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Waiting for the ferry is a hit and miss affair for Rab

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In last week’s breathtakingly thrilling instalment, I reported exclusively on my 11 days in the sticks without a car and spoke with unrivalled authority of how, as is so often the case in Scottish rural areas, you could get a bus out somewhere but had to come straight back on the same bus, the only one that day.

There was an another alternative, though: the ferry. Instead of trying to get to the village gym by bus – pretty much impossible – I’d cross by ferry to the little port across the sound that also has a little gym: remarkable but true.

The ferry terminal is just a 15-minute walk away so I wadded thither there one Saturday morning with my gym kit in a bag. It was a damp and blustery day but I arrived in good time, particularly for a foot passenger, before the ferry departed. Indeed, I was 45 minutes early, so it was discombobulating to hear that the ferry had been cancelled and the next wouldn’t leave for an hour and three-quarters.

What to do meantime? I looked in the little woollen shop near the pier and nearly bought several pullovers and a hat, but contented myself with chatting to the assistants about the weather before sidling out empty-handed.

Then I took a stroll to the village shop (different village from the one 23 miles away that has the gym), talked to the assistants about the weather and purchased a sweetie. On the way back, the heavens opened and I was thoroughly soaked, particularly in the troosers.

Luckily, these troosers are quick drying so, when the downpour abated and the sun appeared briefly, I positioned myself on the pier with my legs akimbo to absorb the solar rays.

At last, it was time for the ferry to take off. Nearly everyone else travelling was a holidaymaker and, in our ignorance, we all took outside seats. Soon, we were getting soaked and tossed about, but a few of us stuck it out. I remembered that life on a boat has its ups and downs.

Still, we made it and I commenced the 10-minute uphill walk to the gym, which exhausted me before we’d even started. I opened the door to the establishment, only to be met by a surprised face out of which came the words: “We’re closed.”

So, instead of going to the gym, I went to a pub where I had fish and chips and a pint of lager. Never mind. Everybody’s fat nowadays. The really heavy scare that would have put the tin lid on this daft adventure was getting to the port’s ferry terminal to be told there might be no ferry back that day. We’d have to await the captain’s decision.

It was looking really bleak. The rain was back on, and every bed in the port was taken. I’d have to sleep on a bench in the railway station, if I was lucky. And on this occasion, for once, I was lucky: the ship sailed.

After such a worrying time, I was never so happy to be home, where I had sausage and chips, washed down by a small vat of whisky. The gym would have to wait another day. After all, like me most days without the car, it wasn’t going anywhere.

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