|Date||Saturday 24th August 2013|
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You’ll be pleased to know, Gary, that the 40 miles from Queensferry, via Edinburgh, to North Berwick is really delightful – the majority is off road, it’s all flat and you pass some lovely places.
The 12 miles from Queensferry into Edinburgh were great: through a country estate, then along a disused railway line that leaves you within a mile of Edinburgh castle. Then, later, once you’re out of the city (they’re even redeveloping the ugly docklands of Leith), you’ve got the prom through pretty Portofino, around the Musselburgh racecourse, and along a quietish road through pleasant towns such as Aberlady, Gullane and Dirleton to North Berwick. I had no idea this would be such an appealing bit of coast – think Cornwall with golf courses instead of hills. North Berwick itself is classy: upmarket restaurants, a quaint harbour, interesting local history (it was on the pilgrim route to St Andrews), and Scotland’s National Seabird Centre (there’s a rocky island just off the coast where 100,000 gannets come to nest every year). All a great discovery. You’ll like it.
I only did 40 miles as I took 3 hours or so off to see stuff in the Edinburgh Festival. The town was jammed with people – locals, tourists, street performers, ticket sellers, etc. I saw four exhibitions, in case you fancy them Gary: Peter Doig’s large colourful paintings (v good), Francisco Orozco’s geometric conceptual art (not my thing), 100 Man Ray photos (fascinating and technically brilliant), and an international photography show (v patchy). As I was leaving the city, I got a text from a Glasgow-based friend (Felix’s godmother in fact) who had just seen me from a bus, “cycling fast and red-faced” down to Leith. (Wasn’t so keen on the ‘red-faced’!). Amazing coincidence though.
But here’s a confession, Gary. I’m afraid I succumbed to a bit much do-goodery yesterday. There were the two fancy mums in Audis who wanted directions from my OS map to the Aberlady campsite. I had to oblige. Then there was the elderly man in Gullane standing by the side of the main road in his slippers with a walking stick. I couldn’t help it. I stopped the traffic as he shuffled across, attempting to show me, as we were right in the middle of the road, where exactly he’d broken his leg last Easter. And, most embarrassingly, in the Dalmeny woods I came across a woman in her 30s, with a strong French accent, struggling by the side of the path to mend a puncture on her bike. What could I do but help? Really. And the worst was that I used my new tool. (It’s a little compressed air canister that pumps air super-fast into tyres. Works really well.) But I knew it’d be so hard to explain, and that there’d be scurrilous thoughts passing through your mind. Well, just forget them. She didn’t even bat her eyelashes. And she was Belgian and wore sandals anyway. But she’s cycling north, so you might see her. Say hello.
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