Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sun 27th Out on the road today, I saw a dead..toad

(Apologies to Mr Henley)

Yesterday (Saturday) I pitched in with a few friends to help Jamie and Laura move home. It was one of the hottest days of the year so far and their temporary home is five floors up the steepest stair in Dunbar. So that was fun!
In the afternoon E's brother Daniel, and his wife Melody, visited. It was a lazy afternoon in the sun.

Overnight a haar had rolled in. An early start and the lower temperature made for an easy morning pedal. Then out on the White Sands road I saw a dead toad.

Poor wee soul. The road was mostly empty but the air was full of skylarks.

Down at the lighthouse the haar was blowing in and out. I caught this pic of the light tower, a few seconds later it disappeared in the sea fog.

Common Scurvy-grass. Much loved by sailors only a hundred odd years ago for its vitamin C. Like the Ramsons (wild garlic) a couple of weeks ago, I have to try some. Some folks complain it's too sharp but I find the leaves quite peppery and pleasant in small quantities.

The west quarry has been left to the wild. Its about 150ft deep at the left side. I watched sandmartins nesting and a flapping heron wake the drowsy water rats (apologies to WB Yeats).

I headed back to the shops for some coffee. Having a retro bike I took the chance of a retro pic. The phone still works but the elder tree growing inside hints at its lack of use. I should get the number so folk can call it to see if anyone ever answers.

Went down to the Heron in the afternoon, but its getting late now, so I'll keep those pics for later this week.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thurs 24th Evening Fishing

The good weather continues. On Thursday evening I rushed home from work, grabbed a fishing rod and went out on the Heron. 

It was a calm sea with no wind as I motored out a couple of miles to meet up with Stuart on the Ambition.


I got a cod but there was not much happening. Stuart had been out for a while and had eight cod. No sign of mackerel yet.

We went back towards Dunbar to try for pollock off the rocks but no luck. Then when we decided to head into the harbour Ambition's engine wouldn't start.  

Time for a tow.

A chilled out evening.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Gimme Shelter

When I was at Cockburnspath Tower I spotted an air raid shelter in the undergrowth. The iron work looked WWII with the wide corrugations typical of this time. The bricks were intact so I wasn't able to see the maker. 

There are still metal hinge pintels in the brickwork.

Couldn't find any info on the internet about the site so I tried the old way and asked a local.  I was told that these shelters were around the fields near Cockburnspath for the "Land Army" of farm workers.

They would have had little warning of fighter bombers coming in from the sea and there are few places to hide when you're ploughing a field.

There are two internal walls in the shelter which makes it look like a toilet, which might have been its other purpose. A toilet could have been useful if you were hiding in there whilst a Heinkel was dropping its load. 

Seventy years of weather is beginning to show.

Fields wouldn't have been a normal target for bombers but Cockburnspath sits at a natural choke point above a tight valley with the main road and rail line from Edinburgh to London in the valley.

An unexpected find and good to get some local info, even if it turns out to be nonsense.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

May 20th Sunday Sail

Sunday morning and the forecast was for light North Easterlies with a 2.5ft swell, dropping away. After the poor weather that we've suffered in Dunbar over the last two months I grabbed the chance for a sail.
Six Dunbar yachts had headed for Anstruther on Saturday. Unfortunately I couldn't make the cruise due to other commitments but I was able to head out for to meet them on the way back. 

The harbour looking very empty and very calm.

Leaving Dunbar. It's an 'interesting' entrance to a harbour.

The Heron settled into a steady 3-4knts. After a couple of miles things got surreal when I spotted something in the water. I made a point of treating it as a 'man overboard' and managed to sail on to a bundle of balloons.

I picked them up on the lee side which isn't strictly correct but I was quite chuffed at managing to get them in the tide, wind and drift. No idea where they came from.

About five or six miles out I met with the Dunbar boats coming back. The heron tacked around and as usual everyone caught up with me and soon started to pass. The Ambition is fair fleeing along in the next pic although the lack of foresail and the outboard in the water is a bit of a giveaway. Stuart is grinning, Alan and Scott were asleep on board.

As the wind strengthened I powered it up a bit and got the Heron to lift her skirts.

Not the most efficient way to sail but its a lot of fun. 

I tried to get the toe rails in the water. I've done it before but an Alacrity is not really designed for this sort of sailing. If I played with the back stays to adjust the weather helm...hmm?

I was out for around three hours and enjoyed the space. When I motored back into the harbour I spotted a Fulmar hanging from one wing by a tangled fishing line. I couldn't take the Heron in close enough so after tying up I went back out in my dinghy with a knife taped to a boat hook. I managed to grab the poor bird, got my hands pecked, and cut away the line. The Fulmar was not particularly grateful but I got a wee cheer from the collected tourists at the harbour entrance. I enjoyed the sail but saving the Fulmar meant a lot more. I used to get that sort of satisfaction from my work..

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Sat 19th May evening cycle

Scottish Cup Final today, Hearts gubbed Hibs. Fitted rear wheel, new brake levers, cables and taped the bars. Went out for a cycle in the evening sun.  The circus is in town so that means Dunbar has more clowns than normal.

 "Want a balloon?"

The Falcon rebuild is getting there. I can't justify the price of a Brooks saddle so a tan Charge Spoon will be the next order. The new back wheel made an incredible difference and the gearing is good too.

18th May its Friday and a new wheel.

A new wheel has been long needed on the Falcon. I finally got around to ordering one this week when the old one developed a buckle that would have had professor Rubik scratching his cubes.  The freewheel is a cheap and cheerful Shimano six speed. The wonderful old freewheel was a Suntour 5 speed. I will try my best to get it off the hub as it is still in great condition and has a 30 year old "tick tick tick" that you just can't buy now.  Given my size and the length of time it has been on the hub, something is going to get damaged.

 The new big ring (1st gear) is a 28t which will hopefully be a useful change from the previous 24t while I stick with a 52t chain ring.

Yup its a solid axle! wait till you see me solder the brake cables. Lugged frame, friction shift, Old Skool!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Monday 14th May Evening Sun

Today was one of those Mondays at work, so I grabbed a break in the weather and got out for a ride this evening.

The wading birds were calling out on the estuary and the wind was finally dying down.  Its easy to pass an hour cycling in the setting sun.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sun 13th May at a Tower House

Sunday morning and the sun had disappeared. Yesterday's wind had increased overnight gusting to 50+mph so it wasn't going to be a day for sailing. I decided to head down the coast with Fly. 

Pease Dean has a path through the east side which is part of the Southern Upland Way. As a result the west side of the dean is hardly visited which suits me fine. It also has some great history around Cockburnspath Tower house.

I could smell the wild garlic as we walked down to the old bridge.

 It tasted good too!

Under the trailing ivy you can see the bridge over the ravine. This is one of the only suitable crossings and so a strong place to defend. The bridge would originaly have been wooden so it could be drawn up in times of trouble, which in the Borders meant just about all the time. The tower house is 15th century and  may have been a rebuilding of a 14th century fortress established by the Dunbar family as part of their seven castles.   

The tower is an imposing building but unfortunately has had a further collapse in the last year or so.

After the Dunbar family, the tower was held by the Douglasses against the infernal English. It would also have seen a lot of fighting with the Home family who were great rivals of the Douglasses. James VI took the tower in 1594 and granted it to the Earl of Lennox. The Douglasses took it back in 1602 which must have upset the monarch. 

Windows like this don't let much light in but they are great for firing arrows at your neighbours which was a popular pastime in the 16th century Borders. Still is in some parts.

Carved door lintel at the base of the tower. By the 17th Century the tower had lost its military significance and fell into disrepair. As with many fortified houses it became a quarry for other local building projects. Its a shame to see it slowly collapsing but in some ways I like seeing nature take its course instead of scaffolding and 'keep out' signs.

Fly in a glade of garlic. No worries about vampires in our house tonight.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Saturday 12 May and the Sun is Shining!

The weather finally brightened up today with blue skies and some much needed sunshine. It was great to get back out on the bike. I didn't go very far, about 9 miles but I really enjoyed it and added in a couple of hills to get a bit of burn in the legs. The strong westerly winds also added to the fun.

 The hedges are blooming and crops are coming on. The above pic was taken just a few hundred metres from the A1. It doesn't take much to get away from traffic and find some peace. Saw flocks of Goldfinches feeding along the verges, only the tick tick of the freehub to disturb them.

Standard pic at the bench at Belhaven. Lots of surfers heading out although it didn't look like many were catching waves. I was happy enough to put my feet up and sit in the sun. No need for the flask today.

A good day to remind myself how lucky I am to have places like this on my doorstep.

12 degrees, W f4 gusting 5 clear, sunny, the Swifts have returned and the white saddle was fine.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

8th May and Eiders

Quick mid week post to keep up the diary element.

Whilst out and about at the beginning of the week I saw a male Eider looking injured and calling "ah-ooo".

I suspected he was trying to distract me and sure enough I spotted this female hiding in the grass nearby. I didn't want to disturb her so the pic is at the full extent of the poor zoom on the compact camera. She is also quite well camouflaged. I won't say exactly where the nest is but I'm sure a certain Moonlander owner can find it.

Still not been out cycling. Swapped saddle on road bike and tightened up brakes to go out this morning but it was too miserable for me. Been raining for the past 24 hrs, a grim May so far.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

6th May and still a chill

Yesterday was mostly spent doing housework and then watching the FA Cup final. There was a big swell running from the North but it was due to calm down for Sunday.

I woke to day with plans for good sailing or maybe even some fishing. Yesterdays swell had dropped away but it was still cold with rain and a short hail shower. I rowed out to the Heron with the best intentions but the cold got the better of me.  I couldn't get the motivation to get the sails up and head out so instead I spent time swabbing the decks and doing some badly needed cleaning.

Between trying to find places to put all the junk that collects on a boat I was able to sit with my feet up, music on and watch the world go by.

I'm sure there must be other boat owners who take as much pleasure from the simple maintenance of their boats the as they do from sailing. With the kettle on and the hatch pulled over the Heron is a snug wee boat.

Cold and no sailing but I was happy in my own place.

6 degrees max, showers, F2 E. slight.