Archives for October 2013

What Is To Be Done?

The cover of Lenin's What Is To Be Done

Indeed, what is to be done?

Times flies … I’m surprised that it’s 10 days since I last wrote a ‘proper’ new entry. Today’s ride, with Charli, was essentially a permutation on yesterday’s route – these are reasonably quiet lanes.

There’s plenty of tree-debris around, both from the recent unusually strong winds and just as you’d expect for autumn. It can make for a tricky ride at times, not least because a pile of leaves or thick coat of beech mast and mush can easily obscure the pot-holes. The pot-holes never go away.

Over some unexceptional autumnal rides and a couple of nights away, the last few days’ thinking has been dominated by revolution. From Russell Brand being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman to the day-to-day conversations you find yourself having with friends and acquaintances, increasingly, discontent is in the air. Media figures and celebrities aside, Josephine and Joe Average aren’t happy.

I don’t know where that unhappiness might lead. I doubt there are many who genuinely want revolution in the sense of widespread unrest and violence, a real breakdown of order and social cohesion – civil war, almost inevitably. On the other hand, the need for something palpably significant to change in how we are governed in the broadest sense of that word, and thus how we feel about our lives, is increasingly strong.

‘What Is To Be Done’, as Lenin said. Spare us all the Marxism-Leninism, but, indeed, what is to be done?

Brand, Paxman and Channel Four’s Mason’s views on their meeting.

A Woodcote Cycle Ride (With Route)(Just For Cyclists)

The not-that-great storm yesterday may not have been as destructive as trailed / feared, but nevertheless it wasn’t a day for cycling, around here at least.

Today’s ride was just a short jaunt in South Oxon lanes, chosen mainly because of a very autumnal, strong north westerly wind. Going anti-clockwise and starting out from Caversham, for the most part this offers a classic headwind out / tailwind back trip.

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Autumn Toadstools

Oh yes,it’s autumn

Previously: Sporty Types~Red Lights~A Nasty Thought~Wardrobe Woes~Unfriendly

This time in 2012, the grubby truth about Lance Armstrong was a headline but it wasn’t news and using flashing red rear lights on dull days was a revelation – not least for how stupidly it made some drivers behave. Going back to 2011, and I was thinking nasty thoughts about nasty people; cycling was hard to dress for and occasionally tricky going, and some drivers in Henley were decidedly unfriendly – but karma is a boomerang.

Week 43, 2012: Top Level Sporty Types (Are Just A Distraction)
Week 43, 2012: Observations And Reflections On Using Flashing Rear Lights Whilst Cycling
Week 43, 2011: A Nasty Thought For Nasty People
Week 43, 2011: Wardrobe Woes And Other Autumn Aggravations (Just For Cyclists)
Week 43, 2011: Unfriendly In Henley

Links Page Update: openDemocracy

The UK media is largely dire; a lot of the media around the rest of the world is heavily controlled one way or another. This site is a wholly different, free, source of information – informed, intelligent and thought-provoking – about the world we’re living in.

OPENDEMOCRACY

A Swyncombe Walk (With Route)

A late start (too much Saturday night partying for old fogies like us) and heavy rain forecast, so today saw a Sunday walk rather than a cycle, with Charli.

Two road cyclists with punctures at Swyncombe, and three mud-bespattered off-roaders along the way made the decision to walk rather than ride feel like the right one. It’s puncture season, and it had tipped down over night.

The route wasn’t too taxing apart from some slippery mud, and we weren’t rained on until the last half-hour or so. The obviously imminent downfall did lend the jaunt a certain urgency though …

Rain clouds over the hills

Imparting a sense of urgency

Walking versus cycling? I’d take cycling if I had to pick one, not least because it’s a pace I like, but we’ve been walking more of late and the additional intimacy with the landscape that being on foot affords is proving very rewarding. I’m discovering new places and old places take on fresh aspects, even though I’ve lived in and cycled these parts for years. Not only do we need to get out of our cars, we need to get off our bikes too sometimes.

Codgeration now includes walks …

The Route: starting by Swyncombe church, dropping down to Dame Alice Farm, taking in Swan’s Way / The Ridgway and then back up to Swyncombe via Ladies Walk. About six-and-a-half miles. The only mildly confusing part was the start – the first path starts a few yards along the seemingly private road to Swyncombe house, which isn’t obvious from the church-side road.

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Autumn’s Light

Autumn – for cyclists, as always, it’s the time for horribly strong and suddenly cold winds, slippery roads, more punctures than any other time of year, and unpredictable heavy rain.

True, you can opt for the ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ angle, and on benign days over these few months I can warm to that view. And Keats’ ‘maturing sun’ is often particularly apt; there’s a quality to the light around about now, especially as it’s fading at the end of a clear day, that is unmistakably autumnal.

Is there a touch of melancholy inherent in it? I’m not sure. I’m more inclined to ‘grim resignation’ about the impending tougher cycling conditions than melancholy. We need autumn and winter just as much as spring and summer – remember vernalization!

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford

Autumn Hills, here seen from around Hailey, near Wallingford