BELLINGHAM - KIELDER - BELLINGHAM
Girlfriends aside, I've been dying to do some cycling in Northumberland for a long time. Some of the roads around Hexham, and the Roman Wall, are exquisite: farm roads that could take a lifetime to explore. Given I knew it would be hilly and only wanting to do 40 - 50 miles, I took the old military road to Chollerford from Corbridge by car and branched off, and up, toward the reservoir.
Advised to stop in Bellingham (by activcylces where newcomer Sol Campbell was in with his groceries) which had better services, I stopped in the old market square with the red and yellow county flag waving in the breeze by the Crown and Rose. It spat with rain as I put on my overshoes but the donning of the anti-raindance jacket seemed to do the job. In fact it was in my back pocket by the 2 mile marker never to be seen again.
The road up was into a stiff breeze which didn't act as a great warm-up for knees still slightly creaky after Thursday's gallop from the off. A nice chat with the bike shop owner had me return to the dam via the north bike path - bearable for a road bike such as mine but only with good concentration. The descent was fast and at one point a Buzzard flew along side at about 40mph checking me out. The knees held up and the bag of cashew's and litre of water at the end, just reward.
Posted by stupot at 03:33 PM Monday 28 Feb
Always find Me in the Kitchen at Parties
My parents have a keen eye for simple, modern interiors and their house has been finished with lovely details over the years. The kitchen, though, is where I like to spend most of my time when I visit - as it is in most houses blessed with enough space. Kitchens are informal, comfortable, warm - and the room used most often. Kitchen's often have an entrance to a building which means people are coming and going and so more interesting because of their changing dynamic. My favourite part of my parents kitchen is the collection of enamel street signs (street jewelery).
Posted by stupot at 05:29 PM Tuesday 22 Feb
ABERFOYLE - STRONACHLACHAR - ABERFOYLE
It's not quite Finland but on the route around loch Katrine you pass 6 or 7 different lochs. We arrived, in rain, to Aberfoyle and as bus parties of pensioners rolled up to the car park we headed in for steak pie and chips - the staple, pre-training diet of athletes. The skies had gone from grey to white so we headed out on the beautiful if severely damaged road past loch's Ard and Chon. The clouds were hugging the forested mountain tops Japanese style. It was also eerily calm and the waters had mirror reflections of snow covered peaks. The colours were also intense for the time of year - lots of vivid greens and oranges. After a stop by Loch Arklet - looking west to Loch Lomond - it turned out that it wasn't actually warm enough to take off the top, wind proof layer. Sweat gets cold on descents. The interval training of Loch Katrine's north bank led us to a slow climb back over the Duke's pass, our bikes caked in muck and squealing in pain.
Still, it was a perfect day to cycle.
Posted by stupot at 02:34 PM Friday 18 Feb
Just a little bit wider
My dentist calls me Angus. As all health care professionals do. It's in my file. He also thinks I get anxious about being there. It's in my file. About 8 years ago he was doing some root canal treatment and I was in a lot of discomfort. After putting enough anaesthetic in my mouth 'to knock out a horse' he had a final look and saw a raw nerve ending. Despite this, it has been documented that I get edgy - with whatever acronym they use. Maybe P.I.T.F.A. Sounds like a possible dentistry body but could also work as short hand for Pain In The Fucking Arse. Or maybe just Hypochondriac Jessie. H.J.
I am now treated like a 6 year old every time I visit - which is not necessarily a bad thing. I get a very gentle welcome, ushered in, talked through what will happen, positive and encouraging feedback, reminded why I am getting positive and encouraging feedback, lots of opportunities to rinse my mouth, praise of my hygiene, given precise indication of how much more time the hand in question will be in my mouth for.... I occasionally look at the nurse behind her visor who I suspect can tell from my facial expression and lack of movement or concern that I am in fact far from upset. Still - for the amount of cash I'm lining his pockets with, I'll happily take the sweet talk.
Posted by stupot at 10:46 AM Thursday 17 Feb
Envy isn't a pretty thing
It is interesting that when a company grows to a certain size, no matter how it is considered in leaner times, it becomes the object of ridicule and scare campaigns. Rightly so, perhaps you might argue. Multi-National's need an ombudsman watching, scrutiny, questioning of procedures. I have noticed with Apple computers that, especially since the i-phone properly brought the company into the public realm, that journalists and laymen alike find ways to drag the products down to the same level as everything else. Perhaps that's the problem - people traditionally pick on the extremities of society be them clever and geeky or misguided and foolish. Moving recently, I stumbled upon a 16 year old Macintosh Computer tower and monitor in its no frills plain cardboard box which made me think about how the company has evolved since the days of using the classic at School.
Along with stumbling on Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on late night TV as a teenager, the dawning of the iphone was genuinely a life changing moment - and I don't mean that frivolously. When we were studying product design in the mid-nineties we were working to briefs that were basically saying - 'look, we have small chips now, memory is physically small, camera's are getting smaller' and we were designing hand held gadgets that were certainly not as smart as phones now, but were getting there. Talking about products that were performing many functions in one - an area electronics companies like LG, Samsung and Sony have avoided like the plague for want of destroying market share, jobs and ultimately the company as a whole. It baffles me that Nokia, for having the leading interface and instigating design competitions would miss having a properly intuative product that can perform all the functions of camera, phone, music player, games console.
Without knowing it, and for ten years, I had waited for this particular product and what, future gazing from the nineties would you think to be the public reaction to the iphone? Hysteria? Condemnation? Love? Or just that people get pissed off with the fact that covering an area on the case will interfere with reception. It's not ideal but check through the instructions for every other mobile phone you've had and it'll mention an area where you should avoid holding it. Maybe we should just go back to zip drives and mini discs for a bit - and remember how good we've got it.
image copyright http://hirac.info/site/
Posted by stupot at 10:04 AM Tuesday 15 Feb
To the right of where I was standing a new glass, dark and steel building by RMJM stands. The rest of my view is old Glasgow: the shearing shed that is city barbers with all its sports memorabilia, the graffiti and the glazed white brick of the Glaswegian rear elevation. I like to document plots like this before they are covered by office or retail space.
Posted by stupot at 10:25 AM Tuesday 8 Feb