Busy

Well here I am, a day later than promised! We had a great time at the York Cycle Rally and in between volunteering duties (I was helping in the HQ Marquee – answering queries, selling badges and other promo items etc.) we managed to go on one ride along the solar system from the Sun to Pluto and back, all in one morning. This was around 18 miles of cycle route along which there are markers for the planets in scale with their distance from the Sun – a fun ride that we have also done on a previous visit to the rally. There were also some interesting talks and other events (another quiz – no we didn’t win that one either) to attend, also the weather was good although cool in the evenings, but only a couple of showers over night, so that was a bonus.

Things have been a bit manic since we got back. This morning I had a hospital appointment and Hooray! my plaster has been removed. The wrist feels very weak and is rather painful and I have been given a brace to wear to support it along with a sheet of exercises to do at least three times a day. I’ve had a go this afternoon and not managed them very well yet, but it’s early days and I have been told to take it slowly. At least I can now wash my arm and leave the support off when it is hot, as long as I am careful. It’s just a matter of more healing time now.

Hoping to have my ‘poetic’ brain working again soon!

York Rally

Just a quick visit here as we are off again in just a few minutes and once again I will not have my computer with me. This time we are going to the York Cycle Rally, just for the weekend so I will be back again on Monday (maybe not here until Tuesday).

I’m not sure how much cycling I will be doing as many of the rides are at least in part along gravel tracks and are also quite long – neither of which I can cope with at the moment. At least there will be plenty going on back at the campsite this time and we are also volunteer helpers so I will find plenty to do if I cry off the rides.

Two Wheel Tuesday

Yesterday evening it was Two Wheel Tuesday in Stone, one of our neighbouring towns. This was part of Stone Festival week. Motorbikes, motor Scooters and push-bikes, whether clubs, groups and individuals, are invited to come along to display their machines in the market square and enjoy socialising.

The event has been a regular feature at the Stone Festival and has gone from strength to strength but this year is the first time we have gone along – on the tandem, needless to say. There was an incredible amount of motorbikes and scooters in the square and lining the street in all directions. One of the features of the gathering is that there is a competition for Best in Show for each category and all the bikes were immaculately turned out and gleamingly polished.

Guess who won the push-bike category! Above is our a photo of our certificate and medal. We thought that was it, but apparently we also get a prize which is due to arrive in a week or so and is a framed photograph of our bike, which is rather nice.

In the past apparently there has been quite a number of push-bikes attending but I have to be honest and report that this year we were the only one! This makes me feel rather guilty about ‘winning’ which will undoubtedly result in our picture being in the local papers and magazines. Oh well, at least I can add another 12 miles to my slow upwardly-creeping total for the month.

Bliss

My arm in plaster
on the back of the tandem.
Cool summer breeze; bliss.
---------------------------------
Yesterday I went out for my first ride on the back on the tandem since we came home from the National Rally. The sun was quite warm, but it was cool when it disappeared behind clouds. My arm is quite uncomfortable when it is hot so I was glad of the cool breeze to cool me down. Roll on the next 10 days, when I hope the plaster will come off!

Charlotte’s Tandems

One of the most interesting talks at the recent Tandem Club National Rally was given by Alex Reeves, the founder of the charity Charlotte’s Tandems. Founded in 2010 and gaining charitable status in 2011 it provides free tandem hire to people with a variety of disabilities and special needs, from autism to blindness, stroke sufferers and so on, to give these people the chance to enjoy cycling with family or friends.

Tandems can be borrowed, with certain conditions (such as providing photos of yourself using it) for up to two months – or possibly longer if no-one else is currently requiring it – after which the user can decide if they wish to buy one for themselves. The charity does not sell bikes to their clients.

Charlotte, Alex’s daughter, after whom the charity is named, suffers from extreme autism and can only communicate by sign language. As a child she was often taken out cycling on a ‘tag-along’ bike which she loved. As she grew up she transferred to the back of a tandem and absolutely loves it, which inspired Alex to consider that other people with problems may enjoy the chance to go cycling, including many older people with eyesight loss or stroke sufferers who perhaps thought their cycling days were over.

The charity has many ‘volunteers’ around the country who look after the tandems, loaning out suitable bikes to clients and receiving them back after the hire period so most places in the UK should have access to one of these outlets.

The Charity did briefly also operate in the US, but due to bureaucracy and red tape eventually had to pull out again, however a sperate organisation with the same ethics is allowed to use the Charlotte’s Tandems name and does still operate in a few states. They did also start up in Ireland, but again had to withdraw.

The charity does not seek money, borrowing the bikes is free of charge, there is no real advertising budget so this is limited and much is by word of mouth or through social media (find them on Facebook). There are ways to donate if you wish – tandems do need to be bought and maintained, though most are bought cheaply second-hand. Please go to their website (above) to learn more or see what you can do to help spread the word or raise funds – maybe you know someone who might benefit, if so let them know!

Tandem Club Rally

We returned home on Saturday from our week away at the Tandem Club National Rally and I have been a bit busy since. I was hoping to post here yesterday but I didn’t find the time, jobs take twice as long at the moment – still better late than never.

The campsite for the week was the Rugby Club at Corsham , Wiltshire, a lovely part of the country. Cycling with my arm in plaster we knew was going to be a bit of a challenge. We arrived on Saturday and on Sunday we tried a short lap of the camping field – I was not happy, didn’t feel at all secure so the boss went out with a group on his solo bike that he had taken along just in case!

Monday saw a treasure hunt ride of a bit over 15 miles scheduled which I thought would be fun but it rained so rather than risk getting my plaster wet we didn’t join in. On Tuesday we thought it best to do a short ride on our own to see how I got on, so we did a 7 mile round trip to the nearby National Trust village of Laycock – a beautiful, unspoiled village which was used in the filming of Pride and Prejudice. We stopped for coffee there and on the way back had to shelter under a big beech tree while a heavy shower went through. I felt reasonably safe riding, though heavy traffic and road junctions were a bit scary. After that we decided to do our own thing as most of the arranged routes were far longer than I felt I could cope with. We did the treasure hunt route on Wednesday, solving most of the clues – too late for the competition anyway so no prizes. On Thursday we did a route of just over 14 miles, taking in much of Corsham itself, another interesting place with an unspoilt town centre, used for the filming of Poldark. Then on Friday we did a bit over 16 miles based on the treasure hunt route but with some variations.

Despite my handicap I did enjoy the week. We were able to renew acquaintances from previous events and there were some interesting evening talks and activities, including a killer of a quiz in which our team of 6 managed to come 4th. The weather was a bit unsettled but there was some good spells of warm sunshine and we managed to avoid most of the rain. However the evenings were quite chilly and the final evening’s BBQ with Rhythm & Blues Band was a bit of a wash-out as it rained quite heavily most of the time. I did take some photos on my camera (easier to hold then my phone) but I really can’t cope with downloading them just yet. Wednesday evening’s Tandem Club’s 50th Anniversary ‘party’ was a great success though.

We have the York Cycle Rally coming up in a couple of weeks, just a weekend this time. I was hoping I would be out of plaster by then but my next appointment isn’t until a few days after the rally -perhaps it is just as well, the wrist would still be week and I might be tempted to do too much. I’ll be glad when things get back to normal though, I think the boss is getting fed up with doing all the cooking, housework needs attention and the garden is in dire need of some maintenance! It will all have to wait.

Plaster and Platinum

Well I didn’t get my plaster changed. I have an ‘unstable fracture’ and there was concern that it may have moved, requiring more manipulation or even surgery. The fracture fortunately hasn’t moved so no need for that at present. They decided not to disturb it and just reinforced the existing cast. I go back on Wednesday and if all still well hopefully I will get the plaster changed for a lighter-weight one then.

Meanwhile, as promised, here is the first of my own contributions to my poetry group’s Platinum Anthology:

—————————————————————————————————————–

I'm Sorry Your Majesty

"Why don't they put him in the dustbin?"
was perhaps not the most patriotic thing
to say on the death of the king.

Not that I remember it of course,
but that is what I've been told I said
on being a trifle miffed about the absence
of my favourite programmes
on the radio and all the sombre music
they were replaced with.

In my defence
I was only three at the time.
What did I know of death and mourning?

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Back Again – Almost!

Sorry to have been away so long. The good news is that the poetry book is now done and dusted. You may remember I posted that I was editing an anthology of poems produced by my poetry group to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – well, compiling is probably a better description as we have an all-inclusive policy to encourage all to have a go so very little actual editing is involved. We are not specifically a writer’s group, mainly appreciation. Some, but not all members do write, others have a go on special occasions such as this.

Anyway, I sent the booklet off to the printer on Monday morning, then on Monday afternoon I slipped on a wet paving slab in the garden, fell and broke my wrist quite badly requiring some rather painful manipulation in A&E to align the bones correctly. I am in some discomfort but hopefully it should be a bit better when the swelling has gone down and I have the temporary cast changed for the proper one tomorrow.

At least I got the booklet done before it happened so I’m thankful for small mercies. Life is still rather busy and typing is slow one-handed so I don’t know how often I will be here for the next few weeks, however I will visit when I can and perhaps share with you my own contributions to the booklet.

Back Again – Or Not!

Well I am back after a wonderful long weekend away with the tandem at the Tandem Club National Rally near Oxford. The weather was glorious for the time of year and I even caught the sun before remembering to slap on the sun scream cream. We managed about 124 miles over four rides around roads, lanes and tracks.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that I may not be around much over the next few weeks as I have rather a lot on. First my brother-in-law, who is moving back to the UK from Portugal is staying with us while sorting out the purchase of a retirement apartment a few miles from our home. Although an offer has been accepted on an apartment and this is proceeding it could take some time and it is always difficult to find time to do your own thing when you have a house guest!

Secondly, my poetry group has produced collections of poems by members from time-to-time over the years, often for special occasions. We have decided to produce one for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and I will be editing it as our previous editor is not at all well and is no longer a member of the group. I shall need to get on with the job over the next couple of weeks so that it can be with the printer in time for it to be produced for the Platinum Celebrations in early June – and I haven’t even written my own contribution yet! The deadline for contributions by our members is 30th April so I must try to comply with my own rules. Most of my available spare time will be spent on this project.

I will drop in when I find the time but this may be infrequently until at least the middle of May.

Slalom

At the canoe club
watching the river flow fast
round the slalom poles.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I had a dental appointment this morning in our neighbouring small town, Stone, and as usual on these occasions I parked in the canoe club car park beside the river on the edge of town. It’s a convenient place to park in pleasant surroundings and it’s free! Having some time to spare I stood and watched the river weave its way around the slalom course before walking the short distance into town. It was fairly fast flowing after the recent storms. Usually there are some dog walkers about on the riverside path but this morning I had the view to myself.

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