189. Is the Grass Greener? The joys of sheep identification

Monday 14 August 2023

Possibly blue texel sheep

Hurrah for Fitbit, I definitely wouldn’t have gone out and walked more than 10,000 steps if I hadn’t felt Fitbit guilt. I want to go out more and I want to get back to walking that much every day. It felt good to be outdoors and chatting away to myself, taking photos of sheep (I have become a keen identifier, something I might once have thought was a bit dorky) and enjoying the scenery. I did find myself very annoyed with the number of people I saw on the road though. And more vehicles than I would have expected (at least twenty, though four of them were the same car). I kept seeing numbered labels attached to the people. They all looked knackered, all wore shorts, many had walking poles and one clearly had a defective shoe and/or foot, causing her to limp slightly and squeak (her shoes, not her). It transpired that part of the road is unlikely to always be that busy; they were part of GB Ultras Race Across Scotland, racing from the west coast of Scotland to the east coast of Scotland. Oh my goodness, I’ve just Googled it. Turns out – not surprised they looked knackered – it’s a marathon and they have to reach certain places within certain times. There is a 100-hour cut-off time to complete the 215 miles, which looks like it might be 220 miles this year due to a diversion. They started at 6am on Saturday and I saw them around Boston Village Hall at about 16:30, checkpoint 8, at 139 miles with a time to reach that point of 22:21, 64 hours into the marathon. Oh my. They have been running (walking, mainly, where I saw them) for almost 140 miles. I assume there are resting areas at all the checkpoints. There is certainly room in the village hall for people to lie down, use a loo, have drinks and food etc. I feel I should have been cheering them on rather than grumbling to myself about the amount of people I saw on my walk, interrupting my conversation. I did at least say hello.

Ettrick Valley

I’d never walked along that part of the road, it is a really pretty valley and a lovely place for a walk. I had parked along the edge of an exceptionally wide track, fortunately right along one side. When I got back to my car about an hour and a half later, there was a brown luggage label tied neatly to the driver’s door handle. Very politely and very neatly was a message asking if I could park on the other side of the road (an area with far too many potholes, hence I’d opted for the far wider area opposite) as lorries need to turn where I had parked. It was very nicely written and I kind of like the time and effort which went into writing the note on a lovely brown luggage label.

Yesterday, I had a selection of walks, most with Max and Chris. For Max’s last day staying with us, and before Chris travelled down to London for work on the same train as Max, we went to some of Chris and my favourite places, the bothy at Over Phawhope, Ettrick Kirk and Samye Ling Tibetan temple. On the way back from dropping Chris and Max off at Lockerbie, I saw the Charolais bull on the road ahead again. As with last time, he stayed there, slightly alarmingly having displayed his strength to me/the car by showing off his muscles, just watching me with an unexpectedly kind look in his face as I drove past.

I am now either going to make dinner or start painting the “Indian room”. It is cleared and ready for paint, though this includes the (admittedly very small) ceiling and I have never painted a ceiling before. No, dinner first.