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John Burns' Blog

Exercise; running through the woods; visiting Scotland

Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Observer reports a study by Essex University in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica. Children have become weaker in the last 10 years; they are less able to do sit ups, pull-ups and they are less able to hold their own weight when hanging from wall bars.  This is blamed on a shift away from outdoor activities.  I see a parallel in dogs.  Certain people advise that young dogs should have their exercise severely restricted until they are well into adulthood to avoid strain on muscles and joints.  The reality is that exercise fosters a strong skeletal system.

Walking in the woods
On the subject of children and outdoor activities, up in Darvel, in Ayrshire we went for a walk in the Lanfine woods.  The birdsong was so vocal it made me think of an Amazonian rain forest. (Not that I’ve been there, I’ve just seen the films.)   In my day this was our perpetual playground as children.  At that time the estate was owned by Lord Rotherwick and the estate manager did his best to keep the locals out. On the walk we met a group from the local Mair’s school, which is where I started my education but is now a nursery.  The children were running through the woods and climbing trees and there was a barbecue on the go. The present owners, a German family, seem to work with local people to encourage access.

Hidden Gems No 94
The little town of New Galloway in Dumfries and Galloway is well worth a detour, especially for a visit to Kitty’s Tearoom - “The finest comestible on the table” according to the antique poster.  It’s an old–style tearoom with great food. The background music ranges from Django Rheinhart to Jimmie Shand and His Band. It would be worth moving there just for the tearoom yet it isn’t mentioned on local information sites.

There are a lot of pheasants wandering on the roads in Southern Scotland. I’ve heard of pheasant pluckers but this was more a case of pheasant dodgers.

Scotland is supposed to be cold and wet - (It is cold and wet, dammit!) but on the coast between Girvan and Ayr they were lifting potatoes and the carrots looked ready to harvest.

On the main A77 between Stranraer and Glasgow at Turnberry I saw a road sign (a proper red triangle one) which warned “Beware of otters”.  I’m not making that up.

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