Sunday, 23 November 2014

Winter colours


I couldn't think of any particular route for a cycle today, so I put the LHT in the back of the car and headed to the hills.


I had a few ideas for short loops so I just unloaded the bike and cycled around a couple of miles before loading it up again and heading off to another spot. It seems a bit lazy but it suited me.
 

When I was cycling along by Garvald the highland cows were over near the fence. I have been meaning to get a picture of them since Pondero posted a pic of a Texas Longhorn.


Their shaggy coats were ruffled in the wind and the low winter light made their colours really stand out.


Back on the bike and I slowly spun away in low gears up the steep hills to get some shelter in the woods for my coffee. The autumn colours continued with various fungi. I have tried to learn some basics about which mushrooms are edible but if you get it wrong, the risks are a bit high for my liking.



Back in a loop to the car, then I drove over to the Whiteadder Reservoir and had a cycle around there.


The light was getting low so back to the car again, finish the flask of coffee and home. Not the most exciting of cycles but I got out there and enjoyed it all the same.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Cycling, woods, horses, surf, breakfast.


 A wintery sun was doing it's best to provide some watery light on my cycle this morning; it wasn't, however, having much effect on the temperature. There was the occasional patch of frost and for the first time this year I felt the need for proper gloves. Unfortunately I couldn't find them, so I made do with my short fingered ones and worked a bit harder.


The woods provided a sheltered cycle with loads of birdlife and everchanging colours. The single track is great too, with fast sweeping bends through the trees.

  
 




Once I'd had enough fun linking up all the tracks in the shelter of the woods, I looped back around town to Eweford. There was new Heras fencing along the track and it looks as though that tree line of old Scots pine will soon be replaced by a new housing development. It's a shame, but so far the developments have probably resulted in more paths and cycle routes than were there previously so I can't complain too much.


Along by the farm and the horses came across to say their good morning.
 



I scratched their noses then pedaled back down to the coast to have a look at the sea that I had heard crashing in during the night.


It was all quiet at the Biel Burn, but just offshore the surf was up.



 Which of course brings surfers and..


 kayakers and..



 ...happy dogs!

 Then back home for breakfast.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Easy Sunday Cycling



I was away on training last week so it was good to kick back and take an easy weekend before the return to the relative normality of work on Monday. I usually find going for a cycle relaxing, and so it would seem sensible that I should have been out over the last few weeks, but I just couldn't get into it. Now that the pressure is reduced, I find getting out on the 'trucker so simple. There is something counter-intuitve going on with my thinking. Perhaps something to take time to reflect on.


But back to the pedalling. On Sunday morning I pumped a bit of air into the neglected tyres, and headed off into a dreich grey day.




There has been more than enough rain recently and the roads are beginning to get that slippery winter damp that local cyclists know so well. The multitude of autumnal colours in the leaves are wonderful to see but a different matter when you come across them on a corner.


I wasn't that sure where I was going this week so I just wandered along towards Haddington but then turned back toward East Linton with its bridges and then on to Preston Mill.



I met a dog walker and there was a couple putting their boots on to go for a walk but otherwise, I had the roads pretty much to myself.








By the ford on the river at the Knowes Farm I stopped for coffee and some fruit loaf a friend had baked.


A simple breakfast and then an easy pedal home. A very welcome and very relaxed early morning cycle.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Old post time - Greenknowe Tower.


2nd November 2014. Over the last couple of months I've been busy applying myself to reading, writing essays, attending interviews, and it has finally paid off.  I've started a course that will hopefully push my job back into being a career. Meantime, I still have to work full time to satisfy my current contractual obligations...., and pay the bills. So apologies for the lack of posts. I hope that I'll get back to some cycling in the next couple of weeks.

I've still been out and about when I have the time, so here is an old post that I have never got around to publishing.

12 October 2014.
I've caught a cold and just wasn't up to cycling today so instead I took El and Fly for a day out around the borders. We stopped at Greenknowe Tower near Gordon to let Fly out for a wander.



This is a cracking ruin of a 16th Century tower house. It is one of the later ones in the Borders and is probably a better example of a residence rather than a defensive tower. It was built by James Seton in 1581. 



The Setons had acquired land after marrying into the Gordon family who had in turn the been awarded the land by King Malcolm way back in 1018 after the Battle of Carham. This battle was the deciding factor in the Lothians becoming Scottish rather than staying with Northumbria in England. The main protagonists included the wonderfully named 'Owain the Bald' and 'Huctred, son of Waldef'. The border country is full of these obscure places with names that could be straight from Beowulf.



Back at the tower and the names are a little less prosaic and the sentiment a lot more pleasant. The carving above the door commemorates the marriage of the original owner, James Seton, and his wife Janet Edmonstone.


Their ground floor has a huge vaulted kitchen and store area. If you look carefully there is still a meat hook in the ceiling at the window.


 Then up the little staircase to the main hall where Fly volunteered to give an idea of scale of the fireplace. It must have been a full time job cutting fuel to keep these houses running. The walls would have been plastered and decorated with woven hangings and tapestry. The shape of the windows of the hall and bedrooms suggests that they would have likely have had glass in them. The glass was incredibly expensive and very crude. If there wasn't glass, they had wooden sliding shutters. 


The humans have all gone now but it looks like there is an owl living in the tower somewhere.

 


I continued up the little staircase to the roof, or at least where the roof should have been. Fly did her best to follow but became a bit nervous and crawled back down.

A wonderful tower house, full of history and totally deserted. Great.

 








Monday, 6 October 2014

Back to Sunday Cycling


All good things must come to an end and the Heron came out of the water for the winter last Sunday. The bigger boats are lifted out by crane so I have to get the Heron into place before all the chaos commences.



So with no sailing excuses this Sunday morning, off I went for a cycle around Dunbar and then down the coast.



There was nothing fancy this week, just a nose around town, then a quick spin down to Barns Ness lighthouse for breakfast coffee sitting on the beach. Chandra might be interested to know that this is a Stevenson Lighthouse, and there is a wind swept fence nearby!




I found some shelter from the wind tucked in under the marram grass, then it was time to sit back with a flask of freshly pressed coffee, watch the sea and enjoy the sunshine.






A simple cycle, some blustery wind, just enough to stretch the legs and get me back in the saddle.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Breakfast on board


There was little to see on Saturday morning in Dunbar. A thick east coast sea fog, or haar, had silently stolen into town overnight. But if you looked carefully in the early morning light, there was a quiet group of sailors scuttling around their little yachts, dropping the moorings and heading out of the harbour.


I was on the Heron, Stuart on the Seline, Davey on the Wee Beastie, and James and Gordon on the Freedom. The sea was like glass without the slightest breath of wind as we slowly motored along the coast in a little flotilla.


The fog drifted in and out but navigation was never a problem. The coast appeared through the mist and we would gently adjust the heading.




Along past the wildfire rocks, and the wreck of the Ponderosa,  it was easy to sea how a ship can be lost.


Further west and the South Carr loomed out of the fog and we could here the moaning calls of the seals on the rocks. Then it was time to turn into the shelter of the secluded bay at Seacliff.


As we dropped anchors and rafted the little boats together, the sun began to burn through the fog and the temperature started to climb. The sea was gently lapping on the sands, the kettle was whistling as I brewed up some coffee and bacon was frying in the pan.



We sat soaking up the early morning sun and enjoyed breakfast. There were a few people walking on the beach and a couple of horses came down to the shore. One rider brought her horse in for a swim near the boats and somehow I didn't take a photo.



The morning passed as the boats swung languidly on their moorings.  Eventually we felt the gentlest stirrings of a breeze as the tide turned. Without too much effort, anchors were hauled, stowed and lines were cast off.


 Banks of fog drifted through on the light easterly breeze as we headed around the South Carr and on to a rough bearing of 150 degrees.






An hour or so and we were back to civilisation.


That might be the last outing of the sailing season. If it turns out to be, I'm not complaining.