Covid chronicles: Magnum force and a dark anger

Richard Lutz wanders through the Lands of Lockdown. 


There’s no better way to deliver food to the elderly and the vulnerable during the Covid crisis than to peer at the small things as you amble up the Beach Road.

It’s a long stretch that follows the curve of Strathcarrick Bay. And today, it seems as if all the dragonflies arrived, buzzing in from who knows where. They’re nattily blessed with blue streamlined bodies and buzz with their four wings In acutely geometric angles in the marshland and the waving grasses. “Little specks of magic… says a fellow onlooker as we watch fleets of them zip in and out. 

I’m on my way, this day, to say farewell to Bob and Christine McV. It’s the last time I’ll drop off their groceries and two newspapers at their door. Bob has an exceptional lust for Magnum ice cream with almonds. I’ve made special trips to quell his craving and that’s because I’m a Magnum with almond man myself.

Happily the elderly pair, with their view of the rumbly Clyde estuary, feel well enough, strong enough, to get out and do their daily shopping. They don’t need me. They feel confident to head to Paul’s cafe each morning for eggs, blue top milk, baking parchment, strawberry jam. They’re happy to get ‘their messages’ as they say in Strathcarrick.

I’ll miss them. And what do y’know? Mrs McV hands me two bottles of wine as a thank you.  less the two of them. Tonight, I’ll raise a glass.

Inland from the village, the rising hills hide old estates, some kept spanking new with infusions of foreign cash, some feeling the crushing weight of upkeep and falling into disuse. One that is thriving with the help of its new Chinese owners is Dalziel House. The gorgeous River Girvan, with its waterfalls, natural swimming holes and salmon fishing, makes it a popular location, especially now with the flush of hot weather.  

Below the massive tree on the right is a speck of an admirer

There’s a gem tucked into its landscape. And that is Dalziel’s 150 year-old arboretum. Monumental trees tower overhead. And I do mean really big, fifty metre, trees such as redwoods, sequoia, firs and giant maples. The trail winding through this museum of trees is unused. Long grass obscures the paths. But thankfully, there are old, faded signs in careful script. They tell you what giant you’re peering at as the tall trees hit the Scottish sky.

I return to Stratchcarrick. Someone has sawn down newly planted saplimgs on the shoreline. No-one knows why. The trees were put there on a spot inhabited by wildflowers, beach roses and busy birds. It’s an odd violent act and there’s anger beneath the soft waves of the bay.