On Sunday afternoon, as the last rays of summer looked set to leave us, I thought I would take the opportunity to get out for a walk with my youngest son. My wife was busy laminating stuff in preparation for her working week in school. They say 'a woman's work is never done'. I would substitute the word teacher
in that particular idiom.
We decided to head off to Cramond. As we were walking along the seafront, discussing the merits of why Lyndon Dykes was playing for Scotland in a game where what Scotland needed was a striker who could anticipate quickly and score goals, we became aware that there were events taking place. There were several sailing boats bobbing about opposite Granton harbour but no evidence of anything happening on the land. We deduced that the event was taking place in Fife.
As we approached the walkway, some cyclists whizzed past us, mostly small groups talking loudly. Unlike the lithe cyclists who normally compete in such events, the pack was made up of all shapes and sizes, some matching the ample proportions of one half of humanity.
As we meandered along the seafront, baking in the late summer sunshine, this idyll was shattered when two scooters speeded past us. Obviously not mods out for the day dressed in mohair suits, these guys lacked the sartorial elegance of the aforementioned stylists and set the populous scurrying for cover like the old folks in Death Race 2000
. These riders were going far too fast to be part of the bike race and their behaviour had a menacing air as they swerved and weaved past the aghast onlookers. It did occur to us that we could have stumbled unwittingly onto the set of the next Grand Theft Auto
game. As we reached the finish-line, we realised that it was a charity event to raise money for the homeless. The bikers were long gone, or so we thought…
As we approached the River Almond, I pointed out the house on the hill which used to be the domicile of J K Rowling. Since my son had not ventured this far up the river before, I suggested that we continue our walk, passing over the Meccano-like bridge which is treacherous when wet and still a bit scary dry, and past the fish ladder. He asked what it was. I told him it was a bit like a flume for fish to reach their spawning ground where they were born in order to release their eggs and then die. 'I'm glad I'm not a female fish', was his retort.
As we exited the riverbank, past the golf course and on to Barnton Avenue, a street which I have written about before in SR, I asked him to keep his eyes peeled as this part of Edinburgh was full of interesting architecture and unusual sights. He marvelled at the absence of cars, the pristine pavements, the dearth of bus stops, road furniture and roadworks, which is normally encountered when padding Auld Reekie's mean streets. The street-level post boxes are marked with 'letters' and 'parcels', so even the local postie doesn't get near the house. We speculated on what other items could be deposited in this manner? White Pearl Albino Caviar? Knipschldt Chocolate? China White? Heaven forbid such a thought, not in this leafy thoroughfare.
He asked why the pavements didn't have the telltale markings of the cable lines laid in the late 1990s which scar the rest of the city. I had no answer to give him other than to speculate that the internet that fed these domiciles possibly ran the length of the golf course on the opposite side. What other explanation could there be? Could they have their own internet provided by one of their legion who perchance owned a telco company? Or maybe a civil engineering company? That would work. They could ensure the road is clean and free from any unsightly remnants of previous excavations.
Could the denizens of this grand boulevard have a team of workers who are on permanent standby to uproot any weed that dares to show itself or crack that appears in this unsullied stretch of road? Have they struck a deal with the council to ensure that their street will never have unsightly speed bumps and drain covers? So many questions.
As we neared the end of the avenue and turned down the hill, the transformation to 'the real world' hit us like the proverbial ton of bricks. The uneven, drain-covered, cracked and pockmarked pavements became abruptly apparent to our, by now aching, feet. My offspring was complaining about having sore heels and asked how long it would be before we were home. The cycle path sign indicated six miles. He heaved a loud exasperated sigh and immediately did what all generation Z do when confronted with a problem: he checked his phone for a quicker way home.
We cut through a park. As we approached the exit, we spied two uniformed police who were scanning the area and speaking into their radios. We overheard them ask a man who was leaving the park if he had seen anybody running in the area. He replied 'no'. By the time we got there, they had split up and were scouring the surrounding area. Could this have some connection with the speeding bikers? The plot thickens…
As we made our way along the next section of the cycle path, the police presence become what could only be described as 'heavy'. Uniformed officers were stationed on the bridge and at strategic points along the pathways and tunnels, ready to spring out at any time like a skeleton on the ghost train and catch any wrongdoers. In addition to the foot soldiers, the sound of sirens was disturbing the early evening peace as several police cars were speeding up and down the highways.
Just as we thought the excitement was over for the day, we approached the stately area of Trinity and a motorised mountain bike came zooming towards us. This vehicle had large tyres and the rider was taking no prisoners, going at full pelt, towards the boys in blue. Five minutes later, another two-wheeler blasted past us leaving the smell of two-stroke wafting in the early evening air. Another psychopath on the cycle path.
This machine was an upgrade on the previous version, possibly being ridden by the latter's line manager. This bike resembled an enduro bike, the models championed by Tom Cruise and Matt Damon in their action hero movies. Again, the thought occurred to me that we had stumbled onto a movie set, either that or just another busy day in the life of Edinburgh's wooden tops who keep the city safe so we can sleep soundly in our beds.
Like the salmon swimming upstream, we eventually made it home to peaceful waters, well, in my case the bath, which I filled with steaming water and soapy suds to ease my aching limbs.
After checking the news, we discovered that a tanning salon in Davidson Mains was robbed for the second time in a week. Maybe Brexit has resulted in a shortage of hair dye? So many questions...