Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Two Very Different Days

The down side of being a shift worker is that I have to work precious weekends missing out on spending time with the clan, so normally when I'm off work at weekends I've made a rule to myself that I have one day out on the bike & the other day spending quality time doing stuff with the family, which suits both me & the family fine as the wife & kids have their Irish dancing lessons allowing me to get on the saddle.
The weekend past however the wife & kids had a double dose of dancing both Saturday & Sunday, so I was like a dog off the leash having a two day bike fest out on the bike :-)
For the Saturday I had planned a trip to the Glentress trail centre at Peebles, one of the 7stanes trail centres & the one closest to me, along with friends Davy & John.
The day started out bad as we had planned to leave at 07:30 to get an early start at Glentress but my friend John decided to sleep in ! So after knocking him up out his bed & eventually setting off for Glentress to meet Davy who took his own car & had an hours wait on us, the morning got worse...
...for John anyway..!
John not a regular cyclist has no bike so was going to hire one from the trail centre only to be told by the bike hire shop that he needed i.d. to hire one.
John had no i.d. with him so couldn't hire a bike, so John had to sit bored in my van while Davy & I hit the trails heh heh.

Leaving John behind Davy & I took the climb up the fire road to do the red route.
The red route is a classic trail that has everything from big climbs, fast flowing descents, jumps & berms in abundance, elevated timber trail, roots & rocks.

The days weather was turning out to be quite sticky & muggy, no wind or breeze & threatening rain, but as we climbed higher & higher up the fire road the trees would open up now & then to some fantastic views over the Tweed valley below.

Taking off down the first fast descent of the 'spooky wood' trail stopping at the 'Meterorite stane', this six ton Ledmore marble stane contains text carved in Star Trek's Klingon language, with the obvious implication it may not be of this world !
Each of the 7stanes trail centres has it's own stane dedicated to it,
 7 trail centres hence 7stanes.
(Stane is the Scots word for stone) 

With concentration focused on the high speed descents it's easy to miss out on the stunningly beautiful location that the trails are set in here in the Tweed valley.

Not very many pictures taken bombing down the runs as the trails are fast & flowing, so stopping all the time just to grab a quick picture would ruin the experience, the best I could do today was to take photos of the marker posts at the beginning of each trail down the red route, I did have my Go-Pro camera on but foolishly never re-charged the battery so I only managed to film one descent down the 'spooky wood' trail before the battery died on me !!
And that's the end of our short day at Glentress as both Davy & myself had other commitments in the early evening so had to be back home by the early afternoon, and not forgetting about poor John who was more than glad to see us after his crap day heh heh !
Day 2.
Sunday morning the sun is shining & the atmosphere has a haze to it with a warm but refreshing breeze blowing south eastwards. I didn't want to go too far today as the wife & kids Irish dancing classes finish mid morning so I kept it fairly short & fancied riding a little bit of the countryside along the edge of golden fields of wheat & barley before dropping down for a return trip along the coast.

Setting off I decided to ride along the field next to the A1 towards Pinkerton, I normally jump across the Dry burn to access this field avoiding the busy A1 only to find my path blocked by chest high nettles & thistles, so for all the distance it was of about 50 yards behind a crash barrier I took the chance & between busy spells of traffic I bombed along the A1 then jumped over the fence into the field. I was surprised to see that I'm not the only person to use this field as a safe alternative to travelling along the A1, someone has went to all the trouble of placing an up turned bucket, a juice bottle crate as steps & an old coal bag wound around the barbed wire fence secured with baling twine to gain access over into the field.
Looking back along the A1 glad I was in the safety of the field & the road seemed really busy for being a Sunday morning.

Passing through the grass livestock field then onto a farm track the air was filled with a really strong mealy smell coming from the ripe barley fields.

After passing through Easter & Meikle Pinkerton I stopped on the top of the hill looking outwards over to Dunbar & down to the cement works, the views with the thick haze in the distance looked unusual & the atmosphere had a strange aura about it. 

Through Little Pinkerton farm & it always saddens me to see these old derelict farm houses in this condition, these could be renovated into braw houses with oodles of character unlike the modern quality of houses which I think are the equivalent to fast food, they're convenient & that's about all that's good about them.
Anyway after pedalling through the farm I continued along the farm track heading towards the bottom of Doon hill but veer off to a field track to the right on my chosen route today.

With wheat & barley fields surrounding me & the temperature on the rise as the morning moved on, the smell coming from the fields was absolutely amazing it was like you could eat the air with the mealy smelling aroma.

Away from the fields it was nice to take short refuge through the trees as I neared Brandsmill passing under both the A1 dual carriageway & the east coast rail line.

In the middle picture whether it was intentional or not I thought was a great idea, between the fence line & crops was a strip of land around 8 feet wide all the way around the field with masses of wild flowers growing & the sheer volume of bees, hover flies & other flying insects was unbelievable & with all the media hype about the U.K. government approving an application to use bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides on British fields, the future looks grim for the poor hard working bee who is so important to us humans. 

As I cycled along the cycle path down towards Whitesands beach the smell of the air changed from the mealy smell from the fields to a very strong & refreshing salty smell coming off from the sea, the south easterly wind was really churning up the air today, the smells appeared to be more enhanced than usual.

Arriving at Whitesands beach I was very surprised to see very few people down here, especially for a Sunday morning as normally there are a good few dog walkers here, then as I rode along I spotted something new at the car parking area, it was the new controversial coastal parking ticket machine & probably the reason why there were so few folk here.
Our council has took it upon themselves to start charging £2 per day to park at our coastal car parks, there reason is to help pay for maintenance to the public toilets, roads & general up-keep !
There are 13 sites designated as coastal car parks locally & all but 3 of them are charging for the privilege to park at them !
Fortunately for me 2 of the beaches where you don't have to pay are local to me very near Innerwick, but I think that will soon change as the council are monitoring these beaches as they are not as busy, but this has instantly changed as when I cycled along both Whitesands & Barns Ness the car parks were more or less deserted & then to Skateraw which is a free of charge beach & normally the quieter beach as it's further away from town was absolutely heaving & there was nowhere left to park !!
It's not that I mind paying a measly £2 to park it's the principle that our government & health authorities are trying to encourage & make people concious of a healthier lifestyle, to keep fit & healthy, but now it's just another way to make money taxing the people with the paltry excuse of the 'upkeep & maintenance', I could rant on more with my strong opinions about this but I think I'm better keeping them to myself !

They are not letting you forget that you have to pay with these signs.

Skateraw pay & display, next thing will be charging to use the dog litter disposal bin & again this car park normally busy, but today only 3 cars were parked up.

Along by Barns Ness lighthouse & as I rode on the grass track the heat was really hot now with no wind because of the marram grass covered dunes, it was a nice ride along here lots of bird life to be seen & the raspy song of skylarks above keeping me company.

Over the Dry burn to Skateraw & Torness power station beyond.
 I wonder what the conservationist John Muir would think of our coast nowadays & the fact that we are now being charged to use them.

Taking the high route around Skateraw to Torness I spotted the Dunbar lifeboat leaving it's mooring at Torness & heading off out to see heading a coarse towards Dunbar.

Around the lower walkway of The perimeter of Torness, the south easterly was really churning up the water today.
Can you see anything unusual ?..
...In amongst the trees of Thorntonloch I spotted not one but two of Dr. Who's tardises :-o
But joking aside what a cool thing to have in your garden, they would be pretty cool bike sheds. 

Back across the A1 & back to the village just as the wife & kids finished their Irish dancing,
perfect timing.

Thanks for the visit & I hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as I did :-)
Bye for now.

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