Big hills, Song of Achilles and Traprain Law Race

On Saturday, my 2 cycling mates took me on my hardest cycle as yet. I’ve been getting fitter and finding that some hills are not as hard as they used to be. However, what I’ve not done is cycle over several big hills in a row. So, from Dunbar, we headed west to the village of Garvald and turned left up a big hill to Nunraw Abbey and then down a big hill, then up a big hill… and many others until we reached the Whiteadder Dam (pr Whittadder). From there you do more big hills until you reach the Crystal Rig windfarm and then another wee climb to reach the top of the hill going down to Elmscleugh farm and back to Dunbar,via The Brunt – which used to be a big hill. 40 miles (65K) but – for me – very hard work and a real achievement. My two mates – older than me but fit as the butcher’s dog – waltzed up the bigger hills and encouraged me.

I’ve just finished reading Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles which was an excellent read. I’m not normally one for reading books in which there are fantastical elements, although exceptions include Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, but I found that this book’s references to Greek gods, including Achilles’ mother Thetis, did not get in the way of the tale. The story focuses on Patroculus who is portrayed in the book as Achilles’ male lover. At the end of the book, Miller acknowledges that the legends are ambiguous about Patroculus’ role. However, this is a novel not a history. It’s an engaging tale which focuses on Achilles’ childhood, his status as the greatest living Greek warrior and his role in the siege of Troy. As the Guardian review above stats, Miller has done detailed research but does not let this interfere with her story. In some historical fiction, you think that the author has copied out her/his notes from research and put them in the novel. Miller avoids this and provides the reader with fascinating characters, as well as images which are sometimes dramatic and often very tenderly drawn. Highly recommended.

Saturday turned out to be a very active day as, in the afternoon, we went to see runners in the annual Traprain Law Hill Race. The Law (Scots for hill) is a historic site and most famous for the discovery of Roman silver, most likely buried by the Scots tribe the Votadini. We climbed to the top of the Law and I took photos of the runners as they walked/climbed the very steep ascent and started running again. See the slide show on my Photopeach pages (includes 2 newly opened poppies from my garden). You can see how fertile my county of East Lothian is from the vantage point of the Law – example photos below.

Looking west from Traprain Law

Looking west from Traprain Law

Looking North from Traprain Law

Looking North from Traprain Law

Looking East from Traprain Law

Looking East from Traprain Law

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