Sunday, 30 December 2012

Another Windy Weekend

I was busy on Saturday and only managed out for a very quick cycle. 15 minutes from my front door and the rain started to pour down. This combined with the strong winds and I turned around and headed home. Today, Sunday, and the wind was even stronger, often gusting to 50 mph. It was pretty cold too.

Instead of cycling I took Fly for a couple of hours wandering across the fields. At this time of year the fields are often lying fallow which is great for looking for the little scraps of history that are turned up by the plough. 

The blue white pottery is fairly common. Most of it probably dates from the 18th or 19th century. Fertiliser was expensive in those days so it was common practice to use the muck from village cess pits where folk often threw old broken plates etc. The lead ball however is a great wee find. 

In 1649 Charles I had his head chopped off and England became a commonwealth. His son, Charles II landed in Scotland and raised a force of 25,000 under the command of David Leslie. There were various skirmishes around Edinburgh but Cromwell and his New Model Army failed to engage Leslie's army in full battle. The "round heads" we're being supplied by sea through Dunbar and Leslie, outnumbering Cromwell 2:1, saw the chance to cut the supply lines in a decisive battle. On the 3rd Sepember 1650 they met just south of Dunbar. Despite the vast numerical disadvantage Cromwell won. These fields often turn up musket and cannon shot, but this was the first time I've found one. 

This standing stone has three cup marks on the west face. As with all these stones, their original purpose is lost. The people that erected this didn't have a written history but they were a creative lot.  This one is directly east of Traprain where King Loth and the Votadini had their fort and traded with the Romans. At the base there is more modern mark where a groove has been cut in the stone by the cables used in steam ploughs.

It was a good walk and Fly enjoyed herself. I've got Tuesday and Wednesday off, so hopefully the wind will calm down and I can get a few miles cycling again.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The sun also rises

It's been a hard time over the last week. My dad died peacefully but quite suddenly at home on December the 16th. I was filling my thermos with coffee to head out for a cycle when my sister telephoned weeping uncontrollably. She had stopped by on Sunday morning to ask if he wanted a newspaper and found him sitting in his chair. He had quietly slipped away from us all during the night. It's only 12 miles to my dads home but it was a long drive that morning. After the police and ambulance left we were faced with one of the hardest things I have ever done when we went to the hospital to break the news to my mum.

The funeral has now passed and with the support and love of family and friends, and a lot of advice from our minister, we have somehow muddled through. Last night was Christmas Eve, I managed a couple of hours of sleep but there comes a time when its easier just to get up. I switched on the radio this morning and quietly tuned it to a carol concert; then set about baking some bread and brewing the morning coffee. As I looked out the window I realised for the first time in a week that I needed to get out for a cycle. 

It was still dark but I went down by the lighthouse and then back along to White Sands to have my coffee and watch the sea.

The sun slowly crept over the horizon and I headed back home.  El is up crashing around, Fly is wanting out to play with her ball and I'm off to meet up with the transport to get my mum out of hospital for the day. My sister and my niece have hopefully got the turkey in the oven and we will all try our best.
Have a peaceful Christmas.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Sunday 16th December

Almost a year ago, when I started this blog, I said I would try to post every week. So far I have managed. Unfortunately there are times when a family must come together and all else can wait.  I'll try to get back soon. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Windy winter cycle

It's been a cold week with some snow and colder weather is forecast. Today the temperature had crept up a little but a strong north westerly wind had developed overnight. Twenty plus mph gusting to around forty mph. I still went out for a cycle mid morning but it was hard going at times.

As I pedaled into the wind along past Winterfield I was almost tacking from side to side to make progress. That's fine in the Heron but not so good on the LHT. I stopped down by the holiday chalets to think about my route. Most of them are boarded up for winter although a few hardy souls were trying to make the best of the sunshine. They look good in the summer with surf boards and barbecues but they also seem wonderfully cosy on a winters day with the view out over the stormy sea. If I had a wee cabin like this I'd be using it in the winter too.

Rather than fight the wind along to East Linton I decided to head around a loop of Dunbar and throw in a few farm roads for a bit of variety.

That's a big shadow bike in the low winter sun. I came back into town with only 9 miles under my belt so a quick zig zag through the little lanes and down by the harbour rounded it up to 10. Not very much, but its the getting out that counts. It also made the bread I had baked earlier taste all the better.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Searching for tractors, ooh arr!

The first of December and it was a cold start to the day with temperatures below freezing, ice on the roads and the frosty ground sparkling in the early morning sun. I had seen an advert in a shop window for a vintage ploughing competition this Saturday. Yes, that's right, men with old tractors seeing who can plough the straightest furrow. Well, 'I love the smell of paraffin in the morning', so several layers of clothing, a flask of coffee and off I went on the LHT.

Hallhill woods were full of little birds flitting around the trees and nosing through the leaf litter. The cycling was easy along the blaze trails. Once I got out on to the old road it was a bit different and a lot colder! I took it easy, keeping the bike upright when turning and watching out for ice in the shadows.

Although it might not be far in miles to Wester Broomhouse farm, it's all uphill. It was good climb with some low gear spinning interspersed with the occasional quick mash on the pedals to keep me warm. I needed to put my jacket on as soon as I stopped though. The sun might have been shining but it was brass monkey weather at the top.

I had a look around and soon realised that the ploughing might have been advertised as Wester Broomhouse, but it wasn't happening at the farm. There were low loaders and Range Rovers with trailers parked in the distance (back down the hill). In a seen reminiscent of the Somme, I could see little figures plodding through the mud towards the occasional puff of smoke as they tried to get their tractors to start in the freezing weather.  Hmm, time for a coffee to think about my next move

Blue sky out over Dunbar and the Isle of May on the horizon. A fine place to get the flask out and the rack made a handy wee table.

I didn't have the best shoes on for crossing muddy fields so I gave up on the vintage tractors and settled for trying to spot unusual sheep. Hee hee, look at the ears on that one! 

In the distance there is a road snaking up the hillside. Locally known as 'Starvation Brae', its a killer cycle. (the lower part follows the tree line). I've never done it, but the trucker gearing is feeling good so maybe sometime soon!