Saturday, 10 April 2021

Cycling; the magic bullet

Hever Castle April 2021

At the risk of being that cycling evangelist you try to avoid, more people need to ride bikes or walk more often.

There are so many benefits, personal, social and environmental.

I've mentioned the personal benefits on this blog; the social advantages are many. More cycling and walking reduces crime, boosts the local economy - helping to keep shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs open, and builds community. It encourages more activity, we have been told for a year to protect the NHS. We can do this if we all get fitter, obesity causes or contributes to many diseases and debilitating conditions that cost billions to treat. And less motor vehicles will mean less collisions, cutting casualties and deaths - 157,630 and 1752 respectively in 2019. 

These problems won't go away with electric power, brake and tyre dust will still be a problem and is harmful, battery production is polluting. It is likely to result in people driving even shorter distances, pavements will still be blocked by parking with cables adding to the problem. In London 30% of driven journeys are of less than three miles, in 2019 there were 3.9 billion more miles driven than in 2009. Battery powered vehicles are bigger and heavier, meaning more wear on the roads and less space for other road users. They'll need charging points, government and local authorities seem enthusiastic for the taxpayer to fund them; petrol stations weren't built this way. 

The taxpayer funds a huge road building program, yet travel times continue to increase. As the saying goes - The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

We need less congestion, those that need to drive will be able to do so more easily. 

I had the week off and really went for it, riding over 260 miles.

coffee at westerham

I had a few rides with Oxted Cycling Club, and met Matt in Westerham. Cafes a still only take-away so if we stop, it's not for long, and we all have to stand well apart.

ashdown forest

My cycling sat nav directed me to Hever Castle on Tuesday and Ashdown Forest on Thursday. Still a little too chilly to pause for long.

I even did a 3.8 mile run on Friday. My cycling muscles did not appreciate being asked to do this. A triathlon is not on the cards.

Friday, 2 April 2021



Fulking natural spring

Spring sprung last weekend, and the clocks went forward an hour. I set out on a road ride, the first since the 19th. Most of the outward route was into a headwind, I would be returnig on the same roads, and looked forward to a tailwind. Why then did I have to force my way home into a headwind? It's one of cycling's mysteries.

My chosen destination was Fulking, yes you read that correctly. I can't deny it was the name that brought me to the village, it was also just over 60 miles there and back. The distance I find just about right; long enough to be a challenge, without taking all day. 

The collection of houses, one pub and a church are in a valley, a spring was the original reason for the village being established.

bike fulking spring

Upon arrival I looked for a shop or cafe to buy food and a coffee. The pub was closed and that was it.

country lane bicycle

The journey to the village was mostly on main roads, they weren't very busy but it was a relief to turn into a quiet lane for the last few miles.

Sunday: Matt and I usually meet to sit at opposite ends of a bench for a chat over a cup of tea.

coffee tatsfield

As you can see, Matt and the tea were missing. A clocks changing miscalculation meant Matt was somewhat out of sync with the rest of the country. I arrived to a text saying he would be very late. It was chilly and I had a busy day ahead so I replied that unfortunately I couldn't wait. I sat alone with my coffee and waffle, bought from the little shop near the green. Then took off for home.

Friday, 26 March 2021

Salvation, medication, escapism

Cycling; what does it mean to me?

Regular readers may already know most of the answer, or maybe all of it. I have written much about cycling. Where I go, what I wear and ride.

For the past week I have been on the indoor bike, I had a close encounter with a couple of deer. I'm okay now, no need to worry. I had to buy a new helmet and jacket which meant a delay until I could return to the road.

It got me thinking again about my reasons for turning those pedals.

It's not about where I go, or what I ride; it's the three words in the title of this post. I get all of them as I travel nowhere in the garage, just as much as when the view is constantly changing. Outside is easier to get motivated for.

I'm lucky, I don't have to travel anywhere by bike; the shops I need are at most a forty-five minute round trip away on foot. I work from home, so no commute.

I choose to ride, solo at present, it will be good to be with others again. We can meet and sit at a distance, but it's not the same as chatting over coffee and cake in a cafe.

Another short post this week. I tend to write about a specific subject matter lately. The random musings will I guess return when the general happenings start again. Like group rides with Oxted Cycling Club and of course the much anticipated Moof IT Cycling Club get togethers. Moof IT CC has three members, and even club jerseys.

Moof IT club jersey                     
 It should be noted, we don't look as athletic as the design drawing might have you believe.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Looking for a purpose, or mid life crisis?

What is my purpose?

I'm really struggling with motivation and part of the problem may be that I feel directionless. Is being useful the same as having a purpose, or is it more complicated than that?

What are my goals? To continue working, and do as much for my wife as I can. Are they goals?

I need a purpose or goal that isn't usefulness.

I think maybe what I'm describing is a mid life crisis, normally resulting in a sports car and wearing clothes more suited to someone younger.

My wardrobe hasn't changed and I definitely won't be buying a sports car.

I have been contemplating a lighter, faster bike. I doubt I'll go for it though. The bike I have delivers what I need. Saving a kilogram or so isn't going to improve that very much. It's gradually been upgraded to address shortcomings to the point where a replacement would have to be expensive to make a meaningful difference.

Maybe I'll emulate Ian Walker or Emily Chappell with some ultra endurance cycling.

Could I motivate others to improve their mental and physical health? I hope I am doing that in some way with my blog. 
Maybe I do have a worthy purpose or goal.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

In the moment

view from the saddle

As we sat at opposite ends of the bench last weekend Matt and I pondered how we cope with stress and anxiety.

We talked about meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and cycling. 

I have attended mindfulness classes, they advocate a kind of meditation. Yoga isn't something I've given much thought to. Which leaves cycling.

Supporters and teachers of meditation, yoga and mindfulness say riding would just be a distraction, not a solution. I'm not saying they are wrong, just that I know what works for us.

On rides we stop thinking about problems and worries, and just focus on our immediate sorroundings. Things like what's happening the the fields, the changing seasons. The sights and sounds of our environment. Even day dream about adventures we could have.

We are not so absorbed to be unsafe; it's as if there is only room in our heads for being in the moment and the practicalities of traveling by bike.

It's too easy to stress about what the future might hold, or problems in the past. You can then miss what's accually happening now.

I try to continue the appreciation of the here and now between rides.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

In search of spring


daffodils church newdigate

This weeks post is about the month of March, a herald of spring. The picture above was taken yesterday as  I cycled through Newdigate. It was more chilly than last weekend. Which got me thinking about how varied our weather can be. 

I had a scroll through previous years. March has been warmer, and much colder.

snow 2018

earlier this week
earlier this week

daffodils 2017

just a light frost in 2016
just a light frost in 2016

blue skies 2019
blue skies 2019

shorts in 2019
shorts in 2019, not a flattering angle.

very warm in 2020
very warm in 2020

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Cycling library

My library

I haven't had to dedicate a whole room to my collection just yet. The total stands at five. They are about people riding long distance. The common themes are: how they coped, why they did it, and what they got out of it.

The first book, North to Alaska, written by Trevor Lund. I read it in March last year. I think I'll read it again.

It hooked me straight away. The pace, level of detail and writing style is just about right for me. Each day as I got comfy to read it I found myself wanting to complete one more page before having to stop.

He started in the cold, went through everything nature could throw at him, and ended in the cold. Starting with a companion, who wasn't as sure about the journey as Trevor. These rides seems to need a determination that is often not contagious amongst family and friends.

The many constants across these books that I think kept me reading were how they were able to dig a little deeper when faced with adversity, and the kindness of strangers; forgive the cliche. It is encouraging to read we are capable of more than we know, and the world isn't as hostile a place as we are lead to believe.

Quondam Travels in a Once World by John Devoy. About an epic ride he did in 1985. It covers the story of the Cairo to Nairobi part of his journey from above the arctic circle to Cape Town in South Africa. It really opens up the mental as well as the physical challenge. A great twist is that he also mentions how the areas have changed during the intervening years. Many of the countries went on to be blighted by civil wars.  Buy direct from John.

Where There's a Will by Emily Chappell. First thing to note; I bought it direct from Emily. Very fast delivery, and it's signed. Buy direct from Emily. It's another page turner about her participation in the transcontinental race, and much more. After days or weeks focused on one goal it would be a jolt to not have that single target in front of you. I've never been in a race, but have had longer, multiple day challenges. It took a couple of days to get use to a normal daily routine.

Mike Carter's One Man and His Bike. I can understand his desire to just keep cycling. I have on occasion turned away from home to ride a little further. Never to circumnavigate the British Isles though. He makes connections with many people as he travels. It's funny and educational; giving a little info about some of the places he pedals through. You can follow the path of his bike around the pages of the book. It took me until chapter eight to see it.

Endless Perfect Circles by Ian Walker. Ian became a record breaking ultra long distance rider in his forties. I can sympathise with Tom about sport at school. Although it wasn't the quality of the teachers as much as I have never been good at team sports. I looked forward to the cross country run during the winter. I wasn't very fast but at least it meant I could avoid demonstrating my lack of sporting prowess. I'd jog out of the grounds, up the road, across some fields and be back in time to shower before everyone else. The rest of the year was being picked last for teams, and trying to avoid responsibility for attack or defence.

Ian wrote about finding a competitiveness that he didn't know he had, of realising that racing was a task that had an ending.

It's the reason I started to use Strava, not to compare myself with others or to compete with anyone. I use it to set tasks to complete each month.

I haven't cycled any distances to rival these epic rides, or had to sleep rough; but it does resonate with me. A few years ago two friends and I rode to Paris - unsupported - we carried all we needed on the bikes. 

On the way to cycling to Paris. Fully loaded.
Fully loaded, on the way to Paris

The South Downs Way was the following year: two days of mostly off road. I think it was a greater challenge than Paris. We were often reduced to pushing our laden bikes, the mud was so think the wheels became choked with it.

South Downs Way, deep mud.
South Downs Way, deep mud.

I felt a little guilt as I read these books, sat on my couch, hot drink at hand. If I got hungry it was just a few steps to the kitchen. 

I recommend all of them; insightful, helpful, entertaining, and thought provoking. I eagerly turned the pages, wanting to know what happened next. Tempered by the realisation that the quicker I read, the sooner I would finish. 

What other books should I buy now? 

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Seven days inside

icy path

That's how long I rode the indoor trainer. Previously I had just spent the odd day - when it was too cold and icy - in the garage. But that whole week was a really cold period with plenty of snow and ice that didn't melt until the Saturday. Despite what the time stamp on the videos says, it was Sunday when I finally ventured out. Almost all of the roads were completely clear of snow. Not the case for the pavements, they still presented a real danger to pedestrians. I thought the off road lanes would have a good coating of snow, and provide some interesting riding. And where it had melted the ground would still be frozen. 

big icy puddle

icy off road lane

Unfortunately there was a lot of ice and mud, I was forced to dismount and walk the bike over the worst of it. 

Some of the ice covered puddles had a thicker layer than would break under my weight, again forcing me to gingerly walk.

I made it with with only one mishap. A gentle slope caused the bike to slid slowly from under me. I easily got a foot down before I hit the ground. 

I've now had a whole week outside, hopfully the cold weather is gone for this winter. 

Looking forward spring.

Sunday, 14 February 2021

February photowalk


Another month already. Yesterday while I waited for the temperature to rise enough for me to think about a ride on the bike I went for a walk. This time through the village as it's called now - it was converted from an army barracks just before I moved here - then behind The Fox Pub. I intended to go as far as Happy Valley and then Farthing Down. But the paths had many large patches of ice and it was very cold.

The igloo above was built on one of the many greens in the village. It's been there a few days, and is well known in the area. 

There is still some green in the woods, even if mostly it's ivy.

Slippery, ice covered rocks.

No one is in need of a drink today.

I'm always on the look out for contrasting subjects. Very easy when everywhere is white.

postbox in the snow

Saturday, 13 February 2021

When it gets too heavy

Whilst talking to a friend recently I had cause to look back and think how far I had come from the feelings of total exhaustion prior to Jan 2020.

I realised that I had changed from always seeing the negative in what I said, did and heard. Constantly adding more pressure onto myself. I now have more energy. It's wasn't just physical tiredness. My mind wouldn't, or couldn't switch off. It felt like a physical weight, a restriction at every joint, and a dull ache in my muscles.

There were days when it wasn't this way, but not many. Now less days have me looking forward to going back to sleep the moment I wake.

Contrary to what you might think, cycling and expending energy has been a big part of this change. After a ride I am energised, and my mood is lifted. I sleep better - a major improvement - which aids my ability to cope.

I returned to cycling as an adult about fifteen years ago. I live on the top of a hill, so every return journey had me pushing the bike up those final hills. I'd ride as far as I could before the world started to go grey. Each week this would happen a few feet further up the hill, I'd set a target of one more lampost. Eventually I completed the climb without getting off.

That's how I deal with other challenges. Break it down into smaller tasks, and be satisfied at the completion of each of them. And ask for help.

When it gets too heavy, share the load.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Working title

How do the blog posts come about?

Some are the result of a specific goal, the photowalks for instance, or cycling topics. Photoshoots have been off limits since this one; this one just made it before the start of the first lockdown.

Others come about as a result of reading or viewing something interesting, I give you my views.

I write a few reviews about an item I have bought, especially if it was a replacement, or about a topic I have covered in the past.

Finally inspiration can arrive during my cycle rides.

The title changes many times as I write, I frequently spend many days or weeks editing. A whole paragraph can be cut during.

These paragraphs often start other posts. 

Or I just have a title; weeks can pass before I start adding text.

I often have more than one idea in progress, as I wrote this one there were three others waiting in the wings.

I make an effort to be positive, it would be wonderful if my words lifted a readers spirits. Or started a new thought process that helped in some way.

When the weather improves I might start going for early morning walks or rides. Seeing the sunrise could be a great way to start the day. And set me writing another post, or just take a few nice pictures.

Saturday, 30 January 2021

It's okay to be ordinary

I know a fair bit about computers. I'm quiet good at troubleshooting problems in general. I like the pictures I take. Cycling is important to me, I can talk to people about how it keeps me fit and improves my mental health. I know some of the technical aspects.

I have a house, and food to eat. Great family, friends and employer.

And that's enough for me.

I do use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Strava. And this blog. It's not to acquire likes or kudo's. They are to share my thoughts and experiences. 

Unfortunately these platforms also propogate untruths, false information and unrealistic hope. They sell aspirations that may not be right for the reader.

Telling people to live their dreams, or do what you are passionate about can be a positive message, but it can lead to being dissatisfied with present circumstances. Or to making bad decisions. I am passionate about cycling and photography, but the chances of me making a living from either are slim. I post pictures to the platforms I have mentioned, and some get a like or two. But I wouldn't base my happiness or livelihood on that reaction.

We don't all have to be high flyers, entrepenuers, or risk takers to be happy. And just because your life isn't as others appear doesn't make it less valid or fulfilling.

Being hopeful, postive and content with the future is my goal.

And remember; it's okay to be ordinary. I am.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

It's cold out there, a week with a trainer

indoor turbo trainer discarded jersey

The spiteful weather is testing my determination to ride everyday. It's not just the cold, but the rigmarole involved in getting out. The layers of clothing, the decision about which route is least likely to be icey. Then when I get home the pain as my hands and feet warm up. Yes, despite many different gloves and overshoes, I'm still not able to get as warm as I'd like. 

I mentioned to a friend that I had slid on ice a couple of weeks ago and hurt my hip. He lent me a trainer. I've now used it a few times, and it's a game changer. I had been getting very disillusioned because of the weather so it came at the right time. I get anxious if I think I may not get out, now I don't have to worry.

I'm not sure how to make it more like a real ride though. Do I include sections with almost no effort to mimic a downhill? I haven't, so my average speed and distance covered is less. On the other hand it means I'm working all of the time, I must therefore be getting fitter - I think.

The prep before a ride is minimal, I only have to worry about ice on the walk to the garage and I don't get cold and wet.

Another upside is that I can listen to music; I use it to vary the intensity of the ride. Once warmed up I increase the resistance and them speed up or slow down depending on the beat of the track. Punk or ska means a sprint at maximum effort. It seems to work okay, each session during the week is an hour. Starting in long and short sleeved jerseys, I quickly remove layers. By the end I'm in just shorts, both jerseys discarded. 

At the weekends I have been timing my outdoor rides for the warmest part of the day. Saturdays normally allow for bigger distances. To be honest though, at the moment I much prefer the garage to the road. The longest I have managed is two hours. It gets boring, and because I am at home there is the temptation to stop. My target is 60 miles, about four hours; it's going to be tough. I didn't do it this weekend.

Which leaves Sunday; and the meetup with Matt. It's still allowed, and we keep a distance from one another. But the snow and ice means I'm likely to postpone until the weather improves. Sorry Matt.

So it's another two hours in the garage.

Friday, 22 January 2021


A word that means so much. Many other words form a group that contributes to this all encompassing, you could say creed. 

Traits I associate with the word: integrity, trustworthy, reliable, respectful, consideration, empathy.

It's a willingness to put others first, if that is the right thing to do. Without losing yourself in the process.

Too many put themselves above all else, they barely consider how their actions, or inaction affects others.

The anonymity of social media means it's easy to remove yourself from the consequences of words; to not appreciate their power.

It is saddening that people record others misfortune, and then post it online. They find humour in it, or use it as a way to denigrate. Someone may be facing the worst episode of their lives, and ghouls rush to record it. 

No-one's perfect, we all act or speak without thinking. Making it right can be tough, honour is also admitting when you are wrong.

We need to be less critical of others, it's easy to find fault. It's much harder to accept mistakes and use positivity to move forward. 

If a change of plan is needed, support it.

Don't allow caustic hindsight to wear people down.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Why make life harder?

I don't read many technical reviews about photography, unless I'm looking for new equipment. When I do it's to investigate providing a solution to a problem, it's not simply to buy more kit.

I do read interviews with photographers: how did they achieve success, how do they decide lighting, equipment etc.

Unfortunately there is often a familiar thread to them: photography is not just about equipment, it is art; which I agree with. But one subject, that I don't understand is almost always mentioned. The photographer will say, " I use camera X because it forces me to slow down". What does that means? It's invariably in connection with the use of a piece of old, difficult to use or limited equipment. I get the impression the statement is used to infer some kind of superiority. The article will have mentioned the photographer just considers their camera to be a tool; so why can't they slow down whilst using more mainstream technology?

Are they saying the results of their efforts are better because they were able to overcome the trials imposed by the choice of equipment?

To anyone apart from some other photographers, the process used to produce a picture is irrelevant. Few would care that the camera used was incredibly heavy, was so basic every setting took a maths degree and twenty years of experience to calculate. Or that many peculiarities of the camera had to be overcome before the shutter button was pressed. 

Maybe this is why pictures taken on phones are considered inferior, just because it's so easy. Good composition and an understanding of what you want to achieve isn't dependant on the camera used.

Too many articles and interviews include tired cliches. These lines are used in an attempt to demonstrate superiority or a higher level of knowledge. They can be barriers to a wider inclusion into photography, or encouragement to buy more.

Forget the tech, plan the shot. You'll know if the equipment you have is enough. 

Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. When a picture is noteworthy because of the process used to achieve it, it becomes a technical rather than a creative process.

It could also exclude people from photography. Some may think because they don't have or can't use the equipment mentioned they can't produce as good or interesting pictures.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Indoor training


bike trainer garage turbo pain cave

The weather has really worsened, I woke up to a lot of snow. The forecast said it would improve this afternoon. But in reality I doubted I'd go out. Freezing slush and a biting wind would await me, I couldn't face it. Not to mention the risk of falling off.

A friend lent me a bolt-on bike trainer, so I attached my old road bike to it. How long would I ride before boredom kicked in? Some refer to their indoor training area as a pain cave, we shall see what I call it.

A punk music playlist would have to give me the needed impetus.

Friday, 15 January 2021

Obsession, compulsion.

Regular readers will know why I started cycling in adulthood. And why I continue to do so. There has been a development.

Last night whilst riding through sleety rain, I realised it has become an obsession, I have a compulsion to get on my bike.

My evening rides are getting longer, at first they were around ten miles, taking about an hour. That has creapt up to fifteen miles and around an hour and forty minutes. I pass people multiple times as I complete my loops.

I could feel the cold creeping into my hands and feet, but I was still close to heading off into the night, instead of turning for home. I couldn't of course: it was 19:30, any direction would have been unlit; not great with such poor road surfaces, and I had commitments waiting for me at home.

My cycling clothing is now reasonably good at keeping me comfortable, unless it gets really bad.

The recent very cold weather has meant a few missed days, it's hard to have to accept I shouldn't go out. I look at the weather reports and out of the window a lot during the day. Trying to decide if it's okay to get on my bike. There are so many hills around me, I can't pick a flat route. And besides, I came off last week on a level road. It was the steep camber that caught me out.

I set myself goals to cycling further, more often in 2021. It has to fit into the time I have, so it's not going to be ultra distance. The likes of Mark Beaument haven't got to worry about their records being broken by me. I'm going to buy his book about endurance riding, I have read Trevor Lund's book - North to Alaska - about his ride up the America's. And have just started Quondam by John Devoy about his journey through Africa. I definitely have the bug for long distance rather than speed cycling, although I have looked into racing. But that might take up too much time, travelling to the venues across the country isn't going to be possible, even without Covid restrictions.

The charity ride in June for Mind will be partially accompanied by two members of Moof IT cycling club, I'm really looking forward to that. You can sponsor me here.


Sunday, 10 January 2021

Walk around a golf course

The weather forecast was for another very cold start to Sunday. I messaged Matt late on Saturday to suggest a 9 am meeting instead of 8.

I prepared by donning many layers, and wrapping my feet in cling film before pulling on my socks. My efforts were wasted, the lock on the garage door was frozen solid. I tried a few things to thaw it, but eventually gave up.

I couldn't spend the day without exercise so I grabbed my camera bag and went for a walk. A few minutes away from me is the Surrey National golf course. There is a fairly well maintained path so I knew it wouldn't be too treacherous.

Here are by favourites.

Surrey National golf course frost covered tree

Surrey National golf course frost covered berries

Surrey National golf course frost covered thistle

Surrey National golf course ice covered pond

Surrey National golf course frost covered trees


I'm really enjoying walking around my local countryside looking for inspiration. 

Saturday, 9 January 2021

When is it not okay?

I use Aperture to catalogue and do basic editing of my pictures. Unfortunately Apple have stopped development of it and when I update the macOS I won't be able to use it.

I started looking for an alternatives; the Adobe suite would be ideal, but it's too expensive for occasional and basic use.

There are many free applications, Darktable is well reviewed. Once installed it was too difficult to use, I had to search youtube for even basic how-to's. It has to be the least intuitive piece of software I have ever used. You should be able to at least get started and do basic tasks without the use of google. I gave up; I'm sure if enough time was available I would discover incredible results.

I have Affinity Photo for more advanced editing, again I couldn't justify the cost of Photoshop.

I am now using Luminar 4 to import and edit my work, so far I'm impressed. Youtube has taught me about some of its many features, but I worked a lot out for myself. It uses AI, (artificial intelligence) to speed up some processes. I still do the basics, but I can now do much more than I could before. 

This has lead to a dilemma; how much manipulation is too much? I want the results to look natural, this technology can allow massive changes to be easily achieved. Take the next two pictures for example. The first is from Aperture, with the sky over exposed. When I took the picture there was more cloud detail. The second image was the result of Luminar AI making the sky easy to replace. It's not what I saw at the time, I added a stock example.

scarred tree, natural sky

scarred tree, AI sky

Is the second picture too much? 
If I upload it to Instagram, Facebook, or my website should I label it as manipulated?

Thinking about it now, I could have taken a second picture, exposed for the sky, then combined them. Would that have been more valid?

Sunday, 3 January 2021

A new year

As the new year settles in I look forward with positivity. It's too easy, almost habitual to expect the worst. This has meant inaction, being too afraid to attempt anything, convinced it will fail. 

Not this year.

What does 2021 have in store? 

More cycling, I have a desire for longer distances. How far can I go? 

The 100 mile challenge I set myself to raise money for Mind.

I hope that a couple of projects will mean a focused approach to photography. It's a watershed year, where I decide the direction it's going to take.

The walking photoshoots I did brought a lot of pleasure, they were a refreshing opportunity to slow down. 

This year will be one when I try to prioritise myself, consider my needs. I'll still be there for family and friends. Hopefully they will follow my growth.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Looking back at 2020

I'll try to avoid the obvious topics for this year, except to say the four months of furlough did have some upsides for me. I lost weight, some may say I didn't need to. But I feel so much healthier and fitter now. 

It was difficult at first, I don't like to change my routine. I had plenty of time to myself, I know for others this aspect was harmful. But I needed it, being on the bike every day gave me space. 

Another change was talking, or writing about my depression. This blog became a way to more easily express myself. Family, friends and work have been great, I know they are there for me. They would have been in the past; if I had spoken about what was going on. 

I'll look forward with positivity, I'm better able to deal with the inevitable ups and downs

I want to build on this progress. And help others to move forward if I can.

I hope that for you 2021 will see positive change.