August 25th – A bad time with the IBS at the moment, but I got out late in the afternoon on what was a very pleasant day to the Historic Narrowboat Club heritage gathering at Alvecote, on the far side of Tamworth.
There were a huge number of old working boats on display, with their proud owners ready to tell you all about them – and these fine characters and their wonderful dogs made for a great couple of hours.
A very English thing on a lovely Saturday.
April 15th – After a great day of sunshine on Saturday, Sunday was not so great – it was grey, overcast and periodically rainy, but it still felt warm. I’d had some noisiness and drivetrain grind on the ride the day before, so I decided to busy myself investigating it. I was glad I did.
I found issues with chain, sprockets and chainset, the former two of which were very close to catastrophic failure. It’s not often you’re glad to find a serious mechanical issue, but better here in the workshop with all the spares I need than the middle of nowhere.
I slipped out on a test ride at dusk, with the skies clearing. I didn’t see a soul, but the canal looked very moody and dramatic.
Never mind, weather’s warming up this week…
April 14th – Just in the nick of time the weather improved. It was a bright, warm sunny and dry day, of the type we’re usually having a fair bit at this time of year, but have remained curiously elusive in the never ending winter of the last couple of months.
I rode out to Chasewater, then up onto the Chase itself at Hednesord; then along Marquis Drive and over to Rifle Range Corner. A total blast down Abrahams Valley, followed by a journey over Stepping Stones to Milford for ice cream.
I returned via Shugborough, then the canal to Rugeley and home over Longdon and Chorley.
The weather was lovely with bright sun, blue skies and a lovely golden hour. The Chase was gorgeous, Shugborough seems to be getting better under the stewardship of the National Trust now, and the canal was a peaceful restorative as ever.
Most long, offload rides wear you out, but today was the reverse. With every pedal stroke I felt my charge and life returning. I was being replenished by the sun and awakening spring.
Just in the nick of time…
April 8th – Following the sad, low fug of the day before I awoke determined to feel better today come what may. I busied myself catching up with the blog and this journal, and getting things done that had been withering for a while.
I actually got a lot done and felt much better, so much so that I actually didn’t get out on my bike until after dark, when I had to shoot up to the shop for some supplies. I took a more scenic route than usual, and headed for the canal since it was such a clear, still night.
The watered from Coopers Bridge looked wonderful. The only sound was the generator used by the narrowboat, and occasionally waterfowl calls. The Canon camera, as usual, drank up the dark and worked magic with it.
A glorious evening.
March 1st – Allegedly the first day of spring, but a better one insomuch as I was better prepared for the cold. I wrapped up better, and rode a more sensible bike. It was just as cold, with more persistent, more powdery snow – but on leaving work early, I did a loop of Brownhills before nightfall to enjoy the spectacle.
Enjoy it I did, although again, the wind and cold were punitive and pugilistic. The powder drifted in clouds like dust devils over canal ice and bone-dry roads. Snow depths went from nothing at all to 150mm. At 4:30pm it was already minus 5 degrees C. When my hair started to develop lumps of ice, I decided to go home.
I noted the gritting operation at the council depot was in full swing, and the grit barn looks very depleted. The coos up at Highfields Farm, Chasewater looked peaceful and unconcerned, and the fox I scared into woodland across the common near Watling Street was as usual for foxes in snow, apparently apologetic for his higher than usual visibility.
These have been remarkable days to be on a bike. They have been very hard, but I wouldn’t have missed them for the world.
It’ll be interesting to see what the weekend brings.
January 13th – The cold had really got me. I was damned ill with no energy at all. I slipped out after dark for a short loop of the canal, then came home, shivering and exhausted.
I was pleased with the shots, though, although there weren’t many on this torpid, tortured evening. Maybe tomorrow will be better.