The students returned noisily from half term today, and at break I found myself in the middle of a large and amiable group of fifth year boys, who not having seen each other for ten days felt the need to catch up with each other’s gossip, gaming scores and new phones. We have plenty of seats, but they prefer to stand – possibly so that it’s easier to get in my way! I was feeling a bit corralled, being only five foot two, whereas most of them are six feet or above (some are very much above), and it had got to the point where conversations were actually happening over my head, so I snapped, exasperatedly, “For goodness sake, sit down! It’s like being in a thicket.”

They all sat down, quite quickly, and then one of them said very quietly and in quite an aggrieved and plaintive way “Are you calling us thick?”.

So then, of course, I had to sit down and have a conversation about language and meanings (and respect – I would never denigrate them and they should know that). At least they didn’t get grumpy and strop off before I looked up the definition of thicket for them, which appropriately I did on someone’s new phone, but only so he could show off his voice recognition app.

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It’s below freezing now, and my feet are cold already

The clocks only changed last weekend, but already it feels like we have moved forward a seaimageson. Tonight it was dusk by the time we were arriving at the climbing arena and full dark by the time we left to come home. It’s time to find my hand warmers and hoody for belaying – Handsome will need to find some baffies…

It was a cold and clear night as we drove home, with a sky full of stars and the most gorgeous crescent moon, which I couldn’t possibly take a photo of because a) I was in a moving car b) there was way too much ambient light and c) my camera isn’t good enough. So I found one that looks just like it.

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Happiness is when your kitchen smells of ginger and oatmeal


I have spent today (a particularly wet, grey and dreary Monday holiday) working my way through my things-to-do list, and number six on the list said ‘bake’, I promise it did!

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Cliffs, high winds and mushrooms…

It’s hard to believe that we walked two days of the Jersey Coast in October – the photos look like some sort of summer day on a Caribbean island with turquoise seas and golden sands. In fact, on the first day we had some pretty fierce winds (the news said 70mph, but I don’t think they were quite that bad) and some absolutely soaking squalls – luckily it was a good drying day! It was a glorious walk, every corner you turned brought a new view, and there was hardly anyone else around. We ate crab and mussels, more crab and sea bass… and enjoyed the stunning scenery and the easy walking, and were very grateful to my brother who happily dropped us off and picked us up from wherever we ended up.

day one – 14km (approx, my sat nav doesn’t work on Jersey) from St Ouen to Greve de Lecq

day two – 19km including the extra bit to Devil’s Hole, from Greve de Lecq to Bouley Bay

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That’s a lizard in the corner

imageI hesitate to ever call a speed wall cute – they are impossible challenges for very, very fit people (although quite fun for the rest of us to watch). BUT, the clever route setters at EICA decided that the younger kids should be able to have a go, so they built this… A cute kiddie’s speed wall. How good is that?

I still wouldn’t be able to do it, even if I stood on the snail, and using the ladder is apparently considered cheating. Spoil-sports.

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Season of mists…

Today was a holiday for us, some sort of September pagan ritual lost in the mists of time no doubt, so we celebrated by taking three tents in for repair. The little darlings are rough on kit, and interestingly it’s never ever their fault, the tent is always damaged when they got it (even although I check it before it goes out!) The only tent repair place in Central Scotland is in Musselburgh, which is on the East Coast, so we reckoned at least we’d be able to do a bit of coastal path, or possibly John Muir Way after the chores…

The rain hit us about fifteen feet from the front door. By the time we were the other side of Edinburgh it was quite obvious that those mists of time were fully and firmly settled in for the day and we weren’t going to be able to see a thing through the Haar – so we went for a walk anyway.

Gullane Point
We walked to Gullane Point where we could hear the sea quite clearly beneath us although we had to go right to the edge to see it, and then we walked back along the sands of Aberlady Bay. Through the mist we saw sea buckthorn (which I had to look up because I didn’t know what it was), a small lost frog, eider ducks, redshanks and golfers. As Handsome said, they must have had luminous balls…

7.3km, although walking through the sand was hard, and I probably deserve more kilometerage for it!

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Finding the remote places

After a summer of only just holding it together (but luckily we have holiday insurance, good family and patience) today Handsome and I made the first baby steps back into walking. We had good intentions of going for an out-and-back in a place quite close to us – no big hills or terrifically difficult terrain, just a nice low-level fairly even path… So, being us, we reached the turn back point and decided to turn it into a circular! Little Sparta circular It was gorgeously remote, you could stand still and hear nothing, apart from Handsome’s rucksack squeaking, my heavy breathing and the odd distant sheep – it’s hard to believe that you can still walk away from the world quite so easily in the central belt of Scotland. We saw one other walker heading in the opposite direction from us, a couple of others on top of some distant hills, and a farmer on a quad feeding the odd sheep (they really were quite peculiar). And there was the obligatory signpost in the middle of nowhere.

10.5km circular Little Sparta, Lingy Knowe, Burngrange. I wonder what Lingy means?

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Mountains, lakes and wine – straight down the country and then turn left

Finally, after several worrying set-backs and sleepless nights (not me – I sleep the sleep of the innocent and unsciatic) we are going to risk all and go on holiday as planned. Handsome’s chiropractor says he’ll be fine, so we’re going to France tomorrow. As long as I get him there I don’t care, after all, leaving him there is an option if it’s too painful for him to get back in the car! He even speaks French, c’est bien, non?

The hardest bit for him is going to be the journey down, normally Handsome does most of the driving while I read my way through the journey (and the first of my eighteen books*). This time he will be relegated to the passenger seat for most of the time. I have an emergency plan involving ear-plugs, dark glasses and tranquillisers… restraints if necessary. I hope he survives.

*I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough, it’s less than one and a half books a day, and I might need to borrow Mouse’s Philosophy texts if I run out!

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Any excuse

I freely admit to having a bit of an issue with books – perhaps more of a habit? I’m going to have to curtail this a bit though, I’ve only got a fortnight’s holiday and even if I read from dawn to dusk for the whole two weeks I’m not going to manage to read all the books that I’ve bought ‘for my holidays’. In my defence there do seem to be a lot of new things by my favourite authors around just now, as well as a whole load of pretty irresistible reviews, and I’ve got a bit of a backlog in my net galley as well (although that counts as work – honestly). Do I need an excuse? No probably not!

As I don’t actually go away for another nine days I’m going to have to bar myself from book shops and the internet or the stack* will become unmanageable.

*collective noun for books.

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Twitchy passenger

Handsome is a dreadful passenger – he sits there and twitches, winces, flinches, brakes… But it doesn’t matter, I still drove us to Peebles. We had a plan to go for a nice gentle flat walk alongside the river Tweed, so that if his back twinged too much we could just turn around and go for coffee in the town centre (which has a choice of very acceptable coffee shops). Well, we started off on that path, and then Handsome decided that he could probably manage as far as Glentress, which was fine because a) they have coffee and b) there are bikes to look at. Not something that I particularly appreciate, but Handsome likes to covet other people’s bikes…

After coffee (and walnut cake) he decided that we would not either retrace our steps or get the bus back, both of which were perfectly reasonable options, but we would instead carry on up through the walkers paths in Glentress (lots of the bikers don’t even know they exist), so we headed on to the Buzzard’s nest car park and back down Janet’s Brae to Peebles – so much for a gentle flat stroll! His back seems to be OK… although he did let me drive him back as well.

  • Peebles circular via Glentress – longer than expected at 11.4 km
  • Cumulative total 138.8 km

Walk 5.7.14 And today we went and had lunch in a pub in the sunshine – mussels and chips – fantastic!

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