On ya bike

A heatwave is coming but it’s certainly not here yet. It’s a tad bracing on the knees.

The weeks keep passing without going for a run. So needs must. My old exercise bike is getting some hammer. Last year I started a Creaky World Tour. How far can I get round the world by exercising in Yorkshire. Initially using the Pokemon Go app to track my runs and dog walks. Then as our family lockdown tightened that became mainly using my battered old exercise bike. The last time I checked I had made it to Volgograd. So let’s check in again.

The bike is showing just under extra 2000 miles. Wow didn’t think my little legs could go that far in 20 odd weeks. So where am I?

Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. (All the photos from Tripadvisor)

No rest for the wicked. Let’s see how far I get in a few more months time. Plenty of months of exercise biking still to come.

Time to love Yorkshire

I put my hands up. I might poke a bit of fun at my county of birth. Well actually a lot. Yes the weather can be grim, the people can be a bit odd (me certainly included), we might be a little behind the cutting edge, probably spend too much time focusing on the past BUT….

It is a great place to live and visit. So much history, beautiful brooding landscapes, welcoming, diverse, a wonderful quirkiness and a place that has definitely left its mark on the world. So maybe every so often I should really show and tell the good about Yorkshire.

So here goes. I give you just a fraction of what Yorkshire has to offer.

Friday memories

This is a photograph that I always keep coming back to. Especially today. It’s a photo that can take me in two different directions. Sadness or Happiness. Currently it’s in the direction of happiness.

A meal and a drink outside while gazing upon one the worlds most epic mountains, The Eiger. Then a walk from Kleine Scheidegg down to Lauterbrunnen. Snow on the tops but wonderfully warm. Walking down listening to our son talk about Dr Who and monsters. A two hour walk was just not long enough for him, he only scratched the surface of his Time Lord memory banks. Listing to my partner laugh at our sons numerous monster jokes.

Yes a beautiful day. All flooding back thanks to a treasured old photograph.

#itsabeautifulplanet

Ok I know I go on about Switzerland. How I think it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. But I need to set the record straight. In my eyes we are so lucky to live in a world with so many wonderful places. Every country, every region will have at least one place. One special place. I’ve been so lucky to actually visit many of those places in Yorkshire, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Congo, South Africa and yes Switzerland.

Yes today Yorkshire is separate from England – must be time for the next King Richard III to take us out of the place which has became the play thing for the Madness of King Boris.

If I can’t physically visit places then I can see the beauty through virtual trips.

Yes we live in a world which can still be beautiful. It can still be a wonderful life. Surely it’s time for us to not to always focus on all the ugliness which fills the news these days. Time to focus on the beauty. Time to delete the #itsanuglyworld and get behind something like #itsabeautifulplanet. Time for us to promote those special places. To give others a glimpse of what is truly out there.

So I will give you my first offering. I give you Northumberland.

You can’t take the Yorkshire out of Yorkshire

It is my civic duty to continue your enlightenment in the dark arts of being from Yorkshire. Think of it as a Public Service Broadcast. Think Bear Grylls and Born Survivor. One day you might end in deepest, darkest Barnsley – these help guides may just end of saving your life.

So here goes. Pay attention and digest the following Yorkshire list.

  • Don’t ever get into a discussion with someone from Yorkshire about how tough your childhood was. A true Yorkie will be compelled to outdo you. If you don’t believe me look up the Monty Python and the Four Yorkshiremen Sketch.
  • Queens English is not recognised in Yorkshire. You need to speak Yorkshire. It’s the only dialect which not one single voice recognition system has been able to crack.
  • To say Yorkshire you need to say YARKSHAR…
  • To say Hello you need to say OW DO or EY UP
  • To say Goodbye you need to say SE’THE
  • To say Very you say REET
  • To say ‘Can I Please Borrow’ you say CADGE
  • To say Nothing you say NOWT
  • To say You it’s THA
  • To say Yes it’s AYE
  • To say ‘I would like that one’ then you say BAGSY
  • Be careful with the word CHAMPION. In most part of the worlds it’s a fine shoe and sports clothing brand. In Yorkshire Champion means Excellent
  • Similarly in the rest of the world OK means I’m OK. In Yorkshire to say I’m OK you need to say ‘I’m fair t’ middling’
  • Someone approaching you and asking for a CROGGY is either a term of affection or they are asking for a lift on your bike.
  • If someone shouts ‘tha Chuffing ……’. That could mean you are being physically sworn at or it could be a warning that you are smoking and you need to jump into the nearest river.
  • You need to remember that the first Heavier than Air Manned Flight took place in Yorkshire over 150 years ago. I hear you ask WHY. The answer was that in the same year it became the law that Yorkshire Ferrets had to be kept in trouser pockets. Wouldn’t you be desperate to leave the county….
  • When you speak to someone from Yorkshire then you need to brace yourself. It’s only a matter of time before Yorkshire being the centre of the known universe is brought up. Quickly followed by the following line ‘which over place can claim to have a Captain of the Starship Enterprise, the first ever female Dr Who, the head of the X-Men and a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Never try to argue with someone from Yorkshire as this will either result in the Yorkshire Terriers being set upon you or you will have to endure the following words – ‘you do know that Wuthering Heights was set here.’
  • If you are offered a Yorkshire Pudding then you need to be on your toes. This could either mean it’s being served as a starter, main course or sweet – or probably ALL three. In inclement weather you might also be offered one as a protective hat.
  • If you spend more than 5 minutes in the presence of someone from Yorkshire then the subject of CRICKET will enter the conversation. Specifically Cricket and Rhubarb. Just nod and smile and let the following local expression rattle around your brain. ‘Me ol mum could ave hit tha’ ball with a stick o’ rhubarb’. Also don’t be shocked if you then here ‘tha’s got more edges than a cracked bedpan’ – *** please note I cleaned that one up considerably***
  • You will hear many references to needing a Yorkshire passport. Currently this is not the case but in certain parts of the county the wearing of string vests and knotted hankies is a requirement.
  • The word ‘Scraps’. Here in Yorkshire it can mean two things. It can mean what happens when people get physical as they fight over the last frozen chicken left n the shop freezer. But it can also mean food heaven. Ask for a ‘bag a scraps’ in a Yorkshire Fish and Chip Shop and you will get a portion of the deep fried batter leftovers which are at the bottom of the fryer. But be careful with how you say ‘scraps’ to the Chipman and don’t ever make eye contact. This might end up with the chipman attacking you with a frying pan.

Weeds weeds weeds

In this photo the farmers field looks well kept, flat with short grass. In reality it’s like walking over a minefield. No flat bits, huge holes, long grass, thistles and presents from the farm animals. Maybe I should try taking a long distance photo of our garden. It might look semi tidy. Ha Ha Ha

Yes we currently have a well cut lawn – well if you ignore the beautiful mole hills and badger diggings. That’s also conveniently ignoring the rampant moss growing amongst the grass. The other parts of the garden are not good at all. It’s an uncoordinated mix of weeds, flowers, more weeds and vegetables. I was hoping the theory that ‘beauty can be found in the random’ might be true. Always an exception to the rule.

Apparently some vegetables in that mess
A bit of a tidy up has started…

Then looking on in amazement at Erika’s wonderful garden. Now that’s a garden. Looking at Derrick’s stunning garden. Now that’s a garden. Time to convert that amazement into action. Time to ditch the random…

I’m in planning mode. Making plans for a potential future road trip to Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Making plans for a dream trip to another continent. Now making plans for the garden. That’s a plan that I can start to implement NOW. If we are going to be garden bound, might as well make it a nice one. Under orders from Hawklad the plan will need to include a rock pool and a weed section. Well with the Yorkshire rain we won’t need to worry about refilling the pool and weeds – we have plenty of those. That’s a good start.

It’s also a good check on my life in general as well. My life has become far too cluttered. Too messy. Trying to fight on too many fronts at the same time. Not sure of what my priorities are. Just like the garden, it’s become overgrown and confusing. I then don’t seem to achieve enough. Lose sight of the path ahead. So yes a garden plan is good, a new life plan would be really good. That way I can really focus on what is special to me.

A trip many moons ago

I stumbled across a few old photos. From a time before parenting. Even before my first ever digital camera… A time when my body was still young and I could run up mountains. A time when the wind would still blow my thick long black hair across my face.

A trip to the West Side of Northern England. To the Lake District and to one of Englands most famous mountains. The Old Man of Coniston. It’s not a huge mountain standing at just over 2600ft. But it’s steeped in history. It’s positioned next to the beautiful Coniston Water. The walk to the top takes you through old copper mine workings. Alongside a couple of stunning little tarns. Then finally onto a summit with sweeping views.

Hopefully one day I will return to the summit. A summit climb with considerably less hair. Which will take much longer this time and feature many sandwich stops..

Flight

Such a rare site these days. A plane…. According to the flight app it’s on the way to Houston. I wonder how many are on the flight? With so many unseen enemies I don’t imagine it’s a particularly pleasant experience.

I was never the greatest of flyers. I was always one of those who kept one beady eye on fellow passengers for unusual behaviour and the other on the structural integrity of the plane. Luckily I never had too many bad experiences.

  • A landing at Geneva which was a tad extreme. I heard one flight attendant say – that’s the co pilot, he drives his car just as bad….
  • An argument with English Border Security why they were body searching our 3 year old toddler who was holding a cuddly dinosaur and his 73 year old granny, yet waving through adults my age. I wonder if that got me onto the security watch list….
  • A last second aborted landing at Leeds Bradford. Sudden pull up with feet to go. Then 10 minutes circling at an extremely low height with no pilot update. Finally the pilot announced that the power had gone out at the airport during the landing.
  • A year later circling Leeds Bradford airport for far too long waiting for the wind to drop. The pilot didn’t help the mood by announcing that the plane was low on fuel so they could only circle one more time before they he would have to find another airport that was open.

But then you balance that out with great memories

  • That first glimpse of The Alps through the plane window.
  • On a flight to Amsterdam telling son a story about a talking mole who would sneeze so hard he would blow clothes off washing lines. People and other talking animals would stand in front of the mole hoping for a sneeze and a free journey. A mole whose best friends are an overweight tea drinking cheetah and a crocodile who was scared of everything. When I finished I heard the toddler behind us laughing her head off. Her parents asked if I would tell another one for her. Ended up doing stories until we landed.
  • Our toddler son telling the the flight attendant on a Lufthansa flight that the in flight cakes were the best thing he had ever had. Just before we left the plane, the flight attendant returned with a huge box of the cakes. Kept him going for months.
  • As we boarded a Swissair flight the pilot clearly took a shining to our son. Seconds later son was sat in the pilots seat with her pilot hat on. He was shown how to fly the plane. That’s an awful lot of things to look at.
  • Swissair was always so much fun. Just before you landed they would dish out free goodies for you to take with you. Free chocolate, free small wine bottles, free sweets and a free soft toy for the kids. Sadly they went bankruptI wonder why….

Back to that one flight in the air heading to Houston. It got me thinking about when I would fly again. The question rapidly changed into if I would ever fly again… Aspergers and modern flying are not natural partners. Too many people squeezed into confined spaces. In your face security. Never ending queues. Unpredictable timings designed around the planes rather than the individual. The sensory overload and lack of personal space or quiet areas. Maybe the answer is never.

If and when travel resumes for the world…. if and when travel resumes for us then we have options. Train journey is still not subject to many of the burdens that go with flying. Car travel can be so much fun …..just need a car that could make it out of Yorkshire. And yes air travel may still be an option.

Or maybe I can find a talking mole who has a talent for massive sneezing. Maybe mole sneeze induced travel is the eco friendly option for the future.

The need for travel

Last night we were watching the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Yes we really do like to stretch our cultural boundaries. A couple of times during the movie I found myself thinking – wish I could visit that location. I’ve been doing that quite often recently. Can’t really blame the pesky virus completely for that. I was having those thoughts before the lockdown. Our Son’s world is naturally contracting. So mine is as well. The last time we spent more than one night away from our home was back in 2015. Sporadic day trips and the daily run partially helped fill my mind with some connection to the wider world.

So after Son had gone to bed I went in search of photos. Photos which would remind me of trips and holidays. Soon I was back in Northumberland with my partner. A week in a gypsy cottage.

Walking alongside Hadrians Wall and in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, almost 2000 years ago. Touching and drinking in ancient history.

Enjoying the open spaces. Hardly meeting another soul. Feeling that cold northern wind and walking on the soft moorland. Feeling no limits and letting the map decide the route.

Places like Northumberland have a unique atmosphere. A bleakness. An almost somber beauty.

And then a reminder of why I am so thankful for life.

A trip to a castle

I was looking for batteries. Why are batteries so pesky. You spend most of the year cursing who many batteries you find on shelves, pockets and cupboards. But when you actually need them, the little blighters hide. When you do find them you can guarantee that they are the wrong size. Anyway I was looking for batteries with absolutely no success then ….

An old and forgotten box of old photos. It’s times like this that I am so happy that I had a habit of taking too many pics. This box was from a holiday we had way before our son was born. We arranged a last minute week long trip to Northumberland in the North of England. For those who don’t know England that well – find the most northerly English city (Newcastle). The bit above this city and all the way to the Scottish border is Northumberland. It’s a beautiful and often desolate place. With few large towns, rolling hills, moors and some of the countries finest castles.

For the week we rented an old Gypsy Cottage. The weather was so Northumberland like. Very windy, cold and often exceedingly damp. Today’s photographic memory trip was a day trip we had during that lovely week. A trip to Dunstanburgh Castle.

It’s a stunning castle ruins set right on the windswept North Sea coast. To get to it you park up in a small fishing village and walk along the beach. The walk started wet and basically added increasing amounts of water to the mix. The photos brought the memories flooding back. Wow we got wet.

It was a wonderful day. We had the place to ourselves. Hours spent walking along the coast, scrambling over history and even time for sand castle building. Finally we got back to the fishing village and looked round the local fish smoking business. It would have been rude not to sample the produce and chips. Then it was back to the cottage to a roaring fire and an attempt to dry out. Happy Days.