In accordance to Duke of Edinburgh rules we have to arrive a day early so that we have some time to get ready for the off, which in our case basically meant going to watch Spain beat Ireland and have a mystery tour of the island. Tobermory is the largest village, in the north of the island, and so offered the best chance of a pub to watch the football. While Ireland struggled against Spain a few of us went for an investigation of the village, which didn't take long. The houses on the harbour front were painted bright colours and so made for a few nice photos. Having found a sponge tennis ball we started up a small game of footy on what little sand we could find, sadly the teams seemed to be Colin vs. The rest. Despite a brave effort I lost, with no help from our ref, some random lad who decided to officiate.
Both games of football came to a close and so with an afternoon to kill and a minibus at our disposal we started the mystery tour. I took the wheel and we headed off to Glengorm castle as few miles away. A word on driving in Mull, despite many roads being marked on the map the reality is somewhat less wide. All non-A roads seem to be single track roads with passing places every now and then, which when driving a minibus makes for interesting times as the passing places can be a bit tight for two Fiestas passing let alone a Range Rover and us. So at an average speed of 10 miles an hour we headed out. Arriving at the Castle we spotted our mistake quickly. Assuming a castle was generally for looking around it soon became obvious that someone actually lived in this one and probably wouldn't want a bus load of students wondering around taking pictures. However some keen eyed chap in the back noticed that they sold flowers and so we headed down the drive looking for the signs to the gardens. Driving past the front garden we got a friendly (I hope!) wave from some people who probably own the place, which we returned with vigour. Deciding that now was a good time to be leaving it we realised that the road we were on was far too small to turn a bus round so we carried on regardless, almost into the front of a large BMW heading the other way. A bit of messing around later and we were following the BMW towards the gates hoping the local Policeman wouldn't be told about this minor case of trespass, least of all because he also happens to be our assessor!
Heading off from the castle on the coastal road we met some interesting local drivers, the best of all was the much celebrated blue Nova. Having tried to overtake several times it eventually squeezed past us as we stopped in a passing place to let someone go the other way, a bit cheeky we thought. It didn't help our ego to find the car full of four lasses pointing and laughing at us and so in true male tradition we sped off after them. Following a car turned out to be much easier than blazing the trail yourself as now you had a lookout in front of you going round the bends to see whether there was anything coming the other way. After several miles we savoured the beautiful moment when the evil blue Nova lost a hub cap and we decided that we were happy to overtake one piece at a time if need be. The pinnacle of our driving day was yet to come. If at all possible try to imagine our joy when we came round a bend to find the evil blue Nova in a passing place waiting for a car coming the other way, which had also pulled over, leaving the road clear for us. I'd like to say that we swept past majestically, with a touch of dignity but that would be lies. We roared past cheering and waving for all we were worth and felt the better for it.
The mystery tour continued around to Calgary bay where we stopped for another game of footy on the beach, this time with even teams. The reality of the game was less skillful and more physical; soft sand and a small sponge football does not make for delicate touches, although a special mention should go to Jeff's style of play: brutal. Being so close to the sea we had to go and dip the toes in. While gazing fondly over the waves crashing in I uttered the unfortunate words to Timmey 'fancy a swim??' several seconds later we were running into the waves with almost as much enthusiasm as we ran out of them, having completed a full three strokes swimming in the mean time. Time to move on, half an hour down the road Neil decided to inform us that his wallet was still on the beach so we dropped most of us off while the bus scampered back. A short stroll took us to the ferry point overlooking the sound of Ulva where we were treated to some of the finest Scottish drizzle. The bus returned and the tour was over, time to get to the campsite and meet the assessor; Ian Herskin, who turned out to be a relaxed fellow who couldn't resist putting us off with tales of ticks, Clegs and what promised to be the hardest four days of our lives to date. Obviously in preparation we went to the pub for a meal to escape the midges which had by this time not only stormed the campsite but were seriously entrenched. Bed time came soon enough and alarms were set, ready for an early start in the morning.