Monday, July 02, 2012

All That Scratching is Making Me Itch

I play golf. There, I’ve admitted it. On hearing you’re a golfer it occasionally provokes strong reactions in some people. I don’t really know why. It’s an inoffensive enough pastime. It does not dominate my time and I don’t bore people about it unless somebody REALLY wants to know and then I’m rather reluctant to explain it as they invariably say it’s silly and pointless. I don’t knock your hobbies, unless perhaps you were to tell me you’re into astrology in which case I might suggest what you’re doing is equally silly and pointless. Please don’t knock my hobbies, especially if you’ve never tried them and most critics of golf haven’t. To be fair, I haven't studied astrology that closely either.

It’s a bit like when I tell people I ride a motorcycle. They tell me they could never do it because they would be scared of falling off. I’ll let you into a secret. Most successful motorcyclists are also scared of falling off. They avoid doing it at all costs. In fact, rule one of the motorcyclists unwritten code is DON’T FALL OFF. It will probably hurt and you will also damage some terribly expensive machinery. Trust me, I’ve done it.

For me, golf is a good long walk with some additional swinging of arms and flexing of a few muscles. Good exercise for a chap with a sedentary occupation such as mine. If you’re lucky, you will do it in agreeable countryside with agreeable companions and the weather might be nice as well. As well as the much needed exercise I also do it for the challenge. Despite what some people think, it’s an extremely difficult game to be good at. And I’m not very good at it. That’s because I don’t play enough.

Anyway, last week was the annual golf holiday. I and a group of friends have been going for over 20 years. Always to Scotland which is the spiritual home of golf and it also has a lot of good golf courses to choose from as well as beautiful countryside and hospitable people.

Scotland has sometimes rather capricious weather but we like that. Usually you're ok. The following picture is the main road bridge from England into Scotland. The picture was taken from the sunny English side. You get the idea?

This year we were based in the Scottish Borders which is just across the border from England – hence the name. We were based in a small town called Melrose and each day we travelled to a different course in the area and played golf all day. Yes, ALL day. 

It’s a very regimented holiday. Every day follows the same path. Get up early. Leave house. Get into car. Drive to golf course. Play golf all morning. Have some lunch. Play golf all afternoon. Return to house. Shower. Go to pub. Drink a modest amount of beer. Eat dinner. Feel very tired. Return to house. Go to sleep. Repeat six times.

Hmmm I hear you say. That all sounds rather silly and pointless. Yes, I suppose it does, but we like it. 

This year for the first time we encountered a phenomena we had not experienced before. The midge. 

Scotland is famous for its midges but these are generally found on the West coast or Highlands and we were definitely in the southern lowlands. 

Midges are tiny insects about 1mm long. They tend to thrive in damp conditions – lakes, marshes etc. -  and are at their most dangerous – yes, dangerous – when the air is still and free of wind. Being only 1mm long they tend to be susceptible to the slightest of breezes and are unable to attack walkers, golfers and other innocents who are only there to enjoy the outdoors. 

If the air is still then they can attack with the precision of laser guided missiles and they do . If you happen to be in area in which they are congregating and you stand still for more than five seconds you start to feel them on every area of exposed skin. They are on your arms, your face, your neck. You can feel them on your eyelids and in the corners of your eyes. You feel them crawling into your ears. It’s a horrible sensation. And then they start to bite. 

By the end of Monday (the second day of our holiday) we were all covered in dozens of tiny but excruciatingly itchy bitemarks. Yes, there are creams and lotions and repellents (if you are expecting them and we were not) which offer some relief but basically you are now in a world of intense irritation. The itching wakes you at night. You flail around in bed trying to find a cool area of bedding on which to put your burning arms. It’s a little like being sunburnt but itchy as well.

One week later and the itching has almost subsided. I have scratched the bites – you end up doing it almost subconsciously and you therefore just aggravate them.

I expect the rest of the world has midges as well as many other dangerous and bloodthirsty creatures that I can barely imagine. But the native Scottish midge is pretty scary if you ask me. 

So that was my holiday. We’ll be back again same time next year. Where will you be going for your  holidays.


Nota Bene said...

Scottish bugs are the worst...apart from the ones in Iceland...
I always fancied golf, but could never see where the ball went to when I hit it! And I agree with not fallling off..

Terra Shield said...

I agree, people shouldn't go around dissing other people's hobbies and interests.

Glad to know you enjoyed your holiday, despite the attack by the midges.

King of Scurf said...

NB: Iceland has bugs? I thought it was just a great big volcanic rock.

Terra: Do you get midges (or anything similar) in your part of the world? Or is it mozzie country?

Terra Shield said...

Not sure about midges - but we lots of mozzies.

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra: I got an email notification that you posted a comment but the comment isn't appearing in the Comments section.

Rob said...

While I'm sure the population of Fife will have been delighted by your description of the Forth Road Bridge as "the main road bridge from England into Scotland", and of South Queensferry as "the English side", I should point out that there is rather a lot of Scotland south of that bridge, including a place you may have heard of called Edinburgh.

In this satellite picture the bridges are dead centre (road one on the left, rail on the right) and Western Edinburgh is visible at the rightmost edge.

King of Scurf said...

Rob: Hi Rob. Nice to see you again. I realised my schoolboy error a few days after I put the blog post up but I don't like to change posts after they're up - I'm more than happy to be corrected.