Monthly Archives: July 2011

Bonkers for Conkers?

A quick post to urge you to join in the Bristol University Chestnut leaf miner survey.  This study is hoping to capture the current state of chestnut trees across the country.  You simply download an app to your mobile phone; photograph leaves, tag for location and upload.  Full information here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2011/7744.html

The iphone version of the app is here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/conker-tree-science-leaf-watch/id445371129?mt=8

Dunwich Dynamo – Get ahead, get a hat!

The meet point for the Dunwich Dynamo

The second of my two challenges for this year was the Dunwich Dynamo.  This is a bike ride from the Pub on the Park, Hackney to Dunwich; about 120 miles overnight. I did the ride with two chaps from the next village, we are part of a quiz team called the Rivals, the two villages compete against each other in everything vying to see which is best.  On this occasion they reassuringly told me – it’s not a race.  Clearly for some of the Lycra clad whippets who take part in the Dynamo it is a race but we are more the mature, take in the view, kind of riders.

We arrived in Hackney relatively early, which is just as well for our driver getting back out for the journey home.  Gradually the space around the pub filled as rider after rider arrived. Everything from the whippets to people who looked like they were off to shop for a pint of milk via, man-with-two-dogs, tandems, fixies, recumbents and tricycles.  With ages ranging from teens to over 70’s it really is something fpr everyone.  One tandem appeared and then with a gasp realised that with a broken chain their ride was over before it even started. We decided to leave early, just after 8.00pm as we knew we would be slowish and wanted to get out of the built up areas before dark (bumpkins you see).  In the first section there were just enough riders to follow that we didn’t need to keep checking the map.  By the time we were into Epping Forest the numbers of riders passing us was increasing as the whippets whizzed past. The great thing is though that groups of riders would stop at various watering holes and we ambled by. After a while things settled into a gentle rhythm as fairy-light clad cyclists passed and then were overtaken again.

The feeding station at Sible Heddingham seemed to arrive remarkably quickly and it was at that point it really was possible to gauge the scale of the numbers on the ride.  I hope the people who live in the houses near the hall didn’t find it too much of a disruption but you can see by the stream of lights in this shot from the hall steps that there were a lot of people there.  It took about an hour to queue and buy and eat soup and a roll.  Looking around the room I would say only about 1:10 riders was female and only about 1:10 over fifty.

From there it was the long haul to Sudbury, with a great down hill into the town and a chap ringing a bell at one of the junctions (does he do this every night or just when 1,000+ cyclists ride through?).  A minor diversion in Sudbury to see where one of our group was born and to take in the aromas of the Purina factory brought us back on track for the ride on through to Needham Market.  At some point the Mendlesham Mast became visible, this acts like a beacon for locals; you can see it for miles. The light steadily flowed back into the sky and by the time we were riding through Framsden there was a beautiful lilac dawn spreading over the landscape.  Framsden to Framlingham was reassuringly familiar and we decided to go off piste riding to Cransford via New Road, which was prettier but meant we missed Gentleman Plumber and his feeding spot and Des and his photographs.

The final stretch felt like hard work but we were joined and spurred on by Theflyingchef1’s other half who had leant me some super dooper lights.  Then finally there was the last downhill glide to the beach.  It was a good feeling to get there, bodies everywhere and while the boys bought bacon butties from the Flora tea rooms I went in for a swim, probably the best physiotherapy going.

Huge thanks to everyone who has helped along the way.  Whilst I’m drafting a thank-you page here is an important message from James Cracknell.

A question for you:

A couple of other Dynamo blog posts and articles you might like are here:

Guardian

The Dynamo plus

And finally a playlist on Spotify for you

Red Currents

The events of the last few days have left me, once again dismayed and confused about humans, life and how we interact with each other.  I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be close to events such as those in Norway, how to react, cries of ‘what must be done?’ – should anything be done, should we just try to normalise and move on?  Then there are the thoughts of hundreds of deaths around the globe which could be avoided, treated, prevented.  In the end yesterday evening I could not cope with all the confused thoughts in my brain.  I wanted to do something simple, I picked red currants, but even there the metaphors caught up with me – so I came in prepped the fruit for the freezer and listened guiltily to Mike Brearley, possibly England’s greatest ever cricket captain, talking from his autobiography about the 1981 test matches.  Memories of wandering around Torquay trying to catch up with the game; which as every bar and pub was crowded out with people watching and listening to the game was easy, people shouted out the scores as you went past. Of course nothing has changed in the world, but small moments of calm help.

A playlist here

Red Currents

Garnet berries,
Arterial blood, drips from bushes,
Gathering should heal,
Life and death are bitter-sweet.
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