The wind that shakes the darling buds of May.

Yesterday morning we saw lots of cloud over St Andrews but the wind was keeping the rain at bay, it was hard work cycling into such a strong headwind but the alternative would be to buy a Turbo Trainer and stay indoors, no fun in that.

These winds over the last two days have stripped petals from the flowing cherry tree and strewn them across the lawn, now a beautiful carpet of green and pink. The wind that shakes the darling buds of May.

Later I went up to Aldi to stock up, it was eerily quiet, and most of the goods were at knockdown prices, all good. I was in and out in no time at all, laden down with bargains, then again they are only bargains if you need them.

I had intended to take my stall along to Church Square for the last day of canvassing, but when I passed there the place was almost deserted so I carried on down to the harbour, a place that draws me like a magnet.

Just as it did yesterday, and at around the same time of day, the wind dropped, but it was cold out and the clouds began to bunch up so I hot-footed it for home. In the nick of time as it turned out down it came, not rain but hail.

I have still followed Mark Beaumont, his journey now taking him from the Turkish boarded into Iran and on into Pakistan as far as Lahore and the border of northern Indian. He is certainly a gutsy individual this was a tough leg.

I would not enjoy this sort of ride, I am too much of a peoples person, I like to ride where there are towns and villages, and ahead of me the place that I have chosen to stop for the night, have a proper wash and do my dobby. I travel very light, and always on a light touring bike. I will be on the road as it gets light – summer in Europe that would normally mean around 6 am. I will put in my best miles until around noon then spends time, sightseeing. The destination that I wish to achieve that day will be fixed, but my days are always fluid. I will check in at Tourist Information Centres to see if there is anything in the area that I am passing through that I needs to visit. A castle, an abbey or château, even if it means me going offpeak for a while and returning to my original route. If I am behind scheduled then riding late into the afternoon or early evening is acceptable. I always build in rest days, even if I’m feeling fine, I will try to make that a large town or city where I can walk the streets. Window shop or simply sit and watch the world go by.

I was still doing long trips into Europe in my early 60s and still fit enough to join in with local groups of club cyclists that I would meet on the road. Diving into the middle of a peloton was always a good way to get a free hurle, and a bit of company for a time. Even just relaxing in the bubble of the peloton out of the wind being towed along, hearing the noises around you. The loud chatter of human voices, even if you can not understand the language. The noise of dozens of chains running over dozens of gears has a music of its own, hypnotic and trance like.

This does not mean I do no like to be on my own, I do. Riding in the early morning on long, straight flat and deserted back roads of France is always a joy. However, there is one problem, the kilometre road markers, every damned kilometre, 100K, 99K, 98K…….. it is so soul-destroying, you feel that you will never get there.

This morning we go to the polls here in Scotland to choose a new parliament. This time that will be the church halls of the Holy Trinity Church in Queens Terrace. The Town Hall is the normal venue for voting but has been closed for some time now, not sure why.

Up until a few days ago, the media was calling it for the SNP talking about them getting an overall majority. That has only been achieved once in the lifetime of the parliament, and will never be repeated again because of tactical voting since, so you have to wonder what was behind this ruse. Now even the BBC are saying they do not know what the makeup of the parliament will be since the polls are all over the place. I believe they have been ignoring the elephant in the room and no matter that they have airbrushed parties such as Alba out of the picture, the people of Scotland are not daft. Until Alba entered the race, the Yes campaigners had nowhere to go but vote for the SNP and see their second vote on the list elect Unionist parties into office. Now they have a choice and I believe many will make that choice. There could be a lot of MSP that has been sitting in super safe seats on the list vote since the parliament was re-convened in Scotland, they will not be so sure of returning to Holyrood after today. For me that has to be a good thing, this parliament has run out of steam over the last five years, and the SNP have been moving further and further to the right as New Labour did before them. (Thankfully unlike New Labour they can not go and attack Iraq.)

Keep safe.                     

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