Monthly Archives: March 2013

Riding in the rain

As you know we’ve recently moved to the deep South  from Northumberland and we were hoping to experience some of the fabulous weather we’d heard about.  Sun, warm breezes, blue skies etc but since we arrived, at the end of November last year, it has been raining non-stop.  No, I tell a lie, there have been one or two weeks when it’s been snowing.

Yesterday the weather was running true to form, the forecast predicted 80%  chance of rain all afternoon. Despite that info and the grey, threatening clouds my husband decided it would be a good afternoon for a bike ride, that we’d be alright and he knew a nice route to a village with a pub, about 6-7 miles round trip max.

I’m not sure why, after all these years, that I believe him but I dutifully got ready and we were on the bikes just as a gentle rain began to fall. Still it was good to be out. The villages around Crawley are beautiful and only marred by the proximity of Gatwick airport. In a 30 minute period 8 planes roared overhead like huge, menacing, mechanical birds. Despite this I was happy cycling along. The rain wasn’t bad and I was sure the 3 miles to the pub must end just around the corner. However this was not so. We’d arrived at Charlwood when my husband stopped to look at the map. He hadn’t remembered coming this way the last time he’d done the cycle ride. We looked at the map. Charlwood was off the map! We didn’t know where we were and the rain began to fall steadily. A motorist told us what route to take but warned us it was hilly. ‘No problem’ said my husband, ‘ my wife loves hills.’ Unhappily my hands were too cold to put around his neck and throttle him, so we got back on the bikes and started up Russ Hill. I don’t know how high this is, suffice to say I hadn’t expected it.

The  ride continued up and down hills in torrential rain until we finally (after 16 miles!!) spotted a sign to Rusper which had been our original destination. By then we were completely soaked so decided to leave Rusper for another day  and have a gin and tonic in a pub called the Gate just outside Ifield instead.

The pub was warm and welcoming, we got a seat by the fire where we sat and steamed gently in time to the Irish music provided by a small band to celebrate St Patrick’s Day – there’s always a sliver lining.

Categories: cycling, cycling in the rain, fitness, love, middle aged women getting fit, West Sussex, womens cycling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bertha goes AWOL

Regular readers of this blog will know that Bertha is the name I’ve given to my bike. Yesterday Bertha had an exciting day, starting with a bit of surgery to her wheels (new inner tube fitted) and then for the first time she was left in the stands at the railway station in Three Bridges.

These stands are jammed full of bikes. I slotted Bertha in between two metal stands, threaded the lock through my helmet in order to keep it safe and locked the lock. Then obviously dashed to the coffee stall for an essential coffee even though the train was due. Then I belted up to the platform, hot drink slopping all over the place and just caught the train.

I returned from my trip later that afternoon, approached the bike stands and couldn’t find Bertha. Walked up and down to check again, still no sign of her. I’m a ‘dab’ hand at losing bikes (as my mother would have said). I’ve lost 3 so far in 3 different countries. Bertha looked like being the 4th.

I was advised by the ticket collector to go to platform 2 to check the CCTV with the guard. Once there I explained that my bike had been pinched. ‘What did it look like?’ asked the guard. I described Bertha. He smiled and said that because she hadn’t been locked up properly (in my haste to get a coffee I’d locked her to herself rather than to the bike stand!) a couple of policemen had removed her for her own safety and locked her up in the storeroom on platform 3.  Hurrah for vigilant policemen.

On platform 3 there was the nicest guard in the world who got Bertha out of the storeroom and carried her all the way down the stairs. The staff at Three Bridges train station are so helpful.

Morals of this story …a) must lock my bike to a bike stand, b) must not cut corners when locking up my bike even though I’m desperate for a coffee!

Categories: bike safety, cycling, middle aged women getting fit, Train stations, Travel, womens cycling | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I know this blog is traditionally about cycling, with a bit of writing thrown in and more recently some running. But today I’m widening the focus (is it possible to do that!?) to include strawbale building which is another passion of mine. In fact I’m writing a book about it…..don’t hold your breath it’s going slowly.

Anyhow I wanted to tell you about Ecobuild an event  taking place in London from the 5-7th March at ExCel exhibition & conference centre in the Docklands.  I’ll be there with a company I’m working with, Straw Works Ltd

You will find us on the Natural Materials stand number S1660 near door S5. Barbara Jones (the director of Straw Works) will be speaking in the session headed, Construction Materials & Methods on Wed 6th March at 12.30 – seminar room 8.

In 2008 my family and I with help from Barbara, built a strawbale house in Bulgaria. There’s info, pics and even a slide show with music about the house on our website

At Ecobuild, Straw Works will be building a small strawbale building in situ complete with demonstrations of natural plastering. Don’t miss it!

Hope to see you there.

Categories: books, Bulgaria, cycling, Ecobuild, natural house building, natural plasters, strawbale building, strawbale building courses, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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