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I think I may have coined a phrase recently. The thing is, I forgot to say it out loud, and it may now be lost to history. I was trying to think up a starting sentence or two for the talk we have just given. I was going to call it ” The Moose Conundrum “. It goes something like – If you put a whole roast Moose in front of a starving man, he would instantly lose his appetite. I was of course trying to explain our dilemma in editing down a half a million word blog into three talks. I was pleased with this, but then it went out of my head just when I needed it.

Gosford Bay, East Lothian, Scotland.

Gosford Bay, East Lothian, Scotland.

Family mausoleum, Gosford Estate, East Lothian.

Family mausoleum, Gosford Estate, East Lothian.

First snowdrops.

First snowdrops.

It may have been a dictum, you can mix those two up. I read one of those yesterday – Chamfort’s dictum states ‘ that a man must swallow a toad every morning to be sure of not meeting with anything more revolting in the day ahead ‘. Which has much of the same feeling as my favourite of all time – ‘ A pessimist is never disappointed ‘.

South Mains Samuelston, East Lothian.

South Mains Samuelston, East Lothian.

The old Penicuik railway.

The old Penicuik railway.

Riding in freezing conditions.

Riding in freezing conditions.

There is now the slight whiff, the merest hint, the tinge of green that may hint at the rising of the sap and the approach of Spring. You have to be careful here to keep your hopes in check. It is now statistically more probable that we will have a white Easter than a white Christmas.

Big tup.

Big tup.

Trees in frozen water.

Trees in frozen water.

The glove tree.

The glove tree.

On the good days we have headed down the coast on our bikes with hardly a breeze moving the long dry grass by the roadside. We ride down the coast road to North Berwick if there is ice higher up the hill. Turning, we head into a full gale and crawl back home. In both directions we pass Gosford House a good place to look for the first snowdrops. I like to think of them as a flower of Spring but they may just be a winter flower, and perhaps all the rarer for that.

First snowdrops in flower.

First snowdrops in flower.

The Witches' Stone, Spot, East Lothian, Scotland/

The Witches’ Stone, Spot, East Lothian, Scotland.

Dunbar Harbour. East Lothian.

Dunbar Harbour. East Lothian.

There have been days of wild storms that have taken neighbours roofs and bought them crashing down on our property. Snow has also kept us off the bikes, more this year than since the year we left for our adventure. Now I have come down with a thud and bruises in the past and give snow and ice a great deal of respect. Others can ride, perhaps eating a Baguette as they go and never fall. I have either no bike handling skills or a shed load of bad luck.

Yellowcraig Bay, with the island of Fidra in the distance.

Yellowcraig Bay, with the island of Fidra in the distance.

Snowdrop field

Snowdrop field

Single Tree Dalkeith Country Park.

Single Tree Dalkeith Country Park.

We have been out on roads that are snow fringed or ones where the sun catches the diamond glint of ice. I am never at ease. The bar gauge reads below freezing and I become tense. The village of Gifford is a continuous climb from home and always sits in a blanket of cold air several degrees colder than home. It is a beautiful ride and always a great welcome. It is our equivalent of the bar in ‘ Cheers ‘, everyone knows our name and often the bikes that lean against the window would buy you a good house if you cashed them in on eBay.

View from North Berwick Law.

View from North Berwick Law.

Whale bones above North Berwick.

Whale bones above North Berwick.

View from Traprain Law, East Lothian, Scotland.

View from Berwick Law, East Lothian, Scotland.

East Lothian has a number of landmarks that you can orientate on. The hills of Traprain, and closer to home Berwick Law are both lava plugs from volcanic activity thousands of years ago. Berwick Law is topped with Whale bones and Traprain with an ancient fort that yielded the Traprain horde, a stash of silver that is now in the National Museum of Scotland. We had never walked up Berwick Law, and put that right on possibly the worst day in the 20 years we have lived nearby.

Beech tree alleyway  near Gifford.

Beech tree alleyway near Gifford.

Fenton Castle, East Lothian.

Fenton Tower, East Lothian.

The next talk has now been planned and the photos sit on this computer in a file labelled TALK TWO CTC. I am saying this myself, but they look beautiful. A company has offered to sponsor our bikepacking project a little and a few bits and pieces – ultralight tarp and ground sheet have already arrived. It is going to be exciting to turn our road bikes into a touring option. The spring is on its way – am I being too optimistic?

Back road and Traprain Law. East Lothian.

Back road and Traprain Law. East Lothian.

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