Sunday 1 June 2008

Go west young man

I was through at Ardrossan on Friday for a team away day. Steve in our team has a rather nice 39-foot yacht so rather than do the usual day's Krypton factor activities at some country house, we took to the Firth of Clyde instead. I can't say I was disappointed that there wasn't much of a wind blowing, but it would have been nicer to experience something other than the flat calm conditions that we encountered at several points in the day's sailing, the water like a black millpond in places. There was enough of a breeze here and there for us to have a race between two buoys and to understand that you go quicker into a wind than with the wind behind (the wind doesn't blow the sail: it's all about the flow of air over the sail creating a pocket of low pressure ahead of the sail into which the sail, and hence the yacht, is sucked. So there you are.) We had a very pleasant lunch moored off Millport which looked splendid in the May sunshine. We were far enough away not to be able to see the peeling paint. The motor and auto-pilot were fired up for the return journey as sail power wouldn't have got us home till well after dark!

With the forecast set fair yesterday and Sharon manning a stand at Gardening Scotland, I decided to take the boys through to Largs. It was a long drive through via Greenock (about 1:40) but was well worth it as the sun blazed down all day and the boys had a great time. We picnicked on the grass at the Broomfields then walked out to the Pencil, with Sean and Finn playing on the rocks now and then. The tide was out so requests for a paddle were refused as, despite all its good qualities, Largs just doesn't have a good beach for paddling. It's too pebbly. North Berwick wins there. Possibly NB's rocks are an easier option for clambering over too, as Rowan couldn't really manage the ridges and conglomerate rocks that mark the Largs shoreline.

We returned to the Ices kiosk by what used to be the paddling pool at the Mackerston putting green. No pool now: it's a large playground. The queue for ice-creams and the promenade and playpark were mobbed. It was good to see the resort busy in the bright sunshine, rather than recall some of my memories of a wind- and rain-lashed front peopled by a couple of old biddies in raincoats and rain-mates battling through the elements to seeking the solace of a broken-down shelter. I was telling the boys about once losing a small ball to the boat pond, having been rolling it up the hill as we walked along and fielding it as it came back down again. It's sad that the pond has gone but it was something of an anachronism. The boys got more enjoyment out of the playpark!

We drove into town and picked up some more food for a back-street picnic before heading down to the beach by the pier for some stone-throwing, Rowan delighted when I used his arm to "throw" stones into the sea with a splash. Finn and Sean were great walkers all day with very little complaining and Finn didn't even flinch when dogs passed him, which was a refreshing change. They were all very tired and slept most of the drive home (it's definitely quicker via Kilbirnie) which meant a rather late bed-time for them once they were bathed and had a late supper. It was approaching 2230 before Finn and Sean finally settled, Sean nursing some rather sore feet where his fake Crocs had been rubbing at his flesh.

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