Friday, 22 April 2016

taper caper

...and the North Berwick circuit. 21/04/16
Last couple of weeks I have been tapering. Or, more accurately, between the working day and run-time I'd fall asleep checking emails and junk on the book. Then wake up and have dinner without putting on the running shoes. And write it off as taper. While wondering if it was just old age. 4 runs in 12 days. And only one of them into double figures. A certain amount of this was due to grey skies. So when the sun was forecast to shine all day yesterday I caught the train to NB and ran a circuit that covers 17+ miles of finest East Lothian trails and beach. Trouble is that only leaves one day's recovery before the 50k John Muir Ultra. Have I managed to blow the taper as well? Oh well, probably worth it. (I suspect Weds eve clubbo session flat out sprints covered that ground already.) And I did go slowly. Very slowly. Stopping every few yards - taking about 360 photos.

Tradition dictates a quick hike up NB Law. Great to see blue skies all around although there was a chill wind and I wondered if I was wearing sufficient - just a t-shirt. Could have done with thin gloves at times, although much of the JMW is out the wind. No sign of the ponies. Great to see the trig point newly painted white (sans graffiti.)



tour boat visiting Bass Rock
You have to book this in advance - how lucky for the folk who chose today!

heat haze!

I have mentioned the butterflies that enjoy the wall on the photo 2 above and that they frustratingly seem to see me coming and fly off. I tried to snap a couple and then gave up. 2 miles later at Balgone curling pond the Peacock Butterflies seemed much happier to pose for photos. They seemed to be taking moisture from the mud. And would sit while I got quite close. I took about 20 photos of one or 2 who would wait for ages with folded wings. Eventually they would open them but I spent a long time waiting.

The sun was so bright I couldn't see that the photos of the moorhen were way out of focus, but I quite like them.

Meanwhile back at the mudpies this one had stars in it's eye.

Balgone Estate
I think the JM Ultra comes along this way. Quite muddy in parts although it was drying up well.

Over the other side of the pond I noticed a pheasant and would have run on, only it was a fabulous bluey green. It disappeared into the undergrowth as I got the camera out and I wondered if it was a peacock or what? I sat down on the trail and waited and after a bit I heard it calling out a very harsh stacatto croak to it's drab brown ladyfriend. They called to each other for maybe 5 mins or more giving everyone a good idea of where they were. I waited for them to come back out and did a couple of searches in the undergrowth, only once catching sight of the male hastily retreating back into the dense undergrowth. I think they may well have been Green Pheasants. Sadly no photo, but if you google Green Pheasants, they looked pretty much like that.

a host

Then this chap, hovering on the breeze. I took some video until a couple of buzzards came over and the three of them caught a thermal (after the buzzards were hounded by a crow) and disappeared.

Over by the Mansion House; this buzzard was missing a couple of tailfeathers.

Ne'er cast off a cloot, till May is oot. I had heard May maybe referring to the flowering Hawthorn. When I saw this stuff I wondered if it was indeed the blossom in question. Judging by the photos on google images it might be a relative but prob not the exact thing. Anyway it's oot. But it's not really that warm and when I got to the sea I was reluctant to cast anything off (even though I was carrying a small towel in case the moment overpowered me.)

"The sandwiches have arrived!"

Going left off the JMW before Stink Farm and heading past the Mansion House you pass a small pretty pond at Newbyth where the geese have an overnight stop (maybe a semi permanent hotel). Given the reception from 2 or 3 of the geese I'd say I wasn't the first ever visitor to throw some bread their way (from the picnic table by the pond side.) In fact before I even had my backpack off there was Mr Goose and his wife heading in a straight line. The honey and lemon curd sandwich seemed to meet with approval although they mainly got the unflavoured crusts of finest wholemeal seeded homebaked loaf (for those that concur with the signs at Holyrood suggesting it is a civil and moral offence to feed the ducks (white) bread.) I find generally ducks can work out what they like and what they don't, and that they always sigh with disappointment when you take out the bags of spinach and pond greens that middleclass website information busybodies tell you is the preferred diet of our feathered friends. I ate most of the bread myself and when I told the geese it was all gone they lolloped back into the water seeming to understand my words even before I repacked my bag and left. I got the feeling we shared the moment and there was more communication than was spoken. But maybe it was just spending the day without company.

On to Binning Wood. There have been large machines stomping through the woods, trampling the rhododendrons and thinning out the trees. I usually struggle to capture the atmosphere with the camera but the brighter day definitely helped, the sun casting shadows and patches of light, making everything seem more magical. If it were at night it would be spooky, but being well lit it is not. But there is still a frisson of that feeling of something-hiding-nearby, that there might be something behind a tree or in the bushes, that gives the daytime woods a gentle thrill.

I stepped off the trails to investigate (nosey about) the felling and thinning that has been going on. I got lost looking around the areas normally choked with rhododendrons, wandering at walking pace. I expected to see more signs of uprooted and displaced wildlife but there wasn't anything except bird calls and crushed undergrowth. And the felling seems to have been judicious, taking out individual trees, not flattening whole areas. The only sign of the people who did it (other than huge tractor tyre tracks) was a 2lt Irn Bru bottle filled with water and forgotten round the other side of a tree. Not following my usual paths I came upon 2 of the hubs I don't usually visit. You can see 3 hubs on google maps, the largest having a monument and plaque in the centre of a ring of trees. I had not until now seen the third which has an elegant tree in the centre of it's circle. The windless suntrap made a haven for butterflies and a trio of fritillaries. Or that's what I thought though a bit of googling has suggested they were Comma Butterflies - newish to Scotland and looking a bit like a ragged fritillary or tortoiseshell. Every time I got close to a decent photo they would take off and (I think) attracted to the colours I was wearing circle me very quickly. Unless they were trying to get me to spin myself into a dizzy fit and fall to the ground so they could pounce - which nearly happened. I got so hacked off with them, flying round close-by, I actually managed to snap one mid-flight. And when they landed there was a reluctance to open their wings. Not being in a hurry I persisted until I got an ok shot - enough to identify anyway. 



tree in centre of hub

I didn't want the chore of Limetree Walk so went North East rather than South East, exiting Binning Wood nearer the Loch Houses Rd. There are a couple of turn-offs into the woods on thin trails that are more fun than the forestry trails to the log cabins and I recognised the start / finish of the Foxtrail 20k as I passed on the way to the dunes half way up Tyninghame Beach. I felt I didn't really need to run the long way round St Baldred's Cradle to add to the miles that would be trashing my legs for Saturday.

long fields ploughed for potatoes?
Time = 15.04.34

There is something of a drum roll as you climb the dunes seeing nothing of this vista until you summit and are presented with one of the finest beaches in the country.

pan of the dunes, half way up the beach

Bridget Riley on the beach

it's that field again from the other end, 29 mins later.

crossing the Peffer Burn

Rather than wade the Peffer Burn, I walk up the side to the first crossing, skirting Harvest Moon holiday ground before following the concrete road up past Seacliff. It is about 6 miles and can be taxing so I just jogged it slowly and let my mind drift a bit. Consideration of the recent spate of celebrity deaths. And people's assertion that the little purple singing imp was a musical genius. I wouldn't say he was a genius any more than Victoria Wood. I would regard them both as gifted. You have to be smart to play piano while remembering a dozen verses of rhyming innuedo (wasn't she married to the great innuendo? (then sadly divorced)) while raising the last few verses a semitone each time. A bit like rubbing your tummy while patting your head, and she did it with gusto and a twinkle in her eye. And very sad that cancer overwhelmed her in her early 60s. Disciplined but maybe not genius. Whereas Prince, I think I am just too old to be taken in by the phases of his moon. And really someone who calls themselves the artist formerly known as. I wonder why we haven't seen more stars adopt that format? And if you are still shouting genius after listening to the cringe-making first couple of lines of Darling Nikki (or indeed the whole woeful song) then you are not one either. While he has knocked out one or 2 memorable tunes (and many of us did party like it was 1999) I think people are mistaking his abilities for their own experiences growing up listening to his canon. One friend says all the memories (wall to wall today on Radio 6, heaven forbid) are making her nostalgic; another, that out of all the celebrity deaths, this is the worst. By which she meant the one that affected her most. I always thought Prince was ok (just another so-so popstar) but a little too pretentious, summed up by this. So have no strong opinion about him, except he is not a genius. Unless that is someone who has a couple of good tunes in their back catalogue and a dozen other albums nobody has heard of. Also that symbol when he was between names? Is that pronounced tool?

In other Prince news: this just in from the BBC
His former percussionist, Sheila E, told the news agency Prince had suffered the effects of years of jumping off risers and speakers on stage while wearing high heels."There was always something kind of bothering him, as it does all of us," she said. "I hurt every single day. You know we're like athletes, we train, and we get hurt all the time. We have so many injuries."

more heat shimmer

Bass Rock - seems so close

seems so far away

On the way into NB these catkins were backlit

17.6 miles + 2 to and from the station.

Running home from the station and who should I catch up with as she finished run-home-Thursday?

Superb day out. Toasted my face. I started about 11.15am and got back to the station around 4.50pm although I was in Tesco's buying juice and cheese twirls from the pastry counter for 10 minutes. Probably slowest ever but I was trying to save my legs for Saturday. Too good a day to miss and really enjoyed the amount of wildlife out and about. Still not too hot for running hard though, and if we get similar for the weekend it will be good. I believe there is another longish race down south in Smogsville this weekend but as it gets way too much attention already I'm not going to mention it!

No comments:

Post a Comment