Thursday, 19 January 2017

A sad week but the first lambs, daffs and snowdrops

Thursday 19/1/17
This week has been a hard week so far. But it’s now Thursday evening so the weekend is approaching fast and hopefully some of the gloom that has descended on me will clear over the weekend.

After my bike ride on Sunday it was down to the laptop to pull together the tribute I would have to read out at my cycling friend’s funeral on the Wednesday. I did 2 drafts before deciding to leave till Monday for another go. Each time I read it, it was hard to believe that Dave was no longer with us, the times we cycled together, shared a tent on stormy nights on Dartmoor, North wales and the Lake district, not to mention some hard Audax rides, when Dave always seemed the stronger rider at the end of the day. We even had the same frame as Dave was so impressed with my Qoroz titanium frame.

Monday I was awake and up very early, the tribute on my mind. So I worked on it some more getting it down to 6 to 10 minutes. Dave had done an awful lot in his lifetime. It was late afternoon I got out for a run to clear my head, it was cold and damp but I covered 5.5 miles at a good pace for me just over 9 minute miles.

Tuesday I had arranged to cycle over to the café at Goose Slades farm at East Coker to meet the Yeovil CC members to talk through their proposed cycle cavalcade to the Crematorium and also to share my tribute with them, to get their approval I wasn’t missing anything. Tues dawned very damp, very chilly and very dark with low cloud. I nearly decided to drive, but felt it wrong. I put on my new Paramo waterproof coat, and set off along the lanes vis Hinton St George where I saw my first daffodil blooms of the year, Merriot and West Chinnock, it was a head wind, the roads were really muddy, cold at 3.4 degrees and it was raining, so the 20 miles took longer than I thought and they were all halfway through their coffee and cake when I got there.

A cheery welcome, a pot of tea and large piece of Tiffin in the warm air of the café soon cheered me up, but I wasn’t looking forward to the journey home, another 20 miles in the cold and damp!!! We had a good old natter and shared memories of Dave around the table; I had full approval, except I had missed out that Dave had been on a cycle tour of Mongolia!!!
I set off back home in the company of the others, this time over Ham Hill, riders peeling off until I was left on my own with 17 miles of drizzle. I joined the ‘old Fosse way’ which was somewhat less hilly than my route of the morning. I dug in, and pedalled away just turning the pedals. I was pleased when I finally turned into my drive. Nice mug of steaming tea, dry clothes and an egg mayo sandwich followed by Christmas cake once again. 41 miles covered

Wednesday the ‘Wobblies’ had agreed to meet at 8:30 as several of the group were going to the funeral in the afternoon. Although it was frosty the roads were clear, the morning was bright blue skies and clear sunshine, a great day to send Dave off on his final journey and an excellent morning for a bike ride before suiting up for the afternoon.
The 10 of us made our way down through Winsham and Broadwindsor to Bridport, not West Bay today, we had coffee at Washing Pool Farm, an excellent farmshop/café, a large piece of Dorset apple cake for me, thick toast, and of course beans for others. Well-fed we went home the way we had come, as it’s a relatively quiet ‘B’ road it as quite clean, the sun was now on our backs, the down side there seemed more hills on the way home 32 excellent miles covered. Home for a shower and change into my suit for the afternoon.

We arrived quite early for the funeral, a nice celebration of his life. I did my tribute to Dave outlining his success cycle racing career and his other sporting achievements in running and triathlon as well as his travels around the world. I did have several moments of ‘wobbly’ voice as emotions got in the way. I survived, met loads of friends, lots of memories etc. It was good to meet Dave's family, he had a good send off with lots of friends around him; he was an outstanding cyclist and a genuine good bloke, sadly missed already by the cyclists in the area. The sunset was stunning and ‘Venus’ shone bright in the sky, or was it Dave looking down!!!!

Thursday was a contrast with my volunteer work at the primary school hearing children read, another beautiful day, but more frost. After lunch I fell asleep in the chair, the emotions of the week catching up with me and even though I had cycled 100 miles already in the week and run 5 miles I decided to get out and run as the weather was so nice, I intended to try for 8 or 9 miles. I set off round the town, up over Snowden Hill, by a steep muddy bridleway, by the time I had got to the top after 2 miles I knew I wasn’t up for it and decided to shortcut back home, I struggled on and finally managed 7 .5 miles, a hard 7.5 miles and I was pleased to get home. Just as I entered the lane I live I saw my first snowdrops of the year. I think I have overdone it this week and should not have run today. Think my next run will be on Sunday to give myself 2 days rest and try to catch up on sleep etc. the other downside is still am not losing weight despite all the exercise, I must be eating too much!!!

After a sad week it was good to see the beginnings of spring, the first Lambs at Hatch Beauchamp, the first Daffodils at Hinton St George and the Snowdrops in Chard. I know Dave would have enjoyed them!

Cycled 100 miles
Run 12.5 miles 

I have put a copy of my tribute to Dave in the 'other' list.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Weather, children and a bit of running

16th Jan 2017
Last week was a mish mash of lots of things happening, as well as still coming to terms with the loss of a dear friend.
Sunday I went out early to get a few miles in before the rain came 32miles covered round the lanes of Somerset, but time was spent after trying to wash the bike down, as well as noticing a very soft front tyre when I got home!!!

Monday was run day a steady 6.2 miles over Neroche Forest, I have not been there since the Herepath Half in October, lots of dog walkers out, fortunately, sensible ones that controlled their dogs. The running was really pleasant even though it started to rain after about 3 miles, it was good to have the wind and rain behind me as I returned to the car. It was nice to be running off road once again, I do notice it on my legs and feet, must be the soft mud!!

Tuesday was long miles day so 10.5 miles round the lanes late afternoon, now the evenings are starting to draw out. I found the first few miles quite hard but it seemed to get better after about 7 miles, which is unusual as I am normally tired by then!!

Wednesday saw us driving up the M5 at 5:30 am to look after grandchildren for a couple of days. Extra sleeping bags etc. were stored in the van in case the poor weather that was forecast was as bad as they said [ it wasn’t!!!]

Thursday night was cold on the site, but we were cosy in the van, the oil radiator nicely keeping the van toasty, and once in the sleeping bags we were very cosy. It did snow overnight so it was hard work walking round to the toilet block in Crocs for a wash in the morning. The temperature in the van said 4 degrees! Fortunately the roads were clear except the road where my son lives which was quite icy.

Friday driving back at teatime the traffic was quite good so we got home in good time, a great 3 days playing with grandchildren and watching the twins continue to develop.
Saturday was another run day, 7. 5 miles this time, quite a good run at a decent pace by the end, although starting off was hard after a large cheese pie and chip lunch at the Hungry Horse in Exmouth!!!

Yesterday [Sunday]The forecast was for poor weather again, but it never happened, I even went out early to miss the rain later, at least the weather has gone mild again, but that means wet and dirty roads, so more bike washing. But 28 miles covered and I even saw my first lambs of the year over at Hatch Beauchamp, strangely they were there last year as well!
Cycled 60 miles
 Run 24.2 miles

The Grizzly gets closer !!!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Good start to the year, but! Some sad news

8th January 2017

New Years day ended with the shock news that a very close friend Dave Pitman had died suddenly on New Years eve. Found at his home after failing to turn up for a group of friends for a walk on Exmoor.
I have known Dave for a number of years and we were planning to share a room on the CTC Manche to Med ride we had signed up for in June. I first came across Dave in the late 60s early 70s when He beat me by 2 seconds on the Monsal Hill, Hill climb! That’s when we both lived in the North, I didn’t know Dave in those days, he was in fact runner up in the National Hill climb twice, as well as being an accomplished road racer both in Britain and the continent. He was also a very good runner achieving high placings in races such as the Grizzly.  I have shared walks on Dartmoor and Exmoor preparing students for the Ten Tors event. I partnered him on several Polaris MTB Challenges in the Lakes and North Wales, he even built me an MTB frame [only 2 in the world]. Dave was a good engineer, a great wheel builder.
Recently I had shared cycle rides with him, and we rode a number of Audax events, which Dave particularly enjoyed. He did suffer a major accident a few years ago when he was in a coma for several weeks, this did affect him, but not his resolve to get out into the outdoors to walk and cycle, and above all enjoy his retirement. Dave will be missed by the cycle groups he was part of, the regular Tuesday coffee rides, the Sunday morning social rides, always taking his turn at the front.
RIP to a genuine bloke, who would help anyone out at anytime I hope he enjoys his ‘next great adventure’. I will certainly give Dave a few thoughts on my next adventure on the Manche to Med !

I was planning to cycle on Monday but, the weather was quite poor so a 10.2 mile run around the lanes, a good start to my Grizzly training. Tuesday was very cold and frosty, but lovely blue skies and sunshine, I waited till after lunch, before venturing out for a 22 mile ride on my bike, some of the lanes still had frost where water had run out of the fields. Wednesday was Wobblies day, a good turn out of ten of us heading out to complete 32 miles including a very nice coffee stop at the Community café in Seavington St Mary.

So round to Friday once more, Mrs Ian B was hairdressing so on a grey but mild morning I was in the car driving down to Seaton Hole to Park to run along the coast over to Fountain Inn outside Branscombe and back a total of 9.6 miles. The trail was quite dry, and there was a chilly wind as I reached Beer Head, I dropped down through ‘Seaside’ to Branscombe where I saw my first people 4 miles in up through the village on the Grizzly route, without the river crossing though, up past the school, climbing through fields before dropping down to the Fountain Inn, I walked up the other side  to reach the ridge. It was a lovely run, I felt ok, no niggles anywhere, I kept sipping from my bottle of ISO energy drink, but didn’t eat anything. I went back over ‘Seaside’ where walking was the order once again. I the views towards Portland Bill were stunning, the coastline, showing in varying shades of grey.  Down into Beer before the final climb over to the car parked at Seaton Hole, I still felt quite good, and reached the car for my coffee and Christmas cake 1600 ft climbed and 9.6 miles covered, my only injury seemed to be a sore big toe on my right foot!.

So a good end to the week

19.8 miles run and 52 miles cycled

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Last Post of 2016 and first of 2017

31st December 2016 and 1st January 2017

Christmas week has been very busy and wonderful with the family all visiting and spending time. My Daughter Ellie and our eldest son Richard came on Christmas day with his wife, Mother in Law and 2 dogs, Bramble and the very young pup, Scrumpy a springerlab! Somewhat excitable compared with the stately Bramble!!! Unfortunately Rich had to work on Boxing day keeping the National Trust going, down in Wimborne.  Lovely Christmas dinner, followed by present opening and a game of Trivial Pursuits finished off the day before we waved the Wimborne group  off, Ellie was able to stay over  and prepared for the next visitors on Boxing day, we were able to get out for a run round the local reservoir before they arrived 4 miles, a really nice run with my daughter. Tim and his wife with the three grandchildren and a very full car load.  The house soon filled and the two boys crawling round the house, Amy quickly demonstrating how to play the carrot game etc. a lovely Christmas lunch again followed by more present opening! Excited children being the quickest openers! Much time was spent over the next couple of days, playing the various games with granddaughter, chasing the twins around the house as well as a visit or two to the seaside. Sadly it came to an end on Thursday when we waved goodbye to them all, the car packed to the roof!!
Mrs Ian B and myself sat down to an empty house and had a quiet cup of tea and piece of Christmas cake. We were missing them already. I went for a run before tea, only 5 miles round town, but feeling the extra weight I had put on over Christmas!!
Friday was spent down at Sidmouth, thick fog enveloping the coastal cliffs, but clearing to give a warm and sunny morning, we had taken coffee with us so able to sit on the beach in the peace and tranquillity of the lapping tide with views down the coast, the mist now only sitting on the tops of the cliffs, the usual egg chips and peas in the White Horse café, very quiet this morning. The town was busy many seemingly on holiday. I finished the day with another run 6 miles this time, my last run of the year.

 view west at Sidmouth
  a cute 'Turnstone' lovely little bird
 View East at Sidmouth
View West at Sidmouth, mist just sitting on the cliffs, Ladram Bay sea stacks just showing in the mist

I needed to get another cycle ride in before the end of the year to reach my 3000 target. I met up with Mike after coffee in Lyme Regis for an afternoon 26 mile ride, the weather ideal for cycling, cool, but not cold, clear, with sunshine at times.
 View of the Cobb at Lyme Regis [West]
 View towards Charmouth [East]

Looking back over the year I have managed to run 862 miles compared to 603 last year, I have run more events this year including two 10k road events with my daughter Ellie a couple of extra off road events the Jurassic coast 10 k and the Drogo 10 a ten mile event on Dartmoor. This year I even managed to win my first trophy winning the over 65 category on the Exmoor Stumble event, 10k over the hills near Minehead. So a good years running, This new year I have already managed to get in the Grizzly again in March, so that’s a hard 19 miles across beaches, up hills, through bogs and through streams! Got to beat my 4hr and 6 min time this year, fortunately, again I will have my running mate, Rachel from up the lane once again to share the pain. I am even looking at doing the Exe to Axe run again 22 miles in early April, I did this event two years ago, it was the hardest event I have done and would like to improve my 5 hour time before I get too old!!!! I will decide nearer the time.
Cycling I have covered 3019 miles compared to 3370 in 2015,  a few miles down on last year, maybe the running has replaced some of those miles. I have not ridden as many Audax events this year as I would have liked but I think the dates always clashed with something else. The ‘Eroica’ event in Derbyshire was a highlight, 55 miles on my Gazelle bike from 1984!  We have decided not to enter this year as it’s too expensive and they have changed the venue. I look forward to this year with my cycling trip from Cherbourg on the English Channel down through France to the Mediterranean and Montpelier; my sons’ bought me new pannier bags for the trip for Christmas.  My plan is to focus on getting cycling fit for the trip after the ‘Grizzly’ in March [or Exe to Axe in April].
The Campervan has been in use all year with many trips to Gloucester, a couple of weeks in Pembroke etc but no trips abroad in the van this year, must rectify this in 2017. Not really managed any fell walking this year so must be high on my agenda for this coming year.

Father Christmas also brought me a new watch a Garmin 230 which seems to do everything but make the tea! [to be fair I did buy it a few weeks before Christmas but was told I couldn’t have it till Christmas day and was duly snatched and wrapped!] I have tried it a few times for running and seems very good, [my old Garmin 10 the strap is about to Part Company and is part of the main watch so unsure it can be renewed??] It tracks the number of steps, even transfers text messages from your phone, lots of variations for running heart rate, VO2 max of course it also measures, distance, time and pace, heart rate etc [I was pleased to see I was in the good range for this!!!] below is the ‘DC Rainmaker’ review which is usually a good indicator as whether it’s any good or not, the 230 comes out good in most reviews, I bought the 230 rather than 235 so using my old chest strap, which works fine. I am still finding out the various things it can do.

two reviews to save me trying to explain what it can do!!

So 2017 starts today, even though I wrote most of this yesterday!

I wish anyone who reads my Blog a healthy and peaceful New Year

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.