Late Brood

A pair of wood pigeons
have built their flimsy nest,
for a late brood,
in a crook of the cherry tree.

Do they not know
that soon the leaves will fall,
strong winds will blow?

And then they’ll see
it doesn’t pay to build
a flimsy nest so late
in a crook of the cherry tree.

Red Stone

In the garden yesterday
I found a blood red stone,
it cheered me up when I was feeling down.
I held it in my hand a while
and so reclaimed my joie de vivre,
but in the sunless light today
it looks not red, but brown.

New Tricks

Like most people I learned to ride a bike as a fairly young child and have had a bike most of my life. Growing up my bike was simply a means of transport and play, visiting friends, going to the shops with Mum, cycling to school or, going on picnic rides during the school holidays with a bunch of friends.

In my Dad’s terminology I was a bike rider, not a cyclist. He had been a keen cyclist in his teens up to his 30’s but this was not something he encouraged me to do – girls did not, in those days, really ride bikes ‘seriously’ and I would not have been allowed to join a cycling club, which would consist mainly of men complaining bitterly of this ‘girl’ holding up their rides! My bikes had flat pedals, nothing to keep my feet attached to them, although some of the lads in my street did have toeclips – an idea I never really fancied.

Later, as a young Mum, although I still had a bike it was largely relegated to the shed except for the odd family ride out for pleasure – still with simple flat pedals. For shopping or visiting I preferred to walk locally or use the car for further afield.

In more recent times, as I have written about here, I have become more like what my Dad would have called a cyclist – mainly due to the fact that my husband, who has always been a keen cyclist, can still comfortably cycle although he can’t walk far, so if he can’t join me for a walk I can join him out on a bike.

With the increase in cycling activity and the fact that we tended to do several classic road-racing bike events each year I started to use toe clips – things you slot you toe into with a strap to tighten round your foot. This with a certain degree of trepidation about being ‘strapped in’. Like most things, however, much of the fear is imaginary and most of the time it is easy enough to remove your foot – though on at least occasion I have fallen off due to not getting my foot out quickly enough! The advantage of being attached to the pedals in some way is that you can pull up on the pedal as well as push down so this provides extra power.

Technology has moved on a pace and even when I was dubiously trying toe-clips so called ‘clipless’ pedals were the norm with serious riders, the pull-up effect being greater. With these you have special pedals and cleats on the soles of cycling specific shoes. The cleats ‘click’ into the special pedals and your foot is locked in position. With a side-ways movement you can release your foot, but it is, of course, still possible to fall over when you can’t release quickly enough. My eldest son once fell into a canal attached to his bike when riding along a towpath!

I had toyed with the idea of ‘upgrading’ a few times, indeed my daughter had given me an old pair of her cleated cycling shoes to try a few years ago but they were a bit small and anyway one of the cleat attachments was damaged; they proved not to be repairable so I had never braved it. To swap my toeclips for clipless pedals seemed a step too far for me, I’m none too keen on falling off these days!

Then, earlier this year my husband decided to give them a go, having also only used traditional toeclips up till then. He took to them easily so I thought maybe… and to cut a long story short, he bought me a pair of ‘clipless’ specific cycling shoes for my birthday a few weeks ago.

There are two kinds of cleat system known as spd and spd-sl (there is a difference but don’t ask me!) The shoes he bought me will fit either system but I have the spd type of pedals and for these the shoes needed cleat adapters which didn’t come with them. (Actually I do have a pair of the other type of pedals too, they came with a bike I once bought, but not the appropriate cleats for the shoes and the plain spd type is considered easier for newcomers!). Ordered on-line these arrived just before we went away to Anglesey so fitting them was left until our return, with the appropriate pedals being put on my modern road bike.

The upshot of this is that last Friday, after several days of leaning on a wall practising clipping in and out, I psyched myself up for a little cycle up the road and back with feet attached firmly to pedals. I survived!

On Saturday we went out for a slightly longer ride of just under 7 miles, which, with a couple of minor momentary panics I also survived. The old toeclips will stay on my classic bikes but my modern bike is now up-to -date and longer rides will hopefully be resumed shortly.  Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

White Feathers

A few white feathers on the lawn;
messages of hope or signs of battle lost?
Today I take the pessimistic view.

Anglesey Trip

We returned from our trip to Anglesey last Friday and since then I have been playing catch-up with all sorts of things. I have been busy coping with our garden and field harvest – freezing produce, making jam etc. and this hasn’t left much time to visit here and write a report to do justice to our jaunt away.

Suffice it to say we didn’t actually circumnavigate the island on our tandem. We ended up staying on just one site and we know we will have to go back again one day. It was a lovely, non-commercial, welcoming and peaceful site  on the outskirts of a small place called Llanfrachraeth on the main island but not far from Holyhead on the smaller Holy Island, with only two other couples also camping there, so there we stayed.

Cemaes Bay

Cemaes Bay

The weather was rather variable; there were some sunny spells but it was also cold and windy at times and at least one day was a wash-out, but of the eight days in total we rode out on five, with two travel days and the one day of heavy rain taking up the rest of the time. Mostly our cycling was out in the morning and back in time for lunch followed by a restful afternoon. Even so we covered some 90 miles during the week. Compared to much of Wales the terrain is relatively flat, but there still seemed to be a fair amount of up and down.

Llynnon Mill

As well as Holyhead we cycled to Trearddur Bay on Holy Island, to Cemaes Bay (pronounced Kem-ice – the ‘C’ is hard in Welsh) on the main island, photo above, and also to Cemlyn Bay, which is a Nature Reserve and bird sanctuary. On the way to Cemaes Bay we stopped at the lovely Llynnon Mill, just a few miles from the campsite (see photo also above).

One place I have always wanted to visit, because of its famous name, we stopped off at on our way home. Here we bought some Welsh Cakes (delicious!) and a few other gifts. I refer of course to Llanfairpwillgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwillllantysiliogogogoch, often referred to as Llanfair PG and shortened on the map to Llanfair Pwillgwyngyll. I am reliably informed that the name translates to “The church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the church of Tysilio by the red cave”, which you may be able to read on the photo below, but don’t ask me to say it in Welsh!

Llanfair PG

Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll

All-in-all it was a lovely week away and we were almost sorry to have to come home again. We will go back; there is so much more to see and the scenery is wonderful.

Cycling Tour

Just a quick visit to let you know I will be away for about a week.

For several years now we have been talking about doing a cycling tour of the Welsh island of Anglesey, so now we are packing up the motorhome, complete with our tandem, and will be heading off in the morning to do just that. The motorhome makes it easy to maintain social distancing and we can be pretty well self-sufficient – though we may need to pop to the shops for the odd item now and then, masked and sanitised of course.

As with previous trips away with the motorhome this year I will not be taking my laptop as I think it likely that internet access may not be viable (and it’s good to have a break from the computer now and then). All being well I should be back in a week’s time and will report on the trip then.

Sapphire

Iridescent sapphire,
one of nature’s gems,
flashes by my window;
a darting dragonfly.

Rosebay Willowherb

Rosebay Willowherb lines the lane,
the majestic red flower heads
turning to fluffy white beards,
ready to blow on the wind
and spread their seeds
as the year turns.

Soda Bread

Avoiding a trip to the shops;
quickly made soda bread
ready for lunch.
A family favourite.

Emerald

Settled on the compost bin,
spotlighted in sunshine,
an exquisite jewel,
a brightly sparkling emerald;
a small, mundane fly crawls.

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