Turf Blog 15-06-21

Had a good turfing session during the day yesterday, collected all Rosewell, Bonnyrigg, Eskbank and the lower parts of Dalkeith, bringing my zone count up to 103 zones. If I still held them all today, I’d add Gorebridge, Newtongrange, and the Mayfield and Easthouses areas of Dalkeith, which might just bring me within shouting distance of that next Greed medal, the Greed-250. I knew it would be a long-shot, but you never know.

I’d left a few Bonnyrigg zones untouched, IKnowBroom, BroomieGolf and MelvilleGolf, leaving them for another planned night run on the Swifty Air kick scooter. My thoughts were to head out after midnight and take them, then do a turf run around the Melville Castle area and return home taking in Kings Acre, Lasswade and Mavisbank, then back up the hill from Polton. Not a lot of zones for the effort, only 14 in total, but big zone numbers wasn’t the idea, it was doing something different, exploring off the beaten track and enjoying myself.

As usual I like to see if any follow turfers are out and about and was not surprised to see Féarglas, the Turf Queen of Scotland, was in Dalkeith. No Greed-250 tomorrow then. But that’s not a problem. In fact, her visit is always a blessing, as she will clear the Bonnyrigg zones for me to try the Darkest Ninja medal I’ve been looking to attempt for some time. My recent attempts foiled by hip problems. Our paths almost crossed when I set out, but meeting up with attractive young Irish lassies in the middle of the night might raise some awkward questions, so I left her to her herculean efforts and promised her a coffee and scone next time. In fact, think I must be due her an entire five-course evening meal for all the times she has cleared Bonnyrigg for me.

My zone takes started with IKnowBroom, followed with BroomieGolf, after a short scoot across the golf course of the same name, avoiding getting wet passing the sprinklers. To reach my next zone, MelvilleGolf, you would usually follow the Melville Dykes Road downhill towards Eskbank, but there’s another less well-known route. If you head for the most northerly green, there’s a gap where you can drop down to Melville Golf club, along the edge of the pitch-and-putt course. Watch out for the nettles if wearing shorts. At zone MelvilleGolf, the clubhouse floodlight was strobing on and off rapidly, making for quite an eerie wait while the take completed.

SpotTheDog is the zone at Melville Castle Hotel. The easiest way to reach it – not during the day I must add, when golf is in play – is to skirt around Melville golf course and enter the wood at the lowest point where the wood edge kinks slightly. A path will take you down to a new footbridge across the River North Esk. You will see the hotel to the left, across the open parkland. During the day, only option is to take the main road.

I wasn’t originally planning on taking zone Entomophobia but was in the area so added it to the list. Now, the easiest way to reach it from SpotTheDog would be to head out along the hotel access road, turn left at the gate house and head for Dobbies Garden centre. But, yes, you’ve guessed, there’s another way. Start by heading out along the hotel access road and after passing under the A7 bridge, turn left and follow the dirt track. After about 500 meters, go right past some large logs and follow the narrow trail which brings you out on the A772 to the right of Dobbies, at the cottages. Only takes a few minutes’ scoot to Entomophobia. I always feel a little bit uncomfortable being here at night when the place is shut, but if questioned, we always have Turf to explain our activities.

The next two zones, WalkLasswade and MelvillePark, require a little backtracking along the Gilmerton road towards Melville Grange farm. Enter at the house before you reach the roundabout. The gate here is now usually unlocked but there’s a strand of nasty barbed wire along the top rail so beware. The next zone I wanted was GolfWatchCCTV, an easy scoot along the track towards Kings Acre Golf Club. There’s a not very obvious gate through the fence and the zone is in the parking area. Nice and quiet here at night. No golfers to give you funny looks when kick scooting, no errant golf balls and no cars to bother about on the entrance road. I made a point of taking up all the road just for the fun of it. My next zone was Wadingburn, a fairly easy, if uphill scoot, along the road to Loanhead. Then it was backtracking along Church Road for zone LasswadeKirk, located inside a pleasant churchyard.

To reach the next zone on the “tick” list, zone MrKevock. I followed a secret wee path through Lasswade. It’s difficult to describe in detail but if you head down School Brae a short way, for about 50 meters, there an almost hidden path on the right. It’s a narrow twisty route and not ideal for bicycles with numerous barriers to negotiate but it can be done. Easy enough walking or with the light and nimble Swifty scooter. And it was here that I reckon I picked up a nasty little passenger. It was later around breakfast that I felt an itch in my inner thigh and on closer inspection discovered an adult female tick busy trying to bury its head into my flesh. Thinking back, I had noticed an itch earlier but thought it just an ordinary insect bite and nothing unusual. Not all that easy to spot these life-blood-sucking vampires at night with the beam of a bicycle light.

Removing it was easy. I have the “Tick Twister” by O’Tom. It’s a little plastic hooked tool that grabs the tick by the head parts and a gentle twist pulls it out cleanly. Other methods, if not very careful, can leave the head of the tick embedded in your skin which it not good at all. I carry a “Tick Twister” kit on all my bikes and kick scooter, all the time. Some ticks can carry Lyme disease which can be very nasty. As a rule, at this time of the year, I usually carry out a tick inspection after being out in the countryside. Strip naked in front of a mirror, grab a good torch and check each and every dark spot you can see. For those difficult to see areas, ask your partner, a close friend or willing nearby turfer!

After zone MrKevock, it was a straight run along a well-graded footpath along the north bank of the River North Esk. However, I was not paying enough attention and missed zone Mavisbank and had to backtrack a little. The next zone, one of my suggestions I’m afraid, is MavisbankHse. But this one is easy to reach just requiring a short climb along a track to the ruins of the house. My final zone of the night was PoltonMill.

And that was it for the night. Again, not very productive regards time spent for zones taken or points gathered but as I mentioned above, I want my turfing to be more than just numbers. I want to explore strange new places, be out at Silly O’clock and boldly take my Swift kick scooter where no-one has kick scooted before. Until next time. Live long and prosper.

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