weekend 4/5 July 2010

We had quite a Hull-based weekend, really. After hurtling up to Chants Ave (library, greengrocer, dry cleaners, yet another run of clothes to the charity shop), we cycled down to the Architecture Centre, to a lecture/workshop on “What is Hullness?”. This was really interesting, particularly when we got to the workshop/discussion element, and they provided a free lunch too. I ate too much; I’m dreadful at buffets, I just graze and graze, and I must learn to stop. We met some nice people, including some from the Hull Civic Society, and I will send off a cheque for membership for that later today.

After that, we went down to the bit of derelict docks that you can walk around, but it’s no good with bikes, so we cycled from The Deep down to the passenger ferry terminal. This path goes all along what used to be thriving docks and is now architect designed waterside living, or some such. Actually, it’s quite a sympathetic development, and it’s a lovely ride down the edge of the Humber; it was a beautiful day, the birds sang, the water lapped. Once we got to the terminal, we couldn’t quite see how to get past that bit, so we cycled back up Hedon Road, which has an excellent pavement cycle path, but there was a very strong headwind in that direction!

We stopped in at the discount kitchen place we’ve been meaning to stop at for ages, but there was one guy there who was clearly very anxious to lock up and get away, and they weren’t very exciting anyway, so we trundled on home. 11.25 miles in all on two wheels that day.

After the huge lunch, we weren’t very hungry, so we just had cheese and crackers and fruit for supper, and very nice it was too.

On Sunday, we did the monthly mega catfud run, then had a snack lunch before sallying forth to the Avenues Open Gardens event. The Avenues are a set of roads with beautiful Victorian houses, fountains on the crossroads, etc (why do people always think that Hull is ugly? It has some gorgeous architecture), and most of them have huge long gardens. We managed about 65% of them this week, in three hours of walking, and then gave up and came home for a nice cup of tea – we can finish the rest next weekend. All quite fascinating, including the astonishing house at 206 Park Avenue, which has a humungous garden, including a swimming pool surrounded by water lilies, and a steam train running around. Only a tiny train, but still …

A cracking weekend, all in all – hope yours was good!

to Beverley and (almost) back

I know we said we’d go to the flatlands of Holderness yesterday, but as the Beverley Festival was on, we thought we’d ride over there and take a look. National Cycling Route 66 goes through Hull and Beverley, so it seemed a sensible way to go. Round here might be flat, but my word, the wind blows, and coming out of Cottingham was like being in top gear (no, not Top Gear).

Hmmm … the cycle track crosses a railway line. Behind barred gates. Barred locked gates. We’d already gone a couple of miles out of our way by missing signposts, so “I’ll climb over it”, I said to Pete. He looked a little taken aback, as this time last year, I had difficulty climbing a footpath stile, but I did it, and we lifted the bikes over. Twice (once each side of the line). After that the route became very rough, which did my knee in a bit, and a bit further on, almost at Beverley, the road was so narrow that I didn’t feel comfortable riding at all, so I pushed the bike for a mile or so. By the time we arrived in Bev, we’d done 11.7 miles, and I was bushed.

There wasn’t a lot going on in the town, or if there was we missed it. We saw some Morris Dancers, followed by Appalachian ones, and there was an open mike in the Sun (where we stopped for a (half pint of) beer and a sandwich), then we set off for home again. This time, we used the main roads most of the way, and that was a bit scary too, as I’m not used to traffic, so I rode on the pavement.

By the time we got back to the city I was absolutely knackered, and my knee was hurting, and somehow I actually fell off the bloody bike – still don’t know how. I didn’t do any harm to myself apart from some bruises, and the bike is fine apart from a bit of plastic trim from the front gears, which Pete has glued back on. I was pretty shaken though, and we were only a mile or so from home, so he pedalled off and fetched the car and bike rack, and picked me up.

I decanted myself into a hot bath, then had a lazy evening in my dressing gown, with tea and toast and Marmite. Bit battered this morning, but not too bad – glad I was wearing jeans and cycling gloves, though!

it's summer!

I had a parcel waiting for me at the sorting office, so I planned to go for a ride on the silver machine – collect the parcel, and come home via a scenic route. I dragged it out of the cycle tent, fitted the old lady’s wicker basket on the front, opened the gates, locked the doors (it’s a tedious business), set the GPS … and down came the rain.

It was bloody freezing – cold wind blowing, rain, etc. I pedalled womanfully round to Harpings Road, collected the parcel (Terra Plana shoes of fabulosity!), and came home via the Avenues; 3 miles rather than the 8-10 I had planned. My route was a little longer due to the arse in a big white van who had decided he really couldn’t be bothered to pull into the NHS car park in the tenfoot* by the Westbourne Health Centre, and instead would completely block the way; you could have got past him, carefully, on foot, but a bike wouldn’t fit. Given people use that tenfoot for access to their drives, he was being really quite selfish.

Pete made us some drop scones for breakfast, and then we went off into the city. On the bikes again! Called round to the bike shop and swapped the now redundant mudguards for a pair of fingerless cycling gloves, and went and looked at locks in the locksmiths, but I felt £28 was a little steep – I’ll carry the rigid lock for now.

Parked up in Victoria Square, then had a mooch round the shops. Pete wanted to try on some Docs, as they have stopped doing half sizes, and I wanted a couple of bits for the gym. Then we went down to Queens Gardens to see the Gig in the Gardens – sadly a very poor turnout, due to the weather, but we wandered round the stalls, talked to a load of people, got an “End Racism” wristband, and had a really nice lunch from the Anatolian stall at £4.50 for the two of us.

It was too cold to hang around for long, so we took ourselves round the Ferens Art Gallery. One floor was enough – I was over arted by the time we got to the maritime pictures, so we’ll do those another day. We treated ourselves to a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the cafe, then rode home again. The blue beast was collected, someone came round to try the purple bike, roast asparagus and pasta was consumed, and Doctor Who was watched.

Today we vaguely plan to take the bikes to the flatlands round the coast, but Pete has a very nasty cough so we’ll have to see how he feels when he surfaces. And I have Stuff to do a big chicken and chickpea tagine in the slow cooker.

*tenfoot is the name given locally to the alleys between the backs of the big terraced houses here – they’re ten feet wide (you could guess this, really), and were used originally for carriages, I think. These houses have huge gardens, and most people have garages at the end, so they use the alley for access. Unless a sodding great van is in the way, of course.

doing the bicycle shuffle

As my regular reader will have noted, the bike I had was too big for me, so I bunged it on eBay and it sold today for quite a decent price. In the meantime, I’d bought another bike, second hand and cheap, here in Hull, to keep me going. We foolishly didn’t take a spanner set when we bought it, and it turned out to be too small when I took it out for a proper ride this morning.

There’s a corner bicycle shop about 8 minutes from here on Chanterlands Avenue – it’s been there 80 years, apparently, although I suspect the people running it now are rather more recent. They sell ex-catalogue and reject bikes, apart from accessories and fettling, and as we had to go to the Post Office this afternoon, we thought we’d have a look at what they had. We also popped into the posh bike shop at the other end of Chants, but their bikes were way out of my price range, and they didn’t even acknowledge our existence, so we moved swiftly on.

In the 80 year old shop there was a Falcon Adventurer, marked down to £145 due to a small number of scratches on its shiny silver frame. It’s a 17″ aluminium frame, and much lighter and more compact than the hulking great blue beast. I took it for a small spin down Dundee Street, and it felt just … right. So we bought it.

my new bike - Falcon Adventurer

I’ve put the purple one back on eBay, and my exercise bike too, and that will more than cover the cost of the new one. Pete fitted my wicker bike basket holder, and the light mountings, and we finally sorted out the bike locks and keys, so that we each have a key for each lock, and then we took a 3 mile round trip ride to the sorting office, where I have to go to pick up a parcel tomorrow – firstly, to try the bike out, and secondly to check if there are any bike racks there (there aren’t).

And it’s lovely – just the right size, and I feel so much more confident on it. I never felt really safe on the blue beast, and that’s why I always kept the saddle too low – it was because it was too heavy for me, and I didn’t feel able to hold it steady. No such problem with this one;  in fact, I’ve just said to Pete that I’d like the saddle even higher (!), and I can get on and off it, and everything.

We currently have four bikes [sigh], but the blue beast goes tomorrow evening, and the small purple one is in the hall – we certainly can’t fit them all in the bike tent 🙂

So, at last, I seem to be satisfactorily enbiked. Which is nice.

Hull to Hornsea

17 miles on the flat – how hard can it be?

Well, given that it’s only my third bike ride in about 20 years, it turned out to be pretty hard. Not the cycling itself – the route is nearly all cycle path, mostly built over an old railway track, and although the surface is hard going in one or two places (die, shale!), it’s all quite manageable. Although my tailbone hurts 🙂

About 4 miles out of Hornsea, I really was worrying about getting back, but Pete pointed out that we could get a bus home, and go and collect the bikes in the car, which made me feel a lot better. The problem with that route is that there is virtually nowhere you could be collected, due to it all being miles away from roads.

We had lunch in Hornsea (steak and kidney pie for me; with chips! – I felt I’d earned them), and after a walk around the town and along the prom, I felt I could tackle the ride home.

What was difficult, for me, was the endless getting on and off the bike for the endless cycle gates – I find that difficult to manage, and on the way home, I was actually walking part of the way where I knew it was a short blast between gates to avoid this. By the time we got back to the outskirts of Hull I was in bits, really, and when we came through the big underpass, where I had to get off and push, Pete was nowhere to be seen. I don’t know that part of the city, and was completely lost and got quite panicky – hardly any battery in the phone, so couldn’t check on Google maps. I had to phone him and ask the route.

It’s clear now that the specialist bike shop in Bristol sold me The Wrong Bike – it’s too big for me, and too heavy, and we’re going to have to sell it and get me another if I want to do more of this (which I do, I do!). Also, despite [cough] an extensive shoe collection, I seem to have nothing suitable for cycling.

With hindsight, it was a bit too ambitious – I did want to take the the car to at least the edge of the city (with the bikes on the rack), but Pete is ridiculously reluctant to do this, $deity knows why. Next time, I shall put my foot down, or he can go on his own 🙂

Anyway, made it home, and collapsed into a nice hot bath, followed by Pete-made wholemeal scones and pigs in blankets, a pack of which had been lurking in the freezer since the festive season. Then Doctor Who, an episode of Outnumbered, and a very early night.

Don’t feel too bad this morning, apart from the graze on my foot – wrong footwear error (see above). Bit achey, but not nearly a bad as expected.

Today holds examining bicycle and readying for sale, someone coming round to collect a trampoline via Freecycle (given to me when I bought the exercise bike, and definitely not my thing), a couple of errands in the city, followed by a visit to the LibDem “thank you” party, then chicken stuffed with blue cheese, accompanied by asparagus and new potatoes.

bicycling on Spurn

pedal power!

Having had a successful cycle ride along the Humber estuary the other day, I was dead keen to go out and so some more. Friday was just a beautiful day, and so I persuaded ‘im indoors to skive off for the afternoon, stick the bikes on the car rack, and head out to Spurn Point.

Spurn is a little spit of land, about three miles long, and as narrow as 50 yards in places, with a single track road along it. It’s the only place in the UK that has a manned lifeboat station, as it can be just too difficult to get a crew there in bad weather; the sea comes over the spit. It’s a glorious place – we’d only been once, and that in a biting December wind, so I was keen to see it in more clement weather.

We left the car at the beginning of the Point, and set off. Like most of the area, it’s pretty flat, but for the first mile or so (and thus the last too), the road has vanished as the banks shift, and so it’s been re-laid on sleepers. They are horrible to cycle on, bumpity bumpity bump (new teef, please), and also that section is covered in fine sand, which can put a fair brake on your progress, but once past there it’s concrete and an easy ride.

It’s quite clear that the idea of steam giving way to sail, as it were, hasn’t penetrated to the Spurn visitors yet. The cars tend to force you off the road, and see passing places as just places to pass other cars, rather than bicycles, so you have to keep your wits about you (providing you remembered to bring them, of course).

Pete had to turn back, as he realised he had left the car keys in the car (fewl!), so I pressed on, and took a load of photographs at the end, which you can see here, should you wish. He arrived in due course, we had a mooch about, and then cycled back – about 6.5 miles, and it was dead easy; my fitness has improved beyond belief.  Next up we’re going to Beverley and back, which will be about 11 miles, I think.

We had a tour round Holderness in the car afterwards, which really is the flatlands, with lots of no through roads that aren’t labelled as such; then you reach a farm gate and realise you have to turn back. We came home via Paull, another place I’d wanted to see. There’s a Grade II listed lighthouse for sale there, and if you’d asked me a year ago would I like it, I’d have bitten your hand off. But now I’m in love with urban living, and so someone else can have it. We had a quick pub supper in the Humber Tavern in Paull (has everyone got a Facebook these days?!) – Whitby scampi and a G&T for me, and salmon fish cakes accompanied by a pint of Tetleys for Pete.

A very fine afternoon out, that was, and all the better for being impulsive – we shall do it again.


Bridlington beach

Pete and I had the sense to get married on a bank holiday – 29 May 1999, to be precise. The weather then was biblical, with a huge thunderclap as we left the register office in Weston-super-Mare, and rain that sent the wedding guests hunting for gopher wood. No matter, as it was a joyous day.

We planned a day out to Bridlington to celebrate this year’s anniversary; the forecast was not encouraging, but a little rain never deterred us, and we sallied forth, armed with various layers of windproof and waterproof clothing, and a flask of warming tea.

We started with a walk along the beach for a couple of miles, which was almost deserted. The tide was on its way out, leaving loads of streams running down towards the North Sea, some of which were too wide to leap across, and too deep to ford, even in sturdy walking shoes, but it was lovely all the same.

Then lunch (liver for me, something I never have at home, and fish pie for Pete), and a mooch round Brid’s charity shops, which turned up two pairs of size 14 trousers for me, and English asparagus and strawberries from the market. Then we went to see Flamborough South Landing, and then for a couple of miles trek around Bempton Cliffs, the RSPB sanctuary.

Then home to Doctor Who – a grand day out, Grommit, and it hardly rained at all.

On Sunday, I went into Hull to do some necessary shopping, while Pete finally mended the wing mirror on the car, went to get a headlamp bulb, tested the bike rack we bought before we moved and never even opened, and fettled the bikes.

And yesterday, we loaded said bikes onto said bike rack, popped into Asda for bulk cat fud, nipped into the motor factors for the *right* headlamp bulb and a number plate for the bike rack, then went to Humber Bridge country park, where we took the bikes for a 5 mile ride along the Hessel foreshore (Runkeeper map here). It was a beautiful spring afternoon, and I could have gone further, but that’s how far the path runs, and I don’t feel confident in traffic yet.

We bought these bicycles at least 2 years ago, and probably longer, but I’ve only been on mine 2 or 3 times – I was so desperately unfit, and Long Ashton was quite hillish. But I’ve been using the exercise bike, and more importantly, it’s *flat* here.  The time was not spectactular, but it involved several on and offs at cycle gates, which are too narrow to ride through, even if my cycle steering was up to it. The bike felt very big and heavy, and the back brake needs adjusting, or possibly a new cable, but it was really nice.  Next stop: Spurn Point, I think, but not this weekend, as we are sallying forth to that Lunnon for a wedding (hurrah! – see lots of you there!).

So that was our bank holiday weekend – hope you had a good ‘un too.

what I did at the weekend

Woke up unconscionably early on Saturday morning, and got up at 5.15 – this meant the day was a bit of a washout, energy-wise.  I did take my bicycle out for the first time in a couple of years (I think).  I went to the other end of the cycle path and back, probably about 3 miles or so in total, and it was hell on my legs, but my breathing was hugely better, so I think it was just a question of using yet another set of muscles.  I shall do it more often.

Other than that, Saturday was pretty lazy – [info]perlmonger made a great start on the Great Garage Clearout, then went for a "quick bike ride" at 4.15, from which he returned at 7.30 p.m. .. too late to order the takeaway we’d planned, so I cooked a courgette pasta bake while he encountered ferocious gorse bushes on the Portishead coast path; serves him right.

Sunday … I don’t think I did anything much, apart from the monthly pub quiz on Sunday, in which we came fourth.  Oh, I went for a mooch around Bemster, but it was Shut.

Monday was up early to go and set up the LibDem tombola stand at the North Somerset Agricultural Show.  The weather was far from benign, but the crowds turned out, and I think it went well – we did a couple of hours as tombola barkers and ticket sellers, and actually quite enjoyed it, although I confess we buggered off home before it was stall take-down time.  I bought some very nice deck shoes, and a pair of silver earrings, and we both bought new warm Sherwood jackets – not matching, as that would be entirely too Howard and Hilda.  We both needed them – Pete has a wax jacket, but it’s very bulky, and I have one of those dual waterproof/fleece things, but it doesn’t feel right, somehow. These jackets are light and warm, and just the ticket.  Also got an aloe vera stick deodorant and some aloe propolis cream, had a big sossidge and onion in a bun for breakfast, and a cupful of fruit salad for lunch.

Somewhat foolishly, I decided to wear my MBT boots for the day, and I hadn’t been out in them for ages.  After about 7 hours on my feet, I had horrible aches in my hips and outer thighs, so that was yet another set of unused muscles protesting.  I had a long soak in the bath before I went to bed, hit the pillow at 9 p.m., and slept through till 7 this morning.  I had planned to go swimming, but it was too late then – if you’re not at the pool by 7, all the lanes are gone.

This afternoon, I’m off to the hairdresser for a wash and brush up – now I have my new eyes, I fancy a change, so we shall see what they wreak.