|07/02/2012||Filled under Carradale|
We have been on another of our walks (it only takes a bit of sunshine to get us out), this one to a viewpoint just above the snowline from where the whole village spreads out like a map. It is very wet underfoot and the air is cold, but the view is well worth the effort of the climb. Before coming here we were told that snow rarely stays for long and that the climate is generally milder than its latitude justifies due to the influence of the Gulf Stream. From the mid point of our first winter it is difficult to judge the accuracy of this statement but a photo taken recently from the lane close to my mother’s house in East Sussex seems to indicate that there may be some truth there. The contrast between the two landscapes is striking.
Arriving back from our walk we are barely out of our outdoor clothes when the phone rings and Kate is answering a query about the minutes she has drafted for either the Village Hall or some other committee. I nudge her gently to remind her that we must get ready to go out again soon as we are playing bowls tonight, an activity we have become involved in since moving here. Our coats go on again and we march off through the village then on down the lane towards the Village Hall. Night has fallen and the darkness beyond the reach of the yellow streetlights is impenetrable so we use torches to throw pools of light before us as we skirt the edge of a field then dodge the water-filled potholes to the door of the hall. Soon inside we greet our friends; all of us have turned out for the highlight of the week, carpet bowls.
In simple terms this is all about the art of the seemingly impossible, rolling a ball along a curved path on a flat surface. The target jack, a smaller white ball, is placed at one end of the mat behind an obstructing block, in such a way that it is impossible to aim in a straight line. The bowls are weighted on one side giving them a ‘bias’ which makes them swerve gently to one side and the trick is to get this just right so that the bowl comes to rest nestled up to the jack. Slight imperfections in the floor of our village hall add interest to the whole process so that even the most skilful players are sometimes caught out and beginners like us can strike lucky and appear impressively adept. Which all adds to the fun, of course. A perfectly targeted throw usually generates a satisfying inner glow although unlike in a game of football, hugging and kissing rarely takes place.
There are times now when our lives get quite busy and it seems we hardly have time to catch breath. The fact that it is all of our own doing is of little consequence. Sometimes it is very difficult to refuse when we are asked to take on this job or to sit on that committee – we are interested, proud of our village. We are suffering (not really the right word) the plight of many newcomers, seized upon as new blood by those who have lived here for many years, giving them the opportunity to step back for a while. Jobs like Village Hall Secretary have been passed around the community for so long that when someone new arrives they are weighed up for suitability and roped in. There is so much going on here. The carpet bowls we have tried and taken to – it is gentle fun – and then there is the badminton, netball and soon Scottish country dancing as well.
The Campbeltown Sailing Club keeps me fairly busy too. There is the website to look after and a newsletter to be produced every so often, and with the project to develop Carradale Harbour – moorings laid outside the harbour are just the start – there is now another website which will document the history of the harbour and track the forward progress of the Harbour User Group (CHUG) in its efforts to re-generate the harbour area. For Kate and I we must avoid taking on too much so that our lives here cease to be pleasurable.
Despite all this activity, sometime later this year we plan to take to the water again aboard Cirrus Cat. We are delighted to learn that our friend Richard, who hails from our old sailing ground in Faversham, Kent, plans to bring his boat Endeavour to the Western Isles this year. What’s more, Richard’s son Tim, seen here playing music with dad in Endeavour’s cabin, now plans to bring his own boat (and music) to the Western Isles too. Is Scotland entirely ready for this influx of yachty Irish-Englishness or should we stand ready to repel them perhaps? No, their company will be most welcome and we look forward to sharing an anchorage with them some time soon.