I need a holiday to recover from the holidays
Thank goodness it’s August. July has been so busy that I feel like I’ve barely had time to breathe. To anyone who arrived here hoping for a tree on Tuesday, sorry. On Tuesday I was in the wilds of Argyll, out of phone and internet contact with the outside world. Nothing wrong with that; indeed, the coast of Argyll is one of my favourite places to be. The sea stretches long fingers inland, and the land is broken up into green islands and peninsulas: every view is ridiculously picturesque. I did try to take a picture or two to share with you, but it’s all so beautiful that every photo looks like a postcard cliché. Oh look, here’s another blue sea-loch dotted with white sailing boats, with a background of purple hills! Well, all right, here’s an example, though this one was taken on a wet day, so you don’t get that Technicolor effect that the sunshine gives to the scenery.
See? Even in the rain, it’s a cliché. You’ll just have to go there in person one of these days. If you do, I can recommend the Sea Life Centre north of the Connel Bridge, with its impossibly cute otters.
They must know that they are gorgeous. They are very good at posing nonchalantly for photographs:
and are quite unconcerned about bathing in front of an audience: in fact, they seem almost as interested in us as we are in them.
As Cute Overload has taught me to say, ‘Squeeeeee!!!’
Apart from enjoying the beaches and wildlife of Argyll and Orkney (with all the attendant packing, unpacking, catering and laundry which such family trips involve) I have also, in July, hosted a family Christening, entertained a different group of guests every day for ten days during our annual fishing week here, left Argyll to travel for two days to attend a family funeral in England and attended my first royal garden party at the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, where my husband was part of the Queen’s ceremonial bodyguard. (Yes, I should tell you more about that some time!) In fact, we’ve had only one day in the past month with nothing happening in it. Now, most of this has been lovely, holidays and catching up with friends and family; it’s not exactly the salt mines, is it. So I am not complaining at all about the content. I just wish it could have been a little more spread out, perhaps. July is always a bit mad here at Castle Beastie, but this has been exceptional. Thus I was very glad to return home from the funeral late on Friday, and to have got my boys back from Argyll this afternoon. At last we are all home, with a ‘normal’ week ahead of us. Phew.
According to the London-based ‘national’ press, August is the height of the summer holidays. The schools have just broken up and families can look forward to a whole month of barbecues in the back garden and sandcastle-building in Cornwall, allegedly. Reading the annual guff about this sort of thing is starting to annoy me. August in Scotland is the month the schools go back. The fine weather of May and June has broken, midsummer is well behind us and, while the northern sky is still light at eleven, dusk is already falling here on the edge of the Highlands by nine in the evening. The tips of the trees are starting to look yellowish as the sap begins to fall. We will still get a few good hot days, but the apex of the season is past. So, once I’ve caught up with all the holiday laundry, it will be time to think about new school shoes, regulation haircuts and all the rest. But actually, I rather like this feel of the wheel of the year turning. Holidays are exhausting: bring on term time!