I took the day off writing yesterday, and took the train instead with D, down to Dunbar, half an hour out of Edinburgh on the East Coast of the country. A cold damp day under a white sky.
John Muir, the man who helped mobilise the creation of national parks in America, was born here, and there is a joyful statue to him on the high street. Here he is, as was his habit, throwing socks into the air:
We wandered to the harbour to see the ruins of Dunbar Castle, an old cliff-top fortification dating from the 1100s, variously besieged and defended (most famously by Black Agnes Randolph of Dunbar) but in the end, was ordered dismantled by an act of the (ancient) Scottish parliament in 1567.
The harbour, though not what it once as (berth to 500 fishing boats at its peak), is still a working harbour. The clutter of fishing gear was here and there on the piers and on nearby buildings, artfully arranged:
It smelled of seaweed and Spring seemed a long way off, down by the water. We headed into a pub – though when we entered the conversations ceased, and it felt as if all eyes where carefully trained away from us until we finished our drinks and left. Warm enough in one way, we made for the John Muir coastal walk, named for where Muir in his boyhood had learned his love of nature (so the tourist signs said) by picking about among the rocks.
We came to a large, walled field on the top of the cliff. A rugby ground and a putting green, in it, this old clubhouse(?) sat derelict:
But it was not a gloomy space – a crowd of three greyhounds dashed and frolicked about, coming to nose our hands once or twice before leaping away again. Oystercatchers trilled to one another, hunting for worms on the grass. It was good to be outside, then, despite the gnawing air. Broad, calm outdoors. Something D and I will be trying to get more of, each weekend that we have free. Seeing the country, or what is easily accessible of the country, taking things slow, setting the pressing tasks aside for a little while. Relishing the weather and the day and the small beauties, and the moments of the unsettling, unpredictable, life.