Travellers Return

I’m back. We have returned from approximately 8 weeks travelling through France and Spain in our motorhome. We have had a mixed bag of weather – snow (yes, snow), rain, thunderstorms, strong winds and I admit, some hot days with sunshine – enough to at least show some slight signs of a suntan (I’m fair skinned and don’t tan easily at the best of times), but generally a lot colder than we are used to when visiting this time of the year.

Family at La Pedals de CLip

Photo from La Pedals de Clip website

I now have an awful lot of catching up to do so I don’t intend to give you chapter and verse of my time away. However one thing we did do is take part once again La Pedals de Clip, a rally for classic road-race bikes, together with our daughter. I have reported on this event in the past (here) so there is no need for me to fully explain it again. Basically it is a fun event that ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’, very friendly and enjoyable. My husband and I both rode our Henry Burton classic bikes (built locally to our home in the UK) and our daughter rode her James Fothergill which was built in Liverpool. At one point I thought I might not be able to take part, having taken a tumble from my bike a couple of weeks before the event and hurt my elbow rather badly – beware of pedestrians in Spain, they have right of way apparently and do not always look before stepping out to cross the road! (Hubby stopped suddenly to avoid hitting the pedestrian and I crashed into hubby’s bike.) Fortunately the pain had subsided sufficiently by the ride day, although I did ache a bit afterwards!

Always a fairly tough ride, up and hill and down dale with a final 1Km hill climb to the castle of Sant Marti Sarroca where the event finishes, this year’s ride was tougher than last time we did it due to an almost continuous strong headwind all the way round. (I gather that last year’s event, which we didn’t do, was worse as the weather was very cold and wet.)

We made one or two interesting observations at the cycling event. First we got the impression that there seemed to be slightly fewer participants than previously – possible due to last year’s weather – but there did seem to be more younger people in evidence, which must bode well for the future of the event. I also got the impression that there was not as many females this time and in fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I was probably one of the oldest females, if not the oldest, taking part.

Before we went away I challenged myself to write at least one poem a week during the holiday. Usually when on holiday I do very little writing other than keeping a journal so I decided I wanted to make better use of some of my ‘spare time’. Although I didn’t literally  write a poem every week, (some weeks I wrote two and then maybe nothing for the next week) overall I wrote 9 poems plus 2 Elfje, 2 Tanka and 10 Haiku or Senryu and I wrote my usual journal. I have impressed myself – not bad for just under 8 weeks away! Most of the poems do need some further polishing (I didn’t say they were good poems!) but I hope to share the Elfje, Tanka and Haiku/Senryu with you over the coming days, starting here with one about my little accident:

Falling off my bike
the road bites my arm and leg.
My elbow swells up.

 

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Bike Testing

Several weeks ago my husband took himself off to a bike auction. He came back with a brand new tandem frame that had never been built up into a bike and had only been painted with undercoat, and also a rather nice classic Claud Butler bike in need of some TLC. He is currently in the process of building up the new tandem (as if we need another tandem!) and has renovated the Claud Butler. He has also been doing some work on my classic Henry Burton Bike, which I intend to ride when we go to do La Pedals de Clip classic road-race bike event in Catalonia in May. He has upgraded the gears so that I now have a front chain ring giving me 10 rather than just the 5 original gears; this should make it easier for me to get up the hills. He has also been doing some maintenance on his Falcon Henry Burton bike that he will ride at the Spanish event.

New Raleigh bike

Raleigh Record Ace

Last week he went to visit  one of his part-suppliers for the classic bikes where he saw a rather nice 1982 craftsman built Raleigh Record Ace bike (British made) with a fairly small frame which he thought would do for me. The next day (Friday) he took me up to see it and yes it is very nice indeed, fully original and almost pristine – it had been virtually mothballed for many years. Did I need another bike? Probably not but hey-ho, N+1!

Well actually not this time as we traded in the Motobecane “Captain Beaky” which we had originally bought for me to do the Pedals de Clip a couple of years ago.  “Captain Beaky” was a bit on the big side for me and after the event, we bought me the Henry Burton instead. Hubby had taken to riding the ‘Motobeaky’, as it became known, but as he had several others it was rather surplus to requirements so, nice bike though it is, we decided it could go.

The upshot of all this is that we each had two bikes that needed to be tested and last Saturday was testing day. It had rained overnight but the morning was fine and fairly mild. We went out first on the two Henry Burton bikes, me to test my gears and him to check that the various things the had done were all working OK. We had to stop a couple of times to adjust saddle heights but basically everything worked pleasingly well, although we did get a bit muddy as the lanes we chose were still wet from overnight. The only problem that showed up was that the rear sprocket of my bike is shot, the bearings have had it, they have been making a noise for some time but only now has hubby decided it was time to do something about it before the Pedals de Clip. A new part has been ordered but not yet arrived. This little testing ride was about 4.7 miles.

We then returned home for a cup of coffee and to change bikes. Off we went again, this time hubby rode his refurbished Claud Butler and I rode the new Raleigh, which had already had a shorter handlebar stem fitted to shorten the reach for me. Again all went well other than having to stop for saddle adjustments and also at one point my chain came off, probably because I had pulled the gear lever too far back on the front chain ring and the back chain ring was on a fairly high gear so it was slightly cross-chained. Some adjustment is needed by both me and the bike – we don’t know each other very well yet!

This ride was over a different local route, on drier roads so we didn’t get the bikes muddy, and was only a bit over 3 miles. In all we only rode about 8 miles but as a testing exercise it was well worth while. We were all done and dusted by lunchtime when the wind was beginning to rise with the promise of the forecast storms and there were some rain showers, the best of the day had gone along with the sunshine.

The Tandem Club

Tandem Club preparing to leave the cafe

Tandem Club preparing to leave the café

We first became aware of the existence of the Tandem Club around the time that we bought our first tandem a few years ago, but at the time we didn’t think about joining it. However a few weeks ago my husband was after a few bits and pieces for a tandem he was building so we went on a visit to a bespoke tandem builder on the outskirts of Telford and not too far from our home. While there we saw an advert for the Tandem Club and noted that there was a local branch serving Staffordshire and Shropshire, offering rides out once a month, always in a different area of the region. So hubby decided to join. Yesterday we went out on our first ride with the club, which met up at Wem in Shropshire, not far from the Welsh border and about an hour’s drive from home.

Wem, of course, is famous for its Treacle Mines, which have apparently been in operation since the time of the first Queen Elizabeth if not longer. The local residents are known as Treacle Miners – but that’s another story!

We had an early start as we needed to be at the meeting place for 10.00am. As usual we were quite early, which was just as well as we did have some trouble finding the correct car park. It was a chilly start and at first I thought I was not going to be warm enough but of course once we got going both I and the weather did get warmer. Including us, three tandems turned up – the organisers and another couple who had travelled from Wales and also on their first outing with the club. There was also a solo cyclist who does own a tandem but apparently his wife was not well so he had come on his own.

We set off for a wonderful tour of local villages at a leisurely pace. We were in no hurry as it was only 15 miles to the lunch stop and we had two hours to get there. Meals had to be ordered in advance and the club works on the basis that if the ride has to be cancelled due to the weather then we still turn up at the lunch stop for a bit of socializing so that the café doesn’t loose out on the booking. I could list all the villages we rode through but that would be boring for those of you who have no idea where they are. Suffice it to say lunch was at a café in Baschurch, where we were joined by another couple of tandem riders who came without their tandem. It was an unhurried affair, the surroundings were very pleasant and the service excellent.

The possibility of showers had been forecast for the day and we did have a short one while we were at the café. It had stopped by the time we left, having hardly wet the ground. The sun came out and we had a delightful continuation of our round trip through the countryside and back to Wem. At one time I was almost too hot and I contemplated removing a layer of clothing but I simply resorted to unzipping my jacket a bit, which was just as well as it was beginning to get quite chilly again by the time we got back to the car park. The round trip was about 29 miles in total which we rode, as previously mentioned, at a leisurely pace, which allowed for conversation on route. The terrain was gently undulating with only one quite taxing hill up to the village of Clive. The other new members had a slight mechanical about half-way up, hubby and I stopped to see if they needed assistance, which they didn’t, and we were soon underway again. Meanwhile the others waited at the top for us to catch up and take a breather.

We got home again around mid-afternoon and were glad of a cup of tea and a warm up. We had taken a bottle of drink with us, I had bought a couple of sample sachets of a new rehydration drink to see what it was like – it was horrible! So we didn’t drink much on the way round and I will not be using that particular brand again, I’ll stick to the one I know and love.

It was a very pleasant outing, more social than trying to cover significant ground at excessive speed and, although we have no details as yet other than the date, we are looking forward to next month’s ride when maybe a few more tandems might come along.

We didn’t have time to visit the Treacle Mines of Wem and saw no signs to indicate their whereabouts but we did pass a shop with ‘The Treacle Mines’ painted on its fascia so perhaps that was the entrance and the mines are underneath the High Street. We shall have to investigate another time. Check out my post in a couple of days time when there will be more information about the Treacle Mines!

 

 

Why Cycle?

We went out for a 15 mile bike ride this morning on our modern road bikes. We had expected it to be fine though cold but in fact it was quite mild and sunny – sunglasses needed for the first time in ages; the sun was right in our eyes on the outward journey, still being low in the sky. We passed the spot where a big beech tree was blown down across the road in strong winds a few days ago. The road had been cleared and the main trunk lay like a beached whale in the field beside the road.

While riding I found myself pondering why I like to cycle. Obvious reasons are for fitness and to get out in the fresh air. I have always had a bike but for various reasons have not always ridden a lot, not as much as I do now. I have also always enjoyed walking but my husband now has trouble with his knees and can’t walk very far so he prefers to ride a bike, which he can do without any problems. The result is either I walk on my own, which I do from time to time, or I go with him on my bike. Fortunately we are only a stone’s throw from open countryside which is great as it only takes a few minutes to get out beyond the houses.

Another reason for cycling is that you can see so much more from a bike than you can from driving in a car. You can notice seasonal changes, for example, much more easily as you travel at a slower speed. You can, of course, notice even more walking but you can travel further on a bike in any given amount of time so have greater scope for seeing these changes.

Today, apart from the felled tree and amongst other things, I noticed how the snowdrops are still going strong, I could see bright yellow crocus in gardens that we passed and how some daffodils are already in flower whilst other are still only just pushing through. We also disturbed a bunch of rooks who flew off with their raucous chatter, though I couldn’t quite make out where the rookery was. You also get to hear the birds singing, twittering, calling – something it is near impossible to do from a car.

We did also have to negotiate a flooded road from the recent rains, always a bit risky as you don’t know how deep it is or if any pot-holes are lurking in the murky water. It stretched the full width of the road and was some 20 – 25 feet wide. Hubby went first, the water didn’t come up much more than just over the wheel rims and there didn’t seem to be any hazards so I followed on, rather too fast I think as I ended up quite well splashed!

People often cite road safety as a reason for not cycling and traffic can be a problem – we have experienced many so-called ‘close passes’ when a passing car nearly brushes your leg then cuts quickly in front rather than wait to find enough space to overtake safely. A recent article I was reading on the subject in our Cycling magazine stated that those cycling at below 10 mph were at most risk and those who are safest cycle at above 12 mph. Where does that put us? We usually ride along at a comfortable cruising speed of between 10-12 mph! This is the best speed in my opinion to not cause other traffic too many problems and yet slow enough to enjoy the environment. There is an on-going campaign to educate drivers about cyclists and encourage them to allow 1.5 metres of space when overtaking. This will be included in future editions of The Highway Code, but still only advisory – in many European countries it is the law.

As we cycle along we often pass, or are passed by, other cyclists and usually try to catch their eye and give a cheery greeting. Sadly, many of those who cycle at the “safer” speeds of over 12 mph do not respond. The are simply focused on pushing the pedals round at maybe 16+ mph, eyes fixed a few feet in front of their wheels or on their cycling gizmos for recording their ride and its stats, quite often with earphones in their ears listening to heaven knows what. They are completely oblivious to the world around them and any enjoyment of their surroundings – surely this is a dangerous way to ride. All they seem to care about is beating their own, or somebody else’s Strava record for that particular route. Sad! They might as well stay on their turbo trainer at home.

To my way of thinking there are very few things you can do that costs little and enables you to keep fit whilst enjoying spending time with nature than riding a bike, especially if you take your time to look around you with awareness – after all, if there is something you want to take a closer look at, like when we saw a midday murmuration of starlings recently, you can always stop for a short while; it’s a good excuse for a rest!

Canal

Cycling
over the canal bridge
I glance down at the water,
murky, silent and still.
A pair of mallards hunker by the bank.

The Yellow Peril

The Yellow Peril tandem

My husband always likes a project on the go, especially during the winter, and this winter was no exception. Now anyone who has been following my posts will know that we have more bikes than you can shake a stick at, as the saying goes, but that never stops hubby deciding we need one more (N+1). So, being mechanically minded, he decided it would be fun to have a go at building a tandem from scratch – well, out of two scrap bikes to be precise.

He took himself along to our local bike ‘re-cycling’ charity shop, Back2Bikes, and came home with two mismatched scrap frames which he then proceeded to saw up and reassemble as a tandem frame. You might wonder why we need another tandem, as indeed did I, however the frame used for the back of the bike is quite a small one and the idea is that it might suit our grandson who is too small for our current tandem but had enjoyed sitting on it.

The conversion job was finished at the end of last week, having been painted yellow and christened ‘The Yellow Peril’ (see photo above), so yesterday, a cold, misty and damp day, we went out on a shake down ride (in our thermals and well wrapped up). The plan was to meet up with the Sunday Gang, who we have ridden out or met up with in the past. We knew they were making for a café stop at Morrisons in Stone so that is where we headed. We took the scenic route out, going up past our eldest son’s home – no-one in so we didn’t stop. About a mile into our ride we heard and then saw a flock of geese flying in formation overhead and I was reminded of Rachel Field’s poem ‘Something Told the Wild Geese’:

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.”

Not that these geese were going anywhere yet. I think it is probably the same flock that has flown over our house several times, just going from one waterhole to another. We rode on, negotiated a crossing of the busy A34 main road and arrived at the café stop shortly after the Sunday Gang, enjoyed a bit of a natter and a cup of coffee with them, then set off once more on our own way home, this time by the more direct route. Our round trip was about 14 miles so was a fair test run for the ‘new’ tandem.

There is some tweaking to do! When we set off I felt fairly insecure at first. We had a bit of a wobble on the first couple of corners as hubby adjusted to the steering, which he found a bit twitchy. After the first mile or so, when we had got the feel for it, we relaxed and enjoyed the ride – except for the fact that the back end, being a bit small for me, either found me sitting fairly comfortably on the saddle and banging my knees against my thumbs on the handlebars or sitting uncomfortably further back on the saddle to give me a longer reach. This of course, won’t be a problem for our grandson. There also seems to be some room for improvement with the gear changes, so this too needs tweaking, but overall it all worked very well and was a fun ride.

This morning hubby has gone off to get some name transfers printed; his own name to go on the downtube and ‘The Yellow Peril’ to go along the front crossbar. Then, after attending to the few tweaks needed, it will be time for son and grandson to try it out – but that might have to wait for better weather!

The Sunday Gang

An earlier trip out with ‘The Gang’ on our previous tandem (we’re the ones in white)

The Sunday Gang is the nickname my husband gave to the cycling group we have often ridden out with in the past. It is not a club, just a group of friends and acquaintances who enjoy cycling together, no strings attached. It is organised by Bill (not his real name), in so far as it is organised at all – he co-ordinates the group, arranges the routes and e-mails round to let everyone know. They ride at the pace of the slowest rider so no-one gets left too far behind and usually cover around 20-35 miles with a café stop.

Several of the regulars also go out on a Wednesday when they ride further and at a much faster pace and we have joined them on a couple of occasions. I have to admit to never being very comfortable with the group as I have often been the only lady and at best there has only been two others, both of whom ride faster than me.

The group meets in the morning and we have a 7-8 mile drive in the car with the bikes on the back in order to join them, then on the return we have to re-load the bikes and drive home. This all takes extra time so sometimes, when the group has been heading out in our home direction we have arranged to meet them on route and then peeled off later where convenient ride home again.

We haven’t actually ridden out with them since my husband had his mild heart attack about a year ago. Recently, having got his heart problem and treatment thereof under control, he has expressed an interest in joining them again, especially if they are heading out our way and we can meet up with them on route and peel off when it suits, so he had indicated to Bill that he would like to receive notification of the rides once more.

Yesterday we were planning on going out for a ride on the tandem and hubby had been checking his emails the night before to see what ‘The Gang’ were doing. No messages. Then he picked up a message in the morning to say they were coming out our way and describing the route although there was no timing given. The nearest point to our house was barely a mile away at a crossroads so we made the decision to ride out in the hope of meeting them there.

We arrived at the crossroads where the group should cross in front of us, but of course we had no way of knowing (not having Bill’s mobile number) whether they were still approaching or had gone past. On the basis that if they had already gone through we would never catch them we decided to turn up the way they would come in the hope of meeting them. We didn’t. We retraced their proposed route for a few miles and there was no sign of them. So, knowing that they were making their round-about way to Stone, a town nearby we headed off towards Stone where we knew they often had their café stop at ‘Morrison’s’. We decided against the detour round to Morrison’s having no idea what time they planned to get there, and instead chose to pick up their route into Stone by going up Bury Bank, which we knew they would be coming down. We could always stop at our eldest son’s for a cuppa as we would pass nearby on our way home this way.

Bury Bank is a killer! It is a long drag of a steep hill. (Coming down, of course, is a wonderful freewheeling ride.) We have ridden up it maybe three or four times in total. The first time I rode up it I had to get off and walk. About three-quarters of the way up there is a layby and we usually stop there to recover before doing the final stretch. After levelling out for a short distance our route towards our son’s house requires us to turn left and then climb another steep hill into Swynnerton before freewheeling down towards our son’s.

Sure enough, as we went up Bury Bank we met ‘The Gang’ coming down! They didn’t stop, they were having fun freewheeling. We exchanged greetings and carried on to our son’s, only to find that he was still out on his own bike ride. Our daughter-in-law gave us a brew and as we left some time later our son still hadn’t arrived, but true to the day’s form we passed him a short distance from his home as we were going in the opposite direction. We stopped for a few words of greeting but as it was getting cold we soon headed off again. In all our ride was about 18 miles.

Later hubby e-mailed Bill to let him know we hadn’t picked up his message in time to make proper plans but had hoped to meet them out and about and when we did we were on the way home. Bill e-mailed back with his apologies that he hadn’t remembered to let us know earlier and said that he was amazed to see us riding UP Bury Bank – he said we must be mad, nobody in their right mind rides UP Bury Bank! But we did and we didn’t bother to stop for a rest in the layby either.

‘Bertie’ Bike News

It’s a few weeks since I wrote about cycling so it’s about time for an update. I should say that I haven’t really had much of interest to write about lately on that front as we haven’t been out on any more trail rides for a while, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been out and about on the bikes. Although the days are getting shorter and the weather cooler we have still been out for our normal road riding jollies of varying lengths and recently I have had cause to re-test my classic road-race bike ‘Bertie’.

I have written a few posts about Bertie in the past. You will find the most recent here, and if you follow this link you will also find links to earlier posts about the rest of Bertie’s story.

Although I have ridden ‘Bertie’ (now more usually referred to as ‘HB’) many times, including at the Eroica Britannia, I have always had a slight problem with the bike. More specifically with the gears. HB (Bertie) has the gear shifter on the down tube in the old style and there are only five gears. At least in theory there are five gears but in practice I have, more often than not, only had 4 or sometimes only 3 as No.5 and sometimes No.4 refuse to co-operate. Fortunately with at least four gears and given that it is the top not the bottom gear that has given most problem the bike has still been a pleasure to ride.

More recently though all the gears have been slipping. Sometimes I have changed down when going uphill only to have the gear lever slide its way back up again and changing gear had become somewhat imprecise. So hubby decided it was time to have a serious look at the problem. First he tightened up the gear lever. This was an improvement, it stopped it changing gear of its own accord, but made it rather stiff to operate.

Simplex Derailleur

New Simplex Derailleur

He had been mumbling for some time that the derailleur was not the best it could be and that perhaps he should change it, so finally last week he did just that. He tells me that the Simplex derailleur he has now fitted is not only in better condition than the old one that was on there when we acquired the bike (I think it was a Shimano – a good make but mine was rather worn!) but that it is also more in keeping with the age of the bike, or more age-specific as he termed it.

A  few days later we went out on a test ride. After a 16 mile ride I have to report that the problem seems to have been solved and HB’s gears seem to be fully operational, which is absolutely wonderful.

On this ride hubby rode his newly acquired hand-built Henry Burton bike, which he also declares to be a joy to ride. This he bought from Henry Burton’s shop in Stafford, now run by his son. The bike had been built by Henry for a local man in the 1960’s. The previous owner has now died and his family asked Henry’s son to find the bike a good home and along came my hubby!

This is not the only Henry Burton bike my hubby has recently acquired, he also has a slightly more recent model which was made by Falcon and branded as a Henry Burton (they stopped making their own bikes when Henry retired) which he obtained from our local bike re-cycling charity Back2Bikes and which he has just finished refurbishing. This, with our two Mixte (also branded Henry Burton but built elsewhere) brings our total of Henry Burton bikes to five. I think that is probably enough don’t you?

Nothing to Write

The following word ramble is a bit of a stop-gap place holder really. We have been away for a few days and I have some catching up to do, especially as I didn’t even take my computer with me knowing that Internet access would be limited and it’s refreshing to have a break from the Internet every now and then.

We went down to our boat in the Motorhome on Wednesday for a routine check on it and give it a generally wash and clean as it is still unsold, then on Friday we moved on to a campsite up the coast a bit as we had a lunch engagement with a group of friends to go to on Saturday.

The time away was fairly low-key and we didn’t really do very much. The first couple of days while we were at the boat were quite mostly dry, sunny and fairly mild but cold at night. We had no access to electricity but we do have a heater that can use either electricity or gas so we able to keep warm. We took the tandem with us but only used it once, for a short ride around Burnham-on-Crouch (where the boat is currently based) and to do a bit of shopping – at a guess barely three miles. We had taken it thinking we might use it to visit my husband’s brother and his wife but in the event they came to us instead.

When we moved up the coast to Thorpe-le-Soken the weather changed, turning rather cold, windy and, by Saturday evening, very wet. We were glad that we had an electric hook up so were able to keep warm. A large chunk of Saturday was of course taken up with our lunchtime get-together – excellent company and a superb meal. However the result of this wonderfully relaxing few days away means that I have nothing to write about!

With winter coming on our trail rides will probably be few and far between now so cycling will be less of a focus for these ramblings of mine. I have in mind one or two other topics to write about but these will need some research. Perhaps I’ll get my act together by next week.

 

Flying Visit

Star Gazing Hare, CotswoldsLast week my daughter came over from her home in Spain to attend a course in the Lake District (not cycling related). She finished at lunchtime on Friday and wasn’t flying back until Sunday so with a couple of days to spare she was able to pay us a visit, which was wonderful and especially so as we didn’t know until almost the last-minute. She arrived mid-afternoon on Friday in her hire-car.

On Saturday morning we were able to fix her up with a bike (we’ve got plenty) and some cycling gear (she’s a similar size to me though taller and slimmer!) plus a spare helmet and, together with our youngest son we went off for a lovely bike ride in the morning. It was mild, fine and cool without being cold – a lovely Autumnal day. Our route took us around the lanes, through some local villages until we picked up the Stafford Greenway trail in Haughton and followed it along to Gnosal before once more taking to the lanes in order to return home. Becky had done the Stafford to Haughton stretch with us before (see here) so this was a new section for her. Maybe next time she’ll get to finish the trail!

The interesting thing about this bike ride is that daughter Becky (who blogs at Mad Cycling in the Midday sun), hubby and I all had cycle computers on our bikes and our son was using his Strava ap. – so when we got home and checked our mileage I made it 16.7 miles, Becky made it 17.9 and hubby made it 18.5. While hubby would like to believe his computer I think on balance mine might well be the correct reading since our son’s Strava ap. gave the same reading and since the ap. works on GPS ought perhaps to be the more accurate! It just shows how inaccurate these computers can be when there is a 2 mile discrepancy in the readings!

We finished off the day with the rest of the family – eldest son, daughter-in-law, grandson and youngest son’s girlfriend – enjoying an Indian take-away with us followed by apple crumble and custard for desert as requested by Becky, who obviously doesn’t get it very often back home in Spain. She left us again very early Sunday morning to catch her flight home from Liverpool airport.

Typically none of us thought to take any photos on our little bike ride so I have none to share with you, hence the handsome chap at the top of the page. The photo was taken in the grounds of the Cotswold Motor Museum at Bourton-on-the-Water, the venue for our ‘Old Pals’ reunion that I wrote about last week.

I later discovered from a free magazine that I picked up while we were there that he was part of the Cotswold Hare Trail. These hare sculptures were hidden around various villages in the Cotswolds and vary in size from five feet tall to less than nine inches. My chap is one of the five feet ones. The aim of the trail is to raise awareness of the Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). There were apparently 130 of them to find this year and anyone who found and recorded them all, taking a selfie with them, could enter a prize draw to win a blank five feet tall one to paint for themselves! This chap was the only one I found, and that was by accident as I was unaware of the existence of the trail. He actually seems to be from last year’s trail so was probably auctioned off then and is now a permanent fixture at his current location rather than being hidden. This year’s batch are due to be auctioned off this month.  Profits from the auction will be donated to Cotswold AONB projects.

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