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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Liquid Gold

This morning Nigel and I paddled our sea kayaks across to Claonaig on Kintyre and back before breakfast at the Sandwich Station. It was like being out in the beginning of Time- misty grey and a flat calm sea teeming with jellyfish and leaping porpoises.

About a month ago there was a sequence of very low tides caused by a super moon. As parts of the seabed were revealed that I’d never seen before it looked like someone had pulled the plug out. There’s always something unusual going on in the natural world of Arran. Last week we had another before-breakfast paddle from Sannox to Lochranza with Pete Hart of the East Yorkshire Canoe Club. In the clear sea it was possible to see sea bed activity without being a scuba diver: it was a whole universe of sea urchins and anemones, starfish and crabs down there.

Right now we’re having a scorching summer after an Arctic Easter. I’ve never been as hot on Arran as in this month! Outside the window whilst I write this campers are worshipping the sun. (The deer are lying low in the bog areas of the golf course.) Our north-west facing campsite is a hot bowl of sunshine and never-ending daylight when there is good weather in summer. Other folk are heading for the water whether it’s the rocky beach by the pier, the pools of Glen Catacol or Coire Fhion Lochain.

Every year the winners and losers in nature change. It was a late spring that turned out to be wonderful for wildflowers. Meanwhile I haven’t seen a buzzard on the golf course since before the blizzard and it always seemed that it was their domain until then. The wet weather of early May brought springs spurting out in places on the golf course where none used to be. In past times- which didn’t take a water supply for granted- these springs would have been regarded as a blessing, so we mulled over decorating them instead of complaining about them. Now, the thirsty ground must be greedily gulping them down.  

Whatever the weather, Arran’s atmosphere is vibrant in summer with special events, and if you missed the Bronze Age Festival at Brodick Castle last weekend you missed a treat. A team of archaeologists from Northlight Heritage and Glasgow University conducted experiments based on their excavations to try to find out how things were done 4,000 years ago. The weekend culminated in the burning of a timber circle in a field high above the castle. As the flames took hold, we all drew closer to the safety rope enjoying the warmth and the spectacle. Earlier, Neil Burridge of www.bronze-age-craft.com had demonstrated the processes involved in creating a Bronze Age sword. The case that had had molten bronze poured in was opened, amidst rapt suspense, to reveal a slender, gleaming blade.  Neil told us how such swords are often excavated from rivers and lakes most probably having been thrown in as a gift to the gods. 4,000 years ago our ancestors longed for sun and water.

What’s changed?