11 May 2014

I had my first bike ride of the season last week which turned out to be quite a performance. The day dawned clear and bright with just a bit too much breeze for my liking on a bike ride but what the heck, I thought – let’s go for it.

The first challenge was to find and collect up all the bits and pieces one requires for a leisurely ride around the adjacent countryside. Bike? Check, but we need to do something about those two flat tyres. So, we pump them up and go inside to see if we can find the other necessary accoutrements.

Cycling helmet? Check. Gloves? Check. Water bottle? Check(ish) – I need to get a larger one but more importantly one with a flip-top lid rather than one which requires me to ride along with no hands while I attempt to unscrew the bottle top to take a slug of water. (I suppose I could always just stop when I need a drink of water?)

All set so back outside to get going. And that’s when I discover that the front tyre is completely flat again (at least the back tyre held its own). So, back indoors to find the repair kit. Twenty minutes later, just as I was on the verge of giving up, it was finally located – exactly where I had left it last year if only I could have remembered. Another ten minutes to repair the tyre and off we go!

Fortunately, there are no surviving photos – you’re very lucky not to be subjected to a picture of me in my Lycra! But I do have the results of the Map My Ride app which uses GPS to record one’s “workout.” And what a workout I had (according to the app at least).

As you ride along every ten minutes or so a lovely female voice comes on which tells you your average speed, top speed, and distance covered. I suspected the GPS was perhaps acting up a bit when the kind lady informed me that I had (after about ten minutes) travelled 142 Km at an average speed of 133 Km per hour. Hmm.

When I got home I was able to see why I had managed such an astonishing speed and distance – the GPS had me materialising in several different locations almost simultaneously – slipping through a time/space portal, no doubt.

This little map shows the GPS record of where I cycled (in red) and the “real” route I followed in yellow. So, while I will accept that the time, speed and distance are somewhat suspect, I think I’ll keep the estimate of the number of calories I burned during this extraordinarily strenuous ride. Apparently I burned 1648 Kcal so clearly I need several portions of cake or a dozen or so muffins to replenish my fuel supply!

Bike Ride Map

Penelope and I noticed last summer/autumn that our mature and hitherto very successful wisteria was looking somewhat the worse for wear. It had a lot of dead wood and its lack of any activity this spring confirmed our fears – this wisteria was dead! It reminded me of the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch. After the shop keeper (Michael Palin) claims that the dead parrot is merely “pining for the fjords” John Cleese launches into a rant:

‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker!

‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!!


So, much to our dismay we similarly concluded that we had an ex-wisteria. This spring, however, several new shoots emerged, Phoenix-like, from the base so my task yesterday was to carefully remove all the dead wood whilst taking great care not to damage the new shoots. Ladders, secateurs and saws were employed and after an hour or so I had a new, unhindered wisteria clambering up the wall and a pile of dead wisteria wood to add to the next bonfire. Let’s hope it recovers and thrives.

We also have a bit of concern for our resident ash trees, all of which are still looking decidedly dormant. To be fair, they are always late-comers to the spring festival but there is also an epidemic of ash dieback spreading through the countryside. It may be that all is well and they are merely taking their time to put out their new leaves. If that’s the case, it could actually be a good thing as the oaks are decidedly out and, as the old saying goes:

If the oak before the ash,
Then we’ll only have a splash.
If the ash before the oak,
Then we’ll surely have a soak!

So, a dry, hot summer in store! That would be nice.

When I wished my mother a happy Mothering Sunday all those weeks ago, I said I would try to remember to wish her a happy Mother’s Day as well. So, Happy Mother’s Day to one of the finest mothers I know, (and I make no apology for using the same photo I used last year), and equally special greetings to all the other mothers in our extended family.


It’s also worth passing on a couple of birthday wishes – Happy Birthday to our Ben (yesterday) and to the finest older sister I have, Happy Birthday to Sallie.

Ben Sallie

Love to you all,