Town Mouse

Reel life

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

WE’RE first in the queue for Ren­frew Rose, which is lucky, as she only takes two cars. Valiantly, she plies the Cro­marty-nigg cross­ing, her land­ing method a runand-hit ma­noeu­vre that rarely fails. Rope­less, she bounces against the pier as we dis­em­bark back­wards down two nar­row ramps. Nervewrack­ing, but it saves the long drive round to the Tar­bert penin­sula, where soon we’re clam­ber­ing down a gorsey bank. The Bal­lone Games has to be the most un­pre­ten­tious—and aes­thet­i­cally ed­i­fy­ing—of High­land gath­er­ings: a me­dieval spec­ta­cle of tents and games en­clo­sure pegged out in tweed bunt­ing on an emer­ald sward.

Be­neath the clifftop cas­tle, veni­son burg­ers siz­zle in the driz­zle, sack-rac­ers som­er­sault, bales of hay are tossed and the chief strides about in feath­ered bon­net and golden chain. I judge the sculp­ture con­test: an ag­o­nis­ing process as the beach in­stal­la­tions are all so good. In the end, Tree of Wis­dom gets first prize, Twi­light Rocket; Swing of Des­tiny and Limpet Cas­tle com­bined sec­ond. The piper fails to turn up, but the lassies per­form a flaw­less High­land Fling un­de­terred. Dark­ness falls and the melée of Easter Ross farm­ers, Ste­warts from Ok­la­homa, medal-chested Viet­nam War pi­lot/trump fan and Ox­ford don reel the night away to Duncan Macgil­livray’s band. MM

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