Posted by: brendaintheboro | August 17, 2014

Tandem circa 1987

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Just a photo of us on the tandem with trailer both used when our children were small. We took tools on it for the cutback yesterday.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | August 16, 2014

Autumn’s on its way

I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday, sang John Denver on a CD today and that’s just how it feels.
We’ve had a lovely summer but the weather in the past week has had a definite autumnal aire with high winds and cooler temperatures. Still can’t grumble, I’m fit and healthy and able to cycle reasonable distances.

Today, we decided to use our Dawes Super Galaxy tandem circa 1987, as it has a hitch for an even older trailer. Destination, Saltburn by the Sea to cut back NCN1 and we wanted to carry our tools up.

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So we were first there near the caravan park but all the others arrived in quick succession and we began cutting back briars, thistles and other vegetation that was encroaching on the path narrrowing it to about half its width. There were 12 of us and we managed to get about 4-500 MTSĀ  in 2 hours.

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The weather was very variable with sunshine one moment and then clouds scudding over the sun on a very strong NW wind. By 12.00pm we had finished our task for the day. Here’s a photo of our motley crew.

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And here is the finished product.

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A big difference , I’m sure you’ll agree.
Some of us then went to a local cafe and enjoyed lunch before departing for home. As we battled into the increasingly strong headwind, I was glad to be stoker on the tandem. 30 miles.
Looking forward to the bank holiday  next weekend . Let’s hope the weather is kinder.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | August 9, 2014

Windy old weather

We’ve had such lovely weather but with a dying hurricane in the Atlantic  ocean, today was sunny after bad rain overnight and very windy. We weren’t too sure where we would cycle to but I needed to go to the bank in town so we decided to go to the river and take the secateurs with us. We also wanted to check that some fly tipped furniture had been removed.
So at 9.30am we set off.
The first cutting back place was what we refer to as the curly whirly bridge in an industrial area. There were bramble runners encroaching through the railings, so in a short while, the 3 of us had it chopped back.

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See all clear. We really need a brush but didn’t have one but DH made a reasonable job.
Then along to check on the fly tipping. All gone. We found a load of fruit on runners set well back so DH and I set about collecting them. DS1 had brought his tarp and an extension piece he’s been adapting from an old tent I made about 25 years ago. He put it up , well of the path , to check guy placements.  Unfortunately, a chap and his wife  coming along the track were a bit surprised to see anyone there. Lack of concentration made the man skid and come off. We were able to administer first aid as DS1 had his kit with him.

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About 4.5 lbs of brambles were collected before we moved on under Newport Bridge. Unfortunately, we came across some more fly tipping which I will report in.
On along to the barrage and they majority of the cutting back occurred here. Many people commented on what we were doing, favourably. The wind was getting stronger, and as we cut down the dog rose briars, we got a wee bit scratched as the wind whipped it across us. However, we persevered and got it cleared.

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Further on , nearer the Millennium bridge we cut back some more briars before lifting the bikes over the wall to get over the river. Then it was back on the north side of the river and home. Only 15 miles but feeling good.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | August 7, 2014

Over Gribdale Gate

Today was a great day to get out and ride. Work was arranged to be light and so at about 10.30am DH and I set off up through Margin, old Nunthorpe village, Great Ayton  and along through Little Ayton.
Its after this that the road starts to climb. Its gentle at first but then gets much steeper but there were some beautiful views across the fields to Roseberry Topping.

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The parking at Gribdale Gate was fully utilised , as its the start of a fairly gentle walk up to Captain Cooks Monument. Captain James Cook was from this area, attending school in Great Ayton. We didn’t stay but carried on along the road that leads to Kildale. Not too many cars go that way as its not a good road,  winding up and down between farms.

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You can see that the surface has deteriorated quite badly, making race paced riding not possible. At one point it was very steep and I got off to walk. DH proceeded to ride up it. A couple walking towards me, commented that I was doing it the sensible way.
When we got down in to Kildale , we saw the cafe that many cyclists use. It is closed on a Thursday so it was lucky we had brought lunch with us . We sat on the small green on its Millennium seat to eat.
Then it was back down the road to Easby and along the way to Stokesley , stopping briefly to discuss our return journey. We carried on along to Hutton Rudby turning for Hilton and down through Ingleby Barwick.
We then carried on along through Stockton on Tees and along our usual river route to home. 39 miles

Posted by: brendaintheboro | August 4, 2014

Almost a week of sunshine

The weather has been good for most of the week and time and inclination allowed me to get in 127 miles of cycling over the course of the week.
I was able to ride over to Darlington and purchase fabric and sew up not 1 but 2 dresses.
We also had the opportunity to go out on a ride helping to collect in diffusion tubes which monitor pollution. Here are some photos of that ride.

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They are mostly sited high up to avoid vandalism so A was carrying along handled grabber to get them down.

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We had 7 sites to visit and then rode over to Guisborough to hand them in at the collection point.

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From there A led us to a secluded park for lunch. Its in the heart of the town but we didn’t know it was there. It always amazes me when these delightful little places are found in places you believe you know.
In the evening , I gave a talk to new Sustrans volunteers about cycling the North Sea cycling route in 2006.
We were out doing shorter rides and as the week progressed the weather started to get less hot until Saturday. Despite some rain, we went out along the river and collected 3lbs of brambles (blackberries).

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Look at this bee on a teasle flower.

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It wasn’t fazed by me and just worked away. Good to see it.
A lovely week.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 29, 2014

Enjoying a half day

The weather has been lovely and we had an early morning ride of 13 miles along the river. I worked this morning but got an early finish so as it was so nice, we decided to have a cycle picnic and a ride to my favourite fabric shop in Darlington.
I had baked carrot cake, made tuna sandwiches and we look water with lots of ice in a flask to make squash. We had  headed over to Middleton One Row and were hoping to sit near the river but the council workmen were cutting the grass on the bank. They were using a large mower that was  driven  like a remote controlled model car. I think  the workmen was enjoying it.
So we continued on along route14 and came to a small clearing and set up our table and chairs.

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We didn’t realise that just over the gate , there’s a new forest planted in 2005. You just don’t know what’s on your own doorstep.
It was very warm but clouded over as we got underway again. We were soon outside the market place where DH waited, looking after the bikes. I, meanwhile was inside  choosing some fabric..
We rode the most direct route home, through the Whinneys nature reserve and had a brief stop in the village of Elton to top up on more fluids. Then along the river, we met a chap with a puncture and stopped to help him , as he was having a problem with his inner tube seemingly not fitting. DH helped and I supplied hand cleaner and a J cloth for him to clean his hands with.
When crossing Newport bridge, we heard the buzz of motorbikes down below us.

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I missed the other one. Shame nothing seems to deter them. The afternoon ride was 35 miles so that’s a combined total  of 48 miles.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 26, 2014

Sustrans, Shotton and Scorching Sunshine

You may recall that earlier in the year I complained about NCN1 between Shotton Colliery and Haswell was in a dreadful state due to people fly tipping and generally just dropping litter. Well, if your not prepared to change anything, don’t complain.
Well, Shotton doesn’t have a Sustrans ranger, so it was up to us, in other areas to go and do something to change it.
All week , we had been watching the weather forecast. Would we cycle, go on the train or take the car? If it was raining, we intended to go in the car but as the week went by, it was looking better and better for cycling up. So we were up and on the road just after 7.00am in brilliant early sunshine. A mile from home, near the river, there was  thick  mist.

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Luckily, after getting through the river area, the most quickly lifted and we were again in the sun which was increasing in intensity by the minute. We continued up through the Castle Eden walkway and arrived in Shotton and found the community centre by 9.30am. This was out meeting place as Sarah  volunteer co-ordinator, had arranged to have volunteers from the community to join us.

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We weren’t a huge group, but we were determined to make a difference and we set too with a will. Vince who cycled down from Sunderland and DH went up towards the duckboards and picked up dozens of beer bottles. I worked alongside one of the community officers bagging everything from damp proof membrane through curtains to toys and cans. Its incredible just how much  is wasted in undrunk beverages  which need to be emptied from the cans before bagging.
Yvonne took her trailer and rode up and down the track taking filled bags to the dumping site.

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In the space of 21/2 hours , we bagged 40 large rubbish sacks and various things like toys, buckets and builders waste.

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DH even found a couple of perfume bottles.

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You always say I never get you anything

We were treated to  sausage butties and cool drinks  by the  parish council before starting for home. We decided to follow NCN14 down to Hartlepool, along the prom and then across the fields to home. As we were passing the cafe near Seaton Carew, we met up with Jim who leads the Spokes rides and his peleton.. We rode with them for a short while but they were taking a slightly longer route, so we headed more directly to Greatham, across the fields to Cowpen Bewley and then through Haverton Hill and home. So that was 46 miles and a great sense of satisfaction from the litter picking we’ve done.

Coincidentally, yesterday , one of my internet buddies wrote this poem. Vivinfrance.WordPress.com is her blog.

litter Bugs beware
If you go down to the woods today
Be sure to pick up your litter
And its fair to say
If you pick up some more
The woods will look much better.
Birds and beasts appreciate
No plastic rubbish, depricate
Beer cans, the rings from which can kill.
So take a sack
And bend your back
Get down to it with a will.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 13, 2014

Home from Festivol

We awoke to the sound of rain hammering down from a leaden sky. Oh joy, a ride home in the rain!

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Just look at the rain laden clouds floating over the valley. This was at about 6.00am and by 8.20am , I donned my waterproofs to walk over to the dining room for breakfast and  like magic, the rain cleared and a weak sun came out.
We had breakfast early as we wanted to get to church in Stanley, County Durham. One of the other volunteers joined us and as he has knowledge of the area , warned us to avoid going through Consett. He called it the Burmuda triangle for cyclists as the signage paid for by a well known supermarket, but put up by workmen with no knowledge of the area, is a nightmare.
So, we  retraced our way , just as we did on our outward journey yesterday. That meant climbing a steep hill, first off in the morning but I did it. Here’s a view across the valley.

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The roofs of the youth village can be seen on the right of the photo. We got to route 7 and began following it towards Stanley and there was some interesting artworks along the way but I didn’t have time to take photos of them. We were trying to get to church for 10.00am but it was about 4 miles longer than we expected.
However, we arrived a bit late but enjoyed the talk we heard.
So after the sacrament meeting, we got back onto the saddle and went back to route 7. It started to rain again as we left  and so it was waterproofs on. Its a lovely track down into Chester Le Street, well surfaced and downhill for us.

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We saw this unusual use of an old bridge pillar. Can you see the face?

Then joining route 725 , it was on through the town and on a minor road and along through Great Lumley and across a bridge over the A1M.
The road was not quite so hilly as up near Consett, but still had some stiffish climbs along to Pittington .
It had stopped raining so we stopped and set up our Helinox chairs as the wooden benches were too wet. So we ate lunch and then set off again , up through Haswell Plough and on to the road to Shotton Colliery where we picked  up route 1.
Soon, we met an Australian  couple cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats  by a circuitous route. We advised them on avoiding the bad part of the track and explained we will be helping to clean the track in a couple of weeks.
We were now on what we regard as home turf and it was down through Hurworth Burn ( it started raining again) down the Thorpe Thewles track and on to the last big climb. DH gave me a helping hand as a car was behind us on this single track road and he didn’t want me to have to stop. He knew I wouldn’t be able to restart riding up the hill.
So we arrived home just before 5.00pm to be greeted by a lovely roast chicken dinner made by DS1. It was so welcome after our 50+ miles home.

Posted by: brendaintheboro | July 13, 2014

Festivol 2014

Perhaps I should define the title – a festival for Sustrans volunteers. After the success of Festivol 2014, held here in the North, it was decided to hold a mini meeting again for northern volunteers. We couldn’t make last years and so decided to do this, which was held at the Youth Village just outside Consett.
So early Saturday morning saw us boarding the train in Middlesbrough bound for Newcastle. As there were 3 of us with bicycles to get on, I was a bit apprehensive because the grumpy conductor was getting on. We’ve encountered him a number of times previously getting on Northern Line and he’s always the same. Poor soul, I think he must hate his job!
As there were already 2 cycles onboard , it was a bit of a squash but we managed. Although cyclists were getting on and off, we still arrived in Newcastle upon Tyne , with 4 cyclists. Official policy says 2 cycles at a time as there is very restricted space, actually not room to get one cycle in comfortably as the space is too short.
We got there really early, so out came the breakfast stuff and we sat eating in the station. Then as we left, we saw other volunteers complete with cycles awaiting the transfer. There was a bus pulling a trailer for the bikes and another for volunteers, so we set off in blazing sunshine.

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Once at the village complex run by the Catholic church, we were assigned a room in the Cardinal Hume building deposited our luggage and eventually set off for our chosen route. There were 4 cycle routes ranging from 12 to 28 miles and one walking group doing 13 miles. We chose the route around Derwent side reservoir which was 24 miles. It was very hot reaching 28C and quite humid, so with the steep hills it was sometimes slow going. I wasn’t the only one walking at times. The views were wonderful but unfortunately, I didn’t get too many photos as, the camera was temperamental and stopped working for a while. However I did get one above the reservoir.

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We had a lunch stop, with provided packed lunch at the visitor centre picnic site before continuing around the waterside. For me, the cycling became a little easier as the road was very undulating which meant that I could get speed up to get up the next rise and DH was kind enough to give me a push on some of the crests. He heard someone say” I can’t keep up with those two” which I laughed at later.
Leaving the reservoir, we continued on crossing the A68 and on towards Shottley Bridge. I was p!easedĀ  as I did manage the steep bank at that point, then we turned right and right again which was on a very minor road and it said 15% at the bottom but then got a lot steeper. Out of 11 of us, only 2 rode up the hill all the way. One was DH and the other a young lady in her 30’s. After that there was a long downhill stretch before heading up into the accommodation.

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This is a photo of DH and Mark who led our group ride. It was lovely to arrive back to a drink and cakes which were enjoyed along with sitting in the sunshine.

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The evening meal was lovely with seconds for all who wanted and then it was quiz time. Not a favourite of mine but you can’t have everything. A brilliant day with superb accommodation and food. Thank you Sustrans. 24 miles

Posted by: brendaintheboro | June 30, 2014

Wild flowers

Just thought I’d add a couple more  photos after Saturday’s ride. We needed to go up to Saltburn to help replace the vandalised signs. Why do people deliberately destroy them? Its beyond me?

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The chap in yellow is 82 and still a Sustrans volunteer. Wonderful.

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Lovely cornflower and Oxeye daisy.

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We believe these purpley blue flowers are corncockle but we could be wrong.

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Not a good photo I know but this was a Lancaster bomber and 2 spitfire aircraft circling over Redcar. There was/an airshow further up the coast at Sunderland so they might have been flying  up there. Just a guess. Good to see on our 30 mile ride.

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