Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas day

Sunday 25th December

Done my run for today, 3.1 miles! Round town, didn't see anyone, no cars, lots of lights on in houses, assume opening their Christmas presents. Still only 6:45 am, looking forward to family coming today and tomorrow.
Happy and peaceful Christmas to anyone who reads my blog!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Back home and back to running and cycling

Sunday 18th December

Sunday was a bright day compared with what we had in the lakes, after a lazy morning, sorting etc. I spent the afternoon working towards my 3000 miles on the bike for the year; I am only 86 miles short.
It was good to be out on the bike again, the Garmin said it was 4 degrees, but there was no wind. A ride round Hatch Beauchamp and Ilton gave me 26 miles towards my target for the year.
M was off to London on Monday for a few days with our daughter, so I took them to Taunton to catch the Berry’s coach. I waved them off and then headed home to prepare for a nice run down the coast. I took the van and headed for Beer Head car park which was strangely quiet, no other cars were parked up. I kitted up, locked the van and set off down the coast path, towards Beer Head, the weather was warm, and the sun was trying to come out from the clouds. The paths were muddy but not too much to make it uncomfortable. I ran over to Branscombe , not seeing anyone, the views over the sea were and towards Sidmouth were stunning as usual, the descent down to Branscombe I met a couple walking up, greetings were exchanged as I worked my way down the path, arms ‘flailing’ to keep my balance. I was soon down by the now closed café, and started my climb up the other side; new steps had been put in place by the National Trust which meant I now had to pick my feet up so I did ten steps up on each leg, before swapping to relieve the pain! I was soon on the ridge, quite muddy in places, the trees had now lost their leaves so it was good to look across the village of Branscombe, and you seem to gain a lot of height quite quickly. The final field before dropping down past the Fountains Inn was very muddy, churned by the cattle normally there, but! It was good to see they weren’t there today; I don’t like crossing fields with cattle in them, especially when they have youngsters with them. I hit the road and had a pleasant run down to the village, helped because the road was closed as one of the houses was having a new Thatch and scaffolding was out into the road.
I ran down to the beach once again before climbing up to the undercliff path, this was a really pleasant and quite warm, sheltered from the wind, the path is really good to run, single track, in and out round rocks and up and down, never really getting to close to the beach. It was soon time for the ‘stairway to heaven’ and as usual, I walked, I heard voices as I neared the top, to find several people sat on the seat, as I approached they did offer to move up and leave space for me to rest, I declined their offer and continued over the top. It was a steady run back to the car, the views over Seaton making it look quite Mediterranean from a distance with the curve of the bay and a couple of high rise blocks of flats. Soon back to the van, still the only car in the car park, change of clothes and then coffee and flapjack looking over the bay, - living the dream!!!! 6.80 miles and 1000ft plus climbed.

                              looking down on Branscombe
              View from the Van at Beer Head car park ,over Seaton whilst drinking my coffee - living the dream!!

Tuesday I did another 26 miles on my bike same route as Sunday! Getting me closer to my 3000 k target for the year.
Thursday after a supershop round Tesco first thing seemingly stocking up enough food etc. to last till July, or at least get us through the Christmas break with our family visitors over Christmas, late afternoon I managed a 5.1 mile round town on a chilly afternoon, legs felt quite heavy today, not sure why??
Friday we took the Van down to Seaton, to have a coffee on the front before storm ‘Barbara’ comes in after lunch. The sea was already rough, and clouds were scudding across the sky, seemingly getting darker and thicker as we walked out along the front. There were a few people out, all well wrapped up against the wind and the fine drizzle.

Christmas eve tomorrow! Lets hope the storm goes through quickly with the least damage caused!

A break in the Lake District

Week Beginning 11th December 2016

A year ago we had a phone call from our booked accommodation in the Lake District informing us that they had to cancel our booked holiday at Fallbarrow Park because they had been flooded out, that was the great storm of December 2015!
So we thought we would try again this December! This time we were successful J
So Sunday we drove up to the Lakes, calling for coffee to see our Grandchildren in Gloucester on the way. We were booked into the caravan on the Monday, so we had to stay Sunday night elsewhere, we chose Morecambe Travel Lodge so we could enjoy the fantastic scenery of Morecambe Bay.
The M5 was very busy as usual, with loads of road works, bringing the speed down to 50mph max at times. At least there were no accidents etc., it still took us 6 hours!
Once checked in the hotel, we walked out onto the front, to see a spectacular sunset over the Bay, the ‘Tern project’ sculptures silhouetted against the setting sun.

Morcambe sunset 'Tern Project'
 We followed this with a visit to the ‘Eric Morecambe’ Weatherspoon’s pub for something to eat; this is where the disappointment with WS begins. We noticed they had a nice veggie Wellington on their xmas menu, so went to order, none left! Okay we will have the spicy burger with cranberry sauce, sorry no cranberry sauce! So we settled on veggie burger and chips! Let’s have some afters with a coffee, oooh! Look, mince pie or Christmas muffin, sorry sir! Only 1 mince pie left and no muffins!!!! So half a mince pie it was to finish off, at least the coffee was hot.
After a good night in the hotel we drove on to Bowness visiting Grange for a walk, even though it was pouring rain.
A visit to Booths the supermarket in Windermere for some extra groceries before finally arriving at ‘Fallbarrow’ at Bowness.
The caravan was the usual very high standard, lovely and warm, the site was very quiet. After a nice cup of tea and chocolate digestives a walk down to the ferries by the Lake before it got too dark. The mist was now starting to form across the lake giving an eerie effect as it was just above the lake surface.
Tuesday the weather forecast was poor, with heavy rain, but! It wasn’t too bad, but we stayed local and walked around Bowness and down to the ferry that crosses to the road leading to Beatrix Potters house, again the mist produced some magical views across the lake.
Mists over Windermere
Mists over Windermere
 Wilfs Veggie Chilli
 House on the Bridge in Ambleside
looking towards Catbells over Derwent Water Keswick

 A real winters view, with greys and blues, the trees now stripped of leaves, leaving there black limbs stretching into the sky. There was even some sunshine poking through at times. The town was very Christmassy but there were lots of Japanese/Chinese tourists, photographing everything and everyone in sight!
Lunch was at ‘Wilfs’ in Staveley the best café in the country, his veggie chilli, always hits the spot!!! Followed by caramel shortbread and tiffin! Ambleside was the next port of call, their Christmas lights, very beautiful. A quick visit round the various climbing shops, all full of the same kit at the same price! No bargains to be had. A late afternoon run around Bowness and Windermere in the ever increasing gloom of the oncoming evening, though very warm. My head torch was useful at times, 6 miles covered.
Wednesdays forecast was better so a walk over Grasmere way was planned, parking at Rydal Hall, unfortunately the parking had been withdrawn so we had to find parking elsewhere. We parked at Whitemoss and followed the coffin road over to Rydal Hall tearooms for coffee, a shocking £2:75 for a Latte, no scones!!! So shortbread instead.

Rydal Water

Rydal water

                                    Caves above Rydal water

We continued our walk round Rydal Water via the Caves which are always impressive. The day was dark, damp and misty, but warm. The views were lovely, there were even signs of patches of snow on the higher peaks we could see and we saw very few other people. We saved lunch until we got back to the car, so a late lunch of cheese and pickle sandwiches!
Thursday was Keswick day, we drove over the newly repaired A591, badly damaged in last winter’s storms, closing it for a long time. Coffee and scones in Booths supermarket before a visit to the climbing shops, I even purchased a new cycling jacket, a Paramo Ciclo waterproof, I am a fan of Paramo as I think it works for me better than Goretex and can be reproofed.
Wetherspoons curry was lunch, in the old law courts complete with cells!

Derwent Water near Keswick

Derwent water near Keswick

Afternoon was spent along the shores of the Lake, looking very peaceful in the grey winter light, Catbells dominating the skyline. It was very quiet with few people around. An evening in with Mulled wine and salted peanuts, but I did manage another 6 mile run before tea again.
Friday we were due to drive down to Lancaster and stay overnight before the long trek back home, calling again to see the grandchildren. We were up early, tidied the van and then loaded up the car, there seemed a lot more to pack in than when we came up! We had a last walk down to the lake, it was beautiful and peaceful, ducks and swans upended searching for their breakfast, and a low mist hung over the lake, time to depart once again.  We dropped the key off at reception and then headed for Wilfs for a breakfast, pot of tea and a double egg butty with brown sauce, lovely!!! We fully recommend Wilfs in the yard at Staveley near the bike shop.
We drove to Lancaster down the back scenic route, hitting Lancaster just before lunch; the traffic was horrendous as we tried to find the hotel and a car park close to it!! But the one close to it was full so parking at that time was at least a quarter of a mile away, a downside of a Travel Lodge in a city centre. We had a wander round the very busy city, eating a sandwich in front of Queen Victoria near the impressive building that was the council offices. We had had enough of the busy town so decided to escape to the coast once again and a pleasant walk along the front once again at Morecambe. By the time we returned back to the hotel we were able to park in the car park outside the hotel, phew!!! That’s saved some work carrying our bags. A cup of tea and a rest before it was time once again to find somewhere for tea [or if you prefer dinner! This is where we were utterly amazed, it was six o clock the town was heaving with party goers, most pubs and restaurant very full and most advertising ‘no food after 5pm due to parties’ so it was a visit to Sainsbury’s for a sandwich, crisps and cake, an evening back in the hotel rather than a night on the town.
Saturday we were off by 7 am to try to avoid traffic, which went fine until junct 14 on the M6 they had closed the motorway because of an accident, fortunately we were only stopped for 20 minutes, the rest of the journey went without incident but it was a good four hours before we saw the grandchildren once again, we had a pleasant afternoon, playing with them all before our final last bit of the journey another hour and a half. We were glad to arrive home, tired and hungry, a trip to the chip shop filled the gap!

It had been a lovely week away once again, the weather had not been too good, but it was very warm and lovely and quiet around the lakes, it’s just the journey these days, far too busy on the M5/M6 it would be nice to go again next Christmas.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Freezing to 12 degrees

10th December 2016
By the end of yesterday I had run 797 miles and cycled 2914 miles so I need to cycle 86 miles before the end of December to hit 3000miles, less cycling than last year but I have managed to run 200 miles further! Given the ever changing weather at the moment I hope I can get the extra miles in for both running and cycling.
Sunday 4th December. The week started off with a very icy Sunday morning, so my cycle ride had to wait till after lunch, when I hoped the ice would have melted, making the roads a little safer. It was however a glorious morning, clear blue skies, little or no wind, so after a bit of hydrangea cutting back and a nice homemade Leek and Potato soup for lunch I layered  up to head out on my bike, at least the ice on the bird bath had all but gone!
The temperature on my Garmin was only 3 degrees as I headed towards the levels and Norh Curry, but, as went down the first descent there was a water leak, from one of the houses, the water spread over the road making it a sheet of ice, I slowed and walked the few feet across to safer roadway. The temperature was falling as I dropped down to the levels, something I often find happens, it’s definitely colder and damper on the levels. Roads were very quiet, I guess Christmas shopping and the cold weather kept everyone at home, same for cyclists, as I didn’t see any on my ride. The low sun didn’t manage to penetrate some parts of the roads where they were in the shadow of high hedgerows, so care had to be taken in places to avoid a fall. I went over North Curry and back round Slough Green, where the climbing back home began. The afternoon was getting late and along with this the temperature was falling and by the time I got to my last heill home, it had dropped to less than one degree, very cold, the low sun was now an irritation as it was shining straight down the road, I couldn’t see where I was going! I got home and noticed I had not really managed to get  sweaty! My layers were still relatively dry. A large mug of tea and a shower soon warmed my up 32 miles covered.
Monday 5th December, In contrast to Sunday Monday was damp and foggy, as I had to work later in the week I decided to get a long run in. the ice had now gone as the temperature was rising, but still less than 5 degrees.  I changed my route today, and headed out along the same route I cycled the day before, the hill that was frozen was now, ice free, I headed over Crock Street towards Broadway before dropping down hill to cross the A358 to pick up the Ilminster to  Chard cycle route along the old railway line, used as the ‘stop line’ in the last war. I was looking to run 10 miles today, to keep up my stamina for the longer distance, the cycle track was quiet and again there was little or no wind, I seemed to be going well with 4 miles covered, everywhere was now very wintery looking, trees were sticks, the trail covered in leaves, everywhere was colourless, greys and black being the winter colours, after a further couple of miles  I left the trail to run round Chard Reservoir, the water looking mirror like in the grey light, ducks, moorhens etc, paddling around looking for food, it was a roller coaster run around the res, but different to usual as I normally go in the other direction. The area is a nature reserve so dogs are not allowed which is lovely, makes a nice change not to think about whether a dog is a ‘chaser’ or not. By the end of the Res I had covered 8 miles, the last couple of miles were now back up hill, I still felt to be going well keeping a reasonable pace , I got home and it was another 10.2 miles added to my total, an enjoyable run.
Wednesday and Thursday were working days, another two day Bikeability course for year 6 children in Wellington, weather forecasts for the two days were ok with light rain forecast for day two. Temperatures were now well up with 12 degrees!!! The children were excited and we had a good first day, day two started with a heavy shower but this soon cleared  and we were able to have a good day. This was my last course until March, so hopefully more chances to get out to bike and run.
Friday, another 32 mile ride , temperatures were warm! 12degrees plus, I had overdressed to day and got very hot, the roads were also very dirty, where tractors had been round the lanes, different to a month ago when I was still riding my summer bike, when I got back I had to get the hosepipe and ‘muc off ‘ out as the bike was filthy, I also noticed the bottom bracket, had a little play, so looks like new bearings soon.

              a very dirty bike from the dirty roads

We finished the day putting up the Christmas tree up and other decorations, Christmas is approaching fast. 12 stone is also approaching fast !! I must make an effort to keep it down through the winter.

Weird weather this week, started off freezing and by the end it was 12 degrees! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

National Trust Kilerton and very cold weather

4th December 2016

I never did get my Wobblies ride this week ! a phone call to ask me to cover a colleague on Bikeability on Wednesday morning had me driving over to Bishops Hull for the morning, very cold and frosty it was too, but bright sunshine. I only had the morning to do before driving over to Tatworth for a one to one training for a child who missed out on the course a few weeks ago.

Given the frosty morning, a Wobblies ride would have been quite dangerous with frost in places, whereas the Bikeabilty in the town was perfectly dry and safe, and surprisingly warm in the sunshine with no wind. It was a quick dash for the 15miles to the afternoon session, lunch was eaten on the drive over. It was a lovely day and as I was well wrapped up I was toasty!The afternoon session with the child and his teacher went well, the child getting more riding and practice as an individual rather than a group of six.

 An email dropped in my inbox informing me that Bikeability had now reached its 2,000,000th success for level 2, I just hope that some of those practise what we preach to keep themselves safe out on the roads. One final two day course this coming week before the Christmas break, I just hope this dry weather lasts the week! Cold we can do, cold and wet is difficult!

This week I have managed two 9 mile runs around the town, so pleased with that, both at a reasonable pace, but no real cycling since last Sunday.
Tuesday saw me driving over to National Trust Stourhead to meet up with an old work colleague for coffee, it was lovely day again, brilliant sunshine, I took the van for a good outing, and keep it running through the winter, it was busy as usual.

Friday was a dull, cloudy and cold day, me and Mrs IanB went to the National Trust property of Killerton near Exeter, they usually have a really good Christmas decorations, this year it was themed around the ‘Grimm fairy tales’ with rooms decorated with themes, Hansel and Gretal, Little Red Riding Hood etc, they were beautifully laid out, and lots of work had gone into it, we were very lucky as it was quiet when we arrived so were able to enjoy each room virtually on our own. We followed the house visit with a walk in the gardens and we had brought coffee and homemade shortbread biscuits with us so were able to sit in the grounds and enjoy the wintry views across the park. Well worth a visit. A couple of photos that don't really do it all justice, but give a flavour!

I noticed on the Grizzly run facebook page that its now 99 days to the event day! It soon comes round. I need to try to get another 100 or so miles cycling in before the end of the month to reach my 3000 miles this year, which will be less than last year, but, I have run over 700miles which is over a 100 miles more, My daughter in her first year of running is hoping to reach 365 making it a mile a day for the year, I hope I can get to help her complete it.

Sunday today, I should get out for a few cycling miles, forecast is for very cold and dry, so might have to leave till after lunch, cycles and icy roads don’t match!