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Hot, wet and cold

For the benefit of those who do not live in the British Isles, the month of June can bring sun with an intensity that will burn exposed skin within minutes. Despite its northerly position Scotland is no exception to this rule; in fact due to the greater clarity of the air the threat may be greater still. Like so many others, of course, I should have known this, having lived in Britain all my life. So why is it that after a day on board Jim & Celia’s yacht my nose ended up a bright pink colour and my forehead glowing red like a stop light? Celia &Jim on VelaThe explanation I like best is that we associate a strong sun with heat and the two do not, as one might suppose, necessarily go hand in hand. In fact there was such a chill in the air out at sea in the middle of Kilbrannan Sound that a jumper and a windproof jacket were needed to retain body warmth, despite the sunray lamp in the sky. The sun reflected off the sea and the deck of the boat as we drifted along in the light breeze but common sense precautions like wearing a hat or slapping on sun cream are soon forgotten when all about us is so peaceful and the only sound is that gurgling of the water past the hull and the occasional ‘burp’ from the autohelm as it applies a small correction.

Back on land, with temperatures rising into the mid twenties Celsius, we all thought that summer had at last arrived so naturally I dusted off my best shorts when we drove to Loch Lomond to meet up with our son Ben who had briefly joined the ‘Folk Trail’ on their trek from Land’s End to John O’ Groats. It took me only a moment outside in the breeze to realise that I had once again misjudged the weather, made a poor choice in the lower leg protection department. On went the trousers in a flash. Kate on the West Higland WayMy white legs are destined to last a little longer.

Our meeting with Clare, Cara the dog, and the other walkers took place on what must be the flattest part of the West Highland Way, the long distance footpath that begins somewhere north of Glasgow and wends its way north for ninety six miles to Fort William. We followed the leafy route of a disused railway line for five miles or so until we bumped into the group as they rounded a small hill, then we traipsed back with them to their campsite outside Drymen. Later the same day we joined them for a pub folk music session which went on enthusiastically until the very wee hours, by which time some serious rain was falling all across the area. With a timetable to keep to, a different place to visit every night, the walkers are committed to setting off each day whatever the weather is doing. That’s real dedication!

Maartje arrives in CampbeltownWe could not travel further with them because we were expecting our first house-guest to arrive on the bus from Glasgow. Maartje has provided us with a list of things she would like to see and do on her visit – castles, horse riding, and owls being high on the agenda. The first two are pretty straightforward. The last is a bit more problematical but we tell her to keep quiet at night so she can hear them outside the house. (Maartje tells us that the Dutch word for owl is ‘uil’ but the way she says this is impossible to replicate.)

Carradale has produced some rainMaartje in the rain for the start of her visit, but we advise all visitors here to come equipped so all is well. As ever here in Carradale, the weather being experienced at this moment will not be the same as the weather an hour or so later. We can expect the sun to burst through any time soon.

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