Crocus Blooms

Few
crocus blooms —
crushed by harsh
weather. More to come;
snow!

Fight Back

Spring fights back,
the arctic blast retreats.
Snow-squashed snowdrops
stand proud once more.

Undecided

White flakes softly fall,
sudden flurries come and go,
seem undecided.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I wrote this Haiku earlier this week but as I had other things to post then I am sharing it today. Since I wrote it the snow finally decided it was going to fall more continuously and settle. There is also a bitingly cold wind.

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One Day

Three seasons, one day;
snow, rain, bright sunshine,
but oh so cold!

Spring Englyn

Snowdrops now their dainty heads show, green stems
extend through cloak of snow.
Signs of Spring; we watch them grow.

Following soon come tulips fair, and bold
gold daffodils bloom where
now the ground is dark and bare.

The seasons are changing, the sun returns
and warms the earth, to shun
Winter’s grip; her battle won.

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

Whilst looking for something else on the Internet I came across the Englyn form. This is, I understand, an old Bardic poetic form and I thought it would be fun to try to write one. As you can see the form consists of  3-line stanzas. It is a syllable counting form with lines of 10, 6 and 7 syllables respectively. That’s the easy bit!

The rhyme pattern requires end rhymes of AAA. However, (and this is where it gets complicated) the end rhyme of the first line isn’t actually at the end; it can be one, two or three syllables in from the end and the sound of the syllables after the rhyming word are echoed at the beginning of the following line.

You will see I have cheated a bit here, my echoes are not exact, making use of near rhymes and slant rhymes – green stems/extend (Stanza 1),  returns/and warms (stanza 3) and missing out one element in stanza 2 – and bold/gold.

Footprints

Footprints in the snow.
I return following
my own outward track.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I wrote this after walking to my local grocery store on Sunday morning but as I do not post on Sundays I saved it for today. We had a moderate fall of snow and it was still snowing. I was surprised how few people were about; mine seemed to be the only tracks for most of my walk. Magical.

Melting

Snow
slowly melting,
green grass peeping.
Chance of White Christmas
fading.

Snow

Snow
at last,
lying stretched like
a pauper’s worn, old
blanket.

Tandem Touring

Okay, so this is not quite as the title suggests. We have just returned from almost six weeks of touring through France and Spain but I have to admit that we weren’t actually touring on the tandem – we were in our motorhome with the tandem on the back so that we could go off for rides on it at various locations along the way.

Motorhome and tandem

Motorhome with tandem, Valencia, Spain

One of the drawbacks with a motorhome is that you have no alternative transport and if you want to go anywhere you either have to drag the lumbering thing with you, use public transport or take a bike. (Some people actually tow a small car but one of the reasons we swapped our caravan for a motorhome was in order to avoid towing.) So we decided it might be fun to take the tandem.

The first tandem excursion was a couple of days after we had arrived in France on the overnight ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe. We had stopped at an Aires in the village of Montville just north of Rouen. The plan was that we would cycle into Rouen and visit the cathedral. Hubby reckoned this would be a round trip of about 12 or maybe 13 miles. In the event it was more like 25 or 26 miles, was extremely hilly, alternately cold then hot then cold and took considerably longer to get to Rouen than we had envisaged, giving us only about an hour in the town before our return trip. I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with the cathedral but have since learned that there are two in Rouen and I think we went to ‘the wrong one’. Maybe next time!

We then spent a few days with some friends who run a B&B near Alencon before moving on south so it was about four days before we got on the bike again. This time we were at an Aires called La Petite Gare at Uzerche, an old railway station. The track has been removed to create a public amenity and cycle path. It was a lovely gentle and flat ride! It was hot and we were in shorts and t-shirts. This was to be our last ride for a while as we wended our way via a visit of several days with my cousin near Toulouse and a few other overnight stops plus two days at Carcassonne – lovely medieval city, could have done with longer here – until we arrived at our daughter’s some 45 mins drive inland from Tarragona in Catalunia, Spain.

We stayed here for about a week and as we had no intention of driving the motorhome up and down their lumpy, bumpy, rocky, narrow track on a regular basis the tandem was our transport of choice. On it we made trips into the local village and to the nearest town, Mora D’Ebre. I have to say it was colder here than I had expected and we were glad we had packed some warm cycling gear. On one ride we nearly ran over a large snake that was thrashing about in the middle of the road. I wondered if it had been knocked by a tractor that went down the road ahead of us. When we returned down the road a short while later it had gone so can’t have been badly hurt.

Husband and tandem

My husband and tandem,
Peniscola, Spain

Then we discovered that we had six broken spokes in the back wheel! Why the wheel didn’t collapse we will never know. We tried to get some replacement spokes from our daughter’s favourite bike shop but they didn’t have the correct size. It was a few days before we managed to get any and by then we had moved on to a campsite near Peniscola, north of Valencia. We bought ten spokes so we had four spare. A few days later we broke another and this was to be the pattern for the next several days. We bought another six spokes in Oliva, just south of Valencia, when we only had one spare one left. The next day another broke. My husband had not been convinced when we bought it that the tandem had its original wheels and when the chap from the bike shop in Oliva looked at the wheel he said the spokes were not of good enough quality. Now we had replaced all the ‘inside’ spokes in the back wheel with stronger ones and checked their tension. Fortunately we had no further trouble.

Snow over the Mountains

Over the Mountains

The bike next came out in San Sebastian after a horrendous drive over the mountains from Pamplona in the snow! (After two days of almost continuous heavy rain) This is not what we went to Spain for. Once the snow and rain had stopped we had a gloriously sunny day, though cold, and rode the tandem through the town and along the sea front. What a lovely place – though riding a tandem through town with all the roadside furniture and pedestrians drifting around over the cycle track does not make for easy riding. Maybe we would have been better with solo bikes! Every time the pilot slowed down without warning it jolted through my body as I tried to peddle against sudden resistance, being unable to see ahead too well to anticipate!

Your truly, San Sebastian. Where did I leave the tandem?

Your truly, San Sebastian. Where did I leave the tandem?

Our last tandem ride of the trip was around the old city at La Rochelle, France, again a very interesting place. There had been a marathon earlier in the day and although the event had finished when we got the bike out the place was still heaving and again a tandem was not really the ideal bike for the stop/go conditions. After that it was back to our friends near Alencon before returning to the UK, it was pretty cold and frosty so the bike stayed on the back of the motorhome.

It was great fun to have the tandem with us but in retrospect taking the solo mountain bikes might have been a better idea – easier to get around towns and less likely to break spokes out in the rough countryside.

Now the tandem needs a thorough overhaul – especially the back wheel! Will we use it again over the winter? I don’t know but if we do I’ll be sure to tell you all about it.

 

Hard Frost

Snow in short supply this winter,
I awake to a world of white.
A bitter, cold, hard frost
will have to suffice!

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