Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Rum Do

As I sat on a train to Dunbar at 10:30 on a Saturday morning, plastic tumbler of "Rhubhardie Gin" (with floaty bits) in hand, I reflected on how easy it is to rally a band of "ment'lers" (© Lisa Boyd). The steps taken were as follows:

  1. Drink 2-3 pints in the Golden Rule.
  2. Hatch up a vague idea to celebrate Matt's 42nd birthday with 42km, riffing on Jim's suggestion of a "rum run".
  3. Send out a minimally informative email to likely accomplices.
  4. Do nothing for several weeks (either in the way of planning, or running)
  5. Let others plan/choose a route (under the guise of democracy)
  6. Panic-buy rum
  7. Arrive at Waverley Station
So, thirteen of us piled out at Dunbar station, and into the sunshine. A chilly wind nipped at the heels and got us moving down to the coastal path.

Wet feet already.

First stop was for pina colada, selected for its nourishing smoothie-like qualities. And with coconut, pineapple and a morello cherry I reckon we made a good start on our 5-a-day. So healthful!

At this point it really sunk in how lucky we were with the weather. It was everything you could ask of a November day, crisp and golden with a low slung sun. We tootled on, crossing a slightly worrisome bridge, past a fancy looking house (dubbed Gormenghast by Peter) with some marvellously stout trees in the grounds (no photos, I was too "in-the-moment").

Peter bravely overcoming his aversion to rum.

Stop number 2 was Doorly's 5 year old Bajan rum, to be drunk neat. Not even any "on the rocks" fancy-schmanciness. It was...warming? A wee history lesson from Jim about the tank defences, and on through the dappled woods to St Baldred's Cradle and Tyninghame Beach.

The Snogging Bench

Er, Jeff...

I really am in love with this section of the coast. The combination of ochre lichen on the dark grey, blocky rock formations against that blue sky is swoonworthy. And Jeff got my pulse racing too by scampering along the jaggy ridge at St Baldred's Cradle. I will NOT be showing these photos to the kids. Tyninghame Beach is so spacious, it's like taking a deep breath with your eyes.

Wet feet, or up  'n over?

Our presence added some ecological diversity to this field.
 We enjoyed a few obstacles en route to Tantallon Castle: bushes, walls, gymkhana jumps, giant tyres, gates...

My pathetically wimpy iPhone battery started conking out with the cold around this point, and deprived me of close-up pics of Tantallon Castle.  

At this point we were already very, very late for our rendezvous with Helen, Willie, Fraser and Elly at North Berwick.  My phone thawed out long enough for me to alert Willie of our tardiness, and to put the wheels in motion for some chip-ordering. As they enjoyed the comfort and diversions of a tavern, we perched high above the shore, daiquiri in hand, admiring Tantallon's beautiful decay. Jeff brought out some awesome rum truffles (sadly no photos - too busy eating).

Even with this refreshing snifter under the belt, I was flagging a bit by this stage, and keen to get something hot and salty inside me. 

Here comes Willie! and not a minute too soon.
Lisa, Euan and Phil Y bade their farewells as we refuelled with the lunch of champions (again no photos, too busy eating), but with Helen, Fraser and Willie joining us, the crew remained steady at thirteen. After plundering a Co-op for liquid provisions, we trundled on over more golf courses. Lovely teletubby-smooth undulations.

After a brief resurgence of energy levels, my knees started to hurt really quite a lot, which I suppose I shouldn't complain about as we were at least 16 miles in. But I did complain. And so did Matt who was feeling a bit sick. And so did Willie because he's "too slow" (even though he was trucking along just fine as far as I could see). And then I fell over and bumped my knees, even though I was far too sober. And the fastards at the front wouldn't stop, despite our pleas. Willie's intervention ("FUCKING STOP!") eventually brought respite, and we sheltered by a cave for a cuba libre. Or a virgin cuba libre in my case (AKA a coke with lime wedges). 

Fraser summoning his minions.

The sun (and temperature) had lowered quite a bit by this point, and I remembered that I had decided not to bring my headtorch. Curses! But I did have plenty of warm clothes. Perhaps the fasties were upping the pace to keep their wee nekkid legs warm? 

Yaaar....thar be a blaggard!

The views were just spectacular along the various bays and beaches to Gullane, and even though the wheels had fallen off the wagon, it would have been churlish to grumble too much. Matt and I were hanging on at the back, but eventually caught up with some of the others. A restorative nip of Willie's whisky mac, and another of his strawberry and lime cider, and yet another of Fraser's whisky (Auchentoshan? I forget) put just enough fire in the engine to hobble to the car park in Aberlady. 

Chris, walking the plank...ahaar.
It seemed impossible to me that we would all regroup, as the crew had spread far and wide around Gullane and Aberlady Bay, and yet within minutes of arriving at the car park Jim, Neil, Phil H and Peter (et al?) hove into sight, having taken the longer route along the beach (rather than over the headland). At this point it got kinda dark, literally, mentally and er...rummily as we forced down some ominously black "The Kraken" spiced rum. NB: Chris had carried this hulking bottle all the way and wasn't even a partaker - gold star to Henty for his efforts!

We ventured forth into the darkness, and I felt quite hopeless about my legs which were hurting all over. I was pretty sure we only had a couple of miles to go, max, and was quite devastated to see that "Aberlady to Longniddry" on google maps is actually nearly four miles. However, Jim lent me a headtorch, Peter distracted me with chat, and Willie very nobly took on the role of Chief Root and Hole Detector, alerting us to their presence by sprawling on the ground. 

The Wise-Gibsons peeled off just outside Longniddry to Helen's parked car (oh the envy), and we made the final push to the station (which mercifully was about half a mile closer than I'd expected). There was a brief discussion as to whether to head to the nearby pub for the 20 mins or so before the train arrived, but I doubted my ability to run (or even walk briskly) from the pub back to the station in time, so we retired to the waiting room for a hot toddy. Oooh it was lovely. 

By my watch we did more than 45km, which sadly means that Matt is now several years older than when he started. Perhaps he should run backwards for 3km from Longniddry to reverse the damage?

Thank you SO MUCH for the merry band of swashbucklers who joined us, and gamely carried coconut cream, lime juice, cherries, coke, lime wedges, sugar syrup, hot toddy flasks, and RUM! It was a grand day out and such a pleasure to hang out with you all. I can only hope you're not as crippled as I am today, especially John and Alex who are doing the cross country in Lauder. Ment'lers!