Cum On Feel The Noize

As Shane sets off on another decidedly cool bike ride, I eventually get round to writing. With no tandem in Edinburgh, I have not been on any bike rides. I did accompany him in a walk to the bike shop to buy new cycle gear. He is very pleased with their comfort and warmth. On the way back from the shop, we passed over the canal in Edinburgh at the Leamington bridge.

Icy waters on the canal


The weather has fluctuated in temperature a great deal, so after trying to escape the cold in the art galleries one week, we moved to more walking. To avoid slippery soggy slopes I have chosen the relative shelter and mud-free zone of the canal a few times. Having been quiet at the start of the year, we started to see several boats, twos, fours and singles. The rowers we saw have to lift or lower or pull in oars to allow the others going the other way to pass, and, like a narrow boat are too long to turn until they reach specially widened turning point. I imagine they had also to pull in their oars for the widebeam community support boat, All Aboard, to pass. I would hope it is a considerate boat with its strapline declaring, “navigating life together”.

NB All Aboard, rowers and their trainer on the towpath of the union canal, Edinburgh.

We have enjoyed the canal a few times, also incorporating a park or a pond or a coffee stop into it and have seen plenty of rowers out and a lot of familiar and less familiar birds on the pond. I was excited to see mergansers and tufted ducks and enjoyed the furore as a man arrived with lots of food. He offered that I could feed the geese and swans by hand and I said I got many a chance to do this on our boat and you had to watch your fingers. He showed me injuries he had sustained on his thumb! I was happy to be an audience rather than a participant.

Shane referred to a walk with Jude that we had in glorious weather. I had enjoyed it before and asked her if we could repeat it with Shane to introduce him to it. Bryn accompanied us and when Shane went to investigate an archway, Bryn remarked that the signage may have been to protect us from his overconfident speculation rather than the Shetland cattle that were kept in the field on the other side. He has inherited his father’s wit.

Beware of bull and Shane at the gate

Although the field had frost the sun was out and melting it elsewhere giving a great views with the cloudless sky, both of the nearby hills and across Edinburgh and well beyond. It made it worth the effort of the steep slope to the higher levels. This route not only gives different views but is altogether quieter with fewer people. It is noticeable when you are next to cars again, how noisy it is.

View across East Lothian

January is also the time when Seville marmalade oranges are in the shop, so I have made a batch. My recipe claimed it would make 12 jars but somehow I made 15. I almost ran out of jars. I meant to give Jude a jar when we went on a walk, but forgot to pack at the last minute. 

Many jars of marmalade

Bryn and Nye have both been doing a bit of sewing with a friend. Nye wanted to make a costume for a LARP weekend – kthe gloves I made are to be incorporated and now his friend wants Tudor stockings, a much bigger challenge. I have not embarked on that yet, but I have bought wool for a baby cardigan….too many projects to juggle.

Bryn did sewing that looked like he was readying himself for Burns Night but in fact it was that several workmates in his team had been given penguins and some had crafted individual outfits and being a lone Scot in the workforce he decided to give his a kilt.

While he is taking advantage of an Edinburgh friend for sewing support, I have had an evening with Beata, to help with knitting. She found suitable wool while we were on a short walk, and she has knitted before but a long time ago and wants to re-start. The only hitch is that she learnt in Poland where the knitting style is different and her knowledge of knitting vocabulary is in Polish and it is an interesting process working out which words make sense to explain techniques, when the style and terminology are so different. I look forward to seeing how it works out. Her whippet Alfie greeted me on the stairs but is a quiet dog who slept in his basket peacefully throughout without a single bark or attempting to chew our trailing balls of wool. What a well behaved fellow!

Not so quiet as usual were recent mornings where, we guess, the friendly neighbours above us, normally quiet, may be having their floors sanded, starting earlier than we usually rise and continuing through breakfast. I doesn’t seem to last all day, just when we are sleepy!

Shane has had another treatment with no issues and it all feels very routine. I booked a dental appointment to coincide as I knew we would be in Edinburgh that day. I am not a fan and find that my mouth usually feels sorer in the dentist chair than it has at any other time – this time was was no exception and was worse than usual – even though it was just a check up. The noise alone is painful without the twinging from the instruments. The the discomfort continued through the day. I was good there was some left over haggis as an easy lunch that needed no chewing. I was glad of a distraction of a planned walk while Shane was at the hospital and enjoyed reprising the walk with Jude but leading myself so I could be confident to show it to someone else. We had to pause for golfers on the Prestonfield course to drive and nipped across quickly to be out of their way. They didn’t shout a warning to walkers and we didn’t ring the bell there either. I am not sure who is supposed to ring it. There is another clanging device on another golf course at Craig Lockhart.

I looked forward to the half pint and nibbles at The Sheep Heid but the still sensitive mouth was less eager than last time. Still I was very pleased with the walk and company, though I still forgot that jar of marmalade! Sunset was around the corner as we headed away from Duddingston.

Lane in Duddingston, heading home

I still had a sensitive mouth the next day and chose to have salt porridge for lunch. It is a nostalgic taste as we always had porridge as a savoury dish when I grew up.I like the sound it makes cooking which was described by my parents as ‘Ullapool, ullapool ullapool’ when boiling fast and when thich and only just boiling slowly and the porridge rises gently and busts with a gentle whistle it says “Poolewe, poolewe poolewe”. It slipped down very easily and sustained me on my walk with Sandra. I was able to remember the walk to repeat the same route, and we took a turn round Dr Neil’s Garden, despite, the knowledge of a closed cafe. We were amazed to see a good variety of flowers so early in the year.

This weekend is the Big Garden Birdwatch and to record typical garden birds. Last year I did it twice. I started by doing an hour in a marina then realised that was wrong as I had only recorded waterfowl. I wasn’t sure when to do it this year but looking out the window, I saw three different birds visiting the birdbath, a sparrow, a blue tit and a robin. This was very unusual. Soon I was also witness to the atypical appearance of 4 long tailed tits. I don’t think I have ever seen them in my front or back garden. They revisited several times. I started to keep a tally but after the first flurry of activity, the bird appearances were few and far between. The arrival of post, delivery drivers and the neighbour and his dog, probably didn’t help. There was a noisy robin, as per usual, which I could hear from inside the double glazing. I tried putting Merlin on the outside window ledge to listen for more and despite the frequent noise of cars, it did detect the robin and blue tits and, to my surprise , a coal tit. I thought I had seen one the other day but wasn’t sure. The coal tit remained heard but not seen, however, so doesn’t count for the big garden birdwatch I fear. I might try somewhere else tomorrow.