Monday, 15 April 2013

Spring Toads

I like taking photos in the Gullane public toilets: the metal mirrors are like fairground mirrors and distort reflections. Mary says its going to end with me going on a register.

Saturday (13/04/13) was the first day of Spring. To confirm this the toads appeared at Aberlady just over the bridge. They hibernate until the first warm day of the year (usually half way through March) then come out and head for the nearest pond. Be that Dunsapie in Holyrood (where the rangers put grills on the drains to avoid a one way flume), or the pond just over the bridge at Aberlady.

Mary anticipated this; feeling the warmth of the early afternoon she predicted a toad-fest and sure enough they were hopping about the path. We had parked the van in Gullane and run down the John Muir Trail by the side of the golf course then crossed the bridge. It was a joy to feel the sun. Unused to dressing for warmer weather Mary left her long sleeved top at the bridge (we collected it on the drive home,) and ran in her t-shirt. The tide was out and life was good. I took loads of toad photos. The sun cast amusing shadows of them when they hopped but as we got close (to video them) they hunkered down and relied on their bad taste to dissuade predation. I filmed them being poked and prodded and playing dead, refusing to hop around for the camera.

with fat bike tyre marks in the sand

After a visit to the mini-subs (one already submerged) we ran along to Archerfields then inland and up the road to Gullane. Jim was flying his biplane in the blue sky. Lots of forestry work going on thinning out the trees at Archerfields. I was sorry the run was so short although the best of the weather was in the earlier part of the afternoon. When we got back to the van AGH and Alison were waiting for us. Amanda had been running when we texted her earlier and now she stood in her wetsuit ready for a swim. I had thought Mary and her a little too keen as the Winter had only been finished about 12 hours. However after a run I thought someone else should have the courage to go in with Amanda so I did. (Mary declined feeling less up for it than earlier.) I had taken my wetsuit just in case. I had also been amused by the colour of red/pink of the paddling kids. It did not bode well.

This dude was training for climbing Mount McKinley (where you are required to sled haul.)

And sure enough it was about as cold as water can get without freezing. I ran along in the shallows to where Amanda and Alison were playing with the dogs. I waited for my feet to acclimatise but they just got sore and I had to run around the beach to thaw them out. Normally in and out a couple of times and it becomes bearable. This felt like immersing one's feet in snow. Amanda had got presents of wet suit gloves, socks and a hat. That still left her face exposed which, after a bit of swimming, went an impressive shade of pink. I was pleased about how well my wet suit worked but any exposed flesh was too painful to have in the water for long so after a bit of splashing about (floating on my back keeping my hands above the water) I got out.


AGH laughing at me "swimming" with hands out water

The worst thing about swimming is the almost impossible change afterwards into dry warm clothes with cold fumbling hands. Feet refuse to dry or let go of the sand no matter how vigorously you rub them. It takes ages to haul on socks which refuse to unwrinkle and feel rucked in your shoes. At least we didn't have 2 sand filled dogs to take home.

Harris who also showed a reluctance to swim. (Smart chap.)

Somewhere in the mix we had cheese (and sausage) tongues from Falkos. They are much improved as the previous frankfurter sausages have been replaced by more pleasant slices of pepperoni. AGH reckons the previous “meat” may have been partially or wholly equine in origin, hence its replacement.
Not local to Aberlady: we were driving past in the car otherwise I would have made inquires.

So next on the shopping list are neoprene gloves, bootees and a hat. Hopefully the warm weather will last for as long as the winter did.


  1. Wow a Lama at Aberlady!
    There is a full on orgy of Toads at Whitekirk this week! the roads into work are covered in them..

  2. Brilliant! You got a photo of the llama!! I thought the co,d water had fuddled my mind when we saw it. I've asked Alison to make enquiries as to which neighbour has a pet llama...

  3. Mary was sharp eyed and spotted a horse box parked at the side of the road with some hippy type spray paint on it. She linked this to the llama sighting, which would suggest it was just having a breather en route to elsewhere, rather than a local pet. (Nearest llamas I know of are at East Links Family Park, Tyninghame estuary near Dunbar. Point of note re spelling of Lama / llama (both are right)...
    The species ‘Lama’ include the types – llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuna. They are related to camels and are used as pack animals. They have two-toed feet with toenails on the top and pads on the bottom. (This info off the East Link site:
    I will be posting some (5 way) toad orgy in upcoming video "Alternative John Muir Way"