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