You Don’t Need A Weatherman …

… to know which way the wind blows. Maybe not, but a forecast worth the name can sometimes be useful.

It’s April. In April we have April Showers in the UK. This is not news. April showers are hard to predict – fair enough. Britain’s weather is hard to forecast because of its position on the planet – fair enough. What’s galling is

a) my own stupidity, after all these years, as I still look at weather forecasts for information that I then rely on and which then proves wrong, and

b) in most cases, the fact that these forecasts even exist.

Granted, they’re not all as culpable, but the majority of them present what’s little more than guess work as certainty, and present it with a confidence that still fools me – and any number of other people.

(I’m not even going to be begin to ponder the wisdom of all the expenditure on national weather forecasting when it seems it’s essentially a lost cause.)

If we accept that I’m not a complete fool, I guess there’s a lesson there about how anyone can be suckered if the person doing the suckering is convincing enough.

And then you see photos of the damage caused by the latest lethal tornadoes in the US and a soaking from an unexpectedly-early-in-the-day April thunder storm is placed firmly in an appropriate context.

Wet handlebars and brake hood

No, that is not gloss black handlebar tape


I suppose it’s childish really, but I still find it somehow nicely odd to be at the edge of a shower cloud – where you see the join between wet and dry. Plenty of showers around today, and the dark clouds against the rape field yellow can look quite spectacular. I’m not sure I caught it that well in the photo but you get the idea.

It’s cold today and yes, there are plenty of classic ‘April Showers’ around. It’s just a shame it’s late May. The shortest day’s just a month away and then we’re on the slope down to winter again.

Rain and rapeseed fields

The grey and the yellow

A Real Challenge

A short ‘rehab ride’ with Charli on the 12th, a ‘grab the chance while I can’ ride in very so-so weather on the 13th, yesterday was a wash-out and all of a sudden it’s midweek again. If all things are relative, given how much time seems to be speeding up, whatever it’s relative to must be slowing down to a snail’s pace.

Today’s jaunt was just a quick 20 miles – Sonning-Wargave-Henley territory – but it turned out OK; I dodged the showers and there was even a bit of sun, which was something after a dismal morning. The only thing that can be said for weather like today’s is that sometimes the light can be striking – bright sunshine and dark clouds, and everything is greening-up abundantly now.

I was moaning about idiot road users, both the other day and two years ago. I was thinking today that in reality, all road users fall into four categories:

  • the ‘helpful’ – the ones who go out of their way to be helpful and courteous;
  • the ‘normal’ – the ones who just do what they do without causing anyone any problems;
  • the ‘irritating’ – the ones who don’t do any real harm but who are sure to get someone’s back up, at least some of the time; and
  • the ‘dangerous’ – the ones that genuinely put lives at risk – their own or other people’s.

The helpful and the dangerous are quite rare. Most of us like to think we’re in the normal category; most of us would probably benefit from remembering that to others we’re almost certainly irritating, at least occasionally. I think we need a road user manual – a R.U.M. – to explain this, to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and everyone else. Essential reading along with the Highway Code.

It occurred to me, too, that if it’s true that we’re all often unwittingly irritating to others, then a real challenge would be to try and think positively, or at least kindly, about the strangers that it’s all too easy to find irritating. I think I’ll see if that’s possible in coming rides: the TK (Think Kindly) challenge!


Green trees and threatening skies

Green trees and threatening skies

Reclaim Yourself

It is, of course, absurd to be pleased to get home after a ride no more than five minutes before it starts raining heavily. It was a fluke. Be that as it may, it’s still rather smile-inducing. And, with one short ride tomorrow, I’ll have done 100 miles this week – the first time this year I’ve managed it. Hurrah!

Talking of absurdities, I read a summary of an essay that – in a nutshell – tells you to give up consuming ‘the news’ because by doing so you’ll be happier. (Read the summary) I think I’ll be reading the book shortly.

As someone who used to work ‘in news’ and who still consumes a lot of it, I can wholly see the point. Consuming news is all too absurd. Charli’s given up with all newspapers and no longer has a TV. I suspect that’s the way to go.

As soon as you start on that route, any number of other absurdities cross your mind. Celebrities. First-pass-the-post politics. Our politicians. The whole ‘you have to pay top money to get top people’ argument. House prices. Bankers. Population growth. Religions. Consumerism. It soon spirals … If rejecting all these absurdities comes with reclaiming yourself as an individual, it takes effort to be an individual, to work out your own views.

As far as I can see, the only danger with cutting yourself off from all news is that you’re then giving up monitoring – and acting against – the corrupt. There’s a big protest against expanding Heathrow airport being held today; without ‘the news’ we wouldn’t know what the few are planning to inflict on the many for the sake of lining their own pockets still further. There must be a sensible way of knowing enough, without consuming pointless ‘news’ for the sake of it.

A black sheep, thinking

Free yourself; be yourself; look away from all the rest, find your own direction.


Your guess is as good as mine about the rain

Your guess as to what happens next is as good as mine.

Today was another day of trying to dodge showers and second-guessing when the next downpour was going to happen, while riding the lanes of South Oxfordshire.

It’s not ‘a bit of rain’ that’s the problem; the issue is that of late, when it has rained, it’s been slinging it down.

It was all too reminiscent of April showers; back in April I was talking about playing ‘rain cloud roulette’.

For whatever reason, today I found that repetition vaguely depressing, wearying.

I don’t know if we could cope with constant change; if we lived in such a way – I guess it would mean constantly travelling around the globe – such that we weren’t subject to the same repetition inherent in the cyclical. Are humans in any way innately tied to the seasonal? I have no idea, nor whether – if we are – whether it’s feasible or desirable to overcome it.

Applied Intelligence

The relentless chain of April showers continues. The wisdom is, ride out in to a headwind, back with a tailwind. Today, I could look west, where the rain’s coming from, and see a clear spell followed by shower clouds. So I set off heading east and got a good way towards Maidenhead before starting to loop around below Reading.

Photo: Shower clouds over South Oxfordshire

April Showers ...

By that time the clouds were piling up and sure enough I hit a shower near Shurlock Row but the smart thing was that I was riding in to it. That meant I was riding through it – and yay, it wasn’t long before I was in the dry again. OK, that meant riding into a headwind as I was heading home, complete with rain in the face, but that’s far better than riding for a long spell with a shower cloud following you, dumping on you.

OK, that’s not the greatest insight ever afforded to mankind, but I was pleased to have thought of it and even more pleased to have acted on it: going against conventional wisdom is never as easy as it ought to be.

Perhaps ‘conventional wisdom’ is a red herring of a juxtaposition; too much of what we do does no-one any favours. Well, no-one but those who profit from the status quo. Perhaps we should consider it akin to ‘sex and violence’ – a conjoining no more or less valid than ‘corruption and politics’ or ‘perversion and religion’.

If yesterday saw a mild but persistent case of the ‘if only’ blues, then why aren’t I celebrating my good fortune today? There should be an equivalent ‘didn’t I do well’ sense of satisfaction. Once again, I’m wholly unsure whether that’s just me or something more common. It seems easier to remember failures than successes, the bad than the good. But then again, perhaps writing about it is a mild celebration.