Green Island

Just across Loch Ken from the Galloway Activity Centre, Green Island perches in a sudden shaft of sunlight

The midgies swarmed the shoreline, but they didn’t follow us out onto the loch. We were prepared, nevertheless, with our anti-midgie spray, our hats and mesh netting but these accoutrements weren’t necessary after all. I gradually got the hang of the oars in the oarlocks and we moved steadily toward our first destination.

But on the little beach the other side of Green Island, we didn’t stay long thanks to the unappreciated welcome from the aforesaid midgies. Instead we jumped back into the fibreglass rowboat and pulled ourselves over to Green Island. It had been suggested that the little island might be a cute place to take a picnic, but we couldn’t find a convenient place to put in, so rather like the fox and his so-called sour grapes, we opined that the midgies would get us anyway if we stopped.

Instead, we lifted oars, sat quietly, cracked open a bottle of delicious pale ale from the Five Kingdoms Brewery, and poured it gently into each of the two plastic glasses we’d just acquired from Hazel’s second-hand treasures in Castle Douglas. And then we relaxed as the boat drifted, ever so slowly, downstream in the current. The water was almost glassy, and only the delighted shouts of the young kids on their kayaks punctuated the silence. We were adrift, and yet self-contained.

When I booked the rowboat, I opined to the receptionist, at least five times, that we felt a bit too old for a canoe, as one of us would have trouble getting in and out. On reflection, I felt like a doddering old fool — too loquacious by half. But somehow the excitement of the day loosened my tongue and I was happy to chat away.

It’s a good thing, however, that the kind attendant let us navigate off the jetty without any further supervision, as his ears might have been blistered by my protestations when the oars slipped their locks, over and over again. Eventually I got the hang of the rowing, but I so wished, loudly, that we’d attempted the canoe. Nevertheless, we got around the loch perfectly well by the end of the hire time, and the moments on the loch are etched by illuminating sunbeams on our memories now.

Choices in life are like that, I guess. You make them, take a turning, and find yourself a bit disgruntled. If only we’d chosen that option, we might think, if only. But time has passed and the bed we’ve made is what we’re sleeping in. I guess the trick is to turn that disappointment into something better, and I’m pretty confident that we’ve done just that through our lives. ‘You sound like a glass half full kind of guy,’ someone once told me. Well, yes, but the drink is delicious, after all.

And that’s about as profound as I can get, this morning, as my muscles send whimpering signals back to my brain. Another cup of coffee and I’ll be almost right as rain.

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