Lundy from Pembrokeshire, Books

Lundy can be faintly seen above the horse box sort of thing – click on the image to see it more clearly. My new phone takes better photos than my old one – note that Lundy is about 12 miles off the coast of Devon, so that’s a good 30 – 40 miles away across the Bristol Channel, perhaps as much as twice the distance across the narrowest bit of the channel. It’s a pity that there isn’t a ferry to North Devon from Pembrokeshire, even if only a passenger / bike one. The highest point on Lundy is 469′ – and there’s a very pleasant pub on it – The Marisco Tavern, visited some years ago and great for my elderly mum who had walked most of the 469′ to get to the village. The island is mostly an undulating plateau. It’s also got a wonderful church that looks like it should be in a commuter belt in Surrey, odd indeed.

I read, very recently, William Morris’s News From Nowhere - his socialist, indeed communist, utopia. You can read it for free, as is appropriate for a socialist utopian fantasy, by downloading it from Gutenberg in various formats. Fascinating and, as is usual with utopias, neither believable nor making much logical sense. It certainly is worth reading, if only for its portrayal of a odd sort of faux medieval communism where people have got seriously into arts and crafts. Well, it’s a nice idea. Crime and punishment have faded away since without property there can be no theft. And amazingly, people live in rather palatial houses without anyone expropriating houses that they take a fancy to. Everyone seems a bit unreal – full of kindness, goodness and, mostly, patience. Religion seems to have faded away. Indeed, it’s evident that communism is religion since it’s only by an advanced act of faith in some sort of natural human goodness that emerges when the shackles of capitalism are removed (you remember how it emerged in Russia and China, wonderful wasn’t it?) that the picture makes any sense. It reminds me of the old saying that socialism / communism is a Christian heresy – takes a Christian belief in the original blessedness of creation but removes the transcendental stuff and the negative bits about original sin (unless it’s taken as the sin of property). That’s perhaps unfair applied to the old methodist style socialism which kept the transcendental stuff, the form of socialism that I feel most attracted too and has, I guess, little, and diminishing, presence in the current Labour party.

I noticed a book by Roger Scruton whose title – News from Somewhere – is obviously a response to Morris’s book – with Scruton’s emphasis that the problem with Morris is that the utopia is precisely that – a nowhere, with no roots in any actual communities that might make neighbourliness and kindness possible. So far Scruton, who seems to have improved over the years (some of his earlier essays do not impress me), has given an excellent account of the process of settling into a community in Wiltshire. So far, so good. I’m also reading Domby and Son (yes, Gutenberg free book again) which certainly does make you feel that wealth generally does corrupt and that anyone with any heart would have spent all their money on doing good works.

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An Autumnal Bike Ride to Land’s End

This is a brief account of a bike ride to Land’s End from Exeter – and then back to Taunton. I last did this area as a big bike ride back in the 1980s, so traffic was noticeably heavier – I looked at the stats for road traffic in the UK and it has, of course, more than doubled in the last thirty or so years. It does make the A roads a generally unpleasant ride on a bike since the traffic now is almost continuous. Any hold up at all and a traffic jam rapidly forms. The traffic was also more aggressive than in the 1980s – I’m sure no one ever told you to get on an inadequate bike path back in the 80s (well, OK, there was no bike path to use) and cars were rather less powerful and speedy. The lanes are still very pretty. We did leave this trip rather late in the year and I would recommend visiting Cornwall earlier than late September – weather and available daylight are against you, the latter is especially significant if you are spending a lot of time navigating the intricate network of lanes! The ride was, overall, great fun – across moors, along lots of coastline, lots of great moments, including some where it was just nice to arrive and get in out of the rain! This ride brought my total miles for summer cycle trips to about 2000 miles, so half a Trans Am.

Friday September 20th 2019 From Exeter to Bellever Youth Hostel. Quick look around Exeter after the train journey from Pembs, seemed very studenty. Took the B3212 out of Exeter. Shopped at an edge of town Tesco ready for this evening in the wilds of Dartmoor. Heavy smell of cannabis near the store, evidently a brisk trade. The road got quieter as we headed out to the National Park, steadily climbing towards Moretonhampstead, a pretty small town where we sat in the sun along with some locals. Evidently the sort of place where people still walk to the shops. Then out onto Dartmoor, where we stopped for half an hour at the Warren House Inn, which is the highest pub in Southern England – standing at 1425′ – note that Southern England excludes Staffordshire where, of course, the New Inn, Flash, Staffordshire, is a bit higher at 1518′. We sampled half pints – only a couple of miles or so to go now – and were impressed – a nice range of real ales and it is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Then on to Postbridge, and just after Postbridge a left turn to Bellever, where we found the Youth Hostel, lamas in a field at the back. No other cycle tourers that night but some motor bikers. One biker, having just mentioned how to avoid police speed cameras, then said he was fed up of bikes disobeying the law and going through red lights… He wasn’t being funny. The hostel is great – a great sitting room with no TV so conversation, however absurd, reigns. Well it does for those not staring into their phones.

Saturday September 21st 2019 From Bellever to Eden’s Yard Backpackers, St Austell. Sunny start, though by the end of the day it was raining. A lovely ride over to Tavistock, where we ate an early lunch sitting in the sun. Then off through a place called Chip Shop – marvellous. There wasn’t one though in the hamlet. Then over the Tamar at Horsebridge – a nice way to get across the river into Cornwall, then across a southern bit of Bodmin Moor, passing King Doniert’s cross – a cross dating from the 9th century and commemorating that particular King, who died of drowning back in 875. The wikipedia article mentions the curious fact that there is an underground chamber here too, but it’s not clear what it was for. It’s an early bit of the christianisation of England. Then we went to the Boddinick to Fowey ferry – raining by the time we reached Fowey. Fowey is great since it is too narrow for easy access by cars, so it’s pedestrian, and cycle, friendly. Then over to St Austell, just a few miles away. Reached Eden’s Yard at about 6pm. Chatted to a very pleasant Australian, full of enthusiasm for travel. As so many people, he both confessed to travelling tens of thousands of miles by plane each year, and said he was very concerned about global warming. He was wondering whether he should take a trip to North Africa rather than do the coast path. We need a name for the state of profound conflictedness that most people are in over climate change – concerned but… I’m still going on that cruise, etc, etc. Perhaps it’s a Saint Augustine ‘give me chastity but not yet’ state? Eden’s Yard is a lovely place to stay, friendly and cozy – though it was in its last week or so, of its annual opening, when we stayed. It doesn’t do the cold months…

Sunday September 22nd 2019 From St Austell to Land’s End Youth Hostel, about 63 miles. We set off at 9.15am in order to get a breakfast at Wetherspoons in St Austell. This was the usual excellent vegetarian breakfast. St Austell is a sprawly sort of place and we didn’t find it the centre that easily. 10:40am we headed off towards Mevagissey along the B road. The B road was heavy with traffic – on a Sunday morning? Mevagissey, though, was great for a bike since, once again, the narrow streets stop the traffic roaring through it. The inner and outer harbours are picturesque and the museum is great. After a big climb out of Mevagissey, fingers crossed we were on the right road, we eventually reached the ferry at Trelissick – £1 for a bike, one way. The photo is what my phone camera did to the view – arty, though I think the coating is coming off the lens. Called in, very briefly, on the gardens at Trelissick. Considering I only had half an hour, I managed to do see the orchard, some venerable old trees and a great view from the terrace over the estuary. Guy did an intensive visit to the bookshop, always a bit dangerous when you are on a bike with many miles to go and already weighing a fair bit. We left just as some very heavy showers started – via back lanes through to Carnon Downs then Porkerris then Trescowe and on to Marazion Bay. This bit of back lane rambling took a surprisingly long time – by the time we reached Marazion is was not too far off dusk. St Mounts’ Bay looked wonderful – sun and cloud, a brisk breeze, some large waves coming in, the causeway visible (low-ish tide). Then through Penzance, where we shopped for tonight, but it was getting a bit dusky. Then on over to St Just, arriving in semi-darkness with our lights on. Unfortunately we found it very difficult to find the hostel – partly because a car was parked in front of the crucial sign! Very thoughtful. After phoning the hostel we did eventually find it, but it took us over an hour. Some cars don’t dip their headlights when seeing a bike rider, perhaps they were amazed to see cyclists after dark – though surely not unexpected here – the end point, at the end of a long day, of many a John O’Groats to Land’s End journey.

Monday September 23rd 2019 From Land’s End Youth Hostel to Falmouth, via Land’s End. About 40 miles. It was raining steadily when we looked out in the morning. Headed out to Land’s End – about four miles away. Force 8 – 9 wind with big waves out at sea and heavy rain. A German tour bus arrived – they will have no illusions about Cornwall in September now! Two dutch cyclists also arrived – they were heading for St Ives, an excellent destination since the wind would be behind them and it isn’t very far, they were well wrapped up too. The Longships Lighthouse was just about visible out at sea being battered by big waves. We set off along the A30 (quiet) with a severe gusty side wind making cycling interesting. The A30, though, makes short work of the distance to Penzance, so we reached Penzance Wetherspoons and, along with many other refugees from the storm, had a cooked breakfast. The rain had eased off a little bit by the time we left – and repeated out route through Marazion, with huge waves and the tide further in than yesterday. Then towards the official (?) Poldark mine, which we didn’t visit, then to Seworgan, Treverva and into the edge of Falmouth, where the rain had eased off further. We headed to Wetherspoons again, and sheltered there using CAMRA vouchers for beer discounts (decent black beers too) before getting to the kind relatives that we were going to visit. Drowned rats was their description of us, and pretty accurate.

Tuesday September 24th 2019 In Falmouth we visited various things, but spent the most time in the maritime museum where we enjoyed seeing fish swimming past at the bottom of the observation tower, and enjoyed various tales of survival and rescue, but also the history of the Falmouth Packet. There was also a Titanic exhibition, but this was mostly just the same stuff – but the bit about the number of Cornish people that were on the Titanic was fascinating – a man going back to collect his bride and take her with him to a new life in the US, and who never made it back. And, yes, we did visit the Wetherspoons for lunch. It was delightful to spend time with relatives, excellent dinner and conversation – and I saw 3D printing for the first time. Impressive.

Wednesday September 25th 2019 From Falmouth to Perranporth, c. 40 miles. Yes, 40 miles because we so rarely go in a straight line between two places but divert to visit interesting places, avoid A roads, do a quiet bit of road. So we started off by crossing over to St Mawes as a more interesting place to start from with lots of quiet lanes available. The crossing of Falmouth harbour was fun – big yachts, big sheds for repairing said big yachts, dangerous rocks (the Black Rocks). We had to do a quick loop around Pendennis Castle because we had both stayed there years ago when it was a youth hostel. It’s now an English Heritage site, which is fair enough. I remember huge rooms and lots of bunk beds. It was some time around 1978, and I was on the way back from Land’s End and also, more folk music related, hearing Nigel Mazyln Jones play at some youth hostel – perhaps Treyarnon Bay. Sort of summer of love when everything seemed possible, indeed hopeful, and ‘bliss was it in that dawn to be alive’. After another trip across the King Hal Ferry we went past Trelissick again – so I had another brief visit, though this time I got a bit stuck in the gift shop – an offer on Cornish chocolate was a bit of a temptation, and very useful too. I also bought Tregothnan Tea (tea grown in Cornwall – well mostly). I do have a Camellia Sinesis back at home in Pembrokeshire though it is very long way from producing any tea whatsoever (it’s about 9″ tall). It is hardy, I think, down to -5°C so should survive in a coastal Pembs, subject to my tender loving care…. Then via Carnon Downs, Chacewater, Blackwater, Mount Hawke to St Agnes where I could not pass through without visiting Surfers Against Sewage, and indeed then got a tee shirt (organic cotton) and surf (bee’s) wax for the eco-surfer. Then along a little road past the savage bay just north of St Agnes – savage indeed today with a huge surf crashing into the beach, headlands in various shades of grey and green echoing away to the west. We were then given Cornish (Chacewater I think) pasties by a very kind person just coming back from a funeral – on the road round the coast from St Agnes. We didn’t eat them immediately since we were nearly at our destination. It was obvious that the pasties were meant for us since they were vegetarian too (well, veggie and cheese and onion)! Apparently the funeral had over-catered a little bit and we were benefitting. A great way to do a funeral supper, certainly, and filled us with an appreciation of human kindness. Cycling is great partly because you can eat a great deal and still come out thinner than when you started (I’ve been tumbling down as low at 10 stone). We eventually reached, after a couple of so more miles, Perranporth where the hostel was closed – not yet 5pm. Excellent since this meant we could look for a pub – and indeed we found a Wetherspoons, where two CAMRA vouchers enabled us to drink some excellent local beers at a cheap price. When we finally got into the hostel a Canadian lady was holding forth about Brexit (agin it) which was, frankly, a mistake. Inevitably she touched various people’s raw nerves. I pushed her towards climate change, where we could probably all agree, though Canadian tar sands reared their ugly head, along with various pipeline issues. She was doing the coast path – and relying on public transport. Excellent, though the weather was starting to close in for the autumn. Perhaps the most important thing we need to learn from the Brexit debate isn’t anything about democracy and governance, it’s about stereotyping those who hold opinions other than our own.

Thursday September 26th 2019 From Perranporth to Tintagel – about 50 miles. Brekky at Wetherspoons, the big veggie breakfast. Very good. Then to Newquay via West Pentire and Penpol. We could see, on a youth hostel map, a route across the sands between Penpol and Newquay that cut out a bit of busy road, so we spend a while trying to find it. At the second attempt we did, from Penpol to Newquay, viable at a low-ish tide.  The photo shows the bridge that you have to cross after pushing your bike across some sand – perhaps a couple of hundred yards. Into Newquay, shopped at Asda then out to Watergate Bay, Treyarnon Bay (another youth hostel visited from the late 70s onwards and full of surfy memories), then Padstow where we witnessed road rage between a nutty youth who couldn’t quite squeeze his large customised car around a corner because another car was parked on the corner, and in attempting to do so knocked a bit of his customisation off! A passer-by said to me, quietly, ‘I enjoyed that’. So did we. Street theatre. It was all the more enjoyable because the bloke had recently been parked on a corner himself! Slightly later, after feeling smuggly amused, I fell off my bike in front of a cafe, when going very slowly indeed (too slowly and caught a foot in the toe strap). I was unhurt apart from a slightly scrazed knee, but I drew an audience. Glad to amuse. We pushed rapidly on to the ferry to Rock, which only advertises return tickets for bikes but did actually sell us a single (£4) to Rock when on the ferry. At Rock a torrential downpour coincided with our landing and in the absurd melee that resulted, passengers rushing on and rushing off simultaneously, we got soaked to the skin, We warmed up again in the sunshine after the rain then headed off through Port Issac (classic picturesque port), Port Quin, Trebarwith, Tintagel. Tintagel Youth Hostel has a tremendous location overlooking the sea, with views that stretch to the tooth of rock that sticks up at Trebarwith. Cliffs, crashing waves. We arrived at 6pm and enjoyed not discussing politics but reading our books – I was working my way through the superb The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman, a fascinating defence of a cultured, humanitarian and Christian view of education (i.e. Theology gets a crucial place in the education framework). It’s curious to think that this view was more or less concurrent with the appearance of Darwin’s views on the origin of species. Many of the tensions Newman identifies are still, in some form, with us today – e.g. a technical versus a humane education, etc. For instance can you do medicine as a purely technical subject without a tradition of ethics? Should scientists be expected to read novels and read history, etc? Shades of C P Snow.

Friday September 27th 2019 From Tintagel to Bellever (Dartmoor). About 60 miles. Started off by visiting St Materiana’s Church, the church for Tintagel. St Materiana, wonderful name, was a Welsh princess – Gwent apparently. See the wikipedia article. Nice stained glass of St George and St Piran (Piran’s port = Perranporth, of course). Then a quick visit to the Old Post Office at Tintagel – National Trust. Quirky building, sampers including a barque embroidered during the Napoleonic Wars, outside a sprawling rosemary, sweet peas hanging on, hydrangeas. Then on to Altarnun (passed the Tintagel Brewery but a bit early for gathering bottles) along a B road across Bodmin Moor. Big clouds moving slowly over a grey and green landscape, with distant high jumbles of rocks – the photo show Guy about to be hit by rain on Bodmin Moor. From Altarnun (lovely name), under the A30 then to Coade’s Green (Code Green? get ready for blast off!) where had lunch in a bus stop sheltering from the rain – the bus stop was nicely decorated by children from the nearby school – though back in 1999 (class 3, so c. 30 years’ old now). Then back through Chip Shop to Tavistock, another huge shower and rather cool too. Then a slog up onto Dartmoor, past the turning to Higher Godsworthy – sort of place a saint should live at – rush hour even on Dartmoor and some pushy drivers hurtling past. Arrived c. 6.30pm with a broken gear cable – broke in the last mile, fortunately, so I could fix it at the hostel. Birthday party in the hostel – pleasant to see a family enjoying itself so much.

Saturday September 28th 2019 From Bellever to Minehead. About 75 miles. This was a long day and we were aware that rain was forecast for later in the day. We got going at about 9.30am. Via Chagford – pretty and arty place with a film festival on – and then up past Castle Drogo, where the photo of my bike shows the castle on the hill behind – fair bit of traffic going to the Nat Trust castle. Then Yeoford where we ate lunch at the small station and saw a train go by (Bideford line?), then Kennerleigh where we sat outside the village community shop – which opened up especially for us (officially closed) to sell us biccies! I had the right money. Tremendous kindness since those biccies powered us many miles. Then to Black Dog (yes, we wanted to go through Black Dog) where we got onto the ridge road that runs for miles near to Rose Ash and across to Dulverton. We could see the rain catching us up – slowly the dark clouds went from behind us to over our heads. Dulverton was lovely but unfortunately my chief memory of the place is being gassed by a diesel car which was parked with the engine running. I think the particulate filter must have been removed. We then headed over to the lane that parallels the A road to Minehead – just the other side of the A road to Dulverton. A high road over the moors then down and down to Dunster then along a crummy bike path alongside the coastal A road and into Minehead. Arrived in rain and semi-darkness, and fairly damp, at Base Lodge – lovely, dry and warm. Went out to Wetherspoons for dinner, rain still steady.

Sunday September 29th 2019 Around Minehead, probably about 30 miles. We did a big oval from Minehead up onto Selworthy Beacon (about 1000′, but starting from sea level it seemed big enough), then down to Selworthy on a gorgeous bridleway through autumnal woods, then Allerford, Bossington and Porlock where we didn’t go up that famous hill but just visited the church – as shown, St Dubricious. Then over to Luccombe via the back lane, though a wrong turning at one point took us up a few hundred feet onto the moor. Then into Dunster with a quick visit to Dunster Castle – owned by the Luttrell’s who, in times past, owned Minehead (the land which became Minehead). Back to Minehead via the co-op.

Monday September 30th 2019. Minehead to Taunton, for the train. About 30 miles, mostly on back lanes. Initially out via the cycle path alongside the horribly busy coastal A road – until we could dive off on lanes that took us over the Brendon Hills, slow and hilly with good views over Steepholm (steep) and Flatholm (surprisingly flat) out in the Bristol Channel, via Kingsbridge. Taunton has, I think, two Wetherspoons, impressive and curious considering Pembrokeshire has only in the whole county (Haverfordwest). Had a pint before the usual overcrowded trains with prams in the (booked) bike spaces, people sitting in the seats (reserved for us). But, hey, that’s the norm for train travel it seems, the rules may say that you must fold your pram but that doesn’t mean that the travelling public would dream of doing that, and only geeks it seems read the reservation information above the seat. ‘Whatever….’ Nice to reach home though – the picture is my wildflower patch, about one metre square, but blooming on and on (since late May). My ten year old mobile phone camera is showing signs of age by giving all my photos a touch of psychedelia.

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West Wales to Eastern England – crossing the UK

The following is an initial version – I’ll add more links and photos later. This completes the Mizen Head to Southwold / Lowestoft route that we wanted to do – and since we did it in a big loop from Pembrokeshire it adds up to about 1500 miles of cycling with the Irish section.

Wednesday 14th August 2019 From Sardis to Tynycornel – an Elenydd Hostel c. 70 miles.
We set off rather late at about 11am, in our best tradition when facing a long bike ride. Went to St Clears along Sustrans route 4 – over Marros hill (Marros is a village above a remote beach in Pembs). Pleasant enough but cloudy with a touch of light rain. From St Clears we took the B4299 road up to Trelech, which was only tough for a short period getting us up out of the St Clear’s flatness. Once up, it was undulating and reasonably fast. At Trelech we carried on along the B road until we suddenly found we’d lost it! Some map reading helped us to work out where we went wrong. Ploughed on until we reached the B4333, turned left then first right along a very straight road with great views over the Teifi valley – Newcastle Emlyn, Llandysul, etc. Lovely moorland. Ate lunch at the edge of forestry, the rain getting more frisky. Then down into the Teifi valley via Pencader and Llanybydder. Then an A road to Lampeter, not too busy though, just missed the town though because we had picked up sufficient food in Llanybydder. Then small lane to Llandewi Brefi before we started the long lane up into the Elenydd. After eight miles of slow mountain road, we walked the last bit to the hostel (a miles which is not tarmac, just about OK for a car with care but a bit tough for our road tyres). Arrived at about 7.50pm, a bit on the late side, but allowing for our late start, not too bad. Cooked pasta mixed with sweet shredded beetroot with some cheese (Cambozola) added was just what we needed. The warden was a great help – to our reading since she pointed out some really excellent books on the hostel shelves – a book called ‘Wilding’ about re-wilding a farm in the south east of England looked especially fascinating. Having passed some rather sad looking sheep farming hill farms, it was topical. Are sheep ‘white maggots’ preventing the proper ecological health of high pastures, and requiring the usual subsidies to the farmers in order to survive, or are they a patchwork quilt of local communities and food producers?

Thursday 15th August 2019 From Tynycornel Elenydd Hostel Trust to Kington YHA, about 50 miles.
A particularly hilly day, and in some ways tougher than yesterday though fewer miles! We went over the 1000′ contour three times at various points in the journey (at the start, then at the devil’s staircase, then again at Colva (I think this may be the highest church in Wales). Tynycornel is a dead end for the average motor vehicle – only a few sad 4WD enthusiasts persist in wrecking the track beyond it. But for bikes and the like, the track beyond Tynycornel is good news since you can get through to Llanwyrtyd Wells without doing any A or B roads at all. We set off pushing our bikes over the big hill to Soar y Mynydd, where a lovely, venerable and still used chapel can be found. Took a good hour to get to Soar y Mynydd. At the chapel a lady in light shoes got out of her car and promptly slipped over on the rough track. I was glad of my tough shoes. She recovered after a bit of a sit down. Then headed for Llanwyrtyd via the Devil’s Staircase (a steep bit of road, both up to the top of it, for us, and down it), then Abergwesyn and the lovely common (National Trust) along the road before it. After Llanwyrtyd, across to Llangammarch Wells (we always take a wrong turn in Llangammarch, so a detour of three miles or so) and then Builth and then a slightly round about route via Llanbadarn y Garreg, Cregina (almost), Glascwm (same word as Glasgow, more or less, in Celtic terms, notable for being overtaken on the climb after the village by a super fit cyclist with a pack on his pack, wow!), then Colva. All these villages have interesting churches, but Colva is a particular stunner because it’s quite a climb and it has wall paintings. Not to be missed. Then down to the Hergests, and then Kington. Reached the hostel at about 7.45pm. Oh well…. We would have been earlier but we were shopping for the evening meal when one of us (hmmm) thought that we had to arrive by 8pm. It turned out that the reception didn’t knock off until 9pm. So off to the shops for a second time after checking in. We went to the lovely Olde Taverne, just by the hostel, which has a historic interior, along with excellent beer. I wish there was a pub like that near home in Pembrokeshire! It would be lovely if some sort of worm hole could take us between our favourite pubs – The Fighting Cock in Bradford, this one in Kington, the superb Black Lion in Consall Forge near Stoke, and several others. It would make Physics a very valuable subject indeed.

Friday 16th August 2019 From Kington YHA to Heart of England campsite, aka Church Farm, very near Coughton Court National Trust, about 65 miles.
Today was, overall, very wet. It was just drizzly though for the first half of the day, but then, after we passed through Tenbury Wells, it became a bit of a deluge. Anyway, the route was pleasant – Kington to Titley to Shobdon to Yarpole to Eye (we passed Berrington Hall National Trust) to Berrington (another one near Tenbury) to Tenbury Wells to Rochford to Stanford Bridge to Shelsley Beauchamp (pronounced as if slightly tipsy) to Holt Heath, where got on an A road to cross the Severn. Unfortunately it was now after 4pm and the road was jammed with commuters and we were in their way. Most were pretty good, but it was pretty bad. We cycled on the pavement where viable. Car commuting is an awful thing – stressing out all the communities the commute goes through – noise, aggression and lots of fumes. Eventually we dived down the network of lanes to Ladywood, under the M5 to Dunhampstead and then Stock Green, and then a bit of busy B road in heavy rain (not nice) and a final little lane to Coughton Court National Trust, where we could go along the lane to the campsite – yes, we could but it was flooded for cars! There was a raised bridge for pedestrians over a stream, but the ford was a mess and unuseable. So a lovely quiet lane to finish with. Set up tent in pouring rain, and then the sheer bliss of being inside a good tent in a downpour with night coming on. We arrived at about 6.40pm, so actually not too bad! The tent is very comfy – my mattress is soft, my sleeping bag (ancient and has done two transams, etc) is warm, and my Kindle ebook reader has about a hundred books on it. All seems twice as cozy on a day as wet as today. We had considered visiting the Throckmorton Arms but given the heavy rain the mile seeme just too much. Perhaps on some other ride.

Saturday 17th August 2019 From Coughton (Heart of England/Church Farm Camping) to Ditchford Road Camping (near Wellingborough) – c. 70 miles.
The day was warm and sunny by 9am which was a tremendous help! There was a lot to dry out, so we left at about 10.30am. We had no food left for breakfast so we headed initially for Stratford on Avon, where we had a veggie breakfast (large) in Morrisons. Very good, recommended. Then through the delightful and manageable town of Stratford and out onto the Wellesbourne road – B4086. Then from Wellesbourne we went up to the Chesterton Windmill, an old an curious structure – a windmill with feet that hold it above the field it stands on. The view is great – some other cyclists were there and they said they had been out for a short tour to visit the Hook Norton Brewery – an excellent choice (and we visited Hook Norton on the return from Blaxhall, see below). They also pointed out various buildings hidden away in the distance which showed where Coventry was and some other big towns. We pressed on to Southam then out on the A426 to Grandborough and then just north of Northampton – Moulton, Overstone and then via Sywell into Welllingborough, where we shopped. Seemed a bit run down and down at heel. After heading out towards London (!) we found a left turn along a sort of ring road and eventually discovered the B571, which was closed where it crossed the railway line. This was OK because there was a pedestrian route we could push our bikes along. The road was then very quiet and eventually we found Ditchford Rd and the campsite, looking a bit down at heel itself, with only a chemical toilet and no showers. No other campers were there, but just a few caravans – though they looked more like residents’ caravans. It’s a great spot though, with water pouring over the weir, canal and river running near each other and lots of canal boats.We arrived at about 7.30pm, so a bit before sunset. There were at least four closed roads today – all of which we managed to squeeze around by using pedestrian routes. We crossed the M1 and A5 near Welton – the east<->west cyclist has to cross or go under a heck of a lot of motorway bridges. Britain is a crowded and bursting at the seams sort of place. Weather OK today – lots of sun.

Sunday 18th August 2019 From Ditchford Rd Camping, Wellingborough, to West Stow Camping and Caravans. Another long day of about 70 miles.
Off at c. 10am via Irthlingborough, Raunds, Kingston, Bythorn, Alconbury Weston, Wennington (a gorgeous bit of road here, more cyclists than cars), Woodhurst, Earith and Ely. At Ely we shopped and ate a late-ish lunch near the cathedral. It’s a tremendous building and it would have been nice to pop in for choral evensong but with lots more miles to do this wasn’t a real option. Ely is a pleasant town – Guy was buzzed at one point by a sort of Moth thing that had a long proboscis – perhaps it was a Hummingbird Hawk Moth? It had a blur of insect wings and seemed to think there was nectar somewhere. Perhaps it was after something we bought at Waitrose in Ely? Anyway, curious thing. Headed out via Queen Adelaide (!), Mildenhall, a brief moment on the A11 (busy and a pushy sort of road) before we found our turning and headed finally for West Stow. Lovely campsite in a wooded area. We tried to find a pub in the nearby village of West Stow but failed. Lovely village but no pub, sadly a common phenomenon. The campsite said ‘Adults Only’ – so it was impressively quiet. The towns look at bit run down and the villages are mostly lovely. I guess the internet has taken a lot of the trade and so there’s no need to go into a town to shop anymore.

Monday 19th August 2019 From West Stow Camping to Blaxhall YHA – a shorter day of about 50 miles. Easy cycling for the most part – and warm weather. We headed through Ixworth and saw, just south of the town, the Packenham Watermill (as well as the Packenham Windmill). Not open today but impressive just from the road. Then to Debenham, then Framlingham (excellent co-op), then a tricky squeeze getting past the heavy traffic around the A12 function with the B road. More hellish commuters! Then Blaxhall along a very quiet road – which we hadn’t done before, and turned into a sandy track for a short while (near a railway crossing), before we eventually arrived at the YHA. Arrived at 6pm, which is our best so far. Visited the super pub – The Ship. It turned out that there had been folk music at 2.30pm, so perhaps we should have hurried more. The Ship is famed for its folk music – goes back decades – and it’s a great place to hear a session. We drank Green Jack beers – LGM1 was the best we thought (LGM = Little Green Man).

Tuesday 20th August 2019 Blaxhall to Ipswich and back – c 35 miles.
We wanted to see Woodbridge, eat at a Wetherspoons in Ipswich and loop back north of Ipswich to see some different rural lanes. On the whole we found quiet ways to do this entire journey – just a bit of heavy traffic near Woodbridge. Ipswich hadn’t considered the bike much – but there are some quiet-ish routes in if you plan carefully. Nice Wetherspoons (The Cricketers) near the swimming pool in the town centre. The best route in and out seems to be the lane that comes in past the Ipswich Town FC ground. Ipswich are evidently not a major club so it’s a quiet route. Lots of evidence that there are big plans for development all around Ipswich – ‘no northern bypass’ signs all over the place. Hope they win. They need to spend the money on cycle routes to get people onto bikes instead. Ipswich didn’t seem very upbeat – still, a decent Wetherspoons. The Sainsbury’s we shopped at had all the charm (hoho) of the one in Leeds where there’s CCTV everywhere and evidently a crime is imminently expected (with reason). A great place to look for a job as a security guard. We went back to Blaxhall via Playford, Pettistree and along a lane that went over the A12 – tiny and hardly any traffic. I was singing while cycling it was so delightful. Warm sunshine all day, and we revisited The Ship for another pint of Green Jack beer.

Wednesday 21st August 2019 Blaxhall to Southwold and back – c. 45 miles.
A big loop in which we went to Southwold inland, via Swefling, Peasenhall and Blyford and Uggeshall and then down into Southwold on the B1126. We visited the Adnams Brewery shop (one bottle of aged Broadside purchased) which was heaving with visitors. It was hot so we sat by the sea for lunch. I couldn’t resist a swim – water was not clear, and the beach was a steep shingle with a significant northerly rip, but a nice water temperature (though we are only a few miles up from Sizewell Nuclear Power Station so this may not be a good sign). To stay in the same place you have to swim steadily. It’s not too risky because it’s going along the beach not out from the beach – well, not where I swam anyway! Then we found the bridge over the river – footbridge so OK for bikes. Last time we were rowed over by a hefty lad. The footbridge is cheaper and we found it before we saw anyone rowing people over. Back to Blaxhall via Walberswick, Leiston, Aldeburgh and then Snape and up to Blaxhall. Aldeburgh has some good grocery shops. We went to The Ship – there was a session! Excellent, though packed. It’s a very impressive standard, people don’t introduce their songs they just head off into their performance, there’s not many errors at all – the standard is high. Mostly traditional folk, though some music hall songs too. And particularly lovely to see squeezeboxes outnumbering guitars. Some wonderful concertina playing – looked effortless, so it must have required a great deal of experience.

Thursday 22nd August 2019 Blaxhall to Orford Ness / Shingle Street and back. About 20 miles.
Since tomorrow we set off back towards Pembrokeshire, we decided to do a short day with some walking and visiting today. So I visited Orford Ness, a lovely mix of military ordnance and wildflowers. This is not such a rare combination, since the ordnance keeps the general public off and allows the wildflowers to flourish. On the way there we visited St Botolph’s church at Iken. It’s as much a delight for its location as for its history. It’s on a bit of higher ground near the estuary of the Alde. Goodness knows what will happen to this area as global warming continues and accelerates. Anyway, it was a monastic settlement in the time of St Botolph – early to mid Seventh Century. We saw some remains of an elaborately carved cross which may, it seems, have been some sort of memorial to the saint. Ordford Ness is a fascinating place, bits of nuclear bombs were tested there (triggers rather than the actual payload), RADAR grew up there, and alongside all this there is a lovely mix of shingle and shore ecology – sea kale, samphire and the like. It feels a bit like that other big shingle spit – Dungeness. And end of the world, in more ways than one, sort of place. Eventually headed back to Blaxhall. Sadly no session tonight in The Ship, but still a great pub to read a book in. The hostel seemed to be full of Vietnamese. I wonder what they make of Suffolk?

Friday 23rd August 2019 Blaxhall to Panfield Bell (pub) camping (by the pitch). About 60 miles.
We got up early at 7am but we still didn’t leave until 10.15am – our bikes needed a bit of oil and checking. We headed towards Wickham Market and then Ashbocking, then Claydon, Elmsett and Stone Street. We visited a Chantry Chapel – St James – had a tithe of £5 per annum but this is back in medieval times so that was enough to maintain someone to pray for the soul(s) of the family member(s) who set the chapel up. Certainly a beautiful and old building – originally 13th Century in its current form, It became a barn for a few hundred years after the abolition of chantries but then it was donated to the nation. Excellent. We then pushed on past Helmington Castle and the Colne Valley Railway, both sadly shut by the time we went past! Then down to Panfield to The Bell pub to camp on the sports field. It’s a Greene King pub but they were selling a guest ale – Taylor’s Landlord – which I chose. Sad to hear that Greene King is subject to a takeover bid from a Hong Kong buyer. What’s wrong with keeping ownership where it’s clientele and its workers are? Globalisation should be restricted to defend the ‘locale’, of course! Guy went shopping in Braintree and bought a brainstorm of interesting food. Quite hot today, arrived at 6.45pm so not so bad.

Saturday 24th August 2019 From Panfield to the Old Dairy Farm, Stoke Hammond. About 75 miles.
We knew this would be a long day, but we also knew that the landscape wasn’t very hilly, just flat to undulating with a few hills near Hitchin. We headed to Thaxted via various Bardfields. Thaxted is a very pretty town and the church is tremendous, though it’s mostly white walls and clear glass. Evidently a great musical tradition – Holst lived here for a while and composed for the festival he was involved in setting up. We then headed off through Debden, Newport, Clavering (now on the B road) and then off to Langley Green where we had lunch by a huge old oak on a back lane (the lane to Meesden), watching the wind blowing the barley. Then Nuthampstead and Buckland (hobbity sort of name), where we crossed the A10, then down to Sandon, Rushden, Graveley, and after a bit of being lost in the Rangerover sodden lanes we got through to Hitchin where we got a gear cable (Guy’s had snapped, and it was very nice to see a local bike shop, worth cherishing) and shopped in the Asda. Hitchin looks pretty – compared with some of the urban wastelands we have seen! We were running a bit late so we headed out on the B655 to Barton le Clay, a road which undulates rather impressively, like a switchback. Reminded me of the Ozarks in the USA – which we did in very humid and hot weather. Then we got to Harlington, Tingrith, where we went under the M1, and then from Little Brickhill we reached the Old Dairy Farm Camping / Caravanning. Pleasant but quite busy, it being a bank holiday. A rather drunken man, drunk on cans of Carling, chatted in a surrealist manner to us. His tent looked broken, though useable. He said it was a bargain at £15… well I guess it might survive for a few days until a gale arrives. The site did have a lot of pretty impressive flowers and very clean toilets and showers. We walked to The Three Locks pub since it was in the CAMRA guide and a 25 min walk along the Grand Union Canal (which was in bank holiday mood). We were rather disappointed with the place – yes there were local ales (Tring Brewery), but no dark beers just summery golden or IPA things, and muzak throughout. I am sick of canned music – shopping, drinking in a pub, there it is, wearying and tedious. We had imagined it was a canal side local pub, but it’s more a big foodie establishment, especially steaks. The west coast mainline hurtles along nearby – which we liked a lot. Lit carriages rushing through the night across the field. Anyway, we wandered back along the canal in the dark (with a torch) and fell soundly asleep…

Sunday 25th August 2019 From the Old Dairy Farm Camping through to Cotswold Camping, Whichford. About 50 miles.
A much easier day today, though still hot and sunny. Set off via Drayton Parslow to the pleasant small town of Winslow. Sat and ate elevenses by a brew pub – at The George. It looked like just the sort of pub we would want to drink in, but unfortunately we still had 30 – 40 miles to go… Powered on via Middle Claydon, Charndon and Stratton Audley (where we ate lunch and read gravestones – fascinating one to Jody Anton McLuckie Williamson who was born in the USA, died in Oz but somehow ended up buried here at a tender age – in his 20s – perhaps a bit of a traveller, described as kind and witty). Stratton Audley (see was a pleasant and curious place for lunch but we had to keep moving, so we headed on through Fritwell, North Aston, Little Tew, Somerton (where someone filled up our water bottle for us when we stopped in the shade near his house, that impressed us! 30° sort of day), Hook Norton (where we shopped – village shops are a bit rare) and then Whichford where we initially drank a pint at the beer festival at The Norman Knight. A great day for a beer festival, though it was a tiny beer festival and they were a bit pale and golden for us. We reached the campsite at the record early time of 5.45pm. Cotswold Camping is a great place, and it had a shared kettle so tea was possible, and not merely possible but actual. The landscape today was very pretty – increasingly cotwoldian, honey coloured stone, etc. The campsite is fairly well wooded around a central area that was Whichford Castle and is an ancient site. And for once we had plenty of time to read in the evening.

Monday 26th August 2019 From Cotswold Camping, Whichford, to Wye Valley YHA – basically Welsh Bicknor. About 70 miles.
Went through Stow on the Wold (reached via Evenlode, very nearly Adlestrop of the famous poem, but we saw that earlier in the year), where there was a big traffic jam. We just went to the Tesco and then left on the B4077, which was quiet since all the cars were stuck in the Stow traffic jam. Well every cloud…. Turned off for Farmcote and then Winchcombe. Winchcombe is lovely – big hill (escarpment) down to it, which was the end of the Cotswold / Chilterns, etc. Views of the Malverns in the distance, and the Welsh hills too. Then Gotherington and then Stoke Orchard where we missed our turning and did an extra 6 miles. Then to Odda’s Chapel – another chantry, and very near the Severn (big flood gates at the village of Deerhurst to prevent flooding). Then Apperley (yes, like the one near Bradford). I suppose you could be Apperley married…. then the bridge over the Severn (much nicer than on the route out), then Upleadon and Newent, a pleasant town with food shops, then down to Ponthill via the B roads, along a bit of the A40 because it was quiet and we were late, and then down to Kerne Bridge and Goodrich where we went along the steep track down to the hostel by the River Wye. A great location. Another cyclist chatted to me as we arrived – he’d just arrived from Cheddar Gorge on a 100+ mile day though on a lightweight bike with minimal luggage. He was hoping to do Land’s End To John O’Groats but he seemed to think he might just call in on his parents in Leeds and stop there. I was shocked by the idea of hanging around in Leeds, not a great place to spend your limited holiday surely. I hope he did the whole thing. Interesting the different ways of travelling, we are medium heavy (with camping stuff) and can’t really do much more than 70 miles per day unless it’s very flat (well we could get up earlier). I sometimes dream of credit card travelling – no panniers, just a rain jacket, a light bike, and no bookings just get wafted through to the en suite room in a hotel. It would cost a bomb so unlikely to happen unless ERNIE hears my plea. But would you see more going faster? Don’t think so… In fact we probably ought to travel slower, staying and exploring an area. Why do John O’Groats in a week when you perhaps ought to take a couple of months and really see the country you are travelling through, have time for conversations, wanderings, pints, books. A cycling version of the flaneur (pretentious eh?). I made a mixture of shredded beetroot, cambozola, and pasta for dinner (it’s a good combination believe me) – I was warned that grating beetroot was dangerous… I think he must have been employed as a health and safety officer. I risked everything and carried on. I think it was probably the beetroot colour that triggered his panic attack.

Tuesday 27th August 2019 From Wye Valley YHA to Ynys Faen camping (near Trecastle). About 60 miles.
Via lanes from Goodrich over to Broad Oak and then the B road to Skenfrith (the border between England and Wales and possessor of a fine castle and church) then over to Pandy on a quiet backroad, then via lunch at Llanfihangel Crucorney (in the churchyard), and a lovely route, very wooded, via ‘Forest Coal Pit’ to Crickhowell, where we shopped and sat in the bench that was the ‘social bench’ – you should expect to be chatted to sitting there (to combat isolation in the community this seems a great idea). But nobody spoke to us, though we weren’t there very long and we were eating most of the time. Probably not very encouraging. Then along the B road paralleling the Brecon Canal to Brecon, which took a bit of getting into if you want to avoid the dual carriageway. We then paralleled the A40 on little lanes to the north – passing Cradoc (roman fort) and eventually going down into Sennybridge. Two filling stations with food to choose from! Well we chose the one with the Spar (rather than the Londis). This gave us enough food for the evening and for breakfast too. As the A40 was quiet we did the 3 miles to Trecastle along that rather than faffing around with more little lanes winding up and down hills. Then from Trecastle we went over a hill and down to the campsite at Ynys Faen. Great campsite – spring water supply, rather than mains water. More like bottled water to taste, very fresh. A green and comfy campsite.

Wednesday August 28th 2019. About 55 miles.
It was drizzling a bit when we set off at about 10.25am. Via the Usk Reservoir to near Llanddeusant, then down to the A road and across to Bethlehem (yes, we went to Bethlehem, near Llandeilo, too cloudy to see any stars though). Then through Felinfach in the drizzle, then a B road to Camarthen. The B road parallels the A40 that occupies the north side of the valley. It was deliciously quiet. Past various gardens – National Botanic Garden of Wales, Aberglaslyn, Dinefwr – and on to Camarthen where we found Wetherspoons for a late lunch. Then we tried the Sustrans route 4 to St Clears. It isn’t very good, winding all over the place between high hedges so it feels a bit like a maze. There were farm dogs in the road, though not aggressive, deep mud at one point right across the road which nearly got me sliding, and frankly I reckoned it was poor. This is, of course, all done to get you off the A40 which at this point is a fast dual carriageway along the valley bottom. We’ve done the dual carriageway on our bikes and it does get you there much more quickly, though it is not a pretty. Some bits of the A40 have a bike path, some bits can be avoided by just a bit of a deviation to the north. Perhaps some route entirely to the north of the A40 would be better? Anyway, through St Clears, over the big hill at Marros and down into Amroth, high tide and the first sea we’d seen since Suffolk, and then up the hill to home. It is certainly lovely to reach a sofa and a kettle and a heap of books, even a piano. But we’ve done from Mizen to Southwold – about 750 miles – and back (another 750 miles) – in about 4 weeks, so it’s about a third of a big version of a transam. Very enjoyable, stimulating and a mostly very pleasant ride.

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Cycling to Mizen Head, Ireland, late June – early July 2019

Having ‘done’ Malin Head a few years ago, it was always intended to visit Mizen, the Land’s End of Ireland. This trip took about two weeks and c. 700 miles of cycling. We took an inland route there and came back along the south coast of Ireland.

Monday 24th June 2019 Left home about 11.15am and rode to Pembroke Dock, via Tesco and Bierpool Bike Shop (a good bike shop in Pembroke Dock). Reached the docks in plenty of time for early afternoon sailing – think we actually cast off at 3pm. Great views of St Anne’s Head, Skomer and Skokholm, and then Grassholm further out. Then a quiet sea, slight, until Rosslare at about 6.40pm. Cycled to IOAC (Int Outdoor Adventure Centre) where we camped – lovely sunny evening. Had noticed Chinese take away on google map so Chinese food. I’m reading The Secret Pilgrim – Le Carre. It’s billed as the last ‘Smiley’ novel, but he plays but a small part in the action, though at one point a rather touching, sweet even, role.

the r700 to kilkennyTuesday June 25th 2019 From Tagoat to Kilkenny. A long day in the saddle – Just over 60 miles. Slow getting off – c. 11am. Then headed westwards along quiet roads to Wellingtonbridge, then up to Old Ross then New Ross (thus avoiding the hellish N road). Stopped for lunch at a commemorative stone for various World Ploughing Contests – going back to 1973. I had a headache due to lack of caffeine, a familiar start of ride situation. After New Ross we followed the lovely R700 which winds for 40kms to Kilkenny, with our campsite (Tree Grove) just before the town’s ring road. Pitched and then shopped, some tension over whether to shop at Lidl or Supervalu! Campsite has a kettle, so a late tea. Mostly sunny weather. Traffic on the R700 was rather bad as we got near to Kilkenny. Too much, too wide, evidently commuting – though we didn’t reach Tree Grove until about 7.20pm. This reminded me of Josie Dew’s comment that what she wanted (to make cycling better) was less, and smaller traffic. Roads designed for old Fiat 500s are difficult for drivers when the traffic is mostly 4WDs and there’s a slow travel cyclist ‘in the way’. When shopping visited Kilkenny centre – seems very historic. Big castle along the main street. Nice Red Beer for dinner… Kilkenny is associated with Smithwick’s brewery. We don’t rate the beer much…

Kilkenny CathedralWednesday 26th June 2019 From Kilkenny to The Apple Farm near Cahe(i)r. 50 miles. Walked around the cathedral with its ancient monastic round tower (predates the cathedral) then we’d already worked out how to find the R695 which we used until we could go south towards Callan and then R691 which we followed to Killenaule. Had lunch in little garden at Ballingarry – lovely sprawling rosemary, astilbe (with bees all over it), arty paving slabs, excellent. A big local funeral was going on, people dressed up. Down the R689 to Fethard, rather excellent medieval bits, then managed to find our cross country route diagonally towards the Caher road. Then along the horribe and busy N24 east for two kms to The Apple Farm. Reached this at about 4.10pm so very good time considering we left Kilkenny at about 11am. Roads were mostly quiet and undulating so speedy for a bike. Lovely roses, apple trees everywhere! The Apple Farm gave us free apple juice to welcome us! Great shop too – bought a very fruity evening meal of cider, bread, crisps, bananas, some remainder of cheese. There’s a kettle in the shed so tea too. Excellent!

Thursday 27th June 2019 From The Apple Farm to Cork, 65miles. In morning we had strawberries for breakfast with apple juice, sitting in the sun at the edge of the orchard. Then set off along N24 took first left, worked our way to Ardfinnan on R665 then up and over the Knockmealdown Mountains, initially via a side road then joined the R668 over the pass and down to Lismore, a lovely town with a large castle and lots of elegant buildings. The video above is a bit poor, I only had my very basic phone camera, and I mixed up Wexford and Waterford, we are, of course, entering County Waterford! Guy put me off by laughing all the way through. But the pass is just as shown – lovely rounded mountains. Then down the N72 to Tallow then along R628 to Rathcormack then R614 all the way to Cork, a quiet route in. Found the hostel by noticing the church with the fish above the tower. Ate at Wetherspoons! The weak pound means that Wetherspoons was a great choice – cheap enough for Brits… Cork is a partying sort of place. We did try the Franciscan Well Brewery – city centre prices and very crowded. We asked a local where he would drink and he said, of course, ‘not in the town centre, I’d go to my favourite local out of the centre and pay less…’

O'Donovans Castle near DrimoleagueFriday 28th June 2019 From Cork (Shandon House Hostel) to Drimoleague, about 47 miles. We decided to go south across town and leave Cork via the little lane that joins Cork to R589. It might have been wiser to use the River Lee valley immediately to the west of Cork. It was tricky finding the little lane since there’s now a huge dual carriageway taking the N24 (?) west. We found the road eventually by doing a bit of cycle land alongside the new dual carriageway. Lots of traffic getting out of Cork too. The R589 reached Bandon and then the R586 got us to Drimoleague. Lunch was by the river (Bandon) in Ballineen – Guy glimpsed a bit of green down a side street. Friendly little dog sat with us for lunch. Great flower beds and a living willow tunnel in the making (I tied a bit back together that had come undone).Drimoleague has a Supervalu and so we stocked up and went up the the Top of the Rock campsite. Great secluded camping spot for us. Did a riverside walk along a mini version of the Ingleton waterfalls walk. Much smaller but very beautiful. Orchid spotted (haha). Kitchen allows for tea making so soaked in tea again as at the Apple Farm. My caffeine levels are OK again. The picture is actually from the next day – but it’s visible from the campsite on the other side of the valley. It belonged to the O’Donovans. Evidently the clan still meet here because there was a memorial to the millennium get together. I think the castle may have been knocked down by the O’Sullivans, the other big local clan. We saw an O’Sullivan castle the next day…

Coming up towards the Healey PassSaturday 29th June From Drimoleague to Adrigole, about 65 miles. A farm visit was in progress when we left, small children were guessing the age of oak trees (older than they thought), petting orphaned goslings, looking at the curious mix of goats, a calf and sheep that all grazed in a friendly manner in a field. Back route to Bantry via the ruined castle of the O’Donovans. Then tried to find back route to Killeal and found ourselves back on the route we came in on, so pushed along the main N road to Ballylickey, saw an O’Sullivan castle, then up to Killeal on the R road. Then through the Borlin valley though we almost got lost but a car pulled over and put us right (we were heading to her farm and beyond that were only footpaths). Borlin valley had a little col then a ruddy big col, so slow going. Must have been nigh on 1700′ at the top. Met a cycling club coming up as we were going down. Down to Kilgarvan where at the shop at the filling station we met Manfred from Germany who had cycled from Tipperary though accompanied by too much traffic owing to a closure of the N road from Tipperary. Yes, the R569 was ridiculously busy, tediously busy. Into Kenmare which didn’t have a food shop that we could see (must be one somewhere there) though a lovely touristy town, quaint pubs etc. Then Lauragh via a little col, then over the bigger Healey pass, excellent if occasionally drizzly. Great views of mtns c. the size of Cader Idris, and lakes and sea. The photo is from before Lauragh, a climb which gave great views over a lake, sparkling in the sun between the clouds. Then we went to see level at Lauragh and then over the Healey Pass. Arrived at campsite (Hungry Hill at Adrigole, not as nice as our last two campsites but more expensive tho’ does have a kettle so lots of tea) rather late at about 8.30pm. Shops closed (Pegs Shop) but we had a lot of food left.

Healey Pass

Sunday 30th June From Adrigole to Ballylickey (Eagle’s Point Camping) via the Ring of Beara – about 63 miles. Peg’s shop opens at 9am at weekends so we had an excuse to have a lie in. All the more sensible after yesterday’s late arrival. Got going at about 11am to Castletownbeare then over the spine of the island to start doing a ring around the tip of Beara. A bit cool and drizzly. Surprisingly hilly for a coast road – had lunch at a tiny beach, I paddled in a mild sea, tide coming in. Around to Allehies then further round to Castletownbeare. Was now about 4.45pm so shopped at Supervalu and hurried on. Back through Adrigole and then on to Glengarriff then on the N71 (quiet now at 7pm) to Ballylickey. Saw a fair number of tourers doing the ring of Beara. A Dutchman was doing Cork to Dingle then down the various fingers and back to Cork, he’d travelled from Kenmare that day and was camping at Allehies (saw his tent later by the beach there). Now snoozing in the large and pleasant campsite at Eagle’s Point. I didn’t seem to take photos today! The weather was a bit iffy, so the photo is from the top of the Healey Pass, yesterday.

Monday 1st July 2019 From Eagle’s Point to Barley Cove Caravan and Camping, about 50 miles. Mostly a very sunny day. We went down to Bantry on the relatively quiet N71, shopped ready for the remoteness of the Sheep’s Head peninsula. Went around the Sheep’s Head – just the ring that goes through Kilcrohane, though there’s evidently lots more beyond. A Dutch driver with wife and child in the car asked if a road went beyond our ring to reach nearer the end. Odd, no map! He looked at ours. And set off down a little lane that looked like i would get him a few miles nearer the end of the peninsula. Sat nav must have reached its limit. Then from Kilcrohane to Ahakista (sounds greek) then Durrus then the R591 towards Mizen. Via Toormoor (yes, we should), Goleen, then took the short route towards Mizen, but took the turning across a causeway for Barley Cove Caravan & Camping. Passed two gorgeous beaches before reaching the campsite. Pitched and then went to Mizen Head. Not the most spectacular headland, though a view of the Fastnet lighthouse enlivened it. The shop and a special viewing bridge were closed (7pm or so). Lots of photos, then back to campsite. I swam in the sea at the sandy beach very near the campsite – pretty cold. I had seen a head out in the sea, thought it was a seal then saw it was human. A German lady, retirement age, who when I later spoke to her said how warm the sea was, she swims throughout the year… The sea temperature made my local beach at Wiseman’s Bay seem positively tropical. The fall off from here to deep water is quick…. The video is from the Goat’s Pass on the Sheep’s Head peninsula, and note that when I said Berea, I meant Beara. We cycled through Berea, but it was in the USA…

Mizen HeadTuesday 2nd July 2019 From Barley Cove to Skibbereen (Hideaway Campsite). We set off initially to Crooktown – on the way there saw a memorial to Marconi who used a nearby headland to communicate with Poldhu in Cornwall and prove that although the curvature of the earth means straight line (line of sight, so to speak) communication is not possible between those two points nonetheless communications could be sent – over the horizon communication was after all possible! Hoorah, but why does it work?Though not known at the time, the signals bounce off the ionosphere so it works. Reminded us of Orford Ness and the project for over the horizon radar.

Most Southerly Pub in IrelandWe sped on to Crooktown where we saw the most southerly pub in Ireland, plus hordes of children getting into boats. Looked like a lot of fun! It is school hols already here (yes, 3 months of holiday, must be difficult to go back after that…). Then on through Goleen and then Toormoor (again) and then Schull (lunch in a car park but lots of flowers) Ballydehob(nob) where we ate a commemorative biscuit. Then on to the N71 which wasn’t so very busy and along the 16 kms to Skibbereen. We arrived at the campsite and put the tent up then cycled to Baltimore (13kms away) – even more children getting out of even more boats, so picturesque and very boatie. Ice cream on the quay then back to Skibbereen for dinner. We chatted to a man from Hull who had come to Skibbereen for the Rudge motorbike gathering, and stayed on for a few days. Rudges ceased production, apparently, back in 1939 when the factory was requisitioned. Lidl provided two irish beers – both surprisingly good (Crafty Beer Co Red, and their stout too). But €1.89 (we’re used to the Tesco and Sainsbury’s £1.50, but the pound is undervalued just now…).

St Patrick and St GeorgeWednesday 3rd July 2019 From Skibbereen to Kinsale (Dempsey’s Hostel) – about 50 miles. By the end of play yesterday there were two long distance cyclist’s tents, plus another tent where they arrived by car but were doing bike rides, plus the Rudge enthusiasts (who were impressive by their commitment to a bike that ceased production 80 years ago!). Everybody got going earlier than us but we weren’t much behind. The motorbikers had a problem with a clutch lever and set off for a garage. Hope they got the Rosslare Ferry in the afternoon. We set off for Castletownsend, where we knew Somerville and Ross lived back in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. We saw the church where Edith Somerville was organist for seventy years, and her grave next to the grave of her fellow writer and close friend Violet Martin Ross. Together they wrote the Memoirs of an Irish RM. The stained glass was wonderful. Two of the many marvellous characters of the old Anglo Irish. The churchyard contained a ginko biloba, unusual, I’ve one in a pot but they do get rather big. The picture is of the stained glass of St Patrick and St George, separated by a bit of Irish Sea. Then on to Unionhall (mackerel pate factory) then Leap, then Ross Carbery (large spider spotted with a curious sack underneath, unfortunately spotted when exploring my arm). then Clonakilty for lunch, which we ate in a park by the cathedral. Then onto the R600 through Timoleague (tremendous abbey ruins) then around a very pretty bay, the road at the waterside, some cycling tour group with a sag wagon overtook us (their bikes were probably a third the weight of ours, no bags, etc), then inland a bit to Ballinspittle, then the traffic increased severely and we arrived in Kinsale. Pretty, touristy, crowded. We hauled up at Dempsey’s Hostel. The wild-ish garden outside was lovely – evening primroses, a sprawling rosemary, roses, evergreen bushes.

Charles FortThursday 4th July 2019 From Kinsale to Clonvilla Caravan & Camping (nr Youghal). Left the hostel at about 10.30am after discussing music (folk), travels, bike riding with the hostel manager. She was more well travelled than us since one of her former jobs was that of an air hostess. Set off but got a bit side tracked by Charles Port which is a Vauban style massive pointy fort to keep out the French. American tourist: ‘I know I said I wanted to do this honey but frankly I need some downtime!’… Got us going saying ‘I need downtime!’. Then we set off to Belgooly and then Carrigaline and then Passage West where we got the ferry across the River Lee. Heron standing by the ferry landing. Then went to Cobh (pron. Kobe) where we saw the spot where millions (well something less than 3m) left for America. The railway station for America was there. Also the last place the Titanic called at before sinking – the port used to be called Queenstown. Then via Belvelly and the backroad near Barryscourt Castle to Midleton (traffic heavy on main road, so this neatly avoided the N25). Nice flowers in Midleton but heavy traffic. Then off to Cloyne then R629 to Shanagarry (Sharon and Garry?) where the tide was high so we stopped moving on and I swam. Sea warm but lower rather cold layers kept swirling up. Also not that clear but clear enough to see little white disks – jellyfish – here and there, not huge numbers. Nice view of Ballycotton and its two islands, one with a lighthouse. Then on until Guy spotted Clonvilla a bit earlier than we had expected since it is 11kms to Youghal where we planned to shop. Pitched up and went 2 kms back to Ballymacoda as a coda to the day’s cycling. Small shop so just milk and cereals, no beer. I’m afraid we just ate linguine (done in the microwave!) with salad dressing. We had eaten pasta at the hostel – excellent kitchen and even had pots of herbs (mint and basil used) for guests. There was a lady cyclist staying, just starting (third day) a big trip doing the coast of Ireland by bike. England, Wales and Scotland already done. I think she must be a school teacher. If only she had a blog I could read….

St Declan's OratoryFriday 5th July 2019 From Clonvilla to Tramore (Newtown Cove Caravan & Camping). About 53 miles. Through Youghal, with picturesque clock town and harbour (where we sat and stared at the shoals of small fish) and the location for some of the scenes (in a pub) of the John Huston and Gregory Peck film version of Moby Dick (which had the great Alan Villiers managing the Pequod, the whaling ship) and where Youghal stood in for New Bedford. Then onto the N25 until the turning for Ardmore. Ardmore is mostly about St Declan – an earlier christianizer of Ireland than Patrick – apparently they met. There are church ruins, his little cell and, on the shore, his retirement spot – another smaller church and a place of pilgrimage. The round tower, a place of safety for people and precious books and chalices, etc, is wonderfully tall. Then from Ardmore to Dungarvan following the coast road through Loskeran, with great views over Dungarvan as you approach the town. Dungarvan was a rather late lunch. Once again a harbour, and a castle. Then out on the Stradbally road. A quiet route – coinciding with a european cycle route following the coast, marked as route 1. Past old copper mines (this coast is called The Copper Coast). Eventually into Tramore and found the campsite – a family seaside hols sort of place and a bit of a shock after the quiet of Clonvilla. Curious that the rules said all sorts of thing – no cycling, no football except where designated, etc – that were simply ignored. Why have the rules then? We did cycle… a kettle and a microwave were very useful. We arrived so late (8pm) that exploring was put off to tomorrow. The photo is of St Declan’s Oratory, the oldest bit of that site.

Lafcadio Hearn Japanese GardenSaturday 6th July From Tramore to IOAC Camping, Tagoat, near Rosslare. About 40 miles. There were two things to do in Tramore after we got going at about 10am, the first was to see the Guillamene swimming cove. It is near the Newtown Cove Campsite. There were people already swimming so I decided to try it out. And yes, the water is quite cold being a cove and deep enough to dive in from the diving platform. I walked down the steps and gave myself a couple of minutes to get used to the temperature, a little bit numbing at first but then OK. Then I tried jumping off the diving platform which is excellent. Slightly unusual for indoor swimmers is the fact that it is hard to judge the depths because you are diving into a deep cove with weed at the bottom, but several people had dived head first before me so it was evidently fairly deep, looked to be probably 10+ feet deep. Great and very popular with locals. Then, secondly we went to the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens. Mr Hearn was a translator of Japanese back in Victorian times. Irish born, he lived mostly in Japan, though childhood hols brought him to Tramore. The garden is impressive, still very much developing (founded in 2012), and well worth a visit for 5€. Plenty to read for free on Gutenberg, so go and read some Lafcadio now! By now we were running late so we hurtled towards East Passage, getting onto some quiet back roads. Then after the ferry we headed for Tintern Abbey – sister to the abbey in Monmouthshire. Fascinating history, including a Staffordshire name – Colclough – and the dissolution. Then on to Wellingtonbridge then Tagoat, where once again we camped at the IOAC and ate veggie food from the nearby Chinese take-away. Ah, but with lovely Irish Milk Stout. Catching the ferry at 8am tomorrow so early night….

Tintern Abbey, County WexfordSunday 7th July 2019 We did about 18 miles today, to the ferry was about 3, and then from the ferry we did about another 15. The most memorable thing was an Irish man of Polish origin (I think) and his two boys setting off from Pembroke Dock to do various bits of England and mostly by bike (a bit by train). They had wonderful multicoloured cycling jerseys, and I recognised a Raleigh bike ridden by one of the boys – an classic Raleigh. They were aiming for 60kms per day, which is a very decent mileage for the under 12s. Other than that, we saw, as going out, Grassholm, various wonderful offshore bits of Pembrokeshire, and a pleasant ride through some lanes. Pembroke Dock seemed a bit seized up with traffic. The photo is of the Irish (County Wexford) Tintern Abbey that’s a sister of the one in Monmouthshire.

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Sunflowers and Sand

Claret SunflowerThe sunflowers, far from being eaten by the slugs as I had expected, have rocketed up and are starting to flower. Most of them are multi-headed red ones – ‘Claret’. They are about five or six feet at the moment.

The sea down the road is now warm enough to swim in quite comfortably – though Wiseman’s is a fairly rocky beach. It seems best on the right hand side where the sand is heaped up against a rock outcrop. It’s lovely to swim there as the tide comes in over warm sand – though the surf break that’s said to appear at high tide has not worked for ages. Mainly a winter phenomenon.

I’ve been reading Jacques Ellul La raison d’être – a meditation (not a commentary, not verse by verse) on the rather gloomy book of the Bible called Ecclesiastes. Ellul comments that this is his last book – and he was an elderly man when he wrote it. This echoes Ecclesiastes in that the biblical book feels rather like someone trying to make sense of their life and not finding much. Ellul’s interpretation is, as usual, fascinating. Where many commentators find a rather rough assemblage of texts, with pious later additions (the book is mostly rather bleak – life is generally vanity, justice uncommon, all hopes of leaving something worthwhile foolish, etc, so more traditional pious statements look questionable), Ellul finds something dialectical – we are led to see the hopelessness of life in order to get beyond trust in riches, work, politics, the future, conventional religiosity. And then we might find a rather bare ascetic sort of faith. Though at this stage of Jewish faith there was no belief in immortality so it’s a curious sort of this-worldly asceticism – the pleasures of eating, drinking, etc, are encouraged, since that’s your lot! But on the other hand there’s this desire to see things are bluntly and bleakly as honesty demands. It reads a little bit like a depressed man in old age, finding not a lot of value in his life. Ellul himself has always been thought rather bleak and he is famous for his rejection of just about every obvious path out of the modern impasse (however defined!) so it’s natural that Ellul finds Ecclesiastes full of insight. Rather nice that such a bleak thing found it’s way into the Bible! Though it is a book that taken on its own presents a rather one-sided view of life, a view of life more from, perhaps, its conclusion than from its centre.

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Shiny Seas

Shiny Sea and Cloud, Wiseman's BridgeSpring has brought a nice combination of cloud and sun to the coast – as the photos show, great for glitter. The swell lines were also picked out by the sunlight, but there was almost no swell there to pick out, just smooth sea.

There had been a heavy rainstorm just before the photos – and that’s more evident in the picture lower down. Anyway, rather arty.

I read a review of The Uninhabitable Earth which recommended it so I bought it  on a cheap offer (6.99) – it’s a global warming ‘possible trajectories’ sort of book. So far, most interesting. Of course, it is very unlikely under any of the current scenarios that the earth would ever be uninhabitable, so the title is just hyperbole (or a sales gimmick). Two things stood out for me – one was the statement that 50% of all the carbon we’ve released has been in the last 30 years (wow, though that does cover the period of the rise of China, now the world’s biggest overall emitter, etc), the other was the hopelessness of the response so far (the book suggests that 3°C of heating is probably the most optimistic that we can now be). Most people are, perhaps, aware that 2°C has long been the limit of non-catastrophic climate change.

So much for the big points, the book is also good at getting at the finer detail of the difference between no warming, 2 degrees, 3 degrees and more. It points out one of the major dilemmas in tackling climate change – individuals generally won’t change their behaviour (get rid of the 4WD, walk to the shops, rarely catch a flight) because most people aren’t highly determined by an abstract or reflective view of  ‘what’s right’ but rather by what keeps up with the next door neighbours, amuses them, makes them feel OK, etc, so you’d think it was governmental action that would be key – but no government making the sort of actions we desperately need (fuel escalator set to high, flight taxes, carbon taxes, big subsidies for electric vehicles, more subsidies for public transport, etc) would get elected – prevented by these very same people. Evidently whatever policy would have to make sure that the poor don’t lose their access to transport while the rich can still afford to fill up, but it doesn’t look electable, especially given the gilets jaunes protests in Europe. All those modules I took in ethical theory were rather irrelevant, it turns out, most people don’t bother with ethics as such, whether utilitarian or of virtue, etc. Social solidarities and pragmatics seem far more important. Indeed, perhaps morality, as Nietzsche said, is just a Platonist / Christian thing and now getting long in the tooth. There are many curious psychological features of how people don’t deal with climate change – a rather too assertive and unevidenced denial, silly alternative theories (the ‘natural not humanly caused’ sort of thing), displacing the blame (‘it’s the governments job’), an smug assertion of inability to change anything in their lives (‘kids have to be taken to school’, etc).

Wiseman's Shiny SeaThe book has also pointed out the obvious oddity of people condemning their grandchildren, supposedly their beloved offspring, to a dangerous, perhaps lethal, world of super heatwaves, likely resource conflict and tropical diseases spreading north, just because they can’t give up frequent flights (though most people don’t fly that much, a few people fly very frequently) and are too lazy to walk to the shops…. Yes,  I know you, dear reader and member like me of the conscientious 10%, walk to the shops but most people don’t….

There is an obvious link between the shiny sea and global warming – the beach will mostly have disappeared even with just a couple of degrees of warming – well, 2°C will give us, eventually, six meters of sea rise according to footnotes 13 and 14 in the chapter on ‘drowning’. Well that would certainly mean, eventually (a bit after my lifespan I suspect since the sea level effect lags the temperature rise), no beach.

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Spring Tide Walks

low spring tide at the eastern end of Marros SandsAt low tide on the Spring Tide – occur at the equinoxes – it’s possible to walk on sand all the way to both Tenby in one direction and Pendine in the other. In both cases there are places where the gap between cliff and rock and sea is a mere few feet – even at low tide – so timing is important! It certainly gives you a different view of the coast walking on sand past headlands that are usual surrounded by water. The  narrow point in the Tenby direction is between Monkstone Point and Tenby North Beach, in the Pendine direction it’s just at the eastern end of Marros Beach (a wonderful and fairly remote two mile stretch of sand that has no road to it and is shut in at both ends by headlands). The picture shows the pinch point at the eastern end of Marros Beach – as you can see it isn’t possible to walk on sand even at low tide without wet feet and the water is deeper than you might think.

The low tide (0m) looks impressive – acres of usually seawater covered sand are revealed, including remains of old forests (because Carmarthen Bay was, until the end of the last ice age, wooded land) and a few hints of old wrecks (well, there’s apparently some bits of a schooner from the early Nineteenth Century at the eastern end of Marros Bay though there’s little enough now to see).

We walked to Pendine on sand and back along the new-ish Wales Coast Path – excellent, though quite hilly. The views over Marros Bay are impressive. A great place to escape the crowds for a quiet bathe on a hot summer’s day and a good place for a walk on a cool and drizzly one! The picture shows Marros Bay from the headland at the western end, the tide has now come in two thirds of the total amount. Those waves are very dribbly – the sand shelves very gently and I’d guess that it doesn’t produce a very good surfing wave, Amroth or Wiseman’s is a better bet I think. The headland is now impassible from sea level – though there are footpaths connecting the beach to the coast path so at the expense of a few hundred feet of climbing you can get out and in. Lots of violets and spring blossom. It’s a great place for gorse. Of course…

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Planting Fruit Trees, Herbs, etc

I planted five fruit trees today – there’s already a pear (that was crushed between clumps of bamboo, now liberated) and an old, and rather too high to harvest, apple. I wanted some favourites, but I also wanted a couple of Welsh varieties, something that might appreciate a good deal of rain. Although Pembrokeshire is sunnier than most of the UK, it is also wetter than most, and I’m not sure how the average apple tree will react. I guess they’ll be OK if the drainage is sufficient, which I reckon it is. So I’ve got a Bardsey apple (found in the ruins of a monastery on Bardsey – island off North Wales so well used to rain) and a Abergwyngregyn Damson – from the Menai Straits. They are maiden, one year old, trees. I’ve also got a Bountiful, a cooker/eater, just because I’ve seen that in my mum’s garden and it seems tough, productive and tasty. And I also got a Warwickshire Drooper, partly because of the name (!) but mainly because of the Plum Jam I got from Morville Hall Dower House garden last year – when I went to an open day. With both a funny name and a superb taste, plus an interesting drooping habit, it seems an obvious choice. Plus being a Midlander as I am, I liked the idea of something from the midlands. Oh, and a Doyenne de Comice pear, largely on the combined recommendations from Monty Don and Bob Flowerdew in their respective writings. Being maiden trees they aren’t going to fruit this year – they have no network of fruiting spurs – but delayed gratification is good for you.

I’m getting into planting herbs – the rosemary that sat in the yard in a tub for more than ten years has now got a place on a west facing wall, sheltered and in glorious sun, as it deserves. It’s just along from another rosemary that I took as a cutting from it a few years ago and itself has sat in a pot for a couple of years – already seems to be growing well (in Feb!) in its sunny spot. Thyme, parsley, salad burnet, winter savoury and germander are all in that same area, some in tubs. And the fruit bushes (redcurrants and blueberries) have gone in to their respective slots – blueberries in ericaceous compost tubs. Probably the birds will get them all… they are well located for netting them though.

I’ll add a photo soon. Ah have done. Hmm, the sticks look a bit big for the little trees – but they’ll do. The front one is the Bardsey and the back one is a Bountiful. Give it a year or two and I’ll post another one of them to show the changes.

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Just how far away is that dot on the sea’s edge…?

Snow on the GowerSnow on the Gower on a recent cold but clear day. This is only about 15 – 20 miles away – I didn’t imagine that it would be possible to see the coast of Devon from the coast of Pembrokeshire – but on a clear day you do get a bit of Devon and you can also see Lundy. This is only possible if you are on the cliff tops by Amroth – though from the beach you can see a very high bit of Exmoor, though you wouldn’t realise it unless you’d already seen the view from Amroth – it just looks like a very distant cloud or ship. They are certainly a long way off, but quite clear if there is decent visibility. I’ll try to get a picture sometime, my phone just produces an indistinct blur on the horizon.

Recently I’ve been doing a loop on my bike taking in Saundersfoot, Lamphrey (via National Cycle Route 4), Carew Castle, West Williamston, Cresswell Quay (a gorgeous location), and then more back lanes to Saundersfoot. A good winter ride. Cycle route 4 is a great route – certainly the bit around here – low traffic, quiet lanes, historic castles and some excellent cafe and pub possibilities. Google maps says it is about 25 miles, with about 1000′ of climbing (and so 1000′ of downhill too!). There’s usually other cyclists on this route – which is nice because after cycling the back lanes of Ilkley and Burnsall we got used to heaps of bike riders and it’s nice to see a few here too.

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Pembrokeshire Cycling, New Home

Camarthen Bay CloudAfter many a year in inner city Bradford, my job has recently come to an end and it seemed like a good time to move house to somewhere else, perhaps be a bit drastic (well, no, I haven’t moved to rural Slovakia or anything) so we’ve moved to Pembrokeshire. Quiet lanes, beaches, coastal walks, gorgeous woodland are a decent incentive, and if a job proves hard to get, well it is after all a great place to do nothing (oh, err, anyone want to employ, remotely (ah yes, VPN), a slightly used Java, etc, programmer, good with virtual learning environments, happy with databases, with Linux as standard?).

The wuthering will still go on since we’ve got more long distance cycling to do – Australia and the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier route both looks interesting, and lots more local rides to plan too. It has been rather wet but I’m trying to do a regular day where I cycle to the swimming pool and swim 2km, since it is 20km to the pool and back it turns out neatly to be 20km cycling and 2km swimming. On a short winter’s day with rain falling steadily that has proved to be about right! The area has plenty of castles, well that’s Wales for you, and so bike rides can easily incorporate romantic prospects – such as Laugharne Castle, Manorbier, Pembroke, etc. Since the coast is hilly, it’s possible to do a thousand feet of climbing just by going along the coast a bit and coming back. Great for the legs.

The photo is a view of Camarthen Bay with a nicely situated cloud. My phone camera is not that good, but in this case it has given a decent impressionism to the whole thing. Not much surf that day, but nicely glassy. The semi-circular line of rocks is interesting – it is marked on the tourist map of that bit of coast as volcanic, and it certainly looks like a wave of lava.

The one thing that’s very much missing is a decent folk club within walking distance. Anyone in Bradford should treasure the Topic Folk Club!

The various plants seen in the yard in Bradford are now located either here in Pembs or else at a staging post in Stoke-on-Trent. There seem to be enough to populate a decent sized garden so that they fitted into a yard in Bradford is impressive, though the neighbours called the yard ‘the jungle’ when it was at its height in Summer. The honeysuckles, clematis, jasmine and some assorted herbs remain in the borders of my old yard, so at least there’s a legacy of greenery to combat the gradual disappearance of habitats for birds in BD3.

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