Monday 4 November 2019

The western front

Never being one to canvas envy, it would be churlish of me to mention that I write this column today from a beautiful white sandy beach in blazing sunshine, with a backdrop of heather-clad mountains soaring towards blue skies. But I will. No, we are not in France, nor even the wonders of Spain or Portugal, but bonnie Scotland. For those who have never ventured to its west coast, just read this as an advert for its unrivalled splendour and make a mental not to do so. It is over two weeks since we left France, initially to attend a wedding in St Andrews, Libby our old campervan chugging tirelessly up the M6 with baited breath awaiting her annual check-over. Thankfully she got the all clear, and a certificate for another year in service. On our arrival in Fife we were met by a gaggle of French ex-pats and between us we partied in our wee cottage for nigh on a week. As my intentions of instigating the start of our building works were scuppered by the life-long procrastinators of Fife council, who have still yet to issue our building warrant, once the throng departed, so did we, heading West. A night in Glencoe on what is known in these parts as a ‘driek’ day, the low cloud and occasional drizzle was almost fitting, setting an eerie atmosphere to this place of historic battles steeped in its Pictish past.
Heading an hour south took us to Port Appin, a sleepy village on the shores of sunny Loch Linnie, boasting one of the best seafood restaurants in Europe. I have frequently been labelled as cheeky, not least by my late mother, and it certainly stands you in good stead when it comes to travelling with a house on your back. A quick reccie discovered an old farm track leading out from the village and a spur heading off through the thick bracken opening up to a cove so private we could have been on our own island. Two days here and the concerns and headaches of the past week faded rapidly into bliss as we parked within a few yards of the water with only an equally cheeky seal for company. Sadly he stole our dinner, mopping up the few fish in the bay that had evaded my fishing line for half a day, but his/her needs were far greater than ours as one assumes that, unlike us, he had no access to the self checkout at Tescos the previous day! I admit we had a slightly hairy moment getting the vehicle back up the aforementioned dirt track and at one point thought we might have to use ‘dial-a-farmer’ to tow us out. But we made it, continuing south to Seil Island and the beautiful if somewhat unpronounceable village of Ellenabeich and its tiny island of Easdale. After a few too many drams in its local pub, debating climate-change for an evening with a chap who spent 40 years researching it inside the Arctic circle, I have sent a photo of the scene we woke up to the next morning which even I, as a man of many words, fail to do justice to when describing its beauty.
A couple of ferry rides brings me to the now, where we are parked on this blessed beach, counting down the days until we exchange Scotland for Ireland and all that it beholds. Watch this space for that episode.
Meanwhile, back on planet normal, I feel I have little to complain about for once. Except maybe that UK’s airport staff are planning to hold the country to ransom during its busiest period over a 2p per hour pay dispute. To quote the Telegraph, the only access I have had to part-reality in the past fortnight, their union spokesman says “our members are essential to the smooth running of the airport and hence should be paid more!” Pardon? That’s like saying gravy is essential to my Sunday roast and therefore should cost a tenner? Or politicians are necessary to the smooth running of our daily lives and therefore we need lots of them. Which brings me neatly round to the horrific fact that by the time this goes to print ‘Boris Trump and the Lunatics’ really will be running the asylum when realistically they would be more suited to the comedy stage at Glastonbury!
See ya’ll back in France!

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