It is the sunniest day to happen in the north-east for quite some time. As chance would have it, we were booked in for a day on the Laird of Towie’s boat. We went off to the Whitehills marina mid-morning to find a thirty-foot wooden yacht and a cheerful mariner in shorts: the Laird was, inevitably, delayed, so we sat on the boat basking and making conversation. After a while the Laird, daughter & daughter’s boyfriend tipped up, and it was Ho for the open sea. The Northern Professor and myself (idle as all will admit) promptly nipped up the sharp end to loll about, while the Laird and his mariner friend did the diffy bit, whereas the Canadian Professor, with a background which covers both Cape Cod and Lake Ontario, took charge of the rudder. It is wonderful to look at our part of the world from the sea. For a start, it makes so much more sense; historically, sea has been virtually the only means of transport, and in a small boat, you get the vikings’ eye view. We went along to a little castle which I forget the name of, which was slighted by Mary, Queen of Scots in one of her innumerable successive acts of political suicide, and absolutely saw the point of it: it is actually all but invisible from the sea which gave its masters, of course, a terrific capacity for being surprising. Returning, we stopped for a drink at Portsoy, then returned to our station in the bows watching forbaby guillemots, who are very sweet, and seals, who seemed to be enjoying the summer weather as much as anyone; they were basking on their backs, front flippers folded placidly over their chests, rear flippers sticking up. It was a most idyllic day, with the sea like mercury and a blue sky with fluffy white cloud. We returned home to find the Gamekeeper, busily making himself useful and painting the bridge which otherwise I would have had to do myself, and subsequently, to a bit of an excitement over a swarm of bees, which he & I attempted to entrap. They had unfortunately sorted themselves into a big flat blob on a tree trunk rather than a rugby ball shaped lump hanging from a branch, but we have made a bee enticing temporary home & hope for the best.