Turf Blog 03-08-22

The time is just after midnight (yes, I’m out at Silly O’clock again) and I’m kick scooting my way along Joogley, the 15th hole on Musselburgh golf course, having just taken zone YouAreTheAce at the lower end of Dalkeith Country Park. Suddenly, for an instant, I’m bathed in a flash of bright light. Startled, I stop. What was that? Have I been caught, flashed and photographed by an old-fashioned camera trap? Was that the headlight beam of a vehicle? No, not here, too far from any road and screened by dense woodland. In fact, it was none of these.

Looking up to check I’ve not been buzzed by a passing tourist UFO, as you do, I see a long snaking trail of glowing orange vapour in the night sky, up in the mesosphere, some 50 to 80 Km way up above, slowly fading away. The brief flash had been a meteor, or shooting star, burning up as it hits the Earth’s atmosphere. Wow. I was thrilled. Yes, I’ve seen bigger ones before, even a fireball during the day but never been lit up by one at night. I measured the trail with my hand, a hand-span at arm’s length. This really made the night’s exertions worthwhile, even man-handling myself and the Swifty Air over that 6-foot stone wall at the bottom of Dalkeith Country Park, in the dark. Fair made my day, or rather, night!

Actually, I had intended to go to Aberlady Bay Nature Reserve and do a stint of nocturnal turfing again, this time on foot, but just couldn’t be bothered with the drive there and back again, so opted to stay local, save time and fuel, and grab a couple of zones still sitting at neutral status in Dalkeith Country Park, zone YouAreTheAce and zone TheUnknown, the two located along that path where the sign states horses only, no walkers, no cyclists. It doesn’t say no kick scooter riders, so they can get lost.

I’m always one for changing my mind about night-time turfing, and had actually gone to bed. However, sleep was eluding me and by 11.00 pm I decided to get up and go turfing. It was a very warm night, with temperatures in the high teens but a good strong breeze to keep things cool. The scoot down through Eskbank and Dalkeith was the usual quiet, as you might expect for midnight on a week day. The gate to Dalkeith Country Park was ajar, seemingly still broken, which is fine regards access but slightly annoying as I bought a Friends of Dalkeith Acorn annual member pass for whole £12.00 and have only once used it to open the gate. Oh well, never mind.

Still some activity in the park, even at this hour. At the bridge by Restoration Yard, I encountered a couple, of what I took to be cyclists, but as we passed, I realised they were riding electric motorcycles. A couple of young lads out riding where they shouldn’t be riding. One of the bikes sounded decidedly rough, the chain clattering loudly and in need of some TLC. More activity at the camp site, something I’ve only recently knew existed here. Even some children’s voices could be heard. I guess when you are on holiday, bedtimes are flexible. Not sure the other campers will be particularly happy about the noise mind you!

I managed to take zone DoNOTCrossEsk beside the gate. Saving me having to ignore the no entry sign, climb over the gate and go up the hill. Last time I had to go all the way up the wee slope to the track above. The track down to zones YouAreTheAce and TheUnknown is very rough, being well-trodden loose sandy soil churned up by horses. Easy enough on a bicycle but not so comfortable on a 16″ wheeled kick scooter. After taking the zones I decided a change of plan was in order and rather than head back to do a round of the park, I decided to stage an assault of the 6-foot stone boundary wall and return via Whitecraig and the cycle path to Dalkeith.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone come this way. There are no footholds on the wall on the park side and getting across isn’t easy, only for crazy turfers like myself. Of course, you might also be a crazy turfer, so feel free. Once I got the scooter perched on the wall, a good run, jump and clamber got me across. There are footholds on the other side. Then the next problem. Finding the path?

Not being a well-used route, the faint path was well overgrown with numerus stinging nettles and giant hog weed with its corrosive sap. I made some attempt to follow the trail but soon gave up and worked my way to the left and onto the golf course. It’s only a few meters through the trees. I would not recommend this route when golf is in play but at this hour, not a problem. My exit from the course was a metal gate opposite the footbridge over the River Esk but I wasn’t paying enough attention and missed it initially and had to backtrack. I was actually looking at the sky for more meteor trails. Crossing the River Esk on the wee footbridge gave me zone MonktonEscape, then I followed the riverside path up to Whitecraig, grabbing a couple of zones there before joining the cycle path for Dalkeith.

It was a bit harder going on the way back, being both uphill and against the stiff wind but all good exercise. Quite a lot of wildlife about, mostly rabbits in the glare of the scooter lights but a few larger beasts crashing off through the vegetation and bushes, most probably roe deer, fox or badgers. At least, I assume, and hope, that’s what they were. Couldn’t possibly be anything else, could it? Not something like Black Dog, a brownie or a bogle, or even the black puma that’s been reported recently locally. Tawny owls were on form at Newbattle golf course, seemed to be about four of them all calling in turn. The males making that classic “hoot” or “twoo” territorial call and the female responding with the sharp “kee-wick” call. Must have been quite a heated discussion going on last night.

By the time I’d arrived back at the house, I’d taken 29 zones and even managed to take five zones after 1.00 pm, so that gets me my Five-A-Day for Wednesday as well. My log shows I’m on day 328, so only 37 days to go. Not long to go now. So, a very good night session out turfing on the kick scooter, the highlight being flashed by the light of a meteor burning up high in the atmosphere. Back soon. Bye for now.

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