As far as dog days go, it’s been pretty good. When the week starts the humans do not go too far, or for too long. The MacNaughties are happy because it means the pack stays intact. With no-one anxious about possible comings and goings, it brings a kind of calm to the proceedings.
The peace is shattered when a white van rolls up the drive. It contains camera equipment and an Australian TV crew. They are making a film for a current affairs programme called ‘Sixty Minutes’ and the presenter, Charles Wooley, is furiously famous down under. He is the Michael Burke, or Jon Snow of Aussie TV, perhaps with a touch of Nicky Campbell thrown in. Importantly, he has Scottish roots and now he is in search of his MacGregor ancestry.
Charles has done the usual clan things in deepest Perthshire and hidden Argyll. He has joined German and Japanese tourists in paying homage at Rob Roy’s grave. He has touched moss-covered MacGregor graves in ancient kirkyards. He has captured footage of kilts and cabers at a rough and ready Highland Games. He has also battled the midges at the remote and ruined Kilchurn Castle, where the clan were once keepers.
With welts on arms and legs he has the scars to prove it and now he and his equally badly-bitten team are here with us. They want to talk to the chief and they hope to film MacGregor memorabilia. Cameraman and soundman leap from the vehicle with hearty handshakes and shouts of ‘g’day’. They make a special fuss of the doggies, who having protested loudly at this audacious arrival, are now busy making territorial marks on van wheels.
Like Scots, Aussies are always up for a party. But first there is business to attend to. The chief gets out ancient artefacts, including the tartan suit worn by his great great great grandfather when the British king visited Edinburgh in 1822. There is the bloodied, but unbowed sporran found on the battlefield of Culloden There is also the battered shotgun that was used to fire on bloodhounds tracking seventeenth century MacGregor outlaws.
In the meantime, I set about feeding folk. For Scottish flavour a Dundee haggis bakes in the oven whilst an Ayrshire gammon joint simmers away on the stove. The smell wafts through the kitchen and it drives the MacNaughties mad. But the day seems successful. The chief looks good in his kilt and the team get their story and pictures. Meanwhile the birds get the gammon rind, chopped into little pieces, whilst the hounds feast on left-over morsels of meat.
At tea time, my friend Kathleen brings more local fare in the shape of her famous home-made fruit loaf and girdle scones. Our visitors tuck in and declare it delicious. They want to take the baker back with them when they return down under. The soundman also has eyes on the Norfolk Terrier. Yes, he’s cute, but he would just end up chasing kangaroos…