It’s that time of the year again – hunks, brawn, pain, testosterone, muscle-sapping white sand, crowds, cheering, whisky, music, ceilidhs…
It can only be EAT SAND, the annual extraterrestrial extravaganza that is the Islay Beach Rugby contest.
Tomorrow – 8th June – is the day. The island is full. CalMac is running extra ferries and taking pretty well all of them into Port Ellen instead of Port Askaig – Port Ellen beach is the arena for the fully gladiatorial engagements.
32 teams – 22 mens teams and 10 ladies teams – will get down to it, no holds barred.
One of our readers,Robert Wakeham, let us know that while he was waiting for a bus this morning on the Front Green in Lochgilphead, he was surprised to see one of the blue Anderson’s buses – which usually does the Knapdale shuttle – arrive from the opposite, Inveraray, direction.
It disgorged a mixed bunch of lively Melrose folk who proceeded to let off steam kicking rugby balls around the Front Green for a while before piling back in the bus and heading off south.
This initially seemed rather mysterious, as a long haul from Melrose to Lochgilphead on a short haul bus was a poor fit.
Then Mr Wakeham was told that the coach from Melrose had expired on the A83, ‘ten miles north of Lochgilphead’ en route to the Islay Beach Rugby Festival at Port Ellen.
Anderson’s had come to the rescue and were delivering the party to Kennacraig for onward ferrying to Port Ellen.
With today’s weather, as Robert Wakeham said, the Melrose brigade and all the others preparing to utter the famous last words of the gladiators before battle to the end – Morituri te salutant ['Those about to die salute you' - to the presiding emperor] – must ave though paradise had come early.
The weather tomorrow looks as if intends to deliver more of the same.