Goodness! Where did March go? Well, for Iain and me it went to the Caribbean where we spent ten days island hopping. We flew to Antigua and flew back from Barbados having visited so many islands in between that it all becomes a bit of a beautiful daze. It was a gorgeous holiday. Never have we seen so many vibrant colours used on the houses. Particularly in Antigua where you would find a sweetie-pink house with an orange roof and yellow shutters, or a seagreen wall with dark blue decorations, finished with a golden railing – absolutely joyous this celebration of colour. The young ladies too liked to be daring; bright yellow mini-skirts tugged over, in some cases, quite sizeable embonpoints, their hair highlighted with gold and dressed in ringlets, they were stunning in their beauty. The only down side, for me, was the method of hopping from island to island. When our boat, the SS Serenissima, couldn’t berth at a pier we had to assemble in our life jackets and make our way down a wobbly companion-way to where, at the bottom, two strong sailors took a hand and an elbow each and said “jump”. At this point you aimed for the side of a rocking Zodiac rubber boat. At the next command you jumped onto a box in the boat, and then into the boat itself. As if this was not enough, you had to do the whole thing in reverse at the other end. After six of these terrifying episodes I decided I had been publicly humiliated quite sufficiently and went on strike. No more island hopping unless we were firmly attached to dry land. But the holiday itself was the greatest fun, with charming company on the boat, a superbly trained staff and a really enterprising and professional young expedition leader.
We left Barbados in 26 degrees of heat and returned to Gatwick in 6 degrees. How our hearts bled for new passengers in the searing sun and scorching heat as the sleet and snow battered our Caithness windows. How we pitied them, taking their sundowners on the afterdeck as we clutched a warming toddy in our frozen hands. Not too much time for reminiscing, though, as we had next to prepare for Iain’s inauguration as Chief of Clan Gunn in Edinburgh on the 16th April. This was a great occasion, held at the Merchants’ Hall. Ben Kinsman, our grandson, proudly carrying his grandfather’s flag, led the new Chief into position.. The Lord Lyon then spoke interestingly about Chiefs in general and presented Iain with his Letters Patent – i.e. his new Arms; Iain thanked the Lyon and the Clan and proceeded to re-commision Robert Kamp Gunn and Richard Gunn as Commisioners for the Netherlands and North America respectively, presenting them with a document and a pinsel – the kind of triangular flag you see in paintings of medieval jousting – and then he had pleasure in appointing Todd Wall, the newly retired President of the New Zealand Society of Clan Gunn, as Commisioner in New Zealand.
After three hearty cheers for the new Gunn of Gunn, the party retired for drinks. Presents were given. Iain was already wearing the kilt which had been made for him by Alexis Kehm in Florida and gifted by her and the North American Society. A lot of whisky appeared , some beautiful glasses from Nova Scotia; jellies and spreads and a picture from Canada and a hunting knife authentically decorated and presented by Bucky Nelson. Iain was very moved by all the kindness and evidence of people’s generosity. The very good dinner which followed was enjoyed by all. It was certainly an occasion which we will remember for ever.
So April moves on. We are in the icy grip of an Arctic stream of air bringing snow and very cold winds. The daffodils are in full bloom, the lambs are sheltering in their mothers’ sides, the calves don’t seem to feel the cold the same way. Trees are bursting into leaf – much later than down south – even in Edinburgh they were fully out. I must say that I always rather enjoy a second Spring when we have been away, although my thoughts do tend to turn, at the moment, to the warmth and light of the Caribbean experience. Also something we will not easily forget.