Tuesday, 18 May 2010

When Best Kept Secrets Are For Sharing

Sometimes, here at Mull Magic, we are not very good at keeping secrets. Especially, when we feel that the ‘secret’ in question deserves to be shared with the rest of the world. One such ‘secret’ that we have found is the wonderful Drimnin Ferry, run by Ardnamurchan Charters, that operates twice weekly during its Summer timetable, enabling passengers from Tobermory to visit the nearby Scottish mainland on Morvern.

We often wondered just what ‘our’ island looked like from across the Sound of Mull. Being so used to living and walking on the Isle of Mull and gazing over to Auliston Point and the entrance to Loch Sunart, it has been fabulous to see our home from a fresh perspective and to enjoy the views in reverse!

The woodlands were alive with bird song as we stepped from the boat after our short sea crossing from Tobermory. The sound of newly arrived migrants, such as Wood Warbler and Blackcap, competed for airspace with the tunes of resident songsters, like Blackbird and Chaffinch. Jousting for the right to forecast the forthcoming Summer’s weather, the canopy of oak and ash was contemplating bursting into leaf, allowing light to penetrate to the woodland floor, which was carpeted with the flowers of Dog’s Mercury, Dog Violet, Lesser Celandine, Primrose, Wood Anemone and Wood Sorrel.

The well-known and often cited ‘Oak before Ash, in for a splash’ saying really bears no significance as to how much rainfall we can expect in the Summer months, here in Argyll and the Islands. Scientists maintain that, being more responsive to warmer temperatures than Ash, the Oak will normally come in to leaf sooner. At Mull Magic, we like to promote the wonderful weather that our little corner of the world enjoys and take with a large pinch of salt the findings of science, on this occasion!

Spring has brought some magnificent weather to these parts, although our most recent venture to Morvern was marked by a very chilly Northerly airflow. The cold wind decidedly took the edge off the temperature we could otherwise have hoped for, considering the glorious sunshine. Owing to its colour, the Green Hairstreak is a very distinctive butterfly that is usually on the wing in early May. Extracting whatever early nectar that they could find, the first two insects that we encountered must have got one heck of a shock when they emerged in the Arctic chill that has been masquerading as our Scottish Spring!

April is the month when Blackthorn hedgerows are at their blooming best in the West Highlands, yet the cooler conditions seem to have prolonged this prickly shrub's flowering well in to the fifth month and afforded us something of a ‘Blackthorn Winter’. With a long association of dispelling dark forces and malevolent spirits, various parts of the plant are used to make tea and other medicinal beverages. Mull Magic enjoys harvesting the bluish berries when ripe and delights in pleasantly absorbing the protection that drinking a glass of sloe gin can provide!

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