06 October 2006


we landed at craignure and set out for tobermory, but almost immediately ran across something called fishnish balmenach, a name i recognized as the location of the nursery – alec and cynthia to be exact – which had supplied the rowan tree, having delivered it to the castle the day before. we went in and had tea and homemade shortbread, and best of all, right there in their own garden, i saw for the first time, a full-grown golden-berried rowan tree.

off we went, then, for tobermory, this wee seaside town with a 100-year-old clock in the town square, next to a cart selling the most delicious chips to be had. they were potatoes, folks. but getting there – getting there required some of the most skilled driving and concentration imaginable. bad enough driving on the wrong side of the road all the time, but on mull, there is very little two-lane traffic. instead, one lane suffices, with intermittent “passing places” – the rule being - well, there are no rules, other than heaps of courtesy from both sides in order to avoid crashing into each other, with lots of waving when finally the maneuver succeeds, and no crash occurs. lindsay was spectacular in all respects (she has a fabulous wave, too), especially considering how often these little turn-outs were required.

so. tobermory at last and a lovely wander around the wee bay. it was all quite enchanted, including a museum hosted by an older, wiser resident, gracious and knowledgeable. even there among the geological and the military, i found something on the clan maclean, which seemed a kind of welcome. i also found a pair of wellies in tobermory, filling such a void in my wardrobe that i continued to wear them the whole of our time on mull.

the position of this wee community beside the bay, with its fishing boats and piers, naturally recalled my childhood in newport. in fact, the topography of mull, to a large extent, mirrors familiar stretches of the oregon coast, but unspoiled and wild, sans billboards and grand tourist-targeted enterprise. plus of course it’s an island, so there’s lots and lots of coastline.


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