here we are on a bright sunny Christmas day, walking along the beach next to a perfectly clear, calm sea, reflecting the blue sky, its surface barely wrinkled. the bay here has many colours, the most beautiful being a pale greenish blue stippled with pinkish shadows.

the tower house behind us, grimly romantic against the steep woods of oak and beech, but representing a warm and cosy interior within its immensely thick walls, furnished with huge feather cushioned sofas and chairs, mellow scottish country pieces, a long scrubbed pine table, and shelves of interesting books.

the sun picks out treasures of shape and colour at our feet

thrown up from the strange underwater forests of the kelp beds offshore.

the holdfasts, broken off and rolled ashore, produce many coral-like forms;

some more like strange creatures of the deep,

and bright ribbons of orange, green, blood red and purple.

the woods above us echo the same branching shapes and warm rusty colours in the low angled sunshine.

on the rocks there are miniature lichen forests, and deep clear pools.

from Pluck Point the sun tinges Arran’s snowy hills with pink,

behind Saddell Bay the glen stretches back, surrounded by heather moor and conifer planation.

wind shaped oak trees remind one of a Paul Nash painting.

back in my cell-like room in the castle’s west wall I assemble some treasures on the deep window embrasure.

the next day the weather has changed completely – a warm wind from the south is bringing a heavy swell and wind-blown white horses up from the Irish Sea. the gale buffets the tower, in the night it sounds like a dustbin lorry grinding and banging away outside the gate.

a bracing walk up the beach reveals earlier walkers’ beach art.

and more irresistible kelp stems, their ribbon-leaves drying out

amongst mute messages of stones

and detached rocks thrown up by the storm

older branches of purple stained with ink blue

in heaped tidemarks across the shore in front of the tower, which stands with its feet in the stream and its head in the mist.