Monday, 23 July 2018

Another 2 weekends.

I can't believe it's 2 weeks again since I last wrote. How did that happen? Maybe it was the shock of the MOT. It only cost £200. I was stunned.

I doubt you're any more interested in what we did 2 weeks ago than I am, but now my blog's become a scrap-book, and the summer pictures get me through the long Siberian winters. So I'll blog it all anyway.

2 Saturdays ago we went to the Lammermuirs. I've been cautiously increasing the amount of hilly running I've been doing, and then backing off if I have any problems. It seemed like a plan to go to the Lanterne Rouge for a coffee and then head up to the car park near the Hopes Reservoir. From there we could run to the top of Lammerlaw and back down again. Simples. Peter had to do stuff with his mum in the morning though, so we were late setting off. I hoped we would only have coffee at the Lanterne Rouge, but when it came down to it we felt we needed cake. What was it Marie Antoinette said again? Go on, stuff your face fatty. Something like that. Anyway, we did. We decided to share in some of the world's burden of obesity, which was kind of us.

It was damn hard setting off from the car though. It's all uphill and the wind was blowing quite stiffly in our faces. My legs were moving quite stiffly too, and very slowly, and I felt puffed. Too puffed to argue with Peter for long when he wanted to go up the near-side of the reservoir and round in the hope of finding adders. Needless to say we didn't find any adders. My legs slowly unfurled and I started to run a bit better.

At the very top there was a welcome breeze and quite a number of beasties; wasps on the cap stone of the cairn and then 2 types of butterfly - I'm tempted to say there was a chocolate and orange one and the other one was lemon and ginger. Just to annoy someone. I can't be bothered going around naming things. It's only the names we've given them, it's not their real names after all.  Oh never mind.

The next day Peter went off and did some race. I was going to go a cycle, but hadn't got out the house by the time Mr Jubilant was phoning to say he'd only gone and WON the bloody thing. So I waited for him and then we took the bikes up to the Pentlands for a pedal around. Controversially, I had ordered a new mountain bike off Wiggle. Peter hates that. He thinks you should try things on first in the shop. My mind was on mountain-biking so I took my old mtb and we went round some of the trails. I can be a bit crap, but also, I realise now, my bike has been a bit crap for some time.

Coming down the track towards the ranger's station we again met Kathy and Graeme (as we had 2 weeks ago, on our cyclo swim). Kathy was showing me her super-swish mountain bike - light as a feather and with a dropper seat. I hoped I wasn't going to feel disappointed with my new bike after seeing hers. I knew it was going to be a bit heavy and it didn't have a dropper seat. Maybe I could put the seat off my typing chair on it?

Back round the other side, just past the Howe, I saw what looked like insects on the road, but looking closer it was a migration of tiny toads. These are just two of them. Sadly some of them had already been squished by passer-bys. The light was getting low so it wasn't so easy to photograph them.

Then another week passed. On Saturday Peter somehow tricked me into giving him a lift to the paint-shop in the van and then dropping off a bunch of equipment in Morningside, ready for starting a job on Monday. Since we were up that end of town anyway I suggested we go to the Pentlands for a change. I'm not saying I'm doing the Skyline but I have been thinking I might just see how my legs are as I really enjoyed the training for it last year, if not the race.

At Flotterstone we thought it would be rude not to have coffee and maybe even a bit of cake from the Pentlands Cafe before setting off. I sent Peter to get it and he arrived back with delicious coffee and blueberry and some kind of cheese cake. He said the guy said it reminded him of his grandmother as she used to make this cake for him when he was a little boy. We'd never found out where the new cafe owner is from. Peter was guessing Turkey but I thought that he had been in some forested mountains with bears and wolves, judging by the taste of the cake. It transpired that he is in fact Romanian and my cake-tasting intuition is uncannily accurate.

After coffee and cake we ventured out the van, only to be greeted by Fergus Johnston who had slept long and was only just setting off, and also the wood wasp pictured below. Peter and Fergus were having a good long chat and it seemed to me like we should get going so I suggested that they start off and I would "catch them up". Actually they both needed to go for a pee so I got a head start and they could catch me up. I hoped to hold them off for a while but even as I was just starting up Turnhouse I could hear them behind me and pretty soon we were side-by-side. I'm tired of trying to explain it, because it always falls on deaf ears, but there is nothing quite as dispiriting as running at full-pelt while the people beside you jog along at the same speed chatting. Thankfully they went ahead and I was left back in a more peaceful place. Conditions underfoot were very good but it was hot. I made it to the top in 24 and a half minutes, and I'm always quite happy if I can make it under 25, so I was pleased, if you can call that pleased. I nearly lost grandmother's cake at the cairn at the top. At this point Fergus ran on and he galloped off like a horse into the distance.

Seconds after leaving us we spotted Fergus disappearing towards the horizon. But I beat that other bloke (at Peter's hip) to the top of Scald Law - and he wasn't happy. Haha.

 We ran Turnhouse, Carnethy and Scald Law and then ducked down from the near-side of East Kip onto the Carnethy 5 track down to the Howe. We had a look to see what had happened to our toad migration and we found 2 little toads still there.

The run back down the road on hill shoes was painful but I'd had enough hills for one day for this trip.

 Back at Flotterstone Fergus also arrived back, having made it round most of the Skyline.

Then yesterday I wanted to go out on my new bike. I had actually quite fancied going back to the Pentlands but Peter wanted to go to Dalmeny. I didn't really want to go to Dalmeny, but the wind was blowing from the west so it made sense to go that way. I must be going soft.

My new bike has big 29 inch wheels and good suspension, not like the headshok on my old Cannondale, which despite it being sent back to the Netherlands to be fixed at quite an expense, hasn't worked well for years. The big wheels make you feel like you can just bulldoze your way over anything. It was all working beautifully and I really enjoyed it. Despite it being a little heavy you can get a good speed up on it.


We went to South Queensferry by the road and as we arrived there Peter announced that he could now do with tea and cake. "You people" I hear you say, "and your endless cake". I know.

I have been in several SQ cafes recently and they suffer a bit from the booming elderly tourist trade. The town centre is full of bewildered people who have just arrived on coaches enjoying the full 3 bridge experience. I should be happy for them but it makes me want to run around shouting "Wake up! Hurry up!".
I'd seen the creative cafe on the edge of town looking just a bit less well-frequented, so we headed there. I liked it but Peter got a bit tetchy. The service was inexplicably slow.

Och I think he was just tired. After the cafe we went to a shell-beach adjacent to some scrubland. I thought maybe we would find a dead body, it was that kind of place, but to Peter's delight we found "Small coppers, small coppers". The variant with blue spots apparently. Amazeballs!

I liked the orange bugs best. And I liked the big housey-castle. I wish it was mine.

So I guess I better go and do something that will help prepare me for the week ahead. I might actually just read a book though. I bought a stack of memoirs recently, on a whim. I went out a run today and wore a rucksack because I had a package to pick up from Telferton. It was unbearably hot and I still have a big red face hours later.

Have a happy week.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Two weekends, too many sunny days.

It's that terrifying day of the year - MOT day - so I'm skulking about at home when I would rather be outside - waiting for the call... I've got a sore ankle which I've been giving no concessions to which will probably benefit from doing less too. I think it's from running downhill. I give it a couple of days off hills and its fine. I run some hills again and it's not so fine. But not TERRIBLE. Maybe I'll go a plod on the flat later or maybe I'll go a wee spin on the bike. Anyway, I'm trapped, so I might as well blog.

As you know, there was an 8 month winter and then suddenly the sun came on. It's been shining so long that the people of Leith seem to be getting more measured in their drinking - and sitting in the shade instead of turning the colour of spam in the direct sunlight. 

So, at the end of June we went a run round Gullane.

And the next day we went a cyclo-swim to Thriepmuir. It was a nice, laid-back way to spend the day. I'd had a more ambitious cycle in East Lothian in mind but the heat was bellowing down and it all seemed a bit full-on. It was much more fun to make our way on mountain bikes up the Water of Leith, under the shade of the trees, to the Pentlands. We met Kathy Henly and Graeme Dunbar there just as we were getting tucked into some cake and coffee from the food caravan at the Ranger's Station. Well I don't know what else to call it. I had some carrot cake with super-sweet icing, thanks for asking. I was a bit concerned that Calories out < Calories in.

A good bit of chatter later we set off for Thriepmuir.

By then we weren't sure about going swimming. That always happens. The nearer you get to the water, the less appealing it all seems - the reality of the hassle of getting changed sets in and you remember what it feels like to be a bit cold while getting bitten by insects. It's just rarely like it is in the movies. And swimming...that's never quite as easy as it looks!

Anyway, I got over it all and went in.


And actually it was fine.

Somebody had taken their inflatable bed up to the water-side with them, and presumably it had blown away. While we were swimming a bed came by anyway - so we hopped up on it.

In Club Tropicana drinks are free...

The water was shallow all the way across and it really was warm. We swam across and back a couple of times.


Meanwhile, as you know, Peter is losing it more and more every day. He talks about nothing but butterflies. It's getting too much for me. We went a run to Gullane on Friday and he headed for his favourite nettle-fields babbling about small David Copperfields. I ran off and left him to it.

I was just having a bit of a stand (as you do when you're running in your 50s), enjoying the peace when something patted me on the shoulder and then somersaulted into the nearby long grass. It was a tiny bird! It didn't emerge so I had a rummage in the grass to see if I could see it, and behold!

A tiny, little baby bird. I took a few pics but it was difficult because I was holding the grass with one hand. I was a bit worried it was ill or injured, but I needn't have been. After a while looking at me with its bright, black eyes, it shot back over my shoulder and into a nearby bush! I think it was just practising its flying and mistook my shoulder for a fence-post momentarily.

Ah, that's better.

Then we found a toad. I found one too and tried to pick it up but it peed all over my hand and I let it go.

The next day I wanted to go a cycle again and Peter wanted to go to Cove. We kicked around possibilities and thought a train to North Berwick would be a good idea as otherwise it would be an 80 mile round trip. Then we were late leaving because we'd been waiting for the Postie to deliver a new router to us (which he didn't, BAH!!!!) so we just took the van to North Berwick. Peter was in charge of the trip as he knows that part of the country much better than me. Half way round he made some decisions about what we were doing but forgot to tell me. He had us pushing our bikes up through bumpy, grassy trails and on treacherous tracks through the trees. It was quite good fun but very, very slow and at last I wondered out loud how far it still was to Cove. "Oh didn't I tell you?" quoth Butterfly Bill, "We're not going to Cove". I realised eventually that what we were doing was the 18 mile circuit, more or less, that we'd once run with Nick W, except with a different line round the shore at Tyninghame.

I'm off to try and pump up the suspension on my bike.