Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Elephants in Green Park

Yesterday I went to the Moof IT nerve centre in London. As always I walked from Victoria, this time through Green Park. 

In the middle were two herds of wooden elephants. Placed there to highlight the declining numbers of the real thing in the wild. There must have been over thirty, all shapes sizes and poses. 

Other parks have them too, or will soon. 

It was early so there weren't many people around. Later, on my way home it was much more crowded. I wouldn't have been able to take such clear pictures. They were very impressive, well worth the trip into town.

Line of elephants green park

Line of elephants green park

Line of elephants green park

Sunday, 13 June 2021

A light at the end of the tunnel



Lately I have had more good days than bad. Maybe it's the improving weather, although May has been very wet. Maybe I'm getting better at dealing with depressive thoughts.

The good days take me by surprise, I'll notice that I'm in an upbeat mood. Stressers aren't having their normal affect, I feel less tired and am able to focus. The next day I could be feeling low again, but nothing will have changed. It's possibly the most frustrating aspect of depression for me; if I knew what triggered the swing up, I could concentrate on that.

I have been taking the power to affect me away from others, be less influenced by what they might think. 

It's very easy to be overwhelmed by negativity, the news and social media can be a loud voice pushing the dark side of life. I unfollow or unfriend if I just see posts that aren't helping me. Or when they have formed an opinion that can't be reasoned with. You don't have to agree with me, but that shouldn't stop you listening.

The picture for this post is a good illustration of the present. I'm moving forward, I may not be out of the tunnel, but it's not as dark as it was. And I'm not alone, people are willing to help me towards the exit.

Sunday, 6 June 2021


strava data 162 miles

I was in two minds about writing this; I'm not one to boast. Regular readers will know I have wondered how far was too far in a day. One hundred miles is still hard, but is less of the challenge it once was. A member of my cycling club asked for companions for a one hundred and forty mile ride he had planned. It worked out perfectly; I would be able to spend the whole day away from home. The start point was around a seven mile ride, so the distance rose to one hundred and fifty four. In the end I covered 162 miles.

Two contributing factors that enabled this achievement were: I was part of a four person team. Drafting saves a lot of energy, and enabled a higher average speed. The flat marches saw our average peak at over twenty mph for that seventeen miles section. The other was a good eating and drinking strategy, I've mentioned this in a previous post. We stopped at Rye and Hythe for cafe food, gels and energy bars filled in the gaps. 

Could I have gone further? Yes. Did I fancy it? No. Not because I was too tired to continue, I was let down by my clothing. More specifically the padded shorts I was wearing. Whilst not the most expensive, if it wasn't for a Strava challenge code I may not have bought them, they weren't the cheapest. The description suggested they would make extended time in the saddle comfortable. It was okay until around one hundred and twenty miles, then I began to suffer. It wasn't pain from the saddle, but moisture build up. It got so bad I spent much of the last ten miles standing up whenever possible. As I sat writing this post the discomfort was subsiding, but I was concerned about the ride to meet Matt later in the morning.

Some pictures from the ride.




It would seem I was more tired than I realised. Sunday morning whilst eating breakfast prior to riding to meet Matt; I fell asleep. Woke up after about ten minutes.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Photowalk, ebikes, and Dungeness


I spent some time with my brother and sister in-laws' at the beginning of the week. The bank holiday weekend started grey, but quickly improved. 

Sunday we went out on the bikes to Pluckley - the location for the filming of Darling Buds of May - Fitz and Alli were on their e-bikes. They were a challenge to keep up with on just their lowest assist settings. Next time I'll bring my road bike. 

This mode of transport, especially for urban travel, need to be subsidised. It would give more people an alternative to driving. So many very short journeys are driven, when they could be walked or ridden. Less motor vehicles, mean less pollution, obesity, general ill health and improved road safety. Other countries are doing more than the UK, and reaping the benefits.

on the way to Pluckley

taking a break near Pluckley church

Monday we went for a walk, everyone snapping away. I heard my first cuckoo and marsh frog. Such a hot day, it took me by surprise, I got a little burnt. They have great countryside on their doorstep, so we soon left any hint of an urban environment behind.

mayfly and fish

Tuesday they had to go back to work so I set out early on my own, covered in sunscreen this time.

Dungeness was a great suggestion by Alli. Komoot took care of the route via mostly quiet lanes especially across the marshes.

quiet lane on the way to dungeness
quiet lane on the way to dungeness

lighthouse and dungeness power station
lighthouse and dungeness power station

After taking the picture above I started to retrace my journey and noticed a boardwalk leading out across the beach.

on the boardwalk
on the boardwalk

The way back was across the marshes, mile after mile of quiet lanes with beautiful countryside.

across the marsh

across the marsh
across the marsh


A very relaxing few days, exactly what I needed.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Two voices

negative and positive voices
A couple of weeks ago I had a tough and great weekend.

The good bit; I saw mum, my sister and family, I even cycled over there. Really pleased that I did, not only because I haven't seen them for six months. It was also nearly as fast as driving would have been; heavy traffic most of the way. It was great riding past so many stationary cars. I didn't get soaked until the homeward journey. I think just over an hour on my mountain bike covering 15 miles each way is very satisfactory.

The bad bit; starting on Friday I didn't sleep much, I was tired, but just couldn't let go. I don't know what I was thinking or worried about that kept me awake.

I tried a hot drink, reading, just laying in bed staring at the ceiling was never going to work. Sunday was an early start, I had arranged a sportive, the subject of a previous post. I enjoyed the ride, but wasn't that feed up that it ended early. I even gave my bike a thorough clean when I got home. If only I hadn't lost my gloves. Probably left on the wall when we stopped to assess the failed brakes.

But when Monday rolled round, I was knackered and feeling very low. I survived the week, gradually feeling better each day. More in this post.

There is a voice that tells me I did well, but I ignore it. The other voice saying the opposite is much more persuasive. I have to listen to the positive one.

I need to give myself a break, not be so critical. And accept praise when it comes my way.

There are other parts to this: imposter syndrome, always being convinced I just said something that will make people avoid or dislike me, being over critical, over thinking.

I know most people experience these from time to time; they can't be allowed to dominate, that's my problem.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Accidental vegan... almost.

tofu sunday dinner

I blame it partly on Netflix. I watched a documentary called Game Changer, about people who had become vegans. I found it very poor; it seemed to be a sales pitch, propaganda if you will. There is little compelling info, just selected people who evangelise about the cause. Athletes talked about becoming vegan and finding incredible performance improvements. Other people claimed their lives had greatly benefited. The arguments put forward were badly discussed, and misleading in my opinion. There is also too much anecdotal "evidence" for me to take it seriously. It certainly didn't persuade me.

But it did get me thinking more about the subject. There are far better documentaries the "...spiracy" series is one. The first one was cowspiracy, followed by seaspiracy. Whilst not without an agender, and a conclusion to confirm they are more fact based. Some comments have been reported as being taken out of context by the interviewees. 

Since watching them I have made some changes; it's been gradual, almost without me realising. I do still eat meat, maybe once a week. I don't drink cows milk, replacing it with oat milk; barista version. I'm not sure how the barista version differs but it makes better tea. I think it tastes fine, unless you drink it straight you wouldn't know it wasn't bovin derived. 

I go for the vegetarian pizza and pies, and no longer eat fish. There are plenty of plant based alternatives, some better than others. I tried making a Sunday dinner from Tofu, it wasn't a great success. It's the picture at the top of this post. I was unprepared for how wet it is, the recipe didn't say that I really needed to dry it out before frying. The result was edible but the consistency wasn't as appetising as it could have been. 

Apart from the "tofu incident" I'd say it's been okay. Maybe my meat consumption will drop further, I don't know. If I'm eating out I'll go for the vegetarian option, if it's likely to be tasty and not an afterthought addition to the menu.

I don't think I have experienced improvements to strength or stamina - it's been no game changer - and my weight hasn't changed.

This post isn't about trying to make anyone change. It's just my thoughts and experiences. I'd suggest you investigate the subject and make up your own mind. My nephew is vegan, he doesn't make a big thing of it, he'll talk about his decision without preaching.

Another change I realised whilst writing this; I don't really want alcohol anymore, I was never a heavy drinker, maybe a glass or two of wine a month. There is rum in the house, but I just don't fancy drinking it. When I eventually visit a pub or restaurant again, I very much doubt I'll buy a beer.