Day Five: ‘Chuffed to Bits’

Consistent as ever, I woke at around the same time and ate the same breakfast. The weather looked extremely good, so we decided that all of us would go to Ardnave Point.

Ardnave Point is quite a walk around a loch, over some fields, through a farmer’s bit of land past a cow shed and then over even more fields to get there. It is a very nice beach though.

We walked for a bit, then walked some more. Once we’d decided that we’d had enough of walking (mind you, for me this was rather quickly because I was carrying all three travel chairs) and were at a decent place to stop (in a sand dune where the wind was less harsh) we stopped. We lay down the mat, anchored the sides with bags, set up all the chairs and sat down to eat.

And then they attacked. Oh boy did they attack.

In their millions, the aptly re-named ‘bitey flies’ swarmed us. You couldn’t go a few seconds without one of them landing on you. It took great skill to be able to eat and swat them away at the same time.

In the end, I managed to come out of the battle rather unscathed, with only three bites and of those; I didn’t feel a single one of the bites. Everyone else got more and shouted ouch when they were bitten. Apparently, each bite felt like a prick from a needle and the first sign they could tell that one of the ‘bitey flies’ was on them were the sharp stinging as they bit you.

We did see some rather more attractive things though. In the midst of taking pictures, I came across quite a few jellyfish washed up on the beach. After taking pictures of them (naturally, as you do with dead jellyfish. Everyone always feels the need to take pictures of dead jellyfish on holiday to prove they did actually see dead jellyfish on the beach) I managed to convince David to nudge it back into the sea. I was sure at this point that there was a chance the jellyfish could still be alive, so I wanted to help it out. I’m such a nice person. (I would like to add that the only reason I didn’t nudge it back into the water myself was that I was barefoot and didn’t want to risk being stung, or touch the jellyfish with my bare feet.)

Something we did see that we all got rather excited about was some chuffs. These are rare birds that live on Islay and today, we probably saw ninety per cent of the entire population on Islay. The first we saw of them, there was four flying overhead and they flew behind us into the fields. The second time we there were only three, but they were heading away from where we saw the first four heading towards. Neither time had I managed to get a picture as the zoom on my camera isn’t the best and they were too far up in the sky. The same three (I presume) flew back over and behind us. This time I was determined to get a picture. I sprinted down the beach after them, camera in hand. Then, when they were flying over the dunes, I scrambled up and managed to get a few pictures before they got away. I climbed all the way up the ridge, barefoot, where there were more thistles and various animal leavings than sand. Thankfully, my expert navigation skills got me to the other side of the ridge where I could see the fields where the chuffs were without a problem.

I decided to sit down and wait, hoping for the possibility that I might be able to get a close up as they flew over. This, sadly, was not to be. I patiently sat there for around half an hour, and I happily would have stayed for an hour more if the goddamn ‘bitey flies’ would have chosen not to dive bomb me. I swear they took it in turns to launch themselves expertly at me and try to suck my (quite obviously) delicious blood.

I found something I hate more than Twilight, football and Justin Bieber’s music combined. I hope they go extinct.

Luckily, while I was down on the sand, the whole group (I don’t know what a group of chuffs is called… a flock perhaps? I think I like a ‘flock of chuffs’, even if it’s wrong) flew overhead, quite closely this time. I managed to get a load of pictures while they were making various formations in the sky.

At one point, (you can tell how long I’ve been without friends, I thought this was hilarious) there was one lone seagull flying amidst the chuffs. They all treated it as an outcast, like a scene kid in a crowd of Goths.

After this, we saw a beach across the loch that had what looked like rocks dotted all over it, but we were sure they were not rocks. In order to get a closer look at them, I decided to go across the sharp jagged rocks with dry, sharp seaweed on so I might be able to see clearer. Guess what? I was still barefooted. Slowly (and quite painfully) I went out over all the rocks and got to the edge, as far out as you could go. I then borrowed Dave’s binoculars and concluded that yes, they were indeed rock coloured and rock shaped. (The official theory is that they were geese.)

I also discovered on the way back from the edge of the rock, that the worst possible time to get cramp in your foot is indeed exactly where I happened to be. I had to balance precariously on one foot and one hand while I tried to stretch it out and also tried rather hard to not fall either against the really sharp rocks that would probably break a bone, or against the water with undercurrents that would probably drown me. In the end, I managed.

We also saw a seal, but after my encounters on the first day with a seal so close it could have jumped up and licked my camera lens, they aren’t as special anymore.

There was also a glimpse of an otter, but by this point I’d hurt my ankle after going out on the rocks barefooted and so I couldn’t really go walking all the way back down to the water and climb over more jagged rocks to see. I’m sure they’ll be another one another day.

As at the end of every day, we went home. Then for dinner (we’re nothing if not consistent) we went to Croft Kitchen. This time there was just the three of us – Mum, David and I. I had the ‘Croft Special Burger’ (there’s nothing that special about it) and for desert a ‘Raspberry Surprise’. Would anyone like to hazard a guess at what the surprise was? No? Really? Not even a guess?

The surprise was: they sent over the new temp to tell us that they were out of raspberries and instead would it be okay if they were strawberries instead? We laughed it off – ‘The surprise is, it’s strawberries and not raspberries!’

This could only have happened to me.

The End

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