Over the past few weeks I’ve found my turfing has become, dare I say it, rather boring, somewhat monotonous and simply a chore to be done. I’ve found myself cycling round the zones in Bonnyrigg, Eskbank and Dalkeith, almost in a daze. Like I’m on automatic pilot, going from zone to zone, barely even thinking while the zone takes. Sometimes I wonder if I stopped at a zone at all. It’s kind of like that everyday commute to work when you wonder if you stopped at that last set of traffic lights or went through on red. You probably didn’t but you know what I mean?
At one point I was considering giving up turf completely, or starting again from scratch, creating a new turf name and starting at 0 zones, 0 points and Rank 0 – Newbie. Perhaps going about doing it differently this time round, for example, only taking unique zones, and only with the kick scooter, or something else along those lines. Might still do that if I cannot find a way to stay interested.
So, today while on my usual round of Bonnyrigg – all taken from me yesterday thanks to the delightful Aibo, from Penicuik – I decided to try and record the sights and sounds encountered at each zone. I didn’t note anything down, so hope my memory is up to scratch. Let us begin this merry adventure. Note, this is a long page!
Taking zone. Being next to the busy B6392 Bonnyrigg Distributer Road, the overwhelming sights and sounds here is traffic. And it’s a quiet day as well with the Easter holidays in full swing. Add to this the clank-clank of heavy earthmoving plant on the adjacent buildings site, the buzz of reversing alarms and shouting trades men, and you get the picture. There was a dunnock singing behind me so that was nice. Zone taken.
Taking zone. The trickle of running water in the Pittendriech burn is a pleasant change from the previous deafening traffic noise, still heard in the background. Two magpies are building a next in the bushes nearby, their raucous calls surprisingly loud. Not a breath of wind here today. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Running water again here as we are still at the Pittendriech burn (burn is Scots for a stream). A No 31 bus passes on the road, stopping to drop off passengers. A robin hops onto the bridge, checking me out. I avoid an evil dog poo on the path. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Being beside the SUDS ponds, the sounds of waterfowl is dominant here. Mallard duck are having a squabble; a moorhen is calling from the reeds. The reed warblers haven’t arrived yet. A woman tells a huffy child to get in the car. Child slams door and car accelerates away like a bat out of hell. Zone taken.
Taking zone. This is a pleasant wee zone, located in a square fenced planted area. Fairly quiet traffic wise other than a single car idling at a house. Turn the bloody engine off. No birds singing. A post-lady is out delivering letters and parcels with her red four-wheeled trolley. There’s a scruffy grey cat watching me from the wall. Zone taken.
Taking zone. This is a fairly recent zone. Children are playing in the play area, adults are gossiping nearby and a mad spaniel is running about like a daft thing. A pair of mute swans are not saying very much on the SUDS pond. There’s another dog poo on the path. Zone taken.
Taking zone. We are beside the Pittendriech burn again. Nothing much happening here. No people out walking, no dogs crapping on the path, not even a single bird in sight. Cannot even hear distant traffic. The leaves in the beech hedge are rustling in the breeze. Must be the End of Days, a zombie-film set, or something of the like. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Quiet here too, the normally noisy primary school is closed for Easter. There’s a young woman trying to teach a young collie to fetch a tennis ball. It chases the ball but then loses interest in favour of sniffing whatever sniffs dogs like to sniff. An aircraft passed overhead heading for Edinburgh airport. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Another recent addition to the Bonnyrigg zones. Two rooks are feeding on the grass area, one eye each firmly fixed on me checking if I’m either a threat or have food. A Tesco delivery van roars past. A few dog walkers are about. A young woman pushes a rickety pram past me. I say hello but she keeps her head down and does not reply. Please yourself then. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Children are playing football on the hard-surface pitch at the primary school. Lots of screaming and shouting, mostly by one adult male losing the battle to control the match. A herring gull calls loudly from a rooftop. No 31 bus passes by. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Quiet here. A few people walking in the distance. No dog poo in sight which is a change. I hate dog poo, or rather dog owners who don’t pick their dog’s poo up. I detest dog owners who then throw the bagged dog poo into the bushes. Must stop ranting and be more positive. Zone taken.
Taking zone. We are now on the Dalkeith to Penicuik shared walkway. There are dog walkers, grannies with prams, children on kick scooters and a lone overweight MAMIL (Middle Aged Male in Lycra) on a £5000 Specialized road bike. He ignored me when I said hello. Actually, he didn’t totally ignore me, he looks first, then ignored me. Bastard. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Back at the B6392 Bonnyrigg Distributer Road. Some road traffic noise but less than at Pittendriech. An elderly gent out for a stroll. Rain this afternoon he comments. Yes, I agree. Horses in the field, one rolls about on the ground. The blackthorn is in flower. Zone taken.
Taking zone. I stop to take the zone; we are on a wide tarmac footpath. An elderly gent stops and stares at me, looking very angry, almost furious. I stick to looking at the Turf app, half expecting a confrontation. I suspect he doesn’t think I should be cycling on the path. Probably hasn’t heard of the Land Reform Act 2003. Zone taken. I make my escape.
Taking zone. Leaving zone. Taking zone. That’s what the turf lady says when you approach this zone from the east. I must enter the zone momentarily, then leave the zone before entering again. Two herring gulls are mating on a roof nearby. Quite a noisy affair. A dog sniffs at my leg then wanders off, no owner in sight. A latch-key dog, perhaps. Zone taken.
Taking zone. A male blackbird singing from a television aerial, a robin singing from the fence, all accompanied by the background hum of the electricity sub-station and the piercing shrill of a smoke alarm from someone burning the toast. Zone taken.
Taking zone. I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er house and home, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils (dwarf variety, mixed); Beside the building site, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Must be sports day today, or something. Crazy children running all over the place, footballs bouncing off cars, children refusing to get out of the car, stressed mothers rushing back and forth carrying footballs boots, would-be football manager fathers shouting from the side lines, a child falls from her kick scooter. Sheer pandemonium. Zone taken. Glad to be away.
Taking zone. Not quite so crazy here. Youths sitting on benches smoking something illegal, two carrions crows eating a discarded pizza, and strangely, a skinny lady in an almost swimsuit runs barefoot round the corner and vanished through a door. Had me confused until I recalled the swimming pool. Weird. Zone taken.
Taking zone. The smell of fresh cut grass intermingled with the scent of diesel fumes. Oh how I love the smell of diesel fumes in the morning. Can you identify what film* that sound-a-like phrase came from? Zone taken.
Taking zone. Lovely smooth fresh tarmac on the road to here from zone ChestersGlare, a delight to cycle or kick scoot. A diesel generator chugs away on the site of the old school. There’s a cat watching me from a house window. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Four oystercatchers flying overhead making one hell of a racket. People heading into town carrying empty shopping bags, an old lady with a shopping trolley talking to herself, a platoon of lady joggers, or runners, not sure which, all talking constantly while they run. Zone taken.
Taking zone. This is the site of Bonnyrigg railway station, now long gone following the antics of Dr Richard Beeching in the 60’s. Noisy with road traffic. There’s a woman in her dressing down and slippers walking the dog. Zone taken.
Taking zone. On the old railway line. A chiff chaff comes close, only a couple of meters away in the trees. A great view but somewhat silhouetted. Soon they will be invisible when the leaves come out. Noisy fans from the laundry and the smell of, well, laundry. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Traffic is the predominate sound and sight here. Wouldn’t the world be a better place without cars? The chip shop is closed, so no enticing smell of chips. The plant beds are still in good shape, at least until some teenage drug-addled dickhead decides to pull them all out. Zone taken.
Taking zone. A public park. People out walking their dogs, or in one case, a dog walking its owner. Lots of gulls wheeling about chasing one lucky gull with what looks like a crusty roll. A young couple are snogging on Dobie’s Knowe (spelling from OS 25″ map). Zone taken.
Taking zone. Gravel, muddy puddles, rustling leaves, distant traffic, a plane passing overhead, that’s all folks. Zone taken.
Taking zone. This is the Wee Brae, a very steep narrow lane linking Bonnyrigg with Lasswade. Always seems to be wet and slippery, even in the summer. There’s some springs running into the lane. Try and cycle up the entire lane. It’s a right leg killer! Zone taken.
Taking zone. A neat wee public park with swings and play things. There are holes in the fence leading to the golf course, which is also a night-time short cut to zone BroomieGolf, but I didn’t tell you that. A male dunnock is singing from a bush. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Beside the health centre, on the old railway line. A hot spot for dog poo, so be aware when stopping to take the zone. Lots of woodpigeon about. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Traffic noise again, There’s a rat Beetle across the road. The pedestrian crossing is beeping but no-one is there. Spooky. The slabs are not slippery today as it’s dry. Easy to fall off the bike when they are wet and slimy. Zone taken.
Taking zone. A quiet little grassy area with trees. A string of colourful flags has appeared recently. Or have I just not noticed them? Can smell smoke from somewhere, garden rubbish burning, I think. There’s a police car along the street. Zone taken.
Taking zone. Back on the old railway line again. The usual dog walkers. One dog decides to run and pulls a woman off her feet down the embankment. People laugh at her. Children are playing at the swings. A bulldozer is clanking away on the building site. Zone taken.
Taking zone. A new addition to the Bonnyrigg zone set. Beside the main road, noisy with traffic. An ambulance rushes by on blues-and-two’s. A family of four is waiting at the bus top, all are very large and overweight. They are totally blocking the pavement. The woman has a wrapped pastry on one hand and a cigarette in the other. I feel sorry for the children. What a start in life. Zone taken.
Taking zone. At the community hospital on a switchback path. I wait for some pedestrians before riding down to the zone. Can still hear the bulldozer on the building site. More traffic noise from the A7. There’s a small flock of starlings on the pylon lines. Check out the Community Garden. Zone taken.
Taking zone. On the railway line again. They are building houses to the south, 100’s of them. Another tracked vehicle, a back-actor this time, spreading soil in the new back gardens. Well, they claim it’s soil but I have my doubts. Zone taken.
Taking zone. My final zone of the day. A wide open space in the housing estate where I live. Two oystercatchers are feeding nearby. A delivery van is delivering deliveries. Zone taken. The End.
So, there we have it, the sights and sounds from some of the zones in Bonnyrigg, as witnessed from the saddle of my Surly Ogre bicycle. Why not give it a try yourself and see what you might be missing. Back again soon but I’m not sure I’ll be writing this again, it takes forever.
* Apocalypse Now
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