Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Enlisting the Help of the Hoolet

Widening the Search for Beag

As instructed by the Sneach, Bhreac McGonk had climbed back up the Barr Hill to the very top, so he could have another look around over the miles and miles of wide open countryside.

From this viewpoint he could see all the way to England, but he couldn't see the standing stones or stone circle of Torhouse, nor could he see Beag! He wasn't even aware that Hooter had failed to return home, so no thought was given to his plight with the Trolls from the Twin Caves!

A little higher and Bhreac reached the big angular stone known at 'Trig'. It was massive, with smooth
stone walls and an interesting metal plaque set into the side, bearing a number. After scaling to the top, the views opened out even more, but still no sign of Beag and no sign of the Hoolet, who had been sitting there previously, eating dinner.

But then Bhreac spotted something new and different and decidedly disgusting looking! In fact, he wasn't entirely sure what it was and didn't really want to guess!

This was silly, it wouldn't hurt to take a closer look and the 'thing' wasn't exactly alive.

In fact, it was most definitely dead!

Bhreac peered down at it in disgust, wondering what, on earth, it could possibly be, sitting in such a strange place, atop the 'Trig' rock. But as he looked closer, it suddenly dawned on him what it was...

Hoolet had been here for dinner and, as we all know, olws eat all sorts of weird and wonderful things at all sorts of wonderful times of day. They really are quite greedy creatures, just gulping down their food without a care, no hesitations, no wondering what's in it, just yum, yum, yum... down the throat it goes. And then afterwards, up pops a pellet, bleugh, spat out by the owl and containing all the bits and pieces that weren't supposed to have been part of the meal.

Bhreac had found an owl pellet!

On much closer inspection of the pellet, he'd become fascinated by one particularly shiny, white object and he wouldn't be satified until he'd discovered exactly what it was. Carefully, he wrapped the pellet and set off in search of the Hoolet, to find out more. And, of course, to enlist his help in searching for Beag.

It was a long, hard walk for Bhreac while carrying the huge owl pellet, but he finally spotted Hoolet snoozing on a high ledge, far above the gardens of Thrift Cottage.

Clambering up the vertical wall, he deposited the pellet at Hoolet's feet and looked expectanty for an explanation, in particular, with regards to the shiny, white object...

Hoolet began his curious tale of mystery, how he'd spotted what looked like a tasty morsel bobbing along the edge of the long straight burn by the side of the lane, and how he'd seen the glowing eyes of the creature and heard the gurgling, eery sounds in the night. His tale went on, the watching, his stealthy, silent flight overhead and, finally, his swoop to snatch whatever t was from the water's edge just after midnight!

What an exciting tale the Hoolet had to tell, but he hadn't seen Beag since their trip to 'the Doon'. Once again, he promised to spread the word far and wide so every creature within the Kingdom of Frugal would be on the look out for the missing Beag.

As for the white, shiny object? Well, that was... the tooth of a troll!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Hooter McGonk Goes in Search of the Trolls!

The Trolls!

Despite the many, many times the little mini-McGonks are told not to venture off out of site, alone, the disappearance of Beag has everyone mystified. Nobody saw him go, nobody alerted anyone else as to his disappearance and nobody has seen him since he vanished from the standing stones. It was really upsetting Hooter, as he was missing his best friend, so he decided to go off in search of the missing mini-McGonk all by himself.

He knew he wasn't supposed to go near the lochs, rivers or streams on his own... but he did!

Off he went, following the edge of the long, straight burn that ran alongside the lane. The water was deeper than usual, faster flowing than usual and colder than usual. All that melting snow had to go somewhere.

After what seemed like hours, Hooter eventually came to the dark and scary twin caves, home of the Trolls. How often had he been told NEVER to talk to Trolls, NEVER to get in their way and NEVER to go near the Twin Caves? He couldn't even count that high, let alone tell how often, but Hooter wasn't to be put off in the least. With the arrival of the Goth Clan, nobody would notice him missing for a few hours.

Along the riverbank he scrambled, across the rocky bridge and then he began his precarious descent, clinging for dear life to the rocks, grasses and mosses that surrounded the entrances to the terrifying twin caves. Almost there... now Hooter was able to lean forward a little, just enough to peer inside the first cave.

An awful and hideous noise could be heard - a gurgling, hissing, growling sound, but more terrifying than that,  TWO PAIRS OF EYES were staring straight back at him! It was the most horrible site that poor little Hooter had ever seen! The memory of those bright green and red eyes, glowing from the blackness beyond the mouth of the first tunnel would haunt him forever! How he wished he had done as he was told and kept away from such dangers.

Hooter was terrified! He froze to the spot, unable to climb a single step further for fear he would fall or, worse still, be captured by the terrible trolls! But worse was to come. The trolls were pulling the moss and grasses right from beneath his feet and his safe hiding place was crumbling around him!

Hooter felt himself falling, slipping and sliding, air whooshing past him as he tumbled faster and faster, plummeting downwards and finally splashing into the icy waters below. Darkness descended and he could remember no more.

 This was not good! Beag was never going to be found at this rate and now there's a second missing McGonk that nobody at Thrift Cottage even knows has gone missing!

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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Meeting the Rock Man of Clays Hill

He's So Dependable!

It feels as though the McGonks have stolen away the days! I know they haven't, but I really haven't got a clue where all the time has gone. All that I do know is that the search continues for litte Beag McGonk and all hands are on deck to help with the search... no stone will be unturned, although try telling that to the Rock Man of Clays Hill
The prickly gorse is coming into bloom and giving the place a lovely yellow glow, despite there still being snow lying on the sheltered slopes. Luckily, McGonks seem oblivious to the sharp little thorns, but they do still get caught up now and again.
We were kind of hoping that perhaps Beag had become tangled in the gorse and that we'd find him there, munching his way through the flowers or fermenting them into sweet gorse wine, but it wasn't to be - he was nowhere to be seen.
mini mcgonkHooter McGonk climbed to the very top of the hill and could see for many miles, but he still couldn't see his brother. On he tramped, searching under rocks and calling from the tops of rocks, peering around rocks and looking over rocks... he could see right over the top of the forest, but he couldn't see the lost Beag! He could, however, see a face looking at him, watching his every move!
It was the grinning face of the Rock Man of Clays Hill!
"Follow the Sneach," he cried, "they'll uncover the missing Beag!"
Excitedly, the little McGonk clambered down the rocky hill and went off in search of Bhreac, for it was he who was in charge of investigating the dangerous snowly slopes - they are simply too dangerous for the mini McGonks. Far off, in the distance, he could see the tell tale signs... the trampled snow leading to what looked like the gateway to the home of the Sneach!

I wonder what he'll find?

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Snowy Home of the Sneach

It's an Icy Wonderland!

After coming face to face with the Rock Man of Clays Hill, little Hooter McGonk got very excited about his mission and was in a huge rush to report back to Bhreac. He was also ever hopeful that he'd be asked to accompany the scouting party that would, inevitably, be sent out to investigate what looked like the frozen gateway to the underground home of the Sneach.
Racing all the way home, Hooter bounced around, chattering and pointing back towards the hillside, trying to recount his tale of rock climbing, coming face to face with the Rock Man and recalling his exact words, telling him to seek out the Sneach so that they could uncover the missing Beag. It's all very complicated for a little McGonk! Best just follow him and see for yourself.
Back along the long, windswept road they went, Hooter pointing and shouting all the way, sometimes tumbling over in his hurry. Then it was up the hill, following a strange and winding trail through deep, deep snow... whatever had made the trail had done so most carefully, but it was most certainly a trail!
Onwards and upwards, further and further they climbed and then, suddenly, they were plunging downwards, slipping and sliding, twisting and turning, faster and faster until they arrived at... a snowy doorway!
Bhreac was amazed by what they found! Little Hooter was instructed to stay well clear of the entrance for fear he fell in and would never be seen again!
The entrance to the doorway was well-worn and stepped in a gentle slope that allowed for easy climbing, protected from the driving winds by snowy walls. Bhreac called through the doorway, afraid to enter for fear of scaring the Sneach. He could hear whispers and rustling sounds coming from deep within the snowy cave, but couldn't see a single Sneach! But wait... is that one I can see now, just peeking out from the doorway? Or am I mistaken?
Neither Bhreac nor Hooter could see the Sneach, his white fur was so well camouflaged agaist the snowy background. But they could clearly hear him as he suggested they enrol the help of the Hoolet, who should be having dinner on the angular rock at the top of the hill right about.... now!
Looking upwards, the McGonks just caught a glimpse of the Hoolet as he took off, but they were sure he'd seen them.
Off they went on their travels, once again, ever hopeful of unearthing a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing Beag.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Wrigglers of Wormery Hall

Wiggly, Wriggly Babies!

McGonks are wee, furry eco-warriors and they love nothing more than to forage for their own food, go beach-combing, search in forests, woods, coves and caves and make use of anything they find. In the land of Frugaldom, the McGonks have a massive estate filled with friends of all shapes and sizes, each with their own little community where nothing ever goes to waste.

The Wrigglers of Wormery Hall were Beag's favourite neighbours, he loved going to visit them, taking them table scraps, shredded papers and even the occasional teabag! It's been a few months since the Wriggler family moved into the lands beyond Thrift Cottage and there was some initial concerns for their safety. Hens, ducks, hedgehogs, badgers, blackbirds and even frogs and foxes love nothing more than a slurpy, tasty worm snack!

Wormery Hall managed to keep the Wriggler family safe without much of a problem. I guess it helps that the worms go into a kind of sleepy hibernation mode when it gets too cold, so the McGonks hadn't seen much of them since the beginning of 2013 and not a sound has been heard. It's now April and it's still minus 5 DegC in the mornings. The ponds are just thawing and there's still so much snow lying that tidying up the garden has been left to the ducks. But it must be warming up, as we met our first lizard this evening, who seemed to be out for a stroll but wih only half of his tail. Curious creatures!

This past week has been sunny and it is beginning to feel rather springlike, especially seeing the lambs playing in the fields. Wormery Hall was stirring into life and calling us to visit!

Carefully, we opened up the door and the McGonks peered inside. Then a squeal of delight! Their wiggly, wriggly friends were giggly! Not only that, hey were all safe and well, busying themselves at work and preparing stock for summer distribution. What. may you ask, might a worm be able to do? Well, the Wrigglers of Wormery Hall have their own little factory where they recycle all those lovely household scraps into 'worm juice'!

But what do you think was the biggest - or you may even say smallest - surprise of all?

Can you see the little red rectangle at the top of the first photo?

This is it enlarged to show you what we could see during today's visit to Wormery Hall: worm babies!

There are hundreds and hundreds of tiny, white baby worms, all eagerly learning how to help make the magic worm juice!

How exciting is that? The McGonks were eccstatic!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Return of the Wee Muddy Man

The Wee Muddy Man is Back!

It's been some time since we have seen or heard from the wee muddy man. Indeed, we thought he had moved on and forgotten about us, completely! But, just as the alpacas had promised, word was spreading fast and wide of the missing Beag and, as sure as a sure thing, creatures from far and near had begun joining in the search for our little missing McGonk.
Along the banks of the burn, whispers had been exchanged between the amphibians, the rodents and the feathered friends, each passing on the word until, somehow, somewhere, the news must have spread all the way to the wee muddy man.
Hoolet had returned from the 'Doon of May' forest to join Clan McGonk's search for the missing Beag. Afterall, it had been Beag who had accompanied the Hoolet McGonk when he first ventured forth to explore that particular forest - a task that could take many months. For now, it has been postponed until summer.
We were scouring the forest, looking for footprints in the snow and listening for the faintest sound of Beag when, out of the icy water, his little head popped up, had a quick look around and then the briefest nod of acknowledgement before exiting the chilly water and bounding off into the deep undergrowth of the forest! It was so good to see him back!
It will still take some time for all this snow to melt but, with the help of 'The Romp' (the wee muddy man's otter gang) the search has been widened and the waterways will now be patrolled daily until the missing Beag has been found.
Here's hoping that the sun shines brightly and the warmth melts the snow soon.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

I Spy Beag McGonk!

Could it Really be True? Has Beag Been Found?

Beag McGonk
Today we took Bhreac McGonk out for a trip to see if we could spot the missing Beag, but there are still no signs of him.

Several miles along the road, the tiny speckled McGonk had an idea!

Off he wobbled, onwards and upwards, struggling to climb the many, many steps to reach the top of an ancient fort.

From so high up, Bhreac could see for many, many miles, including all the way across the water to the Isle of Man! (There's still snow on the hills over there, too.)

But there were no clues as to the whereabouts of the missing Beag.

A little further along, we came to a lane leading to yet another fort - everyone knows Beag loved to climb - trees, hills, fells,  rocks, ruins, rubble, motehills and, of course, forts. So, off we went, along the lumpy, bumpy farm track until we could get no further - the path leading up to the once fortified fell summit was blocked by snow! About turn, retrace steps and resume our journey to wherever we were going.

Suddenly, Bhreac, who was peering through his tiny binoculars, searching the horizon, let out an almost inaudible, squeaky screech and became very animated, bouncing around in a most excited manner - he had spotted Beag McGonk in the far off distance!

He could just make him out and no more... along the road,  across two fields, beyond a car park and over a wall! It looked as though Beag had lost his Tam O'Shanter but Bhreac was convinced it was him, for sure!

Being so excited to see his little friend, Bhreac just took off - almost falling down a ditch as he scurried closer and closer.

On and on he ran, scrambling through snow drifts, under wire fences, between the slats of farm gates, across the car park and clambering up and over the huge stone wall that separated him for his long lost friend... and then he stopped in stunned disbelief!

No longer could he see his dear little buddy, Beag, instead, he could see... an alpaca, lying snoozing just behind the wall!

As Mr Alpaca turned to look at him, he couldn't help but giggle at the absurdity of it all. But that really did look like Beag McGonk sitting between the ears of this particular creature, especially from such a distance and with the benefit of wishful thinking.

Bhreac quickly explained to the still sleepy, wooly, furry beast about the loss of his friend and was reassured that all the animals in the park would keep an eye out for the missing Beag while spreading word to the other creatures, including the birds in the trees and the fowl on the ground.

With a cheeky little grin, the alpaca promised to have a search party combing the length and breadth of the parish in no time.

And so ended Bhreac's big adventure of the day... I wonder if we'll be any close to solving the mystery toorrow?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Badgering Around in the Forests and Fells

McGonks' April Challenge - Day 1

The first day of April, Easter Monday, dawned dull and grey, not at all as the weatherman had predicted, so McGonks sat it out in the comfort of home, waiting for the clouds to clear and the sun to fight its way through the leaden sky. It took all morning!
By afternoon, the sun was shining from a blue sky, so we headed off into the wilderness to follow the trails of the Sneach and the wild animals that inhabit the lands around Frugaldom.
Along the way, the sun had melted patches of snow and little Hooter McGonk was able to find all sorts of exciting objects - none more so than this huge bone! McGonks were too scared to venture too close to this, just in case they got scoffed by whatever had been gnawing on the bone!
A little further along, they came to a giant cavern! Or at least that's what it looked like - a massive earthen cave! No amount of snow had stopped its inhabitant from scraing and digging to keep it clear. Hooter, being his usual nosy self, ventured right up to the mouth of the cave, peering in from a fairly safe distance. He assumed the residents were home and asleep, as they had left a rock in the doorway, probably to hold down any mail that the postman might deliver. Afterall, it was quite windy out there, despite the sunshine and blue sky.

What an Easter 'egg'citing day Hooter had!
He was absolutely exhausted by the time he returned home. But to his delight, he found a lovely surprise awaiting him - the first quail egg of the year! Tiny Hooter was quite shocked by the enormity of it all and developed a sudden fascination for eggs - that's when he discovered that he could actually fit inside a duck egg!
Being relativey new to Thrift Cottage, the McGonks had never seen a quail egg before, so the great red chief, Ruaidhri (Rory) McGonk, himself, had to have his photograph taken standing guard over the precious egg, too.
It remains to be seen if the egg will ever reach the plates of those in need of nourishment and sustainance, as the McGonks seem to be treating it as though it may hatch out a miniscule McGonkette at any minute!
Wouldn't that be a miracle!