Monday, 17 August 2015

Daylight robbery

Throwing my hat into the ring, I'd like to cast my vote for Jeremy Corbyn.  I've met the man, and he's as straightforward as you'll ever find a politician can be.  In truth I think some of his policies are daft, and some if implemented would hurt me.  So why would I vote for the 'loony left'?  For me it's very simple:  for the last two decades our democracy has been substantially undermined by having three parties that essentially occupy the same ground...they're policies are essentially the same...shades of the same grey.  I believe that for everyone's benefit we need to have at least two, and preferably three parties each one with a different vision of the future of the country.  With Corbyn heading up the Labour party there is a different vision that we can all review, assess and either buy into or vote for something different.  Should he win, the media will have a field day, but I hope that the desire for change will be sufficient to create a momentum which will see Britain return to being a country that truly believes that in fairness for all - rich and poor.

As a cyclist, I see my life flash before my eyes all too often.  I would describe myself as assertive rather than aggressive...but sometimes I can be pushed beyond my limits.  The other day whilst going round a roundabout, a driving school car pulled out in front of me, causing me to brake and swerve.  I screamed loudly, and then took off after him, as he was also driving the same direction.  I had assumed it was the instructor that had told the learner to go, so my wrath was directed at him.  It being the rush hour, it was long before I had caught up, and then he had to stop at traffic lights.  As I let rip at the open window on the passenger side, I suddenly saw that the instructor was holding a tick-box form with notes on.  He was indeed not an instructor, but an examiner.  Calmly he asked me to cycle on, explaining he was merely an 'observer'.  I assume the learner failed...he should have done as his manouvre was dangerous...but there was a twang of guilt.

The Cat's Mother and I had a short break to Lisbon last week...neither of us had been there before, and we managed to get a great deal at The Four Seasons Hotel.  It was lovely, and we had a brilliant few days, even if it was a little tainted by TCM having her purse taken.  Highlight of the trip was a four hour trip round the city on a vintage motorcycle - TCM was very comfortable in the side car.  Here's some pics
















































Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Tour de Cambridge

I've been bitten by the cycling bug, even more than before.  I've signed up for a London - Amsterdam - Brussels trip for next year, and am also trying to find a group ride from Edinburgh - London. 

I was back on my bicycle last weekend. But unlike my usual long distance trips, I was not cycling solo. A group of us had signed up for a charity ride, and that meant I was accompanying a couple of others - in total there was about 20 friends on the ride, but with differing abilities and speeds, and even starting points, there was no point in trying to peddle in a single group. This was the third or fourth time I've cycled to Cambridge, so not unfamiliar territory, although one of those rides was at night, so the scenery was hard to see. I cycled from home to the starting point, and was delighted that because one part is downhill, I was going quickly enough to make the illuminated 30mph sign flash up a warning to slow down. Little things. We left early because rain was forecast, and none of us wanted to get soaked to the skin....our plan mainly worked as we only had an hour of cats and dogs, and were able to warm ourselves in a pub at the finish. Two of us had broken away from the others - she is married to a VERY keen cyclist, and is in training for her own ride to Paris in September. We managed a very creditable average over the 60 miles of 27km/hour (only the British can put metric and imperial measurements in the same sentence) - this is significantly faster than I've managed before.

Due to a miscommunication, The Cat's Mother (who was driving as she doesn't cycle) didn't arrive in the city until four hours after us, and then spent another hour trying to find her way round the diversion to the hotel. Her arrival was quite important, as she had all our bags, and therefore our change of clothing with her. Oops - it was our fault as it hadn't occurred to us that an early start would mean an early arrival. Eventually, I had to leave the hotel and go and find her in the car, and then retrace my way to get back to the hotel...all a bit stressful. Nothing that a hot shower and watching the penultimate stage of the Tour de France up the mountains wouldn't cure.

We celebrated well that evening, and the next day, five of us cycled back home. As a smaller group we stuck together, taking the opportunity to stop off at a church and look at the war graves before proceeding on to Jamie Oliver's parents' pub at the (roughly) half way point. I had two misadventures: the minor road we were going along had a ford across it, and I gaily went straight through it, except that I was on slick tyres, and the road was covered in very slippery algae. I've never been off so quickly, as the bike just went from under me and I was soaked to the skin - so too was my phone (fortunately the God of mobile phones took pity on it and it still works). I laughed like a drain...I must have looked very foolish and funny as I keeled over and then struggled to get up as my feet kept slipping from underneath me; the other person who did the same was less amused...and even more so when we spotted the bridge we could have used instead. Further along I was riding along, vaguely watching the bird of prey circling above me, ready to slaughter some poor field mouse that he had obviously spotted. Suddenly I realised, that before going in for the kill, he had decided to have a crap...and yes it splattered all over me. It was a big bird and a big shit. Lucky? I don't know but again I couldn't stop laughing for the next couple of miles.

 At the start...a nice early 7.00 am departure


Contemplating my wet pants - funnily that fast-flowing ford looks like a little puddle here