The Moss (Part 2)

The coming of spring is something about which I’ve always felt a touch of ambivalence. Much as those extra hours of daylight, ice free tarmac, and general celebratory atmosphere of the outdoor crowd are very welcome I miss the empty roads, long shadows and quiet certainties of the winter. Spring brings with it the need for even more kit than in winter to deal with the changes in weather from one day to the next, one hour to the next, one valley to the next, it brings holidaying drivers who’ve read the instructions for their roof box but not for the big round thing attached to the dashboard in front of their seat, and it brings normally placid moorland birds to a state of aggressive agitation towards humans on bikes riding near to the road-adjacent scrape in the heather they call a nest. One positive aspect of the spring however is the newly diversified cycling population as folks from other parts of the nation bring their bikes and brightly coloured gear to the dales. Today I passed a line of visitors coming the other way, grinding up hill in various shades of highlighter pen jackets and shouted half a dozen ‘morning!’s across the windy road which in every case was met with a cheerful reply. A few months of some not very cycling-conducive weather (it was still snowing last weekend on the moors where even the news that it’s not supposed to be doing that anymore now takes time to arrive such are we behind the times up here) and various other demands on time and energy which were unable to be addressed  by pushing two pedals in a circle have left your correspondent in not the greatest shape of their life right now but encountering folks spinning heavy bikes at little more than walking pace up a hill and yet still smiling makes a welcome change from my fellow year-round biking residents who ride around with the expression of someone with clothes pegs fixed to both nipples and present a reminder that cycling is supposed to reduce the pressures on us and not add to them. As the second most famous Dane after Inspector Lund once said whilst jumper shopping in the Elsinore branch of Benetton, There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, heck, even cyclists who look like they’re having a nice time, so here are some pictures of Greets Moss which is a very lovely route between my valley and the next, which is mostly famous for cheese, and where I was having a nice time today, in between administering CPR to myself in a ditch every couple of kilometres.

The Beach (Part 4)

There’s some questionable public art around nowadays but these wrought iron seaside postcards on Redcar’s seafront make me smile. They’re fun and colourful, nostalgic yet optimistic, tell stories of the town and just seem right for the setting. Here then is the whole set, from North to South, bandstand to lifeboat station. Yes, that is a penguin in front of the steel works. No, I don’t know either.

Sunday Morning

Arriving in town it was raining, the rush hour traffic was deafening, there were road works everywhere and heavily armed police mixed with the rushing commuters on the station concourse. One thing the French do a bit differently, even maybe better than us though, along with knowing how to run a railway and finding creative things to do with garden invertebrates, and something which makes Paris more than just Leeds with croissants is that they still have a proper Sunday. The twelve million inhabitants of the metropolitan area may outnumber the population of several EU member states and certainly that of the top half of the British isles between my house and the Pentland Firth but apart from those folks jogging around the Jardin du Luxembourg or whizzing silently on bikes along the city’s wide empty boulevards early on the seventh day the place is pretty much deserted. To wander around the thinly peopled fells of my neighbourhood on the day of rest is a beautiful thing but to have one of Europe’s largest cities to yourself is quite special and for that, when it comes to all that other stuff that the place throws at you for the other six days, well, all is forgiven.