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"World tour of Scotland" at www.nigelandkathyinscotland.blogspot.com

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Summer’s here. Outside the caravan, the leaves of the huge sycamore are filled with the murmurings of bees and the cuckoo has been making its presence known since half past two this morning. We’ve just been out paddling in our sea kayaks, passing porpoises along the coast. There are still no midges and this, believe it or not, is a bad thing. It has set back the breeding of swallows and bats. In fact the whole food chain right up to the great raptors is affected.

Over the last week, it has been the annual Isle of Arran Wildlife Festival. The varied programme has been delivered by volunteer experts with a passion for their subjects. As I’m fortunate enough to see deer, red squirrels, golden eagles and seals in my daily life here, I opted for sessions about the less obvious but equally wonderful forms of nature on Arran. For example, I had never before stopped to examine the variety of mosses that can grow on one tree stump, looking like miniature star-tipped forests through a hand lens. The photo shows Arran’s unique whitebeam trees in Glen Diobhan. As a bonus, on this particular session, we met one of Arran’s unique black adders slithering along the path.


We have also been treated to a living history performance by Jamie, who entertains and educates audiences about the romance, passion and bravery of his highland ancestors’ history. With a mixture of story-telling and weapons display, he mesmerised a sizeable audience of young children, staying at the PGL centre, for an hour and a half. He swung claymores and axes around their heads, whilst they gazed at him with instinctive trust. He also demonstrated the versatility of the plaid (the original outdoor gear and bivi tent all-in-one). With his wild hair and fiery energy you can certainly believe you’ve gone back two or three hundred years when you meet him.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Spring is in the Air

After the long, cold winter that has affected the whole of the British Isles, this spring seems very special. At one point, I wondered if I’d ever wear less than four layers of fleece again, so getting summer t-shirts out is a relief. The hillsides are covered in primroses and violets, and swallows are building nests in our shed. A local cuckoo and a peacock that’s living wild round here spend all day trying to shout louder than the other. The red deer have suffered over the winter, but juicy green grass shoots are making them very playful and alert again. Last year’s youngsters prance about and wallow in muddy hollows on the golf course. The little black-and-white-faced lambs are similarly mischievous and enjoy using the old barrels on the campsite to be kings of the castle. We spend a lot of time sweeping deer and sheep droppings off the fairways!

The big event of the last week is that Lochranza Golf opened for the season. We’re really grateful for the support and encouragement of local golfers. Of the many new jobs we are getting to grips with, we both agree that we are finding the art of green-keeping absorbing beyond anything we expected.

Nigel has been busy building a new bridge on the golf course and fixing the various tractors that seem to have suffered, like the deer, with the long, hard winter. He also had to repair the static caravan that we live in when visitors are on site as the floor collapsed. At the same time a sheep got stuck on a crossbar underneath it. We rescued it unharmed but I did keep worrying that I would step out of bed one day onto a sheep’s head peeping up from the floor!


Nigel and I did a wonderful mountain walk today: the Beinn Nuis, Beinn Tarsuinn and Beinn a’ Chliabhain circuit from Glen Rosa. Walking’s fantastic right now: long, fine days (it’s light till ten, you have the mountains to yourself and no midges or tall bracken to battle with).
Being on Arran’s mountain ridges is like wandering in a high up rock citadel, with weird granite shapes, patterns, walls and towers. All around you are jagged peaks and spiky ridges.
Here are two of our pictures: