Tag Archives: Scotland

The arrival of Spring?

Having spent many an hour inside on the Turbo Trainer during the Winter, I am now back in the routine of getting outside on my bike.

On Saturday however the elements were against me.  I stayed dry, which was a saving grace, but the wind was brutal.  I got buffeted and battered.  The strong wind even made descending hard work; tough to control my direction and difficult to maintain forward momentum.  It was “fresh” too; cold enough to make one side of my face feel numb, anaesthetised.  Stringing a sentence together was a challenge, the movement of my jaw was restricted, frozen.

As I fought my way around, I started to dream of warmth.  Some sun on my back.  A gentle breeze.  Cycling in shorts.  Ski gloves discarded.  Bare arms.  Summer.

Summer in Scotland. What could possibly go wrong?!

At the time it seemed like a distant dream.  Almost too much to hope for.  However we didn’t have to wait for long…

This afternoon the weather was perfect; clear skies, sun, calmness and warmth.  Not a breath of wind.  Prepared as ever, I was in the office watching the weather enviously.  Having braved the early morning chill for a swim I was in no position to go out on my bike.

A disappointment today, but the dream gets closer all the time.  I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to the Summer this much.  I just hope the Summer decides to visit us in the North of Scotland again this year!  Fingers crossed!

Fair weather golfer

I’ve always been a bit of a fair weather golfer.  I’ve never enjoyed playing golf in inclement weather.  I really don’t enjoy the hassle of waterproof clothing, umbrellas, wet grips, damp feet or the general misery of seeing a round fall apart (which is generally the way with my golf) wishing I was somewhere else.  Somewhere warm and dry.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing golf.  Up until recently, it’s been my primary escape outside work.  A few hours in the fresh air, enjoying the best of what Mother Nature has to offer.  It’s just that I prefer it in shirt sleeves rather than oilskins.

Not my favourite way of spending an afternoon!

Given there is a Scottish winter between me and the Euro City Cycle, I need to “Man Up!” on a number of fronts.  One of the important ones is braving the elements to get the miles in.

I could be a wuss, and do all my winter training on the Turbo Trainer in the garage, but there’s nothing like actually being out on the bike dealing with the gradients, the road conditions and the elements.  As my sessions get longer it may also get a little tedious despite the distraction of the Sufferfest videos.

So, I’ve made a pact with myself to get out despite the weather (assuming it’s safe to do so, of course!).

This morning was my first test… the weather was dreich* to say the least.  I’m proud to say that I got up and out anyway and did a solid solo 13 mile ride.

A dreich Scottish day!

I headed to the Railway Line for the ride again.  One of the benefits of a miserable morning was that it was quiet.  It seems that only dog owners were willing to brave the elements – even the few runners that were out seemed to have dogs in tow.

I say only dog owners, but I don’t strictly have evidence to back this up as I did spot a couple of other sportsmen doing their thing… standing in the middle of the River Dee, fly fishing.  Good Luck to them!

Dreich, but a beautiful morning for catching fish!

So, a new rule for me:

Don’t let the weather get in the way of doing the things you want to do!
(Except playing golf, perhaps!)


Dreich:  A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of these adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich.

Scotland’s favourite word apparently, perhaps because it’s in such common use.  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2013/01/favourite-word23012012)


Another beautiful day in sunny Scotland!  After Rehab, I headed out for  couple of meetings.  The girls are away for a night, “sightseeing” (shopping!) in Glasgow, so I packed my fishing rod… just in case!

As a complete novice, I headed to the only place I know for Mackerel.  When I arrived, Inverbervie bay was packed.  There were up to 6 people trying their luck in the tranquil North Sea.

Apparently the fish were “flying in” yesterday evening.  Not so much this afternoon!


Another beautiful day in Aberdeenshire!

Lady luck was on my side!

I caught a fish.  More than that… I caught fish!  Very exciting!

I’m still eating a lot of fish.  Mackerel is an oily fish, high in Omega-3.  Good for me (and you)!  So I bagged them up for tea.

Mackerel Haul

Today’s Mackerel Haul!

There’s something satisfying about catching, gathering and / or growing your own food.  I don’t do it very often, but I do think it makes you appreciate what’s on your plate, and think about where it comes from.

It’s fresh and healthier too, the absolute opposite of processed food.

Having bagged four fish (a single and a very exciting treble that was almost a quadruple, for a second or two at least… the one that got away!), it was way too much for me to eat on my own so I bagged and froze two (bait for later in the year!).

Having cleaned and prepared the fish (it’s OK, I made sure I cleaned up behind myself!), it was time to select a recipe. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything that took my fancy so I decided to go free-form… Mackerel stuffed with crushed garlic, fresh ginger, lemon wedges and freshly ground pepper.  Baked in a hot oven for about 20 mins.   You might want to stuff yours with something else!

The finished article

A little something I put together earlier.

I served mine with broccoli and green beans that had been carefully gathered from the Supermarket, but you can serve yours with whatever you like!

The fish was tasty (nothing mush to do with me!) and surprisingly filling (lots of good meat).

I definitely prefer catching to fishing!

Always wear sunscreen

While glorious, always welcome, and generally unexpected, the sun in Scotland isn’t renowned for packing much of a punch.

Having spent much of my recuperation period inside, Thursday was the first time I’d really been exposed to sun this summer.  As a result, I was keen to leave the beach on Thursday with “bit of colour”.  I wasn’t showing too much skin (I wore Shorts, T-Shirt and a baseball cap), but my limbs were left exposed to the elements.  I declined the offer of sunscreen – factor 50 really wasn’t going to do much to enhance my “tan”.

As hoped, I was starting to show signs of colour as we left the beach.  Colour which continued to evolve throughout the evening.  [I guess now’s a sensible time to point out to anyone who doesn’t know me, that I don’t generally tan very well.  At all, in fact.  Whereas the rest of my immediate family go a nice olive colour, I tend to go red and then back to white.  Two years in the Middle East left me slightly “off-white” at best.] 

During the evening my arms and legs started to get warm, then hot.  It is at this time that I made my mistake…  to relieve the increasing heat I reached into creams and potions in the bathroom for some soothing After Sun, and applied liberally.

All was good.  Relieved, I went to bed.

The following morning I awoke to a slightly strange colouration, particularly on my legs.  I assumed my heart medication may have altered the way my body reacts to sunlight.  Perhaps, I could finally produce melanin.  Perhaps I was tanned!  Slightly suspicious, I checked the After Sun (all seemed in order) before re-applying.

Umpa Lumpa

Before and after “Tan Maintaining” After Sun

The colouring continued to develop.  By Friday evening my feet wouldn’t have looked out of place on an Umpa Lumpa.

While the After Sun had been applied liberally, it had not been applied consistently.  The smudges and blotches are perhaps less appealing than the solid sections.

I guess the upside is that it did take the edge off the sunburn… the colour should last for weeks!  Delight!

What I now know, is that I should avoid any products that includes the words “Enhancer” or “Maintainer” in combination with “Tan”.  Apparently “maintenance” on me is the equivalent to a full-on artificial tan for others.  You live and learn!

Two lessons:  (1) Wear sunscreen and (2) Read the small print!

That’s why they call it fishing!

The Caribbean?  South of France?  North Africa?


No!  Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

We have beautiful beaches.  We also have fairly crappy weather.  The occasional cracking day brings people out in their droves.  Today there appeared to be a surprisingly large number of pre-school kids (and supervisors), a cross-section of society I don’t tend to rub shoulders with very often.

Visiting beaches in Scotland isn’t something I’ve done very regularly.  However, on Tuesday I made a move that might change this… buying a fishing rod!  It got it’s first outing that evening, feathering for mackerel in Inverbervie… without success!


Feathering for mackerel in Inverbervie

Today was the rod’s second outing… targeting flatfish.  To be honest, beyond 5 minutes research in the internet, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  Fortunately, every nursery school pupil on the beach appeared to be highly experienced, and very generous with their advice:

Expert #1:  “Throw it out further!”

Expert #2:  “You need to put it in the water!”

Expert #3:  “The fish were nibbling my toes while I was paddling.”
Paul:  “Can I borrow one of your toes to put on my hook please?”
Expert #3: 
(After a nervous pause)  “No.”

Unfortunately, despite this sound advice and offers of assistance, my rod must still look forward to it’s first catch.

Still, it was a good excuse to switch off and stare at the sea for a few hours while the girls turned into kids again, playing chicken with the (near Baltic) North Sea waves, collecting shells, burying each other in the sand, and generally larking around.

Apparently it’s going to be even nicer tomorrow.  Head to Scotland, and bring your buckets and spades! (or fishing rods)


An arty picture of driftwood and rocks