Monday, 18 August 2014

Anstruther Muster 2014.....stormbound in Dunbar.

I haven't been posting much recently partly because I just seem to be too busy but also because I've had a niggling problem with my right Achilles tendon. This has been going on for a couple of months and seems to be a tendinitis (there is a noticable lump on the tendon!). I have finally admitted that it does seem to get better with rest and that going for a long cycle just aggravates it.

The weekend past however would not normally include any cycling as it was time again for the annual Anstruther Muster. I had everything ready to sail on the ebbing tide at 07:00 on Saturday. Unfortunately the wind had other ideas and, as forecast, it was soon blowing over 30mph. That's far too much for my wee boat. If I was caught out in it I know the boat would be safe, if a bit uncomfortable, but to deliberately set out into that sort of wind is foolhardy.  

So I was at a bit of a loss. El was expecting her sister to visit and the usual suspects had all headed over to Anstruther on Thursday evening or Friday morning.  

 With nothing better to do, I decided to take it easy and have my own weekend away at home.
 I took Fly for some good walks along the beach and the cliffs.

I paddled out to the Heron, put the kettle on, then turned it off and had a beer instead.

 I had a look at the Kittiwakes and realised just how far on summer is. This years young are almost the same size as the parents and it will not be long before they all head back to sea.

 I went rock pooling and did some light rock fishing.

I caught wee Pollock, coal fish and a pugnacious little sea scorpion who kept hold of the isome worm even after I had taken the hook out. He went back eventually, but not without bristling his little spines at me.

It is the first time in five years I have not sailed to the muster, which is a disappointment, but there will always be next year. The rest arrived back from Anstruther in various cars as the yachts have all been left there until the weather settles. The summer seems to have slipped by this year and there is just the start of a hint of Autumn in the air. I've missed going for decent summer cycles, but every time I do go out, I end up limping the next day. So I'll make a commitment  to get back into regular cycling but just keeping it to short five to ten mile outings. See how it goes.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Same sea, different boat.

Saturday was a grim, grey day. The settled high pressure that all of Scotland has been rejoicing in finally broke and a more typical summer returned. Sunday was forecast to be more of the same but instead it brightened up with only the prospect of occasional showers and a gusty wind.

Stuart gave me a call and said that Kev was going out in the afternoon to catch bait for his creels, did I want to come along? I didn't have to be asked twice. I grabbed my boat rod from the Heron and off we went on Kev's boat the 'Sea Breeze'.

You don't want to slip through there. There's a big brass propeller slicing away just a few feet below.

Out from Dunbar and off through the rocks. Phil was out sailing on his Hurley 20 'Hamara Jihaz'.  The big displacement of the fishing boat just pushed the sea aside as the diesel engine hummed away below. Quite a difference from the rolling of the Heron as the little two stroke 5hp screams on the stern.

In the wheel house I can understand the plotter, the VHF, the finder, depth and GPS but the rest is a mystery.  Oh, and the gauge for rudder angle, I know that one. And the voltmeter, and I think there is a compass in there and the oil pressure gauge, there's a lifeboat pager and an MOB sender. I think the big black screen on the right is a television.

Back outside and now that we were steaming along there was a more noticeable roll but never anything uncomfortable. At the first mark I was drawing a blank whilst Stuart and Kev got a couple of stray mackerel. We headed east and Kev offered me some very useful heavier leads as we were drifting faster than I had expected. I soon got into mackerel, then cod and a few pollock.

There was a wee squall and the waterproofs went on. A couple of hours flew by and although it wasn't a big catch, there was a box and a quarter as we headed home.

Tied up to land again and a familiar face appeared looking for a free meal. Harry McNeil the harbour seal.

An unexpected fishing trip in good company with some good laughs. Just really enjoyable afternoon out. I'm very fortunate in the friends I have.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

LHT over Coldingham Moor

Last October I took the train to Berwick Upon Tweed and cycled home. It was a wonderful route but the weather wasn't so favourable with teaming rain all the way. I decided to revisit some of the route today and drove to the west end of Coldingham Moor above Pease Bay.

From then on it was a simple out and back to Eyemouth but the minor roads across the moor are a delight. The views are pretty good too.

The lambs are coming on well this year with hot sunshine and plenty of grass. These two were having some sort of sheep disagreement.


 At Peel I stopped to have a look at where this arrow led to. I had noticed the signs last time and took the chance to follow them today. Unfortunately the trail seemed to fade away into scrub. I'll go back for a proper look with Fly.

Back onto smooth tarmac with the hedges full of colour and birdsong.

Gentle climbs and long descents with the occasional twist and turn to cross a stream. 

A fine Sunday cycle, but yes that is a waterproof jacket peeking out of the trunk bag. I couldn't have it all my own way and inevitably I got caught in a couple of showers. After the heat of the last few weeks it was quite pleasant to feel the rain again.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Edinburgh to Dunbar Cycle

I've been on my summer holidays for the last two weeks, so apologies for the lack of posts, but it's maybe not a bad thing to leave the blog alone for a short while. I've still been out and about and there are plenty of stories to tell. 
I'll start with a simple old fashioned cycle from Tuesday the 15th July. The weather was looking good, so I booked a train ticket for me and the LHT to Edinburgh and set out for an easy tourist trail of 35 miles or so home.

The Edinburgh Festival doesn't start until around the second week of August but the city was still too busy for me. It was full of energy and faces and voices from all over the world and much as I love this sense of worldliness, and indeed take pride in a city I know so well being appreciated by others, I find myself overwhelmed and eventually sense prevailed and I pushed the bike up from the station rather than cycle out onto the chaos of Princes Street and it's unfathomable new tram network. I'm sure that bus and taxi drivers know whats going on. However, I am willing to accept that times have changed, and I'm now a country bumpkin. 

Edinburgh being the city it is, it was only minutes before I was back on the trucker and pedalling up to Calton Hill. The city nearly has as many hills as Rome, and at times has made it's claim to be the "Athens of the North", yes I know there is a ancient Greek/Rome issue here, but its a fine situation for the Scots when your capital city has acres of parkland.

The ancient Greek theme continues on Calton Hill where the National Monument of Scotland stands like a half built copy of the Parthenon in Athens. Unfortunately that's exactly what it is as it was started in the 1820s as a monument for the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in the Napoleonic wars. Like most Scottish ideas, the inspiration was strong but the financial practicalities weren't so easy and it was never completed. I guess we'll be considering this question again in September.....

Politics aside, it was a beautiful morning and I was the lone cyclist who had peched up the hill amongst the tourist coaches to take in the views.

The tower in the above picture is the Nelson monument to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar. It did have, and may still have, a ball that was raised on the flag staff and the dropped at 1pm every day as a signal for shipping at Leith to set their chronometers. The one o'clock gun fired at the castle as an audible signal too. I know the ball was damaged in a storm a few years ago but I don't know if it was ever repaired. As obsolete as it is, I hope it is back in operation.

And if I'm talking about shipping, the furthest white towers gleaming in the sun are at the port at Leith.
" While the Chief, puts sunshine on Leith
I'll thank Him for His work
And your birth and my birth."
The Proclaimers 1988 ( dodgy Hibees, but never mind, its still a great song)

Below Calton Hill is St Andrews House, this is where the real centre of Scottish Governing happens. The building wouldn't look out of place in 1940s Berlin.

Back to the cycling and I was soon out of the city and along the coast to Fisherrow with forlorn looking yachts waited for the tide, and then down to Longniddry Bents for a break and plenty of fluid in the heat despite the gathering cloud.

After putting my feet up on that very comfortable bench I eventually got back on the trucker and headed inland. I crossed the railway line that I had travelled along a couple of hours previously.

I also marvelled at how wrong Scotrail can get their signs, unless someone can correct me? Bruce do you know about the sign at Longniddry station?

Then on through the still air and humidity of the old railway line towards Haddington. The day was getting really warm and even the birds were quiet, just the buzz of insects and the distant sound of farm machinery.

This is the closest I get to gravel grinding. The occasional "tink" of gravel on the bottom bracket and lovely smooth, car free cycling.

The last 6 miles and I stopped at the top of Pencraig hill where the crops are days away from harvest.

Down hill and then the flat road home. A really enjoyable day out, just over three hours of cycling but five hours in total. It is a mystery to me how long I can spend looking at things and talking to people I meet on the way. I'm not complaining.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Another lazy Sunday

Nothing special this weekend, just a Sunday messing around at the harbour. The end of May and most of June has been lovely weather with hot sunny days and light breezes. Unfortunately the harbour has been blocked by the dredger. Now that it has finally gone, and the harbour is shallower...yes you read that correctly..., the wind has turned to the North.

There was a race around the Bass planned but there wasn't much of a turn-out, so I ended up rowing over to the Seline to watch the world go by and have a cold beer.

Dave got tail-tied when he caught his mooring risers around his prop shaft. This sort of misfortune is welcomed with glee amongst other boat owners and provides an hour or so of good spectating.


I could have gone for a cycle but the spirit was weak. Lazy days.