There are certain sounds that always herald the arrival of warmer weather and summer, every year. The first cuckoo. The sound of leather on willow. Occasionally, the sound of leather on the batsmanís helmet. And the unmistakable droning sound of an ancient camper van, a Volkswagen T25 called The Arran Silkie, trundling up the M6 like an arthritic Doodlebug,in the general direction of the Firth of Clyde, garage bills permitting.
Since almost dying, and then being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 2010, Steve has still managed, despite the odds, and with the unfailing help of his wife, to return to Arran each year. The visits of 2011 and 2012 were the subject of his previous book, Like A Rolling Stool, mixed in with his attepts to come to terms with rolling through life on a set of wheels instead of standing on his own two feet. This book covers the years 2013-2015, and brings the story more or less up to date.
Nothing much ever happens on Arran, and what does happen, happens generally slowly, and predictably, which is just how Steve, his wife, and their various canine companions like it. Thatís not to say that these pages are without incident. Far from it. There is something disaster-happy about Steve Ruddís life, especially within the close confines of a camper van. Add to that the need to transfer into a wheelhair from time to time, and it all starts to take shape, or rather unravel, in situations when the main protagonist begins to sound like Victor Meldrew on a day when things arenít going right for him,
Arran is also a place of great natural beauty, of course, and just because Steve is stuck in a wheelchair, it doesnít stop Debbie and the dogs enjoying its mountains and paths to the full. Walks were walked, and dogs dunked in the sea to wash the mud off, afterwards. Meals were cooked on open fires, and sunsets were observed. Maybe some of what makes Arran such a special place may be gleaned from this chronicle of daily minutiae of the sort we all endure, especially those of us who take off in camper vans for weeks on end, but few bother to chronicle in such detail.
"Often amusing, they can also touch moments of lyrical appreciation -Ē
- Alison Prince of the Arran Voice
"A laidback style and a wickedly dry sense of humour that makes Arran Diaries a pleasure to read" - Sarah Wakely, Practical Motorhome