Steam, at 9am yesterday morning. Temperature 2ºC, the sun comes up and there’s steam blowing everywhere, like walking past the railway shunting yards when I was a boy. So what? I hear you say. The difference between this and the usual drifting mist is that this was fast-moving, almost billowing out from trees and hedges.
Then, several hours later, a flurry of snow, the first of the year. Last week I noticed that Schiehallion had a dusting of snow and Ben Lawers, in the distance behind it (and 131m higher) was brilliant white. Like my ceilings.
So, it’s cold – no big deal. This is Scotland and we are well into November. I’m going to miss wearing short-sleeves and my summer Craghopper trousers with pockets for everything. Where am I going to keep my camera? More importantly, where am I going to keep my writing notebook?
I have a new bicycle!
By new, I mean new to me. And by bicycle I mean push-bike, not motorbike. My new bike is about five years old but it is much, much better than the one I had before. My new one used to be my son’s. We agreed on a mutual trade-in. Well, kind-of… his birthday was coming up, and you know how it is. Anyway, I needed a new bike. A better bike. A different bike. The one I have now is a Dawes. The one I used to have (and still have, but more of that later) is an unbranded mountain bike, purchased from Halfords in Bracknell years ago when I lived ‘down south’. It is called a mountain bike because it weighs as much as a small mountain (or even a large one*) because unlike modern bikes it is made from thick steel. When I got it home after buying it I discovered that the tyres had been slashed. An over-enthusiastic Halfords employee had removed the cardboard wrapping from the bikes using a very sharp Stanley knife. No doubt the manager took him aside and had words with him.
I will take this ancient, heavy slab of steel to the Bike Station in Edinburgh. I have been there before. Beneath Waverley Station is a subterranian bicycle workshop where elves wielding spanners (metric) receive donated bikes and restore them. Once-upon-a-time, unwanted bikes were dumped in ditches. Now they are recycled. Bloody brilliant!
*Though not as heavy as Schiehallion, my favourite mountain. For me it is the most stunningly beautiful mountain in the British Isles. I have even been up it (I don’t mean that I climbed it, because I was a caver, not a climber. You don’t ‘climb’ Schiehallion, you take an ‘interesting’ path to the top). Schiehallion has a unique history. Nevil Maskelyne, used the mountain to attempt to find the weight of the Earth.