I had an idea today.
I was out on my bike in the Tweed Valley. I cycled from where I live in Peebles along the cycle path to Innerleithen then round Traquair and home by the back road. It was a really lovely spring day. We’ve had a lot of them recently. Basically the whole of April has been sunny and dry. I was saying to be people for a bit that I wasn’t sure whether it was a good thing or not that it was so sunny when we are all barred from leaving our homes. Of course it’s a good thing you idiot. Have a word with yourself Hutch.
I enjoy cycling, although I am not particularly proficient. Is that a thing? Can you be proficient or otherwise at cycling? Or are you simply either fit and strong or not fit and not strong? Obviously there is a spectrum in between fit and strong and not fit and not strong. I guess there is such a thing as cycling technique, but surely for someone of my level that is only going to deliver marginal benefit compared to me being further left (left is always the good side) on the fitstrong spectrum. Would be better if I weighed less too, although that comes with being fit I suppose. I have at various points in my life been reasonably fit. Usually when training for some charity challenge or similar. This shows that I am unable to motivate myself without the threat of public shame hanging over me. I’ve said I would do the charity challenge and lots of people have donated money. Hard-earned money, no doubt. So you’d better fucking do it Neil. I am not one of those people who springs out of bed and can’t wait to get on their bike, and I never will be. But I enjoy cycling.
The above paragraph is a good insight into how my brain works. I start with something nice (in this case my enjoyment for cycling), then inject a dose of negativity by providing some sort of caveat or apology. I then veer off into a rambling, barely coherent analysis of the rebuttal, before settling on a conclusion that my inherent flaws have got us to this point. I go through this thought cycle (weak pun not intended) many times daily. Like I say, this is how my mind works.
Anyway, back to the idea.
I have never really lived by the sea. But I have lived near rivers most of my life (doesn’t everyone, you tit? Most towns were built around rivers back in the day) and in particular, near the River Tweed (hah – not everyone has lived near the River Tweed for most of their life but I have, so there!).
The River Tweed is not a particularly notable river. It is most famous for being a good river for salmon fishing and for being (at points) the border between Scotland and England. It is 96 or 97 miles long, which makes it Scotland’s fourth longest river. It would be better if Scotland’s fourth longest river was the Forth, but we don’t always get what we want. It is also the twelfth longest river in the UK, but the fifth by mean flow. Fuck you Spey, Thames and Ouse with your three-figure lengths, but piss-weak mean flow. Mean flow is the average volume of water that passes through a certain point (presumably the point at which it goes into the sea – better check this) on the river every second. There’s a website called the National River Flow Archive (see Links). Must go back for a proper look around at some point – they would probably know where to measure the mean flow.
As an aside, if I was writing an album of rap-based songs about rivers, then “Mean Flow” would be a great name for it. The perfect name, some might say.
Right, this idea, sorry.
On my 16.6 mile cycle, I crossed the river Tweed four times. Four different bridges. So I got to thinking, what proportion of the total bridges over the river Tweed have I crossed today? And what proportion of the bridges over the river Tweed have I crossed in my lifetime. NOT ENOUGH – I am sure of that. There must be loads of wee bridges further upstream from Peebles that I have never even seen and I really don’t know the part of the eastern Scottish Borders well at all. I used to play rugby against Kelso, Eyemouth and Berwickshire High Schools, but I didn’t care about rivers or bridges then. I also didn’t care that much about playing rugby, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.
So why don’t I resolve myself to visit all the bridges over the River Tweed over the next few months? I’ll write down how it goes and I will get some gratification from doing that and maybe you, dear reader, will too. Who even are you reading this? Were you drawn in by the bridge chat, or are you in my immediate family? Can’t think of another route into this blog, but welcome to you all anyway. I am very happy to be writing, to be writing this and to be writing this for you to read.