Monday, 21 August 2017

sunday best


Putting the sun in sunday: while not the hottest or brightest day of the year there were lots of butterflies in the bushes at Gullane and they were happy to pose for photos. While the varieties were commonplace - Peacocks and Red Admirals, I got some of the most pleasing photos I have had from there. And due to the little chaps being very obliging I took most of the photos in maybe 15 minutes; less time than it usually takes to get half the results here. The colour of the sea buckthorn behind the insects seems to compliment the reds of the wings and I have really enjoyed tweaking and cropping the results. Far too many here I know but I can't bear to throw any out. Oh and it was a nice day for a run as well.

not an eclipse but a halo (and vapour trail)
looking like a jelly fish

sometimes I forget how big Mary's nose can look when she turns side on

Mary actually stood at that crossing for about 20 minutes so I am just getting her back. I had a feeling that with the day being quite still and the sun trying to peep out through the thin clouds there would be a good show at the butterfly bushes. I said to her I would run on and get there first so she wouldn't have to wait or that I wouldn't have to leave before I was done. But then I'd get distracted by something and she'd catch me up. Such as this nice dandelion clock. That's M in the orangey blur bottom right.




So I ran ahead (on 34mile tired legs slowly coming back to life) and crossed the bridge at Aberlady a bit ahead. It was apparent the drangonflies had finally emerged - individuals were sat sunbathing on the dirt path every 80 yards. Almost invisible until they take off. So I had to make a quick call in at Marl Loch. I expected to see them in abundance but there was only one (I could see) and it was sitting on an aesthetically challenging bit of dirt and scrubby grass. I took a photo or 2 (above) but it wasn't ideal surroundings. I looked for others on the swamp grasses that have filled the edge of the loch but couldn't see any. I was looking for the sort of shot I took in early October 2016, that facebook reminded me of the other day...

that's better! Common Darter

lots of greenery, no dragonflies

I ran on before Mary arrived. But only got 2 or 3 minutes before I saw her catch up. I was pleased she stopped running and started taking photos of the small plants and flowers on the ground. It can be very involving and the more you look, the more you see. The bushes, thistles and nettles were busy with Peacocks and Red Admirals and bees. I had fun trying to angle the camera to catch more than one in each shot. While trying not to get strung and shredded by the same thistles and nettles. It was very absorbing. Some of the butterflies were so distracted by the thistle flowers that I was able to put the camera right up beside them without chasing them off. You never really know till you get home what the quality and focus is like exactly but I was hopeful. I lost a few potentially excellent shots to poor focus but some came out as well as I hoped.

RA in flight with other bugs in background




B & B



B & B 2




I had meant to wear a small back pack carrying running tights and a top to put on while here, to stop whatever it is that is biting me. I have a regular number of angry red dots that I lather in Anthisan cream, appear in days following these trips into this jungle. They are exquisitely itchy. I never see the owner of the teeth/stinger/plunger. 

Rich asked me the day before had my interest in butterflies peaked. I think he was being polite but really meant how mental was I going to get with this particular obsession? Well, I'm not going to travel 387miles to RSPB Strumpshaw Fen to see the second arrival of Swallowtails there. Then again I do know that now is a good time to see them there. Just not that big a fan of swallowtails. But maybe daft enough to cycle back to see the Wall browns near N Berwick if I can't find any other place to see them. Moderation. Moderately barking. It's good to have a hobby. Winter will be hard though.


I liked this sequence of shots - I got really close to this peacock and most of the thistle it's on is hidden. As a result it looks as if he's flying across the photo. Or stuck on a car windscreen.









I was practically knocking this one off his thistle with the camera





the geese honked "times up"


Mary left, time to go

I ran around chasing a couple of Blues, who prefer the shorter grass to the bushes, but neither played ball. I saw a last Red Admiral and got a couple more shots. But felt satisfied with the outing. The rest of the run was fun, and we even went for a swim since it was the last day of Mary's hols.



some abstract art - well it is the festival time

a carrion beetle - in an outfit not dissimilar to Mary's

trying to get her average pace up

swim time



Having enjoyed warmish fresh water in Gladhouse it was a bit of a downer to go back to salty cold water. Not terrible but not as nice by some distance. Firstly the taste. Just absolutely disgusting and probably the thing that would stop me doing long swims in the sea. And you HAVE to wash everything in the shower afterwards. I think I forgot to shower after one swim in fresh water. You would not forget to shower after swimming in the sea. It's filthy. Next up it's choppy. I know reservoirs have waves too but combine swell and salt and I'm a gonna boak. Slightly colder in the sea. Not a deal breaker but you know how it's warm in the Med and your teeth don't chatter afterwards. Well that. And there's kids and dogs washing their holes. If I wanted that I could swim in the Commie Pool.



August TB


So here we are speeding through August and into the fourth year (one hundred years on) of the First World War. It'll all be over by Christmas. (Or not.) With few days remaining of the TB month, I joined forces with Richard H who was planning a last long training run before he tapers for Tiree Ultra. He wanted to run on beaches although I reassured him Tiree's beaches were compact white sand and more like a firm dirt trail; not the chore of Black Rock 5 type beaches which can be rippled or deep and soft, making hard work. In fact if Tiree were not so difficult to get to and find cheap accommodation on, I'd have gone back after really enjoying the Ultra a few years back. And Will Wright the organiser is one of the real gents of the running world.


I met Richard on the train. He gave me a top tip for buying a coffee in Waverley. Pret a Mankie does a cup of filter coffee for 99p. Couldn't see it anywhere on their price-list (no surprise there) but I asked and sure enough. If it's just a caffeine lift you want, 99p is about right.

The sun was shining. We jumped off the train at Longniddry and ran down to the coast, past the kite surfers. The first few miles slid by easily, blethering constantly on 99p coffee. I warned Richard we might have to stop for a snack break around Toad Corner because I couldn't run past without checking out the butterflies. There wasn't much happening: I thought the early morning might be the best time for insects, I believe they can sense a sunny day and are more likely to emerge from their pupae on a warm morning. But it wasn't that buzy so we headed off down the marvelously deserted beach.



just a Peacock (above) and a Small Heath (below)





saw this deer but it ran off before I could zoom in for a close up



We had another mini-break just prior to Yellowcraigs. Richard (boldly!) was wearing untried shoes, brand new out the box. They had given him a wee rub so he borrowed a compeed from me and retied the laces slightly differently and they gave him no more trouble. I was hoping to come across butterflies as I have had fun with Small Skippers and Blues just here, but none appeared. We were ahead of schedule so instead of going directly to the station, we did the war memorial of the day in St Baldred's church doorway (there are 3 there, I have used 1 already.) And then went to the coop for snacks. They had OUTSTANDING Portuguese Custard Tarts. If I'd tasted them before buying I'd have bought an armful. I also tipped a large can of rock star energy/caffeine drink (which I presume was a heady blend of chemicals and toxins designed to make me feel jumpy and raddled) into my reservoir. We then went to the station to meet Steve and Richard L who signed up for the 18mile NB circuit and arrived off the 11.45.


wm at St Baldred's

there appeared to be a raft race about to start on NB beach

We followed the coast, going round the perimeter of the golf course
until clambering up to the road around Canty Bay


this was less fun than it looked


We ran along the road to Seacliff, then descended the concrete road to the beach. Richard L had been talking about a large ruined house behind Seacliff. I couldn't recall ever seeing such a place but it was an ideal day for adventuring so we came off the beach at the main car park and sure enough lurking in the trees above was a large elegant ruin. Probably foolishly, we went for a look.





this'll be the official entrance



There is a lot of info on the background to Seacliff House on Bruce's excellent blog. Well worth a gander. Looks like an expensive repair job mind. We went forward rather than retrace our steps which meant climbing a field over an electrified fence which produced quite a lot of entertainment and no serious injuries, more by luck than good judgement.



just stand in the water and hold the electric fence

Before the next headland there was another wall climb as the path had become rather overgrown. I could see Richard L was enjoying the adventuring, his youth and limber fitness giving him an advantage not enjoyed by his senior, less flexible colleagues. He was also beginning to realise the potential for running slowly in attractive surroundings, something that until today he had never properly experienced.



photo Steve

Warming to the whole adventuring business Rich scampered up and then back down this dune while the rest of us admired his enthusiasm from a distance.


Two thirds of the way down Tyninghame beach we headed inland to the Log Cabin. This holds special memories for Richard L as he was married there 2 years ago in Sept. They had set up stuff for a wedding on Saturday and looking at some of the extras Ashley and Ian had invested in, it looked like Rich had got off lightly.

not a proper marriage without a love swing
make sure you have room in your loft for this

log cabin

We retired to a nice spot in the woods for lunch.

Last time I was through here I christened it the Lost Valley of the Butterflies. It was still reasonably sunny and I had hoped it would still be jammed with Red Admirals and Speckled Woods. But no, next to nothing. I think the difference was the rhododendrons had stopped flowering. Also a dirty great digger had been along the trail leaving very muddy tracks that were tricky to avoid. Not an improvement.


on the way to Binning Wood they seem to be farming football pitches


my dad is here somewhere

since I was last past this bit they have built a register 
and outhouse near to the cemetery part



From Binning Woods we crossed the road into Newbyth Woods then along past the Mansion House and onto the John Muir Way. From here we could see NB Law marking the journeys end, or at least a mile from the station. I had got to that point where I had lost my appetite and wasn't sure whether I wanted a hike up the Law or not. We (Richard H and I) were, after all, 30 miles into the day. As we approached the Law there was general agreement that if we went slowly enough it wouldn't be too much effort to ascent the lump. And so it was. Except for Rich who had found his competitive spirit again and galloped off up the Law as if racing.





What wasn't evident, especially to us non strava types, was that Rich was after a King of the Mountain. Which he got. So he must have gone up at a good rate, considering the race that goes up the same hill.







The wind was behind us on the climb, and as usual it was worth the hike up there for the great views along the Forth estuary. It made a suitable finale for a brilliant day out. Great to see Steve back doing a decent distance. In no time he should be back to full Tynecastle Bronze. And I think we have introduced Rich L to the joys of running slower and climbing walls and in through windows on longer runs. And well done Richard H who went full distance and I'm sure will enjoy Tiree in 3 weeks. I think he was in better shape than I was by the time we got off the train. I felt light headed until I remembered I had some soup in the house which was an ideal solid/liquid interface. I couldn't face solid foods and was likely to faint if I didn't eat. By dinner my appetite had returned fine and I was able to eat loads alongside the beer and wine I was rehydrating with, an essential to mark the end of another fabulous Tynecastle Bronze.


32miles plus one to, and one from, Waverley