With this odd late, hot, dry summer, though on the whole the garden suffered, the vine in the greenhouse produced inordinate quantities of grapes. The entire roof of the greenhouse was heavy with the things, and so in a moment of weird optimism, we decided to make wine. Dr Biswell, who is back this weekend, produced a winemakeing song while we were running about blue and gold autumnal Speyside buying butter-yellow chanterelles and a Sassanian rock-crystal seal (we went over the Cabrach, which is as beautiful, wild and remote as you could ask for, with the sense that this is the last day of the year when we would venture that road): ‘Squash, squash, splish, splosh. Make wine, get sloshed.’ Which about sums it up really. Dr B and the Professor picked the grapes, which were then picked over for dodgy ones, insects and what have you, and he and the Gamekeeper mashed them with the potato-masher and put them through a sieve. The end of everyone’s labours was an entire demijohn full of grape juice, which may or may not turn into wine. It would be rather nice if it did; it’s the madness of the whole concept of making wine in northern Aberdeenshire … if it is absolutely revolting then it it can be sacrificed to the gods & manes of the locality. If it’s drinkable then I will drink it, on principle.