Archives for March 2014

Around Crazies Hill (Walk With Route)

Starting out from Knowl Hill (where it’s easy to park, if you’ve driven there) this is a not too taxing six mile walk. The return leg through Bottom Boles Wood and nearby was muddy for a while but that’s not too surprising given that there’s a very large brick works hidden away at Knowl Hill. Bricks need clay; clay makes for mud; it’s been a very wet winter. It was nothing that you’d call impassable, and you’re hardly likely to go out walking in summer shoes yet, so don’t let the thought of a muddy bit put you off.

Walk profile for around Crazies Hill

Six miles around Crazies Hill

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Being Reasonable

A cool Spring day with a noticeable easterly wind and just a sprinkling of a sun-shower out towards White Waltham – not a perfect cycling day but a long way from a bad one. If only my legs agreed.

Alongside most of the roads, there’s the inevitable litter thrown into the ditches and on the verges. It’s ‘just’ the normal depressing trail that humanity leaves, there’s nothing new about it. There’s also nothing reasonable about it.

Litter in a stream

Not in my vocabulary

With Codgertation, I ponder on and I try to be reasonable – the occasional rant aside. Looking at the ‘normal’ litter all around, and reading about the rising tide of rubbish on our beaches, today I found myself trying to be reasonable about being unreasonable.

Littering isn’t the product of a reasonable attitude – toward the environment or your fellow citizens. Wars aren’t reasonable, nor is any other violence for that matter. Corruption – in politics, in the police, anywhere – isn’t reasonable. Our all too prevalent ‘bonus culture’ and the complete myth that you have to pay top money to get top people is manifestly wrong, proven to be wrong, and thus utterly unreasonable. Cults, religions, fad diets, unchecked population growth, demonizing the poor and neglecting the elderly – none of it is reasonable.

The problem is obvious: an unreasonable and unreasoning mind isn’t going to respond positively to reason. That’s akin to two different languages spoken with no understanding on either side, and no interpreter.

Which leaves us with the question: what should a reasonable person do in the face of unreasonable behaviour? Learn a new language – actually be unreasonable? Try and act as an interpreter – understand the unreasonable with a view to explaining the reasonable?

Of course, I’m grappling with nothing new here. Plenty of finer minds than mine have thought long and hard about this and related/similar issues. We’re in ‘it takes a thief to catch a thief’ territory. We’re in ‘Just and Unjust Wars’ territory. But for all that it’s a commonplace topic, it does no harm to remind yourself that your own – supposedly/hopefully -rational, sensible world view is more-or-less incomprehensible babble to many others.

Previously: Tedium~Types~Drought~Care

The winter of 2013 felt like it was never ending – it was tedious, as was all the tedium of modern life. Just two short years ago and character types were on the agenda, from Syrian dictators to investment bankers. Drought was too (though that’s hard to believe now), and also the need to care about our locales. This week three years ago, I wasn’t riding.

Week 13, 2013: Tedium
Week 13, 2012: Types
Week 13, 2012: Drought
Week 13, 2012: Care

Previously: Encouraging Disaster ~Again and Again~Eco-Systems~Enough~Bugs~Fall-Out

Just last year I was wondering why we have ‘automatic only’ capable people in charge of lethal vehicles; I was getting miles in before it became too cold again – and again – in a very unseasonable March and struggling to draw much inspiration from it all. Back in 2012 the carrion feeders were thriving on road kill – a new ecosystem; the seemingly alien concept of enough seemed obvious to me – as are the the bugs in a cyclist’s ears. Back in 2011 it was a case of nuclear fall-out, Japan, Libya, being the bad guys, and good riding.

Week 12, 2013: Encouraging Disaster
Week 12, 2013: And Again
Week 12, 2013: And Again, Again
Week 12, 2012: Eco-Systems
Week 12, 2012: Enough Is Enough
Week 12, 2012: Brain Bugs
Week 12, 2011: Fall-Out Saturation

A Trashed Home

Inevitably, I ride the same relatively small geographic area a lot. I’m on first name terms with most of the pot-holes. Sometimes, before setting out, I can struggle to feel much enthusiasm for any route I can think of: they’re all too familiar. That said, once I’ve set off, I generally find the simple fact of ‘being out’ is more important than where I’m riding.

Thus far this year, I’ve ridden far less than I normally do: some exceptionally bad weather combined with niggling problems with joints and what-have-you have conspired against me.

So, getting out a bit more now, there’s an element of looking afresh at the familiar: I’ve not seen a lot of it for quite a while. And that’ s both quite refreshing and depressing.

I know I’m contributing nothing new by noting that you see things differently if you’ve been away from them for a while; it’s just human nature. Another side of returning to somewhere familiar is the feeling of ‘home’: the pleasure to be had in the sensation that you’re back on home turf – in ‘your patch’.

So it is, then, mildly alarming to be back out re-visiting home turf, only to find there’s a lot of damage around. Woodland, particularly, has taken a fair old bashing in the last few weeks. Where the flooding has persisted – indeed, is persisting – it’s obvious that nature’s not going to be doing a quick bounce-back – it’s gone on too long this time. And that’s all to leave aside the damage to the infrastructure – the pre-existing rotting has accelerated.

Damaged forest trees

Home turf, under attack

No, it’s nothing as dramatic as finding your house has been burgled and trashed in the process, or anything similar, but it is nevertheless in that same general area. If not my home then my ‘home patch’ has been under attack, from the weather and from institutionalized neglect, it’s not bouncing back readily and it doesn’t look as if it’s likely to. Depressing? Yes. Disturbing? I think ‘yes’ to that too. Somehow, by some historical accident, my 50+ years of living in Britain have seen generally improving standards in pretty well all aspects of day-to-day life. The implicit, unquestioned assumption had been that that was normal, that it would continue. That now feels unlikely.

And today a leaked draft of the next IPCC report on Climate Change confirmed the worst fears in that area.

Spring Encounters

A short ‘rehab ride’ on a wider-Q fixie and not feeling too bad in the joints. The weather’s doing that very pleasant ‘English Spring Sunshine’ thing that it pulls out of the hat every year but which, in the depths of a grey winter, it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever see again.

Quite a lot of blossom’s out already; buds abound and the blackbirds are noticeably frisky. In other ‘nature notes’:

  • today saw a very close encounter with a Red Kite – he was engrossed in a splatted squirrel and didn’t see me until I was within 10 feet of him. The ensuing flapping was spectacular – they don’t get off the ground easily.
  • in another contest for a branch, it seems a Magpie trumps a Crow, which is news to me.
  • and deer – how do they find each other? I came across the local herd today trying to cross a lane. They were disturbed by a van and so about eight made it across, with the remaining 15 or more (one Stag, the rest seemingly all Does) frightened away. I stopped to see what would happen and the eight in one field ran to safety in the middle, stopped there and just waited – very obviously very alert. After several minutes, the rest of the herd appeared from a completely different direction, so they must have run in a fairly broad arc, found an alternative place to cross one or perhaps two roads, and come back up to where they’d originally intended to be. Fine … but I didn’t hear a thing the whole time, which left me wondering how they communicate.

Once again, I find myself wondering about my learned relationship to nature. I don’t have a clue what the equivalent feeling is amongst those who are decades younger.

And let’s not forget the light at this time of year – another aspect of nature, after all. (OK, there’s the atmospheric pollution aspect, but let’s overlook grim realities for once.)

That soft spring light

That soft spring light