Tuesday, 12 September 2017

sun sandwich

Nothing much was planned on Monday. Mary usually goes for a recovery run and I am at work. Unless I am between jobs and in skive mode. And the sun is shining. Again mixed weather was promised but there were blue skies and sunshine outside and both of us felt like a longer urban adventure. Mary outlined an idea she had similar to our last urbaneering run and I signed up immediately. She was tempted to pop into a gallery cafe but knew the surroundings were more like to induce gnashing of teeth and resentment, so roughly planned to finish by walking through the Botanics stopping off at their cafe. Then jogging home. But first....

After going through Holyrood and down Causewayside 
we cut across to Blackford and through the Hermitage

coming onto Comiston Rd there is this lovely small corner of wildflowers

Mary doesn't enjoy the contouring cross of Braidburn Valley Park in road shoes so went by the road. I went by the grass because it is much more pleasant. By the time we met up the skies were opening and we lingered under some trees as the rain battered down, before doing Craiglockhart Hill. I took my jacket back off at the top of the hill and chased Mary down the long descent to the post office where we bought stuff to drink.

hadn't noticed this swimming pond at the back of Craiglockhart before

From there onto the canal and along towards the west end, through the worst part of the route, with breath held and noses pinched, past the offices and traffic lights to the Dean Bridge and down the side to the Water of Leith path.

photo Mary

the Botanics

Having a cafe stop along the route is more of a cycle tradition than a running thing. We had taken dry clothes to change into but all that was needed was to put on a jacket and we were fine. By now it was a bit overcast and we drank tea and ate cheese scones inside. Tea was ok, large pot but I could have done without the girl at the counter handing me the cups with all four of her fingers inside the top one. Scones were certainly not as high end as the price (£2.20 or more?) would suggest. Very little change out a tenner. Very nice surroundings but stodgy scones. I seem to remember the quiche about the same - lacklustre! - so maybe best to stick with carrot cake which they nailed. However the good news was the sun came out and stayed out (hence sun sandwich) for the rest of the afternoon.

Which made for a very engaging hour or so walking round taking photos of the many amazing things there. I had wondered about the lack of butterflies there last time. Surely if you were an Edinburgh based butterfly this would be nectar heaven in the city? Maybe they are fussy about plants or only prefer local species, nettles and the like? Well yes and no. Mary guided us to the long tall hedge at the North of the gardens remembering how we had become transfixed there last time with all the amazing plants and flowers. There were groups of Red Admirals, but only on certain flowers. Mostly long white plumes. An occasional butterfly would stray onto other plants or just sunbath elsewhere, but most stuck to 2 areas of flowering white plants. There was quite a breeze sweeping through and the poor insects had to cling on as the long pendulous stalks swayed and bobbed in the breeze. You could see the Reds clinging on with their teeth, so to speak, and folding their wings, riding the bucking flowers in the wind.

I did get a pic with 5 Red Admirals in it, (a personal best!) but it was a poor quality shot and not worth showing here. The shot above has three R.As and about five bees, maybe more. After getting a number of butterfly pics Mary moved on. I was reluctant as the sun was still shining and the butterflies still flying. But eventually left. 444 pics in total today. (Just realised that my normal hit rate of 1 published per 10 taken has been bettered. Probably due to new camera doing a better job of focussing on the bit it is meant to. Certainly not due to restraint or holding back.) Just recently I cleared the hard drive of another 50gb of photos and videos, saving them to an external drive.

maveric butterfly on YELLOW flower

the wind was blowing left to right and this one was holding on
by hugging the flower with it's wings

this bee was very busy sticking his jabby nose thing 
into all the receptacles on this flower

three in a row - must win something for that?

After a quick scoot round the alpines we headed for the rock garden via the pond. There was a grumpy looking heron and another in the tree upstairs. The ducks were much more pleased to see us and responded instantly to the noise a polybag of bread and nuts makes, coming out a back pack. 

A moorhen had a couple of chicks. From a distance I was thinking hey, cute bundles of black fluff, but closer up they have something of the balding vulture about them that is less cute. The moorhen parent (difficult to tell m from f, I am assuming f, but could have been m) was very attentive, returning to get some bread, fighting past the mallards, to feed to her chicks, then repeating. Yes I know it is unfashionable to feed bread to ducks; in my defence it was homemade using 3 types of flour, (2 wholegrain and 1 with malted seeds) and with pumpkin seeds, and I fed them less than a slice.

It was strange to do several activities in the same outing. I felt I had probably been shopping or to see a great film, and it didn't feel like a run. The legs were not expecting it when we did start running again, though it is only a couple of miles to get home, and the sun was still shining.

Unfortunately we couldn't stay long enough to hear the staff sing the "we're closing; fuck off" song which is always engaging. However we ran home and lived happily ever after.

just under 15 miles

botanical wanderings
(you are not allowed to run in the Botanics)

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