Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sun 29 Jan Salmon Station

I had hoped to get out a lot this week but fighting the insurance has basically taken up Mon to Thurs. Got El to Hobby Craft, what a delight, my tax return done.. eek, and changed the timing belt on the car. So not a wasted week but not necessarily the time off I would have liked.

Today was cold and cloudy but I made the effort and headed towards the border at Lamberton, a mile or so from Berwick upon Tweed.  Below the cliffs is a salmon station that I had not visited for five years. (ok 4 years 11 months). Parked up and walked down to cross the east coast main line and onto the cliffs.


This view is looking north along the Scottish coast. About 1k south is the border with England. 
If you enlarge the pic you can see Fulmars on the cliffs. They're my favourite of the local sea birds. Pair for life and sit and cackle at me as I walk by. They are incredible fliers using the slightest tilt of their wings to soar inches from the cliff faces. They will also vomit on you if you get too close. Tiny little North Sea Albatrosses. They go out to sea to feed but seem to be spending more time around the local coast each year. Their numbers are increasing every year and this year is particularly early to see them back on land. Last year I saw the first pairs nesting properly at Dunbar when the Kittiwakes returned on the 24th March.

Lots of cliff erosion. Those red sandstone boulders near the top of the fall are the size of Transit vans.

A Tup with his wee crayon harness. Didn't seem particularly keen on earning his living judging by the ewes backs. It has been cold recently!

A bit further on I crossed this fantastic bit of over-engineering. Its just a land drain, but they don't build them like that anymore. You want to know whats inside that tunnel? Well I know...

Fly began to get nervous as the sheep squared up when we headed to the edge of the cliff to start the climb down to the salmon bothy.

This bothy would once have been used by the salmon fishers working off the Northumbria coast. They used nets from shallow draught boats that could be beached to land the catch.

The roof is similar to mine, thanks RBS insurance.

The salmon are still out there but not nearly as many.  I occasionally hear about single fish being caught in trawl nets but they have to be dumped due to licensing.  The views must have been amazing with a northerly blowing in.

This winch would have been used to haul the boats up onto the flat rocks below the bothy. Not much of it left but you can see the size of the gearing they needed. There used to be piles of rusty chain lying around the winch.

Near the winch a natural shelf in the rocks has been built up to form a little shelter. Seemed a fine place to get the kettle fired up. I cheated a little this week. With the frost and damp I guessed there would be little dry fuel so brought some twigs of my own and a "hexy block" fuel tablet to get things going. I also brought a bottle of water. There is some fresh water leaching from the cliffs but lots of it is draining from several miles of heavily farmed fields and the A1.

The view having a cuppa was a great chill-out. Waves crashing, cold rain starting but I had shelter and warmth so no real problems. Amazing wave shapes in the sandstone.

El reckons these images have a likeness to the film the Piano?

It was a long haul back up the cliffs but Fly seemed happy enough. On the way home in the car Robbie Shepherd was on the radio but fortunately the reception was poor and I couldn't hear him. A good day out.

3 degrees, cloud/light rain, calm. 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday 22nd Jan

Another long week at work with little sleep as rain continues to pour in through the missing roof.  RBS insurance remains quiet, Cunningham Lindsey are the loss adjusters who I have spoken to most mornings at 08.15.  Danny, who I call most days has been very helpful reporting he is e-mailing Michael Fawcett, the loss adjuster. Unfortunately Danny informs me every day that Mr Fawcett has not yet given clearance for work to begin. Its now twelve days since he inspected the property.  It must be a long report he is writing! Not sure where all the money I have given to RBS over the last 13 years has gone but I know it is not currently fixing my roof. Still sleeping on the living room floor, still spending the nights with one eye open and buckets everywhere. The damage continues to increase.

After last nights 55mph winds I was back on the roof trying to clear up.

The rain is going to piss in come Tuesday.

Took fly out for a good wander. On the way back along the Cliff Top Trail I stopped to throw her ball around. Fly did her daily inspection of the 25 pound gun.

The wind was still blowing 25mph gusting 35mph but the sea was beginning to calm after the last few days.

High water. Took Fly home, then down to the harbour to put another couple of coats of oil onto the Heron's rubbing strake. Not much room around the boat!

Herring gulls with Eider ducks in the Harbour. Not such a bad view when working on the boat.
Time off this week so hopefully I'll get out for some micro adventures.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

15th Jan boat work

Today was a lot colder.  Frost and ice in the shade but a little warmer in the sun.  Took the chance to start getting my wee boat ready for the beginning of the sailing season in about 12 weeks time. Not long!

I'm tucked away in a crap corner right on the side of the pier. It was all I could get, and during craning out I didn't think I was getting a space at all. Seems to be the fortune of the small boats!
Despite the cold I got the Heron opened up and some air through it. The last 4 years of painting, replacing and general maintenance have paid off as there is not much I need to do this year. If the money was available there's lots I'd like to do but ...
Today was spent poking around, checking the stove could still make a cup of tea and oiling the rubbing strakes. I used to use Ronseal type wood preservative on the rubbing streaks but the UV and salt destroyed it leaving the wood exposed.  Linseed oil is cheap and works. Last season I lashed on the oil in March and again in July. This year I've put the first coat on today and plan to keep adding regular coats as soon as the previous coat is absorbed until the boats go back in the water. I hope that I'll not need to apply anymore throughout the sailing season/summer.

That trailer looks fine! Must have been a genius who designed and built it?
The frost and the ice on the deck never melted all day. I gave up around 15.00. Dreams of hot summers days on the mighty Heron with a cold beer and fair winds seem very distant today.

Clear, 3 degrees max, no wind.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Jan 14th Monynut

After the stress of the last 10 days it was time to keep to the plan and get back out enjoying the wild places. I've had a head cold which has been more unpleasant than usual as I couldn't go to bed because the bedroom roof is missing. The cold was clearing however,  so I drove up through Elmscleugh (where the road has deteriorated to a track) to get to the west side of Monynut. The cloud base was low with the tops of the hills covered. Some ice on the road and a cold drizzle of rain. I decided to take the lower routes through the woods because it was just too grim out on the hills.

I followed the fire roads out for a couple of miles then cut up across the hill and down towards the burn. Despite the cold grey weather there was plenty of birdlife, the usual finches and I thought I saw a Siskin but not sure.  The descents through the woods to the clearings are always a favourite. The increase in temperature is noticeable amongst the spruce trees.

Once I was following the burn and the old track I took advantage of the shelter of the trees to brew up. Making a cuppa in a wild place is something that I take great pleasure in. A very simple process but it gives me time to stop and clear my mind.

First find a sheltered spot free from bugs, beasts and other humans.  Then fill the kettle and get a brew on.

A little bit of peace.

Further on the trail deteriorated but there's still lots to see if you look.

Found a dead shrew. No sign of damage. Its teeth were quite twisted although it didn't look emaciated.

Picked up the trail again and spent the next half mile crossing the burn a dozen times to get back to the car.

A cold damp day with grey sky, not a long walk, but great to be getting back out for wee adventures.

5 miles, cloudy, 1 degree, no wind.

Friday, 13 January 2012

January 3rd - Fri 13th

After the quiet start to the New Year things went wrong, very wrong.  On Tuesday 3rd Jan I awoke around 07.30 to incredibly strong winds hitting the back of the flat. I'm used to storms and high winds and generally sleep through most of them but this morning the wind seemed to be physically shaking the building. I made a coffee and as I wandered through from the kitchen, Fly, my dog, came past me dragging her blanket to the living room in the other side of the house. Mad collie.... then the wind went silent for a second followed by an almighty bang as a huge gust hit. The next bit is all a bit blurred but basically the 6m x 8m flat roof at the back of the flat peeled off and headed for Denmark.  Not so mad collie!
The next two days were filled with trying to get in touch with insurance, getting emergency roofing and generally cleaning up. It also rained hard Tuesday night. Ceilings were coming down, windows smashed, furniture wrecked and there was no working electricity.

Its now 10 days later. The insurance loss adjuster finally visited yesterday and if we can work out the liability share, repairs can start.

So, I've been sleeping on the living room floor, washing in the dark and the dog has a very smug look about her. Up on the roof most evenings keeping an eye on the repairs. Lots of outdoor activity but not what I would have chosen.

The forecast is settled for this weekend with little chance of rain so I'll try to get out for a bit of much needed relaxation.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Years Day

A quiet Hogmany, I fell asleep! So started the year with a cycle.  Started out through Hallhill / Lochend woods.  Despite being surrounded by new housing there are still enough great little trails to avoid dog walkers and the wandering inebriated. ,

Then under the A1 and up the climb past Bowerhouse to take a quick photo at the rough location of the WW2 Auxiliary post (blown up). I was passed by a group of a dozen or so happy looking cyclist who were all freewheeling down the hill. Many "Happy New Years" and waves all round. Great views out over the Bass Rock to Fife.

Then off through Pitcox where I could hear the pipes playing and then down the long descent to Biell Mill before the hard pull up to the old crossroads. I had planned to go over the Railway bridge and on toward Knowes but it was getting cooler and cloudier so I cut along the farm road. This track is marked for "Riders and Walkers". I figured I could include myself in those groups.

Cropped hedges against the winter sky. The further along I spotted an unexpected sight. Gorse in bloom in January! It's been a mild winter so far.

Back up hill again.
Then through the Yew Avenue. Loads of Chaffinches flitting in and out of the trees.

John Muir Country Park was busy and the light was getting low so quick dash through the trails then back home.

14 miles, Intermittent cloud, 7 degrees max. F2 gusting 3.