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

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wild and Wet

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

From Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I’ve always liked this poem (this is just the last verse) and it came into my head with the wild, wet weather we’ve had. Outside, the burn is a foamy torrent. If you pay attention you can hear all sorts of strange sounds in it: conversations, church bells, disco music, a woman singing….


It’s got to that time of year at Lochranza when I see more wild creatures than people in the course of a day: a late basking shark, a badger, 12 seals following my canoe, several red squirrels and countless red deer in one day last week, to be more precise. Every morning I open the curtains to see which of the golf course stags has won the hinds in the night. There’s ongoing tension between two stags who keep charging towards each other from different sides of the burn, but they stop short of a fight. The hinds meanwhile keep making a run for it. I watched one sitting down firmly some way from the herd and, of course, the stag soon arrived to get her back. When she didn’t move, he stuck out his foreleg and, Punch-and-Judy-like, struck her sharply on the head!

Deer Bath

You’d pay a lot in a 5* hotel to have a muddy wallow like this

As well as red deer, Lochranza has a significant badger population. I see their tracks in the morning raking of the bunkers; a tell-tale sign of their overnight raids to Mrs. McAllister’s garden. By the way, a comfortable place to see the local red squirrels close-up is in Val and Rino’s garden at the Stags Pavilion; you can watch squirrel acrobatics on the bird feeders over a coffee.

We’ve finished clearing the ditches and hopefully it’s helped to channel the plentiful rain out of the glen and into the sea. Rain and the Gulf Stream make Arran a lush island where all kinds of tropical plants can flourish. In fact, in the past, Lochranza’s hillsides were bare due to being churned up by cattle. Without these beasts, invaders like gorse, the ponticum rhododendron, ragwort and bracken are spreading fast- all beautiful but destructive…… a bit like the deer.

Our second season is nearly over- we close on Oct 31st. Looking back over the year we’ve been wet a lot, we’ve been blown around a lot, done smelly tasks a lot, and back breaking tasks a lot. We rarely get out of our fleeces and wellies! But……we’ve had a wonderful time. How could it be anything else when we live so close to nature?

It’s also been a joy to meet so many of you and hear your tales and enjoy sharing your experiences, if only briefly.

When the season ends we’re going motor-homing and are looking forward to being world-wanderers ourselves for a little while. I’ll keep you posted how we get on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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