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why can't I hibernate?

It's nearly December, which means it's time for a everyone to have a good old moan about dark evenings, and cold/rainy/grey weather.  Bleurgh.

But apparently humans aren't allowed to hibernate, so we're busy as usual.  Perhaps too busy actually - my evenings are currently pretty full (tennis, pilates, kettlebells, canoe club pub night, plus occasional trips out to the theatre and the snowdome...) as well as going out at the weekend.  And lots of dog walks, which I've been doing at lunchtime to make sure I get some daylight.

Anyway, I've been feeling somewhat frazzled for the last couple of weeks.  Not... continue reading »

off road cycling at the Cotswold Water Park

Last Sunday we once again loaded the car up with bikes for another ride in the early Autumn sunshine.  We went to the Cotswold Water Park to do the first route in this book.  I've done this ride (or something about 90% similar) before, but not for a couple of years.

Cycling around the water park is very different to riding in the Forest of Dean because it's almost entirely flat - Strava claims 10m of elevation over 18km...

The scenery is quite different too.  Less forest, more lakes (now there's a surprise!)

It's not difficult riding, although certain places were rather muddy! ... continue reading »

overgrown footpaths

Last Sunday we went for a nice long walk with the dog.  Ended up being 21km, to a local pub (the Red Lion) and back.

For whatever reason, we took a slightly different route than previous walks, involving some untested footpaths.

Turns out this wasn't such a great idea.

It should have been a warning sign when our path led to this footbridge:

This led into a cornfield, supposedly with the footpath running diagonally across it but this was impossible to do because of all the corn.

Having skirted the edge of the field we just about managed to find our next stile, which led... continue reading »

Chepstow Castle

It confuses me a bit when May bank holiday weekend is partly in April.  Anyway, this year I was feeling a bit too poor for the usual trip to Woolacombe, so instead we popped down to Chepstow to visit the castle.

They had some re-enactment people there, and every hour they were firing cabbages from a trebuchet over the castle wall into the river.  Pretty impressive.  I also learnt that replica metal helmets are rather heavy, and too big for my head.

The castle wasn't our only reason for visiting Chepstow - we'd also booked a go on the Swing at the... continue reading »

Charcoal Measure and Sentient Forest

Following the removal of 'Place', the Forest of Dean Sculpture trail has recently gained two new (temporary) artworks.

Both are right at the start of the trail at Beechenhurst Lodge.

First up is "Charcoal Measure".  It's basically a series of black lines on the ground, made from charcoal produced from burning the wood that made up Place.  The lines map old coal mine workings in the forest.  So that's two ways it links up with the history of the local area.

However the work itself is a little underwhelming.  It had been there for about six weeks when I visited, and is already... continue reading »

Birdland

Earlier this month we popped over to Bourton-on-the-Water, to visit Birdland.

I've been before a few years ago, and I think I probably took all the same pictures again - but nevermind!

My favourite birds are the penguins.  They have King penguins and Humboldts, and we were there for the 3pm feeding session.

Other than penguins, there are obviously lots of other types of bird.  Flamingos, emu, pelicans (including one 'on the loose' that was attempting to terrorise people), chickens, owls, finches, other birds.  Lots of birds.

Oh, and parrots:

One thing that wasn't there when I last visited is "Jurassic Journey" trail - a... continue reading »

Hillside Brewery tour

I am not really a beer person.  However, the boyfriend really is!  This means I get plenty of opportunities to sample a wide range of whatever fancy real ale he's drinking.  I can at least tell the difference, and recently I've started occasionally having fruit beer (in small quantities, slowly), but that's about my limit.

So when he was given a voucher for a brewery tour at Hillside Brewery in the Forest of Dean, I wasn't too fussed about joining him.  But he needed a driver, so off we both went.

First up, the actual brewery tour.  Everything was explained, from... continue reading »

Highnam Court

After Saturday's run, the grounds of Highnam Court remained open for a few hours for runners/spectators to enjoy at a more leisurely pace.

Aisling had visited the Holy Innocents Church while we were running, and liked it so much she dragged the rest of us in for a look too.  Pretty much every bit of the interior is beautifully decorated, and I failed to take photos of any of it.

Then we walked though the gardens, roughly following the first half of the running route.

There are a lot of carved wooden animal/bird sculptures dotted around the place.  I'd been pointing them out... continue reading »

Great Highnam Court Run

On Saturday I took part in the inaugural Great Highnam Court Run - my first proper 10k!

When I signed up back in June, I questioned how I'd ever be able to run that far.  Or why I'd entered a race at all when I hadn't even been parkrunning regularly.  Main reasons were:

it's local - somewhere I've driven past daily for many years it wasn't too expensive, and all finishers got a medal the venue isn't usually open to the public it'd give me a target to work towards

Also, a little bit of peer pressure.  When I told friends I was considering it, Jem... continue reading »

Pittville animals

Today was lovely and sunny.  We went for a little wander around Pittville Park in Cheltenham.

Most of my previous visits to Pittville have been for parkrun, but there's more to the park than three laps of the lake!

For example, the aviary.  Slightly confusingly named as it houses animals as well as birds, but there we go.

My favourites were the chipmunks because they're tiny and cute and pretty.  They're also really fast, which makes it difficult to take their photo - especially when you've got your camera shoved up against the bars.

This one was chilling out quite happily though.

The rabbits and... continue reading »

Scrumpty trail

In celebration of hosting some world cup rugby matches, and because sculpture trails seem to be the in thing at the moment, Gloucester currently has a Scrumpty trail of 20 statues dotted around the city centre - plus mini versions in shop windows.

Some of the Scrumpties (I note with disgust that the official website pluralises with an apostrophe - "Scrumpty's" - yuck!) are rugby themed, some are local themed, some seem to have no obvious link to anything but are very pretty, and one is actually a bit terrifying.

Predictably, I took a lot of photos:

The map suggests the Monkty (on... continue reading »

Ale & Steam

We went to the 'Ale & Steam' weekend on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.

Pretty self explanatory - there were trains, and at Toddington and Winchcombe stations there was a lot of beer (and cider).  I didn't get any decent photos of the steam train though :(

Arlingham

Might as well admit it - I've turned into a proper cyclist.  Road bike, lycra, jerseys with pockets on the back.. the full whack (well, nearly - still haven't braved clipless pedals).  I've also developed an even greater hatred of potholes, and occasional strange desires to try and ride up steep hills.

Not that this is a bad thing, of course.  It's doing wonders for my general fitness, and unlike all my other hobbies I don't need to rely on other people, or drive for hours to get to a starting point.  Out the front door and on the bike :) ... continue reading »

busy easter

Four day weekend + good weather = no excuse for staying inside doing nothing productive (ie wasting hours on the internet)

So:

one session of cardio tennis 40km bike ride shopping (yawn) walk on Painswick Beacon walk on Haresfield Beacon many laps of CIWW (no capsizing!) 45km bike ride (complete with steep hill) a bit of gardening one tennis lesson

More than enough to justify a large takeaway pizza, several creme eggs and a bag of mini eggs... probably.

outdoor climbing

My far too on-off relationship with rock climbing has been based entirely indoors for many years now.. until last weekend!

First off, an impromptu Sunday evening bouldering session at Haresfield.  I didn't actually do much, because I'm not hugely fussed on bouldering (I like ropes and harnesses!).  But any excuse to take photos and be a bit sociable.

Then an after work trip up Cleeve Hill on Monday, climbing as the sun set.  Absolutely beautiful - views across Cheltenham and warm limestone!

Unsurprisingly I'd forgotten how different outdoor climbing is to the climbing wall, with its convenient and obvious holds.  I frequently found... continue reading »

more floods

Yet more flooding.  I basically live on the flood plain, so there are quite a lot of fields that I haven't seen much of for several months as they've been under water.

Which is fine, because that's what flood plain is there for.

What's less good is when the rivers are flooded, the ground is saturated and it won't stop raining.  I.e. right now.

On Monday the drains gave up being able to drain (and/or backed up), and the main road started to vanish into a series of large puddles.  When I waded back from my tennis lesson it was completely covered at... continue reading »

Chosen Hill

More Sunday cycling, and another local hill.

This time Chosen Hill, though no lovely views from the summit as everywhere was in a cloud.

No ridiculous mud this time - there's a road going up to the top (where there's also a church), but it's really bloody steep so once again I failed to actually ride all the way.

Sandhurst Hill

A small part of my car decided to break on Friday.  The window motor - with the window stuck wide open, of course.  All fixed now, but it meant my weekend plans were restricted to "somewhere local" rather than kayaking in Wales :(

So I cycled up my nearest hill.

Well, mostly.  What actually happened is that I happily cycled the 13km of roads and solid tracks, and carried the bike through the remaining 2km of thick mud.

Apparently I did not learn anything from the last time I thought cycling some hilltop bridleway in November was a good idea.  But nevermind -... continue reading »

forest cycling

I bought a new map recently - the Cycling Guides map of 'leisure routes' in the Forest of Dean.  Featuring the family trail (which is signposted anyway) but also two other routes with full directions, as well as highlighting lots of other bike friendly shortcuts, links and general forest tracks.  Oh, and various pubs, car parks and museums.

Apparently it's tearproof and waterproof, but without feeling at all plasticy.  I haven't had to test this out yet, as the weather has been lovely! (and let's be honest, I'm unlikely to be out on the bike if it's raining and manky)

Last Sunday... continue reading »

Leckhampton sunset

Been a while since I've been out on my bike - I actually had to dust it!

18km evening ride around Birdlip/Leckhampton, being the slow one in a group of keen bikers with much better bikes than mine.  And whilst I didn't fall off the bike at any point, the chain did - but only once.  Oh, and the spring bit on my front brakes (twice)... stupid thing!

Bit windy on the top of the hill, but I think the views make up for that - certainly beats staying at home and watching crap on TV.

Purton Hulks

Monday was an unusually sunny bank holiday. I went for a wander along the Gloucester and Sharpness canal to visit the Purton Hulks.

Apparently Britain's largest ship's graveyard, between 1909 and the early 70s 81 boats were deliberately beached on the thin strip of land between the Severn and the canal to shore up the bank and fight erosion.

Over time they've filled up with silt, rotted away, and generally been reclaimed by nature.  It's quite fascinating.

Some boats - particularly the concrete barges - are still mostly intact.  Others have completely vanished, or are just a few bits of wood sticking out... continue reading »

Gloucester flooding

When I moved house earlier this year I kind of mostly forgot to consider one of the things Gloucester is most recently famous for - flooding.  (although mostly it doesn't matter as my flat is on the first floor)

And last week it rained an awful lot.  I checked twitter on Sunday morning to see a whole pile of tweets from @Glos_Police about overnight road closures.  Flash flooding and rubbish drainage there, I think, but obviously all that water was also headed for the rivers...

So all the media rush to Tewkesbury, because that's an easy target and you get to use... continue reading »

Exploring Hartpury

Things to do on a dull Sunday afternoon, having already wimped out of going kayaking on grounds of there being massive amounts of water in the rivers (and wanting a lie in) - take the bike out for a first ride of the year! (yes, I realise it's February, shush)

A small consultation with CycleStreets later, I decided to head for Hartpury.  5 and a half miles of NCN 45, conveniently avoiding any main roads.

Half a mile in I realised a slight flaw in my 'relaxed Sunday afternoon' plan.  Strong, gusty and quite annoying winds.  But turning back and giving up... continue reading »

Severn Bore

Today's activities so far: cycling to Over, then standing on the bridge for the best part of an hour waiting to see this:

It's the Severn Bore Hooray for large tidal ranges messing up rivers :)

Only a 2* bore today, but still quite impressive to watch - especially as I've not seen it before. 

There was a 3* late last night, and more 3 and 4* ones due next month, so plenty of opportunity to find a better viewpoint for photographing it...

There were a few people attempting to surf it, although without a huge amount of success.