Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Sunday's Not So Bimbly Bimble. Caution - Contains Grumpiness and Ranting.

Well here we are, the middle of the night and unable to sleep. So I'm going to try and ease the turmoil by posting about yesterday's (erm, Sunday's now it's actually Tuesday) ride.

In my last post I moaned about how we here in Cornwall were having a spell of 'non weather.' Well on Sunday something was happening outside at last - it was pretty choppy out to put it mildly, with a gustysome wind blowing, but still with utterly dismal flat light and skies.

But it could be worse, as I read today that near-to-me Truro is the fifth wettest city in Britain. Apparently Truro cops an average 106 cm of rain over an average 150 days a year. This probably gives rise to the Truronian's weather forecasting method of "If you can't see the railway viaduct, he's bleddy rennin'. If you can see the viaduct, he's about to bleddy renn..."

For the record, Manchester, often derided as being wetter than an Otter's pocket, didn't feature in the top five. Top of the slops is actually Cardiff with a sloshing 115 cm of rain a year. The poor old Welsh really cop it as St Davids is second on 114 cm. Glasgow is third on 112 cm, while just beating Truro to fourth place by 4 cm, it's back to Wales and Bangor. 

But enough of that, the weather was once again dull and flat. Just a tad breezy with it.

I wasn't in the best of moods either, and I really needed to get out of the house again and work off some pent up frustrations, anger and anxieties. This inner turbulence meant the ride started in a very ugly manner as I thrashed away at the pedals and blitzed down the hill to Trevella Stream with not a thought for the possibility of meeting a vehicle coming up as I speared through the blind bends. I've heard depression being described jokingly as anger without enthusiasm, well I had plenty of anger in me and I was really taking it out on the Voodoo as well as myself as I attacked the hill up to Four Turnings like a drug fuelled Pro going for the finish line. If I knackered my back, gave myself a heart attack or rode slap bang into a car then so be it. This is what being on the receiving end of a Government department (the DWP) does for you. The way that department goes about its business is an utter disgrace in this day and age. If the individuals who make decisions were held to account, if they had to possibly face consequences in the way of court appearances, or even charges of gross misconduct, abuse of position or whatever, then they may actually show some consideration for the people they 'serve', and put some thought into what they do, and the effects and impacts they have. 

Right, rant over, even though I am still riotously angry with the complete contempt they show for people they are supposed to offer support.

So anyway, Sunday's ride started off rather violently, but that behaviour was brought to a halt by the steep hill I found myself climbing as somewhere in the blur of thrashing legs and bursting lungs, I'd taken the lane towards Probus. That's a steep bugger in any mood, and with my legs burning from all the effort as well, I had to bail out. Getting my breath back saw me rid myself of the initial burst of anger and frustration, and the ride continued in a more orderly manner, if still a little bad tempered and lacking in best safety practice at times.

Getting my breath, and a degree of composure, back at the top of the gert big hill on the lane to Probus.

I still took some photos of course as the mood lightened the further I rode and I started becoming more aware of my surroundings again. 

I'd not just set off with a massive cob on, I'd also set off with no route or destination in mind, so it became a make it up as I go along ride. 

Old originals on the left, new builds on the right. At least these new builds sort of suit the location, unlike many identikit homes they throw up all over the place with no thought given to local building styles/fashions or location environment etc.

 The Square, Probus. (Looks more triangular to me but still...) Oddness dead ahead is a photo of old Probus printed on the bus shelter walls.

I like some of the 'small' cars that are around these days, and if given the choice between these two, I'd get in touch with my more feminine side and plump for the Fiat. The Mini thingy might be better made, but by crikey they are fugly lumps, especially from behind. You'd never believe mere tail lights could embody the word 'gormless' but the designer who penned those nailed it. Calling them 'Mini' is a bit of a misnomer too. I learned to drive in a Mini, a proper Mini that is, and these new funky chunkies go against the entire philosophy of the original. But that's progress I suppose, and Minis sell like half time pasties at the rugby, so it must just be me that is less than enamoured with 'em!

Ignoring aching back and legs from my explosive start, I rode through Probus and out the other side, then taking to a Bridleway that initially runs parallel to the A390 Probus bypass. A short bash along the main road found me at the gates to the Trewithen Estate. 

The three photos up there ^^ are the first section of Bridleway alongside the A390 where it bypasses Probus.

 Lots of barbed and normal wire, shouty notice... someone else is a bit tetchy too... This sign is on Trewithen Estate land.

 Here this is posh, least as Bridleway entries go anyway, It has even got its own post box look.

 The Trewithen Estate's sign maker must be busy as a dog digging for daylight. Signs and notices everywhere.

The Bridleway is as indicated on their map by the dotted line running parallel to the 'St Auzell' road.

I wasn't going in to marvel at the gardens or gawp at the socking great house though, I was going to have me a ride along another Bridleway I've had my eye on for some time but had not yet ridden. This new'un travels through the estate grounds to start with, before crossing a country lane and heading down into the village of Grampound. 

 At the end of the grassy bit of the Bridleway, and looking back the way I'd come. Looks plush but was rather soggy and puddly, as the tyres show.

The last section on Trewithen land is tarmac and gravel and much easier to negotiate.

As you might expect of such a path in a posh estate, this Bridleway started off in a most splendid manner, with a flat, grassy and wide track to follow. It wasn't all peachy though, as that grass soon turned rather wet and squelchy, but still perfectly rideable. The Voodoo's narrower tyres might've left their mark in that plush grass mind you, more than Fatso would've done for sure, but hey ho, crack on!
After crossing the lane on the exit from the estate, the Bridleway becomes more like what is to be expected of a Cornish Bridleway - full of mud, puddles and tractor tracks. Hard work at times on the Voodoo making me wonder how I coped for so long before being spoiled by the Fatbike's 'go anywhere with ease' abilities.

 The second half of the Bridleway from the estate gates down to Grampound.

 Bang goes the clean bike...

Big fan thing was going like the clappers in the stroppy wind, and making quite some noise too.

Oh hayup... another moan incoming! You buy a picturesque little cottage, then pave over the garden so you can park your socking great Strange Rover outside, blocking all the light and almost dwarfing the house. Just look at the size of that thing compared to the house it's parked outside!
This is a bit of a thing of mine though, even more so after someone bought a lovely house in the village I live in and promptly ripped out the garden and its walls and railings, and paved it all over so they can park their Porsche outside their front door, despite them having a yard to the side of the house, and two old barns too that they could use. Their house, they can do what they like, but by crikey it really twists my knackers when folk ruin these places in such a manner.

Grampound is a village, with a town hall, something that has always puzzled me - I must find out what has gone on as calling it a town is pushing things a bit. Grampound folk must be a boastful lot, prone to exaggeration.

Grampound. The town hall is that building with the clock tower behind the two blokes fighting that ladder. 

I didn't look around the tow... village other than having a mosey up Mill Lane, and finding, well, an old mill at the end of it. Who'd have thought it eh? 

Access to the old mill buildings isn't possible, but outside the gates is this old building and digging thing.

Back out from the dead end Mill Lane to the main road and my on board navigation system was consulted, and having figured out where I was, I quickly decided on an interesting route home, avoiding the main road in the process. This meant climbing another socking great hill, and saw another bail out, but eventually I found myself once again on familiar territory, and a lane that boasts a roadside collection of old tractors and a spectacular brute of an old truck to poke around. 

 Now let's see, I'm opposite the lime green place and I want to go home which is... erm... well... erm... oh sod it...

 Ah the delights of a Cornish lane - old cottages, Daffodils in flower, Dracaena Palms and...

Gnarly old tractors lining the roadside - superb!

I've been to see these old warriors before, but only from the other direction. There were also a couple of old Bedford HA vans, and another truck (a Karrier rigid drop side) present on my first visit, but these have now gone. All these oldies belong to a local farmer, and I hope they stay there too, as I love finding such old vehicles lying about the place, something that is seen a lot less these days I think. Time was when any trip into the countryside would find some sort of old vehicle or other quietly decaying away under a tree or in an old tumble down shed. They were everywhere it seems, but not any more.

 Old Fordson. Bit of T-Cut and she'll be proper.

 Fordson bonnet badge.

 It's not just old tractors beside this lane though, check this brute out. A 1950, ex RAF, AEC Matador.

Fuzzy upload again. Right click and open in another tab to see this old beast showing off its tackle in all its glory.

Angst and anger may have subsided, but by now tiredness, aches and despair were setting in, and I was heading home right into that flipping rumbustious wind. Those final few miles were a face creasing struggle despite me being in the usually sheltered lanes. Whichever way the lane turned, that tenacious wind turned with it to hit me full on in the mush and sap the energy out of my legs until I was almost in the lowest winching gear, on the flat! You know you're in trouble when you're in the granny gears on the flat, that's for sure.

 Quick stop while sparring with the headwind.

 Passing through Ladock.

Not anger fuelling this speed but gravity, and a couldn't give a stuff approach to personal safety.

But I made it home in the end, but did I feel any better for the ride? Well yes and no really. Normally a good ride in the countryside can prove therapeutic and can calm whatever turmoil I am suffering that particular day fairly comprehensively. But I was just in too much of a state to relax properly, and it all came back once I was home anyway.

To top it all off, today (no, it's yesterday now, it was Monday) I got another letter from the DWP making things a thousand times worse than they had been before the weekend. (Polite) words fail me, they really do... oh to hell with it,  I'll stick a few more family friendly in that spring to mind anyway - incompetent, intransigent and criminally bereft of common courtesy and decency. An utter disgrace of an organisation.

My apologies for the tone of this post, but there we go, it's the way the cookie crumbles, time to kick some DWP backside! Fingers crossed normal service on this blog, and life in general will be resumed soon! 


Friday, 17 March 2017

Two Ride Catch Up.

Hello, have Google got themselves a day ahead of everyone else, or am I a day behind? Dates on Flickr, and on here, seem to be a day ahead...

Anyway, thankfully my crap back isn't being too crap lately, as I've really needed to escape the house and get amongst the countryside, as stresses and anxieties have been ramped up again in recent days.

If I can do it, getting out on a bike with the cameras can push my reset buttons and restore some level of equanimity. If those stresses become too much, or my back too bad, to go for a ride, well then things really do become a bit of a strain shall we say.

Writing this blog can help at times too, writing is a good way to divert the mind away from all the guff spinning around in my head.

It takes some care and forethought too, going for a ride, given the IBS side of things. Dinner the night before is a no-no for a start. If I'm planning a ride, or have to go out the next day, then something like a sandwich or toast is all I get. This at least lessens the gripes, bloating and erm... turbulence, as well as the chances of needing to dash to the loo at alarmingly short notice. Immodium also have a part to play too. 

All of which is possibly too much information, but that's the way things are at the moment, and despite the lack of proper dinners and suppers and what have you, I actually managed rides on consecutive days this week. A case of having to really, as mentioned earlier, I needed to get out, and anyway, when I'm stressed, eating falls by the wayside anyway. 

All this limits how far I can ride of course, as my tanks are running on empty a lot of the time, but hey ho, any ride is better than no ride at all. 

Ok, enough of all that, back on topic, and my two rides this week.

Oh, by the way... has anyone seen our weather? While folk elsewhere around the country have been sheltering from rain, shivering from cold, basking in the sun or bracing against the wind, we've had... erm... nothing really. When the Met Office was dishing out the weather this week they overlooked us down here in the south west obviously, as we've had no weather to speak of at all. It's been outstandingly dull for several days. Utterly still, with not a breath of wind, and everywhere just drab greyness. The sun has peeked through the gloom a couple of times, looked around a bit, and thought, 'nah, as you were,' and gone back in again.

It has been warm though, and all this non weather can only be a good thing right? Well yes actually, I suppose it can, apart from when taking photos though, as it all means blown out highlights a go-go through having exceedingly dreary, featureless skies. It's at times like this a proper photographerist would reach into his or her bag and pull out a selection of graduated tint filters, or head instead for Photoshop and patch in a fake sky (some folk are really clever at doing that, others leave a mess of bright blue skies with lovely fluffy clouds while all on the ground is lacking in contrast, saturation and most importantly, shadows).

But I'm too lazy for all that, and haven't got the equipment to filter the shots I take with the compact anyway.

Thankfully though, it's the yellow time of year again already, and there are Daffodils a plenty lining the verges and hedges to bring some colour and life to otherwise dull days.

The first ride was on Wednesday, and I opted to give the gig to the Voodoo as the computer was showing it to be a few miles short of hitting the thousand mile mark. So I might as well use that as another reason to get out then, lets hit the big numbers! I got the bike in December 2014, so it's taken a while to reach this particular milestone, but then again I've also been riding the other bikes, so the miles get shared around a bit. The old snotter Carrera is still the bike I've ridden most, with just short of 1,100 miles done in my hands, but the others, including late comer Fatso, aren't far behind now.

Blimey, too much wordery, time for some photos, at last... Oh and flaming heck, the first one is a blurry one... Great.

 Taking the Probus direction at Four Turnings junction. This is at the top of a gert big hill and thus very exposed, when there is weather to be exposed to that is. On this day all that could be heard was the birds nattering away, which is rather nice it must be said.

Look closer and you'll see those Daffs are wrapped in some very productive cobwebs.

Anyway, Wednesday then saw me setting off into the exceptional flatness of the world outside for a mooch about the lanes until the miles hit the required amount.

This emotionless weather isn't bad for riding in of course, or for just 'being', enjoying the moment, and just absorbing the surroundings, however dull the light might be. The fields on the hill top around Four Turnings junction were as still as a post but alive with birdsong, Chaffinches and I think (I'm not up on my birds and their respective tweeteries - although I'm good with Sea Gulls, yep, I can identify them alright...) Skylarks. With no wind to buffet the ears, their happy sounding chatter is all the more sharp and clear.

I like Daffodils a lot. They're bright, they're free and all over the pace like poops in a cow field, only much better smelling. They're also a sign of better things around the corner, hopefully.

Voodoo in the lanes. But you can see that for yourselves.

Remains of more erm... animated recent weather in the form of the flooded ditches on the road to St Allen.

These riders who set about covering record breaking mileages have my full respect I can tell you. Nutters they may be, but I still respect 'em. A mere 12 miles have never taken so much doing. I kept looking down at the computer, and like a watched pot, it was in no hurry to boil. So I extended the ride a bit to take in the St Allen loop, stopping on the way for a poke about the churchyard. That'll sort it, I thought, I'll probably hit the big one thousand about a mile before home.

This sign outside St Allen church is new, and refers to just one grave. According to the War Graves Commission web site, John Henry Tremain of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry is buried here, after dying on the 28th of May 1916, aged 31. All I saw was the war memorial, so now I know who I'm looking for I'll have a better look next time I'm passing.

St Allen Church has a second potting area across the road where new arrivals go, yet the grounds immediately around the church are nicely 'low density.' Most churchyards see the dead peeps packed in shoulder to shoulder, but here the headstones seem to have plenty of room around them and it's all rather pleasant and relaxing, not a bad place to rest up for eternity at all.

 Hayup, I can see a bit of blue sky, and the sun is almost peeking through...

 I don't know how many folk rock up of a Sunday morning, but the church has a hoofing great car park. Flaming fuzzy uploads... grrrr...

St Allen church. The devoted certainly had some trek to church as apart from one house hidden away behind the place, it is miles from anywhere, and anyone.

Lanner Mill, with Idless Woods behind.

From there it was head homewards via Lanners Barton and Mill, but the blasted miles were still seemingly getting longer, and I fetched up in my home port still one mile short of glory. After not eating much the night before I  could've eaten a horse between two bread vans, I was busting for some lunch and could practically taste my fave Chicken Noodle soup, but no, it was only a mile required, so must press on. Round the village I went before finally, on a little access road that divides the coffin dodger's bungalows, the Voodoo hit the thousand mark. Hooflippin'ray. Time to go home!

 Hmmmmphhhh... back in my 'hood and still not quite there...

Finally, after much pottering and poking about parts of the village I seldom see, the Voodoo hit one thousand miles.

A nice ride though, and some welcome respite was had, if only for a short while.

Bit of an out of proportion figure of eight, and all the messing about to knock out a final mile isn't shown, but it gives an idea of Wednesday's ride.

I still made plans for the possibility of another ride the following day though, and so it was that I pushed Fatso out into the gloom on Thursday morning, as the weather still wasn't up for any fun. Only a quick spin around my usual local loop though, and boy was I feeling the lack of food and energy when it came to tackling the Col De Tregassow, a hill that I normally ride up without drama, albeit rather slowly and making noises any overworked heavy breather would recognise. But on this occasion, I was struggling for torque in my legs despite Fatso's up the side of a house low gearing, and bailed out some way short of the summit. 

 Fatso in Tregassow Lane. Just noticed the vertical/horizontal is slightly off... damn.

Just chooching along enjoying the stillness of the countryside. Gloves cleaned up well after getting blathered in blood and oil recently.

But being on a bike just feels good, and in particular on board Fatso, which makes slow pottering so easy and relaxing with its planted ride and general comfort. So once I'd struggled up the hill, my pain face looking particularly animated no doubt, I got back on and enjoyed some easy wheeling around the rest of the loop. Just a few short miles on this ride, and no landmarks reached, although Fatso, at a year newer than the Voodoo, and on 887 miles, isn't far off already.

 Atop the bank on the roadside, Tregassow lane hill. I was pushing at this point after suffering a motive power deficiency - I was feeling knackered.

 I go a bit daft for Daffodils at this time of year I must admit.

A less uplifting sight on the verge near home.

So that was two rides in the bag and they certainly helped lighten the prevailing moods, even if only briefly.

So now I just need to write to the Met Office and ask them where our weather has gone, and to demand something a bit more exciting, as even as I write this, outside it is once again exceedingly average out, bereft of colour and life and generally blanketed in melancholy and apathy. Blimey, even the weather is depressed.