Chapter Eleven

catnip road trip

and if one green bottle should accidentally fall…  again and…  again and…  again and…

strawberry is at the wheel as we speed up strathbogie’s main drag  our wheels splashing mudstreeks across deserted streets  abandoned shops  and homes…   ghost town

our winter tyres carve deep scars  sad memories of disappointments and fading horrors into the gravel drive of huntly castle

stark ruined tower of grey stone

the laird offers kippers and devilled kidneys for breakfast

clad in bonnet and plaid trews he stands beneath his portcullis armwaving local directions

he has drawn us a detailed map…  in pencil  on scented notepaper

back in the vicecreamvan…  back on the road…  tracking the bogie river

we come upon a clearing in the conifer forest

 multicoloured patchwork tents  yurts  and mobile homes cluster about an antique cottage

white woodsmoke pillars upwards from the lone chimney

the aroma of baking

i hope that is fresh hot catnip mooncakes i can smell  says boz

anna and bui in the doorway wipe flour handprints onto their aprons

we have encountered the bravehearted refugees of provincial strathbogie…

’twas a day in late november in the year of 2010

when snow began to fall upon this happy glen

they left for work that morning without any dread

never suspecting as they kissed their wives goodbye that by the evening they could be dead

if they had not dressed warmly and worn a woollen vest

as anyone will tell you is the very best

and those that got home that freezing night

looked out in the morning to a terrible sight

for they were cut off by ice and snow

and the temperature was -25 degrees centigrade which is awfully low

they waited and waited in horrible fear

till their rescuers came in the new year

the vicecream van with boris and aunty stella

was a welcome sight to a shivering feller

and anna and bui had baked them all a treat

because as every one knows heroes have to eat

strawberry ferdy and phoebus must be lauded as well

because they endured hardship and danger and went through hell

in order to rescue the good people of strathbogie

and now they had made it those heroes of limehousesailortown and the norwegian doggie

with supplies and aid for which all are grateful

and a poet of fame to recount their perils so fateful

…later as the sun sinks jaffa orange from the pomegranate sky


ignites a tottering structure of redundant furniture  old doors  and petrol soaked ragflags

winter’s funeral pyre

campfire ceilidh

fairy lights hang in the norway spruce

an enigmatic  puginesque  castiron pierhead plays stage to fiddlers and pipers

fiddles prance  pipes lament

bui on onestring fiddlehorn and bamse on norwegian tricycle hurdygurdy duet

the woods ring to the bonfire cackle  the uncorked effervescing laughter

the skirling and whirling

the distant chainsaw whine of the encroaching loggers…

Aunty Stella, Ferdinand and Strawberry will eventually take the Vicecream van south to search out the Kittens of Chaos and restore them to the Land of Green Ginger.   As for Boz, Phoebles and myself, we will await the return of the Arctic Coleyfishtrawler Lord Ancaster that will take us by sea to Limehousesailortown.    Meanwhile, perhaps we can help in someway in a concerted stand against the forces of commerce that threaten Anna’s forest.




By early spring the forest was gone.

“The government is selling off Scotland piece by piece.   Mr Fluffy, the media mogul and millionaire oligarch has acquired our coastal dunes and nature reserves for a luxury golf course and has the civil servants and officials eating out of his hand.  All we hear is how wonderful it will be for the economy.”   Anna was whinging to the boys while they waited in The Ship Inn, a brisk walk from Banff harbour where they expected the arrival of the Lord Ancaster, “Look.”

She thumped a small Bakelite TV that sat on the bar.   The ghostly image on its tube flickered and stabilised.   Mr Fluffy was shaking hands with a grinning Scotish first minister.   Behind them stood a dapper figure in porkpie hat, zoot suit and squirrel-grey spats, the face shadowed by the brim of his hat

“That’s Slasher McGoogs,” gasped Boz, “What’s he doing up here?”


4 thoughts on “Strathbogie

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