Archive for the ‘rambling on’ Category


A Lesson in Winter Weather

In rambling on on March 25, 2013

Having changed our business around in the last few months I’ve been able to get out and about a bit more without feeling like I ought to be back at my desk all the time. Whilst I’m out in the morning, walking up to the school, instead of dashing home to get straight to work I’ve been taking the time to have a longer ‘commute’ – looping around the lanes for a 2/3/4 mile walk several mornings a week. I’ve been exploring places I don’t know at all despite having lived here for years now.

A couple of weeks ago it was a sunny but cold morning in the town, 500 feet above sea level but sheltered in the valley. I took a walk up some farm tracks and ended up coming down a path that despite being labelled as a track on all my maps (which usually means ‘passable by farm vehicles’) was very much a stony footpath that obviously turned into an almost-a-stream in the rain. Except it was cold and icy. So I was clambering down what felt like a frozen waterfall. Very carefully. I got home in one piece and told myself off for being an idiot for not turning around and going the long way back. I realised how easy it was to misjudge paths and weather conditions. I wasn’t going to do that again.

Two days ago we woke up to more snow than I remember seeing here before.
24cm, 9.5 inches
Over the weekend the roads have all been cleared and by this morning the town was, though still very white, back in civilisation again.

I decided there was no reason not to go for a walk. I picked a ~2.5 mile loop up the hills and back down into the town, no wandering off onto footpaths or anywhere I didn’t know. All on good roads that are usually gritted and ploughed. There was no problem getting up to the top of the hill and round. After about 1.5 miles, heading back towards home, I came across a stretch of road where snow from the field was blowing over the road. I stopped and took a photo to show how bad the snow drift was. Then walked through it – for about 50 metres or so it was complete white out walking down the road through the blowing snow.
Snowdrifts I

A little further on I found the road vanished beneath a snow drift. The gritters and snow ploughs clearly hadn’t managed to get along this stretch of road.

Snowdrifts II

I carried on walking – how bad could it get? I really wasn’t that far from the town.

Snowdrifts III

The drifts were getting worse but they must be nearly over. I was just about managing to find a path past them. Then it really got bad with snow banks completely across the road from side to side.

Snowdrifts IV

I stopped taking photos at this point, deciding that my phone was better off safe in my pocket and my hands were better off helping me scrabble over the snow banks. It got worse before it got better though. I was only a couple of hundred metres from the town when I took that last photo but they were a long, rather scary, couple of hundred metres.

It’s easy to see how people end up in trouble on snowy hills though. This road has been fine in the snow before, and other higher roads were clear, but the local conditions here – the snow on the fields and the wind – made it very different to places that seemed similar. And, exactly as when I found the icy waterfall path the other week, I thought it was easier to go on than to go back.

Lesson learned I think. I hope. Also, I am very ready to greet spring!


RIP Ceefax

In rambling on on October 22, 2012

I have far more affection for Ceefax, the Oracle and 4-Tel than I have for most things broadcast on the TV. I’m much more of a textual data person than an audio/visual one, even when you have to wait for the pages to flick over. Sad to hear of its demise.

Ceefax Goodbye

From the archives:

Kirsty's Birthday

[via feelinglistless]


Darren’s Etchings

In rambling on on October 14, 2012

A few months ago Darren bought an etching press. It weighed approximately a thousand tons and I helped him get it up to one of our attic rooms. (I may be exaggerating both the weight and the amount of help that I gave.) Since then he has steadily been producing a range of fabulous prints and we are currently celebrating as he is going to supply some for sale at the Craft & Design Gallery in Leeds next spring.

Blue Trees at Avebury by Darren Reynolds
This one, Blue Trees at Avebury, is one of my favourites.

You can read and see a lot more about his prints over on his dreynoldsart blog. He’s also set up to sell original prints via Etsy and Saatchi Online.


TPT Extension: Kirkburton to Millhouse Green (Part 1)

In rambling on on October 14, 2012

We use the Transpennine Trail around Penistone a lot for nice flat safe off-road family bike rides – it’s a lovely old railway route and Penistone has good café, supermarket and ice cream stops for all your bribing-seven-year-olds-to-bike-a-bit-further needs.

I’ve been spotting blue cycle signs in new places when driving about the area this summer and eventually looked them up and found that a new extension has been ‘built’ linking Kirkburton to Millhouse Green which is on the Transpennine Trail proper near to Penistone. This extension is new enough that it hasn’t yet appeared on Sustrans or Transpennine maps online. I wanted to know where the new route went, how hilly it was, what the surface was like, but I couldn’t find any info online beyond the vague details of the route:

The on-road option will travel from Kirkburton through Stocksmoor, Shepley, Haddingley and Royd Moor to join the Trail at Millhouse Green. This route will be available for walkers and cyclists.

The off-road route will be slightly longer and travel from Kirkburton, Shelley, Shepley, Cumberworth Common, Denby Dale, Upper Denby, Ingbirchworth, Royd Moor to join the Trail at Thurlstone. This route will be available for walkers, cyclists and equestrians.

This still wasn’t enough for me to be able to piece the route together, so this afternoon Darren & I drove our bikes up to Kirkburton to find the start of the new routes. The off-road route starts on Box Ings Lane opposite Kirkburton Health Centre (on a Sunday afternoon we felt it was reasonable to use the Health Centre car park) and is labelled as 11.5 miles to Millhouse Green. We spotted the start of the on-road route a little further north down the main road nearer the centre of Kirkburton, that one is labelled as 9.5 miles.

Unfortunately we were unimpressed with the off-road route from the start. I missed the second sign and cycled up a driveway rather than the bridleway, fortunately Darren saw it but the path was much more of a ‘footpath’ than we had expected, very rocky and uphill and we ended up walking fairly quickly. Our bikes are hybrids but they weren’t really up to the roughness of the path and in places it was very narrow. We only bumped into a couple of dog walkers though. The path got better as we went on, turned into a farm track shortly before meeting Penistone Road. There is a short on-road section down to Dam Hill. The second section of off-road track is even worse than the first, before it turns into Long Lane which is a decent path with good views through farmland that takes you to Shepley.

The route passes through Shepley on roads (Field Head, Lydgate Lane, a short bit of the main Abbey Road, and on to The Knowle) and leads onto a bridleway marked as High Moor Lane on some maps. This started off as what I think was supposed to be a grass track (no grass,very muddy) and then the downhill section was like riding down a stream. A bit too exciting for me, and my bike wasn’t really up to it. When we hit the left turn onto Copley Lane at the bottom we decided we’d had enough even though we’d only covered 3 and a bit miles of the trail. We definitely weren’t going to retrace our steps to go back upstream so we gave up following the trail for the day. We may try again in the future (hence ‘Part 1′ in the post title!), but we won’t be trying this section again. We carried on up Near Bank to Shelley, found a bench with a view for our picnic and took a quick spin back down Huddersfield Road to the car.

We didn’t bump into any other cyclists on this part of the trail, which didn’t really surprise us given what we found. I would have enjoyed walking it, but it wasn’t particularly suitable for family cycling without mountain bikes. I’m more inclined to try out the on-road route next time!

In case it helps anyone else, here is our route along the first part of the trail from Kirkburton to Shelley, plotted on OpenCycleMap using BikeRouteToaster:

Transpennine Trail, Kirkburton to Shelley


A Tale of Three Journeys

In rambling on on September 21, 2012

This was the first time my car had needed a service since I had fitted the bike rack on the roof.

  • Journey 1: After morning rush hour, from home to the garage. By car. Distance 8.5 miles. Time 32 minutes. About 16mph.
  • Journey 2: From the garage back to home. A lift into town, walk across the town centre and the bus home. Time approximately 1 hour and twenty minutes. About 7mph at most. I don’t generally mind buses but this one was a hot bus when I was dressed for a chilly day, my head was achey and I felt travel sick.
  • Journey 3: To the garage to fetch the car in afternoon rush hour. By bike. Taking a longer almost 10 mile route along nicer roads and checking whether the canal towpath and a greenway are suitable for riding with Miranda at a later date. Time 54 minutes. Just over 11mph, would have been rather faster if I’d stuck to the main roads I guess.

Conclusion: 11 is not that much less than 16 (and could be speeded up a bit quite easily). And the bike is a lot more fun than sitting waiting for the car in front to move.

Next time I will take the bike with me and do Journey 2 by bike as well I think, though it may take a little longer as it is more uphill back. Can’t be worse than the original Journey 2 though.

Journey 4, back home with the car, with the bike on the roof, was slightly quicker than Journey 1 had been. It still didn’t top 20mph though.

Postscript: for the price of the car service and two new tyres I could have bought my bike again. Twice in fact. I know my car is a luxury item. Maybe I need to spend more on bikes too…


London 2012

In rambling on on September 12, 2012

I probably watched more TV in the summer of 2005 than at any time before or since – my daughter was breastfeeding for about 25 hours a day at the time – and on 6th July I tuned in to watch the IOC decide where to hold the 2012 Olympic games. It came down to a choice between Paris and London, and I remember being pretty certain, in a very British “we’re no good at anything” way, that the votes would go to Paris. And then I was ecstatic when London won the games.

The first Olympics I remember were the 1984 Los Angeles games. I was 12 and my dad had videoed the opening ceremony while I was at Guide Camp. I watched it over and over. I mostly remember being glued to the gymnastics, watching the Zola Budd/Mary Dekker debacle and Daley Thompson winning gold. I don’t remember much of the 1988 games, middle of the night stuff in the UK. Then in 1992 the games were in Europe but I was in America, without a TV. In 1996 the games were in America but I was in the UK, without a TV. All this time Britain were, it seemed, getting worse at sport, winning less medals. In 2000, I was back in America, the games had gone to Australia, and though I did have a TV I had long since lost the habit of watching it. I was shocked when I saw that an American could win a gold medal in Sydney and barely get a mention in their national media – Britain had only come home from Atlanta with one gold medal and Steve Redgrave was a national hero for winning it.

Roll on 2004, and the Olympics were in Athens, on more or less the same time zone as me. I was pregnant, tired, not sleeping well and spent hours in front of the telly, knitting, and watching all kinds of different sports, and really enjoying it. And really pleased when Britain won a creditable nine gold medals.

Which brings us back to how pleased I was when London was awarded the 2012 games and I was sitting with my four month old and realising she would be seven years old when the games came to London and plenty old enough to take. And then there was that awful day afterwards, 7th July 2005, when a group of men, three of them from Yorkshire, travelled to London to detonate bombs on the tube (and one ended up on a bus). It seemed like London had been torn apart and the idea of it having glittering future as an Olympic city was hard to comprehend.

“I’m glad Miranda doesn’t comprehend what’s been going on in one of my favourite cities today. Despite the fact that she’s been listening to BBC News 24 all day just as we have.”

London, of course, mourned, recovered, remembered and went on.

The Beijing Olympics of 2008 arrived. This time I managed to watch plenty of them despite the time difference. Team GB had a stonking time, tons of medals, it felt almost like they had peaked too early. The next four years felt like a storm of financial trouble, crashes, worries that London was never going to manage to deliver the games. I was still excited but it was hard not to believe all the doomsayers were going to be right. The ticket application process was a jumble, I didn’t get the opening ceremony tickets I’d wanted (since 1984 really). We didn’t get stadium tickets for the athletics. Nor for the Aquatics centre. Nor for the velodrome. The Olympics got tangled up in an “everyone is fed up of the Jubilympics” thing (I avoided the Jubil* bit as much as I could; I like Britain, I’m not so fond of its constitutional monarchy).

At the last minute I’d thrown some tickets to the table tennis into the basket, my dad used to play and I thought it would be a nice event to take my parents to. The table tennis tickets ended up being the only ones I got. I was disappointed at the time, especially as the event wasn’t being held at the Olympic Park. Then I realised how many other people hadn’t got any tickets at all and made my peace with the application process. We were going to the Olympics!

In the weeks before the games potential problems with the games kept popping up, major security staffing problems, the transport network wasn’t going to hold up, it still felt like it could all go badly wrong. Besides, it had been raining for months.

Then the opening ceremony began. Would it be good?

Short version: Yes. It was fabulous. The opening ceremony defined Britain and Britishness and had us all screaming, nodding and declaring it the best thing ever. Who knows what the rest of the world made of it, but it was a perfect expression of where Britain came from, and where it is today, and gave us hope for the future. The medals starting coming and didn’t stop.

The Olympics and Paralympics both gave us a fabulous summer that we’re not going to forget in a hurry.

(I had intended to write more, but this post is suffering from ‘never quite getting round to it’ syndrome. I may write Part II at a later date. In summary: Yes, worth the seven year wait.)


Really unimpressed with the C4 Paralympics streaming. Constant crashing & spends more time showing startup adverts rather than any sport!

In mytweets on September 1, 2012


Loving that the #OpeningCeremony is centred around Miranda :) (My Miranda has gone to sleep, and there’s another storm brewing outside.)

In mytweets on August 29, 2012


Too many TV channels! Can we go back to just having one with all the Olympics stuff on please?! #bbc2012

In mytweets on August 4, 2012


My Project Wardrobe

In rambling on on July 20, 2012

I can’t locate the quote I came across recently that claimed that buying clothes was not like buying a sofa. The gist was that you want clothes to look fabulous once, and then discard them, whereas you want a sofa to last for years. The quote brought into focus something that I’ve thought for a long time and that I am obviously way out of sync with most women on. I want my clothes to be like a sofa! I have finally learnt to buy (or make) good quality ones but I still wear them out. I like clothes and shoes but don’t have any need for loads of them. Since then I keep coming across posts about wardrobes that make me giggle.

The latest was via web-goddess this morning. I’m not quite sure if the point is that seven pairs of shoes for a man is considered to be loads or hardly any. I have seven pairs of shoes, and I know that is more than I have ever owned in my life before. I spent years with only my everyday boots and possibly a pair of posh shoes so this collection feels pretty extravagant to me:

  • Lightweight hiking boots. Wear everyday in winter with jeans and in bad weather in the summer.
  • Canvas trainers. Converse All-Stars at the mo. Wear with jeans in good weather in the summer generally.
  • Black boots. Wear with skirts & tights in the winter.
  • Brown boots. Almost the same as the black ones but brown for clothes co-ordination reasons.
  • Flip flops. Everyday summer wear with skirts. The last pair of good quality Reef ones lasted five years so I replaced them with the same brand again.
  • Sandals. My posh summer skirt wearing shoes, actually also flip flops usually.
  • I can only make the collection up to seven by including my heavy weight hiking boots as well.

They all fulfil different needs. I would buy more if I found I needed something for a different purpose.

In the same vein I came across Project 333 just before starting on a wardrobe clearout recently. The idea is to simplify your life by choosing only 33 items of clothing (not including underwear, pyjamas etc) to rotate for 3 months and put everything else away. On going through my wardrobe it became clear I wasn’t the audience for this one either. Though there are more than 33 items in my wardrobe I thought I could easily survive on less. All the project would do would be to force me to choose which of the ‘posh’ items to add to my everyday clothes.

Instead I decided to track what I actually wore. So far I am a month into this project and have actually worn 18 items of clothing in 38 outfits (that’s 2 outfits a day some days):

  • six tops (mostly long sleeve t-shirts)
  • one dress
  • two pairs of jeans
  • two denim skirts
  • one other posh-ish skirt
  • four items of footwear (converse, sandals, flip-flops and lightweight boots)
  • one cardy
  • one sweatshirt

There are a few more items I would like to add. It’s basically rained for the whole month, in the next two months (weather permitting) I expect to add more dresses and short sleeve tops.

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