Sunday, 26 June 2016

flora and fauna

What no Gullane? No beach, no Falko's?
Mary was feeling a bit knackered and sensing it might be over-training decided to let herself off the hook this weekend. So instead of the usual Saturday run we ran a bit round Inverleith Park (fast becoming the new usual) and then walked back through the Botanics. Having been warned I took a small bumbag with bribes and treats for any lurking wildlife. Although I'm not sure the squirrels in the botanics could be said to be properly wild.

The view from the window. Blue skies!

So we ran along the WoL to get to Inverleith and saw this chap on the way, looking very exotic in his lemon waistcoat. He was pretty quick moving and didn't hang around to model for photos. I thought he might be a dipper (googles lemon breasted dipper and all the images are plates of food) but goes under the rather modest name of Grey Wagtail. I hope nobody has told him this bad news (or shown him the photos accompanying lemon breasted recipes.)

The pond at inverleith was full of green algae and the occasional boat.

And a few of the residents appeared to be molting. 

Internet says.... Ducks molt twice a year; the first time shortly after nesting when the drakes trade their gaudy breeding plummage for drab brown feathers known as "basic" or "eclipse" plummage. I think the same happens for men in their 30s although a midlife crisis can sometimes bring about the reverse. If by plummage you mean small sporty cars.

Hang up those fancy tailfeathers, you've pulled.

Mary has some notion she likes to run round the Park on the pavement on the wrong side of the hedge. To me this is like eating a sweet with the wrapper on. But then after we've done that we are allowed to run on the interior of the park enjoying the pond, the dirt trails and the trees and the grass. It's pleasant and nearly nice enough to switch on the camera, but not quite. Then we run to the botanics and WALK through the building and out into the acres of beautifully manicured gardens. I have to restrain myself from taking photos of every flower in the place. I see a squirrel about 60 yards away and make the traditional sound to attract it: the rustle of polythene nutbag. Mrs. Squirrel recognises the international audio for "handout" and makes a squirrelly line towards us. She sits about 5 feet away and eats nuts while I take photos. Some tourists with long lenses form a small crowd and take photos too. 

flash makes for red eye



designed by Escher?

Last time we went high, through the Chinese garden and over by the pond. This time we went low and round the back of the rock garden, which was just brim full of exquisite flowers and piney shrubs. Some just coming into flower, others past their best, others just sprouting. The sun came out belatedly but unfortunately so did one of the lady gardeners who started "singing" closing time. Not the long player by Tom Waits, but a lilting musical fuck-off-if-you-don't-mind. I thought she was going to start singing bring out your dead.

a magical piney mini beehive cone of blue

neatly trimmed bush

these wee dudes were so yellow it was hard to focus your eyes on them

tiny fractelly joy

fave flower photo of the day

I recently put the TZ35 into Cameratiks (Morningside) to have some dust and hair removed from the lens or sensor. For a couple of months I have had to clone out an annoying hair that appeared in all photos of a certain zoom level. I hadn't realised until recently that the camera shop would, for £50, open and clean the interior even though it's only a compact. (I looked at the how-to videos on youTube and it's a big no-no.) It is so worth it not to have to clone out a blurry hair from any non-busy backgrounds and has made me less desperate to buy a TZ100 which should come down in price as soon as Canon and Sony work out how to match it's specs. Currently it is out front (having a larger sensor, decent zoom and 4k video) and not far off the quality of a proper full size DSLR in a small-enough-to-run-with size.

On the way across the bridge at Canonmills there was a heron below by the riverside. It did a very fine job of modelling the intense stare while sitting admirably still on one leg. If only all of nature was so obliging. I used to like them until I heard from Karen M, tales of them (on the Water of Leith) spiking up ducklings for midmorning snacks. Which tainted their rep for me. Although they are winning me round again with their un-skittish behaviour and fancy dress costumes all flowing tassels and muted palette. I might even get the paints out. Anyone want a painting of this chap? I think he is doing blue steel.

I quite like the random crop.
(It was taken in a hurry as I dodged out into the busy traffic.)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


So I thought I would approach the last 3 weeks before the early July marathon with a less traditional preparation. Instead of slowing things down and doing less running, I am shifting up a gear from 5 days running a week, to 7. Like a taper but in reverse. There are several reasons for this, none particularly intelligent and this tactic should definitely not be copied. 1/ Best way to lose a couple of pounds before the marathon. 2/ The best marathon I've ever run (by literally a mile) was 2014. In the three weeks prior to that I raced E2NB (20miler); Kintyre Way (36 miler); and Goatfell Hill Race. And 3/ it's been quite nice weather.

I may have to moderate things though as work has picked up and also I'm quite tired and find it difficult to get out of bed after 10hrs sleep. There's only so many ends of a candle to burn. However before being plunged back into work world I had a get-out-of-jail-free card for Monday and thought since a brisk wind was blowing in from the west I would catch a train to Dalmeny and run back. Trouble was, the brightest weather window was late afternoon and I had a gym class at 6.15pm. I cooked dinner early afternoon then caught the 3.08 out of Waverley getting to Dalmeny for about 3.30ish. It's worth walking to the end of the platform where you get a great photo of the bridge. Amusingly the camera flashed up the face recognition box for the back of the train.

I had pretended I was going to do a 13 mile tempo run, although I was very aware of the likely distractions particularly in the first part. I fell at the first hurdle which was the choice between tarmac road and trail down to the beach. It will be a tarmac marathon so of course the choice was..... I swithered then took the trail down to the beach. Even just those words. Trail. Beach. Unfortunately the tide was so high it was up against the fallen trees and I was reduced from a jog through the soft sand to picking my way through the fallen branches. Tempo run indeed. I got back to the tarmac and tried not to get the camera out for every picturesque line to the waves on the beach. I did some quicker miles with the blinkers on (didn't even take any photos of Dalmeny House) but stopped when it came to the twisting brook that crosses the route. 

If you saw Sunny Side Up the mallard with chicks at 2.50 lives in these rushes. I went over to see how she was doing and she appeared but with only 1 chick. I hoped the others were in the reeds nearby but didn't feel optimistic about it. Nature can be harsh.

Keeping an eye on the time I picked the pace up and ran fairly hard to the Almond and then across the Cramond Brig and down to Cramond. After using the Salvesen Steps (still barriered off) I was going to run past the weir having tried many times to get interesting photos there and failed, but the light was very good so I got distracted again for another 5 mins before running down to the estuary.

I was carrying very little but always pack a couple of slices of bread for any birds at Cramond. There were a couple of black headed gulls but like last time it was mostly mallards with an occasional crow pretending to be a black duck and get in on the act. There were a couple of very pushy lady mallards who were not shy in the least. Which made it difficult to disperse the handouts evenly. I know you are not supposed to feed ducks large quantities of bread particularly not white bread, being neither very good for them or the environment, but a couple of slices once a month does no harm. In my defence the brown bread I make is full of seeds. 


black duck vs mallard

Having stopped for far longer than intended I ran from Cramond to home in one go, the last 3 miles being sub 7min miling. It took 2hrs to cover the 13.16miles although only 1hr40m moving. It was a very jolly run but I may need to find more boring runs without distractions to get the solid tempo runs in. In and out the door in 20 mins and I made the 80minute gym class.