Althelstaneford, Trapain Law and East Linton run

This weekend I was very happy to join some friends, and old running club members, for an end of summer long run. We met in the peaceful village of Athelstaneford, the birthplace of the saltire, and headed over fields and past the ruin of an unfinished castle.

We then wound our way down and joined the River Tyne path. The path passes Hailes Castle on the opposite path which was looking very lovely in the sun.

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Next we tracked up hill and inland towards the imposing Trapain law, following part of the route of the June Law race. The hedges near the Law are heavy with brambles which I must go back for this week. There’s a small herd of beautiful exmoor ponies on Trapain Law (and also on North Berwick), one of which was a little surprised to see so lycra-clad humans running on his path.

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After a steep climb the views from the top of the Law were really special. The sun made an appearance for us and we could see all the way to the North Berwick Law and Bass Rock with a patchwork of fields in front of them.

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The way down the Law was not for the faint-hearted but we all made it injury free. After a rather nice run downhill we headed into East Linton where my run ended. Some of the fitter group members carried on to North Berwick but childcare duties were calling for me.

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Print tray collections

Our old next door neighbour (old as in we lived beside her a good few years ago, not her age in case she’s reading) has a beautiful new town garden flat. It’s filled with all sorts of striking paintings and unusual pieces but my favourite thing is her print trays. There are two big trays mounted on the wall, packed full of little objects. Each teeny item tells its own story and has earnt it’s place in the tray. It’s essentially a tray of some of her most cherished memories.

Rebecca, my daughter, is collection-mad. We blame it on one fateful Charlie & Lola episode which struck a cord with her collecting desires. She already has so many collections, paw patrols, princesses, tiny ponies, countless shells, pebbles and pine cones to name just a few of the current ones.

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I thought for her birthday she would love a print tray to house all of her beloved collections. I found a good one on eBay, with a nice assortment of different sized holes.

A few coats of white eggshell paint later it was all ready for her birthday.

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She’s loved it so far and had spent a long tine arranging a few of her favourite collections. We still have a lot of holes to fill which will be great fun for us both. We have also managed to put it out of her baby brother’s reach, which is proving good for sibling relations!

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I’m hoping the print tray will become her own little memory repository and that I’ll be able to share that with her and also watch the items change as she gets bigger and her interests change.

An East Lothian hidden gem

Seacliff is undoubtedly one of East Lothian’s hidden gems. I’ve been debating whether to write a blog on it as I’d rather like it to stay that way. However, I doubt my one blog piece will have any impact on visitor numbers! Seacliff is a village and beach found in a little known corner of East Lothian 5 miles east of North Berwick. It is also very close to Tantallon Castle, of which Seacliff offers some wonderful views.

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We reached Seacliff along a private road, which is on a sharp corner on the A198. A little further on you are directed though a barrier that gives access, on payment of £3, onto a rutted woodland track and to the grassy car park beyond.

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The fine sandy beach is a broad sweep at low tide, with much of the beach covered at high tide. Bass Rock looms impressively behind. The beach is generally deserted with the odd surfer, dog walker or horse riding group (more to follow on riding in another blog).

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The two highlights of Seacliff beach for me lie at the end of the beach. The first is the view of Tantallon Castle that emerges from behind the headland. The second is a fascinating harbour that was blown out of the rocks in 1890. This harbour is claimed by some to be Scotland’s smallest.

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Patchwork resolutions

We’re just back from a very sunny and busy few days in the South of England. I own a house near Gatwick which needed a bit of TLC after being rented out for 7 years and will hopefully now sell. Having stayed with some of our closest friends for the week I’ve come back inspired by their energy and enthusiasm. See Kirsty below painting while looking after a very content baby and dog – sorry kirst! So, I’m planning on using my spare time a bit more wisely.

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I like to have something to do with my hands if I get the luxury of an evening in front of the TV. Like so many other people these days, I’ve got into a really bad habit of sitting on my phone or iPad in the evening. I feel like I sometimes am living a bit of a virtual life. So, I’m resolving to put down the tech and pick up and finish my latest patchwork.

As anyone who knows me will know, my mum is very good at making things, particularly knitting and sewing. When I was a child my mum made herself a patchwork blanket. It was made with various scraps of fabric, some from my Granny too. I adored it and have vivid memories of the flowery fabrics and the soft, overly-washed feel of it. Here’s our childhood cat posing on it.

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A few years ago I finally finished a patchwork blanket for my bedroom. It’s blue/green/white and quite tranquil. It did however, take me 5 whole years (albeit on and off) to finish it.

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Nearly a year ago I bought some lovely fabrics to make a patchwork blanket for Rebecca for her first full size bed. It’s going to be a woodland/farm animal theme. But, then I had Hamish and it’s not even been out of the bag. So this week I’m picking it back up and hopefully finishing it in less than 5 years. Rebecca’s going into a full size bed next month so I’m already pretty late.

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I like to make my blankets by hand so the first step is to decide a pattern. I like the simplicity of “journey round the world” so will use this again. I then cut out a stack of paper squares to use as templates. The next step is to cut out an awful lot of fabric squares which will keep me busy for the next few weeks. Hopefully the next instalment in this blanket blog won’t take me 5 years…..

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Edinburgh Fringe fun

Edinburgh is getting very, very busy these days as it gears up for the start of the Fringe this week. The atmosphere during August in Edinburgh is electric with hundreds of street performers and thousands of shows, from stand-up comedy to opera and everything you could possibly imagine in between.

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We got the train from Longniddry and were quickly in the bustle of Waverley station. Whilst there are a lot of shows at the Fringe for children I haven’t attempted taking our rather lively daughter to any just yet. Instead we spent a good while enjoying the street performers on the Royal Mile. We were there quite early but there was still a lot of music and entertainment to enjoy.

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We had our first trip to the Central Library and also the Children’s library, both on Gearge IV Bridge, just off the Royal Mile. The Central Library is Edinburgh’s first public library and is a typically imposing building with a large number of books, a cafe and some exhibition spaces.

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The Children’s library is somewhat more modern inside. It’s well thought out with lots of cosy places for children to settle down with a book and good facilities including a craft room and weekly workshops. The library is open to anyone, although you would need to be an Edinburgh resident to take out a book.

After a child-friendly lunch in Pizza Express (there are many other options, especially for those without a toddler) we walked to St Andrews Square. During August St Andrew’s Square is one of many areas of Edinburgh that become open air entertainment and eating/drinking hubs. Edinburgh Gin have a really good bar at St Andrews Square too, which I highly recommend!

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We all had fun day in Edinburgh but were ready to get home for a rest. Aberlady is an ideal place to dip into the fun of the Fringe but then to quickly get back to peaceful East Lothian for a more relaxing time by the sea.

Knowes farmshop

The area just East of North Berwick has some lovely attractions. Beautiful elevated coastline with incredible views to Bass Rock, the imposing ruin of Tantallon Castle, wide, remote, unspoilt sandy beaches, quaint villages and a fantastic farm shop, called Knowes.

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Knowes sells a wide range of produce, much of it grown on the farm. They grow 80 different types of fruit and vegetables, including heritage potato varieties which come in sacks up to 25kg. The produce is organic, has almost no food miles and is very reasonably priced.

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There are 300 free range chickens kept by the farmshop. You can buy their eggs in the farmshop and if you time it right they are just laid and warm. If you ask at the counter you can feed the chickens (whether you have children with you or not!).

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A nice selection of homemade food is available using farmshop produce. There’s also local shellfish, game, cheese and a recently expanded gift shop.

 

 

Dunbar leisure pool

Dunbar is just a few miles down the A1 from Aberlady and is also on the coast. Dunbar is the birthplace of the explorer, naturalist and conservationist John Muir. The house in which Muir was born is located on the High Street, and has been converted into a museum. There’s quite a few things to do in Dunbar, a lot of which we’ve not even tried ourselves yet, so hopefully we will cover more on the blog soon.

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The large house opposite the swimming pool is very beautiful but is now divided into flats.

We all enjoy  a trip to the swimming pool in Dunbar though. It has waves, slides, bubbles and a water fall so is very family-friendly. You can sit on the pool side and have a drink while one adult goes in which is useful. There is also a part of the pool where you a swim lengths although we do tend do go to Haddington or Prestonpans for an adults-only swim.

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The pool is right by the harbour on a cliff. You can see the sea while you are swimming and the views down to the harbour are very beautiful. The kittiwakes were very, very noisy this weekend and lovely to watch.

After 45 minutes in the pool the children (and adults) were starving so we stopped at the Dunbar Garden Centre, by Asda on our way home. We were very impressed with their huge cake selection and the kids enjoyed the outdoor play area.

Yellowcraig beach

This week we made the most of the good weather and drove to Direlton one evening. The beach at Dirleton, called Yellowcraig, is a mile or so from the actual village. Yellowcraig is one of my favourite beaches in East Lothian. Its a very long, wide expanse of flat yellow sand with wonderful views to the island of Fidra, Bass rock and the North Berwick Law in the distance.

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I used to share a lovely horse in Dirleton pre-babies and was very fortunate to be able to ride along the beach every weekend. Not a photo from this week.

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From the car park it’s a 5 minute walk through woods and sand dunes to get to the beach. There’s also a large children’s play area near the car park which our children love. The car park has a very nice new toilet and shower block and often an ice cream van.

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As we reach the beach the views to the nearby island of Fidra and the lighthouse always impress me. Fidra is reportedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s treasure island. The lighthouse on Fidra was automated in 1979 and can be accessed from a private jetty.

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Last night there was an incredible noise from all the seabirds settling down to roost on Fidra, which is an RSPB reserve. There are remote cameras on Fidra which you can look at in the Seabird Cente in North Berwick. We also saw a rather handsome heron enjoying the evening sun.

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We really were spoilt yesterday because as the sun set on the hottest day of our summer (so far), this beautiful full moon was rising.

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Fishing on the river Tyne

Living in a county which has such a beautiful coastline, we do tend to spend a lot of our time at the beach. But growing up in Northumberland we were a long way from the coast and often spent the day at the river catching minnows, building dams, making boats and having a BBQ. Often the weather is a little bit warmer slightly inland and this was no exception this week when we headed to the River Tyne in Haddington.

We parked at the sports centre and followed the path along to the river. There’s a good, tarmac path all the way along the river at Haddington. We walked for 10 minutes to the first shallow sandy part of the river.

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You can walk a long way along the river in both directions and you can pick up the old railway and walk/cycle to Longniddry and villages along the route. This is a run I quite like when I’m a bit fitter.

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The children had great fun at the river and even caught some minnows with granny’s help. The report very is generally shallow and slow flowing in summer. It also seems very clean.

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My sister brought us all a very tasty picnic. The deli in Haddington had apparently been rather good for picnic bites. We were even luckily treated to a flash of blue as a kingfisher whizzed past.

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The views on the drive back from Haddington to Aberlady also deserve a quick mention. This is a protected view and I think its very obvious why. Its always lovely to look down on our beautiful little village by the sea.

Scottish Ornithologists Club Headquarters

The Scottish Ornithologists Club (SOC) aims to promote the study, enjoyment and conservation of wild birds and their habitats across Scotland. The SOC is a birdwatching club and also a network of volunteers across Scotland, gathering important information about our country’s wild birds. The SOC also run a programme of talks, outings, conferences.

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We are lucky that the headquarters of the SOC are located in Aberlady. If you are visiting Aberlady to enjoy the nature, particularly the birds then this is the perfect place to start your trip.

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The Headquarters are in Waterstone house which is within easy reach of some of Scotland’s best coastal birdwatching sites. Waterstone house is set in beautifully planted and landscaped gardens and has a pond at the back with a viewing area. There is also a library and small gallery, which has regular art exhibitions.

Every time we visit there are friendly staff available to provide help and advice to visitors. There is also a recent sightings board, tide tables, birdwatching resources and fresh tea/coffee, a small shop with a range of binoculars, bird food, cards and books, second-hand books and artists’ prints. There is a small area with children’s colouring, toys, books and beanbags and all children are made very welcome too.

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Waterston House runs a programme of events throughout the year, including art exhibitions, Birdwatching for Beginners courses, an Annual Book Fair, Goosewatch and Optics Days.

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Entry to the centre is free and all are warmly welcomed.The website is found at http://www.the-soc.org.uk.