Monday 31 July 2017

Sunshine & Showers

The American writer Bill Bryson, who lives in this country, said that he heard a weather forecast that went something like "it will be cloudy with showers and some brighter intervals". He noted that this could be read out every day in Britain and seldom be wrong. Well, today was one of these days. But we are nothing if not used to changeable weather so it won't spoil a day out, will it?
I took a selection of waterproofs. Luckily it never got so bad that they were needed.

My plan was to head into Dumfries & Galloway on the minor road through Glentrool Forest. My first problem was finding it. Junctions with no direction signs seems the norm on the back roads in Ayrshire.

Found it!

It got dull so I switched on the HDR (high dynamic range) setting

The Solway Firth near Creetown

I don't know a lot about agriculture but it seems that giant pink marshmallows are grown in this area.

In Kirkcudbright there is an early (1926) reinforced concrete bridge over the River Dee

Beach huts?, I'm not sure there's a beach here.

A "99" from the Mr Whippy van. I don't think I've seen one of these vans in years.

MacLellan's Castle.....

........with its own Rapunzel

HDR panorama

It's rare it happens but I don't think I'm ever been on this road before.

Monday 24 July 2017

Happy Campers

I took a run up the West Highlands today. I passed Connel Bridge and went for a walk over it for the view. I spotted this outfit. It's a Ural with sidecar and caravan. It had a foreign number plate, white, so maybe German.

"Five wheels on my wagon and I'm still rollin' along"

I've featured this bridge previously. It crosses Loch Etive at the Falls of Lora east of Oban and close to the point the loch joins the sea. It was built in 1903 as a railway bridge but converted to a road bridge when the line closed.

There's a good flow of water from the loch heading to the sea

Looking east up Loch Etive


Thanks to "Mr Combo" for identifying this couple. They are from South Eastern France, so a good way from home. 

An account of a trip to Norway here
video here

Monday 17 July 2017

Return to the Lochs

A couple of years ago I posted about a run to the Lochs. I thought it was about time to do this again.

Lake of Menteith

Loch Lubnaig

The road on the south side of Loch Earn is narrow but very quiet

Loch Earn

This duck seemed unconcerned about me getting close to her & her young

Statue in Loch Earn at St Fillans

The blue flowers on this shrub had a strong scent. I think it is the Butterfly Bush (Buddleja Davidii) imported from China as an ornimental plant, now in the wild.

Loch Tay panorama

Loch Tay

Loch Rannoch - it was breezy here, making the water choppy

Unusually for me I made lunch to have on the road. This rock provided a table with a view.

River Tummel

This bridge over the River Tay in Aberfeldy is one of my favourites. The four obelisks framing the central arch are an interesting architectural feature.

Castle Menzies near Aberfeldy

Thursday 13 July 2017

In the News - Mince on Toast

What is it with the Yanks and British food? The foody website Eater reviewed the dish and described it as "a quintessentially British comfort classic". Trouble is no one this country has ever heard of it far less eaten it.

To be fair the dish does actually exist. Eater tried it at the Quality Chop House in East London. Minced beef is served on dripping (animal fat) soaked bread with watercress. This gruesome mess sells for £16.

After the furore New Zealand admitted ownership of the dish.

Wednesday 12 July 2017

MRI Scan

Question 11. Have you had any incidents where bullets, shrapnel or other pieces of metal have entered your body?

That's not a question you get asked every day but then it's not every day you get an MRI scan.

It's six weeks since I had my accident. My broken collar bone is healing nicely and I thought they'd forgotten about the whole brain damage thing. Thinking about it they didn't take a lot of interest in the suspect patches on the old grey matter found in my CT scan. I didn't get any tests re my mental state except for this conversation:

Doctor - do you know where you are?
Me -       Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride
Doctor - yeah, you seem ok.

Actually maybe he was the guy who came round with the tea. Anyway I got called back in to be looked at by the finest technology the NHS has. 

On the subject of the CT scan (computed tomography) it is imaging using multiple X rays. I made the mistake of looking it up on Wikipedia. I learned that my brain would have received enough ionising radiation to bake a medium sized potato.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) has the advantage of using magnetic fields and radio waves to create images. These have no known detrimental effects. It was a lovely day so I went to hospital by bike. I hid my helmet in the top box. I didn't want them knowing I was riding about. I mean, no one every specifically said "don't ride your bike" but I though it was something I'd better keep to myself.

The operation was a model of efficiency. Without delay I was in my smock and lying on a table with my head clammed in a kind of mask to hold it steady. I was moved into the torus shaped device and the scanning began. It is quite noisy, like being in a small room with a washing machine and compressor running. I had headphones to receive instructions. They also played music, "The Best of Sting", I think. I'm not sure if this made the process better or worse. After about five String songs I was out. The nurse administered some intravenous dye and I was back in for another five minutes. And that's it.

"Find anything nasty?" I asked. "I can't tell you even if I did, I'm not a doctor" said the radiographer. 

"Best of Sting" ok for you, Sir?...Nooooooo!

Monday 10 July 2017

Brig o'Turk Meet Up

We had a little meet up today at Brig o'Turk. Jim had proposed getting together after he bought a Honda CBF250 like mine. Malcolm came along on his MZ Rotax 500.

Our meeting place was the tearoom

Despite the damp weather there was a lots of bikes here today

Our bikes


A curiosity in the village is a tree with an old bike embedded in it

Getting ready to go

Brig o'Turk is located in the Trossachs. This is a beautiful area…..You'll just have to take my word for that.

Thursday 6 July 2017

A Grey(t) Day Out

It has been dull and cool here recently but, for the sake of my sanity, I had to get out on the bike. So I wrapped up and headed for the coldest place I know.

The villages of Leadhills and Wanlockhead are the highest and (probably) coldest in the country. Surprisingly they aren't in the Highlands but only 36 miles south of Glasgow in the Southern Uplands. They owe their existence to the gold, silver & lead, that were mined in this area.


Miners' cottages

As in other places wind turbines are a contentious issue

The graveyard contains the tomb of John Taylor who allegedly lived to the age of 137

His story, and I'm sure it's just a story

The miners' library is the oldest subscription library in the country

The red roads of Lanarkshire. The red stone comes from the Cairngryffe quarry near Biggar. I worked in the local roads department and this stone was known to be slippery in the wet. So be careful if you find yourself on a red road in the rain.

The roads in the area were quiet and pleasantly winding

You know when you're on the real back roads when there's a strip of grass up the middle

I continued on to Dumfries and then Glencaple. Here the River Nith is about to enter the Solway Firth

East of Dumfries I came across the Brow Well. The iron-rich water was once thought to be benificial for various ailments. I wasn't able to put it to the test since the well was dry.

On a bend in a back road near Lockerbie I got a fright when I met this surface dressing. This is cheap way of resurfacing the road. Stone chips are spread on a coat of bitumen. It remains slippery until the traffic has compacted it and dispersed the surplus stone.