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.