Before we went off to Edinburgh last week, it was on the news that a lone, unshorn sheep was spotted at the foot of a cliff in Cromarty.
Having apparently been there for a couple of years, it seemed OK, if uncomfortable with too much wool on its back. It was dubbed the loneliest sheep. Thinking no more about it on our city break in the capital, we got back and that lonesome lamb is now sheared and is a national celebrity called Fiona?
Someone had saved the sad sheep. Sorry, I mean forlorn Fiona. On Monday evening, Fiona’s plight was on all the TV news channels. She’d had a haircut and had since been sent to a funny farm in Dumfries. Oh, it says fun farm.
Then animal rights protestors were up in arms, saying Fiona should have been left on that lonely shore as she now has to deal with the apparently much worse mental challenges of being a celebrity on the farm.
I should be the one on a fun farm after listening to that. When I hear people talking about animals as if they are people, it messes with my brain. Maybe that’s because I made that mistake when I was about six or seven, when I had a pet lamb which I called Peggy. I was shocked when Peggy grew up to be a boisterous blackface ram, which soon went on to blot this copybook very badly.
Though I liked Peggy, the love was not reciprocated. She, I mean he, kept butting me into a fence and chasing our old sheepdog, Daisy. When he trapped Mother for 15 minutes in the byre, bruising her thighs, and knocked the pail of milk out of her hand, his days were numbered.
Peggy was eventually rescued by a kindly butcher, who assured me that Peggy the ram would be happy on his farm for the rest of his days. Great news.
That butcher was so grateful. A few days later, he thanked us with a gift of lamb chops and big joints for roasting. He also presented us with a sawn-off head, which coincidentally looked a bit like Peggy. That was then chucked in the Rayburn stove – not in the actual oven, but laid on the white-hot embers of peat, wood, and coal – and roasted there. That soft tongue and blackened cheeks were delicious.
Airport breakfasts aren’t all equal
Unlike the breakfast we got at Inverness Airport. The restaurant there was pretty much deserted. Bad sign. I asked for two so-called wee breakfasts with coffee. That was a solitary sausage, very cool beans and tragic bacon that was not cool, it was congealed. Mrs X’s fried egg was completely runny, including the egg white. I paid nearly £28 for that.
There seemed no point in complaining to the distracted staff, who, although not busy, didn’t speak or even look me in the eye when I was ordering. Poor experience. One star for the banger.
A new cove has taken over as boss of Highlands and Islands Airports, a fellow named Stewart Adams. I asked around, and other helpful staff told me he’s fae Aiberdeen. Did I not read somewhere that Aberdonians like their breakfast more than people from other parts of Scotland? So, I reckon he will fix the breakfast problems at Inverness.
New bosses tend to like challenges that are easy to fix. This one is easy to put right. If there is no improvement, dear reader, please let me know. I may then highlight that Inverness Airport serves runny egg whites as the worst breakfast of any UK airport.
Just for comparison, the wee morning grill equivalent on Monday at Edinburgh Airport was less than £20 with coffee. And we got our orders taken at the table by a helpful, smiling fellow who happily made eye contact. And, although very busy, there were enough staff on duty to allow him to have a friendly chat. Hot, tasty food, properly cooked, warm smiles, and banter. Five stars.
Listen, Stewart Adams. Please do your job. And why don’t you cut through the red tape and also reopen the Stornoway Airport cafeteria? If it’s too much trouble to find good franchisees, run it yourself.
When we flew back from the capital, thankfully not via Inverness Airport, we discovered that Fiona had been saved and was herself a star. Just when it seemed that there was nothing that could be done for her, these guys clambered down the cliff and wheeched her up in a poke, from which she stuck out her nose and breakfasted on grass. Hurrah.
So, to the rescuers who did a good job, five stars. Without you, Fiona would have had her last wool and testament.
Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides