Saturday, 28 July 2018

More great weather.

parched field sheep while cycling
parched field while cycling

I can't remember when we last had a summer like this.  The weather report is saying we are due some rain. I know the garden needs it and the water companies are running ads on the radio asking people to conserve water. But no hosepipe ban yet, I don't think it's far off though.

The rain arrived yesterday, and it was torrential. Fortunately it only happened when I was travelling on public transport. As I neared my bus stop the rain abated long enough for me to get home dry.

It rained during the night and until ten minutes before I was due to cycle to meet Matt.

parched grass and a wet bench while cycling
parched grass and a wet bench while cycling, little evidence of the rain.
The ride was great, fresher than recent days, with little evidence of the heavy downpour. Which made for a pleasant seventeen miles.

We only went to the bus stop, a lack of time and the certainty of a dry seat made it a good choice. Normal chat was about this and that. Old Top Gear was a topic; and how it went downhill during the last couple of series before the Clarkson debacle. I like Matt LeBlanc in the new setup, but he is leaving so that might be it for me watching it. Matt isn't so keen on Matt.

We discussed the merits of pitching a series hosted by us about our cycling. I'm not sure it would be commissioned. The outline would be us two cycling to a destination, drinking tea and eating biscuits. Talking about not much, and laughing at stuff I doubt anyone else would find funny.

The meeting with the TV exec could go like this.

Where would you cycle too? A few places within twenty miles of our homes.

Interesting places? Two bus stops, a churchyard, Westerham or Godstone Green and a lake near a pub.

Would you talk about cycling news? Sporting events, new tech and cycling celebrities etc. Nope, don't really follow or know much about that.

How about nutrition, sports drinks and gels etc? Nope we just drink the tea we brought with us and eat cereal bars. Occasionally we'll go to a cafe and eat cake and sausages sandwiches. If on a longer ride it's hot we'll stop to buy an ice cream.

So what do you do? Not much now we come to think about it. But it keeps us happy.

Back to our normal concerns then.

The weather is predicted to be wetter tomorrow, hopefully it wont interrupt our cycling.

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Thursday, 26 July 2018

My first full wedding as a photographer

wedding cake mr and mr

A few months ago I was asked to photograph the wedding of a friends uncle. I planned and prepared for it, but it was still a steep learning curve.

It was last Saturday and I had the help of my friend during the day, making sure people were in the right place at the right time for the group shots. Thinking about my wedding and others I have attended, the photographers must have been very good. I don't remember them having trouble corralling everyone. It just seemed to happen. I now know this is a skill I need to improve.
So many things to think about, lighting, composition, making everyone feel comfortable. And with bigger groups; is anyone lost in the background?

Then there are the incidental moments to capture. The ones that really make the set of pictures. I was also thinking about how they might be printed, the size and orientation. And then the editing, checking each picture and choosing the best of each part of the day, tweaking and adjusting the final selection. I enjoyed the day and the challenge, but I underestimated just how much was involved. Hats off to everyone who does this full time.

It also reinforces the points made on my previous post about paying a photographer. Remember, it's not just the day of the wedding; it's the equipment, the editing afterwards, I met the couple twice leading up to the weekend, and visited the registry office. If you think your photographer is asking too much to record your special day, consider the whole process.

Long after the cake is eaten, the presents are unwrapped and your honeymoon is over. The pictures will be your lasting reminder of the day.

It is nerve racking processing the pictures. Did I take enough, did I miss anyone, are they good enough?




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Sunday, 15 July 2018

Coconut Thai curry with chickpeas

Coconut Thai curry with chickpeas in the pot


This is a bit of a departure for the blog, I normally write about photography and cycling. Today it's cooking.

It's also unusual because I'm not a vegetarian and I rarely follow recipes. But I was bored of the standard food I eat and a friend suggested a vegan recipe. I was keen but couldn't get all of the ingredients. A google for ideas that I could cook came up with coconut Thai curry with chickpeas.

Dealing with butternut squash and aubergines was a first, and I have never included chickpeas in a meal. But it wasn't so bad. An hour to cook gave me plenty of time to start writing this. I didn't know what it was supposed to look like, I just hoped it was going okay.

So how did it go?

Not too bad if I say so myself. Although having eating on hold while I took photos caused the wife some concern. I could have presented it better if I had a bit more time. But when you photographing food you don't then sit down to eat it. I held Marcia off as long as I could and also didn't want it getting cold.

Coconut Thai curry with chickpeas on the plate


I think next time I'll add more chillies and a bit more liquid. And I don't think I'll be giving up meat anytime soon, but I will cook more vegetarian meals. It does make a nice change.


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Saturday, 14 July 2018

Personal challenge


summer cycling chipstead

Yesterday when I knew todays ride would be solo the plan was to do around thirty miles and see if I could match or better the average speed I achieved last weekend cycling to Canterbury. I know Canterbury is twice as far, but I didn't have anyone to pace me or to draft. When I cycle on my own it's easy to back off if it gets tough or slow down as my mind wonders. Today I pushed on and tried not to slow down. If I had to stop pedaling, on a bend for instance, I accelerated back to my cruising speed as quickly as I could. And kept pressure on the pedals as much as possible. It worked, when I got to the point I would turn around for home I had exceeded my average. Now I had to keep it up on the way home. I lost a little; when I got home my average had dropped to match last weekend's.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not obsessed with times and sectors, or comparing myself with anyone else. I just wanted to set a target, a personal challenge, to see what I might be capable of.

I get more from a lone ride by doing this, when I'm not on my own it's more about having a laugh with mates and chilling out. We can all easily complete the distances we do.

summer cycling chipstead
Taking a break
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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Caterham to Canterbury year two

at the start bike number 33
at the start
Doesn't time fly? It can't be a year since I last did this ride.

The day started hotter than it did last year. The forecast was for a very hot day. Maybe Adam at Larner Cycles must have ticked the wrong box when he booked the weather. Instead of warm, he ticked incredibly hot.

I arrived early but there was already a number of people chatting and preparing.


Making Adam jog.


I again hoped to team up with someone who cycled at the same pace as me, it's a long ride on your own. And I did; Jo who I had meet at an off road cycle event before Christmas.

Her target was an average of 16mph, this is faster than my average on a long ride. But I wanted a challenge.

It was going okay until a very steep section on to the Limpsfield just passed Wallingham. I was slower and took longer to turn right at the junction. Jo had opened a big gap and no matter how hard I tried I could only reduce it very slowly. Then just at the right time a pair of cyclist came past me. I got into their slipstream and very quickly caught Jo up. I was amazed at how much of a difference it made.

Slipstreaming.


From then on Jo and I swapped the lead and we kept a high average speed. So much so that we reached the lunch stop faster than I expected. Over thirty miles in a little more than two hours.

The food stops on last years event were brilliant, and this year the standard was just as high. The lunch stop especially had sandwiches, cake everything I needed. We stayed a while but when we got outside the heat had increased and this, I think, caused me to really start to suffer. It's true the pace was higher than I was use to. But cycling in now 33 degrees C was proving very difficult. Jo said it was okay if I didn't spend so long leading, drafting her helped me maintain a reasonable pace. But there was little respite from the sun. A surprising consequence of the heat was when we stopped at a junction. It was like opening an oven door. I was warm as I cycled along, but pausing for any reason. The heat just hit me.  The shaded sections were a relief, but they were too few.

Shaded section. 

At the third and last stop I just sat on the grass, I didn't know how was I going to complete the last sixteen miles.

I had some food and drink but still wasn't ready to go on. I got chatting to the other riders and one of them, Pat from the Oxted CC, handed me two energy gels. He said they should help me get to the end. They did.

This is another great aspect to the ride. The support, encouragement and camaraderie from everyone involved makes a real difference.

 end of the cycle jo
Jo looking unfazed

end of the cycle me
Me, looking very fazed
As I sat waiting for my bike to be loaded onto the transport I noticed in addition to the dirt and grime I was covered in a large number of dead flies. I didn't realise I was going so fast the insects didn't bounce off. The lift back to Caterham is always a relief and is another reason I have sighed up for next year.

A big thank you to everyone involved in running the event. It's a big job very well delivered.


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Sunday, 1 July 2018

Another weekend, more great weather

summer cycling fields
On the way home, a field of wheat

I can't remember the last time a weekend ride was in danger due to bad weather. Yesterday it was a bit grey as I left the house, but quickly warmed up. It was a hilly route including White Lane near Botley and then on to Hosey Hill via Westerham, both very steep. In addition to Clarks Lane out of Westerham, and Burntwood Lane near to home. A proper test again. Being on my own it was just a circuit and back to the house.

Today was better, Matt was back. Just the question of where to go when we met at the green; we discussed Westerham, the quick way. But I just wasn't up to it, so the Church yard at Tatsfield was our eventual destination. Sitting there drinking tea, eating cereal bars and chatting about the news was perfect. We also talked about what we would do if we had no ties, no responsibilities and could just do whatever we wanted. Matt had been reading One man and his bike by Mark Carter. The backstory was that one day on his way to work he just kept cycling past his workplace and on around the coast. We were skeptical, how did he put his life on hold, how did he afford it? A book deal and writing articles for a newspaper must have made it easier to do it. And then we moved onto explores and adventurers. How did they do it? Decide to not follow the norm, and travel the world. Matt mentioned a woman who had rowed across oceans. One voyage had to be abandoned when a severe storm blew in. The problem I saw with this and most adventures is that they are fine when all goes well. But if it doesn't, like when the storm rolled in, other people have to risk their lives to mount a rescue. My view is that these people are a little selfish. Or am I just jealous?

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