Sunday, 22 March 2015


Too many things have been happening, so I need to roll them all up into one blog. I had a week off my part-time job but I still had things to do. It wasn't until Thursday that I was truly freeeeeeeeee. Sadly, the radiator light came on in the car the night before, so my feeling of free-eee--dom!!! was blighted by worry and irritation about the mystery leak. I'd been looking forwards to Thursday since Monday since we were going to go a run, a swim in the sea to make up for the one I dodged on Sunday, and then go and see our friend Ben who is back in the land of the living.

The sun was out for the first time in ages. We were both tired but we more than rallied with a coffee out of Falkos. In fact we became rather foolish and had a sing song to raise our spirits as we ran through the gentle East Lothian landscape. The toads had chosen this day to emerge from their burrows. Sadly, running with PB knocks out my photobilities on two counts. 1. he's got a bigger lens than me. Yes, it's true. 2. If he stops to take a picture he can always catch up with me. If I stop to take a picture, I can't catch up with him. It's an unequal world we live in.

So I let him take the pictures. There is a plethora of pictures of toads and what-not on his blog.

Going in swimming, the sea was the most accommodating it had been for many months, so I had a proper swim. The water was clear enough so you could see under water. I swam so much my face went completely numb and I couldn't speak. When we came out the water, an enthusiastic girl dog-walker bounced up to say "What are you looking for?". I tried to tell her that we were just in for a swim and not really looking for anything, but all I could say was "fuh fuh fuh fuh".

Then we went to see our friend Ben who is now well back from the brink. Apart from being Slimmer of the Month, having lost a stone from a frame which would be called "spare" at the best of times, he was in pretty good form. He is reduced from 95 mile runs to a walk down the beach a couple of times a day. I'm sure he'll come back quickly. He is feeling lucky to be alive rather than unlucky to be struck down by a random bug. PB and me were so delighted to see and speak to him that neither of us took a picture, which is unusual.

We got home and the water had gone down significantly in the radiator. I topped it up and grumbled and cursed fate and wished that I could win a car.


Friday dawned, and the night before I'd decided that I'd go up Arthur's seat on my bike and see if I could get pictures of the eclipse. Peter had, as he can, already decided he was against the eclipse in some way. I wasn't going to invite him along because there's nothing more distracting when you're making up your own mind about something than to be flooded with a deluge of pre-formed opinions on the subject.

But then as I was nearly ready to go, I felt the prickings of guilt, because if it was spectacular PB would be kicking himself that he wasn't there. So I woke him up and told him what I was doing. "Wait a minute, I'm coming too!" he said, and turned out smartish.

Up the hill we took up separate stances, which was a good thing. The cloud cover was very helpful and acted as a filter so it was possible to catch glimpses and take pictures of the eclipse. It did get significantly darker; so much so that when Peter came up the hill and I took a photo of him my flash went off although it was after 9.30 in the morning. There was a party atmosphere up the top of the seat which had nothing much to do with the eclipse I think. "It's the end of the world, it's the end of the world" somebody screamed. A little Glaswegian girl, who had been drinking, stopped to speak to me on the way down. "It's FREEZIN' ISN'T IT?" she said, "God, that's AMAZING!". I didn't think it was all that amazing,as it has been parky everyday for some time, and I didn't encourage her particularly.

Peter and I met up again and he expressed his lack of enthusiasm for the whole event, with enthusiasm. Later he told me his mum wasn't that impressed either. I felt they had missed the point somehow and have tried to sketch out how below.

Just focusing on the sensations produced by the eclipse, it wasn't much cop. It got a little bit dark and cool, but, it being the very end of the winter, and as it gets dark every day, neither of these things are exciting in themselves. Other significant events in our history likewise produced no particular sensations in the moment. For instance, Copernicus placing the sun at the centre of our universe did not lead directly to any unusual sense impressions. The importance of this event was in the meaning produced. You can't look at meaning for too long without it becoming a bit intangible too. Changing your understanding of the earth's place in the universe can lead to feelings of yourself being smaller and the universe being larger than you thought. This can lead to a feeling of awe, which in modern parlance has become known as AMAZEBALLS.

The eclipse is amazing because it gives, for a moment, a 3D representation of what is happening in the sky. If everyone would shut up it might anyway.


Saturday dawned, I was tired and I was still peed off about my car. I've been through this whole thing before. Last year I had three different problems with the radiator and its paraphernalia. I don't have a garage like you have where they give you another car to drive while your one is getting fixed. That's for other people. Knowing that there's something wrong with the car makes planning difficult. In the bigger picture I guess it's part of the human condition. We set off on many a journey not knowing whether we will ever arrive or not. That being said I wish my damn car was working. And I was tired. Who wants a long hilly run in the Lammermuirs? Not me. And yet somehow I thought I should. It was the first day of spring.
There were many variables. The car was one and I was the other. I didn't know if either of us would make it.

Peter wanted to go to the Lammermuirs so he built in some incentives. At Carfraemill, exactly 8 miles into the run, there was the possibility of shortbread and strong coffee. That kept me going over the first bit. Carrying on along the road after this stop I was getting big wafts of the sheer boredom of the countryside, just like I was last Saturday. There was the usual litter of discarded things on the small verge at the side of the road. The cars went by too fast. The landscape seemed like a big nothing that you would drive through as quickly as you could to get away from it, all the while squashing birds and runners and small mammals and chucking your coffee cups out the window. Then the sun lit up a field of sheep grazing in yellowy grass, and it looked lovely. It was a relief to get off the main road and set off down the smaller road that takes you on the return journey. I hadn't been on this road for a long time.

Once again, the coffee we'd had perked things up, so there was some singing and mucking around. This kind of freed us up for the 2nd half. The next stretch of road feels very remote. I 'let' Peter roam around taking pictures and concentrated on keeping up a steady kind of pace. My legs were already knackered from the first half. There are a lot of hills in them there hills. And I was tired anyway, but happy enough,and I kept going.

The last third of the run was really quite amazing. Numerous small fires had been set in the heather in the hills. The wind had dropped as it was getting towards evening, the sun was still out. We could see hills and plumes of smoke for miles. It nearly helped me forget my aching legs and yelping feet. As we ran the final 2 miles downhill to the car PB yelled about the view and I kept a close eye on my feet, not wanting to do any acrobatics this late in the day. 20.5 miles done, and an inspection of the radiator showed the water level was down, but not too far....

So today is another day. Just time for a second breakfast and I think it will be a recovery run and another swim in the sea and then some kind of preparation for Monday and adult life beginning again.

1 comment:

Climbingmandy said...

I always thought that a phenomenological approach just led to depression. And existential angst. Glad it produced amazeballs for you!