Brian recently made an entry on his blog entitled A Bliss Shared Is A Bliss Doubled. It's quite personal and about his bike trail. Here is mine:
We start off, just opposite my house, at The Roundel, a small wood, approximately two acres. It's quite a bumpy start, lots of tree roots poking through the ground, but thankfully, no broken glass. I could never have ridden my bike through Armadale; broken grass was everywhere!
We're soon out of the wood, I move down a gear for a slight hill. Meg and Mary are with me. They've been running the whole time. They're not used to that as I usually do this route on foot. I stop to take a couple of photographs and they do their woo-wees (a word used in my family since the year dot for a yellow/piddle/tiddle/urination). I haven't seen anyone thus far and the children's park is empty. Notwithstanding the dogs, I'm all alone. I like this. I like it very much.
We go past the last house of the estate and I move down another gear. Only mid-way through the gears, I'm not a wimp, yet!
Many moons ago, when I was between the ages of sixteen and seventeen, I could ride my bicycle all the way into Bournemouth town centre from my house, about five miles, I think, without getting out of breath - and beating the bus!
I know now, that I wouldn't be able to do that any more.
Who knows, though...!?!? With a little practice!?
We've only gone on a short distance and we're at the fallen down tree. Ask anyone around here to meet you at the fallen down tree and they'll know where you mean, I'm sure. It's been here as long as I can remember, though, to be frank, the first time I saw it was only about six years ago, shortly after I moved to Edinburgh. Phyllis and I used to go jogging in those days and we'd jog, sometimes, up to the fallen down tree, around it and back again, back to our wee flat in Mortonhall.
We veer around to the right and come along a wide path with a canopy of trees overhead. It's beautiful on a sunny day. The sunlight is dappled and it feels quite luxurious. The path meanders slightly and you only get to see the end of the tunnel near the very end.
This feels kind of French. Not sure why. And there aren't even any poplar trees.
There's even a Doctor Who feeling about the whole thing. Must be something to do with the opening credits of the programme.
What a nice surprise: wide open fields, horses, the odd tree and, I think, Fife on the horizon. I go into top gear and race down the path at what feels like a million miles an hour, though it's probably more like fifteen.
I gently squeeze the brakes as I come to the bottom. I'm terrified of skidding and falling off. Not in fear of hurting myself, but breaking my iPod (I'm currently listening to Pet Shop Boys' Fundamental) or having the whole sorry accident witnessed by anyone.
I hate making a tit of myself, though seem to do it quite often.
Mary loves the horses (I do not). I don't know what she makes of them. She rushes at them like a bull in a china shop, sniffing their noses. They're not scared my her at all and give her a sniff in return. I'm sure she'd love to play with them, however, I don't think they're too keen on playing with her. I often think I should bring a carrot or an apple for the horses, but always forget. One of these days, I will remember. But of course, not when I'm alone. I'm quite scared of horses actually. Their teeth are horrifying and I'm totally scared of being kicked. I remember my Father telling me of a man he knew when much younger who was kicked in the chest my a horse. He died. Very scary indeed. Also, my niece, Emily, when about eight years old, was bitten by a horse, grazed all down her back. She was crying. Her Mother asked what was wrong. She told her that the horse had bitten her. "Don't be silly!" said my sister, "Horses don't bite. On returning home, Emily's blouse had to be gently peeled away from her back, stuck to her with blood.
We make a couple of bends, I move up into an easier gear, go through a pub cark park (the pub being The Stable Bar) and find Mortonhall, the house by which the area of Edinburgh gets its name. As I mentioned before, Phyllis and I used to live in Mortonhall in a wee flat. Mortonhall itself was converted into flats a few years back. It would have been lovely to have lived there. I'd love to show people this photograph and tell them it's where I lived. Of course, I'd not mention it was a flat within the building. I'm such a total snob and have bizarre delusions of grandeur.
We're soon away from the house itself and have a choice of three paths to take. Shall we go through Mortonhall gardens or directly onto the old walled kitchen garden?
Up to the kitchen garden we go, bypassing a bench where I usually stop for a smoke. I'll not stop there today. It's already taken by a couple of geriatrics. The smell of death is in the air and I think to myself, he's not long for this world.
It's quite warm today. Not hot, but warm. A beautiful day. Meg and Mary are panting, but I am not, thankfully.
Now we're at the top end of the old walled kitchen garden. I take a sit on a grassy bank near the remnants of some modest out-buildings. They've seen better days. So have I. I'm not on a health trip, doing this cycle ride. It's just a fun thing to do, speeding along, standing up to peddle on the more difficult/uphill paths. So, with health out of the window, I get my tin of smokes out, sit down, lay back in the sun and have one. Divine. Relaxation, almost on a high. I got a real kick out of that. Eyes closed, the warmth of the sun on my face, Mary resting her head on my chest. I think I'm floating.
Some thrity children are now on the approach with a couple of women. A school party out on a nature walk? Will they exmaine me?
"Here, children, we find a smoker. Smokers don't live very long. The winter frosts may not finish smokers off, but they soon wither and die. No, Jinny, it has nothing to do with global warming. Smoke is bad, but this man is not a coal-fired power station."
I finish my smoke before they're upon me and off I go, back to the head of the wide grassy path at the end of the tunnel. It's quite steep and I'm in the easiest gear.
Back, I go, through the tunnel, back to the fallen down tree and fnd myself at the field with the children's play park. Back into a middle gear, into The Roundel, though it and back to my house.
It took me about thirty minutes, stopping for a smoke and to take twelve photographs. With no stops, I'm sure I could do it in ten. I'll see, next time - though rain is on the way. This is Scotland, after all, and a twenty four hour period with no rain is somewhat strange. That's the cynic in me. Positive Minge says, "The gardens need it."
They don't. It only rained yesterday.