Monday, 26 May 2014

A week of Pinky Ponks, school sports day and a walk in the park in the rain

Monday 26th May
A week of Pinky Ponks, school sports day and a walk in the park in the rain

A very busy week with limited vigorous exercise, in fact limited to a 7 mile off road run and a 32 mile cycle ride over Rock hill to North Curry and back over Slough Green.
Two days of Bikeability was followed by a very hot morning at school sports day, helping with netball for the KS1 youngsters, a little bending of the rules needed at times for the ones who were not so tall! We were very lucky with the weather.
Thursday and Friday saw us heading up the M5 to Gloucester for two days of Grand daughter entertaining – which started with a bus ride into Gloucester and much walking round the Docks, swan and duck spotting, the bus pass certainly came into its own. Gloucester Docks is well worth a visit, sympathetically restored with fantastic warehouses converted into a variety of uses. We managed to get home just as the heavens opened and terrific thunder and lightning. I think Gdaughter enjoyed the bus, and certainly made lots of friends in the duck and swan world.
We stayed the night at ‘Brierfields’ campsite in the van, very comfortable, but very busy with a caravan rally. A well positioned site with reasonable facilities now they have added a couple more showers.
Friday saw us fitting a car seat in the van, instructions to fit clearly written in language designed for a post graduate trainee car seat fitter! A drive to Cheltenham in the rain followed by much stopping and starting whilst queuing in traffic trying to find Pittville Park – 50 mins later for a 19 min journey [says Google maps] we drove into the free car park!! Yes free. With the rain still falling, it was a dash to the nearest café, coffee and chocolate Brownie, whilst GD was entertained by a local brown spaniel repeatedly chasing a thrown ball.
We managed to set off to find the swings GD deciding that every puddle needed the GD depth test, good job we had wellies!!!. A visit to the various rides, swings, slide, climbing frame and train before we managed to persuade GD that the rabbits and birds in the aviary were really worth seeing. The rain continued to pour down GD suitably impressed with rabbits and the bright yellow canaries we finally got back to the van very wet. Pittville park was excellent and well worth a visit, It was home via ASDA, GD had a great time dodging shoppers and taking stuff off shelves we didn’t need. Finally home and ‘In the nite garden’ complete with ‘Tombiloos’, ‘Pinky Ponk and ‘Upsy Daisy’ before a very tired GD went up stairs to bed, Grand parents were also very tired!!!
The drive home on the Friday evening before bank holiday was not a good idea the normal 1.5 hr trip turned into 2.25 hrs with queues all the way down the M5.

It was then we heard that our eldest son was in hospital after a piece of metal decided to enter his hand in an accident at home – so our Saturday was already sorted with a trip to Poole Hospital! Fortunately he was OK after an operation to remove it was successful. However he had to stay in till Monday so they could repair the tendons in one finger. Hey Ho! what a week of contrasts!!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Sunday 18th May
A bike ride, Campervan trip and a run

 There are photos which I will add later when I have sorted, so do check the blog again for the piccies!!

Last week I managed to get nearly all my Blog title activities in, only the Fell walk missing, unless I count the 2 mile walk from Sennen Cove to lands end and back!

What a great week it’s been. It started on the Saturday 10th May with bike preparation for the New Forest Audax on the Sunday and driving down to stay overnight with my eldest son as he is only an hour away from the start at Lymington. It was a beautiful drive down on Saturday evening, quiet roads and the sky cleared to give a fine sunny evening, driving down to Wimborne meant the sun was behind me, giving everything a warm glow. A bouncy Bramble with Frisbee in mouth greeted me as I stepped out of the van [Bramble is a brown Lab cross].

The Sunday morning weather looked good, very gusty wind and with only a chance of a shower. Clothing was a problem, what to wear not to get too hot, or  be cold, especially if it rains. It was very cold and windy standing on the start line, there were quite a few for the New Forest Day out Audax 100k event, the 200k started earlier!! Off we went and Rich and I had a good pace, surprisingly leaving many of the other riders behind, Richard did most navigating from the instructions as my Garmin GPS decided not to give turn by turn directions. A head wind out, heading north, up through the New Forest, beautiful views around us, there were  lots of donkeys and their foals on the road at one point, refusing to move from the middle of the road. Way up past Fordingbridge to the half way point of Breamore House, which happened to have a steam engine rally on at the same time, so it was dodge the mini steam tractors as we entered the site to get our card stamped. We had seen few riders on our way up, but riders soon started to arrive as we had something to eat and drink, 33 miles covered. The route back saw us with a tail wind at times, whilst one stretch across the Forest past Fritham and Ocknell Plain was a full on head wind, a very exposed stretch of road, Richard and I took it in turns to lead, allowing the other to shelter behind, swapping frequently, at times I had to work my way down the cassette to maintain forward momentum as the wind was so strong. It was a relief when we finally turned and headed towards the 3 mile down hill of the Ornamental Drive and Rhinefield. Entering Brockenhurst we were treated to be escorted towards the main street by a Highland cow walking down the middle of the road, clearly his party piece for the tourists!! With another 15 miles to go it was a handful of Haribo as we took our stamp at the bike shop, there were also a few spots of rain, fortunately it was only a few spots and we did manage to get away without a wetting, this saved until we were driving home later. Some great place names, Lover, Bohemia, Nomansland and Mockbeggar! Not to mention the impressive Tower at Sway.
The last 6 miles was a round about way of getting back to Lymington, through Boldre and went over a large hill, we were both tired by now and glad we weren't doing the 200 k!
We arrived back at the finish in good time 5 hours with stops, not the fastest time but Audax is not about fast times,  Richards navigation spot on all the way round. A feast was set out in the center with soup, pasta, beans cakes and my favourite after a long ride, cold rice pud with tinned peaches, this with several mugs of tea brought a nice finish to the day. A really good enjoyable day, catching up with Richard, cycling through some fabulous countryside, no punctures or mechanicals, but the wind had been horrendous, at least it didn’t rain.  I hope we will be back in September for the New Forest coast ride another 100k Audax.

A drive back home to prepare the van for the trip to Cornwall on the morrow[Monday] , drop Richard and bike off first.
St Ives - Cornwall
Monday morning saw me and Mrs B van packed setting off to drive to St Ives in Cornwall – we were booked in at the Ayre campsite which is on the edge of St Ives and literally only a 10 minute walk. We arrived just after lunch, the sun was shining but that stiff northerly breeze was still there,  we were on the cliffs so there would always be a breeze – we were given pitch number 13! Ominous!!!! The pitch was sloping but the park provide blocks to drive on, to  ensure the van is level, nothing worse than the sliding out of bed feeling you get when the van is not level, or your tea slides to one end of the table. The views from the pitch and the campsite were stunning looking over Porthmeor beach, the sand and sea glistening in the bright sunshine,
After a refreshing mug of tea and the obligatory digestive biscuit we walked down the steep road hill into St Ives [we found the coast path later which was much easier and more pleasant]. There were lots of people around for early May, a mix of old and young families. Its several years since we have been to St Ives and the high street seemed to have lost the surfing theme with shops such as Seasalt, Fat Face and many galleries replacing them. Tea in Wetherspoons before returning to the van, a nice Veggie burger and chips!
On return to the van it was far too cold a wind to sit outside, but the forecast was to improve over the next few days, which it did with great effect, as soon at the wind dropped – but we had clear blue skies and sunshine every day, which was lovely.
Tuesday saw us drive over to Penzance and to the new Sainsbury’s on the old heliport, a large new shop, likened to a French Hypermarket. Penzance itself was still run down, but always a pleasant place to visit. Lunch in ‘Sainsbugs’ was followed by driving to Marazion overlooking Mount St Michael – the car park wanted £6 to park as we were a ‘motor home’ luckily a local council site up the road was only £1.90 but a longer walk . The wind was still strong as we walked down the beach to Marazion and looked over the choppy seas to the Mount, the tide rapidly coming in, motor launch taxis ferrying visitors back and forth.
The walk back to the van was hard work and we were pleased to get the kettle on when we got back, somewhat windswept.
Wednesday morning I was up early [6:30] and determined to get a run in along the coast, the weather was beautiful, the wind had dropped and the temp was already on the up. A Lovely 6 mile run up the coast path, quite muddy in places and very rocky, foot placements was a mind focusing exercise, looking at the fabulous views would have to wait. Up past a stone circle of the ‘harvest girls’ up and down with bluebells casting a blue sheen across the cliffs, the sea crashing in below as it was high tide. The path was lovely singletrack and narrow in places, making the running interesting. My Garmin Watch GPS decided to that its battery was in need of recharging, so went blank at the 3 mile mark!!  I ran on for another 15 minutes or so to the next Headland Trevega Cliff past Pen Enys Point and then turned to run back to camp. The sun now was high and I was running directly into it, what a nice feeling with the sun on my face, the sea crashing below and no other person in sight anywhere [until 200 yards from camp] A nice hot shower followed in some of the cleanest facilities I have ever been to, and with piped ‘Pirate FM’ being played throughout the day!
A day of walking down the coast path to St Ives, coffee and bakewell tart on the beach front, followed by much beach sitting etc. for the day. A nice evening meal in the van followed by a quick stroll up to Burthalla Cliff to watch the sunset, and the seals in the cove.
Because the weather was so nice we decided to repeat the day before, not go in the van but walk down to St Ives again  and along towards Porthminster Beach and Carbis Bay. Much sitting again enjoying the weather and the views, at one point a sea mist drifted across, blotting out everything, it disappeared as quickly as it came leaving a hot sunny rest of the day.
The final day dawned, a well intended run was planned, but! Never happened, too lazy! We packed up, easy in the van,  we were away by 9:30, driving over to Sennen, easily parking before walking across to Lands End, beautiful views with fabulous beaches, the tide was going out. It was a quiet walk across to Lands End with few people around. The ‘visitor centre’ was still reasonably quiet, we bought a ‘takeaway coffee’ at a stall, pretty poor taste, poor value etc. the whole Lands End ‘experience’ was ‘tacky’ the beautiful scenery was its saving grace.
Walking back over to Sennen we passed several groups of German tourists, some struggling with the walk. Nice to see foreign visitors enjoying the views.
Lunch in the van in the car park, views across the beautiful beaches before setting off home, I did manage to stop off at ‘Riccis’ bike shop to check out saddles and handlebars, purchasing a Bontrager Affinity after a ‘seat fitting machine’ told me the size I needed, the assistant even gave me 10% off!  Traffic was busy the rest of the way in both directions.

Saturday after a 3.6 mile early morning run round the town, saw us with itchy feet after several days away, so we spent the morning in Sidmouth with egg, chips and peas in the ‘White Horse café’ best chips in the South West. A hot sunny day, shame I had to mow the lawns when we got home!

Finally end to the week before Bikeability tomorrow [Monday] was a cycle ride over Lopen head via the Roman road ‘Fosse Way’  and then dropping down through South Petherton and Martock before going through Muchelney and Drayton and Curry Rivel, dropping down the steep hill to the Athelney road, back over Ham, Slough Green, Broadway and Crock street gave me 46 miles in the warm sunshine – very enjoyable. 
Weeks total 111 miles cycled and 9.6 miles run, quite pleased with that, trying to keep fitness in both cycling and running, Charmouth Challenge run  and Audax Devon Delight in July, with a fortnight break in the middle for our French holiday.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Saturday 10th May

Not a great week for getting out this week with heavy showers and blustery winds. However, I did manage to get my 50 miles in on Sunday morning, a very chilly ride back to full tights, windstopper top and full fingered gloves. Bank Holiday Sunday the roads were very quiet, helped by an early start as rain was forecast later. I did my Athelney route which has some ups, downs and some nice flat bits in the middle along usually quiet back roads, surfaces not too bad given the poor winter winter weather. Unusually I didn't see many other cyclists out, perhaps I was too early? it was an enjoyable ride with the scent of wild garlic strong as I  cycled up the hills near Curland. It was interesting to see more houses up for sale in the pretty village of Ham, not surprising since it regularly floods. I stopped on the bridge over the River Tone in the village of Athelney, for a snack [see photos] this is just below where King Alfred sheltered and allegedly burnt his cakes, nothing remains of the abbey just a memorial stone and farm buildings, but a beautiful spot to linger and think back to those times when it was marshland and small islands, perhaps there's a clue as to why it floods so badly today!
 View towards Burrow Mump and Burrow Bridge the ruined chapel on the hill, River Tone in the foreground
 Closer view of the chapel on Burrow Mump
View towards Athelney hill and the King Alfred memorial

I continued on to Langport and Muchelney again, cattle now in fields covered by flood water up to 6 feet deep a few weeks ago! all the hedgerows are in full bloom now, the Hawthorne with its overwhelming cat pee smell, lilac is out in the gardens, dandelions galore, floodwater doesn't seem to have bothered them. I also notice several farmers cutting silage. 

The 3 climbs back over Crock street don't get any easier and the temperature was still not great even though the sun was shining. the 50 miles was good to get in and confident that the 100k [really 65 miles] round the New Forest on Sunday [tomorrow]  will be manageable.

Bikeability again this week  at a village at the foot of the Quantock hills, a lovely spot, we only got wet once! several bike checks provided a challenge to get brakes working not to mention the bike with a 'lump' in the wheel rim side, liberal smacks with my hammer managed to get it a little smoother so the brake blocks didn't grab as the brakes were applied. 3 out of twelve bikes checked, had loose handlebars this time, strange how they can ride them without noticing.
Wednesday saw us on a day out at Tyntesfield House near Bristol. A fantastic National Trust property full of interest - lived in until 2001 before being sold with all contents, so the house is as it was, an eery composition of the old world with a Lord and Lady living alone in the very large House that was 'buzzing with staff and visitors' before the first world war. A pleasant lunch in the cow shed! the house has beautiful wooden doors and ceilings and a very large  chapel attached to the house.The house guides gave a real insight to the lives of people that lived and worked in the house, the fortunes of the owners built on bird poo! the grounds were stunning with fantastic views around. I think another visit is needed.

A Neroche run on Thursday ensured I at least kept up at least one run a week. Despite not running for over a week, I managed a good pace and felt ok, 7 miles covered, very muddy in places after heavy rain, bluebells all out now , I really enjoyed it despite the blustery head wind on the way back, at least it didn't rain.
Finally on Friday I picked up my new Quorz cycle frame from Cheddar cycles, I am very pleased with it, nicely engineered, very light. Now I need to source the bits to go on it! after searching the internet and looking at various options I think I have decided to go Ultegra 6800 groupset with a compact 50/34 chainset and an 11 speed 11-32 cassette, this should give me low enough gears for what I want and the quality of Ultegra which I think the frame deserves. Andy has said wheels will be ready next week [I hope he keeps to his word]. Off to Cornwall on Monday for a few days in the Van so cant order anything at the moment and cant afford it either !!!

Got to get my bike ready today, re attach mudguards  and I think I will put my saddle bag on to take my waterproof as showers are forecast for tomorrow. Also need to sort the van out and make sure the tea bags are in etc.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Busy week

A busy week that started on Saturday with sandcastle making, followed by  cream tea eating at Lyme Regis, very windy on the beach, sand went everywhere! This was followed by an easteregg hunt on Sunday and very wet car washing, managing to fit in a go on the swings, slide and roundabout, not to mention puddle splashing and meeting a friendly neighbourhood cat ! Just another visit from our Grand daughter.
So no cycling or running last weekend.
Monday  a trip to Montecute house in the morning to see paintings from the National Gallery and a very very interesting talk about the Elizabethan history. Some great paintings that give seem real thought about living in those times! history  is fascinating, and also reminds you what you have forgotten from School. I managed to get out and do my 7 mile route over Neroche, in the afternoon, quite wet in places after heavy rain, but an enjoyable run, still no niggle from my knee.
Tuesdays bike ride, I got a soaking 2 miles from home when the heavens opened! But 36 miles around my Hatch /Ilton route.
Bikeability filled the next couple of days at a village school, a really pleasant group, all managing level 2 with ease,  sadly the second day we got very wet, a real contrast as day one was hot in the sun.
Friday a cycle ride round my Ilton, Hatch Beauchamp route giving 26 miles.
April was a good month with over 260 miles on my bike and over 65 running.
Not picked up new bike frame yet, and still trying to sort out other components on the Internet - so many options. I am trying to get quality as well as keeping the cost down. Andy has my Mavic open pro rims now, so hopefully will build this week.
On another note, I finished 'running free' by Richard Askwith, disappointing as much of the latter part of the book was spent describing his local runs with very detailed descriptions of frost on grass and ploughed fields, this along with a whole chapter on the Coopers Hill cheese rolling event got quite boring.
Bank holiday this weekend, will try to get out for a 50 miler on Sunday, to prepare for next weeks Audax in the New Forest.