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Saturday, 24 July 2010

On Rain, Golf and Whisky

Almost three months of sunshine had brought about empty burns and parched ground until last week when Nature remedied matters with a flash flood in Lochranza. Torrential rain streamed off the steep hillsides and the dry ground failed to absorb it.

The golf course looked like an extension to the loch but Dunkirk spirit was much in evidence with everyone helping each other and the Village Hall and the PGL Centre opening for people who had got very wet. The deer meanwhile headed up to the hills.

The waters quickly subsided leaving us with a major operation of fencing repairs. The sheep seized the opportunity to run back into the golf course, and Mr. and Mrs. Mahers, two of our camping survivors, found some of their belongings in the loch near the castle several days later.

It has been an unusual year: a long, snowy winter; a drought and then heavy rain, but Scotland has been looking like itself again with strands of mist curled round the hills. The verdant green of grass and bracken is dotted with the delicate purples and blues of heather and harebells.

Talking of weather, people who go out in it whatever it’s doing are golfers. I have revised all my preconceived ideas about golf since I arrived in Scotland. I didn’t realise that golf had developed as a sport which worked in the wild Scottish coastal scenery. I had no idea that when you hit the ball, you can’t see the target. And I definitely didn’t expect it to be so hard to play. Local Golf Pro Dougie Bell is now giving lessons on the golf course (including to Nigel and myself). He swings the club with graceful nonchalance and the ball flies way over the trees lining the burn. To get the ball airborne, never mind in the right direction, is my current target.

Golf isn’t an exclusive sport in Scotland; everyone enjoys it- a bit like whisky. Incidentally, the Isle of Arran distillery had an open day at the beginning of the month with lots of free tasting. I have to admit, a drop of whisky fire in my veins when we arrived here in the icy weather of February went down very well, but on a sunny warm afternoon in a carnival atmosphere and surrounded by the Lochranza hills, it made a lovely summer drink too. Skerryvore played in the Village Hall later in the day. I’d travel a long way to see this band but having them in the same village was a treat beyond all my expectations.

As I write this it’s afternoon and blue sky has pushed yesterday’s clouds away. The site is very quiet after the rain and outside our caravan a little herd of deer, with hinds, last year’s young and a little calf, are flat out fast asleep. Further down the golf course, four stags are having their version of a hot tub party. They are sitting together in a bunker on the golf course so that you can only see their splendid new antlers above the rim.

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