How’s this for an oxymoron: Harry and I are on a summer Scotland expedition! You heard me right.
We’ve split it between Edinburgh and the bonnie Isle of Arran. Translation: we have between us half a pair of trousers and two shoes still dry. Intepretation: We are currently sheltering in ‘PHT’, one of our locals, while Boney M. is piped VERY LOUDLY overhead. In summary: I am in dire need of a large glass of wine, because I can’t for the life of me concentrate with ‘Rivers of Babylon’ (1978) bouncing Europopilly through my lugholes. Aaaaand now it’s Barry Manilow (1975). And now Meatloaf’s Hellbats (1977). Help, we’re trapped in a ’70s easy listening earwarp!
(Phew… Lou Reed. Praise be to he. Balance is restored.)
Anyway, let’s push on through, shall we – we have had an ace shock of days in the crammed ‘Burgh for EdFest. Key constituent parts: proper lovely faces (big thank you to Amy and Laura); some good running (including round Arthur’s seat); my surrealist first date with Tony Law (a stand up dissenter. Still not sure what happened, but it felt like an awakening); a stomping midnight ceilidh in the city caves with the bae (that’s his cool name now) and company (our calves are still feeling that one).
And now we’re camping in Arran, as of last night, from o’er very choppy waters. In my 28 years I’ve been able to count myself very lucky to have been to most of Scotland’s Western islands, but Arran’s a first for me. For H-face it’s a trip back into seven year-olddom, the cutie. Today after a somewhat concerning night with the wind, we’ve trekked to see the best standing stones the island has to offer and soaked up remnants of ancient burial rituals. (To my Dad, we have been trawling some wonders! And doing some wanders. You’d be proud).
What always surprises me is the number of Englanders who haven’t been to Scotland, let alone taken the trip up watery westwards, and to them, I say, go. Go now. Unless you are a fool without a cagoule. For there is a big rule. Weather apps are nice, but they become a bit null, and often void in these lands. Being islanders anyway, you should’ve come to know and appreciate that things can change quickly where the weather’s involved. On the likes of Arran, this is even more pronounced. Case in point: we’re camping in Lamlash, and we have seen Lamlash stun in the sun, and Lamlash become the inside of a soaking waterproof in the rain. The kind of rain where you feel like a giant is chucking fistfalls of sea at you. It’s great.
But, I am mindful of the fact that it is usually the dismaland that keeps people away, so I want to assure you, you can do summer here, with the rain! You just need some tactics…
1. Go for it, get wet
This is a big one. There is no point waiting for the sun to come out. If you have a plan, unless it is climbing up to the peak, you go out. And when it’s slightly less than pouring, you go out. If it’s driest in the morning, go out. But bring wellies.
2. Get thyself to an outdoor shop
…to afford yourself, at the very least, the psychological semblance of preparedness by checking out every flummoxing outdoorsy snicket available to you. We’re planning to head up Goatfell tomorrow (yippee) and I know I am going to be wearing my running lycra. We went to an outdoors shop earlier and I picked up some child’s waterproof trousers, in a dab at practicality. But they were still too long, and some of them were £50 a pair, which is ridiculous. So I’d also advise sticking to what you know or are at least comfortable in. Non-chafing!
3. Go to a distillery and/or do a trawl of local crafters/producers.
The latter in particular is very cathartic. Especially when you see something refreshing, something aside from commercial prints and easy sells, something which really is a creative translation of the world outside. The former is also quite fun and tastes nice. As does cheese. We got to see the curds today! Arran curds. These are cheese fingers.
4. Enjoy a good nap. Or Battleships!
We did the nap. We needed to after our R.E.M. was destroyed by the midnight wind. But we appear to have lost our Battleships. The intention was there though.
5. By Harry: Find a good pub, drink plenty while your better half tap tap taps away. Tappidy tap tap. Tap. Then eat food, drink more and stagger through the water home. I say home, back to the tent. The windy windy tent. Windy, noisy flappy tent. Best tip here – stuff your pillow in the hood of your sleeping bag, tighten the cord so then your head is wedged. It’s like a pillowy cacoon, one that shields your ears from all the noise. I was particularly pleased with this early hours innovation – how often do you get a good idea when you’re sleeping and actually get to carry it out there an then, rather than something forever forgotten.
And that, dear friends, is that.