Old Fleece

Yes, I’m back at last. We have had a wonderful time touring through France to Spain and back and had some glorious weather most of the time. It didn’t begin to feel autumnal until we were at least half-way back through France. By the time we got back to the coast to make our ferry crossing torrential rain and gale force winds in the Channel caused all ferry sailings to be cancelled. We managed to book on the next one, half a day later, but it wasn’t the best of crossings. We also encountered bad weather for the first part of the journey home on the English side. This soon dried up, but we were then bedevilled with roadworks, road closures and deviations (including a lengthy detour from the M6 round Wolverhampton) as we drove north, finally arriving home in the small hours of the morning last Wednesday. Since then I have been catching up with various necessary jobs, cleaning the motorhome ready for winter lay-up, doing piles of washing and making an attempt at tidying the neglected garden. There is more to be done but it’s a start.

I sweep fallen leaves
wearing an old fleece jacket.
Damp autumnal chill.
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Travels

This will be my last post here for a while. We’re off on our travels again tomorrow, driving through France, visiting friends and relatives as we go, then to Spain to visit our daughter – our usual annual jaunt. Depending on where we are I may be able to pop in from time to time as I will have my laptop with me, but it will be spasmodic as we will be in our motorhome and not always where we can have wifi access. As always our son will be holding the fort at home – what would we do without him? We don’t expect to be back home until early to mid-November so apart from a possible few brief visits I look forward to seeing you again then.

Soak

Not an end to drought
but the ground has had a soak.
Lovely, lovely rain.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

We have finally had a good rainfall overnight and all morning. Gentle rain that soaks in well and saves the need to water the garden for today at least. It has refilled my water butt. This is not the end of the drought though, rivers and reservoirs are still very low and hosepipe bans in place around the country, thankfully not where I live yet but I have been avoiding using the hose and only watering where necessary with waste water saved from the kitchen, using the watering can. The forecast is for another dry spell by the weekend. Still I am thankful for what we have, many areas have not had much at all for a long time.

Sunhat

Sun
beats down.
In shop window
just what I need;
sunhat.

My new sunhat

When I pass near my local Charity Shop I usually pop in, mainly to check out the books and craft stuff – it never ceases to amaze me the amount of crafting materials they have at bargain prices and I usually come home with something. Walking past this morning I happened to noticed this rather smart sunhat in the window – just what I need, I thought. I do already have a sunhat but it is a bit old and battered and also rather big. This one fits a treat – it’s mine now!

Hosepipe

Watering
the garden.
Thankfully hosepipe ban
not in my area
yet!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
We have had some rain recently, for which we are thankful, but by no means enough and the threat of a hosepipe ban has not gone away! I am trying not to be too wasteful with the water and only watering the necessary areas - vegetables, fruit trees and bushes and the flower borders. The lawn area has greened up nicely with the rain that we have had but I never water that anyway - grass has great powers of recovery after drought.

Sherwood Forest

Last week we stayed at Sherwood Pines campsite which is part of Sherwood Forest. This is a recently opened campsite with great facilities, which gave easy access to woodland where there were many cycle tracks and a visitor centre with other attractions and a cycle hire shop. On the first day we did the ‘Maid Marion’ trail, which is the easiest of the trails and recommended for families. Our reason for doing it was that we were of course on the tandem and the visitor centre staff implied that doing any of the more difficult trails would not be ideal on a tandem due to narrow, and twisting tracks in among tree roots and other such hazards of woodland!

The Maid Marion trail was on more generously proportioned tracks. However the ride wasn’t very long, the whole ride including getting from the campsite to the visitor centre was barely 7 miles. About a kilometre out from the visitor centre on the return loop we managed to get a puncture and had to walk into the centre where we spent some time repairing this. The puncture was the result of not finding and removing a thorn from the tyre which had caused a puncture last time we were out with the Tandem Club but which we hadn’t found at the time. Having found the thorn this time we needed the help of the mechanics at the cycle hire shop to remove it.

The following day saw us going on a much longer ride, much of it again on trails with some road riding around Sherwood Forest proper, just over 21 miles, on what the boss termed ‘La Tour de Sherwood’. This took us up to the Major Oak, the most famous of the ancient oaks in Sherwood Forest. It is believed to be between 800 and 1,100 years old and many of its branches are now held up with wooden supports (see photo), however it is still thriving and supporting a wide variety of wildlife. Legend has it that this is the tree where Robin Hood and his Merry Men met, but sadly we didn’t see any evidence of them thereabouts. There were some interesting information boards nearby and I share photos of them here too, hoping you can read them!

The Major Oak, (note our tandem to prove we were there!)

The rest of the week saw us riding several different routes around the local countryside, between 28 and 33 miles, mostly on road but also occasionally on tracks. Amazingly they all seemed to pass a lovely cafe, the Daffodil Cafe, which we found in a village called Eakring, where we enjoyed superb coffee or tea and cake. One ride took in Southwell Minster (church) and another took us through the ancient village of Laxton, which claims to be England’s last ‘open field’ village where the fields are strip farmed as in ancient times. We also passed several times through a ford at a village called Rufford, well we went over the footbridge. The ford went past Rufford Mill, a local visitor attraction. Here lots of children lined up along the footbridge encouraging cars and vans to charge through the water at speed and send up a wave over the path, soaking the watchers. On one crossing we also got caught up in one such wave and got soaked! Fortunately we had pretty much dried out by the time we got back to the motorhome.

The weather was mostly good though overcast and cool at times with occasional showers but plenty of sun and we finished our last day with ice cream at the visitor centre. One thing we learnt is that there is an awful lot of interesting places to visit in the area, including wartime history. We will have to go back again and just maybe, if we do, we might catch a glimpse of the elusive Robin Hood?

Another Break!

No, I haven’t broken any more limbs. I am taking another short break from the blog.

After a rather hectic few months we have decided to have some peaceful time to ourselves so we are off in our motorhome today until the weekend. My brother-in-law, who has been staying with us since Easter, has now moved into his retirement apartment and is settling in well and our youngest son will be here to look after things at home, watering the garden and so on, so we are going to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire to recharge the batteries and enjoy some tandem riding along the forest trails (I’m not yet up to riding a solo bike, my wrist is still in recovery mode). I wonder if we will meet up with Robin Hood and his Merry Men! ‘ll let you know when I’m back next week.

Sunday Ride

Yesterday was our July Tandem Club ride, a circular route of just under 30 miles, starting and finishing in Ellesmere, Shropshire. An interesting and somewhat hilly ride though great scenery with the usual lunchbreak about half way round.

It was also something of a chapter of incidents! There were only three tandems out plus one solo bike – the ride leader whose wife was in Jersey, visiting their daughter and new grandchild (he’s going out to join them later this week). Just as we were about to set off from the car park said ride leader discovered he had a puncture.

How many cyclists does it take to mend a puncture?

This enforced delay while the puncture was fixed enabled me to have a good look at all the yarn bombing on posts and fixtures around the car park and take a few photos. Here are a couple of them.

Only a few miles into the ride one couple had their chain come off – something that happened to them several times throughout the ride. A bit later something similar happened to the second couple, which left us as the only ones not to have had a problem with a comment of ‘your turn next’ being stated.

So we stopped for lunch, which was excellent. On returning to the bikes, sure enough our time had come, we discovered that we now had a puncture (probably caused by the twigs and thorns on the road when we passed by a tractor doing hedge cutting) and yet again time was spent effecting a repair. So then we carried on again until… couple number two had a serious problem – a mangled chain wheel and broken crank. Fortunately we were only about a couple of miles from the end of the ride by this time so the chain was removed and only the ‘stoker’ (wife) able to pedal. Luckily they had an electric assist on the front wheel and, unlike ours, this worked independently from pedalling so they were able to coast along much of the time without anyone turning the pedals, just a boost from the back pedals from time to time. They were very relieved to get back to the car park.

This is the longest ride I have done so far since I broke my wrist and fortunately we were on our electric assisted tandem (the boss had wanted us to take the newly restored Mercian tandem, but this has no electric assist so I refused!). Having the electric assist made the hills easier for me with less pressure being applied to the handlebars. This was also the first time I have ridden without my arm in a sling, meaning that I could actually use my left hand on the handlebars when needed. However, I think this was a bad idea, it maybe made me feel slightly more secure on the bike but is also allowed me to use the hand more than I think was perhaps wise even though I avoided using it all the time. Today it aches like billy-ho! No hand exercises today, I just can’t face them. Hopefully it will have rested enough by tomorrow for me to resume the exercises.

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.

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