Not wired for sound

I am not sure that you can see this particularly well but this bike (not mine) has a bluetooth speaker in one of the water-bottle holders. The cyclist plays music from his phone as he pedals along. It’s handy on the canal towpath where other path users can hear him. I had some adventures with this cyclist. First he helped me to do a photoshoot with a banner at Falkirk Grahamston station where we arrived. He had been explaining that he didn’t like hills and was just out for a day instead of ‘sitting at home watching the telly and growing old’. If he didn’t smoke and did eat breakfast he might manage hills a bit better, but I refrained from sharing that insight.

The Avon Acqueduct

After the photoshoot I caught up with him at the top of the hill to Falkirk High (the clue is in the name). He decided he was going to cycle with me, all 30 miles back to Edinburgh. To my subsequent shame, I wasn’t too keen on that but didn’t object. We headed West and our first challenge was the very-long and very-dark canal tunnel. Happily I have integral bike lights which helped a lot and I emerged safely at the other end. My new-found friend didn’t. After waiting a bit, I went on and had a lovely ride. I sat to eat a sandwich at Linlithgow where a kayak race was starting and my cycling friend pedalled past with his bluetooth pop music. He didn’t see me then but I came upon him further along the canal, having stopped for a smoke. I stopped to chat and found, when I restarted, that I had a puncture. He very kindly did most of the repair for me. I was prepared enough to have everything I needed except wet wipes, which are environmentally un-friendly anyway. Half-an-hour later we were on our way again and I managed to get home, showered, changed and to the for a delightful concert that afternoon.


Sweden’s contradictions

Arriving in Sweden across the Oresund Bridge is always a thrill, of course, but to then see a train called ‘Kurt Wallender’ was icing on the cake of coming to visit this lovely country and my long-standing friends. 
Anything and everything gets carried on the train! You could hardly move for bikes but people here consider them to be a valued form of transport, not a public nuisance. 

It’s lovely to be back here and I am reminded of the fondness of these people for cabins in the forest without running water or electricity – they have had ultra-modern homes for a very long time. That’s their idea of relaxation. Ah well – everyone to their own.
Yes, cows
A contradiction that was new to me is the continued existence here of circuses with animals. How can the use of animals in this way be popular in a country famous for its social justice approach to life? There were some impressive acrobatic and strength displays but they were interspersed with parading cows (yes, cows), sheep, goats, lamas, dogs, camels and doves. Yes, the doves paraded too. The animals and birds would not always perform to order but they still got their treat at the end. 
I suppose that this is no different to using animals for food and other products but it felt very odd in this so-advanced society.