Tag Archives: photograph

The Challenge – day 3: The Reader’s Wife (or the Naked Truth)

Rachel (RachelSquirrel) has challenged me, not a cycling challenge as such but a photograph and writing one.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

Looking back to the Hopetoun Moument (top left), with a closer-up view

Looking back to the Hopetoun Moument (top left), with a closer-up view

Today I was with the B-Spokes, an assorted group of gentlemen (occasionally), mainly retired, who  met up for a coffee stop, interrupted on either side by a cycle ride, today 40+ miles.

As we wound our way along I was thinking of the tale I could spin. I passed & photographed the tower – the Hopetoun Monument, which was  “erected to the memory of the Great and Good John, Fourth Earl of Hopetoun by his affectionate and grateful tenantry in East Lothian” (oh yeh?) as it says on the plaque on the side. You can climb up a fabby spiral worn stone staircase to the top with amazing views from the hill to the sea and the Southern Highlands on a good day.

We then popped into the Bothy in Aberlady for our obligatory coffee stop (with a chocolate brownie in my case). On our way out of the village we passed the gate above and I stopped to take the photo. I was reminded of a strange incident from many years back.

I had been training for the ’70 Wild Miles’, an event up near Glencoe in the Highlands. It consisted of a cycle ride of 47 hilly miles down to Taynault on Loch Etive, a sea canoe for 10 miles to the head of the Loch and a run of 13 miles, with 1,000 feet of ascent back up to the head of Glencoe. Running is not my strong point so I obviously needed to get some miles in.

The night before there had been a programme on the gogglebox about ‘Reader’s Wives’. For those not in the know the girly magazines used to have a feature showing photos of ‘ordinary’ married women divesting themselves of clothing and appearing in prrint.

It was a wild, chilly November evening and I was dropped off at that gate to run the few miles back home (it was early in my training plan). I set off up the path running along the field edge, seeing the tower behind gradually getting larger on the horizon. About a mile or so in, I spotted a couple some way ahead in the field just a wee bit off the path. As I got fairly near I realised it was a man and a woman. I also realised the man had a camera on a tripod aimed at the woman with the tower in the background. I suddenly realised that the lady(?) was naked. So advance or retreat? I had been spotted so I carried on past them, gave a cheery wave and a greeting and continued on my way. As I ran I ruminated on this strange meeting, the symbolism of the priapic tower not being totally lost on me, the fact that I seldom saw folk on these runs, plus such a chilly, windy evening to be baring all, so a triple surprise.

Were they influenced by the programme the night before or was it just chance? Anyway, as they say down south “nowt so strange as folk”.

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The Challenge

Rachel (RachelSquirrel) has challenged me, not a cycling challenge as such but a photograph and writing one.

The rules of the Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge are:

1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation. This is fun, not a command performance!

So how could I possibly refuse. I’m starting today as I have a photo:

Regrouping beside the blacksmiths at Saltoun

Regrouping beside the blacksmiths at Saltoun

So here’s the photo, taken this morning. We’ve had a glorious few days with temperatures up to 19ºC and hardly any wind. Then yesterday the grey skies arrived again and this morning the rain had set in and the temperature was down to 5º, it’s approaching midsummer, a Scottish midsummer so winter had arrived again! So donning a modicum of clothing, but still a bit foolishly I ventured out to join the Haddington Cycle Club. After a damp ride the few miles up to the town and then a wee loop as I knew I was early, I approached Samson on his pillar on top of the fountain. No-one was there, so I set off on another mini loop, just in an attempt to keep warm. When I arrived back folk were gathering. There were a couple of new folk so it was great to meet them and welcome them. It always gladdens my heart when newcomers turn up for a ride.

Now we assembled, a complete dozen, and set off  into the wind and rain down the way I had just come up, ah well. We squelched our way up past the wild ponies on Traprain Law, a local volcanic laccolith of Phonolitic trachyte (a kind of volcanic boil which hadn’t been lanced, there was a Roman silver hoard found there as well, but no chance of a sighting today). Then came the steeper climbs up to Whittinghame and Gifford. Despite, or maybe because of the rain everything looked just superb, vibrant greens and browns.

Eventually we had a slightly longer stop than the usual catchups, at Saltoun, to munch a bit of sustenance. Saltoun is a lovely wee village, with a three angel statue, an unusual church with a spire on top of its tower and a blacksmith’s forge with a huge pile of old horseshoes outside. It’s brilliant on the rare occasions I’ve cycled past and a horse is being shod, with the forge roaring away, all red and gold flames. Today it was silent though, but the temperature had risen to a balmy 6º and the rain had stopped. The village was the first place in Scotland to have a barley mill  in the early 1700s as well.

After refreshment and chat we were off again, with chilly damp feet cooling nicely on the hurl down the hill. We got back to Haddington and I signed up, metaphorically, for an extra loop especially as it passed my house. So up the 6º climb out of the toon, and the temperature rose to faintingly hot 12º with glimpses of sun, before I arrived back home after a somewhat damp 44 miles and bid farewell to the group on the loop.

So history, geology, statistics, meteorology, equines, pain and suffering as well as joy, what more could you want in a story?

And tomorrow, hopefully, two wheel adventures of a different kind!