We have a problem with one of the MacNaughties. The littlest one has started demanding to be let out at three in the morning. It is the call of nature. And I do not mean the pheasants shrieking on the lawn.
We have tried giving the Norfolk Terrier his tea at five instead of six. Two bone-shaped biscuits before bed is now down to one. The chief is walking both hounds several times around the garden before everyone retires for the night. Why has this suddenly started? Rummie used to sleep like a dog, I mean a log…
Perhaps the tea-time meal will have to go. Then how will I cope with those pleading eyes? Ignoring the barking results in a mess. Literally. And it is not like him to do a whoopsie on the carpet. One morning he was so ashamed he tried to hide in a wicker shopping bag. Head down, ears flat. Misery all round.
Not least for those who have to clear things up. As cleaning operations take place the spaniel looks on disapprovingly. He is holier than thou. Nothing to do with me, mate…
If I am donning rubber gloves the MacGregor is looking distinctly bleary-eyed. He does not sleep well at the best of times, so getting up to open the door at some ungodly hour is not a complete nightmare, but it is becoming a bother.
Happily for me and irritatingly for him, I sleep soundly and do not hear the urgency of the barking. In fact, once my head hits the pillow it can take an earthquake to rouse me from my slumbers. And we don’t get many of those in in these parts.
Whatever tremors there are, though, are recorded at a weather and seismology station in the south of Scotland. And it is here at the Eskdalemuir Observatory that we take our camera to film this week.
The place is managed, in part, by the British Geological Survey. In the aptly-named ‘bunker’, finely-tuned machines record earthquakes from all over the world. If the earth moves in Tokyo, or San Francisco, the vibrations can be measured at this remote Dumfriesshire site.
Back in the day recordings of tremors would appear on large sheets of paper. Today all is digital, with computers doing the work. And these electronic masterminds are working hard.
Believe it or not, there is an earthquake every five days in Scotland. I remember one back in the 1980s, more of a tremor than a quake. Cups rattled on the sideboard and a couple of books slipped from the bookcase.
One of the biggest took place in 1816. It measured 5.1 on the Richter Scale and the epicentre was Inverness. The force was frightening. As the ripples spread to most of the country it is said that ‘poultry on the roof manifested much dismay and dogs howled…’ Perhaps the naughty Norfolk knows something we don’t… But if anyone has a cure for canine insomnia, please let me know…