• AndyAsh

Back to the Bikes

It’s been an odd few weeks since we washed up in Hawick after our journey from Africa (and our mini celebration tour of Scotland).

The early part of our stay in Hawick was pretty dull. In between lem-sips and hot toddys, and time spent in front of the fire just sniffling and coughing like two barking seals, we checked out the town.

It’s a nice wee spot, a little way ahead of its past glories when the woollen industry was booming, but it seems nice enough. It’s early days, of course, but it seems like a pretty friendly place. There’s no shortage of amenities, and there’s even a few pubs that show the football…oh and I nearly forgot…a Greggs!

Anywhere that has a Greggs gets an uptick from me straight away.

On an early morning ride, I joined a huge queue of workmen all buying their lunches. Although I seemed to be the only vegan sausage roll customer. I felt like an outcast amongst the sausage rolls and the "Beefy Bakes", but it lifted me a bit when the woman serving me shouted out to the back to “get another tray of VSRs in the oven, we’re running out here!” I’d obviously missed the morning rush of early bird veggies, on their way to VSR fuelled yoga sessions.

Anyhow a week or two ago, we were feeling as if we’d neglected the bikes and so we got them out, sprayed a bit of lube around, and started exploring. Of course early on, I had reason to pop back to Edinburgh, and although it’s a really nice ride, high winds had me thrilled so much, I was very close to incontinence on a couple of occasions. I rode mostly unclipped. Lesson one; it’s windy around here.

Exploring closer to home though, we’ve found a lot of great roads, and some really nice rides. Although most of the roads are more broken than Boris Johnston’s promises, there are many traffic free routes on sporting rollercoaster roads to be explored. Lesson two; it's hilly around here!

As cyclists everywhere can appreciate, there’s an abundance of cafes, and plenty of nice spots for a picnic (if the temperature ever rises above the level of the average arctic tundra). Lesson three; bookmark the cafes!

A rare day of blue sky

Something that is new for us is riding long single-track roads deep into the Southern Uplands. They appear to provide a vital lifeline to the scattered farms and hamlets in the “interior”. Although there seems to be a lot of farming and forestry going on, the traffic is very light, and it’s very easy to ride two abreast and chat; a far cry from the eyeballs-on-stalks, bowel clenching, death race on the TanZam.

Sadly Africa seems far behind us.

In short, in the brief time we have spent here, we are enjoying it as much as anyone enjoys anything out of doors in Scotland. The climate is a little kinder than the West Coast climate we are used to, and if the sun ever shines here, it promises to be glorious.

We’re going to be here for a while, and we’re quite excited about exploring further; there’s plenty to go at! a friend in Uganda once said, How do you liveI THERE? - all your trees look like firewood!"

All of this of course hasn't stopped our wandering eye, and we’re already looking at ferry routes off this island to foreign parts. We have a few ideas…after all, that’s what winter is for isn’t it? Dreaming and plotting?

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