Sunday, 7 September 2014

30 Days Later.

Incredibly it is only 4 weeks since I moved house and it feels like I have been here forever.

Admittedly life has not been very normal as I am still off work with my broken wrist. It is healing and I am thankfully out of the stookie, but need to wear one of the velcro splint things for a while longer. I think there is quite a lot of tendon damage which can often take longer to mend than the bones.

To pass the time I have been doing small jobs around the house that can be done mainly with one hand and getting out to explore my new surroundings on foot. As much as I love the outdoors and fresh air, walking can sometimes be rather dull. I am too used to running or cycling on trails and although I'm no speed merchant at either sport, walking just takes ages. It can also feel, at least to me, a tad lonesome. This feeling was compounded one evening when out for a wee saunter along the river. Being in the country people actually say hello as they pass, sometimes pleasantries about the weather are even exchanged. On this particular evening however, I passed a man and his wife out walking their dogs. This was probably about the 3rd consecutive evening I had passed them but on this occasion rather than just say hello the man said "Hey Hen, you need tae get a dug, you look affy lonely!"

So I did look silly walking on my own, I knew it! It's similar to having a meal for one in a restaurant, people judge and put on that pity face or are just generally suspicious.

However I suppressed my "you'll die alone thoughts" as it was too nice an evening for that and got back to worrying about whether the cows would be out of their field and on the riverbank again. Although not a particular "feardy", I do draw the line at having to walk through a herd of cows. The only thing that could make that scenario worse is if each of the cows were being ridden by a clown. Clowns and cows *shudder* it's what nightmares are made of.

Anyway I digress, my phobias can wait for another day.

Not long after the throw away statement by the stranger, my good friend Beth happened to post a photo of a very handsome dog on my Facebook page, saying that he was in urgent need of a permanent home. As tempted as I was I thought I can't have a dog, I have to work etc, but those big brown puppy dog eyes had burned a hole in my soul.

We could meet at least, what's the harm in that. I presumed it would be similar to internet dating, the profile ticked all the boxes, handsome, likes the outdoors, not too young, not too old, toilet trained. In fact it read better than some human profiles I've had the misfortune to read. If we don't have a connection I will know soon enough, dogs don't lie.

So to cut the story short, we met, I fell in love and my heart ruled my head as it always does and I am now the very proud owner of a big hearted mutt that is slightly nervous and has some abandonment issues but is truly adorable.

He came with the name of Rufus but I have changed it to Bodhi as I think it suits him better. Bodhi in Buddhism is the understanding possessed by a Buddha regarding the true nature of things and literally translates into English as enlightenment or awakening but on a deeper level it was also the name of Patrick Swayze's character in the totally rad film that is Point Break.

We have been human and dog companions for under 2 weeks, but he is great company and I can now go for walks with my head held high and proudly displaying my "Young (not so), Free (mostly) and Single (but I have a dog) " badge.

I know at times it will be tricky to do everything I want, as I will have to make sure that his needs come first, but it will be worth it.

So Handsome.

Radar lugs.

I love my ball.

So tired.

I am the King of all I survey.

Peace x

All Photos by Caroline Harvey

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

7350 Days Later.

It's been a while since I last posted which I apologise for but I've a good excuse. 

I moved house!

There are times when I can procrastinate over small or even trivial decisions that may or may not make difference to my life, but when it comes to making big decisions I am fairly brutal and they are often quick and instantaneous. 

Giving up a career, taking time to travel, moving house away from my city and my friends. Yup lets do it, go, go, go!

As the title suggests, I had been the owner and resident (minus 1 year) of my flat in Edinburgh for a substantial amount of time and when I started to think about that I was beginning to find it quite depressing. The history of me and the flat goes back to when I was a child bride :-). Oh the hopes and dreams! Well maybe not, but it didn't stay a marital home for too long and soon the flat became my home. Some may say that this was an ominous beginning but hey you got to live somewhere and it wasn't the flats fault I married a twat.

Anyway we grew together and decorated quite a few times in those 7350 days. The TV programme Changing Rooms had much to answer to in a few of those years. Suffice to say there were quite a few ups and downs at number 42.

History is history though and it was time to move on and make some new memories. For many years I didn't know where I would actually want to move to. The only thing I could afford within Edinburgh would be smaller than I had already and even I am not old enough to downsize just yet. East and West lothian I've never really fancied for various reasons. So where, that was the big question.

Having taken up mountain biking a year or so ago and making frequent trips down to Glentress and the Innerleithen trails, I started to think about living in either Peebles or Inners. After research I decided that Innerleithen would be a good bet. It is a busy little town with lots of local amenities, walking and biking trails and actually not too far from Burgh either. Could I have found my Location, Location, Location?

That was it decision made, and so 12 weeks of madness began.

The sign went up and I was on the market, so to speak!

Preparing for my first weekend of viewing was taken up with much frantic cleaning and tidying up of all the things they tell you to hide to create space etc. No one came. Oh well next week. I think it was the 3rd weekend before anyone showed, just one lady, but she seemed to like it. I was giving my "this flat is great, area is great, neighbours are great" speech and had my fingers crossed that my sales pitch was working. It must have as she came back the next day with her sister for a second look.

Short story of the next sequence goes something like this; offer in, offer accepted, offer reduced due to her solicitors incompetence, I asked for cheeky in-between price, accepted, woop woop.

In the midst of these few days my downstairs neighbour complained my balcony was letting water seep through to his living room ceiling. Crap timing to say the least, 20 years and relatively few neighbour dramas. To say I was unamused was putting it mildly. Something else to fix before I leave.

Now I had to find somewhere to buy, luckily I had been trawling the net and had made pro and con lists for various houses. I made an appointment to see the one I thought had the best potential as my new life partner and low and behold it was love at first sight. Boom. Cheeky offer in, offer refused, reasonable offer in, offer accepted. Boom Boom.

To cut short the whole very stressful event, there were varying degrees of nonsense from all parties building warrants etc but eventually it all came together and the day before my moving date my solicitor phoned with the news that "missives were concluded". Those are by far the sweetest 3 words anyone has ever said to me in a very long time and I think I gave out a squeal of delight and maybe danced around a little. Nobody was looking!

Emptying my loft  took about 5 weekends and endless trips to the dump.

Tiles removed from balcony. I had them replaced obviously.

My spare room or box room as it came to be known.

Game on. OMG I'm actually moving.

And so it was on August 8th 2014, 7350 days after I moved in, I packed my goods and shackles and departed for the countryside.

I was beyond excited. 

It is a strange phenomenon that we, or at least I, spend hours reading reviews etc about the latest gadget, trainer, bike etc that i will spend my hard earned cash on, but when it comes to spending thousands, 2 look rounds and Bobs your Uncle you've bought a house.

Thankfully my new house has lived up to my expectations so far. The interior is slightly more "50 Shades of Beige" than I would like but I already have the colour charts at the ready for a more primary colour makeover.

One of my new views. A good weather window.

View towards Caddon Bank, bike trails R US.

A gift from my favourite wee boys.

View from top of hill of doom.

Mmm that's not good.

Ah yeah, it be broken then.

However, it has not all been smooth sailing since moving in to my new abode. In my keenness to get out and explore the new trails and paths, 4 days after moving in, I fell coming down a hill whilst out for a run and broke my wrist. I couldn't believe it, not only have I never broken a bone before I was actually in the midst of telling myself "now be careful as these rocks will be slippy" when Bam, my feet disappeared from under me. I landed at first on my backside, thankful my keys in my back pocket protected my fall. Not! Then as if that wasn't painful enough I then flipped sideways and went face first into the hillside and rocks. I smacked my chin and put my tooth through my lip, but my left hand took most of the force.

I got up in that, did anyone see me fall manner, and gave myself a check over. Blood, yes. Limbs broken, no. Anyone around, no. Ok good to go. I jogged slowly back down the hill wiping my lip as I went. Eventually I stopped to check my hand as it was throbbing and saw that it was not quite the shape it should be. Oopsy. Thankfully I found a fiver on the way up the hill, so went to the Scotmid to buy the obligatory frozen peas, only cost £1, still 4 quid up, hoorah.

After a few phone calls to my Mum and various friends, I iced my hand then went to bed. Another long story short I had to go to the hospital and they told me I had a fracture on my radius and put me in a stookie.

This may not sound like a funny story but it really is. My two very good friends and running companions have also fallen whilst out running recently. Beth was the first, badly bruised ribs and a smashed watch amongst her injuries. Heather was second, she fell and got stitches in her chin and messed up her hands and knees. I am hopefully the 3rd and last of this tripping up disease that seems to have befallen us all.

To make matters funnier, it was Heather that drove me to the A&E, she was still fairly heavily bandaged from her injuries. To say we looked like a "right pair" is a bit of an understatement.

The downside of injuring myself does mean that all the events i have been training for and were upcoming have all and to be abandoned. There is always next year.

I have a garden though.

One handed art work to tell people I've moved.

Phew can still hold a glass.

Oh Yes!

I have an apple tree.

The pointy hill is where I fell.

I have since done a couple of exploratory walks and found some great routes for when I can actually run again.

Top of Pirn Hill.

All things considered I love my new house and look forward to new and exciting times ahead. I even have a new coffee machine, so you can get a decent cuppa if you are passing my door.

Peace x 

All photos by Caroline Harvey

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Super Sisters.

Today was Edinburgh marathon day, when approx 30, 000 people descend upon the city and it's coastline to run in varying lengths of races.

Beth was so inspired by watching her sister last year that she signed up early on to run this 26.2 mile course.

Lesley, having run an amazing first marathon time last year got invited to do the London marathon in April, which she completed in and unbelievable 3hrs 20 something.

Both ladies had done all the training required and this morning I met them in town to see them off at their start points.  The weather was not great but it was better than the very hot day we had on Wednesday, which def would have been a killer for these fair skinned gorgeous ladies.

Sisterly love.

I was on bike support so once I had left them at the start I headed out to the 10 mile marker which was out past Musselburgh. I found a good spot next to a very chatty and friendly volunteer marshall.

Lesley came through first and was looking strong and cheery as ever, then came Beth also making light work of the course.

Now for those that don't now the course, it is one of the fastest courses in the world because there are relatively no hills, but don't let this fool you in to thinking that it is easy. Personally i think it must be hard as it is one long straight line for 18 miles then you turn around and come back! This also means that you see all the people ahead of you heading home as you may still be going out. To me this is mental torture, so extra, extra kudos to anyone who completes this marathon.

I was wanting to head to the 18 mile turn point, but it was too difficult to get along the road at any fast pace as the whole road is used by the runners. In the end I waited at around the 22/23 mile mark at Cockenzie. 

Some how I sadly managed not to see Lesley the 2nd time, because I think I may have been in the ladies room behind a wall.

I did see Beth however and another friend Becky. Both said they were feeling slightly weary but they looked in good health. I scooted off back to the finish to try and see everyone.

The finish was very busy but all were found and and in relatively good spirits.

Both ladies finished in highly respectable times. Lesley 3:31 ish and Beth 4:22.

I am so proud of both of them. They also raised £700 towards Macmillan cancer. 

Also a big shout out to Kathleen who finished her first marathon and raised £800 for Alzheimer Scotland.

The Elite athletes coming through the 10 miles in 51 mins!

So fast.


So many people.

Storm clouds over Edinburgh.

Yeah Beth almost at the end.

Peace x

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Keep on Running.

Way back in January I was needing to find an event to enter to give me a target and keep me motivated over the Winter months. Normally I leave this task to my lovely friend Beth, who has  roped me into various cycling, running events over the years, but this time I thought I would have a look myself to see if anything took my fancy.

I decided on a running event as it is hard to do many road cycling miles in the winter unless you have a turbo trainer, which I don't. There were so many to choose from, 10k's, half marathons and of course the full marathon, what to do?

I plumped for the half marathon as it was more of a challenge than a 10k but required a lot less training than a full one. Rather than go for a city pavement run I chose the Loch Katrine half, which although was still on hard tarmac had the added bonus of some stunning scenery.

The race was last Sunday, which thankfully was a clear blue sky day, slightly cold with a bit of a breeze but no rain or snow.

We arrived in plenty time (Beth ran too, she is in marathon training) which was great as it gave us plenty time to register and settle our nerves and get a good warm up done. The event is relatively small in size, approx 300, but includes a 10k, half and full marathon.

The marathon runners set off first and their course would take them the 13 miles down the loch and back, our route was obviously half that distance down and back.

It is a very popular walking and cycling route but I have never done it before so the route was unknown to me, which I actually quite like, although I do usually prefer circular routes, but you can't have everything.

We set off and not having run with other people around me in a very long time I was slightly concerned that I might be tempted to run too fast etc so I just focused on a pace that I thought I would be able to sustain for the 13.1 miles.

The route was quite undulating and so tried to keep as similar a pace as I could on the ups and if my legs allowed make the most of the downs.

As I approached the half way mark I was feeling quite good as I and done quite a few 6 milers, but hadn't really done too many over the 10 mile mark, so my thoughts at this point were "can I keep this pace going for the same miles back?"

I knew I was going fairly well as I could check the time on my watch and I was under an hour at the turning point. I tried to keep fellow competitors in sight and where possible try to catch up or at least match pace.

My legs were feeling pretty good and my calf muscles which have been acting up recently were also feeling ok. Basically it was head down and try and continue the same pace. As I approached the 11 mile mark I was feeling quite tired and possibly a little dehydrated but I could hear feet pounding behind me and tried hard not to let anyone past. At 12 miles the feet were closer and I looked over my shoulder and there was a lady just on my shoulder. She spurred me on by telling me that I had been the best pacemaker for the last 6 miles and I should dig in and give my best to get to the finish in a good time. This comment really spurred me on and I eventually crossed the finish line in 1:54:38.

Under the 2 hours, I was very pleased.

The race was an extremely well organised event and the route although out and back was in some of the most stunning Scottish scenery. It was also a very friendly race with competitors give encouragement to each other as they pass. The winner of the marathon even gave encouragement as he passed me!! He ran a full marathon in 2:49:35. Impressive to say the least.

Sadly I was unable to stop and take photos, which was a shame as the day was beautiful, so this is one from the start line.

Peace x 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

My New Love.

It's been a while since I posted but have been busy with various bits and pieces and have just not found the time to sit down and post. So here is a round up, more pics than words probably.

When I first started this blog, it was mainly to give information to friends and family of my year long trip to North America. At that point in time my main sporting focus was rock climbing and hence the name Caroline's climbs and photos. Since returning from that trip the amount of time I have spent climbing has steadily dwindled, I had lost my need and passion to continue at the same intensity, and to be honest I felt kind of lost without it.

I have now thankfully filled that gap in my life again, and as I think I have mentioned before, I have taken up mountain biking.

I love this activity so much and at the moment it is mostly what I do in my spare time. It has the same qualities that climbing used to bring to my life. I love the concentration and focus I need to have in order not to crash. I love the adrenalin rush you get when you complete a difficult route. I love the technical aspects of trying to ride fast and smoothly. I love that you learn every time you ride. I love that it gets me out in the fresh air and to beautiful places. I could go on but I think you get the drift.

I have now been to all 7 Stanes trail centres and this weekend brought it home that sometimes you just lose your head and find it hard to tackle obstacles. Similar, for me at least, when I used to lead climb outside at the start of the season.

Dalbeattie was the centre that managed to break my good spell of mental strength and I got the "fear", which in mountain biking can be dangerous, because it is at those moments that you pull the brake too sharply, take the wrong line etc and things just get messy!

However, I made it round with only one slight tumble but I am now determined to hone my skills further and try my best to keep them fears at bay.

When I've not been biking, I have been running and trying to get into the Pentlands when weather and daylight permits.

Morning Pentland run.

Trail at Aberfoyle.

Running at John Muir Trust Festival.

Running over Pentland hill tops.

Snow biking at Carron Valley.

Hard work but snow much fun!!!

Biking at Newcastleton.

Biking at Glentress.


Biking at Mabie.

Way home from Dalbeattie.

Single speed fun, sadly not my bike.

I am so glad that I was introduced to this sport, even at my age, because along with all the reasons mentioned earlier it is pure and simply fun.

Peace x 

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Big Breakfast.

I have been a Coeliac (gluten free freak) for about 15 years now. In this time the availability of gluten free food in the shops has increased massively and the choice of snacky treats is definitely getting better, some are even tasty!

The food labelling for allergens has also become much clearer, which is not only good for me but excellent for other people who may be trying to feed me.

Restaurants in the UK, in my opinion, have been slow to catch up with the change of dietary needs within the population and I am always very wary when eating out, so when I see a menu with GF written next to items, I still get stupidly excited.

This weekend contained one of those excited moments. For a little change to our normal busy weekend schedule, we decided to go out for breakfast on Saturday morning. After dropping off my bike at the shop for a well overdue service, we drove into town to Urban Angel on Forth Street.  I had checked the menu on the web the night before and they had a good assortment of delights to choose from so was looking forward to my breakfast.

After a quick look at the menu and a double check of what they could offer I decided to go with the same as my lovely companion. French toast with organic bacon and maple syrup!

To say that it was fantastically, mouth wateringly tasty is an under statement. I honestly thought I had died and gone to heaven. Such a simple dish to make, but the fact that I could order the same as a non gluten free person was so pleasing.

Obviously this could be easy, even for me, to make at home but the added decadence of going out for breakfast was just lovely. It's true that life is about enjoying the little things and for me those little things often revolve around food.

I did not take a photo of my delicious food so here is a rainbow instead.

Peace x

All photographs by Caroline Harvey

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Lovin' it.

The first full working week is over, thank goodness. It's always a thought knuckling back down to the dull repetition of work but in order to enjoy your free time, you got to make some bucks somehow!

The great thing about the end of the week is of course the weekend and this weekend was made all the better as the weather was fabulous. Cold, but fabulous.

Of course when the weather is good it makes the thought of going out and exercising so much easier and enjoyable. When the winter mornings are still dark and the urge to hibernate under the duvet is strong,  it is amazing to see a beautiful  blue sky take hold of the day. Even if there is no blue sky if it's dry and not blowing a gale, you've got to jump at the chance to get out and enjoy the few hours before darkness comes in again.

Saturday morning was one of those cold and very crisp mornings and having not run since the beginning of the week it was a great opportunity to head off the pavements and into the hills, or at least closer to them. The small amount of pavement and roads that i did go on were incredibly slippy with black ice, but thankfully I did not become a cropper. No speed records were made, but a successful 8ish miles were completed.

Sunday was mountain biking day. Yippee! Although the blue skies had been swapped for clouds it was dry, but still very cold and frosty.

The decision to head to Glentress and tackle the black route was made. I was especially looking forward to this trip as I recently treated myself to a drop seat (Rock Shock Reverb). This is a fancy seat post that you can lower and raise with the push of a button. This may seem a slightly pointless gadget to some people, but to me it is absolutely amazing. I like a high seat for climbing the hills but like it quite low for the downhills and on a varied trail this can be quite tedious and time consuming to do manually, but with this gadget you can do it on the move. It made me so happy it was beyond ridiculous.

Getting to the top of the black route is quite a leg and lung buster and is broken up with some technical downhills, but all the puffing and panting is worth it, not only for the views but for the great downhill at the end. To come down, we took the direct route that followed mostly red and then blue trail markers, and apart from having a few frozen gear problems it was a great run.

To top off a rather splendid January weekend, we stopped in at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Innerleithen. They have a gluten free menu that delights an especially hungry and slightly chilly me. A bowl of chips, a piece of carrot cake and a latte, blissful.

Now that, in my book, is a great weekend.

Morning run.

Morning bike ride.

Peace x

All photos by Caroline Harvey.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

365 days later.

Well it's that time again! Christmas has passed and now the new year is upon us. 2014! Wow, 14 years after the millennium already, where has the time gone.

It doesn't need to be the start of a new year to make you sit back and reflect on the past, but you always fall into it, or at least I do. My reflections tell me that on the whole 2013 was a fairly good one for me. It wasn't so good for a few close friends and family, but they have all come out the other side and fingers crossed 2014 will bring better health to those who need it.

I have many happy memories of 2013, good laughs with old friends, adventures with new friends, physical challenges achieved, and so much more.

What does this new, even numbered year hold in store, hopefully the same and more. I have no specific plans but I know I want to make more memories with a certain gentleman who makes me smile. I want time with my friends. I want to cycle more miles. I want to run more miles, and generally be content and happy.

Not too much to ask really!

Life is what you make it so live it and love it. I'm going to try.

Wishful thinking.

I wish for more mountain biking trails.

I wish for blue skies and sunshine.

Peace x

All photographs by Caroline Harvey.