Thursday, September 29, 2005

Due South
By Mark Entwistle
The Southern Reporter
Selkirk, The Borders
Scotland

Can’t get married outside in a rain squall

Well, it looks like summer may finally be passing for another year here in the Scottish Borders.

We’ve actually had a bit of an Indian summer for the last week or two, with some lovely days of very warm sunshine and blue skies and even the swallows lingering for a few days longer than usual.

This is definitely one of my favourite times of the year here in the Borders.

Warm September days with the countryside a patchwork quilt of golden-coloured fields after harvesting and the big round dotted bales of straw scattered everywhere awaiting collection. (I just threw that quilt reference in to keep Mississippi’s quilting queen Linda happy!)

Added to that, our hillsides are the most amazing colour of deep purple and dark red just now, as the heather comes into full bloom.

That purple shade so distinctive of heather is the colour that always reminds me of home and Scotland whenever I am away from it on holiday.

Making the news in this part of the world this week is the controversial subject of wind farms. Scotland gets plenty of wind, so lots of developers are applying for permission to build wind farms here in the Borders.

Everybody agrees they are a good idea, but nobody wants to live near one or have the giant turbines visible from their homes. And the more demand there is on oil reserves coupled with warnings over global warming, the more pressure there will be to build even more wind farms.

Other interesting news this week concerns Leven Brown, a local guy attempting to row the Atlantic. He set off 18 days ago from near Cadiz in southern Spain, but strong winds and tides have meant he has only covered 106 miles.

That leaves 3,788 to go. Fingers crossed.

Speaking of holidays, my wife, Ally and I are off on holiday this week. As you read this, we will be setting off for 10 days’ much-anticipated break to one of our most favourite places - the Isle of Skye.

The jewel of the Inner Hebrides islands off Scotland’s west coast, it is called Eilean a’ Cheò in the native Gaelic language, which translates as ‘The Misty Isle’, and for good reason.

Ally and I got married on Skye last October and the wedding service was due to be held in the ruins of the ancient MacDonald stronghold of Duntulm Castle, perched hundreds of feet high above the sea on the island’s northern-most tip.

My mother’s family, the Allans, are descendants of the MacDonalds of Clan Ranald, so it lent a little extra special atmosphere to the whole thing.

Being experienced Skye ‘hands’ both Ally and I were well aware of the weather risks in holding an outdoor service on Skye in October.

But we took the chance. By the time of the ceremony on Saturday, October 2, a driving rain squall was making it difficult to even stand up straight, never mind get married.

So off we all set again in convoy, for the nearby hotel in which we were staying. And there, with the rain sheeting down outside and the highland wind battering the windows, we were married by the Rev. McLean of the Free Church of Scotland in the hotel’s beautiful drawing room.

And it was still the best day of my life - rain, wind, mud and all.

Oh yes, we did eventually get out to our fairytale castle.

The very next day, the sun rose, the skies were blue and the wind fresh and, with my wife watching, I hurled her wedding bouquet over the castle wall to the sea below in memory of the MacDonalds.

I wouldn’t have changed a thing - mind you, a little bit more sunshine this time round would not go amiss!


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