It’s been a full year to the day since I became a turfer, took my first ever zone, Pittendreich, gained my first ever 185 points and joined an amazing group of like-minded crazy people from all over Scotland, the UK and across the North Sea in Sweden, to mentioned only a few. I’ve made some friends as well, though friends in the most unusual way. Turfers are not like normal friends. With turf friends you meet while out turfing, you will probably know their turf name, possibly even where they work and live but not their real name. Yet you stop and blether like you’ve met a long lost relative or an old school chum from the class of ’78.
Starting a blog about turfing wasn’t easy. On the face of it, turfing is a pretty simple activity. Go outside, take a zone, go somewhere else, take another zone, ad infinitum, or until you collapse with exhaustion and/or fall off your bike. Despite extensive searching online I found little to guide my efforts but gave it a go anyway. Today, I have almost 250 posts devoted to turfing and plenty of draft pages waiting to be finished and posted. In fact, turf has pretty much taken over Planet Gary. I just don’t have the inclination to blog about anything else. Though having said that turf also allows me to include stuff about photography, bicycles and cycling, and also kick scooting. I also hope to combine turfing with some sand collecting across in Fife in the not too distant future. It also permits me to write all manner on silly nonsense, from real UFOs encounters to friendly ghosts, evil goblins, fairy tales, and who knows what else.
Since that first day I’ve managed to accrue over 2,846,000 points – that’s not far away from 3 million! – and have achieved some 58 medals with the Ghost Minute, the Eager Ferret and the Darkest Ninja medals being my most treasured. If they were real medals, I’d frame them and hang them on the man cave wall. I love the fact that I can have a ninja sword on my turfman icon, though I think if you get the Darkest Ninja medal, two crossed ninja swords would be more appropriate, and super-ultra-mega-cool. My rank has risen from lowly Rank 0 – Novice, all the way to the dizzy heights of Rank 45 – Turf Elder. Yet I fear the ultimate of Rank 60 – Turfalicious, and 50 million points, is but a distant and probably unattainable dream. But there’s still life on the old dog yet, so you even know.
It’s always nice to meet turfers when out and about and I’ve met quite a few, including Fearglas, Cruachan, Hodge, SparseRunner, Tandem and Aibo, to name but a few. Then there’s all the turfers I meet through WhatsApp, get in touch via email, or the blog, and so on. Apologies for anyone I’ve not mentioned. One thing that has amazed me is that people out there actually read my blog pages, and even return again to read more pages. I find this really astonishing and humbling, and it helps keep me going. My niece said if people act on what I blog about that makes me an Influencer. I’m not sure about that! It is not easy to keep coming up with things to blog about, I can tell you.
I’ve done a lot of turfing over that past year, with barely a single day I’ve not been out taking zones. Yes, there has been a few non-turf days, though few and far between, and mostly due to back problems or icy weather conditions. I’ve taken part in a few turf competitions but I cannot say I’ve enjoyed them. I’m just not a team player. I mentioned weather conditions there. While turfing on ice is not so easy, turfing on snow is a delight. I must admit to getting quite excited when I see the forecast is for snow. My Surly Pugsley fat bike and myself have spent some wonderful days out turfing in the snow.
The month of May, saw me into retirement, and no regrets whatsoever. The joy of getting up when I feel like in the morning, not having that tedious drive across Edinburgh to the office, not dealing with annoying staff who haven’t switched the bloody monitor on, spend an entire day writing a report and never saving it yet expect miracles when they loose it and best of all no more IT support by telephone, or being pleasant to people you would rather curse to hell and all other stuff I’m pleased to say I’ve forgotten about already. Bliss! Yes, retirement is to be highly recommended. Take it if you get the chance.
One topic I’ve mentioned numerous times over the year is that of bicycles, with my Surly Ogre perhaps being foremost. Today, he’s running as smooth as silk with barely a whisper as I cycle along, at least until yesterday. To be fair, he’s had a fair amount of work these past few months, including a new chain, rear sprocket, hub gear, brake pads and cables. But you know, I reckon it was when I started blogging about purchasing a new gravel bike that Ogre decided he’d better stop messing about and behave himself. Time will tell.
One thing I’ve discovered about turfing is that is can be addictive. Turf kind of sneaks up on you at first, then as time passes, you may find yourself craving more and more. This is particularly noticeable with medals, and your placement in the league tables. You might really notice your addiction when you find yourself unable to turf and find that uncomfortable, like something is missing from your life. Personally, I think a mild addiction is fine. It’s when it starts to interferes with other things such as work, family and your health, that it becomes a problem.
There’s been a few turf highlights over the year. Lots of them relating to achieving medals, perhaps my favourite part of being a turfer. Then there was the night I was attacked by a teenage badger near Rosslyn Castle, I kid you not. A night ride under a full moon out to the wrecks of the midget submarines in Aberlady Bay will live with me forever. And no, I will not be divulging if I was following the Naturist Code or whatever. Wink, wink! Another memorable experience was taking the zone on Arthur’s Seat (above) in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. There are many, many, more.
I asked myself a question the other day, what makes turfing special to me? Personally, it’s probably a number of things. One is definitely the exercise, particularly riding the bike. On many an occasion I’ve found myself riding along and feeling such delight as simply being out on the bike, piloting this wondrous yet basically simple machine. Then there’s turfing at night. I’m not going to tell you why but would suggest you get out there at silly o’clock on the night of a full moon with a cloudless sky and experience it yourself. Of course, there’s meeting other turfers, discovering new zones, photographs that turn out better than expected and getting positive feedback about the blog.
Most enjoyable was Örebro Turfers Kalender Turf 2021 in December. Always exciting waiting to see what the next mission will be, then trying to work out exactly what the mission actually means and finally completing the mission itself. All great fun. I wish I knew it would be so competitive, for example, rather than going for the minimum requirements, some turfers would go for hundreds. But I know for next time, should there be one, hopefully. One thing that would be useful is confirmation that you have completed each mission successfully, perhaps a post on the forum or list of successful participants along with the next days mission email. Great work and many thanks to Örebro Turfers.
And what of the coming year? Well, more of the same I suppose. There’s still plenty of uniques zones out there I’ve still to take, places to visit and challenges to do. What I have noticed is that my turfing often revolves around the ability to blog something about the turfing session afterwards. I don’t want my turfing to simply be restricted to taking points. It needs to be interesting, exciting and fun, otherwise I don’t see the point. I would love to see is more medals available for the taking. Fingers crossed and pretty please!
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