I've been on my summer holidays for the last two weeks, so apologies for the lack of posts, but it's maybe not a bad thing to leave the blog alone for a short while. I've still been out and about and there are plenty of stories to tell.
I'll start with a simple old fashioned cycle from Tuesday the 15th July. The weather was looking good, so I booked a train ticket for me and the LHT to Edinburgh and set out for an easy tourist trail of 35 miles or so home.
The Edinburgh Festival doesn't start until around the second week of August but the city was still too busy for me. It was full of energy and faces and voices from all over the world and much as I love this sense of worldliness, and indeed take pride in a city I know so well being appreciated by others, I find myself overwhelmed and eventually sense prevailed and I pushed the bike up from the station rather than cycle out onto the chaos of Princes Street and it's unfathomable new tram network. I'm sure that bus and taxi drivers know whats going on. However, I am willing to accept that times have changed, and I'm now a country bumpkin.
The ancient Greek theme continues on Calton Hill where the National Monument of Scotland stands like a half built copy of the Parthenon in Athens. Unfortunately that's exactly what it is as it was started in the 1820s as a monument for the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in the Napoleonic wars. Like most Scottish ideas, the inspiration was strong but the financial practicalities weren't so easy and it was never completed. I guess we'll be considering this question again in September.....
Politics aside, it was a beautiful morning and I was the lone cyclist who had peched up the hill amongst the tourist coaches to take in the views.
The tower in the above picture is the Nelson monument to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar. It did have, and may still have, a ball that was raised on the flag staff and the dropped at 1pm every day as a signal for shipping at Leith to set their chronometers. The one o'clock gun fired at the castle as an audible signal too. I know the ball was damaged in a storm a few years ago but I don't know if it was ever repaired. As obsolete as it is, I hope it is back in operation.
And if I'm talking about shipping, the furthest white towers gleaming in the sun are at the port at Leith.
" While the Chief, puts sunshine on Leith
I'll thank Him for His work
And your birth and my birth."
The Proclaimers 1988 ( dodgy Hibees, but never mind, its still a great song)
Below Calton Hill is St Andrews House, this is where the real centre of Scottish Governing happens. The building wouldn't look out of place in 1940s Berlin.
Back to the cycling and I was soon out of the city and along the coast to Fisherrow with forlorn looking yachts waited for the tide, and then down to Longniddry Bents for a break and plenty of fluid in the heat despite the gathering cloud.
After putting my feet up on that very comfortable bench I eventually got back on the trucker and headed inland. I crossed the railway line that I had travelled along a couple of hours previously.
I also marvelled at how wrong Scotrail can get their signs, unless someone can correct me? Bruce do you know about the sign at Longniddry station?
Then on through the still air and humidity of the old railway line towards Haddington. The day was getting really warm and even the birds were quiet, just the buzz of insects and the distant sound of farm machinery.
This is the closest I get to gravel grinding. The occasional "tink" of gravel on the bottom bracket and lovely smooth, car free cycling.
The last 6 miles and I stopped at the top of Pencraig hill where the crops are days away from harvest.
Down hill and then the flat road home. A really enjoyable day out, just over three hours of cycling but five hours in total. It is a mystery to me how long I can spend looking at things and talking to people I meet on the way. I'm not complaining.