Up and Down

Up and down weather,
one day hot the next day not.
An English summer.

Still Closed

More than three weeks
and the road is still closed
with no indication
when it will re-open.
Inconvenience is now beginning
to out-way my traffic-free elation.

five tales of danger …

No stone today as I must introduce you to another recently published e-book of short stories, this time by my friend Freya Pickard – I know it will be a good read so please take a look.

Dragonscale Clippings

five tales of danger
myths, emotions and magic;
dracomagan stands
haiku Freya Pickard 2016
This haiku reflects my first short story collection The Rusalka Ritual and Other Stories. Please share and re-blog this post!

I’ve started making some videos about my writing! Please check them out at The Rusalka Ritual, The Essence of Thyme and Patreon

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A Tandem Tale

We have just had a few days away with our motorhome and tandem in the Delamere Forest area of Cheshire, not very far from home but with only a few days of decent weather in the forecast and the fact that it is a great area for cycling it seemed a good choice. Before we set off my husband put the pannier rack over the rear wheel so that we could carry panniers should we wish to pack rain gear, shopping, picnic lunches or whatever while out cycling. We also bought a new OS map as we didn’t have one of the area.

Tandem deraillierWe arrived just after lunch on a hot Tuesday and in the afternoon went for a short ‘shake down’ ride of approximately four miles, complete with one pannier as we were going via the local shop where we hoped to buy some Marmite, having forgotten to take any with us. Unfortunately they were out of stock. On the way back to the camp site the driver (hubby) changed up to top gear – the chain seized up and the pedals would not budge! A short stop by the roadside showed that the small nut that held the pannier rack on was obstructing the chain on the offside which had then become jammed. With some slight difficulty it was eased off and top gear declared out of action. The derailleur was adjusted to make it impossible to attempt top gear. A full repair will have to wait until our return home. You can just make out the small offending nut near the top right of the photo.

Snack break

Snack break

The campsite was right on the edge of the forest, which consists mostly of pines interspersed with a few deciduous trees. A short stroll on Tuesday evening showed us that riding the tandem through there was probably not the best idea. On the next couple of mornings we took ourselves off on a couple of  approximately fifteen mile routes out into the lanes of the surrounding countryside, heading west along the only proper road through the forest on Wednesday and east on Thursday. The terrain was fairly hilly, quite steep on occasions but very scenic. The worst hill was a very long slow drag in full sun on Wednesday, which was not helped by the fact that it was a busy major road. We had to stop for a blow half-way up but made it without getting off to push. On the plus side, most of the cyclists we passed during the ride greeted us cheerfully and checked if we were okay on the odd occasions we stopped to check the map.

It so happens that our campsite was next door to the railway station where there was a well recommended café that also sold a locally made ice-cream with the wonderful name ‘Snugburys’. We decided to stop to sample this as we passed on our way back on Wednesday. However when we got to the station we discovered that neither of us had brought any money! We disappointedly made our way back to the campsite for lunch and after changing out of our sweaty cycling gear walked back down to the station café for our ice-cream – it was delicious.

Forest Rest

Resting in the forest.

Our route on Thursday caused a slight additional problem in that it took us off the new OS map on to the adjacent one and matching them up was slightly tricky as there was no overlap, plus the second map was quite old and there was some variance in the colours used for the roads. One hill was a real ‘kick-up’ and I did have to bail out and walk the last bit, my legs not having recovered from Wednesday’s long drag. We stopped to check the map several times and invariably someone stopped to offer assistance. On the way back this time we decided to risk riding a track through the forest to avoid a five or six mile hilly detour if we continued on the road. The loose stoney track, which dipped, climbed and swirled round tree routes was a bit hairy when you are on the back seat and can’t see where you are going and at one point I got off to walk.

On both days the weather was just too hot to consider an afternoon ride but having enjoyed our ice-cream on Wednesday we decided a repeat was in order and returned to the railway station on Thursday. We sat on the quiet platform while we ate, determined to see at least one train. Chester was two stops up the line one way and Manchester some way off in the opposite direction. Eventually a train came along from the Chester direction and I was interested to note that there was a special carriage for bicycles. Not so long ago bikes were very unwelcome on trains but there is obviously now a change of heart, especially as the Delamere Forest is widely advertised as a cycling area – at least for mountain bikes.

The weather changed on Friday; cold wet and windy. This was not a problem for us as we were returning home anyway. Fortunately we had put away our awning and put the tandem on the motorhome bike-rack the night before so we had a leisurely start to the day before heading off, arriving back home in time for lunch.

Next time we visit this area we will take the mountain bikes so that we can ride the forest trails more easily. Meanwhile we have discovered a few teething problems with the tandem, but nothing that a few hours in the workshop can’t cure. As I mentioned in my previous post about the tandem (here ) the driver operates the brakes and gears. The tandem has three brakes, normal centre-pull calliper brakes on the front and back wheels plus an additional drum brake on the back wheel. This means that one brake lever operates two brakes and this makes for very hard work, especially when controlling speed down-hill. My husband has decided to ease his load by setting it up so that the drum brake is operated from the stoker’s (my rear seat) handle bars. It will be interesting getting used to the new set-up. Then we will plan our next adventure!

Other Men’s Words 2

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision
for the limits of the world.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

Other Men’s Words 1

“Who looks outside, dreams;
Who looks inside, awakes.”

Carl Jung

Beyond Words – Official Launch Saturday 13th August

On Saturday my friend Jenny Roman launched her second e-book of short stories. I haven’t read it yet but Jenny’s stories are always worth reading and there is more of them in this collection. I’m off to download it now. Well done Jenny!

Jenny Roman

FINALBeyondWords

My new short story collection, Beyond Words, is now available as an eBook from the Amazon Kindle store here. When I say ‘new’ in fact this collection has taken some time to put together and is composed of some of my favourite stories from the last four or five years. Each story has had some kind of competition success, having been either short-listed, long-listed, highly commended or placed – and at the back of the book is a list of the corresponding competition details.

If you’re itching to get your hands on the collection now (can you technically get your hands on an ebook?), there’s nothing to stop you heading over to the Amazon eBook store right now, but I hope you’ll visit this blog, or my Facebook author page, on Saturday morning between 10am – 1pm for the official e-launch. (And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the rather temperamental…

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Kite

Oh what a plight,
for the last two days
no wind in sight.
Grandson’s new kite
cannot take flight.

What can I say?
Bring out the kite,
wind’s on its way,
better luck today,
let’s go and play.

Abandoned

For more than twenty-four hours,
unknown car parked on the grass
outside our house;
abandoned?

Olympic Games

So the Olympic Games are now underway in Rio. These must be the most controversial games ever, with the lead up blighted by concerns over the Zika virus and pollution.

There had been calls in some quarters to change the venue but this was never going to happen, so then the glossing over the risks had to begin. Never-the-less some athletes still felt it to be of such a concern that they have pulled out of the games. It actually amazes me that, as far as I am aware, none of the sailors have pulled out, despite the fact that if the reports are to be believed they will be sailing in a bay filthy with untreated sewage and sailing carries a high risk of capsize!

On top of all the environmental controversy the subject of doping has also reared its ugly head, with accusations of State sponsored doping and the cover-up of positive blood tests. The Olympic committee decided to rule out a blanket ban on the affected athletes, leaving it up to individual sports to decide. This has allowed a sizeable contingent of Russian athletes to take part. Whilst one does feel sorry for any ‘clean’ athletes who have been banned it also places an element of doubt, possibly unjustly, over those who have been cleared to compete. Are they truly ‘clean’? Can we ever know for sure? This will inevitably take the gloss off any success they may achieve.

The Paralympics committee have taken a stronger line and have brought in a blanket ban for their event in a few weeks time. This obviously has the effect of removing all uncertainty but one has to sympathise with those athletes who are genuinely  ‘clean’. These athletes may feel they have been unfairly treated, but they should point their fingers in the right direction and take action to ensure that their State system is cleaned-up so that they are not excluded in the future.

I have to say I am in favour of the blanket ban and in my opinion this should have been in place for the main Olympics too. A hard-line message has to be sent to the guilty nation, and as a warning to others, that this disregard of the Olympic ethos will not be tolerated. The world cannot allow the greed for medals, a win at all costs attitude, to succeed over honesty, integrity and fair-play.

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