After July’s doubled rainfall and 1 deg lower temperature, the continuation of unusually dreich summer weather into August was hardly a surprise. But I felt sorry for the Topper championship attendees this week. Coming to North Berwick from all round the UK for their national championship, 272 single-handed yachts brought close to 1,000 people here for the first week of August.
And it wasn’t that they got rained on heavily three of the days in the week they were here: rain matters little to enthusiastic teenage participants in wetsuits who get dunked in the water regularly. It was the lack of wind on those days it rained. To watch the entire fleet straggle in Tuesday last under lowering skies, with the last couple of dozen towed behind rescue RIBS like so many ducklings was to share their frustration.
Thankfully, there were several bright days with plenty of wind so the contest was completed. But the participants’ temporary social centres at ELYC and the Hope Rooms were mobbed with a polyglot of young accents that seemed to be succeeding in keeping their spirits up in what must have been trying circumstances that includedtrying to launch into the lowest tide of the summer.
As the West Links drained of departing Toppers today, the other end of the town was filling up with three dozen pipe bands and thousands of different visitors as our Highland Games kicked off in cloudy but encouragingly dry weather. Although not as mobbed as I have seen it, the whole proceedings seemed even better organised with a single, larger ring to include the heavies as well as the bands and this gave more space for parking.
The whole thing was in full swing around lunch time, with the dancers huddled in their usual corner, kids in face paint slurping ice cream and the skirl of pipes wafting over the town with the aroma of burgers and the screams of girls on the rides when the forecast heavy clouds rolled up from the Southeast and the heavens opened. Thankfully, they took and hour or two to get the taps fully unscrewed so that proceedings could be completed. But by late afternoon, despite heroic cheerfulness by Chieftain Sir David Tweedie, even the fellow selling twollies (double-shafted umbrellas for two) was for packing up and going home and the parade into town verged on a wash-out.
The simple law of averages (as well as the long-range forecast) predicts a drier, sunnier August which, with the sellout Fringe by the Sea approaching next week, would be just the ticket. But, if it is wet, the advantage of it being summer is that it’s easier to dry off your legs when you’re wearing shorts and deck shoes.