Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mid Week Cycle 29th May

It's raining again!  El decided that she would like some cheese, so being a helpful husband I nipped out to the shops to get her some. It could have taken a couple of minutes but I took the LHT and it turned into an hour and a half of pedaling around avoiding the showers.

It was high tide down at Belhaven with the 'bridge to nowhere' living up to its name. It was also getting very dark as the rain clouds gathered. The little Pentax compact struggles in low light.

The camera also struggled to focus on the bike and it's reflection without including me in the image! This old car showroom is up for rent. I hope someone finds a use for it before it falls into further disrepair.

I turned down through Phantassie farm with its crumbling old steading. These solid old barns and workshops date back to the 18th century. This must be one of the very last steadings in East Lothian that is still used for farming and not converted into housing.

Big log!

Everything is really beginning to bloom and the hedgerows are lush green again. In the tight lanes the air was close with the moisture from all the rain and was thick with that heady fragrance of flowers that open after a storm.

These farm tracks were built for horses and carts. I wouldn't want to use anything much narrower than 700x42 tyres on the LHT.  Crunching through the gravel and splashing through the puddles.

The rain was getting heavy again and dripping through the trees. I headed back to Dunbar before I got too wet. I even remembered to stop at the local supermarket and bought some smoked applewood cheese which helped offset the inevitable "Where have you been?" 

14.5 wet miles, 15 degrees and some tasty cheese.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Accidental trip to Anstruther

The weather has been beautiful this weekend.  Overnight on Friday was cold but Saturday dawned crisp, clear and the rising sun soon started to warm the day. Unfortunately I had business to attend to in Fife so I was destined to spend the day in a van or builders merchants. We arrived in Dunfermline around 11.00 and got ladders sorted and things measured up, then headed off to Screwfix to collect the material, but they didn't have the ogee guttering required so we were stuck. No-one local stocked what we needed so the job ground to a halt. What to do?

A few of the Dunbar boats were due to arrive in Anstruther for an overnight stay so the decision was made and off we trundled in the van along the East Neuk, the thirty pleasantly slow miles through little fishing villages and fantastic coastline.

The skies were clear and the sun shone all day. Phil had never been to Anstruther and has little interest in sailing but was keen for a day out so we wandered about town and down to the lighthouse on the pier to look across to the smudge on the horizon that is home.

I know this wee lighthouse well as it is a leading mark that I use to enter Anstruther harbour when I sail in. It is easy to pick out against the town and is always reassuring after four hours at sea.

The Seline soon arrived with Stuart, Scott and Caitlin enjoying the crossing in unusually pleasant weather. 

They tied up at the pontoon and we were soon aboard. Despite Phil's mistrust of boats, he managed to adapt quite quickly and was soon enjoying the sun and a cold beer. I was driving back, so missed out on the beer but enjoyed the afternoon.

Fly wasn't with me but Phil's collie Jill came along. She was remarkably settled on the boat despite the bobbing around.

This lovely old boat had an unusual BB registration. I had to look this one up and the answer seems to be Bremen (Germany).
We didn't leave until 6pm and it took 2 hours to travel back to Dunbar, it's only 14.6 nautical miles! A lot longer by road.
It was a mixed up sort of day. I didn't get the work done that I need to reduce a lot of grief I'm having to put up with; but I did have a great day out, which puts all the stress in perspective.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Mid Week Borders Cycle - Duns and Edrom

I have meant to revisit Duns to connect up a short route into the longer run I did last November but have somehow never got around to it. The route is only 10m so I wasn't going to make a special visit just to do it on it's own but this evening there was a strong wind off the sea, so I thought I would head inland and have a look.

I'm so glad I did. There was the right mix of rolling Border's roads with old hedgerows and a plethora of wildlife. The sun was also shining although there were some ominous clouds building.

I headed east then south out of Duns to follow the Wedderburn Estate wall. The sun was on my back and I relaxed into an easy rhythm and watched the fields roll by. The lambs were bleating for their mums and the hedges were full of chaffinches and yellowhammers.

The gate in the above pic is at the rear of the estate and is resultingly low key! The road dropped down to the river Blackadder and the Mouth Bridge.

Looking down to the river I could smell the wild garlic.

 It looks like some fine trout fishing.

There was the usual short climb up from the river and the the road just rolled on, up and down, with new views opening up at every bend. I crossed the Blackadder again at Kelloe bridge where the cows came over to see what I was up to.

The next stop was a quick diversion to Edrom Church. The Church as we see it today is the result of a restoration in 1886 of an original building from 1732, but the Old Edrom Church that stood on the site was gifted by Gospatrick, Earl of Dunbar in 1130, and lasted until around 1732 when most of it was knocked down.

Fortunately someone had the foresight to save the arch of the original doorway and build it in to a burial vault.  A lot of the detail has been lost to weathering but it's not bad for nearly 900 years of Scottish rain. There must have been a few folks passed under it over the years on their way to Sunday services, heads bowed at funerals or full of hope at weddings.

From Edrom I started to race the oncoming clouds and didn't have much time for any pictures. It was a hard climb up the last mile or so to the main road and then a fast descent into Duns. The sky became very dark and the inevitable hail and rain crashed down. I nearly made it.

A braw wee evening cycle,... apart from getting soaked at the end.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Raising the mast on the Heron (Alacrity 19)

This time last year I was out cycling, sailing, catching cod and generally enjoying the days when it wasn't raining. This year's weather has been tough. It's cold, wet and windy. Although I launched the 'mighty' Heron a couple of weeks ago, I had still not managed to rig the mast. This morning was damp and foggy, but that means no wind!

This is what 7m (23 ft) of mast and furler looks like when balanced on a my dinghy. I thought it would be a simple enough task to row across to the Heron. The collected spectators on the quay side seemed to think differently and were generous in their advice!

It worked and with Stuart's help I got the mast footed and raised. Every one of the lines in the above pic has a purpose.

An hour or so of sitting in the quiet of the harbour, the boat gently moving on the flowing tide, and I was slowly getting there, just the running rigging and sails to sort.

Above shows the essential tools of rigging a sail boat.

All done save the foresail. The damp fog was rolling back in and the cold began eating into our bones. We had also ran out of beer so it was time to head home.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Lunch at Starvation Brae

The weather today was a real mix of sunshine and sudden showers in the gusting westerly wind. I had the day off work, and lots of other things to do, but I managed to fit in an hour and a half on the Long Haul Trucker at lunchtime.

I loosely planned to go up by Spott to stretch the legs with a bit of climbing and stopped to take a picture of this horse at Bowerhouse. As I stepped back to frame the pic, the mischievous nag took a bite of my saddle.

There is no major damage, just some splitting of the vinyl, and I should be able to glue it. I should remind the horse of where glue used to come from!

After the climb to Wester Broomhouse I took the old road down to Spott. This was stopped up a few years ago now and has become a lovely footpath. The hedges were bursting with birdsong and everything is finally becoming green.

At Spott I turned left up Starvation Brae; I have no idea where the name comes from. This is always a killer climb for me and I'm happy to admit I've never cleaned it. This time I stopped at the first bend and took a photo.

I was actually feeling ok but I knew that the next three bends each reveal another climb that just seems to get steeper and steeper.

I kept on going from there and finally topped out with jelly legs and the heart rate monitor insisting I call an ambulance.  It's satisfying to look at the drop back down to sea level.

I got in behind a wall to get some shelter from the increasingly cold wind and had lunch. Cheese and tomato rolls and a flask of coffee. I know how to live the high life!

It was very pleasant sitting in the sun, munching away and admiring the views. Unfortunately I didn't notice the cloud getting blown in from behind me until the sun suddenly disappeared.

The descent back down the wet roads with wet brakes was a wee bit alarming. 

I'll have to put some time aside to go back up this way and do the Brunt climb too. Meanwhile this rates as one of my better Tuesday lunchtimes.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Mid Week Cycle 8th May

What a difference a week makes. We've had a few days of sunshine and the temperature has crept up to something approaching normal. This has resulted in a sudden blooming in the hedgerows and spring is in the air.

The weather was pretty variable today with strong easterly winds and rain, but it settled down in the evening, so off I went for a pedal after work.

There is a new cycle and walking path along the side of the Biel Burn and estuary. It's a great new section of National Cycle Route 76 and avoids the tight bit of road through West Barns.

The day time wind had managed to back right around to the west and slowed things a bit as I made my way along to East Linton. Fortunately it eased as I climbed up to the Hailes Castle road. It's lovely to see the yellow of the Gorse and the smell of the flowers which, to my mind, have an aroma of coconut. The bird song up here was impressive too.

I just made it along to the castle as the sun was setting and quickly tried to get a couple of pics of the halls.

I'd brewed a flask of coffee before I left and it was appreciated as I sat watching the sun set, listening to the river with swallows feeding around the castle ruins.

As the sun got lower I went up to the main hall which was still catching the last rays. I'm sure that a good few folk have looked out of this window through the centuries.

Enough relaxing. Back on the road and I put the head down and got the heart rate up and pushed the pedals all the way home.

It wasn't too far tonight, only 16 miles, but I can't really think of a better way to pass a couple of hours after work.