So Many People at Duddingston by Asia Koter

After a few sad weeks’ break that followed the end of the December exam diet and all the other diets (I mean, Christmas happened), the Dirty Weekenders finally got back together for the first project of 2019! We met as usual in front of the tool cupboard and the number of volunteers exceeded all of our expectations (given that we had any). 43! students got out of their beds early on Sunday morning – I guess sleep deprivation and insomnia is not really an issue yet, as the deadlines are still a few weeks away. Fortunately, our hosts at the Duddingston Community Garden had plenty of jobs for us to do and everyone was involved in one task or another. The main tasks were tree planting, clearing the stepped path, and expanding the table area which included preparing the ground, moving the concrete slabs, and putting them in so they are even and neat. The weather was cold but sunshine stayed with us until about lunchtime. We had our lunch in the Byre, and it was delicious as always – homemade soup, bread, cake, and hot drinks warmed us up after our hard work. We didn’t play ratchet-screwdriver because we were lame and didn’t want to break anyone’s ribs (or other body parts), but we had some time to socialise and meet new student volunteers. After lunch we got back to work to finish off our tasks. By the end of the day we had finished putting in the tiles, planted a number of trees along with supports, and got quite cold so we packed up our tools and said goodbye to Duddingston residents. We walked back to Pleasance, enjoying the views of the sunset and the prospect of having nachos at the Hoose made us all merry and jolly. Who cares about the 10 weeks of forthcoming torture if you have sunsets, biscuits, and Dirties?

This wonderful piece was written by Asia Koter

A Fine Sunday at Burdiehouse

Post by William Grantham

In the forecast sunshine the Dirty Weekenders found ourselves once again travelling to Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park where we were met by Espy the ranger in charge of the park. She gave us an introduction to the park and our project of crown lifting one of small woods in the park. This involves removing the branches of the well-established trees up to head height to improve accessibility, light and biodiversity of the wood.

We got stuck into the task, spreading out into the wood and removing the branches with saws and loppers. We broke for lunch and found a nice patch of sun to eat the lunch the site provided for us.

Joined by some friends of the park and a certain step-obsessed dirty, we tackled a huge patch of wild rose and a rather bushy holy tree. After a break for hot drinks prepared by storm kettle we tidied up and removed some litter from the area, the spoils of which included a humongous metal hula-hoop, a pumpkin and child’s scooter, the last carried back on a public bus to join the Dirty’s collection of “recreational tools”.

The Second Glen Nevis Bothy

by Will Goodwin

It has become a custom in the Dirty Weekenders society to organise a weekend away before the start of term. Such a shindig is called a “bothy” within the society, although it has nothing to do with bothies at all. But let us not linger on trivial details.


On Friday 31st of August, in the year of [someone’s] Lord 2018, a posse of seasoned Dirties set forth to the remote valley of Nevis. As they cruised past the Three Sisters of Glencoe, they dreamt ahead of the wonderful time they would have away from the horde of undergraduates who had yet to flood Scotland from the South. Little did they know that Phoebe had infiltrated the group, and would proceed to feed all the oldies for an entire weekend (It is not yet known whether old Dirties are able to survive in her absence).

Upon arriving in Inverlochy, the Dirts set up camp. For most this involved blowing up a small camping mat, or an electrically assisted inflatable double bedroom for the more adventurous. After consuming a lovingly prepared meal (again, thank you Martha and Phoebe), the party was kick-started when a certain someone emptied half a bottle of Prosecco on the table, Anna’s sleeping bag, and himself. The wild revels that followed would last until the ungodly hour of 22.36PM, by which time most of the company was snoring the night away, leaving Teddy alone with his liquor.


After a quiet night interrupted only by a few gusts of wind, the troup set out to meet the rangers of the Friends of Nevis, Rowan and Dougie, who would lead the activities for the weekend. There the company was drawn, halved and dismembered, leaving the author to narrate only one of Saturday’s rejoicements: RHODODENDRON BASHING.


Rhododendron ponticum (as seen in the picture below, next to ranger Rowan. Not tree Rowan. Don’t cut this one down. Also don’t cut other rowans down.) is an ornamental plant native to Southern Europe and Southwest Asia, but certainly not to Scotland. And yet it seems to enjoy the humid climes of the Highlands and has escaped from Scottish backyards. This nasty bugger is really competitive and starves other plants of light and nutrients. Hence, it must die. All of it. And died it did on this day, at the hand of ferocious conservation volunteers.


Armed with silkie saws, root saws and mattocks, the rhodie-bashing militia decimated the invasive over the weekend (be careful when you use mattocks to avoid ). The technique is simple: cut the branches, dig up the root nodes (that send advantive roots and stolons all around) and hang them upside-down to dry and wither. The rhododendrons fought viciously, and some specimens took up to an hour to dig up. But in the end man prevailed (surprisingly?) and a tiny patch of forest was saved… for now.


Back at the camp/village hall, the second evening went as smoothly as the first, and after removing a platoon of ticks from Matt’s back the Dirts were able to settle down. Some may debate whether the food was even better than the first day, but the real question is: Does Gabriel actually have a good poker face?

And so our account moves on to the second day, which claimed Rosie’s back and the lives of many ashes, birches, etc. as the Dirts helped rangers clear cottages in the vicinity of Polldubh. In time these cottages will be habilitated as refuges (that’s a bothy). The work was enjoyable despite the onslaught of local midges, and by high noon it was time for all to eat and set home once again.

I shall now dab myself out.