Home to the smell of cut grass and rain after two weeks of unrelenting. sunshine.  Bliss.  This northern European loves a bit of sun but not too much and two weeks of no sleeves and slathers of sunscreen pushed me to my limit.

One of the great things about trekking the hills of Finca Cortesín during the Solheim Cup was that I took Marco Simone, in the hills above Rome, in my stride.  People were warning about the slopes and how difficult it was to walk – and it was a breeze.  Well, it was blooming hot and there were some steep slopes, so Mo and I had to pace ourselves but we did average more than 25,000 steps a day from Thursday to Sunday inclusive, armed with our invaluable – and rare – periscopes.  They caused a bit of bemusement at the security check but made us the envy of many a spectator who found themselves crowded out, especially around the greens.

You can’t have too many pictures of the Colosseum. More amazing than periscopes.

We did our course recce on the Thursday, checking out the route from our digs and getting to know the course a little bit and did the obligatory 0400 start on the Friday, so we’d be there for the first shot at 0735.  One good thing about travelling in the dark was that it was cool, no sweating required.  And there were no queues to get into the shop – easy-peasy to spend a lot of dosh, though not as easy as at the refreshment outlets, most of which were eye-wateringly expensive.  On the plus side, there were plenty of water refill stations and if you didn’t have your own portable power bank to recharge your phone, you could hire one.

Mo and I had hatched a plan – she tells me it’s always good to have a plan, I think she learned that from the incomparable Mary McKenna – and we followed the top match all the way (Rahm and Hatton took care of Scheffler and Burns), then had lunch and made our weary way back to the digs (full sun all the way to the shuttle bus) to watch the Sky coverage on Mo’s tablet/laptop.  It had taken her and Brian (at home in Cheshire) several hours to work out how to set up a VPN but it was worth it.    The only problem was that we had to mime our cheering and groaning and lepping about for fear of disturbing the neighbours.

These Rickie Fowler fans had little enough chance to cheer their favourite.

We decided to do the early start again on the Saturday and it was brilliant, far fewer people, lots having a lie-in and no queues at all.  We followed McIlroy and Fleetwood against Spieth and Thomas – how good is that! – and cheered another European point.  Lunch again, then plodded home to our gin and tonics and watched the belated US fightback.

Rory, Tommy and Harry striding on the way to a famous victory.

In the evening we didn’t have to travel far – a few hundred metres – to have a choice of excellent restaurants and caffs.  One of our favourites was one of the cheapest, with the pavement patrolled by a perky Jack Russell. Eating outside every night was a treat.

It was hectic at the 1st on the final day.

We had a later start on Sunday and decided to follow the second match – we’d already watched Rahm and Scheffler and they took hordes with them.  Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa suited us nicely and by this time we’d worked out a relatively trouble free route round.  We even found a shady resting place at the 11th, near food outlets, loos, a screen.  Mo had a pitstop but I stayed there, getting worried about where the last half was coming from, until Bob MacIntryre and Wyndham Clark, in the last match, appeared.  I tootled after them and met up with Mo for the last knockings.

A bit of rest and reflection at the 11th – note the periscopes on the table.  You can see the whole of the 11th.  Most people walked up the other side of the hole so the right-hand side was an oasis of calm.

MacIntyre supporters dressed for the heat – the kilts were ditched early in the week, too heavy, too hot.

The start of the long trek home, tired, sweaty, dusty and very, very happy (well, the Americans not so much but they’d been resigned). Winning really is so much more fun than not.

Sir Michael Bonallack, who died a few days ago, was a man who knew a lot about winning, about golf and how to live a fulfilled life.  A consummate match player, he won the Amateur Championship five times and became a much-respected secretary of the Royal and Ancient, as at ease with the modern-day professional as he was with his amateur contemporaries.  In fact, I think Michael was at ease with everybody, a man secure in his own skin, kind, generous and nobody’s fool.

One of his proudest and most satisfying moments was winning the Walker Cup at St Andrews in 1971. It was, he said, “the last ambition”.  He was the playing captain and it was Great Britain and Ireland’s first win for 33 years.  At this year’s Walker Cup, also at St Andrews, Michael, although unwell, attended the opening ceremony and got a standing ovation.

Diane Bailey, who in her first Curtis Cup played on the same team as Angela, Michael’s wife, knew them both well.  One of her fondest memories is of how Michael, a newly minted member of Augusta National, quietly and without fuss, came up with two tickets to the Masters after a throwaway remark by John, Diane’s husband.  He’d said that Diane had always wanted to go but thought no more about it.  Then, a few weeks later, Michael said that he could get a couple of tickets and would John like them?

“This is just one example of the quiet, charming man that Michael was,” Diane said.  “No big talk of being able to get tickets, just quietly remembering that I had dreamt of going.  John was going to keep it a surprise for my Christmas present but he lasted 24 hours before he told me!  It was the most wonderful experience and a memory I will always treasure.”

At an Open one year, Muirfield I think, when the “no women members” thing was being brought up yet again (quite rightly!), I came up with what I fondly imagined was one of my better questions:  “What would happen if one of your members had a sex change?”

Without missing a beat, Michael said, “I should think we’d give him a jolly wide berth in the locker room,”  and ambled off, chuckling, leaving me to make of it what I would.  Ace.

He and Angela, who died last year and was one of life’s live wires, were a great team and it was a joy to know them just a little bit.  Condolences to the Bonallack family and their many friends.

Michael had a style all his own but it worked and his putting was lethal. [From John Behrend’s book “The Amateur”]