Thursday, 31 May 2018

when I close my eyes I see blackness

Mary had a notion to cycle to Blackness. Mostly out the canal past Ratho then turn right. Nice day for it last Sunday, the 20th. All the ducks and swans had chickadees. More difficult to carry a camera while cycling than running but I managed, mostly. I did have a tendency to touch the screen or push buttons inadvertently. Then it would change the settings. (Being a touch screen camera.) (I wish it wasn't.) I have never used the touch screen as an interface to suddenly (for instance) change from the single shot mode to the facility it carries for shooting 4k video for 2 seconds which you can then scroll through to use one of the stills as a picture to save. But then it does that continuously till I (shouting now at his point scaring the duck chicks off) can find the button to stop the bastarding thing shooting 2 secs of 4k video every time I push the shutter release. By this time Mary is a distant figure pedaling like blazes. 

ugly duckling? Hardly.

So I must have set another dial to instagram my pics against their will. My will. The next pics are all slightly higher contrast and saturation than normal. Most of the photos are just Mary in red shorts cycling along the canal so maybe it helps the settings are artificially high. When I reduced the settings they looked dull. So I started making them all a bit higher in contrast and saturation. The day was quite fun and I think we got a bit high ourselves on coffee before setting off. There were songs and much tomfoolery. Stuff like that.

boat or bike make your mind up!?

We wondered if we should stop for coffee and cake in Ratho but agreed it was a bit early and we should head on to Blackness before taking a break.

they start them young in Broxburn

we saw some absent mothers in the chick-rearing dept but this lot
were being kept close by a mum who was having no nonsense.


We actually went a bit far before stopping for a break and were both a bit spaced by Blackness Castle. Which was crap and didn't have a proper cafe. Just coffee machine and crisps in the gift shop. It all merited moving on quickly which we did, paying no entry fees and requiring no tour. The route home was more scenic, nearer to the coast. We hadn't done much in the way of printing maps and choosing a nice route; more luck than good judgement. And it worked out fine. Mostly.


This was nicer than expected, and took us into the grounds of Hopetoun House. From there we snuck along the coast to the new bridge then back a bit inland from the coast. Surprisingly tiring. Good idea to do it on fatter wheels, plenty gravel trails etc.

Then, the next day I went at 6.30 to Gladhouse for another swim round the island with the Carnethy Monday evening Open Water group. Strangely it was colder than the week before which Carolyn said might have been due to rain falling. There had been loads of sunshine as well, so you'd think it couldn't have got colder, but it had. I took loads of photos but only with the small waterproof camera and only this one was worth posting, which looks a little like cover art for a jazz fusion album.

Then on Thursday, intervals. I took the camera because it looked like a haar might sweep in and make for one of those cloud inversions we got last year or the year before that was amazing. Unfortunately it just got a bit misty. Which was later found to suit a blue filter. Ok that is me nearly up to date with blogs, although I still have last weekend. It's never ending.

summit in fog

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

summer already?

Winter may have dragged its feet and hung around far too long, but to compensate Spring and Summer seemed to have joined forces and have dashed onstage with a number of blazingly hot days of late. Luckily my work diary (ahem) has been amenable to little mid-week vacations to go running after butterflies and I have been having lots of great days out recently. Saturday 19th May was more back to the usual with a 6 miler down at Gullane / Aberlady with Mary, and a wee dip afterwards. However the sunshine was far from usual and it must have been climbing through the 20s bringing out a number of creatures not normally seen on this run.

A small copper on the John Muir Way was an unexpected start to the run. Just beside the golf course. I saw one near Aberlady beach a few years back, but they are not commonplace around here. I had of late begun to question our 'local' run and why other venues seemed to have more in the way of wildlife. That the sea breezes may detract or discourage the butterflies and that it was a while since anything of note had caught my eye. As if to prove a point, the run today was filled with way more than I expected. Hurray for the sunshine!

of course it is not always 100% pretty
there were several greenfly clouds to run through today

When we got to Marl Loch I was pleased to see what I later found out were 4 Spotted Chasers. Quite substantial dragonflies, I took a few photos. They kept their distance and the sun being bright on the camera screen I didn't really get a proper look at them till we got home. What I thought looked like buff or mustard drab brown colour from a distance turned out to be more of a splendid gold sheen up close with magnificent wings. Really outstanding creatures. They were buzzing over the water at great speed and flying in mated pairs. If they came close you could hear the rattle and clack of cellophane wings. Mary and I have been running past Marl Loch for maybe 8 years or more. It is a regular haunt and I have never seen these before. So my question is where do they hang out the rest of the time? And on years when it's not sunny (a traditional Scottish summer) do they just not emerge from the water? Some answers here. (Saddest fact: The adult stage is usually the shortest in the life-cycle and rarely lasts for more than a week or two in Britain.) Derek P was saying Saltoun Big Wood was also a venue to check out for dragonflies, so that's on the list of things to do next sunny day!

there were also lots of damselflies,
so small they are nearly invisible (to my fading eyes)

rather tattered peacock

amazing skies over the beach

After the run we got into wetsuits and had a quick swim. The water was defo warmer for the sunshine (particularly in the shallows) and after we came out we both had the briefest of dips having taken off wetsuits. It was bearable but still coolish, I had little inclination to stay in beyond a quick duck under and half a dozen strokes. However it was very pleasant to come out the water not with chattering teeth but to the warmth of a summer day's sunshine.

Mary re-enacting a scene from Jaws.

Great day and what a difference the sun makes. We've been very fortunate with the weather after a rather bleak and extended Winter. Fingers crossed for more of the same. Happy days!