Thursday, 8 December 2016

Ups and Downs......

Since we have been at our 'over winter pitch' we have had some pretty good weather... It has certainly been a lot nicer than when we were here last winter....

Yes we have had some strong winds...rain....mist and fog.... as well as some icy conditions but in the main it has been pretty good for getting out on the bike...

Before my latest medical hiccup I was managing to get out for a ride on a regular basis....
Mind you it can be pretty hard going....
Down here in the Dartmoor area of Devon it is all ups and downs... You are either cycling uphill or going downhill...there are hardly any stretches of real flat roads at all.

I remember when I cycled Lands End to John o' Groats a few years ago everyone in our team agreed that the Devon section was the hardest and riding around the local lanes has brought it all back to me...

Within just a couple of miles of our campsite there are a number of climbs in excess of 17% as well as a couple hitting the 25% mark...
As if that wasn't enough the road that passes the campsite is part of a climb listed in Simon Warren's book '100 Greatest Cycling Climbs'. The climb can be found on page 31 of the book and is titled 'Rundlestone'.... Simon rates it as 7/10. 

All the climbs in the book are tough, therefore 1/10 equals hard and 10/10 equals 'it's all you can do to keep your bike moving'....
This means of course that it is a great area for training and improving your hill climbing abilities....
As soon as I can... I hope to be back out on the bike and attempting to do just that.....

Great Cycling Weather...Great Cycling Country...


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Static over Winter...

It has been about a month since my last post on this blog but I have had two good reasons...

We have moved to our winter seasonal site which means that we will not be moving on again until next April.... 
However since we arrived the site has had ongoing internet problems with engineers working up poles etc trying to restore the service.... A few days ago the problem was finally sorted allowing me to make this post...

As well as that I had a bit of a medical scare... I won't go into all the boring details but it does mean I need to have a MRI scan and some further treatment....
How long this will take is difficult to say but hopefully it will all be sorted before we plan to head off again next spring.....

As I have not had reliable internet access for a month I need to catch up on all my favourite blogs as well as making a few more posts here at the purpletraveller blog....
If you have wondered why I have not visited your blog for a while I hope that the above answers that question and I should visit you soon....

Below are a couple of images that were taken as we left our last touring site of the year before  
arriving  here at our winter static site...



Friday, 4 November 2016

Destination Meldon Viaduct....

One of the walks we took just a few days after arriving back down in Devon was along the Granite Way from Okehampton station.
We parked the car in the station car park and had only been walking the way for about half a mile when we saw a cyclist approaching us who looked familiar...

As the rider got up to us Anne said "it's Bill".....
She was right..
It was Bill Turnbull a South African guy who we met last year on our winter pitch at Tavistock..
He had been touring for a couple of years and had decided to overwinter at the Tavistock site just like us...
Being a keen cyclist we had a common interest and we used to exchange cycling magazines and spend hours chatting about the cycling scene....

Due to some health issues Bill decided in the spring that he would have to change lifestyle and give up the touring life... I remember when he had to sell his motorhome he was really upset... He loved the freedom of the road and enjoyed his touring life very much... It really was a major wrench for him to give it all up...
He acquired a flat in Okehampton and I remember him telling me that the best thing about it was that it even had a bike shed....

Anyway.. seeing him cycling along the Granite way  was a pleasant surprise and we spent sometime catching up with each others lives....

After we had finished chatting with Bill he carried on with his ride and we set off again on our walk...... our destination was Meldon Viaduct....
The walk itself there and back is only about six miles but it is a really pleasant walk with some lovely views....

Meldon Viaduct is a Truss Bridge that used to carry the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) across the West Okement River at Meldon near Okehampton on Dartmoor in Devon.
The bridge was constructed from wrought iron and cast iron and was built under the direction of LSWRs chief engineer W.R.Galbraith.
The  dual-tracked bridge took three years to build and was opened to rail traffic in 1874.
The viaduct had an axle load limit and as such was limited to certain classes of locomotive.

Regular services were withdrawn in 1968 but the bridge continued to be used for shunting by a local quarry. 
In the 1990s the remaining track was removed and the crossing is now used by the Granite Way...a long distance cycle track that runs across Dartmoor.....

The viaduct is one of only two such surviving railway bridges in the UK that uses this type of cast and wrought iron construction.

Below are some images of Meldon Viaduct that I took during our walk....






Sunday, 23 October 2016

I Should Keep My Mouth Shut....

Just before we left Dorset I was out on the bike for a morning ride when I achieved another first......
I had just got to the top of quite a steep hill and was a bit out of breath when out of the corner of my eye and in a split second I saw it zooming in on me.....
One of these fellas was heading my way...and at speed.

These Fellas Can Cause Some Pain...
 Yes...it was a wasp.... In the blink of an eye it had gone into my mouth and stung me on the back of the throat....
It caused me to stop riding my bike as quickly as it had stung me....

Bearing in mind the bad reaction that I have when I get bitten by midges and similar insects I was obviously concerned that I might have a similar reaction to the wasp sting....

I have been stung by wasps a couple of times before and I have never had an adverse reaction to the sting ...but this was the first time I have ever been stung in my throat.... I managed to cough up and spit out my attacker without it managing to sting me again. 

My main concern was that my throat would swell up and make breathing and swallowing difficult..... I had a drink from my bottle and waited for about ten minutes.....
Yes my throat did swell to some extent and it was very painful and the pain became worse when I swallowed but after the ten minute wait it did not feel like it was getting any worse so I remounted my bike and continued my ride.....

It was about three days before the pain and soreness had gone......
A lesson learned here.... In future I will keep my mouth shut..!!

Next.....

We had only been at our first campsite in Devon for about three hours when I got bitten on the back of my left leg by a large dog......
I have met this dog a number of times over the past eighteen months and he has never attempted to bite me before... but on this occasion he obviously took a dislike to me and showed his displeasure of my company with his teeth.

I recieved about eight punture wounds on my leg and my leg was also quite badly bruised....
This all happened a week ago and the bruising on my leg is still very painful....

As these sort of things seem to happen in threes... I am now wondering what the third thing will be..... 
Will I get trampled on by Deer or maybe I will be attacked by Wild Boar.....
If I manage to survive my next attack I will post the details here on the purpletraveller blog.....
Dog Bite on my Left Leg....

Monday, 17 October 2016

Six Weeks in Dorset and Now Moved On......

Our six week stay in Dorset has now come to an end and we have re-located back to Devon...
We will be here in  Okehampton for a couple of weeks and will then move on to Tavistock....

Our stay in Dorset was the usual mix of medical check-ups...... car service & MOT and catching up with family. 
My Daughter and my two Grandsons all have their birthdays in early October so it is always a pretty busy time of year.....
However we still managed to fit a lot into the six weeks and did a fair bit of walking and I also covered a good few miles cycling around some of my old regular training loops.... 

I had hoped that some of my old cycling mates would have been able to join me on one or two rides but sadly that was not to be.....
A few of us managed to meet up for a drink during my second week near Wimborne but as they are all still working for a living they never seem to have much spare time...... 

I am so glad that I have left the pressure of work far behind....... Not being able to call my life and time my own has never sat comfortably with me....
That has been the real bonus of our full timing adventure....... every moment of our lives is our own..... we are not selling any chunks of our time to anyone else and every day belongs to us......

This time of year really is a great season to go both walking or cycling..... The changing colours of the trees is magical and this Autumn we have had some wonderful sunny days which just serve to make those colours even more vibrant.........

One morning Anne and I woke up and decided that it was a day just made to go picking blackberries....so that is what we did......... spent the day picking blackberries...

It brought back a memory of when I was about six or seven years of age and picking blackberries on the Isle of Portland with my Father........
Funny how things that we do ...see ...or smell......years after an event can awaken a memory buried deep in our minds by the passage of time..........

Below are just a few pictures taken on a couple of our woodland walks during our stay in Dorset.......

Woodland walk near the campsite....


Ealy Morning in the Woods....

Blackberries....some ready for picking.




Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Purton Hulks....

When we were at our last campsite at Slimbridge Gloucestershire we visited the Purton Hulks Ship Graveyard......It really is a fascinating place....
The Purton Hulks form the largest ships graveyard in the UK.

It started back at the beginning of the 20th century when a number of hulks were beached to help shore up the bank between the Gloucester and Sharpness canal and the River Severn which was in danger of being breached....

There are currently approximately 80 old ships and barges to be found along the riverbank at Purton.....
Many of these old ships are unique examples in the UK maritime record and before our very eyes they are being destroyed by both human and natural forces....

There is quite an eerie atmosphere about the place and if you ever get the chance to visit the area a visit to Purton should be on your list.....

In the meantime and just in case you don't get to visit the hulks I have posted below a few of the images I took during our visit.....










This Plinth lists a number of the Ships and Barges to be seen.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Touching Base....

The eagle eyed among the regular visitors to this blog might well have noticed that I am currently back in my home area...
The post box numbers shown in my last post were the give away as BH**** are the first two letters of a Bournemouth area post code....

Anne and I have been back in the area for the past two weeks.....
It's been great to catch up with my Daughter and Husband and my Grandsons and also see the latest improvements to their house that they have been involved with....

The car went back to my favourite garage for it's annual MOT and service and I have also managed to get out on my bike and pedal around some of my old cycling loops in the area....
Out on one of my old cycling loops
Talking about my cycling...... I have struggled a bit this year with energy and breathing problems.....

When we were here last in the spring a medical check revealed that I had a faulty heart valve...
Apparently it is allowing some of the blood to flow back into the heart rather than be pumped fully around the body.... This has cause me to have moments of slight breathlessness as well as a lack of power and energy....

Obviously as you can see from the picture above it hasn't stopped me getting out on the bike but it is something that needs to be investigated further.
During our stay in the area over the following few weeks I am booked in for a number of medical tests to determine what should be done to sort the problem..... as soon as I know more I will let you know here on the blog.....

Friday, 9 September 2016

Post Boxes- Not Just One But Three

After my last post in which I featured a Penfold Post Box Peter Roberts left a further comment giving me the challenge of finding a Fluted Post Box.....

Not being one to pass on a challenge today I went out on a Post Box hunt...
As with any challenge it is always better to exceed the challenge and achieve just that little bit extra....
Below I have posted images of what I found......

Original Challenge- Victoria Fluted Box No:- BH23 5D

Quite Rare Edward V111  No:- BH23 47

Close-Up of Edward V111 Door

George V1 Box  No:- BH23 42
Well there we have it ...... the result of a day spent post box hunting....
I promise that I won't post any more P/O Boxes..... Well maybe..!

Friday, 2 September 2016

First September Ride And A Post Box

Yesterday being the first of September I figured I should tick off my first ride of the new month......
Since we have been at this location I have sorted out a good cycling circuit of approx fifty miles along some lovely quiet and almost traffic free roads and lanes so it has been good for my regular rides....

Some weeks ago Peter Roberts of  thediaryofmybike.blogspot.com  commented on this blog and mentioned unusual post boxes and on this latest cycling route of mine I kept on passing an unusual shaped postbox close to the entrance to Berkeley Castle which is situated a couple of miles from our current campsite.....

Because we will be moving on again in a couple of days... yesterdays ride will be my last in this area so I stopped and took a picture of said post box....

So Peter.... this one's for you....
Note that my Fulcrum Racing Zero Spokes Almost Match The Post Box :-)


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Busy...Busy..Continues.

Anne and I have still been filling our time with lots of walking and visiting various places of interest and we have been busy everyday....
Add to that the cycling rides that I have been managing to squeeze in between everything else and with the good weather that we have been enjoying recently I would say that everything has been pretty well perfect....
We have even had various people come out and camp with us for a few days....what more could a couple of 'Old Age Travellers' want..? 
It certainly has been a good summer of full time camping......

Following on from my comments about a Cave in my last post.... since then we found an even better cave to visit....
This one was more difficult to get to..... 
Our visit required us to cross a very narrow bridge over an 80 foot gulley and scrambling up a very slippery cleft in the rocks..... Well worth it though because the cave turned out to be a real 'Grotto' of a place.....

Not only could you live in a cave like this you could even hold a party for all your friends.......
Over the scary bridge
Along the narrow and slippery cleft in the rocks
And then into this.....



Sunday, 21 August 2016

Not Had Enough Time.......

Over the past few weeks since my last blog post it seems that I have not had enough time to do everything that I have wanted so my posts (or lack of) have suffered.
This retirement lark is pretty time consuming......

With the good weather that we have been enjoying Anne and I have been out on walks and other trips around the Welsh border country.....(And then don't forget there has been fitting in my bike rides as well).

Obviously I have a number of images captured on our little day trips and I will share them with you over time but to start off here are some shots below of a couple of places that captured our interest......

First of all on one of our walks around a country park only a couple of miles from our campsite we came across this cave carved out of the rock....
Apparently a few hundred years ago a local Highwayman by the name of Humphrey Kynaston lived here with his horse.....
From the location of the cave he had a good view of the road to Shrewsbury and was able to see when a likely wealthy traveller was making their way along the road....it was easy pickings for HK and he managed to make a good living from his criminal activities for a number of years....

In more recent times..about one hundred years ago.... a family of nine lived in the cave...
If you check out the steps leading up to the entrance of the cave you can see the years of use have worn away the steps to quite some degree....

Now a nice solid cave could be quite a good place to live to my mind.... Good shelter from the extremes of weather and no worries about it being blown away by strong winds....
The powers that be these days have placed a steel door and bars at the window of the cave as you can see in order to prevent anyone getting inside...this is obviously done under the guise of 'Health and Safety'. 
It seems it is deemed better for anyone homeless to live in a cardboard box on the streets than to be reasonably warm and dry in a nice solid cave....
When on some long distance backpacking trips in the past I have slept in a couple of caves and have always found them to be a pretty near ideal place to spend the night....Anyway I digress....

Humphrey Kynaston's Cave
 These next couple of images are of Whittington Castle which is situated just a few miles from the small town of Oswestry.....
The castle has been revovated and is run on a day to day basis by volunteers from Whittington village.....They run the small cafe and shop and entry to the castle and grounds is free...
Whittington Castle with moat 
Front view of Whittington Castle
 I was chatting to one of the castle volunteers and she told me that they do very well as a wedding venue....
I must say that the castle and grounds would make a great backdrop for those all important wedding photos.......

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Most Motivated....

When out on a ride yesterday I found this church in the village of Melverley....

Melverley Church
It's an exquisite example of the timber framed black and white buildings found throughout Shropshire....
This church was apparently rebuilt in 1406 after it was burnt to the ground by Owain Glyndwr.
Another view of Melverley Church
 It is a bit tucked away up a small side road but is easy to find due to the good signs in the village,,,,
It stands on the banks of the river Vyrnwy and is in a really tranquil location.

Check out the plaque just above my bike saddle.
This last image is a close-up of my bike parked in front of the church... note the plaque above my bike saddle.
I was quite fascinated by this..... What could it have been awarded to the village for exactly?
Motivated to do what..?
Who actually awarded it to the village and anyway if they were so motivated why haven't they won it again in the past 25 years?....

There was nobody around to actually ask at the time so when I got back from my ride I checked it out on the internet.... 
What did I find .....well very little really.

It seems a number of people had asked exactly the same type of questions and the only answer was that the villagers had managed to raise £500,000 in order to stop the church collapsing into the river by reinforcing the banks of the river Vyrnwy....

I have no idea if any of that is true but if it is it still leaves the question relating to who made the award to the village unanswered......

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Doing the Tourist Thing.....

Since we have been at our current site Anne and I have been out and about doing a bit of the tourist thing....

One of the places that I wanted to visit with Anne was the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Langollen canal which goes over the River Dee.
It was built by Thomas Telford in 1805 and was one of his first engineering feats....

The aqueduct is 307m long..it's width is 3.4m and it's height is 38m. It is the longest and highest aqueduct in Great Britain. 
It took ten years to design and build and it cost £47,000 which seems cheap today but then of course that amount was worth a lot more in those days.

I first saw the  Pontcysyllte Aqueduct about ten years ago when I walked the Offa's Dyke Path.... the route actually went across the aqueduct. 
I always wanted to come back again and show it to Anne as it is a pretty impressive structure and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site Structure...

A good head for heights is needed if you intend to walk across it on the narrow path at the side of the canal....
There is a hand rail on the footpath side but nothing on the canal side which seems to fuel the feeling of exposure as you walk across......

Below are a few shots that I took during our visit....
The Aqueduct from the banks of the river Dee
Drop-Handrail-Path-Canal-Drop and 307m to walk
Looking up from the river bank
View from the top
Anne(blonde hair) heading off over the Aqueduct- but holding on!


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Careful what you wish for......

We have now moved camp sites and are a bit further north .....
We are well into English/Welsh border country.

So far this year we have had some very changeable weather... when the weather has been dry and sunny it hasn't lasted more than a few days before we then pay the price with more wet and sometimes windy weather....
The average temperatures have been a bit low so I have been wishing for some warmer weather.....

Well the day we moved here was the start of a bit of a mini heatwave.... putting the awning up in the stifling heat was not a pleasant experience but at least I had got it done. The reason I wanted it up the same day that we arrived was that the weather forecast for the next day was for an even hotter day.
That forecast was spot on and like a lot of places in the UK yesterday the heat became beyond what I find comfortable.

The temperature inside Eva the Eriba with all the roof vents open and every window wide open too was very high....just look at the image below of our small thermometer.

To Hot For Comfort In My Book..
 Mind you looking at the forecasts it would appear that it probably won't last long and we will be back to cooler weather plus a few thunderstorms as well.....

One of the upsides of our recent site move is that our latest pitch is almost perfect for us.....
We look out on some lovely wild countryside with Red Kites flying overhead and plenty of other wildlife to lookout for....
Below I have added two images (one from each door) of the view from our awning....

As explained above it has been a bit too hot to be out on the bike since we have arrived here but as we will be here for a month there will be plenty of opportunity to explore the area on my road bike which I am really looking forward to doing.....

View From The Awning At Our Latest Pitch
Anonther View From The Awning  At Our Latest Pitch

Saturday, 16 July 2016

More LEJOG Riders...

One of the great things about travelling around to all the various campsites that we do is that we get to meet lots of interesting people...
I don't mention them all on this blog.....indeed the last time I think I mentioned a cyclist who I had just met was way back at the end of August/ beginning of September last year when we were down in Devon at the Tavistock C&CC site....

Anyway.. the other evening a couple of touring cyclists arrived at our current site in Herefordshire and after they had set up their tent and sorted themselves out I went across for a natter.... 
I had the feeling that they were doing the Lands End to John O'Groats (LEJOG) route and
I was proved right as they had set off from Lands End four days earlier....

Back in 2008 when I did LEJOG we had stayed not far down the road at Hereford and these guy's were doing almost the same route that I and the rest of the Rev Pro Team had taken.

They told me that they were father and son and their names were Duncan and Chris Marfell..
Duncan is an engineer and they live in Andover in Hampshire.
From what they said the weather had not been too kind for them up to their arrival here and although the following day's forecast didn't appear too bad it looked like they were going to hit some more bad weather as they headed north....

This all sounded a very familiar tale as my LEJOG experience was one of wet and windy weather and chatting to Duncan and Chris brought back all my memories of that ride....

Their bike's were quite heavily loaded as they appeared to be carrying a lot more kit than I like to when on the touring bike and as Chris is just sixteen years of age I had to admire his determination to complete the ride.....

As with most people who do this ride they were raising money for charity...in this case for Sport Relief....
I was impressed by this likeable pair and offered a small amount of support for their efforts as well as a couple of bottles of Italian beer (which they obviously deserved) which seemed to go down well with their evening meal.....

I have included a picture of Duncan and Chris below as well as their charity page address....
If any of you out there can give a small token of support for this pair I know that it would be welcomed...

It's great to see youngsters taking up riding bikes and doing LEJOG at sixteen years of age has to be worthy of a token of support in my book especially as it is all for a good cause...

Just lift their address and use it to go to their charity page.... Thanks..


my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/chrisandduncan


Duncan (on the right) and Chris Marfell

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

More Sculptures

Regular readers of this blog will know that I do like the slightly unusual when it comes to sculptures...
The other day Anne and I visited Hampton Court Castle and in the wonderful gardens they had some very interesting sculptures dotted around....

Now this is not the Hampton Court that is situated close London....that is a Palace and is about one hundred years younger than the Hampton Court Castle that we visited which is set in the lovely Herefordshire countryside...

Like the Palace gardens near London this Hampton Court also has a maze...this one is made up of a thousand yews and has a gothic tower at it's centre.
From the top of the tower you have wonderful views over the gardens...you can then descend beneath the tower to a secret tunnel that leads out to a sunken garden from behind a waterfall.

The gardens of the castle are lovely and I might share some images of the very colourful flowers and other plants in another post.... until than I have shared a few of the scultures we saw in the gardens below.....




Sunday, 3 July 2016

Another New Site.......

Here we are in Herefordshire and another new touring site.....
The drive up from Devizes went well enough with no hitches and we even managed to put up the awning the same afternoon that we arrived...
This is the second time that we have done that this year...usually we don't do it until the following day.

As it was it was a good thing that we completed the awning upon our arrival because the next day back came the rain and it was torrential....
It has continued to rain on and off for almost the entire first week that we have been here.
I have not managed to get out on the Felt until today when the sun came out and we had a really beautiful day...ideal riding weather.

The site we are now pitched up on is a small private site and it is well positioned for both cycling and walking as long as the weather is kind to us....
Looking at the forecast for the next few days we might just be lucky...

Our current pitch

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to ...