ONE OF the prerequisites for leading a full and active social life in

Scotland is stamina. One has to be prepared to travel considerable

distances, expend a great deal of energy and, in doing so, be able to

survive with relatively little sleep. Thankfully, as one has grown

older, one has continued to be able to do all the things one was able to

do when one was a girl. It simply takes me longer to recover.

Over the past three days, what with the Oban Ball, the Northern

Meeting, the Lochaber Ball and the Aboyne Ball, one has been spoilt for

choice. But, as I have often said before, one cannot be everywhere at

once, although one does try.

It is with this in mind that tonight Old Camperdown and I are

abandoning our house party, leaving them to their own devices, and

Dawkins, our chauffeur, is driving us to Preston Hall, near Dalkeith,

home of Henry and Jackie Callander. Situated at Pathhead, Preston Hall

is a splendid location for a dance, and I shall never forget the

amalgamation ball of the Royal Scots Greys and 3rd Carabiniers to form

the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards held there back in 1971. I was seven and

a half months pregnant with Fiona, my daughter, at the time. Do you

know, I've always been convinced the reason she chose to arrive

prematurely in the early hours of that morning was just to see what she

was missing out on!

Being held in aid of the Game Conservancy Trust and their game-bird

research programme, the Grouse Ball tonight is presided over by Sir

Robert Spencer-Nairn, James Thomson, and Richard Strang-Steel. Chums

such as Janie Stodart from Kingston and James Kentish-Barnes are on the

organising committee, Alice Salvesen has been acting as ticket

secretary, and music is being supplied by the Simon Howie Band. I note

there is also to be an auction conducted by Sotheby's Scotland,

presumably by Harry Robertson, who is such a gentleman.

Since we will be staying overnight in Edinburgh, we had already

decided to return via the Gleneagles Hotel tomorrow evening for the

Sotheby's private view for their picture sale. It is one of those

occasions when one always sees so many familiar faces. Sometimes one

even finds time to look at the paintings.

Isn't it interesting how love changes all? Last year I was desperate

for Fiona, my daughter, to accompany us to the Skye Balls, held in the

Gathering Hall at Portree. Skye is such a beautiful island, and I can

think of nothing more romantic than being transported over the sea to

dance until dawn on two consecutive nights. Alas, I simply cannot see it

being the same once they build that bridge. In the past, Camperdown and

I have always made use of our yacht, and part of the magic has always

been arriving with damp feet.

Inevitably, although the first night is particularly formal, the Skye

Balls are essentially for the young, but last year, having become

involved with a most unsuitable student drama group at the Edinburgh

Festival, Fiona would have none of it. Since meeting Fraser, her young

man, she has positively bloomed. I can't tell you how happy I am to

report that this year she has seized upon our Skye ticket allocation for

next week, and on Thursday, therefore, it looks as if Camperdown and I

will have to be satisfied with the Glenlivet Fireworks Concert in

Princes Street Gardens.

The old boy has already telephoned the New Club to book in and, of

course, the slightest suggestion of Scotch whisky being involved on

Thursday puts an immediate spring in his step.

My principal concern, however, is that being in Edinburgh, one will be

expected to include Henrietta, my sister, in our plans. I can't tell you

what it was like having Grigor, her Ukrainian friend, demonstrate

Cossack dancing to us in the midst of our eightsome reel at the Northern

Meeting last night. Fortunately it was such a good party that nobody

appeared to notice.

As I write, they are still in their room, although the balalaika music

tends to suggest they are anything but asleep. I have to say I'll be

amazed if they materialise before Camperdown and I set off mid-afternoon

and although I hate to be churlish, I would very much like them to be

well and truly gone by the time we return. If one is to believe

Henrietta, Grigor has made such an impression with his impromptu poetry

recitals outside the Fringe box office last week that he has been

offered a soap box beside the steps of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Fingers crossed!

I know for a fact that tomorrow they've been invited to some

exhibition entitled Wonderbrats, put together by Sophie Buchan-Watt, the

Duke of Hamilton's rather extrovert young cousin. I understand Sophie

has already been featuring in the chorus of a festival sex and

censorship show, the title of which I could not possibly bring myself to

impart in this column. In the late 40s and 50s, Camperdown's mother used

to take part in all those wonderful drag hunts with Sophie's

grandmother, Lady Margaret Drummond-Hay of Seggieden. Undoubtedly

''drag'' meant something entirely different in those days.