Monday, 30 August 2010

Lammermuir Hills

Hopes Reservoir Dam, Lammermuir hills. This Da...Image via Wikipedia
Had a run tonight over the Lammermuir hills in the glorious late August sunshine. Frank, Harvey and I set off from the road that leads to Hopes reservoir and headed east up a path on the side of a hill, which heads in the direction of Hope House. We got onto the higher hills after skirting around an area near the tennis court. From there on it was ‘going up’ all the way. Harvey was in his element, dashing off in every direction after hare, rabbit, grouse and pheasant scents. Fortunately, I had him on the end of a lead but that so he didn’t dash off over some distant hill, but it was a bit tricky being pulled this way and that and trying to run. We took a circular route over up to the top of the hills on sheep tracks and through heather and were rewarded with fantastic views of the farmland and coastal strip. Nearer to hand was a grand view of Hopes house, which is built in the Adams style and is hidden in a cirque of hills. It looks like something out of a BBC classic drama… I wonder who lives there. We were careful not to get too far away from the track from Hopes reservoir because the nights are fair drawing in. By the time we got back into the valley and along the road, it was dusk. I haven’t run in those conditions for a long time and although I managed to fall down a hole, I got back to the car in one piece.
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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Running at Dunbar

Went along to Dunbar running club last night and had a run with Neil. We went out along the tracks through the John Muir country park and followed them through to the North Berwick road. From there we followed the old A1 back to the round about to West Barnes and then along the side of the new A1 and back along the outskirts of Dunbar to the Halhill centre. It was 10 miles at a moderate pace and I felt quite good as I got into the running. I’m still getting a swollen and achy Achilles but it calms down after the run.
Now that I have hit the dreaded 60, I have been thinking about setting out my stall and following up art and writing. All of these things take up time so any way of combining them would be useful. I guess that I will continue to focus on one and then another, although art is stimulating my imagination the most at present.

I got another book out of the  library yesterday. It is all about using pastels and looks well thought out and interesting. Must make sure that I arrange the time to use it before it is due back.

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Tuesday, 24 August 2010


My Secondary School  years were spent attending Bishop Ullathorne School in Coventry. One of the favourite subjects for myself and my mates, were comics and in particular American Marvel Comics. I loved Superman, Spiderman and Batman and spent many boring classes reading them below the level of the desk where the teacher couldn’t see me. There was a healthy trade in ‘swops’ so the supply of comics was good.

When I was even younger I was a regular reader of ‘The Victor,’ which I recall had a lot of stories about heroes of the Second World War. A regular theme was a Lancaster bomber being hit while on active duty and limping back to Britain with a crew of brave men. Towards the end of my school career and for several years after that, I was a regular subscriber to the NME. I even had it delivered to the house. When I look back on these early literary influences, I suspect that .the art work in them were at least as appealing as the story itself. More recently I have rediscovered the fact that I am still a sucker for a bit of BLAM and KERPOW! I made this startling discovery when I read an article about a graphic novel based on the recent film ‘Inception’ and I thought… ‘I like writing and I like drawing and painting, maybe I should look into this a bit more.’ Naturally, there are bucket loads of stuff on the web about graphic novels, so I got into that, then I went down to the local library. To my astonishment, they were doing a graphic novel theme. So, I came away with a boot load of books on the subject. One such book was a graphic novel, based on a story by Oscar WildeThe Picture of Dorian Gray,’ adapted and drawn by Edington and Culbard. This was the only book written by the famous playwright. It is a classic gothic-horror story about a young man who sells his soul to keep his youth… only the picture gets older… CRIPES BATEMAN THAT’S EVIL.

Looks like comics and graphic novels are back in my life again

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Friday, 20 August 2010

Normal Service will be resumed… probably

I’ve had that ‘oh no I can’t be 60’ feeling this week, but much to my surprise, I have enjoyed hitting the big 60 immensely. It  involved lots of good wishes from all sorts of people and getting together with loved ones, friends and colleagues for meals and celebrations… and there's more to come!
Even so I have managed three pretty hard but worthwhile runs. On Monday I went around my favourite river-side run just outside Haddington. I was with Frank and we went at a fairly good lick for about 7 miles. Wednesday saw the annual Carfrea mill to Gifford run over the Lammermuir Hills. This involves taking a bus out to Carfrae Mill Hotel and running along a B road to the old drovers road and following it over the hills and back along quiet country roads to Gifford. En route you see some of the best views in East Lothian. Last night saw the final of the summer series at the John Muir country park, just outside Dunbar. This involves an eyeballs out circuit through the woods and along the tidal estuary and when you have done it once, you do it again. Anne and Stuart Hay do a great job in organising this event and laying on a top class bbq afterwards. I like this  event and the series because they are informal and get the local clubs together. Last night there were awards to the series winners, who have completed at least four races and have the lowest number of points (for race places) over the series. So I am now in need of a little recuperation, but pleased to be back in the fray again.

Last Sunday I spent a glorious day in the sunshine at Whitesands beach and finished off a sketch of Barnes Ness Light House I had started last April. Again it was done with the magic stabilo pens.

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Sunday, 15 August 2010

Haddinton half marathon

There was a good turn out at the Haddington half marathon yesterday, no doubt the online entry this year made the difference with an estimated field of over 200. The Haddington half is well known for scorching hot weather that it is usually run in and the early weather forecast predicted another hot day. In the lead up to the 2 pm start it was cool and cloudy and I thought the conditions would suit the runners, but soon after the start the clouds parted and the sun came out, making it hot and difficult for the slower runners.

My marshall spot was at the end on Mill Wynd, just before the end of the race, so I got a good view of the runners as they finished. The winner from Cambuslang was way ahead of the field and looked comfortable on the run in. Callum Reid, a HELP runner was fourth with Ian Sills, Dunbar right behind him. I didn’t get back into the field to see the presentations, will look for the results on HELP’s web site with interest.

This is Waterloo bridge which is on the road out of Haddington, the runners go over it near the start and finish of the race.

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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Let's go to school

Those of you who have read my blog over the last few months will have noticed that I’m developing my interest in painting and drawing. At this time of the year there are a lot of opportunities to take adult evening classes in these subjects. The problem is deciding which one(s) to pick. I have been pouring over the courses available in East Lothian and just to make it more difficult, I have had a look at what is available at the Poldrate Arts and Crafts Centre (PACC,) in Haddington. Thankfully, I have come to a decision. I am going to sign up for the Acrylic painting classes at PACC. I have never painted with acrylic, but I have read about it and am intrigued. I also fancy the painting and drawing classes on Tuesday afternoons at PACC, so that shouldn’t interfere too much with other things. On the adult learning side I have paired the options down to Life Drawing at North Berwick and Portraits which are on a couple of week ends in October. Looks like September to December could be busy.

Visited Whitesands beach yesterday, not to paint it this time, but to have a wee swim. I wasn’t the only one. My granddaughter and her friend, my son and two daughters and two dogs all got in. It was breath taking cold to start off with, but amazing how quickly you adapt to it and you are left me feeling very exhilarated. There was only one after affect that I know of- n Harvey, who must have drunk too much sea water and ate too much sand has had very runny diarrhoea today!

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

North Berwick Law Race

A view of North Berwick law from the seafront ...Image via Wikipedia
It's good to get out while the long summer nights are still with us. Last night saw me in North Berwick taking part in  the North Berwick Law race. This is a classic race that has been going on for many years. It has gained in popularity to the point where there were 250 taking part. Not a bad effort considering it is a mid week race which starts at 7.30 pm. I spoke to someone who had come over from Dumfermline and judging by the club vest, people were taking part from far and wide. The race starts at the harbour and takes the most direct route to the law through the lodge gardens and past the leisure centre. Then it is walking pace up to the top of the Law,  avoiding suicidal runners who are on their way down. There were a few people at the top who gave me a good shout, which I was grateful for. The way down a bit on the treacherous side, so I basically went down like a nanny. Near the bottom , I took a 'short cut'  and was overtaken by Ruth from our club who did the sensible thing and stayed on the  proper path. I was grateful for being back on track and road and picked up my pace back through the park and down the road to the harbour. The support around the course was terrific and really helped to keep you going. After that was the reward of fish and chips and a pint!!
I went along to Tom's session tonight for a different kind of running. A track session of which the main set was 200m run, 100 walk, 400 run, 100 walk x 6. My legs were quite achy but I enjoyed the session.
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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Running and Painting

Running and painting - I have been doing both recently but not at the same time. Went along to Musselburgh last night and ran in the summer series race. It is a lot of fun because I know the other people who run and it is a nice relaxed affair. I was given a good handicap again, so I appeared near the top of the list, something that doesn't happen very often. The next and last of the summer series is at Dunbar in a couple of weeks time, followed by a BBQ not to be missed!

This is a painting I have been meaning to do for over a year. It is a at a village called Ellenbeich where there used to be a big slate mining industry. The nearest big town in Oban.

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Sunday, 1 August 2010

Surfing at Belhaven

Bridge to nowhere, Belhaven Bay. At high tide ...Image via Wikipedia
Spent some time on Belhaven beach on Saturday, trying out surfing! I was given a surf lesson for a birthday present about three years ago and for some insane reason I took up Sally’s offer to give me a lesson.

First thing to say is that the waves were pretty high, so getting the long-board through them was no easy task. But after getting through them I was instructed to jump on the board, lie down and look over my shoulder to see the huge wave coming up behind me and then start front crawl with my arms so that I caught the wave and got carried along on the crest of it back to beach… then battle my way back through the waves. It was great fun and you move at quite a speed, but I was taking quite a bashing from the waves, so I decided that Harvey needed some attention. He is getting to be a bit of a sea dog now, and from not liking water and being scared of the waves, he is now throwing himself into the sea and swimming after the ball like a good un.

The next part of my lesson involved getting my right knee up on the board and my left foot and leg up and at right angles  to it. I managed the right knee, but the left leg and foot will have to wait for another day.

After all that Harvey and I were quite knackered and retired to Dunbar for some well deserved dog biscuits and  coffee (and cake.)

While there I popped down to the harbour and tried out a sketch with my new Stabilo pens and pen brush on a boat that took my fancy.

This morning I met Tom Harley's running group near Ormiston and my upper body was aching all over and especially the arms where the waves had been pummelling me as I tried to get the long board through them. You may think that you run with your legs and that’s true but this morning they came out in sympathy with my arms! At least it made me forget about my Achilles tendon.

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