30 May 2016

30th May 2016 Getting a [real] man in.


Monday 30th 63-77F, 17-25C, windy from the east with increasing cloud cover. It should brighten up and be rather warm, but also rather windy, this afternoon. It's taking a bit of a chance starting a new post with only two days to go before May shuffles offstage. What will I find to talk about? I keep trying to probe my calf to find the exact source of the pain but it remains diffuse. Pain makes me feel old and vulnerable. But I will not be vulnerable! 

I am the one who heads off into the woods on solitary explorations without a qualm. Nor least doubt as to my ability to return unscathed from leaping vast chasms. Or fighting through endless bramble patches without so much as penknife let alone a machete. I am the "road warrior" who sets off on his ridiculous chariot rides to the other side of the island simply because he can. [When I am allowed out by The Head Gardener of course.] 

After a lifetime of lifting foolishly heavy objects, without strain, I suddenly "got a bad back" quite recently. One so painful that it stopped my self-inflicted heroics for over a week. Though I made a full recovery and feel far more flexible than I ever did before. No pain without gain! It still gives one pause. Imagine being stuck miles from home with the sudden onset of some unforeseen minor injury? These sorts of things are not supposed to happen to the hero of his own modern legends. He who has solo climbed, self-imposed mountains in every avenue of interest which casually brushed his imagination into some new conflagration.

Having to "get a man in" to do something minor to the house has never occurred before. He who owns all the ladders and all the tools does not easily bow to some "humble builder" to fix some trifle on the roof. The roof which this life story's very own superhero built himself working entirely alone after the Great Storm of '99. Or having "somebody in" to cut down the tree which threatens The Trike Shed during every ferocious sou-westerly which Denmark can throw at it. 

"Getting a man in" is not part of the hero's vocabulary in English. Let alone in pidgin Danish. It would be like handing my camera to a complete stranger and asking his to photograph the landscape. It just isn't done when you are the hero of your own, never-ending fable. I do not go lightly into my own sunset. Playing the old fart is not in my nature. An old clown perhaps, but clowning comes naturally to one who has never looked down. No abyss too deep to limit his endless dreams with mere cowardice. Failure was never an option in his own eyes. He prevailed and kept his suffering largely to himself. 

Only The Head Gardener knew the real truth. Knew how to measure the man in frail, human terms. Knew all his Achilles heels and much more besides. If only he had kept his mouth shut and played the invincible superhero to the bitter end. Superheroes should have no need of head gardeners doubling up as pretty nurses. With her sticking plasters and elastic bandages and sun cream and Tea Tree oil and medical advice gleaned from the internet! The "love interest" in any film fantasy is only supposed to be decorative. Placed there by casting to give the superhero a chance to talk about his exploits and his feelings. As they both stare off into some unimaginably distant vista with moist, blue eyes.

Hot and blowing a 40mph gale so I decided caution was the better part of valour.

Tuesday 31st 61-71F, 16-22C, overcast to cloudy and windy again. Sunshine and possible thundery showers promised.With my calf giving no pain this morning I decided to push my luck and walk my usual loop up through the woods and back along the road. I never felt so much as a twinge the whole way around depute tripping over brambles in the overgrown weeds blocking many of the rougher tracks.

A difficult scene to capture. The camera wanted to make the foreground crops much too dark and brightening the overall image robbed the superb sky of detail. I recommend making my landscape images as large as possible. All the better to enjoy the perspective. So L.Click and then try holding down Ctrl ++ to zoom in. You will lose some sharpness because the images have already been reduced from 3500 pixels/side to 1000 for posting on the blog. Ctr 0 or Ctrl -- will return everything back to normal size.

The gentle landscape is remarkably softened by the rapidly growing crops. With some of the usual views completely lost in some sunken places behind gently waving grasses. Two titanium white Shelducks were pottering beside a field pond but lost interest not long after I passed. I was too far away for them to have seen me without their borrowing my binoculars. The birds in the hedgerows were competing with overhead skylarks for sheer volume again. How skylarks find their nests twice in chest high crops is anybody's guess. A small black cat with staring blue eyes had no idea about concealment on the edge of a field a mile from the nearest house. I just hope it doesn't use the same technique on the roads! The vast mounds of felled, field hedging are now gone. Probably into the hungry maw of an industrial-sized wood chipper. I was tempted to explore the debris field for broken eggs but decided against it. In the absence of hedges the great mounds of drying tree stems and twigs had drawn many birds to them. Nature survives these small tragedies and moves on. Strength in numbers aids survival beyond the local mayhem.

With the threat of thundery showers this afternoon, it seemed sensible to ride to the shops after morning coffee. Again there were no problems with my calf. A buzzard circled tightly over the woods as I took the long way uphill to add a mile or three to the day's ride. The forest was just as beautiful as I ever remember seeing it. Though my camera has no skill at capturing the great depths of the sunlit scenes much beyond the foreground.

The power was out on my return. I had noticed the turbines were standing still despite the stiff north-easterly wind. Presumably they automatically feather their huge blades for safety reasons when the power goes off. Without electricity for auto-pitch control they might easily run away!

The Head Gardener had noticed the water pressure was right down too. So the blackout must have affected quite a wide area. Perhaps a lightning strike hit a substation or overhead cable? It feels very clammy and the sky has a threatening look about it. Luckily the power was soon back on again. Only 10 miles. It feels good to be mobile again.


26 May 2016

26th May 2016 Back in the saddle.


Thursday 26th 55-?F, 13-?C, heavy overcast, breezy but dry. My calf continues to improve but still hurts. I manged only one return trip to the road, along the drive, before deciding not to prolong the agony. It was sunnier in the afternoon. The Head Gardener would not let me take a gentle tour on the trike.

Azelia, showing off.  If you've got it, flaunt it!

Friday 27th 57F, 14C, sunny start with light winds promised. My right calf felt as if I had cramp when I climbed out of bed but went off again. Perhaps it is the lack of exercise and sitting at the computer all day? I am off for a short walk now to see if I am making any progress. I was still walking much more normally when I reached the road so I kept on going. An extra mile and I returned home in fair shape.

After a while I took to the trike and did the 3 mile tour de rural block. No discomfort at all despite riding with all my usual exuberance. Only when I climbed out of the saddle to attack the short slopes did I sense my calf sending a near-subliminal message. So it looks as if I have a short ride to the shops ahead of me today. It is a beautiful, sunny day with the birds shouting from every vantage point.

After coffee I rode to the shops and found my legs in  far better shape than usual. The long rest must have cleared any residual tiredness. I was doing 18-19mph coming home with an off-the-shoulder crosswind. With the oil seed rape almost gone over to seed the landscape has returned to a gorgeous, soft and fluffy green. Only 10 miles but it is a good start.

Saturday 28th 56-68F, 13-20C, bright sunshine from a uniformly white sky. Just a hint of a breeze. No ill-effects from yesterday's ride and my calf continues to improve when walking or climbing stairs. Tempting as it might be to enjoy the fine weather with a longer ride I really ought to increase my mileage slowly. It's very odd how walking muscles can be so entirely separated from those used in cycling.

Despite being back to walking with a more normal gait my walk was curtailed inside a mile due to discomfort in my calf. Thankfully it became no worse as I headed back home. My ride started after early coffee and rolls but felt no different to any other day. It seems there is a very specific muscle or tendon that causes localized calf pain when I walk but [thank goodness] it has no effect, at all, on my cycling. On the way home I even climbed a couple of 200 yard hills out of the saddle, just to see if it hurt, but nothing was noticeable. I rode with my usual "gusto" and saw lots of "weekend warriors" out training. Most of them waved or grinned. Threatening black clouds formed at intervals but passed over without dumping anything. 17 miles.

Sunday 29th 60F, 16C, breezy with bright sunshine. Yesterday all the wind turbines were standing still and pointing in different directions as they each ran out of wind. Today they were turning steadily to a north-easterly wind. A translucent moon struggled for attention against raggedy vapour trails and fluffy cloud pompoms. The hedges were stuffed full of singing birds as crows and Wood pigeons raced over on urgent errands. Then  a motorcyclist nearly clipped me as I cowered against the extravagant weeds overlooking the Coot pond. Another idiot who thinks the road is always clear around every blind bend. Until it's not. I turned back before risking further strain to my calf. Though it continues to improve I am still not without occasional twinges.

Conversely, my fitness on the trike seems to have improved. I was trying to stay in a band between 14-16mph into a strong crosswind with a slight headwind component. Then I was chasing a young chap on his carbon TT machine after he really struggled to pass me on rather a steep hill. Well, he did have two energy bars in his back pocket and I only had a trike and a giant sports bag hanging over the Carradice Camper Bijou Longflap on my rack and forty more years on my back.

Despite his being tucked down on the tri-bars and I on the hoods he wasn't really putting too much distance into me until the next descent. Then I made up some lost ground on the mini roundabout at the bottom. Taken at 20mph while hanging off both sides rapidly in succession and signalling my exit clearly at the same time. I'm always wary of that roundabout because there are so many registered blind drivers living in that area. Or perhaps they are simply drawn to it by their white sticks following local ley lines?

In the shopping village, a drooling moron, with his drooling family aboard, forgot to stop at the exit to a supermarket. He nearly cut me in half off  as he rolled right across the pavement without looking either way. Well, he had every excuse, because he had his mobile, mental iHandicap in his hand. So I did my; "Replace the telephone handset now!" hand signal and he grimaced at me like a werewolf about to make the change. Wouldn't it be fun to have a couple of well oversized incisors and grin back like a hungry vampire? I must have been watching too much Netflix!

Giant poppy looking almost surreal. Real flowers should not try to imitate clever paper sculptures. It's not the done thing.

Coming back, the wind was now pretending to be a crosswind with just a smidgen of tailwind. I'm not so easily fooled because I saw the numerous flags were perpendicular to the road. It felt just as windy as the outward journey, except I was now cruising at 19mph, while heavily laden with shopping. I tried climbing a few more hills out of the saddle but couldn't quite find the right resistance to keep it up for literally hundreds of yards. Only 12 miles but still not [quite] out. I wonder if I should become a weekend warrior myself?

Click on any image for an enlargement. 

23 May 2016

23rd May 2016 Walking wounded: AKA:The interlude.


Monday 23rd 57F, 14C, heavy overcast with rain. Potential for clearing up this afternoon. My leg has improved thanks to the cold compresses and complete rest. It still hurts when I put any weight on my toes but is not the agony of yesterday. I spent the entire day sitting at the computer, resting my leg. I don't feel any pain [at all] until I try to climb the stairs.

Tuesday 24th 51-65F[?] 11-18C[?] heavy overcast, slightly misty, damp start to the day. My calf is recovering well but I have no idea how I'll manage the shopping on the trike until I try. I don't want to find myself unable to progress miles from home. The car will need the clutch depressing which may actually be worse than pedaling. There is always the bus but I haven't ridden on a bus in decades. Knowing Denmark, it will cost £10 [equiv] per stop plus VAT and green taxes and then more VAT on top of the green taxes and more VAT on top of the VAT. Plus an extra £100 for failing to have a pre-paid ticket before boarding. The Danish railways demand extra of those without a ticket to avoid fare dodging and then the damned ticket machines never work according to the Danish press! No doubt the same rules apply to the buses which have been ferrying <cough> "train" <cough> passengers across Fyn due to endless repairs to the tracks. 

I will probably need the exact fare [and my passport and travel visa and bio-data] or I will be put off the bus. Or not allowed on in the first place! I had better do some homework on timetables and remember which side of the road I should wait. It gets worse! It seems I would need to get off in the target shopping village and change buses just to do the final extra mile of only three miles in all! That, or hobble the entire length of the village just to reach the shops. Now there's a sensible route plan if I ever I saw one! The bus does a sharp turn to nowhere before it reaches all the shops. And they wonder why people drive everywhere and the rural buses are always completely empty when I see them? Dogh!

On the way back I would have to do the same walk in reverse but uphill. Except that I'd be loaded down by then with a huge sports bag stuffed to the gills with a week's shopping from several different supermarkets. Well, I've just tried the clutch pedal on the car with my calf bandaged up tightly and it doesn't hurt. Problem solved. Shopping accomplished, but with a seriously clown-like hobble everywhere I went. Charlie Chaplin would have been proud except for the lack of a stick. Pressure off riding the trike for another day and no bus drivers were upset by my pidgin Danish. You always need another, completely new and untried vocabulary set for every new venture over here. It's exhausting at my age not being able to whip out one's Babelfish Universal Translator with a well practiced flourish!

Wednesday 25th 60-65F, 15-18C heavy overcast, dry. Another [empty?] promise of brightness later. My sore calf continues to improve. With care I can climb the stairs in series now. Instead of doubling the number of oversized and slippered feet on every step. Though I thought it best not to head for the woods just yet.

Will gentle exercise now aid recovery or merely prolong it? I have been resting completely for several days now but cabin fever is really beginning to set in. I might just see if I can reach the road and back on foot. The shared section of the gravel drive is so potholed by the neighbour's countless car journeys that it will prove a good training exercise. I just hope that I don't get run over! ;-)

I managed two return trips to the road for about half a mile in total. I discovered that I am not yet free from pain and climbing the stairs afterwards suggested some regression. There was some free entertainment to be had at half way watching an elderly tipper truck under the complete control of the even more elderly driver's "TV zapper." As he effortlessly left a neat pile of gravel precisely where expected on a prepared tarpaulin. Though, sadly, not more gravel for the battered drive. If it gets any worse I shall have to resort to technical aids rather than free climbing the potholes. Though fixed ropes might be considered overkill at this time of year. I am still torn between inflatable dinghies and kayaks for the wider stretches of open water.

After my "walk" I was safely glued to the computer chair as the sun came out, the wind picked up and the birds did what they do best. It's all getting a bit H.G.Wells sitting here in my dormer window watching the fresh birch leaves trembling. Somebody has left the wind coming from the north. Which will never do.

Click on any image for an enlargement.

20 May 2016

20th May 2016 Rambling without forward progress.


Friday 20th 57F, 14C, overcast and breezy. Possibly a damp start but clearing later. Though it seems to be brightening at intervals.

Well, I seem to have cured myself of tricycling OCD. I still enjoy my rides but no longer have that gnawing feeling if I miss a single day. My annual mileage has crashed but I am still highly active. Still using the trike to do the shopping instead of taking the car. The poor car is absolutely filthy from standing still in the countryside. It is lucky if it gets an outing once in a month these days. Though I still have to pay road taxes and insurance and keep it roadworthy.

My need to compete with the rest of the cycling world is finally seen for what it was. Delusions of grandeur by an old fart/clown on a shopping-laden tricycle. One willing to suffer repeated and excruciating pain to prove he can still keep up with all and sundry. Where's the sense in that? Probably thanks to cycling I am remarkably fit for my age. I keep lifting heavy objects in pursuit of my many other hobbies. You have to keep active. Use it or lose it. Including exercising the old brain.

I can still use all the positive feedback systems I built up to keep cycling around the entire year. It's not all balmy weather at 55N. I cycle, therefore I blog. I still take loads of photographs and I can still write about my ridiculous exploits. I watch others around me grow stiff in limb and habit. Or even pop their clogs a decade, or more, earlier than I have managed so far.

Life is a gift with lots of conditions in the small print and it's certainly not a free offer. You get one go at it and then that is it. Make your own mistakes but don't blame others for being what you have become. They can't help themselves any more than you can. If they waste their talents then that must be their choice.

Life has consequences. The lessons are presented almost from birth but can we learn from them? Within the limitations of our abilities we can be constructive or have a negative impact on our only world. Builder or thief? Inspire admiration? Or inspire loathing and disgust? Most of us see ourselves as indispensable until life dispenses with us. Sooner or later all the pluses and minuses must be reconciled with harsh reality. Ultimately, what we do with our own lives is often our own fault. 

Showers all day. No walk and no ride. Though I did repair the built in obsolescence of our washing machine. A skinny plastic blade attached to the Start button parted company exactly as designed in by the company which knows all the tricks. Was it Pepys who said; "to employ a white goods manufacturer is to be robbed?" The spare parts company ripped us off too and took several days extra to deliver on a 2-3 days promise.

Rest in peace? No, not a gravestone. An old painted milestone lost in the weeds of the verge. How daft is a painted milestone once the painted numbers have weathered to invisibility? One nanosecond too late and its just a meaningless granite post until the end of the world. And, no, in case you were wondering, the stone is not incised, carved, engraved or anything else.

Talking of white goods and being ripped off: A Millarco lightweight white "tarpaulin" proved to be 180x280cm rather than the claimed 2x3m. So after sweating to reach the roof of our greenhouse, while standing on tip-toe on a stool to replace the shading, I had to replace the disintegrating original. Thank you to all three businesses for your deliberate damage to my psyche today. It all adds up, you know! Now throw in a farmer spraying in a gale just beyond the hedge and its is the end to a perfect day!

Saturday 21st 54F, 12C, heavy overcast and rather breezy. Walked my usual loop up through the woods. Quite windy by the time I left late morning. A crosswind for the first leg, then a long drag straight into the wind, followed by a tailwind coming home. Lots of rally cars about today. Many of them sounded superb if a little edgy at low speed. 25 miles.

A large deer, still glossy wet from overnight rain, was grazing in the gap beside a field  of oil seed rape. It was beautifully framed but at the very limit of my Lumix TZ7's zoom range. When it shook itself like a dog it threw up an arc of  glittering spray in the bright sunshine but this was well beyond the reach of my lens.

Sunday 22nd 60-70F, 16-21C, warming rapidly with a light breeze and bright sunshine. I have joined the walking limping wounded. I had a slight pain in my lower calf as I walked away this morning. I thought it would go off but it suddenly went into agonizing cramp and it took me an hour to hobble home over a distance of only a mile. Thank goodness I wasn't at the far end of the forest as I often am!

Suicidal snail rescued from certain death as it tried to cross the busy road. Despite my hobbling with pain I could not let it continue on its path with destiny.

I'm wondering whether the pain was caused by fetching a parcel in the car the day before yesterday. Pressing the clutch pedal could be classed as a cruel and unnatural exercise for my otherwise very fit legs. Now I can hardly walk a step, let alone cycle or drive. I haven't had an injury for years except for a strained back from foolishly heavy and repeated lifting. To add to the injury my left ear tinnitus has just switched on to a screaming whistle! Poor old sod! A day of complete rest applying cold compresses (to my calf) at regular intervals. The Head Gardner makes an excellent [though strict] nurse! ;-) 

Click on any image for an enlargement.


16 May 2016

16th May 2016 Spring greens.


Monday 16th 50-57F, 10-14C, rather cloudy but with plenty of blue. Cool and breezy, dry with sunshine promised. I enjoyed the longer walk to the more distant woods and back along the main road into the wind. At first it was cool enough to be uncomfortable on my hands. Thanks to the bank holiday, the traffic wasn't too bad with no lorries at all that I remember. The forlorn sound of insistent church bells wafted on the stiff westerly wind. Reminding me of the pre-traffic days, of my childhood, in my fertile imagination.

Back then village children played freely in the road with few interruptions. Parked vehicles could be counted on the fingers of one hand. They were usually the butcher's van, the district nurse in her Morris Minor, or the coal man's lorry. Occasionally the ice-cream man would come around making a dreadful racket. It was a time of catapults and one missile whizzed close past the van while it was stopped. The driver went into a rage and chased the miscreant all the way down the empty village! We once watched an exciting crime film at the tiny local cinema where the policeman mentioned tyre tracks. So we spent hours waiting for a car to come along and run through a handy puddle. No car ever came before we finally lost interest in waiting.

Gusts could reach nearly 40mph later this afternoon so I had better not leave my ride for too long. Left mid afternoon for a short ride. Fierce gusts turned into a buffeting headwind on the way back. A chap with incredibly sinewy legs went past me on an ordinary bike with straight bars. He was putting a hundred yards per mile on me but I had nothing in the tank to try and catch him. Only 7 miles.

Tuesday 17th 46F, 8C, heavy overcast, breezy from the west. It should stay cool, dry but cloudy all day according to the forecast. So, it's likely to snow during a heatwave with continuous sunshine in dead calm conditions. A longer walk looping up through the woods almost back to the road and then taking the spray tracks towards home. The woods were gorgeously green with fresh leaves on the trees under the very even lighting. One and three quarter hours of rather rough going. Fortunately the ground was very dry albeit heavily ridged with machine tyre tracks.

The Danish TV News website is sharing problems of aggressive behaviour with cycling in the capital and a campaign to try to improve it. The cycling story had equal prominence with on one the appalling behaviour and aggression towards police, speed camera vans. Neither of which affected me [at all] today since I took another rest day.

Wednesday 18th 47F, 9C, heavy overcast, breezy. Brighter weather is forecast with it remaining dry. 90% of Danish children and their mothers tested for pesticides showed residues. Since these pesticides were banned years ago in Denmark the residues are believed to be the result of eating imported fruit and vegetables. What a message to give young families! Eat "healthy" fruit and vegetables and the next generation could suffer loss of intelligence and other symptoms!

I wonder if this is related to the other two major stories of yesterday and today? Do pesticide residues cause classic "psychopathic" behaviour in the general population? i.e. A total loss of empathy and always burdening the discoverer of their own criminal activities with guilt? [Mafia syndrome.] Taken to its logical conclusion the murderer is always innocent while the victim and the police are guilty. When may we expect the first prosecution of a murdered policeman to appear in court? When will the first operator of a police camera car be prosecuted for taking a photograph of an illegally speeding driver? 

This reminds me of a psychopath who reversed into my correctly parked car in a petrol station. He wanted to blame me for having an old car which "had no value." While his spanking new Picasso people carrier, carrying only one occupant, was clearly well above my social scale. Who reverses away from the petrol pumps in a badly daubed, mini-bus anyway?

I keep changing my route to avoid my walks becoming stale. Though today, this involved climbing 45 degree slopes of needle-laden fire breaks it was worth the detour. The woods were full of small birds busily dashing about. Small holes in the clouds threw cool spotlights onto my solitary figure walking back along the prairie spray tracks. The sky is clearing to bright sunshine now I have reached home.

It remained bright for the rest of the afternoon. I rode a triangle between three shopping villages for 23 miles. Rather breezy at times. Commuter traffic very busy. I keep practicing climbing out of the saddle more and more. If I get the gear just right I can keep going for hundreds of yards now. Too low or too high [a gear] and it is much more tiring.

Thursday 19th 53F, 12C, very light breeze, heavy overcast. The cloud cleared to a bright, misty white, mottled sky. Simultaneously the temperature rose from 58F to 63F while I took an hour's walk to check on the coots. The roadside hedgerows are still full of warblers and flowering lilac bushes. Of the latter there are great many on Fyn. Providing shelter from the wind with their dense structure up to 20' high for miles. Climbing back up the gentle hills on the way home the still air made it feel remarkably warm. Once safely back in our own "wooded" garden there were just as many different birds singing away. The tulips, arranged in tiers, in large, iron cooking pots, near the back door are putting on a tremendous show.

Late morning ride for 18 miles. Some of the wind turbines were stationary though it didn't feel that still. Several drivers survived by the skin of their teeth as they overtook on brows of hills and blind bends as if live had no further value to them.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


15 May 2016

15th May 2016 Buddy, can you spare a car length?

Sunday 15th 47F, 8C, bright and breezy but showers are forecast for most of the day. We have just been treated to a spectacular aerial display by a Red Kite! The large bird of prey, with striking markings, circled over the field-sized lawn in front of our house. It was obviously hunting for breakfast before the lawn mowers come out. Around and around it flew, twitching occasionally to kill its speed, until it suddenly dived vertically behind our neighbour's neat hedge. To climb back up after a brief disappearance amongst the plastic toys, discarded cycles, play house and trampoline. There was no sign of it having captured any prey, in beak or claw, as it instantly regained its lost height and headed off in a bee line towards the woods. They kill gorgeous birds like these in the endlessly backward UK. Or steal their eggs from the nest. Just to have bragging rights over their equally deluded, drooling, knuckle dragging, fellow morons.

The headlines confirm it yet again: Global warming continues to set new records with April merely adding to the latest month to set its own records by over a degree Celsius. The last week with temperatures in the 70s was very pleasant and no doubt helped nature on its way. Those living elsewhere had to survive temperatures in the 40s C, or well over 105F. All a  far cry from the promised New Ice Age of my youth. That never arrived but the now, very obvious warming, has failed to bring the human race together to change its habits. Millions of new cars join the gridlocks in developing countries as if it was a national rite of passage. Chinese leaders pontificate over the killer smog and wallow in their own corruption as if by birth rite.

The crazy thing is that cars are so poor a means of transport in precisely the places they join the throng. In cities the pedestrian and cyclist are quicker than cars and always have been. In fact cars often slow down the cyclist and pedestrian by blocking their progress. The same was true when I was cycle commuting half a century ago! Cars give their owners the freedom to sit still where they should be paying parking tickets or fines for obstruction.

Imagine if all the cyclists in Denmark or Holland suddenly insisted on car ownership. Both countries would come to a standstill overnight and would need an army of bulldozers to clear away the mess. Yet cyclists are not rewarded for their selfless actions. A few, badly maintained and never [ever] cleaned cycle paths do not undo the terminal damage. That concentrating on the car owner has done to so many cities around the globe over the last, half century or more. The car owner had billions spent on motorways and bridges and eating places and rest stops and enough parking area to be easily visible from the moon.

While the poor cyclist often has no right to a secure place to leave their machine. Almost ironically, the cyclist is often looked down on as a second class citizen by the car-benighted. Supermarkets, even in bike friendly Denmark, routinely block access to their already few cycle racks. Though you never see a single car parking space lost to greed for outdoor display space for their cheap imported tat.

The human race seems to have a ridiculously poor, collective memory about such things. Growth in car ownership can be easily predicted year  on year. Yet the road systems are incredibly poorly designed to provide the hoped-for freedom to travel at greater speed in greater comfort. The promises to build new roads fall routinely from the lying lips of the politic-ooze around the globe. And always with no other desired effect than obtaining their fraudulent place at the musical chairs on the gravy train.

The traffic jams do not change. The pollution increases. Making walking and cycling even more unpleasant. I point all of this out not as a cyclist but as a member of the human race. Is it not ridiculous to deliberately leave home in a car, knowing that the journey will take far longer than if the unhealthy car owner actually walked to work? [Gasp!] Is it not crazy to commute for hours each and every day? While countless others, equally insane, are driving to where you live to do exactly the same job?

The other day I was passed by numerous, smart SUVs dragging equally smart horse boxes. There was obviously a lot of horse-related sporting activity happening on that particular day. So, you ask yourself, what's is remotely odd about that? The fact that so many horse boxes were going in opposite directions! It just seemed so typical of all human activities. Everybody is in the wrong place! People live in the wrong place to be near their work. Or even to be near their regular activities. Cars carrying racing bikes or mountain bikes are just as likely to be travelling in opposite directions! And do!

What about the amateur football grounds where the car park is stuffed to the gills but there are no bicycles? People are endlessly swapping places on the map, by car, to get to exactly the same shopping facilities but in a more distant town. While that town's inhabitants are racing along the same roads and motorways in the opposite direction to shop where the first lot just came from. It's absolutely crackers! Every high street is unrecognizable from any other. The retail chains have pushed out all the independent retailers by making rents far too high for survival of anything but large scale, retail chains. 

Only one aspect of the misery cars can cause is about to change. Not the tyre noise. Not the constant movement. Not the vast global burden of supplying cheap oil and its global security. Nor even the visual ruination of every street and road by parked vehicles. The [remote] promise is of an end to exhaust pollution for only a few.

I am seeing quite a lot of Tesla cars recently. Thanks to tyre noise they might often go unnoticed in the traffic stream except for their smart styling and considerable size. Every day we hear about some new battery technology breakthrough by researchers. Though never today. Always a decade away before the exotic mixtures can be harnessed into a safe and reliable vehicle battery. And what then?

The blight of tyre roar will not go away. The damned things will still have to be parked somewhere. If every car ran on air and was made of cobwebs there would still be traffic jams and busy A&E departments. Somebody famous said much the same thing half a century ago. I was there. Nothing has changed except the headlamp styling to make the indicators harder to see.

I walked along the edge of the marsh and then a loop up though the woods. Breezy but warming steadily. Two Shelducks took off from the marsh pond with their heads bent strangely downwards. The birds, particularly chaffinches, really don't seem to mind dense conifers. I heard many different birds all around me. A very distinctive bird call defied identification but must have been a Nightingale. I sat through an hour of hundreds of identified birds and their songs without coming close to the sound I heard.  The crops are becoming too dense to tip-toe through to reach the spray tracks. Back on the road some drivers seemed to be in a complete daze. One woman driver suddenly swerved away as if I had just been plopped down in her universe. She had literally hundreds of yards of clear warning that I was walking towards her on the edge of the straight road. It was never pleasant in the afternoon as it remained cool with heavy hail showers. Rest day.

Click on any image for an enlargement.


13 May 2016

Friday 13th 2016 Just another dot on the map.


Friday 13th 64-68F, 18-20C, bright and sunny with only the slightest breeze at 9am. Supposed to gust to 10m/s or ~20mph later. Four things broke yesterday.  Where do I queue for my refund for having them happen on the wrong day? Nobody says; "Thursday the 12th. Unlucky for some!" I shan't bore you with the boring, gory details or I'll miss my walk.

The Coots on the more distant church pond have six young according to my  count. The bright, plant laden water boils to an adult's abrupt dive for food. The young strangely reddened about the head almost as if bloodied from their parent's equally sudden re-emergence into the light. The other pond, much nearer to the road, is still providing interest for two more adults but still no signs of a nest. I feel guilty as they vanish into the water plants at my deliberately light-footed passing by.  I do not stop to stare until out of sight beyond the upright, concealing fringes of reeds and rushes. Will a solitary walker ruin their chance of having young this year? In between the traffic, up to a minute can pass without the roar of tyres on coarse gravel. The silence is well filled with countless birds as they flit from side to side of the road or move away, ahead of me.

The warmth almost seems to dampen the sounds of the countryside as several hundred geese pass over in ragged chevrons. The hedges are presently adorned with an incredible range of  blossom. Making one wonder how so many varieties could find themselves in roadside hedgerows. Some of them may be escapees from gardens, of course. Perhaps from homes now lost to memory. Hovels too ramshackle to sustain modern living standards as the price of plumbing and electricity accelerate steadily away from unfortunate home-owners.

Inherited thatch is a cruelly heavy burden on the penniless or those on a fixed income. The close-passing traffic a constant blight on already frayed senses. When the elderly move into a care home, die intestate, or without surviving family, the place may lie unloved and un-repaired for years. Eventually having fallen into such disrepair that the council finally places a demolition order. Overnight, the sad little dot on the old map is suddenly no more. Sometimes a local pyromaniac hastens the loss. Several unsold and dilapidated cottages have gone that way. Once burnt, and with no insurance or interest in re-building on the site, the council has no option but to send in the excavators. It is a well rehearsed and efficient clearance system leaving nothing but bare earth when the decision is finally taken. The contractors are thorough and skillful in separating the components of a what may a centuries old [former] family home. Just another rest day.

Saturday 14th 51-60F, 11-15C, very cloudy, light breeze, rain forecast for later. It was bright and sunny for my walk but a chill NW wind as it struggles towards 60F, 16C. I watched a very pale warbler with a short song phrase bobbing about in the hedgerow until a noisy van drove it away. A mixed peloton of cyclists passed in a cheerful mood. I shall go out early to avoid the promised rain.

A few drops fell from a dark cloud as I prepared to leave but I stayed dry throughout.  Lots of muck spreaders and tankers about today. Crosswind both ways but more benign on the way there. Cruising at 18-20mpg going. Only up to 16mph coming back. 16 miles. Shops all very busy. It is now cooling as the afternoon wears on with occasional hail and 40F!

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9 May 2016

Monday 9th May Balmy or barmy?


Monday 9th 55-71F,13-22C, quite windy, bright sunshine some cloud. Forecast to be warm and sunny all day. An early shopping trip is expected to leave the rest of the day free to record the Mercury solar transit. I had to cover up well to avoid very serious sunburn from being out there for over 8 hours! Only 7 miles.

Tuesday 10th 64-72F, 18-22C, bright sunshine but rather windy. I went for a walk to the sight and sound of countless birds. One pair of Coots has a growing family of chicks already while another pair are still exploring a second pond nearby.

Blogger was badly broken this morning. Unavailable, then visible but no log on possible. Nearly 10.30am CET before it was back to normal. No pressure to go out. Rest day.

Wednesday 11th 60-70F, 16-21C, continuing bright and windy but with more cloud today. Though that was short lived. Gusting to 30mph later so I had better go out before lunch.

Another warm walk along my usual route up through the woods. An angular Red kite went over, soaring with the wind. A dead mouse on the track showed signs of a cat mauling. While a dead Grass snake had probably met a much larger foe. It look unharmed, though inverted, in the grass verge. It is the turn of the warblers to sing in all their variety. Many more swallows have arrived to swoop effortlessly and erratically over the fields. I shall be going out on the trike after coffee. Only a couple of more days of warmth left before the temperature plummets to 12C on Saturday!

It was even warmer when I set off via the forest. There seemed to be headwind whichever way I rode today. The difference was in my speed. Coming home I was seeing 20-24mph and climbing effortlessly despite being well loaded. Only 10 miles.

The Brooks Dispatch arrived by email showing that they have a C19 rubber model now. At 185mm wide it should provide plenty of space compared with the 165mm width of the C17 Cambium. The strong lateral curvature remains so the C19 might actually be a better match for a B17 at 175mm. The C17 is probably more of a Team Pro in active width. I'm not remotely tempted though having already been burnt by a painfully unrideable C17 when I succumbed to their lying hype. It took some time to recover from the damage caused by the C17. It had as much to do with comfort as a boulder chosen at random from a quarry or seashore. Since it clearly matches their claim that it never needs to be broken in there is absolutely no hope of improvement by their own admission. "It will ride up with wear, Sir" used to be a get-out clause for the ill fitting garment of yesteryear. Sadly, the Cambiums won't. Not ever!

Thursday 12th 64F, 18C, bright sunshine and rather breezy. More of the same is forecast. A pleasant, hour and a half, relaxed walk around the village "block"  in shorts to stay cool. Lots of birdsong.

Left before lunch to head north and hoping to avoid a headwind. It was gusty and difficult to identify wind direction. Slightly easier coming back by the same route. My toes were hurting when I climbed out of the saddle and proved to need my nails trimming. A foolish oversight! I survived on a cheese sandwich, a banana and two small cartons of pure apple juice to keep me going. I had run out of chocolate muesli bars so went without. 41 miles.  

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7 May 2016

7th May 2016. Early summer?


Saturday 7th 54-67F, 12C, bright and sunny with a light breeze. Forecast to be windier later with
plenty of sunshine and possibly up to 20C, 68F again. A gorgeous morning for a walk. It is just before 10am and it has already reached 67F. I had to find my coolest walking clothes before setting off. Fortunately a warm wind kept things comfortable as the swallows darted about the sky between the endlessly singing Skylarks. Great tits squeaked from the hedges, as much in need of a drop of oil on their axles, as ever.

The oil seed rape continues to dominate. Its modest height concealing and softening the landscape. I must admit to rather liking the colour and its bold effects after a shaky start. It certainly seems to get sprayed and muck-spread more than its fair share. The sickly sweet smell can be rather oppressive on a warm evening.

A large, hose-fed, muck spreader was out of the fields but seemed to be having mechanical problems. A long hose, nearly 15cm, or 6" in diameter, stretched all the way back to the storage tanks at the pig farm. I measured it on Google Earth as being at least 1000 yards. It must take one hell of a pump to feed the machine at that distance and over that change in altitude!

Full zoom on the Panasonic TZ7. The huge machine will completely disappear in the fold in the land below as it descends. The pair of Shelducks, resting beside a field puddle in the dip, took off at the noisy approach of the machine and shot away complaining loudly above the din from the diesel engine.

The beeches are beginning to find their leaves though it will take some time yet before the mature trees are at their best. Beech woods really are beautiful with their cliff-like faces and wonderfully bright foliage. Then they outshine themselves in autumn to leave a carpet of warm orange leaves to cheer up the darker days of winter.

The stacks of felled hedges are already being turned into wood chips. Which will almost certainly confuse all the birds which thought they were safe from further disturbance. Many kinds of birds have been attracted to the dense cover the jumbled stacks provided.

I shall be going shopping after morning coffee. There will be headwind all the way there. And there was. I seemed to be going well today and find myself climbing out of the saddle more and more. Riding the first leg with a cross-headwind went well enough but the middle 7 miles was directly into the wind. The final leg was a tailwind. I missed not having something to drink as the temperate rose to a rather foolish 71F, 22C for early May. I had removed the bottle cage for the winter and found that breathing heavily on a climb in warmer conditions dries the mouth out far more than in cooler temperatures. My face is beginning to look like a spaceman who's visor broke. Leaving a smaller red square from solar radiation inside the usual edges. 24 miles.

Sunday 8th 58F, 15C, bright sunshine from a cloudless sky. Light breeze becoming windier later. The early summer continues unabated. The Head Gardener is complaining about all the watering needed. After spending most of the day outside I needed watering to cool the sunburn on my arms. What a silly billy! Rest day.

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5 May 2016

5th May 2016 Gliders like busses.


Thursday 5th 42-61F, 6-16C, light winds bright sunshine all day and very clear. A real bank holiday. Not like the imaginary one I mentioned last time. Enjoyed a shorter walk today. And, I was allowed out on the trike! Rode to Fåborg along the coastal lanes and back again inland. Lots of cyclists out training in the warm weather. Loads of superb hills, both up and down with many splendid views. Håstrup [pron. Hoe-stroop] is always good for hills and superb views out over the sea. I was being bombarded by flies for most of the day.

Grubbe Mølle wind and water mills between Millinge and Fåborg.

Going quite well with what was mostly a crosswind but felt more like headwind all day. Passed several groups of deer grazing near woods in roadside fields. A solitary hare was master of all he surveyed from the spray track at the top of a hill.

Saw several gliders circling and more on the ground waiting for a tow by a winch on a truck. All very relaxed and unhurried. Strangely well-rehearsed and routine the way the open pickups ran the entire length of the bumpy field to collect the tow rope and bring it back for the next in the queue. Strongly reminiscent of a bygone era. Probably just before a war. I watched one go up like a lift after only a few yards on the ground! I didn't realise the pilots wore parachutes.

Kept my energy up with a cheese sandwich doorstep, a banana and two chocolate-muesli bars washed down with two small cartons of pure apple juice. Enjoyed my second sandwich overlooking the sea at Fåborg. Joined a cycle path right beside the water there, only to discover, from a sign later on, that cycles were banned! Pedestrians only. There were more cyclists than pedestrians going both ways. What a wasted opportunity to give the public more range to explore their town's outskirts.

I had to hop off a couple of times in the narrow country lanes to let tractors and farmer's tanker lorries go past. Bare legs, and bare arms for most of the day. 58 miles in a little over 5 hours including stops for photography. I may have become dehydrated because I felt slightly dizzy and headache for most of the evening. I don't usually like drinking cold water so I drank from a small cup at intervals.

An estate of two story, commercial, holiday huts near Nabbe. I rode all the way down to Nab hoping to be able to sit by the sea for a nibble. Only to find the road ended in a private drive with a tiny turning space. Typically Danish! They wouldn't want to put up a warning notice at the junction at the top to say that the coast was completely inaccessible. It's far more fun to have people drive right down to the bitter end, turn around with great difficulty and then  drive all the way back again! Are they sneering at the poor sods caught out by their trickery? Or just lonely? Coasts with summer house estates are often exclusive to the residents and there are a great many estates of summer houses on the Danish coasts. Not that anyone would want to stay there. They work their ride-on lawnmowers by strict rota to ensure nobody ever goes without the constant drone.

Friday 6th 52-67F, 11-19C, breezy and rather cloudy but bright @ 7.30am. The forecast is dry with some or quite a lot of sunshine. No ill effects, this morning, from yesterday's ride  and I slept well. My view from my dormer window is gradually being lost to the leaves on the trees. It became rather warm by lunchtime! Busy at home all day so no ride.

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2 May 2016

2nd May 2016 Oh dear, odour!


Monday 2nd 43F, 6C, overnight white frost but it was soon gone, a gentle breeze with bright sunshine. The thermometer is rising fast so we should see 15C, 60F later. It is supposed to be windier but not so sunny today, but will remain dry. I had a short walk to even out the creases. Not many cars but lots of lorries, buses and coaches.

The road was so muddied that I had to choose my path carefully to avoid collecting mud on my boots! Then a tractor arrived to do some more muck spreading. Nobody should expect to stay at home without enjoying a good pong! It's no wonder they are all moving to the city or spending their days in the shopping malls! A hare scurried away along the spray tracks at the deep rumble of the approaching machine. I doubt a drenching with that stuff was going to help their love life! There was another smell on the air too with that distinct odour of chemical spraying.

10 am and it had already reached 13C, 55F which was yesterday's high point. The wind is picking up now and is expected to gust to at least 20mph. It is one of those odd days where there are no clouds but the vapour trails hang around for hours. The number of flights is quite unbelievable! Normally they go almost completely unnoticed and their trails are usually short lived. Fortunately they are usually far too high to he heard from the ground. How anybody lives near a major airport I have no idea.

Cowslips in the fields used to be very commonplace in my youth. Here a solitary plant adorns the edge of a field track near the woods.

It seems I am to be allowed out today though I still have no particular goal in mind. I'm not one of those people who can just get on and pedal away randomly in all directions. There has to be a reason or at least a potential target for photography. The 'Head Gardener' is worrying about an excess of sunburn on the aging tricyclist and the risks that involves. I slap on the 50SPF but it seems that is not good enough beyond the first hour. I ought to be grateful that she worries about me.

A tailwind going saw 18-20mph on the flat. Sadly I [almost] had to crawl back at between 8-11mph. The wind felt so strong that I could lean well forward without discomfort. Though resting my forearms on the tops allowed a couple of extra mph it was too painful to keep up for long. Perhaps I should be refitting the tri-bar extensions? It's not that they weigh very much. Only 24 miles today. Would you believe it needed three supermarkets to find ripe tomatoes, organic spuds and some butter? No, I didn't believe it either.

Tuesday 3rd 48F, 9C, calm, heavy overcast with rain promised. It might clear up later. It did, but I was "excused triking." Rest day.

I presume these doors were for the stables when horses reigned on the farm.

Wednesday 4th 43-53F, 6-12C, another white overnight frost, calm and sunny. It should be a pleasant day with fairly light winds. A gorgeous morning for an hour's walk in bright sunshine. I pottered around a local village taking snaps and keeping an eye and ear out for birds. There were several kinds of warbler singing away in the roadside hedgerows. Later I caught two Coots enjoying their morning bath as they threw bright water high into the air. Being back-lit by the sunshine it might have made a great picture but I was too far away. They were also well hidden amongst the water plants of the church pond. Lots of traffic today as I leaped repeatedly onto the verge to give the lorries plenty of room against oncoming traffic. Plodding back uphill into the sun was rather warm work.

It had just reach 60F, 15.5C as I rode off mid-afternoon. A tailwind helped me to 16-20mph but it was down to 10-14mph coming back well loaded. Second ride so far this year with bare legs. Only 7 miles.

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1 May 2016

1st May 2016 Give me sunshine, tra-la!


Sunday 1st 33-53F, 1-12C, dead calm, white overnight frost with bright sunshine. The very tips of the pendulous birches are just beginning to swing a tiny fraction of an inch. This may be just a draft from the Wood pigeons wings who are nesting in one of our hedges. There seem to be more Wood pigeons than sparrows at the moment! One in every view. The forecast is for 13C [55F] with sunshine and fairly light winds. I wonder if I'm allowed out on the trike? I was sent shopping in Odense last Sunday so there is hopefully some leverage there! ;-) Apparently not. A feast of sunshine and a famine of miles. [Again!] The entire day was spent in the garden on one of my other "butterfly" activities.

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