Friday, July 31, 2009

Wake Up! Here is the SchNews

Wake Up!! It's Yer Green In The Gills...
SchNEWS Issue 685 version 2, Monday 27th July 2009

Read this issue online:

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wherever you can...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's Here!

BBC: final identity card design

Dave Page, from the NO2ID, said: "Once you are on that database, you can never come off it.
"From the moment you're registered you'll have to tell the authorities of any change in your circumstances for the rest of your life - and pay whatever fees they ask for the 'service'.
"You'll never know who's looking at your details. It won't protect our safety. It won't be convenient - except for Whitehall. This scheme is an expensive and dangerous con."
A poll of 1,731 adults across the UK, conducted by human rights campaign group Liberty, suggested six out of 10 people were unlikely to volunteer for a card.
Campaigns co-ordinator Sabina Frediani said the North West was being made an "ID card guinea pig".
"How many times can you re-design and re-launch this tired old policy?" she said.
"When will the government realise there is dwindling public support for a scheme that is as costly to our pockets as to our privacy and race relations?"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Organic food benefits downplayed

By Paula Fentiman, Press Association

"But they added: "There is no good evidence that increased dietary intake of the nutrients identified in this review to be present in larger amounts in organically than in conventionally produced crops and livestock products would be of benefit to individuals consuming a normal varied diet, and it is therefore unlikely that these differences in nutrient content are relevant to consumer health." "

So even though there were higher levels of nutrients in organic food the conclusion is that these higher levels of nutrients will not benefit the consumer. That's crazy talk.

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said: "We are disappointed in the conclusions the researchers have reached. The review rejected almost all of the existing studies of comparisons between organic and non-organic nutritional differences.

This was because these studies did not meet particular criteria fixed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which carried out the review. Although the researchers say that the differences between organic and non-organic food are not 'important', due to the relatively few studies, they report in their analysis that there are higher levels of beneficial nutrients in organic compared to non-organic foods."

He also expressed the Soil Association's disappointment that results of a European Union-funded study were not included. There are limited studies available on the health benefits of organic versus non-organic food. Without large-scale, longitudinal research, it is difficult to come to far-reaching clear conclusions on this, which was acknowledged by the authors of the FSA review.

"Also, there is not sufficient research on the long-term effects of pesticides on human health.

"Organic farming and food systems are holistic, and are produced to work with nature rather than to rely on oil-based inputs such as fertilisers."

For me the main point of organic food was always the environmental benefits. So even if a study such as this does point to nutritional benefits, it's missing the point.

Francis Sedgemore's opinion.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jumped Up Little Hitler

I was in an east London Sainsburys the other day - got followed by a security guard who justified why he'd picked on me as that I have two big bags with me. They were my panniers. I had to have them with me or they'd be stolen, and one of them had room for items i was buying so i didn't need to use a plastic bag. I'm not sure if it's a satisfactory result - he may have been due to transfer anyway - and he may just transfer to a sainsburys near me.

But anyway - I'm glad I challenged the guy's appalling behaviour - he wasn;t professional at all.

"Dear Sir,

I'm e-mailing you in regards to the incident which took place in store on July 22nd. We have investigated the matter regarding the behaviour of the security officer. My Deputy Store Manager has spoken to the the officer and his superiors, and as a result of the investigation the officer will shortly be transferred out of this store. I apologise for the officers behaviour and any inconveinence caused.

If you have any further questions please do contact any of the management team here at Sainsburys ------.

Best Regards,

Commercial Manager
Sainsburys ------"

New Big Cat Footage

New big cat footage

This is great new evidence - can't wait to see this covered in the next fortean Times!

Aspects and Impacts

I found out that I was successful in applying for my own job. So I continue as environmental manager, the bad news being that we're being audited next month.

Back on the bike. I've set a target of 800 miles for July, and I think I've got about 50 miles to go, so should hit that tomorrow then. The bikes OK except for a persistent squeak from the front wheel, and I managed to lose my cable add-on for locking the bike up.

Had a right f***ker of a bus driver today. Well, had to go to Victoria for to see the counseller this morning. Joined the road at the lights. Lights change - I move - bendy bus behind me toots his horn...presumably so that he can get closer to the van in front of me. When he gets a chance he passes me and then pulls back in front of me really tightly forcing me to brake hard.

I pass him up the road, just before Hyde Park Corner...and take the lane. He overtakes sharply on Park Lane and pulls in really tight and makes me brake (no 2).

I overtake him just before Marble Arch - he'd stopped. He pulls out while I'm passing him in a different lane. I move right into third lane and he keeps pulling out and finally james me intot he side of the road where I couldn't move.

I finally pass him again on Oxford St and call him a f****** c*** - my temper really gone now. He wags his finger and starts shouting and waggling his head about, only I can't hear what he's saying cos he hasn't opened his window.

then further up the road I'm at lights waiting to go. Just as the red goes to orange the bus behind me beeps. Instead of going look back at bus driver and shrug. Then I go in my own damn good time!!

Went to a counseller at work today - they offer 6 sessions. The reason is stress, and I want to focus on stress arising from my AS. Somehow I'm not sure cycling to Victoria once a fortnight is going to help my stress levels to much.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gloomy Sunday

No cycling for me today. The weather is shite, windy, showers, etc. I have my third puncture of the year. It's slow though, but I have to fix it. And on Friday cycling home my front wheel was making loud clanging noises.

So today I got the bike checked out - nothing wrong, unless the cones have cracked, or something. Time will tell.

I'm poised to pass the 800 mile mark around Wednesday - a personal record in one month.

Funny time of the year for cyclists. Even though I cycle all year round, the Tour de France gives us all a higher profile. I quite often get what I assume to be quite sarcastic cheering or 'encouragement' whenever i'm struggling to get up a hill, or going for it along the flat. Maybe it's not sarcastic, maybe i'm all jaded and cynical, but it sounds sarcastic to me.

Well - no cycling - but lots of surfing, on the internet that is. I discovered a site called Blip - where you can be your own DJ. Fantastic.

Look me up!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Man, Friday!

This week has felt like a month. No electricity is no fun. Normally, in an extended power cut, I buy take away food, visit the pub, buy something chilled and wet from the supermarket. Trouble is the pubs, shops and restaurants were all powerless too - therefore shut.

So it's not been easy. cooking in the dark, going to bed early, not able to shower or wash my clothes. Even making a cup of tea was a major operation which involved burning my finger trying to pour the hot water into the cup.

I've got 2 DVDs from Lovefilm - The Machinist and a Manga film called Strait Jackets which looks great - about Demons and sourcery and that. I will try to watch one tonight, but staying awake will be a challenge.

Right now I have a headache, people in the office are making a lot of noise and have been all day. Funny that after 5 pm people start getting very loud. No chance for peace and quiet in this building. After the loudmouths have gone, in come the cleaners, bickering and shouting at each other, vaccuum going. I've been getting next to no work done. I haven't heard whether I got the job I went for. Really - I'm completely fed up.

The only good thing at the moment is my cycling. I've managed just short of 700 miles this month so far, and should easily pass the 800 mark by next Friday.

Oh hum - I've got nothing going on this weekend other than a visit to the library tomorrow for music, a bit of surfing, reading the paper, doing the Sudoku, and watching a DVD in the evening.

I'm thinking of cycling to the south coast on Sunday - it's 120 miles there and back - so I unless I feel superfit I'll probably do something a bit less ambitious.

New SchNews

Wake Up!! It's Yer Never Sell High..

SchNEWS Issue 685, Friday 24th July 2009

Read this issue online (from noon Saturday):

We encourage you to print, copy and distribute the SchNEWS
wherever you can...

Second proposed route to Dymchurch for Sunday

Sunday's Cycling Trip?

Proposed Route to Dymchurch

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gary Numan Pleasure Principle tour

Just noticed that Gazza Numan is about to take his Pleasure Principle album out on tour in the UK. He's playing the 02 on the eve of my birthday - watching for the tickets going on sale - I'd hate to miss out.

Might have to buy the special edition of the album as well - if I have enough cash next month.

What is Gang-Stalking?

Gang Stalking

No Tuesday for Old Men

Arriving home last night I noticed that the local Turkish shop had shut early. Then I noticed all the shops were shut, and the traffic lights were broken. Thought nothing of it, except that I was annoyed that the Turkish shop had shut early.

Once indoors the lights weren't working, and the computer was off. Then I twigged, power cut. It was estimated to last three days apparently.

This slightly upset me. I couldn't have a shower, I couldn't watch a DVD, I couldn;t surf the net, I couldn't even read - with no lights working. I managed to find enough batteries to get the radio working, which kept me entertained while I cooked on the gas cooker. Then I went to bed at 10.30 and fell asleep listening to a very low key Collings and Herrin podcast in bed.

This morning the electricity came back just as I was about to go out the front door. then I had to go running about turning things off and checking that the fridge, freezer and boiler were ok.

Immediately as I arrived at work the fire alarm went off and I left the building for a further 20 minutes. then security wouldn;t let me back in unless i signed in.

It's not been my day.

On the plus side - second day in a row that I've cycled up Shooters Hill without stopping.

Here Is The News

Upward jump in lab animal tests

US terror policy report delayed

A key report commissioned by Obama as part of his efforts to close the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay is being delayed, raising doubts about promise to close the US prison camp in Cuba.

Police to face dog death charges

'Glass ceiling' blocking top jobs

Top professions such as medicine and law are increasingly being closed off to all but the most affluent families, a report into social mobility has said.

Mercury Music Prize nominees announced

The planet's future: Climate change 'will cause civilisation to collapse'

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cosmology for Beginners

You have to be a subscriber to see this, I believe.

In the Same Vein

Windows Live Messenger: Celebrate 10 amazing years with free winks and emoticons. Get Them Now

Must re-read this FT article

Missing Cosmonauts
"The Judica-Cordiglia brothers remain adamant that they recorded lost cosmonauts. Standing in front of their unique library of recordings, Gian told me: "Fifty years ago, it wasn't possible to build a simple computer that weighed less than a ton, yet we were firing men and women into outer space who were prepared to die the loneliest of deaths. They were true heroes. And, thanks to radio, we know about their sacrifices." He patted a shelf full of recordings. "We must never forget them." "

With Windows Live, you can organise, edit, and share your photos.

worth reading on Andrew Collin's Blog


Foyer Music


Klezmer and gypsy music with a strong dose of jazz, feat. Chris Haigh on violin, Philip Clouts on piano & Alex Keen on double bass.
Starts at 5.45 pm today
in the foyer of the National Theatre.

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New Schnews

Wake Up!! It's Yer Opium of the Minorities...

SchNEWS Issue 684, Friday 17th July 2009

Read this issue online (from noon Saturday):

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I forgot to take my phone chargers home with me on Friday so have been struggling with low power and constant beeping. I don't normally need my phones much at weekend but this was an exception.
Yesterday's ride to Canterbury was pleasant. I've only ever been there twice before, once to meet up for an RTS action in the late 90s, and the second with S and K looking to have a nice meal in Kent. On neither occsion did I get a chance to have a look round.
Yesterday, unfortunately, the town was crowded with tourists, but walked around the cathedral, an old abbey, the riverside bit, etc. I intend to go back out of season to ahve a proper look round.
In Whitstable the oyster festival was going on, so it was equally crowded. Very choppy sea. We stopped for refreshements in the harbour, F had a chocolate, and I had a revolting instant coffee from the RNLI shop.
Looked out over the sea, and we could sea Clacton on the horizon, about 40 miles away, beyone Mersea Island which I visited for the first time just over a week ago.
Set up a facebook account at the weekend. Have 5 friends now.
S phoned me while I was cycling and I didn;t pick them up till the evening, by which time I was very sleepy and batteries on the phone were at crisis point, one phone shut down, the other beeping furiously. I turned it off and went to bed. Watched extras from "The Sacrifice"
I say watched, rather I skipped through as quickly as possible to see if it was worth watching. The documentary was about the making of the film, but mainly focused on the director, Tarkovsky, who died over 20 years ago. To me he came across as pretentious and pedantic. He seemed to rely on those around him to complete his vision, wheras I tend to prefer directors who have a complete vision (eg, the Cohen Brothers, another documentary I watched last night) and use those around them to bring their vision to realisation.
Tarkovsky reminded me a little of Greenaway, another overly pedantic and pretentious director. Similarity too in stagey unrealistic sets and overly dramatic acting.
That said, I enjoyed the film, just didn;t like the director much. Couldn;t engage at all with the documentary, it mostly wound me up, so instead I watched the making of Fargo. The Cohen Brothers couldn;t be more different.

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No Social - The Shortwave Set
heard this track on 6Music this morning - thought it was best thing I've heard since The Decemberists.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Twittering Crazy

As you may have noticed - in the side bar you can see my latest twitterings - or tweets i think i'm supposed to call them - i prefer twitterings. I signed up so i could keep s in touch with my Dynamo progess without txting directly. But once signed up - i've got really into it. Twice a day now i check for tweets from those i am following, and have twittered myself over a dozen times in the last fortnight.

I finished the greatest cycling week of my life last Saturday - after 0ver 360 miles I arrived back in London more or less intact, the bike too, that service really paid off.

Decided to set up a seperate blog of my cycling experiences around Suffolk - as I seem to have made it an annual event and I do quite a lot of research prior to setting off -might as well make it all available online. COMING SOON!

The Dunwich Dynamo was pretty much the same as ever except for the vastly increased numbers taking part. I was probably the fittest I've ever been but unfortunately several stone heavier than i was 4 years ago when i started.

Getting lost in London didn't help, following a German with satnav who appeared to know the route until a large group of us had gone 10km off the route didn't help either. Luckily I appeared to be the only decisive member of this group and led the way back to the DD route, only to get lost again coming out of Sudbury - only two of us this time - the guy cycled of towards Ipswich while I shouted vainly at him that he was going the wrong way. Turned back - it was getting light by now - and went back towards the actual route.

Buy the end of the DD I had cycled over 150 miles. I worked out that if I had not got lost - 1. my knee wouldn't have gone (it went after 120 miles) and 2. I would have finished at 8 am.

As it happened I finished quite a bit later than 8 am and my right knee went, slowing me up even further in the last 20 miles. But I kept going even though th rain had got quite heavy by then.

The chav aggression in Essex was subdued by previous years' standards too. Must be the recession as it was still a fine summer's evening when we set off. We all got called c*nts by a 20 year old driving a w*nk*r mobile in Epping. And I got taunted by some middle aged drunks a few miles on from there. But that was it. not bad at all.

So last Saturday I cycled the last 70 miles back to Welling through Essex. Essex loses out to Suffolk because it seems to be filled with ostentatiously rich - flash motors, electric gates, more keep out signs and CCTV, with everything looking too clean, too flash, too shiny.

And as I got closer to Tilbury roads that weren't dual carriageways became increasingly rare. I was trying to get to Dartford but just couldn't find the road I needed. I was wondering if it was even possible without getting onto the M25.

In the end I jumped on a train to London and then back out to Kent. It probably took longer, but it was easier, I wasn't going to get lost or crushed by a Sainsburys delivery lorry.

Limped back home from Bexleyheath station around 9.30 pm.

Slept for 15hours.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Headline Nearly As Big As Article Shocker

Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt 'may have weeks to live'

Goodfellas 2 Mean streets 3

The Departed on DVD (2006)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Martin Scorsese
I'd never even heard of it. Which is probably a good thing. I had no preconceptions. Scorcese's name does not appear at the beginning of this film, or on the disc.

Despite this it took all of 30 seconds for me to realise that this was a Scorcese movie. In fact I remember shouting at the screen - 'this is a Goodfellas remake!' Luckily it wasn't, though clearly it has quite a bit in common with other Scorcese mob films.

I'm keen to see the Japanese originals as I feel that the material doesn't quite work in an American setting: I couldn;t quite believe that the characters would behave in the way they did. Set in an Asian context though - I think it would make more sense.

Also this was a bit polished for my liking, and I have no idea what Scorcese sees in Leonardo DiCrapio as a leading man - he's not exactly DeNiro. Ray Winstone was another oddly cast actor. Very good as a cockney gangster, totally unconvincing in this.

But all in all, very entertaining, thrilling, gripping, all it says it does on the tin. I worry I might have rated it a little too highly, but time will tell. At the moment I've given it 4 stars. It may well end up with 3 1/2.

Happy Mondays

Went to see Richard Herring and Russell Kane at the Happy Mondays comedy club with S. last night. She's very stressed, but seemed to enjoy the evening. We finished with chips from Paul McCartney's favourite New Cross chip shop (apparently) - Sirius Fish and Chips.

I liked Herring's performance - recognised much of it from the podcast Collings and Herrin. S. preferred Kane - his white boy from outer London council estate and abusive dad material struck a chord with her. She was less impressed with Herring, and she could be right. Hering's summing up was feeble - fascism is bad - although many of his routines are very funny - not a million miles from Stewart Lee's style (if you saw the recent tv series) which is probably not too surprising.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Going home

I waited round at brightlingsea for an hour or more, after two bad experiences with motorists coming into town; it didn't take long. A couple of hours in Essex, and things get back to normal pretty quickly.

The wait was worth it though. I hadn't realised that I needed to make a phonecall before the ferry would turn up, but when I made the call it just rang. Then the ferry arrived. It already had customers. I asked about going to Mersea and was asked to wait. Then some people arrived to go to ------ which meant my trip was viable. The woman was nice, amiable, and we chatted. The ferry is new and subsidised; the price was lower than previous ferries, even though journey was longer, and view was better.

Ferry website

Some Mersea Island Links
Facebook: Mersea Island Notes
Facebook page
Mersea Museum
a walk around Mersea Island

Leaving Mersea Island:

It was a flying visit really. Might plan to spend more time here next year.
I was resolved to cycle all the way back into London, hopefully reaching Tilbury before the ferry stopped running around 7 pm. It didn;t quite work that way. The map I had, very useful for cycling in the sticks, utterly useless for finding your way around town. As I know Essex like the back of someone else's arse - someone I've never met - I ended up going from unintended destination to unintended destination, eventually jut giving up and getting on a train instead. A train that took me into Tower Hill, leaving me with a painful ride/walk (all of me was aching and expecting to be warm, fed and resting up by now) to London Bridge for train back to Bexleyheath and another, but final, painful walk/ ride.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Today is Constable day. The plan: Flatford Mill and surrounding area.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Swallows and Amazons

Out on the bike again today. Today - an exporation of the ----- peninsula - bit of land between the Orwell and the Stour. First of all couldn't resist a circuit round ---- Lake. Which didn't take long. Then to the south bank of the River Orwell.

Arthur Ransome wrote here - author of "Swallows and Amazons". Although 5 of his 12 stories are set in the Lake District, the others take place in Norfolk Broads and Suffolk.

The Ransomes lived at Broke Farm on the banks of the River Orwell, "as he wrote, looking out of the window of the window of his study, he could see Pin Mill harbour, where he moored his sailing boat, the Nancy Blackett, named after his formidable Amazon heroine."
"In the books, John, susan, Titty (!!) and Roger (the Swallows) stay at Alma Cottage, the pink cottage next to the Butt and Oyster pub." from Adventure Walks by -------.

Butt and Oyster pub, above, on the far left.

A sailing race to Holland takes place every year from the sailing club at Pin Mill as a tribute to the book, "We didn't Mean To go To Sea".

I followed the path as described in "Adventure Walks" - along a footpath up the estuary of the River Orwell which led to "the warmth of the pub and the chinking of the boats of Pin Mill" - I bought a pint and chose to sit outside in the warmth of the sun, which was better than the warmth of the pub. The boats did chink though.

"As many as 50,000 birds from as far away as the Arctic Circle spend winter here" which is nice, but I was here in summer

Butt and Oyster pub, phone, 01473 780764. Reasonably good beer, food which I can't vouch for, but was a little on the expensive high spring tides you can order a pint through the window without leaving your boat. Open 11 am to 11.30 pm every day. Food served 12 to 2.30 pm and 6.30 to .30 pm.

the story of the Nancy Blackett

the Arthur Ransome website

Pin Mill Studio - art gallery and shop selling the work of local artists and photographs, tel: 01473 780 130

Pin Mill Sailing Club day boats and cruisers, mooring available, tel: 01473 780 271

After one beer I continued eastwards. It wasn't long before I was treated to a view of Felixstowe docks across the Orwell. I continued into Harwich.

Harwich Ferry - working today

And the from Harwich back to the Bunkhouse, this time on the southern bank of the river Stour.
The River Stour in all its glory!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A journey to the Stour Valley

It's Wednesday. Today I had quite a late start. I set off just before 10.00 to avoid my things being locked in the YH. Headed to Tunstall, then Butley, Holesley, Aldeton, Bawdsey, and then to the harbour. The ferry was headed in - he was sullen and I paid him £3.50.
It's ferry time. This one's called Bryan.

The driver was called Mr. Grumpy Bugger:

In Felixstowe - fresh fish and seafood. Fairly busy. I headed for the pub. I asked the kid behind the bar if he sold anything local. He replied that Stella was "fairly local". At first I thought he was joking, and laughed. He wasn't. I asked for a pint of Earl Soham. After a pint and updating my journal, I set off again; the pub was starting to get busy, I was lucky to have got a table. Dog walkers all sat outside. Felixstowe had an upmarket end, and a downmarket end. I struggled to find the ferry. It wasn't well signposted and my map did not make the route at all clear. I decided to enter the docks. There was an unholy banging noise coming from the area round the docks; as I followed a labrynthine route through the town and around the docks, past a locked gate entrance, along a dual carriageway, and left along a major road leading into the port, and past security who paid me no attention, into a major working dock. No ferry. I passed a sign that said "no public access" and one of the dock workers, a Geordie, asked me if I was lost.

Felixstowe seafront: the upmarket end
He told me that the foot ferry had stopped running. Then he radioed and got me instructions on how to get there. It involved going through the locked gate that I had mentioned previously. So I ingored his advice and headed back to the sea front. I then followed the sea front path all the way round - to the fort and museum - and there it was. Or wasn't!

This is the sign I found waiting for me. Plan "A" buggered! The one bloody day I turn up!! I lost my temper a bit, I admit, but forced myself to calm down, and then to get back into cycling mode. My journey was now significantly longer than I had planned; and it meant I had to go through Ipswich. It's impossible to go round due to major roads, and the estuary.

Trimley St Mary, Trimley St Martin, along the A14 on the pedestrian/ cyclists' path. Levington, and then still following National Cycle Route 51, through the middle of a council estate, two parks. I followed the A137 out of town to Broud, through Whersted, Holbrook, etc....all signposted. Then I cycled under the A14, and along a fairly busy road on the estuary bank, passed a large public school, Alton water reservoir, Stutton and Brantham.
sustrans map of Route 51

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Orfordness, Thorpeness and Aldeburgh

I had very moody weather today:

Orfordness has it's own microclimate, and its been dry for months:

after a short snooze I decided to make an evening run to Aldeburgh and Thorpeness:

Thorpeness has quite strange architecture:

Many locals so not like this scultpure. I can't say I was particularly offended:

Monday, July 06, 2009

Walk to Aldeburgh

I woke up in my clothes. Hot. Sweaty. Needing a shower. Breakfast was booked and I was looking forward to it. I settled into the mess room at 7.45 with a croissant and a coffee. I sorted out my maps and leaflets. Others arrived at 8.00 and the cooked breakfast was ready at 8.30. In previous years breakfast had been laid out buffet style, but this year we got it cafe style, on a plate, and with no "eat as much as you can, and stuff a few sausages and bread rolls in your pockets before you leave" option either. Oh how this recession bites!

Somehow the YH cook was a sausage short and somehow I ended up being the person with only one sausage. bit unfair I thought, though I manged to negotiate half a sausage from one of my fellow cycling hostellers.

After a good night's sleep I still felt incapable of riding a bike vey far, so at 9.30 I set off on a long walk, with the intent to knacker out a completely different set of muscles. I succeeded.

Set off through the woods behind the youth hostel - heading for the estuary:

An enormous black cloud arrived as I approached Cliff.
This is about when the rainstorm arrived:

I sheltered, with two anglers, under an enormous oak tree while the rain passed overhead. I could hear the distant rumble of thunder. But it had passed in a few minutes, and I carried on with my walk.

Then more black clouds arrived, and more rain:

The sun peaked through sproadically, and I took the opportunity to take photographs of this really rather picturesque estuary.

I managed to avoid getting wet directly from the rain, but walking out on the embankment I had to go through tall reeds, and ended up absolutely soaked from waist down.
After the rain had stopped and the sky cleared, I put on my pod player and listened to Collings and Herrin...which continued to keep me amused for a an couple of hours.
I reached Snape Maltings; sunny now, and I began to dry off. Now the walk continued on the north bank of the estuary, heading east.
Funny sheep. they all watched me closely as I walked past. You can see the river in the background:

Soon after, the path became difficult to follow, so I used the river to guide me which was fine while i could see it but once i entered the woods, i was guessing again. Ended up in some sort of posh housing estate, with enormous houses and expensive cars, and probably litigious residents with very good lawyers who do not appreciate strangers wandering around on their land; or possibly rich loonies with gun licenses, and very good lawyers. So I made a bee-line for the main road; ended up climbing over a wire fence and joining the public footpath again. I had a seriously cool close encounter with a stoat while in those woods. I saw it bounding along towards me, then it stopped and raise itself up to sniff the air. It didn't back off though, just carried on in a great wide arc around me - about 10 feet away, and then bounded off into the distance. All far too quick to take a photo, naturally.

When I reached the main road into Aldeburgh, no footpath of course, I struggled along the verges while avoiding the speeding traffic, past a golf course, some big houses, I quickly realised that i wasn't going to be able to walk back to Blaxhall and wondered about getting a taxi back. then noticed a bus stop - but buses stopped at 3pm!! Hardly a comprehensive bus service is it? Decided that getting a bus was going to be plan A but it didn;t give me much time in Aldeburgh, though I could always come back on the bike in the next day or two.
So tired was I on reaching Aldeburgh that I ambled about exhausted and aching, trying to find the bus stop which was to be my only way back to Blaxhall without having to call taxi. Luck was with me, and there was a bus due within the hour.

I bought a coffee and took in the view of the sea. Me and S had a very enjoyable afternoon here two years ago, and it made me nostalgic. I texted S to express my continuing love for her, before wandering (some would say limping) to the high street - stopping to get some groceries from the co-op - and waiting at the bus stop. Beside me was the best fish and shop in Britain, by reputation, and it was shut, as it always was whenever I visited Aldeburgh.
I think that day gave me a frightening future vision of mself as an old man. I was being impatient with the overweight pensioners who had adopted a range of Zombie walks in their various states of decrepitude; and then I suddenly realised that I was in an extremely similar state. several muscles had given up the ghost and others had kicked in to take up the strain, which left me struggling along the streets in what was very much a Zombie walk. Temporary of course, but overall decline is inevitable. Come back in 30 years!

The bus arrived. I'd tried to get on the wrong bus first and met with monosylabic driver from the big city who grunted at me, and somehow managed to convey that this bis was not for me.
Once on the bus, the rain finally arrived, unrelenting, only stopping as I ran from the bus stop to the youth hostel in Blaxhall.

The other cyclist turned up shortly, wet through. I tried not to laugh.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

suffolk trip 01: Dunwich Dynamo

Hooked up with another cyclist as I approached the food stop - over half way now. I showed him on my map under the impression that the food stop was in the same place as last year, L-----, and not Great -------. Coming out of S---y we immediately went off the route, me for the third time. This guy was a Yorkshireman, had a voice that sounded like Michael Palin, which in the dark, and wrapped up against the cold, is who I imagined him to be. I had a map, but he had the route - I'd lost mine, and as he wouldn't let me see his, I was effectively guessing the route, and he wasn't putting me right.

I had a feeling we'd gone wrong after a few miles, by then Michael Palin had gone ahead of me and was quite a way in front. I stopped and hoped he'd notice, but he didn't, so I shouted, but he didn't hear, or ignored me. I turned back and left Michael heading towards Ipswich in the dead of night. It was his first DD. I felt guilty as hell, but on reflection, there wasn't much I could do.

I went back through Newton, and Gt ------. This was the most disasterous DD ever for me. I normally reach the food stop while it is still open, this time it was clearly closing up. I never even got to have a cup of tea. I just kept going; the Sun was already showing signs of rising over the horizon.

The day was shaping up to be cloudy but dry. Felt cool cycling through the early morning air. then the rain started, and I got lost for the 4th time.

Back on route at Peasenhall and rain was making everyone sodden and miserable - and of course if I had performed as previous years, and not got lost, I wouldn't even have been cycling in the rain at all, I'd be warm and dry sitting in the beach cafe drinking coffee and eating sausages.

Windswept looking cyclists in rain wear were sitting huddled in bus shelters. I wonder how many people gave up then - so near the end. Rain didn't last too long after that. I saw a stoat pulling a dead baby hedgehog across the road, though dropped it and ran off as I approached. I hoped he went back for it after I has passed.

There were horseboxes everywhere. Loads of bloody horseboxes! An extra hazard on the roads! then I passed the entrance to a bloody horse show, where all the horse boxes were going. After that though I began to see cyclists who had finished the DD and were heading home/ back to London / to a nearby railway station. Not a hazard, just embarrassing....especially so as I was no longer on the DD route. So resigned to not being able to follow the correct route at this point, I'd given up and was just trying to get to Dunwich any which way I could, to coin a phrase. I was on the A14 - not an easy road to cycle on due to the high volume of traffic and fairly high speeds.

I didn't see it as cheating: first off it isn't a race; secondly I had racked up far more than the 120 miles I should have by sticking to the route; thirdly, I didn;t think I could keep going for much longer, and just needed to rest, and couldn't afford to drop out, really needed to finish.

I wasn't the last to finish, not far off though. All in all a fairly disasterous Dun Run, I need to do much better next year.

The queue at the cafe was long, I finished off my packed lunch, used my pannier as a pillow and went to sleep on the beach.

something went wrong with the arrangements to get cyclists back to London. They had to arrange for an extra removals lorry to carry bikes, causing the late departure of the coaches.

Awake after about an hour's sleep I queued up for coffee and chips and ate them outside. At around 2pm the coaches set off. It's a funny feeling seeing everyone disappear off back to London and to suddenly be left on an isolated beach, almost alone except for a few local dogwalkers and cafe staff.

Suddenly I very much felt as if I was the centre of attention, being gawked at by the dog-walkers et al. I was very much unwashed, stiff legged, in pain and exhausted, and not in the mood. People were good naturedly wanting to talk to me - as they knew about the DD -and I was almost the only participant left on the beach, but I mounted the bike and took off behind the coaches. I wanted sleep, food and drink in that order; but first I had to cycle 12 miles to Blaxhall.

Took a short cut this year which avoided the worst bits of the main road, and took me through Dunwich woods instead. Very nice. Felt better. Reached Blaxhall soon before the YHA opened.

All the pictures included in this post are from 2008, due to the fact that I didn't bother taking any this year, not until the Dun run was over anyway.

Dunwich Dynamo 2008