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Now retired but busy still living..

Sunday 29 April 2012


Following the BPC weekend meet, Peter and I headed for Brockenhurst in the southern part of the New Forest. 
We left the Coombe Bissett site at about 11.00hrs and we had a wonderful ride down to Fordingbridge and out into the New Forest. 
There were lots of other cyclists out riding on the forest roads and the majority waved a greeting and the sun continued to shine. 

As we were riding along we were passed in both directions by lots of lovely Jaguar cars out on a Sunday club run, all members of the Jaguar Owners Club I think. 
I had read a leaflet at the Coombe Bissett campsite about a Jaguar event that was being run through the forest from the Beaulieu Motor Museum. 
We saw E-Types...420s....XJ6...XJS etc etc. 
If we hadn't been enjoying our ride so much I might have stopped and taken some pictures. 

Both Peter and I agreed that the ride through the forest was really enjoyable helped along by the fact that the sun continued to shine... Within a couple of hours we had arrived at the Brockenhurst site. 
By now the sky had clouded over and it was obvious that it was going to rain soon. 

The site manager told us that the sites in the forest were closed due to the rain of the past few days causing water logging on the pitches. 
However as we were on bikes and only had small tents he allowed us to pitch up. 
There was only one other camper on the site who was a regular visitor by all accounts and he was in a motorhome and was restricted to the gravel drive area due to the flooded pitches.
 By the time we had erected our tents - unloaded all our gear and covered our bikes the rain had started. 
Once the rain had begun it continued almost solidly for the next 40 hours. 
We managed to walk into Brockenhurst town later on the Sunday afternoon trying to dodge the rain as much as possible. 
We needed to get to a shop in order to top up our supplies and it was a good thing that we did considering what happened next.
The rain continued all night long...and it was heavy too. 
We had arranged to meet JD at the Lymington ferry port at midday on the Monday before going across to the Isle of Wight for a few days. 
Come the Monday morning it was still raining solidly and the forecast was for more of the same, with winds gusting up to sixty miles an hour. 

We had to make a decision.....do we continue with our plans or abandon. 
After all this was planned to be an easy spring touring trip not a challenge in wet and windy conditions. 
I spoke to JD on the phone and he felt that we would be better off cancelling the trip as the weather forecast was for more of the same and getting worse not better.
Peter and I agreed and decided that we would cancel our plans. 

We now had a minor problem as neither of us fancied packing the tents and all our gear away in the torrential rain and then cycling home in it - after all we were both warm and cosy in our tents and we had supplies with us so we stayed put...... it wasn't the first time that we have been tent bound on one of our trips together. 
So for the rest of the day we remained tent bound....listening to the radio...drinking coffee...and making a meal as well as sleeping and all the time it continued to rain. 

I had two views to look at - one was into the tents porch for cooking etc and the other was inside the inner tent all nice and bright orange. 
Being inside the inner of a Hilleberg Akto tent always makes you feel that it is a nice bright sunny day outside due to the orange material....only the constant sound of rain on the outer tent gave the game away.
At about 17.45hrs there was a slight break in the rain so we went up to see the site manager and let him know that due to the weather we would be staying an extra night. 
The manager refused payment for this extra night allowing us to stay free of charge...he realized that we were effectively being forced to stay by the bad weather and he agreed that it would have been madness to have tried to travel home in such bad conditions.
He checked out the weather forecast for us and showed us that the following day would be our best bet to make an escape. 
It was showing a break in the weather during the morning, so that was what we planned to do.....get away fairly early and try to get home before the next front of bad weather swept in. 
On the Tuesday morning the forecast seemed to be accurate as the rain had stopped and there was even some sunshine.

I left the site at just after 09.40hrs and managed to get home before the rain started again. I arrived home at 11.35 hours and within the hour the rain started to move in again. 
Peter left the site shortly after me and apparently the rain just started again as he arrived home.
A bit of a shame that our trip had to be cut short, but seeing how the weather has been since our return we are all agreed that we made the right decision.

Thursday 26 April 2012


Following my last post in which I mentioned the 'Sticky Bun' cafe which we visited during our recent BPC Dorset group weekend meet - I received a comment from Steve A in the USA requesting clarification on what exactly a sticky bun is. 
Steve wanted to know if it was anything like a Doughnut (Donut) to which I replied no, explaining that it was a currant bun covered in a very sticky white icing. 

Today I thought that it would be a good idea to go out and buy a couple of sticky buns...one for me and one for Steve...and post a picture on this blog so Steve could see exactly what 'his' sticky bun looks like. 
I don't know what the calorie content of these sticky little wonders is but I reckon that you would have to put in a good few miles on the bike to burn these babies off.!! 
Still Steve doesn't need any incentive to do that as he has just taken delivery of a new bike. 

I can't say that these buns are as good for you as they taste, in fact I think they are pretty destructive on your teeth.....the only people who benefit from the sale of these buns is the baker and your dentist. 
Anyway I will now be forced to eat both of these sticky buns, because if I was to send Steve his bun it would be stale by the time he received it......
Sorry Steve, but at least the thought was there.

Tuesday 24 April 2012


'Holy Man' John Yale
 The April weekend backpacking meet of the Dorset Group took place last weekend. 
We had planned to meet on the Friday at the Wolvercroft World of Plants at Aderholt which is a gardening nursery that has a C&CC listed site in it's grounds. 

I cycled over to the site on the Friday afternoon and despite the threat of rain I managed to get there before the rain started. 
Just as I cycled up their drive the heavens opened...I abandoned my bike against a large wooden plant container and headed for the 'Sticky Bun Cafe' that was situated on the site. 
Whilst I was drinking a large coffee, Brian and Jill Toalster also arrived and like me were seeking refuge from the rain in the cafe. 

Within the hour the rain had stopped and we were able to erect our tents. 
Shortly after, John Yale arrived and not long after that Graham Faithfull also appeared. 
Graham had walked the entire way from his home in Bournemouth but was still smiling as he greeted the rest of us. 

By now the rain had started again and was set in for the rest of the evening. 
At 1900hrs Peter Calcutt had still not arrived and I must admit that I was a little worried as I had expected  him to get to the site by 1700hrs. 

It was now tipping it down and Peter finally arrived at about 2015hrs soaked to the skin. He had left home much later than he had expected to and then he had a slight problem finding the site with the bad weather not helping. Nothing worse than riding a bike along country roads in the pouring rain when it's dark but at least he had arrived safely.

The next morning the sun was out and it was a rather nice start to the day. 
Before  dropping the tents, we went for a full English breakfast at the on site cafe....very good it was to. 
Unlike our last meet when we had over twenty members attend, our numbers on this weekend were well down with only the six of us attending the first night. 
I think the threat of bad weather had put most people off which was a great pity. 

When we got back from breakfast John took up his usual position in his tent with the doors held open with his walking poles. 
Whenever I see John in his tent like this (see top picture) it always reminds me of some of the Holy men I have seen  up in the hills in Northern Nepal and Tibet. 
They sit under a canopy that looks very similar to John's tent and people visit them for words of wisdom and advice. 
The local people bring them food and do simple tasks for them and John seems to have adopted a similar kind of lifestyle when he's away on his walking trips. 
He even got Jill to wipe the rain water from his tent.....

I was just about to take a picture of him in the tent with Jill acting as one of his followers and wiping his tent when he saw the camera. Not wanting to be seen in his tent with Jill doing all his chores, he jumped out of his tent pretty sharpish. Look at the top shot and then at the second image....yes the second image shows Jill doing John's chores and the shadows give it all away....one of the shadows is mine and the other belongs to John hoping to avoid being seen.
Peter not wanting to be left out of all the religious goings on decided to hang up all his wet clothes in an attempt to emulate Tibetan Prayer flags. 

By 10.00hrs the walkers had set off for the next site at Coombe Bissett near Salisbury. 
Peter and I stayed at the site for a couple more hours as we were not under any time pressure to get away. 
Because more heavy showers were forecast for the afternoon we had decided that we would cycle straight to the Coombe Bissett site.....normally we would have taken a long route and made a day ride of it, but with more rain on the horizon the quick and direct route seemed to be the favoured choice. 

Peter and I arrived at the Summerlands Caravan Park at Coombe Bissett within 45 minutes of leaving the Alderholt site.....the walkers of course took a good few hours longer. 
Just after we arrived and erected the tents the showers started again. 

When we had arrived at the site we saw a dark green Subaru Forester parked up and we realized that Bill Williams had come down from Gloucester to spend a night camping with us. 
The walkers finally arrived at about 16.30hrs and the rest of the evening was spent with lots of friendly banter and conversation that is so typical at a BPC camping weekend.
The next morning we woke up again to bright sunny weather but with the threat of heavy rain later. 

Brian and Jill were first away as they wanted to visit somewhere near Salisbury before heading the rest of the way home. 
Bill Williams was next and he was planning on visiting Old Sarum before heading back to Gloucester. 
Graham and John broke camp next with John actually wiping his tent down himself this time. 

That just left Peter and I to drop our tents and head off to the Southern part of the New Forest where we planned to meet JD on the Monday morning.........but I will tell you about that in my next post.

Thursday 19 April 2012


Lots and lots of April showers....that's been the continuing story of living and cycling on the Dorset coast this past week. 
My mileage has fallen back a bit but I am still ahead of my goal for this time of the year, so no real concern for the annual target through not riding quite as often over the past ten days....

The Doctor did phone me regarding the tests.....but they were inconclusive, so he has arranged for my oncology tests to be brought forward again...... in the meantime I have said to hell with it all and I am going cycling.

I am off to another weekend Backpackers club camp. 
I will meet up with Peter Calcutt on the Friday evening at Alderholt near Fordingbridge where we will be camping at a garden centre of all places. 
On the Saturday we will move on to another site at Coombe Bissett near Salisbury.....
We of course will be cycling whilst most of the other club members will be walking and judging from the weather forecast our constant companion could well be rain.. 

On Sunday Peter and I will head off to a camp site in the New Forest because on Monday morning we will be meeting up with JD at the Isle of Wight ferry at Lymington. 
Our plan is to go over to the IOW for a few days of easy cycle camping. 
We should get back home in about a weeks time. 

I will NOT be blogging from my mobile phone whilst away as I am still having trouble getting to grips with the BLOGGER APP....however I will do a bit of a review of our little trip including the Backpackers club meet when I get back. 
So that just leaves me to hang up the sign..................
                   ~ GONE CYCLING ~

Sunday 15 April 2012


 After a few weeks of weather that was more like the middle of June, Easter week has finally given us some rain. 
The above picture is the view I had from the east wing of Purple Towers looking across to the Isle of Wight on a number of days this week. 
As well as the rain the temperature has dropped by quite a lot as well. 

We really needed the rain as a number of water companies have introduced a hosepipe ban stating that we face drought conditions and I must admit that a number of the streams in the locality have dried up completely. 
Reservoirs are well below their normal level for this time of year and we are told that we would need a good few weeks of solid rain in order to bring them back up to normal levels. 
As far as cycling goes I prefer riding when its dry, so this past week has involved a fair bit of rain dodging.
On Saturday evening Peter Calcutt phoned me and suggested  a Sunday ride as the weather forecast was for some dry and sunny weather. 
This morning I set off for Peter's house with the sun shining and a nice blue sky. 
By the time I got to Peter's, the cloud was starting to build up and it felt quite chilly. 

Peter had planned a circular route out from his house at Blandford Forum with a proposed coffee stop at Compton Abbas airfield.  
With the strong winds we experienced the airfield proved to be the closest we came on the ride to 'flying along'. 
At one point zooming down a very exposed 20% hill, the strong gusty cross winds proved to much causing us to both brake sharply in order to scrub off the speed and remain upright.
 Compton Abbas airfield is situated on an airy ridge a few miles south of Shaftesbury. 
The wind up there was bitterly cold and the temperature wasn't helped by the fact that the sun had all but disappeared behind a sky full of cloud. 

Following a quick cup of coffee and a brief look as some of the aircraft we were back on the bikes and following a popular route through the pretty Tarrant villages.
We have cycled that route quite a few times and it never becomes boring.
Once we reached the 'True Lover's Knot' public house most of our ride was completed. 
Within a few more miles we were back at Peter's where we managed to warm up  with another steaming hot mug of coffee.
Apart from the very cold weather, it was a very enjoyable ride with a couple of nice steep ascents that did help to warm us up a little.
Further to my last posting regarding the medical tests that I had.....

Well I should have contacted the Doctor during the week for the results, but I kept putting it off. By the time Friday had come around I figured that if the tests had unearthed something nasty the Doctor would have been on the phone to me pretty quickly.....as he didn't phone me I felt that all was probably OK. 

Having said that I will be phoning the Doctor tomorrow just to confirm my assumption......as long as I don't put it off again.

Friday 6 April 2012


Following the great backpacking weekend that I had with other members of the Backpackers Club, Monday was a bit of a bump back to earth. 

For the last few weeks I have been experiencing a certain amount of pain and discomfort in my lower right hand side although as you can see from my mileage counter it hasn't stopped me riding my bike and putting the miles in. 
However given my medical history over the last three years, as it wasn't improving it was something that I couldn't ignore, so a couple of weeks ago I visited my doctor. He organised some pain killers and arranged for me to have some tests and scans. 
I was due to have my regular six monthly check and an appointment with my Consultant Clinical Oncologist in a few weeks time, but that has now been put back until after this current problem has been investigated. 

Anyway,  on Monday morning I set off to the hospital to have the various tests etc. 
As I said, a bit of a bump back to earth. 
I won't know the results till sometime next week but it has already caused problems....

JD and I were due to set off for France in two weeks time for a spot of cycle touring and this will not now be taking place. 
If I do have a problem I don't really want to be in France till it all gets sorted and then there is the issue of being able to get adequate travel insurance which can be problematic to say the least if you have serious health issues. 

It's not just me either...JD has been having problems associated with his one remaining kidney (he donated his other one to his daughter a few years ago) and he is scheduled to have some tests, so we made the decision to cancel the trip........
It all goes to support what I have always said.....if you have something that you would like to do, don't keep on dreaming about it just get on and do it, because you really don't know what's around the corner that could really stop you doing it altogether. 

Anyway, three months of the year have now gone and I have managed to reach a third of last years total mileage already. 
I am well on the way to reaching my 10,000 mile 2012 target  so I just hope that these latest health concerns don't get in the way...... 

I am going to have a short break over Easter but will be back again sometime next week....Enjoy your Easter everyone.

Monday 2 April 2012


 The Wiltshire Backpacking weekend went well.....although most of the route appeared to be in Dorset and not Wiltshire. 
Howard Kelly was the arranger for the weekend and apparently led the walk on the Saturday. 
I say 'apparently' because from the moment we set off from our starting point at Church Farm at Sixpenny Handley I didn't see him again till we arrived at our Saturday nights camp at Honeysuckle Homestead at Dinton. 
If you have ever seen a greyhound leave it's trap at the start of a race, well that was what Howard was like, with what the rest of us dubbed the 'Advance Party' as they disappeared from view.  
The rest of us formed the 'Rear Guard' and ambled along at a more relaxed pace.

The weekend had started on the Friday afternoon with club members starting to arrive from about 1300hrs. 
There were about twenty BPC members who arrived at Church Farm for this weekend event and as always it was good to meet up with old friends doing what we all enjoy.....walking and camping combined, or in other words 'backpacking'.

The plan was to walk about twelve miles to Dinton on the Saturday going via the Historic Fovant Military Badges. These are military badges carved into the chalk hillside at Fovant in Witshire. We then stayed at a Camping & Caravan Club certified site on the Saturday night returning to Sixpenny Handley on the Sunday by a slightly different route. 

A word of thanks must go to John Yale one of our Dorset group members, who had taken the trouble to plan a route for both days and took over as our 'Rear Guard' leader after the advance party had disappeared. 
The weather was dry all over the weekend with bright and sunny being the order of the day on the Friday and Sunday and a bit overcast on the Saturday. 

I would also mention that Graham Faithfull the Dorset groups new co-ordinator brought along two of his young sons for the weekend. 
I am not sure exactly how old they are, but I would guess some where around 10 -12 years old......anyway I would like to comment on how good they were as walking companions....carrying their own packs for the overnight camp they walked the 12 miles in both directions without a hint of a complaint. 
Wonderful to see future full blown Backpackers Club members of the future. 
Graham....they are a real credit to both you and your wife....  

I won't try and cover everything that happened over the weekend.....I'll just say that as always it was a total enjoyment....I have included a few of the photos I took over the weekend just to give you a flavour of the event.










Six weeks off.

 The visit to see the Consultant went quite well really ...   My ' numbers' have started to creep up again so I am going to be given...