As we had an hour or two to wait for our ferry to the Outer Hebrides, we drove five miles out of Oban to the Falls of Lora. The narrow channel where Loch Etive meets the sea is blocked by a ridge of rock and here the tide - whether incoming or outgoing - creates what the Norwegians call a "straumen". We drove across the Connel Bridge to look down on the maelstrom, and then parked in the car park to just sit and watch the white water.
There were two inflatables with big engines and a group of men in dry suits who seemed to be enjoying themselves. I spoke to them and it turned out that they were the local fire brigade practising water rescues - one inflatable would take a couple of dry-suited men up above the Falls and drop them in, to drift down to where the other inflatable was waiting to "rescue" them.
I remarked that it looked like fun and the man to whom I was speaking winked prodigiously and said, "It's a hard life being a fireman in Oban." Water rescues have only recently been added to the fire brigade's duties and I take it that the poor fellows were really having to force themselves to go on training sessions like this one. At least we can be glad that it was the tax payer footing the bill and not the hard-pressed, over-worked firemen themselves!