Today is the first day of autumn, my favourite season. It is a time of dark evenings, powerful sunsets, strong moons, and wondrous colours, nature preparing for recharge and regeneration, and frosty mornings. Autumn holds the promise of a season crisp and fresh, like the chill of a drink taken from the well of new ideas in a crystal glass, or the crunch of grass underfoot, that was slowly iced by the early morning haar that floated in from the North Sea and smothered Leith Links in a golden dawn.
Autumn is traditionally my most productive period of the year, although this year will have to be a belter if it is to beat what I’ve achieved so far. Autumn marks the end of the summer, finally burying the book festival into the back of my head for another year. It spells the end of that summer feeling, of bright mornings and green plush grass with a splash of sand and sea, dancing and partying, and the Mediterranean spirit. It’s the end of drinking coffee early in the morning with the rabbits in the garden, and of writing to natural light at 5am. Autumn means October will soon be here, and I’ll be listening to Stella by Yello, and The Wall by Pink Floyd. Autumn means November is coming, and with it NaNoWriMo, and a month of intense and focussed creative energy as a new novel emerges from my mind.
I have a great feeling about the rest of the year.
In the news today was a report that Scotland’s first no fishing zone has come into effect at Lamlash Bay, off the Isle of Arran. This is significant because not only was Arran mentioned in my recent blog entry from our family trip to Sandylands, but Lamlash Bay is also the place where I caught my first every fish.
I can’t remember what year it was – you’d have to ask my mother or father – but I’d take a guess it was around Easter of 1983/84. Our family (my parents and two younger sisters) used to take the car over to Arran for the Easter holiday week to stay in a chalet in Blackwaterfoot on the south-west coast of the island. Arran isn’t large, it has only one main road running round the perimeter of the island, and cutting across it between Brodick and Blackwaterfoot is a narrow B-class road affectionately called, The String. It’s wild and barren in places but has a friendly and welcoming population. The island has a warmth and a beauty that supersedes many other west coast islands, but then, I’m biased because of the many great family memories it holds.
This one in particular involves my dad and I casting out a spinner from my fishing rod and reeling it back in from the end of Lamlash Pier. The intention at the time was merely to see how far we could get the flashy metallic lure out into the bay, but on pulling it back in we thought we had hooked a piece of litter. There was nothing attached to the hook when I wound it in, though, and when I cast out again the exact same thing happened. It was then we realised the lure was being chased by a fish.
I cast out again and reeled the lure in slower this time. Snap! The fish took the bait and we wound in my first ever fish. I landed it on the pier and saw it was a medium sized Flounder, i.e., a “flat fish”. We also discovered we hadn’t a clue how to relieve the fish of the hook, and as the brown-coloured shiny flat creature flapped around on the pier, I remember my sisters and mother whooping and screaming at it, pleading with us to keep it away from them. Eventually it became unhooked – I think of its own accord – and we put it back in the water to fight another day, but it provides a great memory for me, and also pinpointed the started of a fishing obsession that lasted with me for many years after.
This afternoon I received my official invite and Code of Behaviour document for the dinner reception I am attending at the Scottish Parliament next week. My sister, who is a policy advisor for the Scottish Government (some of you may see the irony in that given how vocal I’ve been about the entire thing), is taking me along to see democracy at work, and to mingle with the echelons of the NUS and the Scottish Government. I’ve been told to behave and to dress smart; the latter will be the bigger problem since I have no such thing in my wardrobe. I may have to borrow a suit.
Elsewhere, I’m back into writing gear. I caught up with a week’s backlog of email relatively quickly, and wrote and submitted my Dog Blog column for publication tomorrow. There was nothing interesting on the job boards at all today, although I made good work on the Six Nations article I’ve been assigned. I sent out a few reminder emails to some of my web clients about some of the follow-up work I can offer with regards to the promotion and marketing of their websites, and watched a little TV before calling it a night.
Greener is the Grass (Writing)
PLEASE DONATE – For full details of my Abseil off the Forth Rail Bridge in October for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, please go here:
I remember you catching that fish!!!! 🙂
I’ve got early memories form Arran too it’s where I climbed my first hill. We were on holiday as a family at Brodick and I was keen to climb Goat Fell. Don’t know why, I just was. So my parents allowed me to set off to do it. I guess I was about 13 at the time.
I remember walking round the bay and following the path (a well trodden path, so I wasn’t going to get lost) through some gardens with big rhododendrons, then on to the hill proper. I don’t remember much about most of the climb.
I have a clear memory of the last bit – the mist had come down, I was (comparatively) young and this was my first hill. People were coming down so I asked how did I get to the top. “Just follow the path” and so I soon got to the cairn at the top.
What a wonderful feeling it is to be at the cairn of a hill or mountain. You can stride around it feeling good, looking all around (although I couldn’t on this first one as it was still misty).
I spent many years later climbing hills. When I got to University I teamed up with Phillip Tranter (Nigel’s son), he was in my class doing engineering. He was mad keen on climbing, had climbed all the Monro’s by the time he was 18 I think. We had several expeditions together. Sadly, he was killed a few years later in a motor accident near Paris while on return from an expedition to the Karakoram. Or maybe it was the Hindukush. Not the sort of place you would want to go these days I don’t think. It made me think of Eric Newby’s hilarious book “A Short Walk in the Hindukush” – amazing what he and his companion did and where they went … it grieves me that the world is such a changed place.
Found this using the ubiquitous Google:
No Tigers in the Hindu Kush…..( Hodder and Stoughton.)
Nigel’s son Philip, a noted mountaineer, was killed in a tragic road accident io the 19th of August 1966 while returning from climbing in Turkey. Nigel took all the notes of Philip’s record breaking 1965 Hindu Kush expedition and edited them into this book. A fitting tribute to a wonderful and talented son.
Would love to read that. Philip was a good note-keeper, as I saw on our expeditions in the hills of Scotland.
Well, this is all trivia for you. I am impressed by your opportunity to attend the Scottish Parliament.
I’ve got an mp3 of some lassie singing ‘a man’s a man” at the opening …
Best wishes. Apologies for any typos.