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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.

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