Steve – End of Season – October 2012
Well here I am sat in my second home The Travelodge in good old Clacton-on-Sea. I call it my second home as I seem to spend a lot of time here. I get looked after very well from the staff here as a regular, they always put my extra pillows in my room prior to arrival and I always get the same room on every visit, I must put some pictures up next year, in fact they even know I am the phantom tea and coffee thief pinching stuff from the housemaids trolley, but they never moan.
Well the end of the season has come for me, and after a very busy season some 70,000km and a vast assortment of tours this season, I must say I’m a wee bit tired and ready for a rest. So I have decided to have my wee rest here in Clacton before I return to the Highlands of Scotland.
So what am I gonna do on the return to the Highlands I’ve been asked a lot, well I’m afraid it’s no rest for the wicked, I will have a few days off before returning to my winter job.
So what do I do, well it starts of on a daily basis of firstly filling my belly with a good hearty bowl of porridge, getting my Scottish attire on yes the kilt, I then pack my lunch into my sporran and arm myself with my skibh and dubh which i hide in my sock (but shhh! don’t tell anyone). I then make my way to the remote glen at the bottom of Ben Nevis, and head for the office which is a big bracken bush, I rest for ten minutes sipping a wee tickle for the throat from my hip flask, then warm up my bagpipes(worst noise in the world) and then I start work, I go Haggis Hunting!!!…
So what is a Haggis, a question im commonly asked by tourists who want me to catch them one. I will try to explain!.
A haggis is a small animal native to Scotland. Well when
I say animal, actually it’s a bird with vestigial wings – like the ostrich.
Because the habitat of the haggis in exclusively mountainous, and because it is
always found on the sides of Scottish mountains, it has evolved a rather strange
gait. The poor thing has only three legs, and each leg is a different length –
the result of this is that when hunting haggis, you must get them on to a flat
plain – then they are very easy to catch – they can only run round in circles.
The noise haggis make during the mating season gave rise
to that other great Scottish invention, the bagpipes.
A little known fact about the haggis is its aquatic
ability – you would think that with three legs of differing lengths, the poor
wee beastie wouldn’t be very good at swimming, but as some of the Scottish Mountains
have rather spectacular lochs on them, over the years, the haggis has
learned to swim very well. When in water, it uses its vestigial wings to propel
itself forward, and this it can do at a very reasonable speed.
Haggis are by nature very playful creatures, and when
swimming, very often swim in a group – a bit like ducks – where the mother will
swim ahead, and the youngsters follow in a line abreast.
The largest known recorded haggis (caught in 1893 by a one of my ancestors at the base of Ben Nevis),and weighed 25 tons.
In the water, haggis have been known to reach speeds of up to 35 knots, and therefore coupled with their amazing agility in this environment, are extremely difficult to catch, however, if the hunter can predict where the haggis will land, a good tip is to wait in hiding on the shore, because when they come out of the water, they will inevitably run round in circles to dry themselves off.
This process, especially with the larger haggis, gives rise to another phenomenon – circular indentations in the ground, and again, these have been mistaken by tourists as the landing sites of UFOs.
I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions about the Haggis, that rare and very beautiful beastie of the Scottish Highlands (and very tasty too).
I take my winter job very serious and offer the services as a highly experienced Haggis Hunter to catch one of the wee blighter’s for you!!..
Dont worry Nikki yours will be the first to be caught.
Would you like a Haggis now taking orders, but please bear in mind this is not a cheap service it will cost you an arm and a leg!.
So on my return back to the highlands of Scotland I would just like to say it has been a pleasure once again to work with all my colleagues again and look forward again at christmas new year and next season to return.