Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Just A Quick Update.

As happens now and again, my mojo has gone completely awol, and my desire to get out and ride, take photos, and generally get amongst the countryside has taken a big nose dive. So I won't bang on in my usual way, but just lob in a load of the photos I did take on a really enjoyable ride I had just before the mood crash, and also last Sunday's effort. 

So this was a fortnight ago now, give or take a few hours, but a really cracking ride. As I say, little in the way of comment, mostly just photos.


 Older spelling of Tregony.

Lamorran Woods.

Corner hoon - always a favourite bend this one for getting a bit of a lean on.

Gravity powered hoon getting near home.

So that was way back on the 1st of November (I think!) and it really as a great ride - very autumnal feeling in the warm sun, and very relaxing.

Last Sunday it was blowing a rough North Westerly, gusting up to 40 mph, but with it also being reasonably sunny, I thought I'd try and get out on a ride to see if I could pick things up a bit mood wise. It was a real struggle to be honest, everything ached and my heart wasn't really in it. I still took some photos though, but taking them, and riding, was all hard work.

Very fuzzy looking, at least here on my PC. Right click and open in a new tab will bring it up more like how it should be.

A bit of roadside treasure - probably from the rear step of a van or something of that ilk, spray suppression guff from a truck maybe. But I brought it home and now have something to scrape the mud off the bottom of my boots with when I get home.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon, maybe even tomorrow as I might try and get out again in the morning, and I get things back to where they were mood wise. It's not just riding that cops it though of course, it's everything in day to day life as well, but at least I've got around to getting these photos up at last.

Right, at least I've got the blog up to date so that's something I've achieved today at least!


Monday, 30 October 2017

Another Monday Catch Up.

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order." 
John Burroughs - The Gospel of Nature.

Looking at this as I post, it appears there are many photos transferring all fuzzy and scuzzy, as usual, so when you see a blurry one, right click and open in a new tab and the photo will appear much bigger and less fuzzmungous.

Monday seems to be becoming my time for updating this blog with my latest guff. It is a convenient time to do it I suppose as I'm sat waiting for Mr Asda to rock up with my weekly shop. I'm a hypocrite when it comes to many things, and shopping is a big one I'm afraid. I loudly and frequently lament the demise of the traditional town centres with their idiosyncratic collections of shops, but then I go and do my shopping with one of the big supermarkets that have done so much to knacker the characters of our towns and cities. 
In my defence my back isn't up to lugging a couple of heavy bags of shopping about on buses and so on, nor all the walking involved from one shop to another to get all the stuff I'm accustomed to having these days. So I take the easy route of compromising my morals and doing my shopping online. A few clicks of a mouse accompanied by a mug of coffee and it's done. Let some other poor beggar battle with the aisles and pick it all for me. Not a good state of affairs really though.

There is also the anticipatory thrill though of wondering what substitute items you may get should anything not be in stock. I only tick the 'no subs' boxes for a couple of items, leaving the rest to the pickers discretion/imagination. I've had some nice surprises along the way I must admit, brands or types of food I'd not previously tried that I've since gone on to buy on a regular basis. I've had some mind bogglingly perplexing subs too mind you, leading me to draw the conclusion that some of the pickers are clearly enthusiastic consumers of recreational drugs. 

So I get my food delivered from the supermarket - it's cheap(ish) and very convenient.

But surely the best food is the food that doesn't cost a single penny, other than the electricity used, and the time spent in gathering and preparing it perhaps. But I'm getting ahead of myself already, more of that later.

Let's rewind a tad and get on to the subject of bimbling about in the countryside and the rides I've had lately. 

The weather has been pretty decent recently to be fair, so I've had some very enjoyable and relaxing excursions. Muddy ones admittedly, but enjoyable all the same.

First up was last Wednesday and I took the marvelous Marin out for some quality pootling in the weak Autumnal sunshine. The Marin has quickly established itself as my 'best bike.' It's the one I really hate getting all filthy the most. I love the colour and glossy finish of its paintwork, it has a depth of shine a small insect could drown in, and sat in my living room looking all peachy clean and purposeful, I frequently find myself admiring its lines and letting my mind drift to the rides I've had and how good it feels to be aboard it. That last bit is the issue really, if it wasn't so good to ride I wouldn't feel the need to get out and ride it so strongly. I could happily park it up until warmer, sunnier times when I can get home from a ride with the bike not blathered in farm slurry and smelling like an overworked vet's forearm.

But every now and again, those purposeful looks overcome the shiny gloss of its gleaming paint and I feel the need to take it for a ride. That's the beauty of having a number of bikes though, you get to experience the variety of ways in which they ride, it'd get boring riding the same one all the time, and when you do get back on one of your favourites, it's exciting all over again.

The sun may have been shining when I set out on the Marin, but the lanes were still pretty clisty however.

I like a good puddle, and soon had the Marin sat in a couple posing for photos. The second one, the deeper one, was more like a pop up pond to be honest. Being used to riding bikes with rear mudguards, I'd forgotten to put on leggings. I was about to get a wet and muddy bum streak of shame off that chunky back tyre then.

 Great riding weather, but not so hot for photos, at least with my mediocre skills anyway. The weak sunshine and strong shadows makes for some strong contrast which neither I, nor my camera, are particularly fond of.

 A scene I couldn't decide how best to capture - portrait or landscape, so I went for both. But it's a scene that is chock full of the good stuff as far as I'm concerned. A bike, and a tranquil country lane hemmed in by scraggly Autumnal trees. 

And the view from the same parking spot looking forwards, towards Ladock in fact.

I had in mind a good old ride around, but as soon as I left the house I immediately settled in to a relaxed, easy wheeling, riding style. Getting somewhere definitely took the back seat to just drinking in my surroundings on this ride, it just felt so good to be outside, feeling the fresh air gently cruising past my face as I ambled along in the sunshine. 

The Marin is a bike that to me, does beg to be ridden hard, those wide bars, rigid, steel frame and gert knobbly tyres all convey a feel of wanting to be hurled from side to side by an out of the saddle rider pounding the pedals up some rough track. But it is equally at home bimbling, as a lot of bikes are really of course. But those wide bars (the widest in my stable at a gap bothering 780mm) are supremely comfortable for me, and the ride from the plus sized tyres surprisingly cushioning for a fully rigid bike. It makes a great back road bimbler, but also has good acceleration and pace as well when you do want to get a shake on. I do run out of legs at about 24 mph in the highest gear though, thanks to the one by drive train, but I can certainly live with that.

 Some people pay lots of money to go for spinning classes, which seems odd to me. People drive through traffic to pay to ride a bike that goes nowhere. Me, I keep looking for coasting classes as they'd be closest to my riding style, but so far haven't found any. 
But anyway, even for those who do ride a proper bike, going head down full attack out in the wild would just be a waste of a lovely day and of the freedom of just drifting along enjoying the surroundings.

Uh oh... a hill - no bother really though. Back when I first got back onto bikes the hills round my way gave me some serious grief. I was coming to a wheezing, gasping halt embarrassingly early into the climbs, and having to bale out and push. Now though, having got a lot fitter, I barely notice small lumps like this one (especially with the dinner plate sized sprocket on the Marin to play with). There still are a couple locally that I have yet to ride all the way up, but in all honesty, I no longer care if I have to get off and push, it's all about enjoying the ride for me, not murdering my legs and lungs.

 I'm no arboreal expert, but this all looks a bit precarious to me. Presumably though the roots go a good way back behind the trunk and the tree is still well anchored, it certainly seems to have survived all the gales of recent years easily enough. If it ever does come a cropper though, it'll come down into the Ladock to Probus road.

Getting near Probus on the lane from Ladock. Those banks either side of the road are perfect examples of Cornish hedges, as also demonstrated by the exposed stone work in the foreground. What appear to just be earth banks actually contain a heart of stone, literally.
The inner granite here was exposed when a new gate to a field was put in, and the earth covering the front of the wall wasn't reinstated.

Swooping through Probus. The ultra wide angle of the GoPro mullers perspective and makes the church look stumpy. In fact the church's tower is the tallest in Cornwall at 129 feet (or 39 metres in funny money). Quite why they didn't make it a nice round figure of 130 feet, is a mystery. Sounds like someone cocked up when ordering the stonework in and they came up a foot short...

Ah, now here's a fascinating book I recently acquired for a bargain £9, direct from the publisher -  Twelveheads Press (and thanks to a friendly neighbour up country in that there Devon who gave me the heads up) . Every milestone in the county is listed and illustrated in here, but the book is much more than a spotter's tick book, being also a history of the road network in the county and how it developed and so on. I've yet to sit down and read it properly cover to cover, but I can see a theme for a few rides coming on!

 Easily missed when concentrating on bozzing round the rather sporting bend on the lane near Tresawle, is a squat milestone up against the base of that tree.

Hopping over the Probus bypass and taking the lane through Tresawle to Cornelly Bridge at Tregony, on the outside of a proper heller of a right hand bend and almost hidden from view is this early 19th century milestone. What looks like a 3 beneath Truro is actually a 5, while on the other face it actually shows Tregony 2 1/2 beneath all that moss.

 Turn right just past the milestone shown up above and you find another, this time indicating you are four miles from Tregothnan.

This is the same milestone, I just couldn't agree on the best angle for the bike so turned it round...
It appears the miles shown are to Tregothnan House itself rather than the entrance to the estate.

Not Tregothnan House, but just a random shot taken on the lane from St Michael Penkivel to Tresillian.

Initially I had planned to nip down the dead end lane to the ruins of Merther Church for a look but with time getting on and me starting to feel tired and hungry (I never eat before a ride, and also very little the night before as well) I decided to head home and made directly for Tresillian.

Unusually I made it straight across the (usually) busy main road at Tresillian without the wheels even stopping, and set about climbing the ugly hill on the lane towards St Erme. Yes, this is one of the hills I mentioned earlier that I still have to walk up, it's a steep beggar alright and I've only ridden all the way up it once before. My excuse is that I normally have to tackle this hill on the way home, and therefore without the benefit of fresh legs as I'm nearing the end of a ride. Whatever, it's steep even when walking up it and I always feel it in my upper back, but there isn't really a viable alternative route to take on a bicycle.

Tired and hungry I may have been, but I was still enjoying the ride and wanted to take more photos, so set up for a couple of fly by shots approaching the bridge under the Paddington main line above...

... and heading away from it in this fuzzy upload.

During the course of my photographic dicking about, I thought the bike leaning against the gate at the side of the road made a better shot than the fly by I'd just taken, so took one of that too. The bike you'll notice, is still pretty clean...

Now here's a rare thing - a close up of my ugly mush.
The nearest line of trees is actually the far end (from my home) of Tregassow Lane, and I am normally puffing my way up that hill when I do my favourite loop. Tregassow Lane passes that small house visible just below the horizon at about 11 o'clock, travels along the flat past it for a while before descending through the line of trees down into the triangle of trees just down and to the right of my nose. Trevella Stream also passes through there, and it's interesting seeing it all from a distant view for a change.

It had been a really enjoyable ride - Bimbling along through the sunlight and shadows, taking note of the smells (some good, some not so friendly to the hooter...)and the sounds of unseen mammals scurrying away through the hedges and the birds singing as I enjoyed an easy pedaling rhythm that gave me time to take in the surroundings with a sort of wide eyed wonder. I love it when the mood is right and just being out on a bike in the countryside makes me feel glad to be alive. I feel at home there, and at peace. 

I had to take that photo above though of the scruffy old bloke peering over the hedge at the view beyond, if only for my own purposes, to remember the moment I stopped and enjoyed the warm sun on my back, the complete lack of any wind, and the near total silence of my immediate environment. At first I thought there were no sounds at all - certainly there were no cars in the area, nor farm machinery working, or aircraft flying overhead. But as I listened I could hear Pheasants and other bird life in the trees down in the dip beyond. But that was all there was to be heard. I must've sat there on the bike, propped up on the hedge, a good ten minutes or more just taking it all in before opting to record the moment.

Damned fuzzy uploads...
This is where I was sat, with Tregassow Lane emerging from those trees on the near left, where I usually turn left onto the bend in the lane visible in the middle of the photo. Had I had my thinking head on I would've taken a panoramic set...

Just bimbling along in the sunshine.

When coming from the Southerly direction I could use Tregassow Lane to get home but I invariably carry on and go the long way round to reach my home port, just to extend a ride a little more (even when I'm knackered, it's actually less hilly going the long way round) and of course, to see what's happening on that part of my regular loop.

Map of the Bimblage. Full gory details can be found HERE. When I took the shot of the old boy admiring the view I was at roughly point 12 on the map, with my beloved Tregassow Lane running left from there and then upwards into St Erme, but I opted for the longer way home.

So it was a great ride I had, but did the Marin stay clean I hear nobody ask? No, it didn't! I made it nearly all the way round with it only showing a few odd flecks of dirt but then copped a mud and cow slurry load travelling through the farm yard at about point 14 on that map, and it got utterly schmuckled, as did my arse as well. So as soon as I got home, instead of making straight for the shower and then lunch, I wearily fished out the cleaning gear and gave the bike a thorough scrubbing followed by a re-lube. That'll teach me to mess about taking the long way round...

Friday the 27th saw me wheeling out the Voodoo (couldn't take the Marin now it was clean again, and Fatso had also just received a good wash too...) and headed off round a loop that took in Boswiddle Ford.

Another nice start to the day, although it did cloud over.

The sharp drop down to Boswiddle Ford which is just around the bend to the left. Even back here the roar of the water dropping off the road onto the level below is quite something.

A little dab of colour in the Autumnal leaf litter.

 Boswiddle Ford random shot. 

No worries!
Waterproof boots can be so liberating! These are fairly new and are just £25 from Decathlon. This is my second pair, the previous pair lasted 18 months before a sort of rubberised membrane on part of the uppers started to deteriorate and let water in. That lifespan might be a downer for some people, but for £25 I think these boots are actually a good buy, being completely waterproof and great for wearing on the bike as the soles grip the pedals really well, even when caked in mud. If this pair lasts 18 months I won't worry, and will probably just buy another pair the same.

While I was spending time around the ford (I always stop and poke about, it really is an invigorating place to stop with all the water rushing about, and the Crows erm... crowing in the tree tops above) a large 4x4 drew up next to me and the elderly lady driver told me the road further on was a tad on the muddy side. That was nice of her I thought, not that it matters much what with me being a rufty tufty mountain biker n' all. 

Well the lady in the 4x4 was right. In the tiny hamlet of Penhale things got a bit cluggy, and this bike had just had a thorough wash as well!

And here's one of the culprits caught red handed...

And another... it was like a rural Piccadilly Circus along this lane as one tractor growled along after another. 

There's not a lot of lane left over for the rest of us either when a tractor is on the move, so best to cower in gateways and drive ways and let them through. Much rather this traffic than the buses, white vans and endless cars of big towns though.
I didn't notice much about the Fendt, but those John Deeres make a wonderful growling sound (straight six turbos I think they are).

Travellers take note - The slightly crappy home made sign speaketh the truth.

 Meanwhile, a little further up the road, another tractor was hard at work doing a bit of ploughing. Trees at the very back are Ladock Woods, while the lighter coloured ones in front are along the road to Mitchell, that I was about to take.

The cottages at Treveale through the fuzz top left, while the lane I was about to take passes through the lighter coloured trees from the right before rounding a right hander and up and over the hill top.

And this was just in that lighter line of trees, just past the entrance to Ladock Woods. I must've ridden through here a hundred times or more, but on this occasion this view, with the bike placed at the far end of the shot, just sort of jumped out at me what with the muted colours and overhead tangle of branches, as well as the light in the tree tops. Walking to and from the bike was a traffic dodging exercise as this lane sees quite a few cars, as well as those tractors, travelling along it. People must wonder what the hell I'm up to as they pass me sometimes, but who cares - I love the lanes when they look like this so will take whatever photos I want, even if it means attracting stares as I crouch in the bushes or whatever, looking for all the world like I'm taking a dump or something. On this occasion I took several shots from all sorts of odd positions, but this one, taken from in the road, was the one I like most.

That was Friday then, as I didn't take any more photos thereafter, and now we move to yesterday - Sunday the 29th of October.

What a long day it felt too, what with the clocks going back n'all. Extra hour in bed my backside... once I'm awake I have to get up so it just meant I was up an hour earlier than I otherwise would've been, which is no hardship really of course, not at the time. Like I say though, it was later on that the day felt a really long and drawn out one.

Anyway, a mug of coffee (I've recently tried Taylor's of Harrogate After Dark, and what a great mug of coffee that is...) and a lap of the internet later, and I was out on the Voodoo once more, in search of the free comestibles I mentioned way back at the top of this lengthy waffle.

The Bridleway south of the village (part of the route of the old A39 in fact) was a good bet for the foodstuff I had in mind, but it wasn't to be, as nothing was found.

Oh no... not on your Nellie! No I'm not risking instant death or diarrhea  by picking and eating mushrooms... uh uh, not me, no. I just thought I'd grab a photo of this one sat in the middle of all those twigs, and get my mushrooms from the supermarket, which is far safer.

Nothing here either...

Old water pump opposite the church in St Erme.

Nothing here either, but then I knew that, this being Tregassow Lane. I just liked this scene as I rode to where I knew I could grab some free grub.

Bodrean Lane. 
I was along here last week as well, a very pleasant lane to ride it is too, but more importantly, it was where I'd found what on this day, I was looking for.

And here we are - Sweet Chestnuts. Not so much free food as free nibbles really, you couldn't live on them, but there we are.

Now after last week's excursion amongst the crunching Sweet Chestnuts, I realised I haven't actually tried eating them before, despite all those sellers in the streets come Christmas time offering delightful smelling bags of hot nuts. So I decided it was high time I put that right, especially as I'd enjoyed picking all those Blackberries earlier this year. In fact, I'd kept my eyes open on both those previous rides I've covered above, but not seen anything. Sweet Chestnuts really are thin on the ground as it were round these parts, this being the only spot I know of to find them (I may go looking somewhere else for more this week though). 
I spent a happy half hour opening up the prickly casings with my trusty Leatherman, and gathered a few likely nuts that I brought home. Most are way too small to be of any use, all shell and no meat, and the rounder, meatier ones like the one above, are no bigger than a cat's knackers either, so the harvest isn't great compared to the masses of Blackberries I foraged.
So I've got them now laid out in the kitchen, as apparently best practice is to leave them out at room temperature for a couple of days as this improves the flavour. Then the plan is to stick 'em in the oven and see what they taste like. A lot of riding around just for a handful of nuts but what the hell, it's all good fun and gives me something to do and to look forward to. 

So it's been a good week for a bit of nature and riding therapy, the best therapy there is in my book. I saw on Autumn Watch last week a piece by Chris Packham about how good nature is as a way of coping with things like depression and anxiety and how it is believed to be in our DNA to be in nature, not in towns full of bricks, concrete and traffic. It's part of our instinct as a human beings, nature is what we are, or were, part of, and living in towns takes us out of where we're supposed to be. 
It's true that we are a part of nature, and an interesting theory, but a lot of folk are fully paid up townies and get scared when confronted with mud and twigs and stuff, and they are happy in amongst all the noise, smog and hustle of big towns.  Whatever the actual reasons for it though, I keep seeing nature's healing ways mentioned more and more in the media lately as a way of treating illnesses, particularly stress, depression and anxiety. 

With all that in mind, the Government should be doing all it can to encourage more people onto bikes and getting them riding, it'd save the NHS a fortune for a start, but I also see this past week that they are commissioning a study to look into cycling and that Hi-Viz clothing and compulsory helmets could be under consideration. Please God no...

But anyway, that's a whole new rant, and for another time I think as right now I want to enjoy the thoughts of hot Chestnuts and Autumnal bike rides rather than rampaging blood pressure and anger fueled despair at Governmental ineptitude.