bought in for Christmas,
found at the back of the cupboard,
finally being eaten!



I don’t actually do New Year Resolutions, mostly because I soon forget what they were and so end up not keeping them. Despite that I do usually have ideas about how I see the new year progressing, think about things that I might like to do or how I might do things differently but nothing gets set in stone, so to speak.

Yesterday, 12th Night, I went for a bike ride, just an amble around the local lanes, in the morning. In the afternoon I packed away all the Christmas decorations (apart from the one I missed!) and they are all back up in the loft (apart from the one I missed!) so having had a busy day yesterday I am just coasting along in neutral today, continuing to tidy up and get the house back in order.

However, I found myself getting a bit stressed because I usually write a post here on Mondays and I have not been able to think of anything worth writing about, I couldn’t even come up with a ‘Small Stone’ instead, brain is just not working.

So then I found myself a resolution for the coming year – I am not going to write a post on my blog simply for the sake of writing a post, if I have nothing to say then I won’t say anything. I fully expect to keep up my usual regime of posts but am not going to stress myself out if I miss the odd one now and then because I can’t think of anything to write or am too busy with other things. I generally blog on Mondays, with ‘Small Stones’ on Wednesdays and Fridays, but from now on I might just miss the odd one now and then; no stress!


Sorry, no post today or on Wednesday. I am away on unexpected family business. Back Friday.

Mixte Upgrades

As I mentioned when we first obtained our Mixte bikes hubby’s one had a somewhat higher spec than mine. It had been built with better components and had 6 gears at the back with a triple front chain ring, thus providing potentially 18 gears. Mine, in contrast had only 5 at the back and just a double chain ring so giving me just 10 gear options. Mine had also come originally with drop handle-bars and the gear shifters on the down tube, the brakes were also a little stiff. A while ago I reported that we had experimented with various options for the handle-bars (see here) and had eventually settled on changing the drops for straight bars with upright bar-ends to match hubby’s and everything settled down nicely for a while.

Updated handle-bars and gear shifters

Updated handle-bars and gear shifters

The gearing however was still an issue as I did not have as low a gear option as my husband and this was a noticeable problem while we were away on our recent holiday trail riding in the West Country and I constantly found myself struggling up hills. So on our return my husband decided to upgrade my bike. First he oiled the brake cables and replaced the outers making them considerably less stiff. He then obtained a Biopace triple chain ring from our local bike charity Back2Bikes. This is the same as the one on his bike and now gives me 15 gear options – still short of his 18 but considerably better than the original 10 and, he tells me, my lowest gear is now lower than his!

The Biopace chain ring is different from the norm in that it is elliptical and is a design that I believe has been favoured by Chris Froome, though I don’t know if he still uses it. I am no engineer or physicist but as I understand it the elliptical shape, with its larger radius on the downstroke, enables you to put more power down. I’m sure it’s more complex than that – maybe someone out there can explain it better. Suffice it to say that the jury is out about its benefits as far as I am concerned. The variation from circular is barely perceptible and it doesn’t feel any different so I’m actually not that bothered.

He then, from the same source, managed to find a pair of Shimano indexed gear shifters to match his own and which fit on the handle-bars (see photo above), so no more reaching down to the down tube and gentling the lever until you feel the gear shift. I had a short ride out with this new set-up just before we went away for a few days last week and I found the changes to the bike a real improvement

Horseshoe Church Gate, Cotswolds

Horseshoe Church Gate, Cotswolds

This most recent break away was to stay with a group of friends in a rented cottage in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds from Monday to Friday. This was hubby’s fairly regular ‘old pals’ reunion (five couples and a widow), which has a different venue each time we gather. During the day we often do our own thing, together if it is something we all want to do and separately if so we choose. We then join up for sociable evenings in restaurants and at the house. Several of the pals are keen walkers and since hubby doesn’t walk well due to his knees (though he is fine on a bike) and I am still temporarily unable to walk very far we decided to take the Mixte bikes with us. We took ourselves off on the Tuesday and did a 17.5 mile tour around the countryside and through some lovely Cotswold villages with their mellow yellow Cotswold stone cottages. We encountered this fascinating gate, made from horseshoes at one village church. The area is quite hilly and although I did struggle a bit at times it really tested the new set-up and I found it a great improvement.

Birdland Penguins

Birdland Penguins

We also used the bikes on Wednesday around Bourton, visiting the ‘modal village’ in the morning and the Cotswold Motor Museum in the afternoon. On Thursday we went by car to ‘Birdland’, again in Bourton and occupying a nine acre site. This is an amazing place, with so much to see and we were even in time to watch the penguins being fed. We both managed to walk around the site, with plenty of rests on strategically sited benches, although we were both suffering from overdoing it afterwards. I have to say I am now mostly walking fairly easily although I am still aware of a few aches and pains and have to be careful how much I do without resting but I hope to be fully recovered before too long and can finally put it all behind me.

Since I Went Away

Since I went away
everything has changed.
I return to find the Summer almost gone.
Autumn now begins to grip
in russet reds and glowing gold,
while amid strong winds rain drops drip.

National Bike Week

This is National Bike Week, from 9th -17th June (I make that more than a week, but I guess it is to encompass both weekends). There are many activities going on up and down the country to get people out on their bikes though sadly not much in my area.

However Cycling UK, of which my husband and I are members, are running a ‘7 Days of Cycling’ ( challenge and we have decided to participate in this. The idea is that you ride your bike on each of seven days and the trips don’t have to be heroic, it could just be a short ride to the shops or to visit a friend. You are then requested to post pictures of your rides on social media – Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Since I only do Facebook that is where mine go.

Bikes with Copmere through the trees

At Copmere (through the trees!)

Day 1 (Saturday) we just did a short ‘warm-up’ ride of 5 miles, round what we call the Pershall Loop which takes us via a local lake, Copmere. You can just about see the water through the trees in the photo of my hubby and our bikes. These are our modern road bikes and as you can see from the need for arm warmers it was a bit chilly first thing in the morning when we went out!

Day 2 (yesterday) saw us decide to go to find some better water to photograph and took us to Bromley Reservoir. This time we decided to go out on our tandem. We have only visited this spot way out in the countryside once before. Although it is only a 17 mile round trip you will see from the photo that it was necessary to take a map – those country lanes are not always signposted. (The trouble with sitting on the back seat of the tandem is that my view is somewhat restricted as you can see in the photo!) There is an old water-mill on the opposite side of the road past the reservoir and the water  runs through a ‘race’ under the road.

Tandem at Bromley Reservoir

Tandem at Bromley Reservoir

Stoker's View

Stoker’s View!








Day 3 (today) – no special scenery today, just a 10 mile jolly round the lanes. We are doing the Eroica Britannia at the weekend, a festival for classic road-racing bikes (of which more next week) so we went out on classic bikes today. My husband rode my old Motobecane, which is not the bike he will use for the Eroica  but which he has adopted, and I rode my Henry Burton, which I will be using, in order to check it out. As the photo shows it was a good job I had my personal mechanic with me as minor adjustments to the gear change mechanism were needed – mind you I’m not sure it is a lot better now. It ‘jumps’ in and out of gear in top gear, which means I try to use that gear as little as possible. I’m just glad it isn’t bottom gear! Once home again we also decided I needed new break blocks so a trip to a local bike shop was then in order – hopefully I will now be able to stop when necessary.

Running Repairs

Personal Mechanic at work!

Henry Burton and Me

Henry Burton and Me









We are not planning to do very great distances for any of our rides this week, yesterday’s 17 miles will probably be our maximum, as we want to be sure we have sufficient energy for the ride out in the hilly Derbyshire countryside at the Eroica – this three-day festival will be a fitting end to our 7 days of cycling challenge, bringing our total to 9 days by my reckoning.

Taking Time For Your Writing…and the Guilt That Comes With It

Oh yes, that familiar guilty feeling when you do what YOU want! . . .

A Writer's Path

by Lauren Sapala

If you’re a writer—and especially if you’re a writer who isn’t bringing in a significant (or any) amount of income from your writing—then you probably struggle with feeling guilty a lot of the time. I know I do. Because you see, I’m not just a writer. I’m also a wife and a mother and a good friend to a few wonderful people. I work a day job and I have a side business that I pour my all into. Simply put: I wear a lot of hats. I have a lot of other people counting on me.

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What the Nature Spirits (Elves, fairies, more) want us to know:

Having recently read The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird and having also re-read The Secret Life of Nature by Peter Tompkins I find this most interesting. I recommend sceptics read the two mentioned books before dismissing it.

Messages from Mother (TM)

[This list came as a very specific request from the Elves and Nature Spirit realms a week ago. They have asked me to distribute this. Thus I am. You are invited to share it also. xoxox]

What the Nature Spirits (Elves, fairies, more) want us to know:

  • They can’t stand leaf blowers. Lawn mowers are loud enough.
  • They ask that we PLEASE leave wild spaces on our properties. Even small corners. Respect these spaces as theirs’.
  • You are welcome to gift them with tobacco and sparkly things. But please leave them on the edge of their wild spaces and not come in.
  • They are wiser than humans.
  • They have been around longer than humans.

  • They want us to know they exist.
  • They are waiting for us to remember who we are and how we are meant to be in sacred balance with them, and all other sacred beings here on…

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Silver Fire

Any book by Freya Pickard is worth reading, especially if you enjoy Fantasy with a difference. Better still – this one is FREE so what’s to lose?

Dragonscale Clippings

Silver Fire is Volume One in my epic fantasy series, The Kaerling. It’s FREE!
When Otta finds Weird Stones on Weird Day, she is tasked with following the unicorn’s trail by an invisible yet powerful presence in the Shrine.
Her twin brother, Erl, loses his memory whilst hunting and can remember very little. Although Otta seems familiar, he cannot recall who she is.
Banished from their home and village, Otta and Erl follow the unicorn’s trail, seeking to evade those sent to pursue them. As they travel further away from home, their characters change and both must overcome the evil within them if they are to stay together.
In this volume, I explore how memory defines us. This narrative thread is not resolved by the end of the book but will continue into subsequent volumes. Erl’s loss of memory puts a strain on the twins’ relationship and Otta discovers that…

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I would like to share with you my Haiku that appeared on Pure Haiku yesterday under the topic ‘Ocean’.


Wind-whipped white horses
gallop atop the wild waves.
Spume-wraiths pound the shore.
Elizabeth Leaper 2018

Elizabeth Leaper loves words and the sounds they make; she just hasn’t decided on the best way to use them yet!

The imagery these words convey struck a chord with me – I particularly love the last line.
This haiku is part of my OCEAN series.

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