Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Sprout & About

Well it's only a couple of days until the big man in red lands on our roofs & drops down our lums hopefully with lots of bike related gifts. So with lots of Christmas preparations to do, over excited bairns & work I don't seem to have much time for going out biking at the moment but I made time for just a wee local ride out to source which fields still have brussels sprouts in them for a night time raid !

Not exactly a nice Christmas winter scene at the moment but more of a damp wet muddy one. Recently the weather here in south east of Scotland has been rain, rain more rain & strong winds & very unusual for the time of year it has been warm & mild.

I came across this friendly beast in a field normally occupied with horses, I'm pretty sure it's an alpaca he or she was quite happy to come over to the gate for a clap.

Around the vicinity of my home there are always loads of sprout fields & at this time of year being so close to Christmas the sprout harvesters like these ones are really going hammer & tongs to keep up with the demand. It normally takes a few days to harvest the field so this was my chosen field for a night time raid to pinch a couple of stocks for my Xmas table & my chickens.

Crossing the A1 I took a wee detour from Torness power station down to Skateraw, one of the quieter beaches around here & today was no exception as I had the place to myself.

Down here at Skateraw out at Chapel Point is a memorial dedicated to 6 boys from the St.Giles Boys Club, Edinburgh ( later the Cannongate Boys Club ) they lost their lives fighting in WWII, the boys loved to camp here at Skateraw. The memorial was re-erected in 1980 by members of the Cannongate Boys Club in memory of the founder warden, The Very Rev Dr Ronald Selby Wright, with whom many of the boys camped here on these shores at Skateraw.

From Skateraw I took the high path towards Torness which has fantastic views looking down below & out to sea, from here I spotted a grey heron stalking the rock pools looking for something to eat, such majestic looking birds.

Now down onto the coastal path which goes around the power station & there were half a dozen cormorants sitting basking on the docking pillars. These birds are amazing hunters, being a fly fisherman myself I often see cormorants targeting the trout fisheries where I fish, spotting them more so in the winter months when the sea is rough, once they're under water they're up again in no time with a trout in their beak, and I've seen trout in the region of 2lb turned in their beaks & swallowed head first whole ! Their stomach acid must kill the fish instantly as a fish of that weight is solid muscle & very strong which I reckon must be the same weight if not heavier that the bird itself so a quick dispatch must be critical for the sake of the birds own well being.

Around & passing the water inlet where 42 cubic metres per second (555,000 gallons per minute ) of water are drawn into the power station for cooling purposes.

At the lifeboat dock the low winter sun was casting a nice light onto the concrete dolos.
17,000 of these blocks were made here at Torness, this system was developed in Africa & originates from the word 'dolosse' meaning the animal knucklebones used by Kaffir witch doctors in divining.
There are two types of dolos at Torness, weighing in at 5.4 tons for the wall itself & the larger 13 ton blocks for the breakwater. Their distinctive shape dissipates wave energy five times as effectively as rock of the same weight.

I watched a couple of creel boats hauling their catch of lobsters on board, it looks like the idyllic job when the sea is calm like today but it's not always as nice as this.

Off I go again following the coastal perimeter but this time taking the upper walkway a better option for bad weather but it also has better views being just that little bit higher up.
Passing the water outlet as the spent water used for cooling re-enters the sea 10 degrees hotter than it went in, no fishermen here today unusually, there's normally at least a couple of folk fishing here at any time of the year fishing for mullet.

As I approached the eastern side of Torness with Thorntonloch beach coming into view there was a fog further along the coast on the beach where the fresh water Thornton burn enters the sea, it looked really eerie & I think it must have been caused by the water temperature difference from the warmer fresh water to the cooler sea water.
 I love this beach it's normally very peaceful, quiet & spotlessly clean, today other than a dog walker I had the whole beach to myself just the way I like it.

Leaving the beach behind as I followed the coastal path for a short distance before crossing the A1 again to head inland.

Another sprout field but this one has already been picked, all that remains are the sprout stocks & leaves which the sheep make short work of, that's if the strong winds we are getting at the moment don't blow all the leaves out of the field first & some of the hedges already look like Christmas trees with sprout leaves as baubles. I love the smell of freshly harvested sprout fields as well as turnip fields, I think on the other hand that the smell the sheep will be releasing from their rear end with all those sprouts might be not so pleasant though :-/

As I rode along the country roads I was just waiting on the tyres deflating as a lot of the hawthorn hedgerows have been cropped, luckily though it never happened.

Straying from the country roads to a little rat run I like to use & even at this time of year nature can produce a warmth of hedgerow colour with the bright red berries from the holly & the sunny yellow flowers on the gorse bushes.

Last wee push for home as I cross over the Tor bridge with the Thornton burn flowing downstream to the sea carving out all sorts of interesting shapes from the soft sandstone rock & before I know it I'm back in Innerwick for a quick coffee then wash the bike so it's ready to rock'n'roll for another day.
A short but nice hour or so out on the bike beats sitting on the couch & I can't see myself getting out for another blast before the big day so I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas & I hope under your tree will be lots of biking goodies to play with, I'm hoping to find a Norco,Yeti or Santa Cruz under mine but I can't see that happening but who knows maybe I have been a good boy :-)
Merry Crimbo all.