The rain passed over early and by 8 O’clock it was looking fine, clearing skies, the strengthening wind sending the clouds scurrying on their way into the North Sea. The low morning sun glistening off the wet roads was troublesome so my sunglasses were pressed into service. The wind was beginning to strengthen and I was starting to feel the lack of winter miles in my legs, however, cycling is as much about mental strength as physical, so I reminded myself how good this strong wind was, eating away at all those extra pounds that had accumulated over the winter, and how when I turned for home the wind that was proving to be my adversary would be a driving force for a speedy homeward bounder. And so it proved, bombing along at 25kph on effortless peddles, I’m working on the ‘new me’.
Feeling good, I toasted soda bread for breakfast and I already feel the need to be out and about may walk as far as the harbour, and if I carry an umbrella with me I can have a ‘pockey hat’ ice cream under its protection and in the relative safety from marauding, mugging gulls. “Walter Triumphs over Gulls” read the headlines.
Feeling in such a good mood that I don’t want to turn on the television today, more so the depressing news, what will it be today, a US spokesperson standing behind his podium and in front of old glory telling us how many billion dollars that the American taxpayer is donation to Americas proxy war in Ukraine. Of course, the Westminster government would love to show its solidarity, in line with our Americana friends by sending a few billion dollars too, but then we need all of our, boa bees to shore up our economy that is now in meltdown. Or how China is unfit to broker, a ceasefire or advocate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, seems China is not only biased but they have an atrocious human rights record,
(Tell me again about Abu Ghraib prison, and Guantanamo, and ………..)
Our world is on fire requiring all the nations of the world to come together to solve a catastrophe equal only to nuclear war, and we have the richest nations in the world, rather than setting a good example, barely on speaking terms. Decades on from the first climate change talks – we had the Paris agreement – then the Glasgow COP(out) – the North African COP(out). Still, be positive Hamilton they did talk about future talks, whilst all the time the fire grows and is proving ever more difficult to extinguish.
As for the British media well they have no time for such silliness as climate change, they have ‘Partygate’ and the Brexit – NI deal, and how to legally send back refugees to – well, anywhere.
They talk about how much it is costing for hotel accommodation, (the symptoms) rather than concentrate on why these people risk life and limb to come here in the first place, (a cure). Why do they come? Maybe life in refugee camps, some the size of small cities, broken economies indebted to the IMF, has become intolerable. The boat people do not come here for no reason, they come because of the unbearable conditions they are being forced to live in. their plight in the main lies at the door of the rich western country who have exploited their countries for generations (and continue to do so) by war, causing destruction and disease, leading to famine, Western companies corrupting their leaders, in bed with oil companies who pay royalties directly into their private US bank accounts rather than the countries exchequer. What is the real source of their suffering? Might it not be interference by the greedy “Developed” nations, who exploit these “Third-World” nations of their natural resources, or the high-end cloth shops in Paris, London, and New York that pay sweatshop wages to girls in Taiwan to produce their goods? And in the US and UK, Goldwin Sacs, Wells Fargo, City Bank …… the money men of Wall Street who have turned all natural resources into a commodity and use computer algorithms to buy and sell them at the speed of light. These buccaneers, of the brave new world, legally steal the wealth of nations (because they make the law through their paid for politicians) and force an ever-widening gap between the filthy rich, and the filthy bairns in their mud huts in Africa, Asia, and now the streets of Scotland.
Let us hear the truth from the BBC, ITV, and Sky News, about the inequalities in our world not what the stock market is skimming off the top today. Make it possible to travel the world to work and play on a visa, travel in perfect safety by plane, boat, train or bus (no people smugglers involved, no risky leaky rubber boat crossing involved) then the government would be under no obligation to feed or house anyone, they would have to come as a visitor on a short term visa, or to work in any country, (and if they wish, apply for citizenship) pay their way, or take up employment, obliging them to pay their taxes if the second option was their choice, (we do not ask why young Australians have come to this country – only which London pub they will be working in?) so no longer a burden on the British taxpayer but an asset. Then again, it is not like we need young talented workers to fill the gaping hole in hospitals and care home staff, in IT to expand our economy…….. Past time to rethink the Tory’s policy on refugees and economic migrants into the UK, stop building refugee camps and use such ‘manna from heaven’ to defuse Britain’s demographic time bomb, year on year we hear the statistics, how the death rate in Scotland now outstrips births (despite Sturgeons Baby Box incentive) and you have to wonder how many retirees are selling up in England and moving to Scotland to take advantage of free prescriptions – adding to the demographic time bomb. Doesn’t it make you right-scunnered?
You disagree, just remember what it was like when we were part of the EU, did we not have dedicated care staff many coming from the Baltic States (new EU members) to work and take up residence in Scotland? Free travel areas were a blessing then, now we have a drawbridge mentality (taking back control) aye right? Were we then paying top dollar to agencies to supply workers (privatization by the back door) to fill the gaping holes in our NHS staff and care sector numbers? (And who will pick the berries now?) – ask the Scottish fishermen if they would still be so keen to vote for Brexit as they were conned into doing “Take back control”? Do the Tories care a shit about you industry now – or those of the lobster and crap fishermen?
Why did it change – Simply really, Wall Street and the City of London did not want the EU rules and courts the curb their money laundering and money-making systems, their market model, or make commodities (vital to us all) exempt from market forces.
Climbs down from his soapbox
Met up with a neighbour on my way back home along Market Street, she was laden down with groceries so I carried one of her bags for her. She tells me that she has not been well, seems there is a lot of illness going around City Park at this time. Her husband came to the door – he is looking very old and not well himself, ho-hum.
It was a red letter (or should that not be a red parcel) day on my return to the flat, an inflating camping/travel pillow, from my brother, I assumed by the handwriting on the package (a man of few words). I wonder if it will outperform a rolled-up jumper. The pillow is already a seasoned traveller having come from China to England and now some 500 miles further to my home in Scotland. I hope that America never carries out its threat to sanction China, (for Britain will be forced to follow suit) Oh help ma boab, what would we do then? How would Amazon survive?
The second package came from South Africa (this would only be sent at the recipients risk, and I had to sign a declaration (agree) to say I would accept those terms) and talk about a get-out-of-jail-free card. Thankfully it arrived safe and well, I’m delighted to say, and well worth the long wait, for delivery. It was (another) CD (not available in the UK) of that brilliant singing prodigy, Amira Willighagen. Amira born to of Dutch father and South African mother (and where I’m sure her natural rhythm, and unique voice comes, her voice is unbelievable for one so young and a joy to listen to.
One of the numbers on this CD is that old standard Plaisir D’Amour (where did I put those paper hankies). I have copies of this song sung by Joan Baez (I actually heard her singing this live in a concert in Shipley West Yorkshire) also by Nana Mouskouri, who is fluent in French (along with half a dozen other languages) I love her singing in German, “Weisse Rosen aus Athen”. She sings in French with all that greeeeeee trilling in the voice that the French do, and last but by no means least, Edith Piaf who brought it onto the world stage. However, this young lass well, what does one say – she sings like an angel. It would be very difficult for me to pick a favourite from this truly brilliant recording, however, I was blown away by her performance of “How Great Thou Art” truly, truly – words fail me.
Pat was at the door – a wee job for me, she had ordered large pebbles, for her plant pots to sit on; alas they were delivered in bags that she could not move far less lift – time to call in yours truly, muggings. I jest I do not mind – be but for fortune go I.
Made myself custard with the extra milk, just about to get stuck in, knock at the door, Pat once more, could I help a neighbour with her new wheelchair – seems it is temporary until she gets her electric one delivered. Simple enough to open and close but not if you can not stand without the support of a Zimmer. The chair is not one she can propel herself, so will be of little use to her unless she has a big strong man to propel it along. I think she has a son who pops in from time to time. “I never thought it would come to this – needing a wheelchair” she told me – none of us know what tomorrow will bring – I replied.
The day blew in strong, gusting gale force, and the bike constantly buffeted off course keeping me off the main roads and on the cycle path as far as Guardbridge, a sare caw until I turned for home.
Very similar to sailing, you beat into the storm on an outward leg, always noisy, with the yacht, dipping headlong into a cross sea, waves crashing against the hull, canvas taut, bending the mast, the windward rigging strains against its pull, the lee standing rigging slackens, and begins to sing, its song of freedom – then the buoy coming up on your starboard quarter. You drop the headsail, quickly haul the line, pushing the spinnaker boom out its full three meters, and raise the Gennaker, a few minutes of well-rehearsed frantic activity, the yacht healing alarmingly as she broadsides the wind, near knockdown, however, she heels – starboard rail now deep in the water, the wind spills from the sail and she rites herself. Then the run for home and the world goes unbelievably quiet, and although the speed had increased dramatically, planning-down the wind. The speed is always deceptive for now you seem to be reduced to a leisurely pace, by the reduced noise, level decks, and smoothness of the yacht’s progress, you are at 22 knots in a 25 ft carbon-fibre yacht, if you do not feel alive now, then you never will.
On my homeward journey, I call in at the riding school and asked if I could have a few bags of manure for the garden – “help yourself, take as much as you like” I was told. On my return, I parked the bike and fitted the M/C cover in the boot of the car as a tidy, a few bags and a snow shovel and a set off back to the riding school.
Oh, no! Help ma boab, there was a lad with a machine loading the manure into a large trailer, thankfully he left me sufficient for my needs, four bags should do the trick.
I have ordered Dalmation, Lupin, Lavender, and a packet of Giant Russian Sunflower seed, from DT Brown seeds, it will take a year or so for the plot to mature but that’s nature for you – plants grow at their own pace. “A time to reap a time to sow …. a time for every purpose under heaven” Turn, turn, turn
The high winds of yesterday had moderated, but still, a stiff breeze, forcing me to drop into a lower cog on the road to Pitscottie, the time was around 8 O’clock when I left home, I was feeling good and putting a bit of effort into my work. Turning down into Dura Den and into shelter and out of the wind, this section is also very much downhill as far as the Eden Bridge, and an exciting ride to boot. The climb up onto Knock Hill was surprisingly easy today, aided by any wind that was coming up out of the valley. Then the long downhill, through Strathkinness and on into St Andrews, never dropping below 30kph, after cresting the summit of Knock Hill, a supppppppppperb, morning ride and a fast one too arriving home at twenty-five minutes past nine.
Perfect – well not really I had almost been added to the statistics of cyclists killed on our roads every year.
I was on the B939 out of St Andrews, almost level with the road end to the Burnside farm, on my right. I saw the red pickup truck coming up the driveway from the farm, a track that rises as it approaches the main road, so the driver would be high enough behind the wheel to see up and down the B939 being pretty straight at this point – no cars, or lorries to be seen, so without hesitation he, drove out onto the road and straight into the side of a cyclist – me. As he turned towards Strathkinness crossroads, I was first hit a glancing blow by the front near side wing then the wing mirror clouted me in the upper arm. The wing mirror hit the door with such a bang that he must have realized he had hit something but drove on. I was forced to go grass tracking into the high grass kerb the bike stopped trapped I didn’t and ended up in the ditch. I feel fortunate that no serious damage was done to me or the bike, badly shaken but not stirred.
I will report this incident to the police, not that anything can be done, but drivers need to be made aware of their responsibility to cyclists – the problem is that the last time most car drivers in this country were on a bike it had stabilisers, if you are not looking for cyclists – you will not see them – even when they are right under their nose.
I awoke this morning stiff as washing left out on a frosty night, however like being thrown from a horse always best to get right back on. The wind although light was cold enough to sting at my face, as I peddled life back into my legs. I chose the back road that climb slowly from home up to the 90 meters contour at Strathkinness. I then turned right at the crossroad for Guardbridge 2.5 miles from here, the view, as ever spectacular, all the way down across the Eden estuary. The tide was low spring and full out all the way to the sand bar, the wet sand shining like quicksilver. The road drops all the way back down to sea level from here, a 50 kph fast ride, the road newly laid and wide so no breaking necessary just take a racing line, out to the crown of the road and a sweeping curve back to the banking once more, epic. The wind carried me home from here along the cycle path, short and sweet, home 50 minutes after I had left and feeling good after the exercise.
Unwinding to the CD of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, when you know the opera this well you really do not have to sit and watch it, for the action will unfolds in you head as the music plays on, so allowing you to carry on working around the house whilst still enjoying the opera, both at the same time.
So breakfast now and then what will I do with the rest of my day? Decisions, decisions – Oh, almost forgot – its Friday – dinning in night – fish and chip suppers (bring your own wine).