We were on our way to Smeaton Gardens last week and parked the car near the entrance and walked up the avenue. Photos 1 and 2 show the range of colours on the trees which we passed on the drive way up to the garden centre. When you pass the cattle crossing, there is an intriguing sign which tells you that “Sheep have no sense” and that motorists should be aware and that dog walkers should keep their mutts on a lead. The sheep have the freedom of the grassy areas which also contain jumps for horses. There is something very pleasurable about walking alongside autumnal trees and this pleasure is heightened by the uniqueness of the moment – leaves only fall off a tree once – as well as the ephemeral nature of this experience – if you return next week, there may be no leaves left on the trees. You know that the trees have had their annual few days of glory – their own fashion show in which you, the watcher and admirer – walk the catwalk down the middle of this glorious exhibition. Photo 3 shows the landscape across the sun hit trees towards the Lammermuir Hills in the background. Photo 4 shows the future – spring wheat coming through in resplendent green and in neat lines, with the shadow of a big tree.
Each day, I try to complete the cryptic crossword in The Guardian. On most days, I fail to complete it although, having devoted more time to it since I retired, I usually get most of it done. However, particularly on Fridays, when it can be most difficult, I often struggle and on occasion e.g. if Araucaria is the setter, I go through the crossword for the first time and get no answers at all. Now, you can look up the answers on the Guardian website but I never do this – I wait until the next day. There was a great article in last week’s Guardian Review on crosswords as it’s 100 years since the first ones appeared. The article confirms that to do cryptic crosswords well, you need to do them often, as you pick up regular clues as to what the answer might be or how to work out the answer. Some answers are within the clue itself e.g “Regular church goer owns tree” (I made this one up) – the answer is LARCH i.e. “owns” means contains and Larch comes from the last 3 letters of Regular and the 1st 2 of church. Over the years you pick up words meaning contains. My own favourite from the article is “Number of people in a theatre” and the answer is ANAESTHETIST – look again at the word number or better still, the first 4 letters numb and you get the answer. Very clever stuff.
On Saturday, I was out cycling in a fierce wind – 18mph and gusting to 28mph. This is very hard work and you pedal and pedal but don’t seem to get very far even if the road is flat. So this needs some thinking about. My strategy is to imagine that I’m actually going up a steep hill, so slow progress is expected but the effort is doing you good. I cycled against the wind for 16 miles (25k) and was mightily relieved to turn the corner in the knowledge that, on the way home, the wind would be on my back and that I could shoot along the road at 25mph (40kph) on some even stretches. This is your reward for your earlier struggle. It’s just that it goes past very quickly, as opposed to the outward journey which at some points seems endless.