08/08/12 In pursuit of happiness
Looking east towards Loch Ranza on the Isle of Arran from my vantage point at the Kintyre ferry port of Claonaig I was touched by the calmness of the water across Kilbrannan Sound.
A calmness, I thought, that contrasted with the results of the recent happiness survey around the UK. This government sponsored research suggests that the people living in the north west of Scotland were happier, on average, than the rest of the folk bobbing about on our fair island.
Except for the people of Arran – seemingly they’re much less happy than their contemporaries in the region.
I wonder why?
One theory was quick in coming from the man standing next to me. He had retired from the Scottish Executive after being part of the team who’d put the huge database ‘Scottish People’ together.
Because of their work, folk can wander up to Edinburgh and plough through thousands of records from births, deaths and marriages, for a small fee, in a large building at the top of Prince’s Street.
He believes that the folk of Arran are less happy because, by and large, the people who are born there are unable to afford housing when they leave home.
Seemingly the cost of property has been bumped up by the large percentage that have been bought up as holiday homes.
Furthermore, it’s not unknown for the inhabitants of the isle to rent out their homes over the holiday season while they live in a caravan nearby.
Well that certainly sounds unsatisfactory.
We got off the ferry and Scottish Exec man raced off on his bike towards the official Arran campsite.
He described it as ‘midgey’. Not the best advert, I thought…and when I found Lochranza Castle (in the picture) – well, what would you have done?
It was late, I put up the still soggy tent and fell asleep.
I was awoken to find that my plot had benefits that the campsite could only dream of. Imagine my joy when I was given an alarm call at 7.15 by some guy in a car who’d decided it was time for me to get up.
“There’s a sign that says you can’t camp here!” he bellowed, “This is Historic Scotland land and they don’t want people camping here!”
Part of me wished I hadn’t been in my tent – I found the thought of this chap, shouting Basil Faulty style at an empty tent terribly entertaining. That said, if I hadn’t been there…
Anyway, I came back with,”Right to roam?” which came out more like a question than the incisive, “License to Kill” I’d hoped it would be.
He made off before I, or the nearby French campers, could see him.
Having already established my middle name is nothing like “The Brave”, I came to accept that it was far more likely for me to be labelled, “The Pedant.”
I walked down to where the little road to the castle joined the main road. It was there I found the aforementioned sign on a post.
It was situated beneath a great big sign pointing to the castle – just in case you were unable to see the bloody great castle a hundred yards away.
The sign mentioned by “alarm man” was roughly the size of a small postcard.
It was headed with the timeless legend, “Polite Notice” with a wishy-washy suggestion that it would be terribly nice if people would refrain from parking overnight.
If I’d had a pen, I’d have crossed out ‘Polite’ replacing it with ‘Ineffectual’…
Just to prove my point further to no-one in particular I took a photo of a boat that had clearly been parked there for some time…
I think Chris the pedant Young has a nice ring to it.
I decided that the bellowing start to my day reflected the general unhappiness of the islanders.
That might not have been an entirely accurate assessment of the situation.
Cue Eastenders drum roll…
Until tomorrow then.
Walk a Mile