Slow blood, slow day

Right after I got a reminder card to say I could come in to donate again in a couple of weeks I got a letter from the Blood Donor folks saying they were extremely short of my group and could I come in ASAP, which is pretty much what happened a few months back when I last went in. Nice to be popular for something, I suppose :-). Since the clinic is open late on Thursdays I thought I may as well drop in on the way home and donate a pint; imagine my surprise at finding it absolutely full of people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many folks in at the same time to donate blood and obviously that is terrific. Although it did mean that I was there for ages because of the amount, then my blood kept coming out very slowly, setting off the alarms on the machine. After much fiddling with the damned big needle in my arm (ouch) to no avail the older nurse comes over, makes one adjustment and presto (no substitute for experience); guess it is like tapping a keg, got to do it just right to get it to flow. Thus endeth my good deed for the week. And despite how busy it was that night, I’d still encourage anyone who has been thinking about it to give it a try, they always need more donations (especially when the Transylvannian tourists come to town). Plus you always get a Tunnock’s Teacake at the end of it :-).

On Saturday Mel and I piled into Gordon’s car along with Bruce and his happily wagging tale, headed out over a sparkling Forth, across the bridge and into a very sunny Fife (as you can see from the pic, it looks like half of Edinburgh was heading over for the day as well). Mel’s brother Alan had a loan of a big caravan for the weekend and since we were heading over into Fife to make the most of an incredibly hot summer day and to let Bruce run about daft on a beach we thought we may as well go visit him. We knew he was staying near one of the small towns near the sea so we thought we’d take the coast road, which is a lot slower but we knew it would go pretty close to his site and besides it’s just a lovely route, especially on such a bright, summer day.

Up and along the coast of Fife, through Burnt Island and keep going, following that coastal road which goes up large hills with drops on one side and fabulous views of the sea sparkling away below and then down again into valleys, sea still on one side, just beyond soft, golden-sandy beaches, on the landward side fields rich with summer crops, hay gathered and stacked. After meeting Alan we headed down into nearby Lower Largo, past the ‘birthplace’ of Robinson Crusoe and a good walk on the beach, some splashing around and, of course, ice creams (hey hot summer day on the beach and no ice creams just wouldn’t be right, would it now?). In the pub carpark we spotted an utterly gorgeous Harley; immaculate, its chrome shining like mirrors in the sunlight. Harleys may be very slow and handle terribly compared to European and Japanese bikes, but by god they look fantastic and they sound like real motorbikes.

The big caravan had a large open deck on the front, raised up to take in the view, so we we parked our butts out there, right under a big, ‘ole tree with a view across the fields and trees right out to the sea. Sun slanting through the leaves, cool jazz playing on the radio, sea breeze cooling us; the long grass in the fallow field swaying gently, birds darting in and out of the trees. And us just sitting back, sipping a cold one and utterly relaxing. A long outdoor meal and more to drink with that view there; hours slip past as we chat and drink and chill. Ten o’clock comes and goes and it is still light here; the shadows had grown until they stretched the length of the field in front of us – at this time of year the Scottish twilight lasts for hours. The sky had been a pure arc of light blue, now the sunset added bands and splashes of colour, reds, pinks, oranges, like an Impressionist painting while the cooler air of evening and the last of the sun created gossamer mists out across the sea, while the water went from a sparkling blue to a copper mirror. Utterly beautiful and just what we all needed after a long, hard week.

By the time we headed home to Edinburgh the sky was mostly a dark blue but still with the light blue glow in the northern sky which never gets dark. Back across the Forth, looking over to the nearby Rail Bridge, a masterpiece of Victorian engineering, standing floodlit across the estuary like an iron sea monster; the river was so millpond-calm it made an almost perfect dark mirror, reflecting the bridge and the lights of nearby Queensferry (and the pub where our young hero is taken in Kidnapped) on the black surface. I’m suddenly distracted from my view by a cold, wet nose next to my ear as Bruce wakes up and needs some attention, big doggy head resting on my shoulder. Beach, ice cream, dining al fresco, booze, gorgeous views, good chums and a big friendly mutt, what a perfect day. Why don’t we have more days like that?