Magazine article The Spectator

Let's Hear It for the Boys

Magazine article The Spectator

Let's Hear It for the Boys

Article excerpt

Tracey Ullman swaps smog and sunshine for the fresh air of Scotland

Every trip to the Highlands of Scotland begins at the airport with my husband Allan checking in 'the boys'. This is the affectionate term for his Calloway custom-made golf clubs. In order to get 'the boys' he was weighed, measured, videoed and placed on a 'swing-o-meter' at a laboratory in Carlsbad, California. Six weeks later his children were delivered.

Golf clubs are sometimes classified as 'odd-shaped cargo' and have to be dropped off and collected in remote areas of the terminal. If I complain Allan gets defensive. 'Don't have a go at the boys, baby. It's not their fault.'

I love going to Scotland. Once airborne you rarely make it past Milton Keynes before grey clouds start rolling in, getting gradually more impenetrable the further north you go. It's fine by me; I don't come to the UK expecting sunshine. Having lived in Los Angeles for the past 25 years I view rain, fog and giant hailstones as climatic nostalgia.

Landing at Inverness airport is like arriving in a scented field. You leave the plane by stairs, so you immediately take in great gulps of clean air which make me feel oxygenated and giddy with health. The surrounding land is dark green with purple hilltops and I always half-expect a stag to wander onto the runway and raise its antlers by way of greeting.

'The boys' tumble on to the solitary carousel and we go to rent a car. I always try to get the clerk to say 'automatic Mondeo' as many times as possible because it sounds hysterical when said with a broad Scottish accent. Scottish roads are clear. It's still a pleasure to drive up there and soon we're at our favourite family-run hotel, Colluden House (www. cullodenhouse. co. uk).

After tea and the first of many rounds of smoked salmon sandwiches I give in to the extra oxygen and take a nap while Allan starts ringing round for tee times.

The golf courses in Scotland are all gorgeous, and lots of them are public land.

Having visited some very elitist clubs over the years I truly appreciate this. However, there is a notoriously snooty links near Edinburgh whose male members kept a sign at the gate for years that read, 'No dogs or women allowed'.

When we were first married I used to get frustrated by my husband's hobby. …

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