Diary of a Highland Lady - February/March 2003
Media star IVY FERRET has made the 600-mile journey to her new home, a croft in the Scottish Highlands. Ivy, a rescue ferret who lives with Dr June McNicholas and Dr Jeff Lewis, is keeping a diary of her wonderful new life. Here, she shares her first impressions of life on the shores of a loch.
Around the time that the Christmas issue of Ferrets First went to print, I was taking the longest journey of my life, over 600 miles to the far north west of Scotland. In fact, if you went any further, you'd probably drop off the mainland!
My new home is a 300-year-old croft on the shores of Little Loch Broom. Of course, I took everyone else with me too. Dr June, Dr Jeff and all the other members of the family. Mind you, it was a bit of a journey, I can tell you! I usually enjoy travelling - trains, private taxis, even chauffeured cars to studios when I'm working, all very nice and befitting of a ferret of my standing. But this journey, well, I nearly died when I found out. I'm used to Dr Jeff's Volvo - very comfortable, and of course, most of my travelling was in Dr June's rather sporty little number, so it was a bit of a shock to find she'd swapped it for a van - a white Transit, if you please! Me, a passenger in a white commercial - just so, so, infra dig. What made it worse was that some of my companions treated it like a day trip to Bangor, bouncing in their hammocks and making rude gestures at drivers behind us through the rear windows. We probably left a trail of pile-ups behind us.
Still it was worth the 14-hour journey, I must say. Being blind, I can't see my surroundings but I can smell and hear the difference. Sharp sea air and moorland heather, with the calls of seabirds, eagles, stags and other wildlife. A bit different from the outskirts of Coventry! And the views here are said to be spectacular, I heard Dr June on the phone telling someone about the high mountains, windy hillsides and men in kilts. I'm not sure what sort of scenery she was getting at with those connections, but I shan't pursue that.
We are more or less settled in. Most of the other ferrets are housed in barns, stables and cattle stalls - no shortage of spacious accommodation here. I, of course, am a house ferret, so I set to work exploring my new surroundings. There's an awful lot of rooms and it's a bit confusing when you can't see. I mean, why have two staircases that don't meet?
And the kitchen is huge, although the Rayburn has a lovely little inglenook, a wonderful place to have a hammock. But the best thing is all the open fireplaces with their coal scuttles and peat buckets. I've had a wonderful time experimenting with tinting my coat.
None of us ferrets have done much exploring outside yet, but I do know there's an orchard, several paddocks and some woodland. However, it seems we must be a bit careful up here. There are eagles, wild cats, pine martens, foxes and badgers - all rather predatory.
Even the local otters have been known to swipe a chicken or two. It's all a bit scary but rather exciting - a bit like being frontiersmen, like Davy Crockett, you know, the chap with the funny hat.
Which brings me to another subject. We have three. Not frontiersmen, funny hats - live ones, Christmas saw the arrival of 'The Three Masketeers' - a trio of young raccoons. Why, I ask you? Didn't Dr June and Dr Jeff have enough with all of us ferrets? Well, for whatever reason, they are here and I'm not at all sure what to make of them. Their sole aim in life seems to be to gather things up and soak them in the nearest water. Thank goodness Dr Jeff has put a secure bolt on the bathroom, I have a horrible feeling the little beggars might flush me down the U bend otherwise. Everyone thinks they are unbearably cute with their little hands and bandit faces. Hmm, I have my own opinions of them. I think they should damn well be put to work taking in laundry if they like washing things so much.
Anyway, here we all are, a new home and a new life. Ferret rescue continues, even up here, but now it's mixed with wildlife rescue, too. And, of course, everything that Dr June and Dr Jeff did workwise while in the Midlands, they'll carry on doing from up here.
One last thing I should mention is that our croft is called Croit Cullach - the croft of the polecat - named after Alyson Cordner's special hob, Cullach. It is a special place so it couldn't have a better name.