Tuesday, September 28



is my birthday month:  

On the evening of 31st August I stepped on a  Pacific Oyster while paddling in the sea, slicing an eye-watering amount from the underneath of my foot - the first half of the month involved a lot of hopping

back on both feet by mid-month and off on the Grand Scottish Birthday Swimming Tour: 

swim 1

my little sister lives next to the Kingdom of Fife which has a beautiful coastline. We drove out to a windswept and out-of-season-empty village with a fantastical tidal swimming pool created by the natural rock formations on the shoreline. Wanting to jump in but spooked by the lack of people we spotted a silver Airstream caravan/coffee bus with two young women inside, we went over and asked

do people swim there?

Ooch aye, it's usually rammed, they all go in with balloons on their backs* it's a wee bit cosier in there than out in the sea

 *fluorescent towfloats used by sea swimmers 

swim 2

west highlands, visiting a friend. She took me to Loch Maree, reknowned for being 'spooky' with a haunted burial island in the middle of it and for having 'black water'. At the edge of the loch the water is copper-coloured and the mossy pebbles below glow like gold.

swim 3

skinny dipping on the westernmost edge of mainland UK - Sanna Bay - a series of soft white sand bays and sand dunes, the water crystal clear

swims 4, 5, 6 ...

The Ardnamurchan Peninsula: rain showers and rainbows coming fast and furious. I'm staying in a converted barn called 'The Folly'. 

By walking a mile uphill along a tarmac road. I come to a farm gate, with astonishing views of mountains, the outline of Mull and all the weather coming and going across the vast sky. Far below is a sandy bay, reached via a zigzag path through bright green fields. Sheep stop and stare as I squelch past them. There are Bronze age burial sites and standing stones in the fields. When I finally arrive at the shore a congregation of cattle hurry over, jostling to point and laugh as I wade into yet more water.



  1. My eye watered too when I read about your foot - I hope it's better now.
    That sounds like a wonderful birthday tour - beautiful. I have friends that go to Scotland every year without fail. I would like a return visit as I don't think I've been north of the Watford Gap in years.

  2. I am re-soled - thank you Scarlet. Scotland feels impossibly exotic to me after staying within 100 mile radius for the last two years xx

  3. It all sounds delightful! Well not having oystered your foot, but the rest of it,Oh! Happy Birthday. xx


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