2 Jun 2016

2nd June 2016 Normal service will be resumed..


Tuesday 2nd 67-76F, 19-25C, breezy and rather cloudy. Rain or thundery showers are forecast from late morning onwards.

I walked my usual loop but using the bare spray tracks to avoid the overgrown forest tracks and brambles. A flotilla of large geese flew in a low chevron right across the landscape as I approached the woods.

It was really rather sticky again. Even my thinnest jacket is too warm despite the advantages of  voluminous pockets providing ample stowage room for camera and phone. I can't easily wear shorts given the rough and overgrown nature of many of my regular tracks. Nettles and brambles abound and even my thin, polyester "safari" trousers offer little protection in a decent, stinging nettle patch. Nor do I really want to rub bare calves against sprayed crops even accidentally. Profusely flowering Cow parsley is now competing for space and attention with Comfrey in the verges and field tracks. Both of them being about the same height but of very different appearance they compliment each  other perfectly.

The sky was well stippled with countless small clouds again but with a similar under-swathe of mistily obscuring lower stuff. My sunglasses were excellent for viewing the details in the sky but rather unnecessary under the slight gloom.

Capturing the multi-folded landscape is even more difficult with deep crops and weeds softening the view. It is almost impossible to retrace my well-worn route with this backward glance.

Just as the rain was supposed to start the sky has largely cleared to bright sunshine. Though still with a slight, blue, distant haze. I might still be allowed out for a short ride.

First I had to en endure the rough and tumble of a turbulent and unrelenting headwind up a long drag. Then I was cruising at 18mph on the undulating flat to reach the shops. Coming home was the same with an over the shoulder headwind aiding my rapid progress.

A mini-bus overtook me at high speed on the wrong side of the road. I tried to wave it down because I could see it was heading straight into the jaws of a tractor. This had a long, extended arm with a verge grass-cutter attached. So that it was using much of our side of the road as well. Somehow the bus managed to squeeze through the remaining gap using some of the verge and throwing up a cloud of brown dust and gravel.

There was a tiny deer bug on my leg when I glanced down. Our cat used to bring dozens home but this is the first I have [knowingly] managed without feline assistance. Some of these bugs are supposed to carry nasty diseases. Fortunately it hadn't had time to bury itself into my skin so I may still survive. They are usually kept at bay by my knee length, climbing gaiters but it has been too warm to wear those as well. Only 10miles. Still not out and still sunny and dry.

Friday 3rd 75-80F, 24-27F, breezy and sunny. Even in just a T-shirt [and thin polyester trousers]  it felt very warm for a walk. I pottered rather limply down to the village and then back again after checking on the young coots. The pair on the pond nearest the church are still without young. I was dodging clouds of tiny white flies hovering over the edge of the verge. Perhaps they enjoy thermals to help maintain their flight, just there, while simultaneously avoiding the passing traffic.

With it forecast to gust to "only" 20mph it might be a good day for a ride. You can cover a lot of ground instead of hard slogging it on foot in a damp, foot-weary sweat. It has been wonderful to blast effortlessly along the warm lanes with a decent tailwind. Less so climbing into it.

Cycling is the only way to enjoy every aspect of an unspoilt, rural environment. No noise except for the birds, the gentle roar of one's tires and the occasional car. All the details of the countryside easily seen without it all flashing past in a meaningless blur. Stop where you like to soak up a view or 'snap' an interesting old building without worrying about parking or paranoid inhabitants. The cyclist is no threat and familiar to all. You can't steal their precious widescreen TV and make a quick getaway on a trike or bike. The cooling air keeps it comfortable instead of having to be blasted by a cool draught with all the windows shut in the scalding hot car. One just has to be careful not to get badly sun burnt with all your bare bits out in the breeze.

It was very warm and sunny on my ride. Great fun diving into the slightly cooler, leafy tunnels. Followed by dappled light to soften me up for the blazing sunshine where shade was hard to find. I should have my water bottle cage back on by now. It's no fun being parched when you are a mouth breather on every hill. There were a lot off hills too. Not many people about in the dormitory villages as usual. Though they were probably hiding from the unrelenting sunshine. It seems to be increasingly popular to buy up and demolish any old building and put up an identi-bungalow in its place. Where's the variety? Where's the "maintaining the vernacular and staying in keeping with the traditional countryside" ethic? The alternative? If you've seen one "pretend log cabin" then you've seen them all! 19 miles.

Click on any image for an enlargement. 

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