Turf Blog 26-10-22

Turf zone – BridgeOfFaith

Occasionally, after a session turfing on the bicycle or kick scooter, Mr Aching Back returns to remind me that I’m not 17-years old anymore and should take more care of myself. One solution to Mr Aching Back is a nice long hot soak in the bath. Does the job just fine. But here’s a wee something I want to share with you. An experience.

Next time you have a bath, and after you’ve finished with whatever activity you do in the bath, be it playing with Mr Quack your plastic duck or Sharky the Shifty Shark, digging the fluff from your navel, playing Up Periscope, or some other activity I dare not mention. Or perhaps you simply take a bath. I want you to lie back in the water, as deep as you can. Ideally, get at least your ears under water (sound is important) but not your nose as you will need to breath. This last part is very important. Now, relax, take deep breaths and be totally calm and chilled. Allow yourself to float in the water if you can, arms loose.

Ready? Now release the water, pull the plug and let the water drain away slowly. Assume your relaxed position again or better get someone else to pull the plug for you. Perhaps a family member, loving partner, the next-door neighbour you fancy or why not contact a friendly turfer on WhatsApp or the Turf App for an assist. Whatever, pull that plug and relax back in the water again. Now the experience begins.

You may not notice much at first but soon you will feel the water slowly flowing away, gently pulling your body down into the bath. Notice the change in sound with your ears under the water, your breathing sounds like that of a diver, other sounds different and strange. As the water recedes the suction of the dropping water level pulls you onto the bath. Imagine you are being drawn slowly into a Black Hole, or down the plug hole to vanish forever into the underworld of the waste water treatment works down the road. Then your ears clear the water and normal sound resumes. That last trickle of water seeps away and you are now a stranded human, a fish out of water, stuck helpless in the bath. Relax again, you didn’t really go down the plug hole. Go on give it a try, I dare you.

Okay, this doesn’t really have much to do with turfing but it might help you relax. So, time for some turfing. Good old Dalkeith Country Park again, otherwise referred to as DCP, because I’m lazy sometimes. DCP had a few zones showing red on the Turf app, only a few and not really worth the effort points wise but I was up for a night-scoot on my trusty Swifty Air kick scooter. However, things almost went pear-shaped as I approached the main park gates. They were closed. And guess what, I’d forgotten to bring my Friend of Dalkeith Acorn membership card to access the pedestrian gate. The gates close at 7.00 pm each evening. Thankfully, the pedestrian gate was unlocked. Mental note to self – remember to bring the bloody card next time!

The evening was very mild for the time of year, and perfect for kick scooting. And having scooted down from the house in Bonnyrigg, I was feeling rather warm. Now, I usually wear running leggings and removing them in the wild to don shorts can be quite good fun. First you need to remove your footwear, in my case river sandals. But it’s muddy underfoot so where do you stand? So, I try balancing on my sandals to keep the feet dry. First you get one leg free than almost fall over. I relocate to a nearby tree for support. Of course, I’m also in the dark. Should I use the scooter lights to see what I’m doing and reveal my naked parts to all and sundry, or fumble about blindly in the dark?

Right, both legs free now. Where do I put my leggings? Muddy everywhere, remember. I drape them across the scooter handlebars. Now, where’s my shorts? They’re in the scooter front pannier somewhere. Eventually I find dig them out. Then, suddenly, voices behind me and some lights approaching. A group of dog walkers, even here at night in the dark! Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic, as Corporal Jones used to say. I panicked! Of course, I’m struggling to balance and do a merry balance getting them on. But eventually, I’m decent and continue on my way. Only later do I realise I’ve dropped my pack of Planet Gary cards. Oh well, I have plenty more, no problem. I also had to return to collect my leggings which had fallen off the handlebars into the mud. Never located the cards.

My route towards zone Restoration takes me along Dark Walk, that’s the path through the beech wood towards the right, behind the church. The surface is wet and muddy but the Swifty manages fine. Only one short section where the scooter goes a bit squirrelly on the mud. Then a left past where the Old Cow Bridge used to stand and finally out onto the tarmac road leading down to Restoration Yard. Still plenty of lights on, it’s only 7.30 pm, and there’s still staff working inside the buildings, though the yard is closed to the public.

Next across to Steel Park, following the track to the main parking area. The car park is empty, all the day-trippers have gone but the floodlights remain on. The zone is called ParkOfSteel and easily reached along a rough track. No livestock in the fields tonight but wise to check first if the gate is closed. My next zone is ToEdinburgh, located on the path that runs through the wood to the north. Sign posts here advise that cycling is not permitted, which I’m sure is actually illegal under the Scottish Access Code. In any case, I crossed the field, jumped the metal barred gate and joined the path. Not likely to meet anyone anyway. Mind you, I kind of do want to meet someone from DCP and have words with them about these signs. I suspect I will one day. Looking forwards to that. I did email them once but never got a reply.

Actually, when I say jumped the gate, don’t have any mental images of Superman leaping tall buildings in a single bound, I really mean clamber awkwardly over with the scooter on my shoulder. And the gate is a full-size metal barred gate. So, if you are coming this way with an e-bike forget it, the gate is securely locked. You will need to go the long way round. I actually came across a clients e-bike at Mutts Cycles and it was very, very heavy. I checked online and it weighs in at 34 Kg. I guess that’s the whole point of an e-bike, you can go the long way round.

Following the path brings me to the next zone BridgeOfFaith, so named, I suspect, due to the sign that states, no more than two people on the bridge at once. This had me thinking. What constitutes two people. Is that two people like myself who weight about 70 Kg. What about large people who weight twice that? Should only one of them across at a time? I can just imagine the shit-storm if they posted signs restricting access to larger than normal people.

After BridgeOfFaith, I push the Swifty up the hill. Yes, sometime you need to push up steep slopes. No gears on a kick scooter other than my legs. Then along the dirt road and I’m heading for my next zone, NewtonChurch. Access to the zone is through a handy wee gap in the wall, then across a field and the zone is mine. I now had a decision to make. Should I return to DCP and head for home, perhaps via Newbattle? Or should I scoot across to Millermill grab the two zones there, then along the Kaim, past Melville Castle and back that way? I decide upon the latter.

Millerhill is located on the other side of the bypass, not something you want to be kick scooting across. Not only is it illegal but you will likely find yourself totally transformed into something else, in other words roadkill. Thankfully, there’s a handy underpass. Just follow the track and you will emerge at Millerhill. Note that the underpass floods after heavy rain, leaving a large puddle. Usually, you can get by without getting wet feet on the raised pavement but worth noting if coming this way. The two zones in Millerhill, ToMillerHill and TheSculpture were easy takes, then a fast and easy scoot to the roundabout to take the path along The Kaim, a raised ridge of glacial of sand and gravel. Not that you would notice this, it’s just another path for the uninitiated.

I’m now heading for home, scooting across the Sheriffhall roundabout gets me lots of stares from car drivers queuing to cross. It’s just a kick scooter, I thinking, why all the interest? You’d think I’d grown two heads or was kick scooting naked, for goodness’s sake. Oh my God, I am naked, all my clothing must have been torn off when I wrestled that grumpy rock troll in the underpass. Hmm, or was that something on Netflix? Or maybe that blue pill thingy wasn’t just a sweetie. Perhaps I have gone down the rabbit hole. The remainder of my turf-scoot was uneventful, at least in the real world. Down to Melville Castle hotel, across the bridge, round the golf course, down to Eskbank and I’m back home. Bye for now.

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