Desperately Seeking Sunshine

We Scots have had our seasonal expectations thwarted so far this summer. Instead of balmy, sunny days, we’ve had grey skies and rain. Day after chilly day. Summer dresses, shorts and sandals languish in the nation’s wardrobes in favour of warmer clothes.  ‘Taps’ have stayed ‘Oan’, robbing our countrymen of their chance to display tats and torsos .  (We must be thankful for small mercies.) While we love a moan about the climate this is going beyond the pale (ha! we’re all peely-wally) and if social media is anything to go by, Scots are now as depressed as the weather.

So, in an effort to revive flagging serotonin levels, the Old Man and I headed west this weekend in search of sunshine. Seems like we weren’t the only ones – the roads were busy and we wended our way slowly up to Oban and North Lorn, eventually stopping at Port Appin to walk a short circuit around the coast.

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Thankfully the weather gods rewarded us with  a few hours of sunshine and fabulous views over the sea to Lismore. We pottered about the rock pools, sat in the sun, had a beer al fresco and watched the sunset from the bar in the delightful Oyster Inn at Connel. And I thought: Ah yes, this is what summer feels like.

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Summer Escapades

After weeks of training for last month’s West Highland Way Challenge for Breast Cancer Now, I was concerned that I might feel deflated once it was all over. Luckily, it’s been an eventful time which has taken me to many and varied parts of Scotland, starting with a hen party island adventure.

Our celebration of Lindsay’s final weeks of singledom looked destined to be a flop when Calmac – the ferry company which links the Scottish mainland to its many Hebridean islands – went on strike for a day…..the very day we were due to sail.

DRAT! HOW VERY DARE THEY. I posted a ditty on Calmac’s Facebook page:-

A plea to Calmac Ferrymen, please don’t spoil Oor Lindsay’s hen!

Arran is our port of call, where we’d planned to have a ball.

The girls arrive from far and wide, Auchrannie’s where we’re meant to bide.

Now we hear a strike’s been planned, how the feck are we going to land?

We’ve planned the gig for many a day and upfront we have had to pay.

We’ve tried to sort Plan B and C, but to be honest we’re all at sea!

So, please Guys, get us to the Isle, and help send Lindsay doon the aisle.

But to no avail. With a few days to go, the strike was going ahead and our weekend looked scuppered. However, thanks to Laura, our uber organiser, we found ourselves at Ardrossan jetty bound for Brodick on a RiB. (That stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat. It is NOT a dinghy.)

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After a bouncy, breezy crossing we arrived at the splendid Auchrannie resort for a fabulous weekend of fizz, fun and pink paraphernalia, courtesy of henpartysuperstore.co.uk.

After the excesses of the hen weekend, it was time to walk my way back to sobriety. Dodging rainstorms and midges, I’ve clocked up many more miles in diverse parts of our glorious country, taking in beaches, canal towpaths and waterfalls.

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It may rain a lot (OK, an awful lot) in Scotland, but for me, it’s never dull.

Beach Roaming

As I stepped out of the car and into a blast of exceedingly fresh air on Ayrshire’s glorious coastline, I experienced a patriotic ‘Scotland The Brave’ moment . The thermometer had barely reached double figures but there were my valiant countrymen proud and resplendently ‘Taps Aff’. While I struggled in the stiff breeze to layer-up effectively, they manfully strutted in shorts and tats. Summer had apparently arrived, albeit a tad prematurely.

Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer six months ago, I’ve longed for a stroll along the beach, but knew I’d have to get stronger before facing our bracing sea air. So with temperatures soaring this week, I decided the time was right to hit the coast and packed the car with a range of outdoor clothing with which to combat the gamut of Scottish elements. I set off southwards along Ayr’s splendid beach feeling slightly overdressed among the sartorial skimpiness of the spirited sunworshippers (OK, enough alliteration. Ed)

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The Ayrshire Coastal Path stretches 91 miles from Skelmorie in the north of the county to Glenapp in the south with Ayr at its midpoint. The route sticks close to the coastline and for much of its length it runs along sandy beaches.  Once I’d passed the town’s fleshpots, the beaches were virtually deserted. There was driftwood, oil tankers loomed spookily on the hazy horizons and a ruined castle……..but nary a tattoo in sight.

For more information on the Ayrshire Coastal Path, visit http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/glasgow/ayrshire-coastal-path.shtml