In the eyes of the gloomy beholder

Well we nearly got out on the bikes yesterday. It was discussed briefly but the gloomy skies and cold blustery wind were all it took to convince us that a walk would be more fun. It wasn’t. It’s quite shocking sometimes how your mood can smother every glimmer of brightness.

We headed for the nearest access to the canal about three miles from home and as we drove down the quiet country lanes a succession of cyclists in brightly coloured winter outfits acted like a powerful search light exposing our guilt at having left the bikes in the shed. Each rider we passed seemed to drive home the message that there was absolutely no reason for not being out cycling. I think that’s where the rot set in for me. Once on the towpath it quickly became clear what the effect that so much rain has had in the last few weeks and we were squelching through glutinous mud almost ankle deep. After a few hundred meters we turned back in the hope that the path in the other direction might be a bit drier. It was slightly easier underfoot but the cold wind was now squarely in our face making it difficult to stay warm even at a brisk walking pace.

There were three brief encounters with wrens which fluttered into the undergrowth like tiny little balls of rusty fluff but other than them, even the birds seemed to have deemed the day to be not worth bothering with. A few ducks huddled in a field adjacent to the water but the remains of ice floating on the surface was obviously enough to put them off going for a dip. The narrow boats moored along the bank looked sad and neglected as they listed in the water; lifeless and unloved under a blanket of last autumn’s debris. Branches ripped from the trees in the recent winter storms rose from the water like the dead arms of cadavers frozen in a last desperate cry for help.

Library photo reflecting a better mood

Library photo reflecting a better mood

I’m sure that in other circumstances I would have noticed all manner of signs of spring but the grey, damp blanket of sky casting it’s  gloomy shadow over everything seemed to blind me to such things. All I could see was black mud, dark sinister water and bare boned trees reaching up and touching the drab ceiling with skinny skeletal fingers. It was a bleak, hopeless scene almost entirely devoid of life. Or so it seemed to me.

After about a mile we turned tail to get some relief from the cutting wind and made our way back to the car and the promise of warmth, home-made soup and a lazy afternoon listening to the rain rattling on the windows. Sometimes it’s just hard to see the beauty and I brought the camera home unused for the second day in a row. I know the splendour is there, I’ve seen it before, but sometimes on a day like today, the problem is in the beholder.

Scotland. Twice.

We’ve had a bit of rain, a lot of hills and some really cold winds over the last couple of days so it has been interesting to see how it affects our overall enthusiam. I’m pleased to say that whilst it’s easy to get a bit down in the moment we are generally still very much up.
At Longtown we had terrific heavy rain during the night which is only an issue in that it tends to wake us up sometimes but we were lucky to get away in the dry and high tailed it into Gretna propelled by a strong easterly wind. The gloomy weather got the better of us and we took refuge in a cafe for a full cooked breakfast to lift the mood and fuel us for the day. By any standards it was a poor quality affair but relativity is everything and to us it was Scotlands finest cuisine and we relished every morsel. And talking of Scotland, this second visit in twenty four hours was still exciting and we zoomed along propelled by exuberence, eggs and bacon and high winds.
At Annan (I so wanted it to be twinned with June June, or Sally Sally or something) we detoured to the ‘harbour’ because I was becoming concious that we weren’t really taking in much detail as we travelled. It seems that Annan had a fine harbour and a proud ship building tradition many years ago but now it’s a muddy river creek with some very tired looking boats in it.

Annan 'harbour'

Annan ‘harbour’

Caerlaverock Castle was much more impressive even if it is in need of a bit of redecoration. Well, rebuilding might help as well. Still it was the subject of an exciting siege in 1300 when the English camped outside it and set up all their castle sieging equipment. It must have been impressive because the occupants just threw in the towel and came out to surrender. I bet that was a real disappointment for the spectators. It was here that we found Ted and Lorraine Crook paying far too much attention to our parked bikes outside the tea shop. It turned out that Ted has the same model as Gill’s except that his isn’t bright pink surprisingly. Ted offered to take a photo for us and was very pleased that we also had exactly the same camera as him. It was nice chatting and explaining our trip to them but we left before it turned out that we shared the same mother or something.
Nice cycle paths along the river Nith took us into Dumfries

Flirting with Dumfries

Flirting with Dumfries

but we only flirted briefly with the outskirts before heading south down the opposite bank of the river. This business of travelling up and down estuaries will no doubt become a whole lot more familiar over the next few months.
Home for the evening was Southerness Holiday Park. It was actually a small township of static vans complete with ‘The Venue’ entertainment complex. Tonight’s highlight was bingo followed by guess the TV theme tune quiz. We didn’t partake of either but played the miserable geeks in the corner making use of the free WiFi. It was a very cold night but we knew nothing of it as we slept soundly in our lovely warm sleeping bags.

Bluebells are everywhere

Bluebells are everywhere

Oooh er missus!

Oooh er missus!

Kirkudbright harbour (working still)

Kirkudbright harbour (working still)

Tonight we are enjoying a beautiful sunny evening at Kirkcudbright and I will leave Gill to tell you all about our disappearing underwear later.

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