Tavish Scott: Happiness is an island of healthy strimmers
IS THERE a secret to the lifestyle in the Northern Isles that has led to Shetland being ranked one of the happiest areas in the United Kingdom? Over this past week, I think I have stumbled upon one of my own personal reasons for contentment.
Should it be two-stroke or four? Before Scotsman readers become alarmed, I make no reference to Fifty Shades of Grey. Rather, the type of engine best suited for a strimmer to cut long grass, nettles, thistles, dockens and the like. The machine makes gardening a whole lot more fun, but an elderly version froze last week, at a most inopportune time to go “technical” as the airlines would say.
I took the offending strimmer up to the farm and consulted the farmer who does some engineering in his spare time. He reckoned that a lack of oil had caused the motor to seize. But the dipstick showed a trace so a second opinion was sought. The neighbouring farmer is an engineer who cuts silage and calves cows in his spare time. “Tavish, there is a technical name for what you’ve done to this engine,” he suggested.
There was no option. Weeds needed to be felled. I caught the ferry to the Shetland capital and researched a new model. Sales staff in Lerwick’s machinery emporiums were helpful on the vexed question of two-stroke or four. A two-stroke engine needs a petrol and oil mix to run smoothly. This means having not only a can of unleaded around the place but also the correct grade of oil and a measuring jug to get the mix right. Can I advise any man contemplating the purchase of a two-stroke model to buy the plastic measuring beaker in the store? Do not assume that she who must be obeyed will relish the removal of the kitchen measuring jug, returned with a slight odour of petrol and oil.
The second option is to purchase a four-stroke model which means filling the tank with unleaded petrol. No mixing of oil is necessary thereby accelerating the entire strimming process. Such models tend to be bigger but new designs that are well balanced and the accompanying harness, which is in effect a rucksack, all make life a lot more manageable.
The decision was therefore what the Lerwick salesman decreed as a “no brainer”, while looking mischievously at me. That perhaps, was not surprising given I had recounted the reason for this necessary purchase to the counter staff.
I returned to Bressay as the proud owner of a new strimmer. There are few more therapeutic experiences in life than cutting grass. Put me in charge of a forage harvester or a mower and the ills of the world disappear. But a strimmer is another galaxy of relaxation. It is surely one of the many reasons why Shetland has been ranked, along with Orkney and the Western Isles, as one of the most satisfying places to live in Britain. Yes there is landscape, peace and quiet, nature and so much more here on Shetland. But none can match the smooth running of a four-stroke engine. Happiness indeed.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
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