Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Water is one of those utilities you take for granted unless, that is, your house is on a private supply as is ours. Three weeks ago we ran out of water - "but it's been horrible and wet" might be the response, yes it has but it hasn't actually put that much rain down, the wetness was usually a damp drizzle. Things weren't helped by the fact that the storage tank in the field is also the source for the water trough used by around twenty cows and you can't ask them to drink less.

We were helped to some extent by being away on holiday for one week which should have allowed the tank in the field to fill up which it did but we still had no water. It's no fun when you have to fetch all the water you need: every litre weighs one kilogram (they are SI units after all) so you really know just how much water you are using. Nipping out to the garden water butt to get a bucket of water every time you want to use the loo makes you think about each flush. Washing clothes meant nipping down to the nearest  lauderette, a bit of a cheat but you can't subject others to too much smell!

This last weekend was spent digging up the feed pipe trying to locate a joint where one of the neighbours had cut it with his spade when sorting out some drainage. I'd misremembered where this was so it took a bit of finding (read as more digging)

New stop valves and access sleeves on our water feed.

With the joint found we split the pipe and tried pushing water back through it - the neighbours are on a bore hole and can pump water around. With all sections clear we replaced the joint with stop valves so that we could access and push water up or down the pipe in either section independently. Except it didn't work! Water would get to our header tank if fed via the bore hole with its extra pressure but not if fed from the field tank. It seemed like there was an air lock that the pressure of the tank couldn't get past.

Got home this evening to find that the system seems to have corrected itself and the header tank is now filling from the field tank. Phew!!

On a slightly different note, one of our cats proudly brought in a fully grown rabbit on Sunday morning. Fortunately I managed to grab him before he got under the bed to begin dismembering it!

Mine! Give me back my rabbit!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Scottish sunshine and showers

I got back last night from a week's mountain biking in Scotland. The weather wasn't as bad as first predicted (booking holiday time off from work two months in advance has its disadvantages) but certainly wasn't wall to wall sunshine.

We started with a ride near Sanquhar which was very boggy and very windy, in fact we cut the ride short because of the wind and struggled to pedal down a 20% road from Wanlockhead (the highest village in Scotland) as it was that strong.

On the Sunday we watched the Tour of Britain bike race go over the Devil's Beeftub pass - I was surprised just how much noise 100 cycles on the road make - louder than the support vehicles though perhaps our ears are accustomed to that. We then headed north to Aviemore. This was fortunate since the main path of the remnants of hurricane Katia actually passed over southern Scotland and northern England and the weather further north wasn't too bad.

Our first ride was an easy one up Glen Einich. Mostly vehicle track with a short section of singletrack and a couple of fords.

We may not have been rained on but we still got wet feet! Glen Einich

The next day we rode around in Glen Feshie on some excellent singletrack.
Some of the lovely singletrack in Glen Feshie.

Riding through some rather deep heather above Glen Feshie

After some man-made attractions at Laggan Wolftrax we began heading south and did a great ride up Glen Tilt and round the Beinn a Ghlo massif - this ride but in reverse as the singletrack is better that way. For once the sun was out and we saw a huge herd of deer, maybe 100 animals, and a red squirrel - definitely a red letter day.

Nearing the head of Glen Tilt

Some remote path to the east of the Beinn a Ghlo massive.

Pretty well every day we got back to the car about ten minutes before a cloud burst. However pretty well every ride had a river crossing of some sort that meant wading! But then that's the nature of biking out in the wilds.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Skipton Sportive 2011

So the day finally dawned ( a dull grey as it happens) and I dutifully headed off to Aireville school in Skipton. It looked like I was going to be on my own as the two Andrews had decided to only do the short version even though they'd entered the longer ride.

Once registered and set up with the timing kit I was ready to go. The route was a bit different from that initially promoted with a teasing set of warm-up climbs on a loop through Stirton then it's a convoluted route to get to Malham and the first big climb of the day, the Cove Road. I've been down this but only gone up on a mountain bike. Fortunately the difficulties are short lived and soon I'm passing the photographers to hit the rolling section over to Arncliffe. Well it's rolling as far as Darnwood House, then there's a steep bit, a very steep bit that's about 800m long. (The OS map has the steep bit at the top but it's actually the bottom bend) Lungs bursting I head over to Arncliffe and down Littondale, getting to the food stop at Kettlewell four minutes later than my 2hr target.

Refreshed and restocked it was time for the big 'un - Fleet Moss. I'd done this a couple of months ago with Cath again on a mountain bike. Time to see what it was like on a roadster. Hard is the answer! It was  the first time I've used the lowest gear on this bike, even so it was just fifteen minutes from Oughtershaw to the summit. The descent was a blast, even holding back I got past 70Kph which is a bit scary on a road you haven't ridden before.

I was looking forward to a nice ride down Wensleydale but the organisers had other ideas taking us up to Semer Water via some nasty climbs. Then down to Bainbridge and across to the other side of the valley. I got caught by a couple of riders who asked if I wanted to join them. Cue a 3 man chain gang blast at between 45 & 48Kph down to Redmire and the second food stop. Time to here was just over 4 hours.

The other two soon left me behind on the next section and I just managed to catch them at the start of the climb over to Coverdale but at this point a general lack of biking fitness kicked in and I got left behind, this time for good. After a nasty little loop that seemed to serve no purpose other than to put more climbs in to the route it was time for the long drag up Coverdale. Not my finest hour! I ended up having to walk the two steepest sections on the final climb to the col. Then it was just the headlong rush down Park Rash to the final food stop in Kettlewell.

The final section down through Grassington and Burnsall then over Halton Heights is best characterised by my attempts, not always successful, to avoid cramp. Embarrassingly, I had to stop just 300m from the finish. A few stretches and I crossed the line in 7hrs20mins (though the official time will be a bit longer since that doesn't take in to account the stops).

Some food then the bike home. I managed the first hill but the big one I just got off and walked (thanks to the biker who stopped because he thought I was in trouble!!). The cramps nearly returned on the final slight incline.

Unfortunately rehydrating is going to be slightly hampered by the fact that our water ran out yesterday morning - bottled water and beer then!