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Published: August 5th 2007
Mat: After the horror of dealing with British Telecom we finally have a broadband connection. It took four weeks to get the landline up and running, and a further 2 weeks to get the broadband happening. I can not really explain the inadequacy of BT’s version of customer service, but I am convinced they have a huge building somewhere filled with slightly retarded people whose sole purpose is to forward you on to someone else in the building whose sole purpose is to put you on hold before forwarding you on to someone else in the building who puts you on hold before… SIX WEEKS!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggg.
Now that I have that out of my system, and hopefully before the broadband stops working, I had better tell you where we are and what we are up to.
We are in Scotland. I am working for a farmer, Trace is riding horses. We live in a very old stone house.
More detail: Before I left NZ I emailed a few behaviourists in the UK asking if they would be open to me checking out how they did things. One of the people who replied was D, who has recently retired
Trace riding past our 'garage'
(note Mat's work vehicle inside the shed)
and sold her pet behaviour practice and stopped lecturing at Edinburgh. She and her husband M live in a 450 year old tower on “Whittingehame” the 1000 acre estate they own. She explained that she had sold her practice, but that she could offer us work on the estate and a place to stay, as well as introduce me to behaviourists she knows. After extending our Asia trip by 2 ½ months and spending quite a bit on the tech diving the offer of work and a place to live sounded very attractive. We were also keen to try something different from the usual Kiwi London OE. So after catching up with Jesse, Ben, Nyssa, and the Chapmans in London we caught the bus up to Edinburgh on the 12th of June. From there we immediately caught another bus east to East Linton where we were picked up by M.
Since then we have been finding our feet a bit - buying a car, getting a bank account, sorting out the house, dealing with BT…
M and D are great. M grew up nearby and is an amazing source of information. After asking countless questions I have come
At the top of Traprain Law - an ancient volcanic plug near our house
Below is the area near our place. The trees in the top left are the middle Whittingehame estate. The fields below are mostly farmed by Jimmy.
to grips with everything from Victorian pheasant egg incubators to the workings of the Scottish feudal system.
At the moment we help the Bs out on the estate for a day or two in return for our house and power. But we still need to eat so I found a job with “Jimmy” a local grain farmer. At the moment he is rushing to build large storage sheds for the grain we will harvest in late August. In order to save money he is trying to do as much as he can himself, so among other things we have been laying concrete, laying drains, erecting a large concrete prefab wall, and making a support trench for a large auger to sit on. The cool thing is that he has a wide variety of large machinery which we use for the construction work and other odd farm jobs that need doing. My commute vehicle is a battered John Deere 2140 tractor which hits 20 mph if I disengage the clutch downhill. It also has an almighty oil leak which means that after my 5 minute trip to or from work I emerge in a cloud of smoke from the cab.
The gates to the walled garden by day ...
This massive ex-garden has 12ft high walls, and used to be the primary food source for the workers on the estate.
Trace rides horses for the equivalent of $30 an hour, so is happy. The plan for me at the moment is to earn some coin until the end of the harvest, at which time Trace’s mum will be arriving for a two-week visit, then we will have a quick trip somewhere in Europe (or Egypt) before finding a higher-brow job for the onset of winter. I will also be applying for membership to the UK-based Association of Pet Behaviour Consultants.
Other interesting facts:
• Our phone number is xxxxx, it may or may not work.
• We own a red two-door Hyundai “Pony” with windows that do not work.
• Our house has two-foot thick walls inside and out. It was originally one of two gatehouses for the north entrance to the estate, but was expanded to house the head gardener.
• Outside our house is a fantastic Victorian walled garden the size of a rugby field.
• For 6 weeks we have not had curtains and it gets light at 4am.
• We saw a badger near our house (just a standard badger - not a sand badger).
• The other day it was so hot
... and by night
(cue the Gargamel music ... doo do doo do dododo)
I started to sweat.
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