Friday, 25 October 2013

A Borders Cycle and a lot of rain

Firstly, my apologies for the images on this post. My Pentax Optio has charging issues. I eventually found an old 3mp Vivitar 'camera shaped object' at the bottom of a cupboard. On reflection, I could have used my phone to make an equally insipid record of the ride.

But lets concentrate on the cycling; My boss has been twisting my arm to take some time off so I booked Friday and a train ticket to Berwick upon Tweed. That's in England, so this post has a cross border, international traveller type theme!    Aye...

I caught the 09:28 from a very wet Dunbar station. The journey south was mostly a glimpse of flooded fields and miserable looking sheep as the train clattered it's way along the coast and cliffs. At Berwick I unhooked the trucker from it's storage compartment and struggled onto the platform.
The above photo is a cast iron support from the station canopy. The London North Eastern Railways date back to Victorian times (although LNER was a conglomeration in the 1920s) when steam ruled and Britain had an infrastructure to be proud of. As the doors closed behind me there was a hiss of brakes and the electric warmth and light of the train continued south. I stood on a very wet and windswept platform and wondered what I was doing.

There was nothing else to do but put on the waterproofs, get on the trucker and start into the 30mph gusting wind, driving rain and interminable hills.

Thing is, half an hour in and I was in my own little cocoon of damp, spinning away, watching the countryside pass by and feeling so relaxed with the world.

After a pedal along the Tweed, then the Kelso road, I turned off to Paxton, then cut back and started the steady two mile climb to Lamberton Moor.

To add to the torrential rain, I was now climbing into the clouds.

This was the best attempt at a smile I could manage.

Eventually I descended through Ayton and on into the fishing town of Eyemouth. The easterly winds will build a sea over the next 24 hours so most of the fishing boats were tied up.

A very big prawn and the fish market in the background.

Stopping to take a photo reminded me how wet and cold I was so I found a cafe that would accept a dripping cyclist and dried out beside a radiator with coffee and cake. Half an hour and the cake was long gone but I was still nurturing the dregs of coffee. The waitress had given up mopping the floor around me and I knew I had to drag myself back out into the rain.

The next ten miles were actually quite pleasant. I thought I would be climbing up from the coast to Coldingham on a road I know well, but instead the signs pointed me onto little used lanes across the moor. I still had to climb, but there were no traffic worries.

No I didn't see any Red Squirrels, but the colour of the trees was amazing. Unfortunately the rain got the better of the camera and that's the last of the photos. The rest of the cycle was mostly in the mist until the descent from the moor to Pease Bay. I set a new best on the trucker with the computer showing 37mph with me tucked in and grimacing at the needle like rain. Not surprisingly I couldn't stop for the turning down to the bay, so shot on to Pease Dean and the over to Cockburnspath. The rest of the route home was pretty familiar and quite uneventful. As I entered Dunbar the rain stopped, and as I turned onto the last few yards to home, the sun came out.
I think my cycling shoes might be ruined, I am without a camera, the cycle computer is telling me I am averaging 70mph whilst standing still, but it was a great trip.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Back on the Trucker

I haven't been out on the Long Haul Trucker for over a month. Building and riding the On-One Fatty then getting caught up in all sorts of boat mischief has meant that I've not been putting any decent cycling miles. There's only one way to sort that out, so a bit of air in the tyres and off I went on Sunday morning.

Last week's storms have passed but there was still a northerly wind and a bit of sea running. I just headed along the coast to Cockburnspath then turned back and went around the power station at Torness on the way back.

Big sea and a bigger sky.


Just some of the thousands of  13 tonne 'Dolos' blocks that dissipate the waves around the power station.

Barns Ness lighthouse in the distance.

Rowan berries at Broxburn on the way home. Not very far, about twenty miles but it was good to get back into a couple of hours of steady cycling.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Last Sail of the Season.

It's the end of the sailing season in Dunbar and the Heron came out of the water on Thursday. Stuart has decided to keep the Seline at Anstruther for the winter, where the better shelter and a mud ground, make it a safe proposition. So on Saturday morning me, Stuart and Davie loaded the yacht with supplies and headed back out into the Firth of Forth.

The crowds of well wishers on the pier waved us off!

Here is a rare picture of the Shearwater working as it tries to deepen Dunbar Harbour. Hopefully the all-weather lifeboat will be able to return to Dunbar but there will still be a problem with winter swell.

A couple of miles out and the Seline was racing along at over six knots and we were having a great time.

The wind was generally steady on the port quarter. I tried to get a few pictures but there was quite a bit of water coming over the bows. The cockpit stayed dry although I got a bit wet hiked out on the windward rail. Good sailing and a really quick crossing of two and a half hours. 

The Seline was tied up and we had a beer before going for a wander in the unseasonably warm October weather.

The little yacht (above) is the Katie L owned by Dylan Winter who has made many wonderful films of his odyssey around the British Isles. Take some winter evenings to look at his site at Keep Turning Left. Dylan is a professional film maker and this shows in the way his work is beautifully filmed and edited; yet he still captures his essentially amateurish, and very British, record of a circumnavigation of our little island by the simple plan...keep turning left. 

Sunday morning dawned reasonably bright, the tide was out, and the mud was exposed. You wouldn't want to fall in there, although it was just as noxious in the cabin as the fumes of pizza, kebab, and last night's beer threatened to overwhelm us.

Coffee and bacon rolls at the cafe and then the long journey home by road. A great trip in good company.

 I don't think it will be too long before Stuart is back across to "check the boat is safe".