Monday, 30 December 2013


I arranged to see Cassie again tonight. I dressed up for the occasion.
Two pairs of gloves and three layers. Far too much clothing for a mild night. I think my wife has an inkling that something is going on. She has asked to be introduced.

Is that a headtorch or are you just pleased to see me?
Its hard to get away from all the Christmas lights. I actually quite like the bright, sparkly lights, especially the traditional old school coloured ones that adorn every other house. They remind me of dark grey winter nights in Glasgow in the 70's.  The choice was much more limited then and their appearance heralded the holidays and the arrival of Santa.

This year, our house received more than its quota of head torches. It was on my list, but they arrived from all angles on Christmas day morning. So it was with no regret whatsoever that I jettisoned the one I bought in a budget store two years ago. It was cheap, it was loose and it slept around. It made me dizzy on the only occasion I ran with it.

Tonight, as I left the house in the dark for a night run down the Wannie line, a stretch of disused railway line that originally ran from Morpeth via Scots Gap to Reedsmouth and on to the Borders, I wore a new 'torch de cranium'.  It goes by the name of a Petzl Tikka. I had my cap on underneath it and as I ran into the  dark still night, the edge of the visor cast a shadow forming a black rim just below my eyeline. It told my brain I was wearing glasses. I wasn't. Even as clouds of steamy vapour issued from the breathing department, I wanted to wipe the non-existent lenses.

As I cut through the Common beside the local football club ground I thought there was every chance of a few players stopping me to ask if I'd be the fifth floodlight. Those cheeky little lumens dancing all around. I dropped onto the road and then off again into High House Woods and set about working around the 2 mile circuit a couple of times. It was slow but entertaining.

It was during the second circuit that I looked up. The sky had cleared and the stars were out and there she was, Cassieopea. I stopped and turned the torch off for a bit and took in the heavens. Astronomy was not on my list of subjects when I was young. Other than 'the plough', I didn't really take much notice. I bought a book of stars in the local Oxfam shop last year. It's sat on the shelf for months. This month, however, curiosity has got the better of me. Turns out 'the plough' goes by a few other names as well (you'll just have to 'wiki it' like I did).

Considering how much time I spend outside, the night sky remains a mystery.  We should be on first name terms. So, one of next years targets is to get to know some of Cassie's mates a bit better. I might even get a bit familiar with some of them. I should get myself along to Kielder with a telescope. Probably take the bike as well... and maybe my head torch.. perhaps a picnic and a nice bottle of ginger beer.....

Just over seven miles tonight and thirteen yesterday. Modest, but the new addition to the larder of a bottle of Castor oil, will, I hope, make the joints run that bit smoother. I've been pleased with how things have gone this year on the sporting front and with the cycling club picking up momentum, I hope the next 12 months will be eventful in all the right ways....

Next time, read about Orion's Belt and the blue supergiant.

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