My friend sends me a message saying her son is on the island with his, “Ace wife”. “Do meet him”, her message implores. I dutifully send a message to Kevin, a complete stranger, wondering how to phrase an invitation. I include the offer of fattie cutties as a suitable inducement. There’s no reply. I eat most of the fattie cutties for mid-morning break. After all, it’s impossible not to, once you’ve opened the packet.
Here’s the history and, importantly, the recipe:
Four years ago they were £2.50. Now they’re £3.25. The price of getting fat pleasurably today is unbearable.
If you ever try a Google search for fattie cutties do beware of autocorrect. Fattie cuties are something else entirely.
Several days later I’m in my slippers carrying an inspection torch in the middle of the morning, in one of the outbuildings, doing a Swallow survey when I hear a voice. It’s Kevin and his ace wife Maria. “Hello, I’m David”, I say, wondering whether to explain the torch and the slippers. “I’m just doing a survey of the Swallows’ nests,” sounds a bit strange. I invite them in and wish I’d tidied up. I have a kitchen table which seats ten people which has a very small space for me to eat my dinner and the other spaces taken up entirely with photographic gear. I make tea and offer them the three remaining fattie cutties. “Do have them all”, I say, “I’ve just eaten the rest of the pack.”
I give them a tour. There’s a dead Starling in the Hall. It’s right where you’d walk and must seem strange. Why would I leave a dead Starling in the Hall? “I’m leaving that there until I have time”, I say. “There was another dead one and that was writhing with maggots when I picked it up and it would be great to get a close-up video of all the maggots writhing.” I think Maria would be good at poker and I consider whether I may have shared too much. I don’t come across as… eccentric, do I?
It turns out Kevin has been restoring a stylish Nottingham-made ocean-going kayak to full health, with patches to the leaky fibreglass. He’s going to try it out for seaworthiness. I tell him I’ve just got a kayak too, a fabulously exciting inflatable one, which my son bought me as a present. It’s still in the cardboard box. He suggests we try our kayaks out together, then and there.
I take my waterproof camera with me, put on a wetsuit and funny rubber shoes and hoof it down to the Sands of Helzie where we try to work out where the valves are so I can blow my kayak up. It’s an incredible thing, so brilliantly engineered and the folding paddle is wonderful. Gabriel, you bought me the perfect present. The feeling of relaxation and relief when you’re out on the water is more than sublime, it’s superlime.
Here’s Kevin in his kayak:
Sunshine, turquoise seas, white shell sand and not another person around. Idyllic. And despite the fattie cutties I still fit into my wetsuit.