October 3, 2009
A population explosion
As summer slips away and the days steadily shorten I am reminded that in about ten days time the native English population of our little village is set to double, with the arrival of my brother and his wife, who take up residence here for the winter. Like birds fleeing harsher climes they are leaving Scotland to over-winter here. They have an unusual lifestyle, having spent the entire summer circumnavigating the UK in their small catamaran, which is now laid up near Oban. Today is their last day before setting off indirectly for the long journey south, and the weather is bidding a fond farewell in true Scottish style, with ferocious winds and driving rain. You can read all about it at
It’s been quite a while since we had rain in any quantity here; a few wet days the other week made little difference to our shrunken river. For some the absence of real weather could even get a little boring, but not for this happy ex-pat, forever glad to be away from the English summer (two sunny days and a thunderstorm) and winter’s horizontal drizzle.
One thing that marks the end of summer is the Monaco Yacht Show, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get a ticket this year. It’s a fascinating peek into the world of super-yachting; where else can you find a shop selling towels at anything up to a thousand euros a time? A host of industries depend on this very specialist market and there were signs this year that times may be improving a little, with a definite up-beat air of expectation to be seen. It’s partly a refusal to accept defeat, partly a can-do attitude and partly a real revival. Monaco itself accomodates the sudden influx of thousands of visitors to hundreds of stands with accomplished grace, just as it does for the Grand Prix, then gets on with normal life immediately afterwards.
One of the most fascinating stands featured a score or so of wristwatches made especially for the annual “Only Watch” auction held during the show in aid of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Each watch is made by a famous name in the business, either the first of a limited range or a one-off where the designers are given a free rein to be as creative as they like, sometimes with bizarre results. Bids were expected to range from the high tens of thousands well into the hundreds of thousands. At the time of writing no information is available on how much the auction raised for its charity. I would just like to say – with a little regret – that I wasn’t one of the bidders.