Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Like the vernal equinox which arrived in a flurry of snow, it didn't feel that summery when we sprang the clocks forward for British Summer Time. However the daffs were out and the skies were blue so it could have been worse.

the JMW deer STILL hanging around for their 15 minutes of fame

ahh, someone has rebuilt that crumbling wall by the golf course
Isn't it funny how there are always bits left over?

Mary spotted this handsome chap on the pavement heading onto the road.
After a quick photo opportunity (and a scamper up my arm!) we rerouted him away from the traffic.

while Mary was waiting she busied herself taking photos

We started the recovery run on Sunday (following on from Saturday's exertions) with a coffee and croissant (nae scones) at Falko's. This often has repercussions and it's handy that there is a toilet block at Aberlady....

toad spawn and er....

Back to Marl Loch and more toady stuff. OK 3 differences between frogs and toads please? Answers at the bottom of the page. I think the white stuff might be ghost toads or intestinal things. Sorry.

my new ambient jazz album cover

biggest dead thing today
possibly a harbour porpoise
or plesiosaur

wee shell

big crab


 st tropez

and seven magpies means....?
answer here

Toads are dry and warty, frogs smooth and glossy wet. Toads = strings of spawn, frogs = clumps of spawn. Toads walk or crawl, frogs more likely to hop and jump.

beauty and beast

It would be easy to mistake the title - beauty and beast - as describing the company I had for March's Tynecastle Bronze: (in no particular order) Mary and Nick. It was a very delightful day, hence beauty; although almost too warm and the last 5 miles were murderous, hence beast. And I was very glad of the excellent company of both Nick for the full thing and Mary for the last 18 miles. 

It's good to get out, away from the hassles of everyday life. The council have started fracking in Iona Street as part of their ongoing plan to totally fuck up Leith Walk. It started with the trams and shows no sign of abating. Blokes reversing bleeping diggers, cutting paving slabs and grinding rubble, work for 3 hours from 7 till 10am, then knock off for the rest of the day. My alarm clock has become redundant. I am of half a notion to start a LOVE / HATE blog. In order to offset what would otherwise be just a list of complaints from a grumpy old fart, I would endeavour to have a LOVE item, a random upbeat something that gives me pleasure, for every complaint (HATE). It may yet happen if I can think of anything I like. 

Actually, the LOVE, the remedy for this road work business, the saviour for Leith (and the world) might well be Harald Tobermann. I have known Harald for decades and he is the business. He is a good guy, unafraid to action a citizen's arrest, while retaining a great warmth, sense of humour and interest in the arts. I'm not sure if he is still involved with Out of the Blue in Dalmeny St. but he has been encouraged to stand as an independent, non-party political councillor candidate for Leith Walk ward at the local elections on 4 May 2017. I rarely give a hoot about these things but have always admired Harald for being aware of his surroundings and taking a strong interest, whereas I don't have a clue and would pour scorn from a distance instead of grasping the nettle. Anyway you could do a lot worse than vote for Harald.

Or you could just go for a long run which is the best way to de-stress. I saw the forecast for Saturday was exceptional but forgot to round up a posse until far too late in the week. I blame that Monday night headtorch business; and I arrived on Friday somewhat bewildered. Mary had wanted to run about 18 miles but I was keen to get in March's TB run. We worked out a plan to do both - that I would get the train to Longniddry and run from there to NB station car park where Mary would step from the Berlingo at precisely the moment I arrived and we would do the NB Circuit. Nick had asked to be included in any long run plans as he is mara-training so I let him know on Friday evening, far too late surely as he was bound to have formed his weekend schedule. Unexpectedly he managed to change things round and after an impressively brisk Porty parkrun, collected me at 10.03 (how is that possible? - parkrun kicks off at 9.30!) and we drove to Longniddry. The sun was already stonking down and I removed the long sleeved top, stowing it in my heaving back pack. Couldn't drop the winter habits of carrying gloves and hat and extra layers, packed just in case!

met Seona early on coming in the opposite direction

over the bridge to enchantment and onto the shore at Aberlady

At Yellowcraigs we took the inland line. I find the 2 miles into NB on the shore laborious, and at the weekends there are always golfers to avoid, so it is sometimes preferable, and easier underfoot, to follow the JMW across this field and up past the big houses. Saw 2 butterflies in quick succession, a Small Tortoiseshell (2nd of the year) and Nick spotted the first Peacock of the year. 

I had allowed for 3hrs for the 13+ trail miles into NB but our pace had been quicker than usual and we did it in not much more than 2. I texted Mary but as she had various things to do in the morning expected her to be later rather than earlier. She proved me wrong and was happy to meet us at the same Thai place we discovered recently, where Nick and I were having toasties. We went past the Kemps to see if that place was open for business but they were inevitably out enjoying the sunshine somewhere. Had I known they had 2 garden residents of the furry kind I would have been past long before now for a chat!

Nick, who clearly can smell a war memorial from any distance, tracked down a handsome if melancholy plaque just inside the church near Ben's. I had spotted a "Commonwealth War Graves" cemetery near Tesco's at the end of the route, but it was good news to tick the wm box early on and leave us free to drop down to the shore and golf course on the return from Tantallon if required.

We enjoyed our toasties at Poonthias. Again very charming service. There may be an occasional communication difficulty (we never did see the jug of water, possibly replaced with an extra pot of boiling water to add to the tea pot, who knows?) but you won't find a more receptive and smiling welcome in NB. Anyone who says "you're running? so slim and healthy!" and not "you're sweating like a pig and leaving patches on the furniture" gets my custom. Mary met us and we set off towards the JMW under the Law.

All the chat and blethers made the miles fly by. At Balgone we took the right turn along the side of the pond and I was surprised there wasn't more of a butterfly presence there. I thought the wind shade and bright sun would have the Peacock butterflies drinking from the muddy puddles on the trail. I may have oversold the prospect of seeing Green Pheasants. I had a hunt around at the feeder on the climb over the far side of the pond but nada. It was only as we rejoined the JMW, where it comes back out the rhododendrons, that Nick and I saw a deep green and turquoise coloured pheasant, but it was far too quick for the camera. Mary is still in denial!

Balgone House 

As a child I was taken to the Royal Highland Show where a highlight was clambering on farm machinery and admiring tractors and combines. Do boys have a natural affinity with this sort of thing? Mostly I downplay the top gear inclinations, preferring art, music, photography and culture: perhaps the more feminine things, if you can ascribe a sex to a hobby or interest. (I don't even have a driving licence.) However there is something about this tractor that stirs my soul and I suspect it is linked to those childhood visits to the RHS as well as the utilitarian unadorned lines of this vehicle. It's not like I want to drive it, so much as paint it's portrait. Out of curiosity (I can't even see a euro millions scenario where I'd ever buy one) I googled the price. How much do you think they cost? More than a family car for sure. More than 2? Well those big tyres would be expensive! I couldn't see one priced new but this model, the Deutz-Fahr 6210 C Shift, 2 years old, one careful farmer, £75k. Now you know. If you want your investment painted I can do that.

So before Stink Farm we left the JMW turning towards the Mansion House and Newbyth Pond. This is under 8miles from NB and makes a nice regroup and snacking spot. I tried some more goose whispering but honestly those damn greylags are far too well catered for and weren't really bothered about my bready offerings. Nick took photos of me failing to attract the geese and Mary took a selfie or 2. 

looking down my beak at you

I had hoped to see a Speckled Wood or two in Newbyth. There are a few trees where in the summer the male Speckled Woods (brown with yellow spots) perch and patrol, and I was escorted through there on one occasion by one which very much seemed to be doing the butterfly equivalent of "are you looking at my girlfriend?" So I oversold this as well. It was the theme of the day, and perhaps just a little early in the year for promises of exotica. Or maybe the butterflies knew we were in for another few days of colder weather following on from this weekend of sunshine.

across the road from Newbyth and into Binning Woods. Nominal hello! to Ali B

The long straight of Limetrees Walk was tough going. However at the end of it you are rewarded with some of the best twisty turny shoreline trails in the world.

St Baldred's Cradle

Tyninghame beach

In my travel luggage I had brought a camping towel. Not very good at drying but suitably small. I had thought if the urge overcame us to swim at the beach we would at least have a towel. We opted to cool swelling feet and limited it to a paddle. Mary was first to the water's edge and was making strange noises by the time I got my shoes off. I quickly found out why. The water was furiously cold and embraced your feet like bashing hammers. Mary said it was like having your feet in a vice. I never managed to get shin deep, squealing and leaping out incredulous that I will be obliged to do a full immersion in a couple of weeks near here as part of the Alternative John Muir Way, another Carnethy social. I hope the water warms up considerably or it will be either painful dooking or painful retreat. Nick tried to wet his knee but without wetting shoes, socks and feet. Which was wise. It's always a real palaver drying frigid toes and forcing them back into damp socks without half the beach as well.

From Peffer burn we followed the concrete road back up through Seacliff to where it meets Tam Bides Here. Nick had us carry straight on at the bend of the main road to avoid the traffic. However we were all pretty trashed by now and had all run out of drink. Tesco's was the light at the end of the tunnel and only thoughts of cold drinks kept us going. I was deeply envious of the crows in their swimming pool and nearly climbed the wall to join them wondering if the water would be flavoured with carrots or whatever the crop was.


Mary looking fresh!

or not!

It was a great day out and much fun was had. The miles passed quicker for company although the last 5 or 6 up from the beach seemed like very hard work. M and I were both very dehydrated and afterwards drank lots. I favoured the alcoholic varieties. It was good to get the TB run done for the month. It is nearly 2 months since the last, because I knocked out Feb's at the end of Jan and had 2 months to let my knee heal as much as possible before subjecting it to another. April's will probably be the Alternative JM Way if I can come up with another wm. I am fast running out of E Lothian memorials. Well done Nick doing a parkrun and then 32miles. And 18 next day with Stuart and David. Good work!

32 miles