Wednesday, 30 December 2015

before the storm

Tuesday's forecast was sunshine from ten till two. Thoughts turned to longer runs before Frank stormed in with late Christmas presents for a country already up to its oxters in flood alerts. I can only think that Jesus (it's him who organises the weather, right?) was more annoyed about the Virgin street of lights than I at first imagined. Anyway, inappropriately he does appear to be doing some old testament wrath and particularly to the folk of Cumbria and the lake district. (Although a property price freeze is long overdue there.)

I ran up the road to catch the North Berwick train at 10.43. I decided the NB circuit would fit the bill. I wanted to run about 20 miles but if the day stayed fine and I felt strong I might take it up to 30+ miles and knock off January's TB run by running back along the coast and ticking off the wm at Gullane Golf Course which has only featured in Mary's Baby Bronze as far as I can remember. The low sun and the light was marvellous and I slowed on the way to Waverley to take a photo where the road goes under Waterloo Place.

Off the train at 11.17 and up NB Law to kickstart the run. I like the above photo which squeezes the Bass Rock between the two markers on the Law. I don't mind the seasonal wreath as it is at least temporary. The graffiti annoys me though. This is at least the second version of the same motto and it is deeply flawed. I don't think we should "live for the moment". That short term thinking is more than half the problem in the world right now. What happens when we run out of materials to make more of these throw-away items? What happens if I fool around with someone's wife? What happens if I break my neck doing this crazy stunt and who will push my wheelchair for the rest of my miserable life? What happens if I eat junk food and don't exercise? Oh don't worry about that just Live for the Moment. This is exactly why most of the country are fat, have a hangover and STDs (not to mention unwanted pregnancies) are rampant.

And there is the execution of the lettering. Granted it is slightly better than the last effort which was poorly spaced between stencilled words - too much living for the moment and not enough skill and forward planning employed. But the last effort was not painted out and so the ghost of it can still be seen spoiling the newer version. Another triumph of living for the moment. And the spray paint is too heavily applied and looks clumsy and oafish. So in summary: it's not a big deal but if you are going to vandalise a public monument could you please choose a better motto and carry it out in a slightly more competent manner. (If I remember next time I visit I may well take some white paint and live for the moment plan for the long term.)

The small pond in the field (above) reflecting the sunlight looked like this up close...

Now THAT is how to do paintwork.
Check out the colour of the front door. Totally fab and that's from 200 yards.
(Don't know who did it but it gets my vote.)

Ahead of the storm the wind was getting up.
3 crows get aerodynamic and zip across the gusty sky.

No planes landing today.

...and this is where we keep the polo ponies

Trying to get a decent photo of all the water in this field I stepped round the corner and noticed this angle to catch a photo of the Newbyth Mansion House

Through Newbyth woods and across the road into Binning Woods. Initially I followed the usual paths I take through there but then went off piste in search of different views.

Found myself at the cemetery, hello Ali B, and enjoyed the shadows of the trees there.

fab light

There has been quite a bit of felling going on.

Running down Limetrees Walk I stopped at this notorious gate. 

20 miles into a previous long run I saw it and moved across the road to have a closer look stepping half off the edge of the tarmac and going over on my ankle really badly. Had to sit for 10 mins while rubbing it before limping the last 10+ miles of the day. All that seemed a long way off today as the light made the gate look very photogenic. It still brings back painful memories though.

I had a good line between Limetrees Walk and the coast going through the trees. Last couple of times there and I've failed to find it. Taking a slightly different line again and being prepared to get lost in the woods I managed to come out past Baldred's Cradle just at the start of the beach. Almost disappointing as I really like the trail from B's C as the beach is slowly revealed.

I realised I should have got there earlier as the sun was so low it left the beach in shadow. It was also quite busy which for me isn't an improvement.

The last of the blue sky was in this direction. There was an ugly bank of dull cloud spreading from the West over the whole sky. This pretty much was the determining factor on whether I should continue beyond North Berwick or just catch the train home. It was heading towards 3pm and would be around 20miles at the station. There had been quite a lot of muddy ground and puddle-hopping and I was quite tired. The heavy cloud was the nail in the coffin. If it had been a beautiful sunset I could have forced another 10 miles beyond NB to clock up January's TB (the first TB was on July 28th 2014, and so the month starts and ends then.) Which would have been a good defense against bad weather on the 4th when the 2 Richards have an outing planned.

As the beach gets rocky from Peffer Burn I prefer to go upstream and cross the burn on the first bridge which leads to this concrete road. You can see it has been laid in 20 yard stretches that would have been poured into forms or shuttering. There is a scattering of small stones in the mix that have helped the concrete wear well. In fact apart from an occasional crack near a corner it is in remarkably good nick. My drifting mind was paying more attention than usual to this, which was interesting given a conversation I was about to have in 20 minutes. It is always a chore to come off the beach and lose the visual distractions, replaced with an up hill slog (on concrete) to the Seacliff exit onto the main road with about 6 tough road miles to the station. (There must be an off road alternative.)

At Seacliff I noticed this handsome big truck and wondered if the Tam in question mentioned on the front of the cab was related to the Tam who "bides here" further along at the row of cottages. I slowed at Tam's cottage to take a photo and the door opened. I hadn't met Tam before and imagined him as younger than the 81 year old who was on his way out. We spoke for 5 minutes during which I tried to find out if he and the other Tam were the same. No they weren't. Other Tam and his son (yet another Tam!) were the owners of the big house and estate. However Tam (bides here) has worked since leaving school at 14, for the family and they gave him his bides here cottage in return for that. (Ploughing 11 miles a day behind a horse!) The SS10 was the (reg, I think of the) first rig the farm ran. AND Tam (Bides Here) laid the concrete road I had just run up (I know, I should have asked when it was laid) and fortified it with stones from Scoughall beach. Tam is looking great for his 81 years and stands straight backed, suggesting a life of hard work keeps you healthy.

As I ran on I was pretty sure I was not keen for another 10 beyond the station. It was getting dark and cold and no more decent photos would be presenting themselves. I noticed it was 3pm and the train was at 3.26. I had over 3 miles to cover so picked up the pace doing the last 2 miles in 7.04 and 6.55. I caught the train with a couple of minutes to spare grateful for the imperative that made me sprint the last bit. I dried off on the journey home and jogged down Leith Walk feeling I'd had a great day out.

Monday, 28 December 2015

2 hills no Princes

Back to the gloomy weather and a gallop round Holyrood. Not much to report other than the summit was far too busy with hungover xmas zombies - don't they know this a runners track and mooching about taking selfies isn't required? Perhaps if it had been a bit colder it would have dissuaded the moochers. I was halfway up the Seat regretting a second layer and Mary following behind was stripping off. Low murky cloud did not make for great photos but once you got going it was pleasant enough for 90mins out and about.

far too busy!

Then, after a summit and run about on Whinny Hill we dropped down to Dunsapie and followed the road clockwise. Who's that old bugger up ahead, why it's Willie M, PRC's international star. Good to see him putting in a few training miles. And to hear he reads our blogs - better be polite!

And then as we cautiously descended Salisbury Hill below the crags, (a lot of standing water) we meet Lynn H doing hill reps. Before going for a swim later. Impressive! Did we hang around and chum her up and down the hill 15 times? Did we hell! We went home for lunch. One of the benefits of defrosting the freezer is the homemade pizzas discovered deep in the permafrost yesterday which now HAVE to be eaten. YES! They were excellent. Oh and by the way the freezer is now working perfectly again.

But first a quick romp over Calton Hill. Again quite a lot of xmas moochers shuffling about in the grey, passing time till they can start drinking tonight. And they have fenced off lots of the hill in preparation for the Hogmany bunfight. There is a long view down Princes St from Calton Hill and I took a couple of photos. But as I was cropping and tweaking them I thought am I really going to post a photo of the street of shame. No I am not: hardly a decent building on it, lots of christmas drivel, lots of overpriced tacky shops and the icing on that particular turd-cake: the TRAMS. I have still never been on a Tram as they represent about a billion pounds wasted on a system that isn't as good as a couple of the routes the buses more than adequately cover already. So, no I won't be putting up pics of Princes St. Instead have a picture of one of the buildings on Calton Hill and it's exquisite roof, a thing of great beauty.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

life in the freezer

What a glorious day today. 
We saw it coming and Mary had warned me it was going to be an early start. Then she slept in. I think the fall out from 3 days of driving, running and binge eating/drinking. Nice as that was, it is better to be back in a house empty of chocolates, whisky and temptation. And I did my best to finish off the remnants of some wine that was kicking about; just to get it out the house. Although the return to normal diet starts here and now, you have to go slowly and wean yourself off the toxins gradually. There is no point in going cold turkey. 

We checked and Falko's is closed until 9th January. Ffs. I reckoned the Village Coffee House would be rubbing their hands, and open. They were. I like their flavoured coffees. Mainly because I am not a coffee connoisseur. I enjoy the stimulation of a caffeine drink but it could just as well be a Red Bull or equivalent. Mary is more of a coffee fan. And also a champion of polite and charming service. I think the owner dude in the VCH has a similar condition to Saga in The Bridge. No charm or apparent humanity. Not rude really but so brusque and kind of bossy he would be more suited to leading a charge of the light brigade than handfeeding a bird with a broken wing.

Anyway I won because I got a delicious caramel coffee (£2.25 and only a little mild gruffness) and Mary's flask of homemade coffee curdled the soy milk and quite a lot of it was deposited on Gullane High St. Oh and George Salmond ran past somewhere in all of this. Merry Christmas!

After 2 days of thou-shalt-not we were pretty frazzled. God knows how folk manage 2 weeks of this. As an example of just how wrecked Mary was, she missed the (Tranent) turn off from the A1 (not like we've been along here much!) and we had to take the one past Macmerry. Mind you, I was talking and that never helps. We had thought about going to the Lammermuirs but neither of us were fighting for it. 

The coffee in Gullane failed to give us the usual lift and only brought us up to slightly below par. However the day was beautiful so we drove to the beach, parked there and after a bit of fannying about and a visit to the loos, set off back into Gullane and through the golf course to Aberlady where there were possibly more vehicles parked up than ever before. Right enough the weather was spectacular and everyone is looking for a redemptive jolly outdoors before getting wired into the next evening's drinking. By this time the run was going so nicely we had stopped squabbling and were starting to enjoy it.

There was a lot of standing water and we stood in a lot of it.

giving and receiving the evil eye

As something of a punishment exercise we opted for some intervals. Since we weren't totally in great shape we settled on quite short blasts and only five and only in the same direction as the wind. Which isn't really too taxing at all, but just in case, Mary did a medicinal dance (above) and cleansed my aura. I had spilled coffee on my jacket earlier but this was more of a spiritual wipe and less of anything with a measurable outcome. After each set of 100 steps at full tilt I'd jog back to Mary if I had the energy and we'd set off again. 

Thanks to Mary for taking this photo.
(I was just wondering where my camera was; d'oh.)

So, to what does today's title refer? (It's been quite mild for December surely?) Well continuing the theme of regret, repentance and redemption, Mary (later in the day) decided to defrost the freezer. It was becoming apparent that unlike the Tardis, in fact exactly opposite of the Tardis, there was a disproportionately small volume of usable space in the freezer. That if you could chisel a drawer open, you would find much less room than you would imagine. How to set wrongs to right? How to find the ice cube tray lost many years ago to glacial assimilation? Perhaps the smartypantses on youTube would have some easy fix that didn't involve a biblical flood in the kitchen?

When Mary and I tackle a fix like this it is almost always herself who instigates the action although once I engage in the process I may often finesse it. Or put the last coat of varnish on afterwards. But it is Mary who gets the ball rolling. Or the ice broken. Alas there seemed no short cuts to just switching the freezer off, putting down old towels on the kitchen floor, and an open container of hot water inside the freezer if access is still possible. Having done the ground work Mary retired early and I took shifts of squirting hot water out a plant spray, water pistol style, then allowing to sit for a long while, regularly mopping inside the freezer and kitchen floor as slowly the drawers came out from bottom to top and the local ice caps went through their own global warming. Every hour or so I would return and occasionally, if it looked safe, use a flat knife to chisel off a frozen cliff face. With all the satisfaction of removing a (childhood) loose tooth I would wiggle and ease out a crevasse of ice. (Highly not recommended, watch those wires!)

There was ice from before 9/11. There was ice from before Lady Di died, or Lady Gaga-ed. As I dug deeper we went back in time to woolly mammoths and cave paintings, to a time when fish had fingers. Boiling kettles to fill dishes, slowly several tons of ice were removed and the true dimensions of the freezer became apparent. I became bolder with the knife and together with a bit of canny skooshing of the hot water, cut slabs of ice from the sides of the top shelf; the last to release it's wintry grip. With the sink heaving under the weight of ice (about the same as a small family car) I finally got my hands on the holy grail, the ice cube tray, locked in the freezer's grip like an alpinist dead in a glacier and slowly moving to the snout where he will be deposited a decade hence. I wiped out the last of the moisture and left the door open. Mary can do the honours of switching it back on tomorrow, ready for another 20 years.  

Where the path normally went at Gullane Point there was a small waterfall and a new loch forming which was not very welcome.

The Sea Buckthorn bushes are doing their winter orange berry thing.
They really are that orange in the sunshine.