Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

Posts by Jeremiah Watt-saddlemaker

Blog 12-Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

GOPR2579
My intentions were good, my effort was also good considering it was pouring rain all night, I rolled a soaked tent and sleeping bag…….it stopped for just 1/2 hour at about 2pm…….I think that’s when God went and got more water. Cause after that it came down harder. Rolled into Fort William at a little after 5pm, full intentions on getting a room and getting blog 11 posted. Gotta tell ya, I love taking the pictures and would do so even if I didn’t blog. Don’t even mind writing out the sort of daily going on. It is simply that danged WordPress program that I just hate. I worked till just after midnight on the blog, I also had to get my tent and sleeping bag cleaned up and dried out, so that was timing some of my time. Got up early, worked on the images till just after 9 and left the hostel stay. Headed for the Post, and mailed some items to my kids. Then headed to the first open coffee shop with wifi, my intentions were, get the blog up. Sorry, worked right thru till just after 12 noon, finally just folded my crap up and left before I stabbed someone with a coffee stir stick…….WP is pure evil frustration. Nothing would copy and paste, no matter what I done.
GOPR2544
GOPR2574
GOPR2584
The hills to Fort William where indeed demanding, and alot of them. I rode both main road and single track dirt paths, it was wet, lots of puddles and mud. While riding, I could not but be impressed by the hardiness of the Scots and others. While I am cycling, I was able to see dozens out in the same weather as myself. Some carrying huge packs, others obviously on a simpler day hike……but they were out there doing it. The trekkers or walkers as we may call them in USA, can range in age from just late teens all the way into their eighties. Fort Willim couldn’t come son enough, I was pretty cooked by the time I arrived, and yet it really wasn’t that many miles, about 50 from where I started. As many of you know, miles, hills and wet does not a happy man make.
GOPR2555
IMG_1758
All the time I sat there working on the blog, it was cloudy and rainy, with stiff breeze from the north. 5 minutes after I walked out and left, it was brilliant sunshine. See, even God hates blogging. Sunshine, due north all day except for one 15 minute spell of rain shower. Rode north along a lake, great single lane road, just me and logging trucks. Joined the main road, not really congested, just pay attention. Busy rather than continually worry busy. Road by and looked at the viaduct at Glenfinnan, great looming piece of rock work. But sadly there are scads of tourists now, because they have used this viaduct in 2 James Bond movies and 3 or more of the Harry Potter movies.
IMG_1748_20190625013810625
Sitting here in my tent, facing due north just to the south of Lochailort, and not 20 feet from the gently waving waters of the North Atlantic. I am but 700 miles from Iceland, and only 20 miles at best from the outer Hebrides, which as you all know is the home of the famous Harris Tweed coats and wollen works. This is a special  tweed fabric made with heavy spun wool, much different type of wool. The wool used is very long, and quite coarse, it makes a long wearing and durable piece of clothing. Unfortunately, the coarser tweeds do not pair well with the factory ripped super skinny Jean’s. Just a wee bit to puffy thru the shoulders I am told. How would I know, I am in spandex.
IMG_1724
IMG_1762
I woke the sun, or it woke me, but I was up fairly early. The tide was low and the gulls were already sweeping the tidal flats looking for an early sea food breakfast. I had a power bar what they call a flapjack here, and a swig of water and hit the road. Up, around and down I went now mostly heading west and a little south. There are logging sites everywhere, even out on the islands, they are cutting and replanting pine, spruce and larch. The tiny road sucks just a wee bit narrower, something Opra can’t seem to do. The bridges, are all marked as weak bridges, and rated for very low tonnage. Quaint rock cottages make up the bulk of the houses you see from the one. Very little farming, pretty much, tourists stays, logging and raising sheep is the main styles of livelihood that I seen. A drop dead gorgeous ride around this block of land that I rode. I simply rode to fast is all. I stopped in Stantian to clean out my food bag as a cleaning was badly needed. A flat of smoked herring fillets in sunflower oil had broke open and that stinking fish was on and in everything. Got that job done with the help of a lady at a little cafe, she boiled water for me to do the cleaning. Plan was to just get down the road a ways and maybe pitch early.
IMG_1732
IMG_1729
But oh no, I guess God had a different plan for me. I met another cyclist about my age who was coming up the other side of a long grade. Tall fella, in good shape for his age, and easy to talk to as we stood on opposite sides of the road visiting. He is a roadie, a strip down race bike, and long legs that’s a classic roadie. Where ya staying tonight he asks?? Not sure, I just put my tent up where I think it’s safe, I tell him. Nonsense,  you can stay with me tonight, so whzy don’t you follow me. So off we go, very tough to keep up, ,but we work at it. Just 7 miles down to the ferry crossing. I am just a few miles south on the other side he says, won’t take long at all. Well, it was 18 miles and my legs are burning and I seen 5 million places where my little tent would have fit perfect.
IMG_1740
IMG_1742
Finally made it to Tony’s cute little place, and elderly crofters rock house that has been totally redone and modernized, very nice indeed. Tony was as I said an amiable fellow, a retired English teacher. We ate well, with 2 rounds of black pudding which I love. Several rashers of bacon, which by the way is far different than our bacon as it is far meatier than ours. And topped it of with juice and beans a great way to end what was a tiring day for me. Oh, pardon me, I almost forgot to mention that Tony drummed up some very fine apple pie and ice cream which settled within that inner tube shaped device I keep around my waist for occasions just like this. We visited till my eyelids got to heavy and Tony must have noticed, being an awesome host we turned in at about 11.15. Breakfast was a huge bowl of oatmeal, toast, fruit juice and of course coffee. Tony, I didn’t thank you near enough for your kindness and hospitality, I hope someday that you show up in California and I can return the favor.
IMG_1727
IMG_1753
I got left and began riding. The plan was to get to Oban and make some road choices. But those choices got made early at the Ballachulish bridge. I had 3 choices in front of me, and I took a route that would see me in Taynuilt just in time for a church service. I was the hit of the party, once again, I think it was my cologne. Pastor Tim Telfer gave the service, and soon to be Doctor of Choral Singing, Dr. Peter Jennings walked us thru ancient Scottish Hymns and there historical significance as it pertains to the first edition of the Scottish Salter ( very first published Gaelic hymnal dating 1637). The pastor and his wife Jan, are from southern California. The Doctor and his wife are from Walla Walla, Washington. All told, about 40 in the congregation, cool service. Had my obligatory cup of coffee while I mixed with the parishioners of Taynuilt and then took my leave.
IMG_1746
IMG_1744
Rode out of town, had checked my map, and began climbing hills. Rold down off the opposite side of the ridge I had climbed and met a couple from Belgium who were also cycling. Had a great visit, learned Alito about cycling in Belgium. They were headed for Oban and some whiskey, are you coming Paul asks me. Sorry, but no. I don’t drink fir one but thanks, secondly I am not going to Oban. Well then he says, that is really to bad because the is road only to Oban. Yes I did, I misread my map and had to cycle back to where I had began. Worked out just fine,  my intent was to stop at a flat spot and make myself lunch. Since I went back thru town, I stopped and bought lunch. A fine salmon toast, salad and deep dish apple pie with a grand vanilla sauce. As they would say here…..IT WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT.
IMG_1736
IMG_1689
Took the correct road south, headed out towards Loch Aue. It’s actually quite a ride, very narrow single track which runs a few hundred feet above the loch,s edge. When they build a road here they just scrape a flat spot 6 feet wide and no deeper than needed to make a road. So it follows the natural contours of the Loch,s edge. That means you have some nasty climbs, they will hit as steep as 34% according to one Belgian fellow that met while riding this road. He had an inclinometer mounted on his handlebars. Stopped in Dalavich for tea, it was a late start due to a heavy rain shower. Plus there is a silversmith in this tiny village. To bad ya arrived today lad, the silversmith is headd fer Edinburgh for supplies says Andy at the Dalavich general store. Sat there visiting with Andy, and having tea when along came a family from Calgary Alberta Canada. There third child is going to University in Glasgow.
IMG_1698
IMG_1702
IMG_1695
Rode on south, heading ultimately for Campbeltown, the draw of Campbeltown is like a magnet on my mind, that’s where I will be taking the Ferry over to Ireland. Before any of that can happen thought, I do need to put a new front tire on my bike since the side wall is bulging badly. Stopped in Lochgilphead cycle shop and had new tire installed. I have a room right across the street, at the Old Stag Inn & Hotel right here in Lochgilphead. I have already posted blog 11 and feel like life will be successful after all. My 50 dollar room which was just fine thank you, included a full English breakfast which I ate rather late in the morning. I needed to call and confirm that the Kintyre Ferry was indeed still running since a heavy drinker told me that canceled that ferry. Gotta tell you a rather funny story that happened with this same fella, it would have been better if it could have been caught on camera. So, I am sitting down in the lobby area as close to the router box as I can get so I can have the best internet possible.
IMG_1705
IMG_1675
This fellow who has had a few to drink, comes my way since the bathrooms are past me. A conversation ensues once he has finished draining his bladder.  He asking where I am from, what am I doing……your on a bicycle you say? Yes is my reply, I am traveling by bicycle and camping at night. He looks at me with a fishmongers raised eyebrow, looking down on me where I sit. He leans back to correct his balance and places one hand firmly on his hip for emphasis………his arm comes up and his index finger extends……he is going to make a brilliant point but it’s all happening in slow motion for me and at lightning speed for him I am sure. You know that this sort of nonsense comes to an end when you get to be my age, so enjoy it while ya can lad he says with a great flourishing hand gesture. Curious, I ask him, well how old are you? Lad, I am 58 and all of it……..and what about you he asks.? Well, I turned 63 in March. I swear he about fell over looking at me. He put his hand to his forehead and said more to himself than to me……good God what has happened to me!  I could see he was devastated, a broken man. I excused myself and claimed to need to use then men’s room down the hall…….being a loving Christian I limited myself to JUST ONE cartwheel while walking down the hall…..and I never looked back.
IMG_1714
IMG_1686
The ferry is running, it’s time to roll. Just 51.5 miles is what my map-AP tells me. But I confess, this was a brute of a ride for me. I am camped 4 miles short of making it to Campbeltown. 17 hills of over 12% grade, plenty in the high teens and 20,s. And I am totally done, I will finish the rest tomorrow. By my calculations, there should be 6-8 stiff little climbs left yet. Most of these climbs are several hi dried yards to maybe 1000 with a few switchbacks on the longer climbs. I have a grand camp site, a roadside picnic area, mowed grass, tables and all to myself. I am 100 yards off the shore, my view out the tent is that of the shore of Isle Aaran some 2 miles out in the Atlantic. Can it get any prettier. Praise the Lord for safe roads and good health. We pray for those suffering poor health, and pray thanks to the many Saints who I know are praying for me. Good night and may God bless us all. Campbeltown is a gorgeous little town, and worthy of a visit if you get over this way. The area is pretty enough that Sir Paul McCartney wrote and sang a song about it called Mull’O Kintyre. Take listen to it on you tube.
IMG_1659
20190626_161816
IMG_1660
IMG_1678
IMG_1642
IMG_1668
IMG_1671
20190626_161915

Blog-11 Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

IMG_1575
The irony of it all is a little overwhelming, but let me explain. We are in Scotland, as you may have figured out by now, in the home area of William Wallace and many of the famous battles fought in Scotlands fight for independence. Those battles were fought to acknowledge that the people of Scotland wanted to be a free people. These movie memories give cause to mentioning a conversation I had today before I left the church. Since the churches here always seem to have a wee bit of a socializing after the service. Rather than walk around and say hello before the service as we do at home, which is fine, they serve tea and coffee and biscuits which you and I would call cookies. During this get together I had the chance to talk to the Pastor and his helper about Brexit and the Scottish independance vote ( and yes we talked about Christ, the Church and our youth).
IMG_1544.jpg
So it goes like this at least according to these two fellows. The Scottish people voted overwhelmingly against autonomy and soveriegn Scottish rule in favor of remaining a part of the UK. They also voted as a majority to stay within the EU, rather than leave the EU but remain within the UK. but the biggest irony at least to me, was that given a choice between  maintaining its membership within the EU, or a UK that leaves the EU, the larger majority would remain within the EU. The Scots see their own way forward as being a part of the European Community first and foremost.
IMG_1404.jpg
Back to the house I am staying at, the Alba Guest House. Originally setup as a half way type house for addicts which I did not know about, a few years back they dropped that mission due to the legality costs I cured when that is what you do. Now a simple guest house with shared bathrooms, and okay bedrooms. It was a fun stay, and met some nice folks. So here is Jeremiah a recovering alcoholic and one who has found Chrst. Then there is Nils the fellow from Netherlands and a fellow now dry or off heroin for 18 months now and searching for meaning in life, wondering about a God figure. The housekeeper, 6 years now recovered from alcoholism and strong Christian now. And Gerald the house owner, now 20 years recovered alcoholic and strong Christian walk. Only 2 other peop,e at the house that I don’t know much about. But for it being a simple guest house, sure were a lot of addicts rolled thru at one time. I really think we all ended up there for the sake of Nils who is searching. NILS, let me just say, Jesus loves you brother and he is waiting patiently for you to invite him in.
IMG_1436.jpg
There was supposed to be  big breakfast fryup Scottish style. Everything, sausage, bacon crashers, black pudding, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, mushrooms etc. But I woke at 4.30 and could not get back to sleep. So I monkeyed about for a while  and finally rode out headed mosty north at about 6.45am. It was raining, cold, dang cold, then the sun would poke out, followed by an arctic blast and rain, and then kersplat the sun would find its way thru the clouds and heat it all back up again. I was taking clothes off all day long, I know how a stripper feels now by the end of the day. I even checked to see if there were any dollars Bill’s hanging out of my underwear….no such luck……all though it does feel like there is a coin hiding in there somewhere.
On the one hand, I can say I am loving Scotland. That would be the hand that still has a waterproof glove on. But me left hand, he ain’t so smart ya know……and he done lost his glove…..not he’s not to happy with Scotland. Guess he is a wee bit tired da’rain he is. Rode north out os Stirling winding my way up thru to Braco. There was a large Roman fortification here in the day, The Ardoch Fort as it is known is a part of the Gask Ridge defense system built by the Roamns approximately 20 years Head of the Hadrians Wzll a better known Roman artifact. But the Ardock is the best preserved large Roamn earthenworks fortification in existence.  Date is approx year 132. It was occupied for a very brief time, abandoned, and then reoccupied by the Roman’s around the year 140..The pack horse bridge which predates the fortification, was at one time a gateway to the highlands.  Still standing strong after nearly 2000 years, as does many hundreds of feet of the fortification wall. I can’t help but think how joyous the soldiers were when the Emporer let it be known that they were to a abandon the UK. I am betting that when they had crossed the English channel they all through there rubber gloves and water proof suits at the island. From then on it was going to be beaches and bath towels.
IMG_1444
Heading out of Braco, I met 3 cyclists, two were my vintage, and one a very young girl of 17. The girl was doing John O`Groats from northern most point, down to Lands End the furthest southern most point. They were all doing B&B travel, Jay-Dub is far to cheap for that sort of luxury…….I wonder if that’s why my wife refuses to travel with me anymore ???????  Heather on the hillsides, Gorse lines the road with its brilliant yellow plumage on full display like a barnyard peacock. The hills slip in and out of view because of low hanging cloud and rain. The day is briefly laced with sunshine, but only briefly. I round a corner, and the hills all of a sudden step together closing in on me, they have stepped so suddenly that they also captured all the wind for a moment as well as a large portion of a huge rain cloud. The rain is pelting down, sounding like a snare drum on the single lane blacktop road, water is running haplessly down my back, my head is soaked as it everything attached to me that resides under that hat. Decend down thru a small dense Larch forest, it is so. Black inside those forests as if mo light can penetrate within its bounds. I know there is a stream off to my right, I can here it tumbling thru rocks in an effort to escape the cling of the dark dense stand of trees that guard its banks.
IMG_1416.jpg
Round a corner with a barren hill making up my left flank, the trees suddenly stop and there is a dead flat bank that borders the 30 foot wide river. It’s a fisherman access, so there is a wee bit of a car park and the long grass has been mowed. You can guess where my tent lived that night. Some Aussies drove up and parked, wanting to look at the river. We struck up a conversation, found out they live in Adelaide, and they were both tired of the rain. They had been in Scotland now for 16 days, and had been rained on everyday since they arrived. I assured them that the guy who lived in that tent had told me he was ready for some sunshine as well.
IMG_1544.jpg
Up early, noonish. All packed up and pedaling. Just a mile past where I had camped, you  cross a stone bridge and begin heading up.  Nothing to crazy, but up, and up for several miles. To my right the hills are totally tree covered, spruce, and Larch, while to the left, the hills are open and bare but for grass and the ever present sheep. The road, the forested hills, went on for miles and miles. I used to think I could recognize the difference between spruce and larch, but I am questioning my ability now.  The tops of the moors are ,essentially empty, oh, you do see farm houses for instance. But even they are to a large extent empty now but for curtains in the windows. The barns I am sure, still get used. But only bay farmers who must live in town somewhere. More rain.
IMG_1464.jpg
 Dropped down into a deep valley, three rivers converge here and they sound magnificent. Rock, covered as if by a seamstress in bri,liant green moss, these rocks line the river course like tapestry hangings that enhance the color of the swift flowing waters. The townspeople are expecting sunshine any time, I notice because they are all wearing their, lighter rain jackets. I hope a Scot does’ina reed this, caus’in he’da skunt me alive and make a Sporran out’a me hide. Well Scotland did not disappoint, it was raining within 10 minutes of my arrival. The town’s folk all cheered, confirming ing they had not lost their innate abi,it to predict Scottish weather…..and they were right again……..aye, it rain’t ta’day a wee bit lad.
IMG_1495
Rolling thru town after the rain. stopped, and I met Eric. He is a French engineer who works for BMW, lives in Munich now. Maybe 35 years of age, an avid cyc,its within extra flesh on him like Jay-tub has on him oops, that’s a genuine faux paux that I think I will leave to show my sincere lterary honesty.  Anyways, he has done Turkey, Georgia, Azerbijan, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen and Oman. He is finding the UK tough, between the hill gradient and the cold his knees where giving him fits.
IMG_1434
Camped under a huge Sycamore on a tiny 6 foot lane I rode along Lock Rannich towards Pubil. A waterfall serenaded me all night. It was really col the first few hours, but I noticed that with all the running water I sure had to pee alot that night. Not that I am the vindictive type, but today I withheld all water from the big boss just to teach him a lesson.  If downhill coming out of that Rannich basin into the valley below. Thankfully it was in my favor. The day has been rain, then larger srops of rain, followed c.osely by road strangler and then after an hour of the rain exiting out the crack of your butt, we had rain dusting for a couple hours and then back to road strangler. Not that I am counting, but the day did have 2 minutes and 42 seconds of sunshine, but of course even that amount of time was broken up.
IMG_1532
Roled down into Killin and had genuine fun. Spotted a tea shop and de ided a cup of hot tea would be perfect. Before I got my bike parked, along came Ian on his VERY LOADED bike. I had thought mine was heavy and loaded his made mine look empty. Ian I inherited quite. Sum of money from his mother, may she rest in peace. That was 24 years ago, and he has not worked one day since, and has been cycling since that time. He has, ogged a little over 400,000 kilometers during that time and quite literally worn out 2 Koga Miata Globemasters- maybe the best heavy touring bikes made. He has cycled all over the world, but is fondest of southeast Asia, especially Vietnam and may even chose to retire there.
IMG_1540.jpg
While Ian and I talked, along came Rvainy from Switzerland. In headed out more or less in the direction from which I came, while he done so I headed in to have tea. I asked if I could join the lady from Switzerland and she obliged. Here is a gal who is a  certified AMERICA nut, her first question was why are you here, everyday is the same here, green hills, sheep and rain. In USA YOU HAVE SUCH VARIETY SHE EXCLAIMED. She passed is z tent with her, but o ly uses it on the nicest of nights, if it’s too wet or cold she prefers the B&B or hotel route. Can’t say that I blame her, there is a degree of comfort in that approach thT I think appeals to women much more than the dirty smelly ” hairy legged man tour” where tour success is measured in the number of airfreshners required to be in the same room as the rider……its almost that bad right now……my left eye is really watering.
IMG_1516
Something new happened today, and I finally had to talk to a kind Scottish lady out front of. Gro very store to figure it out. I was swarmed by tiny bugs today, yes, even while it rained Nd I rode. At times es they just swarmed my face and legs.  Y noon, I noticed I had alot of bites on my legs already. I was swatting the little buggers from my face out front of the store when she came walking out, and she noticed right off. Soooooo air ya lykin thay wee midgets, thay juss hatch’s bu lass week ya’know. Well if they are a week old, I just met them head on this morning. While I am doing a Charlie Chaplin dance routine, my legs and arms flying around like broken parts…….she is. almost and unfettered. WTF I am thinkin – “where’s the flies” of course. Ya godd’a whear thay vanilla, or ya will dew yer’self harm ferr shure. My tent is up, not a great site,  ut it’s up and raining all today. Headed for Fort Wiiliam and then south.
IMG_1586
Have I mentioned how much bloody rain they get here, in case I overlooked it, they get alot at least right they are having alot. Supposed to snow tonight on Ben Nevis right behind me at the moment. We had 16 hours of strait rain. My tent drowned out last night, I was just off the side of the main road. Tough to find a camp spot, pretty much up on one side a d down on the other.. done my best but lost the battle. Rained thru the night steady, morning awoke with 1 minute 24 seconds of weak sunshine right at day break. Once it slipped into its daily grave, it was solid mist  wreathed hills and pouring rain. Still in all of thT I could see a steady stream of brightly dressed hikers working their way along thru the highlands. The midges and mozzie are relentless, you can ride fast enough to be rid of them, but may God in heaven bless you with a natural vanilla odor when you hit a long slow climb. It’s unfortunate, but have been blessed with “Odor de Goat” and it seems to be a natural attractant. Clothes are being washed, even the bag of sleep which I just hope I can get dry by tomorrow. Charging batteries on everything right now, and almost finished with the blog but still have images to work on before I can post it up. Not sure I will get it all done tonight, the eyes are already trying to close. Good night and may God bless our every footfall.
IMG_1492.jpg
IMG_1537.jpg
GOPR2517

Blog 10- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

IMG_1343
So, how was your day. Pretty danged lousy thanks really. I got left out of Barnard Castle later than I had wanted. But I hung around till the Hardware store opened so I could get a few bungee cords and some super glue to make a repair that was much needed. Raining and windy as I left Barnard./////
IMG_1334
The road out, takes you up the river Tees, and in nice weather under blue skies, like they had here June 9th of 1653…..it had to be spectacular. No wonder the bard’s wrote songs and poems about that day. Today however was just a deep dark and foreboding grey. Clouds wrapped the hilltops,  concealing from you the ability to relate in distance. The trees shivered and shook under the heavy skies, pelting rain and a 54 degree day. Meanwhile the river, happy and rambunctious as it meandered the valley. Carelessly spilling over waterfalls and the boulders that made its bed. There must have been a dozen or more waterfalls, the largest I seen had to be 20 feet plus////
IMG_1358
True visibility was maybe 1/4 in any one direction. There was a hillside off to my left, I assume that it formed the other side of this valley that I am continuously  climbing out of. We are rising above the trees that blanket the valley floor, I can see better now that there is a very ominous black band of cloud and heavy rain blowing in from that side. The next small village I think to myself, if there is a tavern I will use it to sur this one out. Sure enough, The Blacksmith’s Arms owned by a Trump hating fella, so we got right into it. I love the USA he says with emphasis, and especially San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Point Reyes, love it he says. This new President I think he wants to destroy the world, don’t you he asks? Hell no I say, and leave it at that. But look at how rude he is with not just his own people, but with the rest of the world leaders as well. Can you give me an example? Well how about how he treated the UN? Right, I was actually a little upset that he didn’t pull us right out of that group of despots and socialist thugs. Despots and thugs, why do you say this? I realize there are legitimate countries within the group as a whole, but you have to honest and admit there are some bad actors within that leverage their seat into nothing more than personal gain. And tell me why the US citizen should foot the bill for Europes defense? Germany, putting in 1% of GDP towards it’s own defense budget is not just wrong its criminal in my eyes. What other world leader has had the courage and conviction to take on China for instance, or within US Presidencies, who among the many have had the tenacity to take on North Korea rather than just keep sending them money as has been the status quo. So for me, since your silent, I think he is going to be seen as one of the best Presidents we have had during a time when journalism has totally derailed and forgotten what actual journalism is all about. My hot coffee was not free../////
IMG_1344
You can just never tell with the clouds and the wind. It looks to me like the band of heavy rain has slipped over the other ridge and gone….so I make good my escape. It sure hasn’t, it comes boiling up behind me, even though I am riding uphill into a 30 mile and hour head wind. Okay, okay…..I hear the OMG comments being made out there. There are 4 cyclists who all rode in from different directions, all 4 of us were quite literally blown right off the road. I was blown off not once but twice as I struggled to pedal uphill into the wind and rain….I was actually leaning as well to make up for the force of the wind, and whoosh came a gusty and sent me strait for the rockwall and grass. One lady rider broke her metal headlight shell she hit the wall so hard. By the time I got to Alston, I was frozen. 4 different bikers converged on a tiny tea shop, not so much for tea, but more to warm up. The young lady who came in from the east, was so cold she was in tears. So here we all sit, at the Black Horse Inn, all of us trying to get dried out before we do it again tomorrow, I will bet that each of us is praying for sunshine tomorrow. Not much luck with that says the weatherman. I think Gods got this, so we shall see./////
IMG_1356
I ask, so how much snow if any, do you get thru the winter? Lad, was it a wee bit “whinday” today as ya cum’cross. Sure was I tell him, blew me plumb for the road twice. Well let me tell ya says the owner of the Teahouse. We get 3-5 feet of snow on average. But the winds you experienced  blow that snow into 20-30 foot drifts real regular like, all along these high Moor roads. Winter here is a brute. And ya’shud takkle a’few the hills when it’s a tad icey, an’yal quit wondering why so many old Land Rovers….he says with a chuckle./////
IMG_1336
Full English breakfast the following morning before all of us cyclists depart the Blue Angel Inn and Free House. As it ended up, there were 6 in total who sought refuge at the Inn. Everyone heads out and as it ends up, myself and another fella are headed for Haltwhistle. We are not really riding together, we sort of pass one another now and then. It is pouring rain in those big soak you thru type drops. Yesterday was wet by the end of the day, but today I am well soaked within an hour of riding.much of the distance was shrouded in a veil of cloud, but given the tight rolling countryside and abundant trees and rock not mention the fast moving river. If this ride had sunshine, it would be gorgeous that’s for sure./////
IMG_1372
Still pouring down but a town, and a tea house are now closer. I am done with this says my infrequent partner, as we meet at the top of a steep climb. He was standing off under a huge spreading oak, taking a break from the rain. So what are you going to do I ask? I have an Uncle lives in a town not far, I will call him. I am packing it in, it’s to be rainy for maybe a week he says….each, I am done. Not sure if he changed his mind those last few miles into Haltwhistle or not. Call it God leading me, or just the weenie in me surfacing, but when you come rolling in, you pass under a stone bridge and as you come out there is a traffic circle racing you and the first left is into a train station. Wwwwhat? I roll down in front and meet a lady talking to a group of school kids. She stops with them to answer my question, which is when is the next train to Carlisle, about q2 minutes she says. So, I bailed on and disembarked in Carlisle station. I buy a coffee to warm up, and 2 young road race type cyclists come along. We have a quick visit, they advise me to get a ticket to Lockerbie a d then ride the 74 to Douglas./////
IMG_1362
Rode the 74 but not to eventful really. The route skirts every little town. So in reality after I left Lockerbie until I camped that night, I n ever met one person. Woke up early with dappled sunlight hitting my tent, the leaves of the trees around me cast shadows amidst the brilliance of sunshine. Rolled camp up and at the same time I was watching the bashful Scottish sunshine being chased away by heavy dark clouds. By the time I made a special stroke, yup,I it was raining.  The entire day today, was sunshine for 15 minutes and wind and rain for an hour, an on we went. My new app says we covered 51 miles which feels real good considering some of the days I have had. I had a deuce of a time finding a camp spot this evening, harder than I have had in quite a while.. comparable to finding spots along the coast of Italy. I am camped now, have a pretty good spot finally, had a cheese sandwich, a gulp of water and 3 cookies….I am done and to be honest, yes, I am pooped./////
IMG_1387
Woke up to a slate grey sky, a mild wind and just one days ride from Stirling. Stirling is the famous location of William Wallace Memorial. Shame on you if you had to Goolize William Wallace. I suggest buying Braveheart and watching that. Mel Bibson does a fantastic Wallace, something senior Bieber just couldn’t do me thinks. Anyways, there are several towns famous because of huge historical battles, I passed thru all three today. That being Falkirk first, then Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce finally stood his ground for Scotland and finally here in Stirling. I think i had the weirdest day cycling that I have had in a while. Riding my Komoot app route, and it put me on dirt roads for about 5 miles./////
IMG_1373
So I hit a 3 way fork in the road, a little confused because there was little difference between the roads and direction since it was a chicken foot shaped junction. My map app does not zoom right in close, and maybe the biggest downfall of the app, it obscures the road names you have to guess. Anyways I  went a ways on the one which I thought made the most sense. One grass covered trail went into a cow pasture, the other toe of the chicken foot headed on a narrow path into a grain field. The route I thought, was a 2 track dirt road, the typical 2 wheel tracks and a high grass verge ( this is for Racer and Kollins- tell me what verge means), with plenty of long puddles since it had just rained for the last 489 days I think. So, I gear down and head out on my chosen path, a small creek to my left and it had a very steep bank off the roads edge. Mature trees on both sides of my parg. I am riding one wheel track not the verge at this point. I go just a couple hundred yards and check my map…..wrong path, the correct path is out thru the grainfield after all./////
IMG_1399
Turn my bike around, and remount and start off on one pedal but in too high a gear so I am having to bear down on my pedal way to hard and that also seems to cause my upper body to contort and tilt the handlebars in the opposite direction. Now I don’t tell you this as an attempt at making an excuse, but it did play into the lightning speed event that followed. The lid on my handlebar bag popped open, it never does that. For but a second I looked down at my bag because my first thought was something may fall out. But at the same time lurking under the 4 inches of water in the 10 feet long puddle…..was a rut leading right. My tire hit that rut just perfect and launched me with my butt now located higher than my head, and my bike with the front wheel turned sharply right……..strait over that danged cliff. We landed in a grand pile amidst the lower branches of two trees. With everything now being literally upside down and no real firm footing under me, I had a he k of a time getting to my feet and then an even harder time keeping my foothold as the edge was nearly vertical. I bet I spent over half an hour getting out, throw up each bag, make sure you have all the bungee straps etc so you can reload. Then lift and shove the bike back up the slope in what seemed like 6 inch moves, if I tried for to much distance iether the bike would slip back or my foot hold would give way. Frustrating as all get out, but I bet it looked funny as it happened./////
20190615_165030
So where you from he asks as he pushes his Koga Myata bike up next to Shirley my Surly. From central California I tell him, and how about you I ask. Belgium, I live right now in Antwerp and a recovering drug addict. My name is Nils, and yours? I was just upside down, so I don’t know my name at the moment I tell him. I will explain later I tell him. We are both touring, and I thought I had a heavy load. Heck no. His is almost double the load I am pushing down the road. He has all I have plus a trailer in which his average sized dog lives. About the same size as an average border collie for instance. I suggest to him that he should buy 5 or 6 more dogs, but hook them to the front of the bike instead! Great guy to visit with, used to do his traveling in a fancy 5 ton truck of the Unimog type…..but his drug movements caught up to him and that all came crashing down leaving him addicted and facing prison time. On the road to recovery now, 1 year 5 months away from it and attending addict meetings every week no matter where he is./////
Spent Sunday here in Sterling by shopping for a new charge cord for my tablet so that I can post this blog today. Riding back to my little guest house I spotted a open bay car wash, and my bikes gears and rimms needed a darn good wash, so I got that taken care of. Headed out from the car wash and heard church bells up the hill not far from me, so I took in a church service at a PresbyteriN church this time and it was a good service. They listened to me since sing the first rhyme and they rolled out a special guest  chair just for me that was in the back parking lot. These Scots are such kind people, just amazing. I also just found out tht Scotland is full of Bulgarins right now who come over for the fruit harvest season here…….so maybe the guy who hornswaggled me out of my hat last year will be out in the field as I ride by……I can get my darned hat back.
Think I will stick with my Christ addiction. Good night all and may God in Heaven bless us all and keep us safe.

Blog 8- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

I actually meant to stay 1 more day in Harrogate so I could wrap up the blog and get back to pedalling. The first nites room cost me 43 dollars, told the check in guy that I was going to stay 1 more nite at about 7pm the evening that I checked in. Oh, that’s fine sir, will not be a problem, except you have to do it online, now or tomorrow morning and everything will be the same as it were for tonight’s room……don’t worry, you know those famous last words. Well, the next morning I set out to rebook my room, web site says it’s totally booked. WHAT? Head down stairs and talk to the front desk, sure enough hotels is fully booked, new room rate is 122.00 per night now…..weezer, JW is far to cheap for that./////

Pack up and leave Harrogate by about 9am, after I buy some much needed groceries and water. My friend Randy tells me that I should not miss the Yorkshire Dale’s, so I make changes to my route which had been headed towards Newcastle upon Tyne. This next part is wee bit embarrassing, but a good lesson and I will share it with all of you. I don’t think I had ridden 5. Miles out and the rain came hard out of the north, along with a cutting cold wind. I was cycling thru an RAF Military Base, and was riding past a dense stand of trees. I actually rold off the road into the trees, I began by getting my full rain suit on….rubber pants that will hold 5 gallons of water per leg and most of that is sweat. A second shirt to cut the wind, a full rain jacket and a pair of seal skin rubber gloves……..you guessed it, I am already drenched and wondering the wisdom of it all. While I stood there, partially sheltered by the dense stand of trees, I seriously thought of throwing up my tent till the rain quit?? Right then, not but 10 feet from me……..two riders pass, bare legged, no rain gear, just wind proof anoraks on. They were busy talking back and forth and didn’t even see me.

That’s it, what the heck if two kids on bikes can pedal thru this rain as if it’s not there, surely I am either as tuff of dumb as them……I mean ain’t I. Out I go, suited up and chasing them down. But the little buggers just seem to have vanished in the rain screen ahead of me. Up, down, right turn, left turn, another lane junction and still nothing. Ah, what the heck they must have pulled over and put their tent up I bet. Nope, about 3 maybe 4 miles ahead, I make a tight turn left and downhill on yet another tiny lane, and passing thru a corpse of small trees, there they are standing fully exposed to wind and rain, smiling and eating fold-whiches. Those are the type of sandwich that a lazy person makes, slam in a slice of cheese and bologna, fold the slice over and gett’er down in 2 bites. That’s exactly what they were doing. SORRY, I FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE. Anyways, they were almost same age as me, a man and a woman, bare legged, walking shorts and a singlet and an anorak is all…….and I am standing there freezing. As we briefly visit, we figure out we are all basically headed in the same direction, me fully loaded, and them not loaded. I left before they were done, and about 5 miles later as I grunted my way up a hill, they passed me…YES, on the dang hill. EMBARRASING, may have to send my man card back.

Caves, cafe and tea the sign reads and I roll in like its magnetic. First things first, ask if they have a bathroom and I am praying they have one with those blower dryers. God is good, they do. 45 minutes later, I have a dry jacket, pants, and both shirts, all dried nicely under that blower……not sure if the blower is still working today? I head upstairs, dried out, and warmed up, have a hot tea and a soda biscuit. As I sit, it rains hard, so I drink slower, as it lightens up, I got ready to leave but dressed differently this time. Shorts only, unzipped sleeves on my rain jacket and I headed out in wind and rain to ride further.There were much bigger hills ahead, and it didn’t take long to get heated up. The outer edges and tops of the Dale’s area is pretty sparse with any sort of trees, and the wind is really howling strait out of the north and more often than not it is directly in my face. My little tent needs some wind protection to make a stand thru the night. I need a grove of trees, or the protection of a rock wall for instance, and that’s is what I am on the hunt for as I ride.

The following day was heavily overcast, the weather report had said rain for the next 6 to 7 days. I rode without expectation of sunshine that day, and fully expecting to get soaked again. But God indeed had different plans for me. Rode up a ton of short but real steep little hills. It’s not just that the hill is pitched at say 15%, it’s that you hit a literally 90 degree corner then the climb so all momentum is lost, you are frantically shifting down and the chain is wondering which cog it is actually supposed to stay on…..would you please make up your mind. All total that day, we done 6 hills at 16%, one at 20% and I can’t remember how many at less than that……I was pooped. Riding along and it’s about 6afterish PM and I am thinking of a place to camp. Wow, look at that, right beside the road, a 2 story rock barn, rock fences and a 12 foot gate totally swung back leaving an open entry. Checked it out and it looked perfect, found some flat ground tucked in behind the rock fence and set up my tent……even sat down in the door of the tent and ate a simple cold supper. My mistake I think, was getting up to walk out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine that had poked thru the clouds.

Mere minutes later a car rolls up and a young fella jumps out. He is on the prod, and it’s not hard to tell, he is just waiting for me to pop off, ……he tells me to get the F off the place…..NOW. So, I pack it all up, and get on my way again. But by now heavy rain clouds had built up right out in front of me, and I thought oh crap, there goes my dry camp for the night. Rode hard for the next 2 miles, and spotted a cricket pitch and set my tent up right there. Had a quick visit with a fisherman who was walking back to his car. Lots of nice Browns and Rainbows, best to just use worms when the water is this high he tells me. Do that and you will go home with fish he says.

The following day could not have been more glorious, huge puffy white cumulus clouds greeted the morning sun, and brilliant blue sky enveloped the expanse above. The angling rays of morning sun added depth and character to the rugged landscape, bleating sheep with lambs in tow grazed around lazily, song birds and wild blossoms adding to the natural tapestry of the Dale’s. There were eye hurting greens, and purest of whites, broken by absolute miles of hand stacked rock walls and Laiths. If you pay close attention, and start counting there are thousands of simple 2 story barns, which are called “laiths” by the locals. These act as protection from severe weather for the sheep, but also they are for hay storage in the worse seasons. It would be very common for these barns to be 16 by 30 feet in dimension, and all dry stacked rock meaning no mortar.

The number of miles of hand stacked rock is staggering, it would be a huge number for sure. To see it in person on a clear day, to see how far up into the moors ( moors are the top most country which is treeless and covered in a variety of weather that turns deep purple in the fall ) and upon how steep of ground the rock has been stacked is mi d boggling. Apart from all that, the sheer size of the base rocks is just frightening, given the time frame when this work was done, it leaves me wondering how did they actually manage the rocks themselves. The men must have been like iron for sure, as many walls are a full 8 foot height and of tapering thickness from several feet thick to about 18″ width at the top. As if that were not enough, there is often one faith per small fenced field, a field varies in size by seldom do you see one that would be over 50 acres in size. The Dale’s we first inhabited by the Vikings they think, Lord knows where they parked their boats???? So who stacked all this rock and does it still go on today, all God questions. Certainly the Vikings stacked some, but the bulk of the rock was stacked between 1600 and 1800 time period.

There are professional rock stackers today, of course they are universally known as stone masons. But dry stack, which is a Yorkshire trait, is a different breed from that of stacking brick and mortar. Dry stack requires careful thought and planning as small shim rocks are inserted in JUST THE RIGHT SPOT to aid it keeping a wall strait and level. It is the most time consuming method on one hand, but also the cheapest as it requires no mortar etc.i did see a brand new lrock house being erected all dry stack, and walls of a out 2 foot thickness, two story with huge wooden beams laid in place for second floor supports. The roof was just going up as I rode by, bare and naked with the heavy timber rafters exposed, left me the I impression that these were timbers cut green and framed up from that state, not a load of lumber from a yard.

While riding, I did not see one person walking with his trusty order collie companion, seen tones of “trekkers”, re recognizable in there brilliant colored gear, but not one old fellow walking with his heavy wool sweater and the iconic black and white dog we know and love. So who tends the sheep, and who repairs the walls. Obviously, many men today who may have been out walking the moors. y day in James Herriots day, have a town job somewhere, that would be my best guess. As to the walls, while they are very expensive to maintain, they are exceptionally expensive to build today. That cost is. ore in large part by an agreement with the EU Farming Protocol. To assure the continuation, and enhancement of a unique cultural region and experience, the maintainenece is in part shared thru the whole of the EU. To what extent, of that I am not sure, but the program does exist.

Well hello I say, as a fellow long haul cyclist and I meet on an incredibly steep hill. His name Terry, hails from New Zealand, also a world cyclist. Older than I, he being 73, you will find that the UK has some of the toughest cycling you can find he assures me. Barely a s ow capped peak, save for but a few further north. Here you can encounter five 20% climbs within a single mile in some areas, and then a long grade at 10-15% for as much as 2 miles. Terry is tall, rugged and fit for his age, causing me to ask what he done for a living before he retired. Well he says, do we simple workers ever really get to retire?? When life began I was a school teacher at the High School level, had a wife and all the rest. But the wife up and left, and the kids are more painful to deal with each day it seems. One day while sitting having tea in the comfort of my English home on a Saturday morning. I noticed an ad in the paper that read ” wanted, apple pickers in New Zealand”, that was in 1972. I have picked apples and other things every season since, I live quite simply on the west coast of the best island, that being the south island he says with a wink. Of yes, I do some substitute tea thing and fill ins at the Post Office when regulars goes on holidays. Basically, I try to make enough extra every year to simp,y escape the New Zealand winter, which is rain everyday for three months. I love to go to USA or Australia, get out I to the outback of OZ or into Nevada and Arizona. Just dry out a little he says with a smile. I love USA he claims, the rest of the world could use a little of your countries freedoms.

We part ways, me to the north and he to the south. I cycle thru Thwaite and have tea and reflect a little on the conversation with Terry. It reminds me of a similar talk I had with Chris and Jennifer just 2 days before while standing on a brilliant stone bridge in Bainbridge. I sure wish we had a flaming red headed Prime Minister says Chris. This country could use a swift kick in the economical pants, it’s just atrocious how these politicians run the country. Barry a one of me has ever worked out here where us stiffs make a go of it. Ah Chris, but he is so rude isn`t he says Jennifer, his wife. Yeah, I`all grant ya that gun. So, I ask them if they ever tire of political merry-go-round answers. Where they talk for 5 minutes but never answer the actual question. Of my God yes, we are both so sick of the verbal escape plan. So I says, when President Trump stands up and says XYZ without and extra fluff, why is he all of a sudden crude and uncouth? Well you have a point there says Jennifer……..maybe he could soften the tone just a tad says Chris. We have been to USA several times they tell me, just love it, especially southwest, like Cody and Sedona. I bought a hat and boots I was so impressed with cowboys, seen them all over on the streets of Cody, had ta have me a pair as well. Those boots, they make a person walk funny now don’t they. Did not have the heart to tell him that good boots don’t make you walk funny, and most of the cowboys he seen where other tourists who arrived the day before. None of that was important, the essense of what made America great to him was our apparent freedoms. Praise God above, for the greatest nation on earth JW added this.

Blog 7- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

I actually meant to stay 1 more day in Harrogate so I could wrap up the blog and get back to pedalling. The first nites room cost me 43 dollars, told the check in guy that I was going to stay 1 more nite at about 7pm the evening that I checked in. Oh, that’s fine sir, will not be a problem, except you have to do it online, now or tomorrow morning and everything will be the same as it were for tonight’s room……don’t worry, you know those famous last words. Well, the next morning I set out to rebook my room, web site says it’s totally booked. WHAT? Head down stairs and talk to the front desk, sure enough hotels is fully booked, new room rate is 122.00 per night now…..weezer, JW is far to cheap for that./////
Pack up and leave Harrogate by about 9am, after I buy some much needed groceries and water. My friend Randy tells me that I should not miss the Yorkshire Dale’s, so I make changes to my route which had been headed towards Newcastle upon Tyne. This next part is wee bit embarrassing, but a good lesson and I will share it with all of you. I don’t think I had ridden 5. Miles out and the rain came hard out of the north, along with a cutting cold wind. I was cycling thru an RAF Military Base, and was riding past a dense stand of trees. I actually rold off the road into the trees, I began by getting my full rain suit on….rubber pants that will hold 5 gallons of water per leg and most of that is sweat. A second shirt to cut the wind, a full rain jacket and a pair of seal skin rubber gloves……..you guessed it, I am already drenched and wondering the wisdom of it all. While I stood there, partially sheltered by the dense stand of trees, I seriously thought of throwing up my tent till the rain quit?? Right then, not but 10 feet from me……..two riders pass, bare legged, no rain gear, just wind proof anoraks on. They were busy talking back and forth and didn’t even see me./////
That’s it, what the heck if two kids on bikes can pedal thru this rain as if it’s not there, surely I am either as tuff of dumb as them……I mean ain’t I. Out I go, suited up and chasing them down. But the little buggers just seem to have vanished in the rain screen ahead of me. Up, down, right turn, left turn, another lane junction and still nothing. Ah, what the heck they must have pulled over and put their tent up I bet. Nope, about 3 maybe 4 miles ahead, I make a tight turn left and downhill on yet another tiny lane, and passing thru a corpse of small trees, there they are standing fully exposed to wind and rain, smiling and eating fold-whiches. Those are the type of sandwich that a lazy person makes, slam in a slice of cheese and bologna, fold the slice over and gett’er down in 2 bites. That’s exactly what they were doing. SORRY, I FORGOT TO TAKE A PICTURE. Anyways, they were almost same age as me, a man and a woman, bare legged, walking shorts and a singlet and an anorak is all…….and I am standing there freezing. As we briefly visit, we figure out we are all basically headed in the same direction, me fully loaded, and them not loaded. I left before they were done, and about 5 miles later as I grunted my way up a hill, they passed me…YES, on the dang hill. EMBARRASING, may have to send my man card back.////
Caves, cafe and tea the sign reads and I roll in like its magnetic. First things first, ask if they have a bathroom and I am praying they have one with those blower dryers. God is good, they do. 45 minutes later, I have a dry jacket, pants, and both shirts, all dried nicely under that blower……not sure if the blower is still working today? I head upstairs, dried out, and warmed up, have a hot tea and a soda biscuit. As I sit, it rains hard, so I drink slower, as it lightens up, I got ready to leave but dressed differently this time. Shorts only, unzipped sleeves on my rain jacket and I headed out in wind and rain to ride further.There were much bigger hills ahead, and it didn’t take long to get heated up. The outer edges and tops of the Dale’s area is pretty sparse with any sort of trees, and the wind is really howling strait out of the north and more often than not it is directly in my face. My little tent needs some wind protection to make a stand thru the night. I need a grove of trees, or the protection of a rock wall for instance, and that’s is what I am on the hunt for as I ride. ////
The following day was heavily overcast, the weather report had said rain for the next 6 to 7 days. I rode without expectation of sunshine that day, and fully expecting to get soaked again. But God indeed had different plans for me. Rode up a ton of short but real steep little hills. It’s not just that the hill is pitched at say 15%, it’s that you hit a literally 90 degree corner then the climb so all momentum is lost, you are frantically shifting down and the chain is wondering which cog it is actually supposed to stay on…..would you please make up your mind. All total that day, we done 6 hills at 16%, one at 20% and I can’t remember how many at less than that……I was pooped. Riding along and it’s about 6afterish PM and I am thinking of a place to camp. Wow, look at that, right beside the road, a 2 story rock barn, rock fences and a 12 foot gate totally swung back leaving an open entry. Checked it out and it looked perfect, found some flat ground tucked in behind the rock fence and set up my tent……even sat down in the door of the tent and ate a simple cold supper. My mistake I think, was getting up to walk out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine that had poked thru the clouds. /////
Mere minutes later a car rolls up and a young fella jumps out. He is on the prod, and it’s not hard to tell, he is just waiting for me to pop off, ……he tells me to get the F off the place…..NOW. So, I pack it all up, and get on my way again. But by now heavy rain clouds had built up right out in front of me, and I thought oh crap, there goes my dry camp for the night. Rode hard for the next 2 miles, and spotted a cricket pitch and set my tent up right there. Had a quick visit with a fisherman who was walking back to his car. Lots of nice Browns and Rainbows, best to just use worms when the water is this high he tells me. Do that and you will go home with fish he says////
The following day could not have been more glorious, huge puffy white cumulus clouds greeted the morning sun, and brilliant blue sky enveloped the expanse above. The angling rays of morning sun added depth and character to the rugged landscape, bleating sheep with lambs in tow grazed around lazily, song birds and wild blossoms adding to the natural tapestry of the Dale’s. There were eye hurting greens, and purest of whites, broken by absolute miles of hand stacked rock walls and Laiths. If you pay close attention, and start counting there are thousands of simple 2 story barns, which are called “laiths” by the locals. These act as protection from severe weather for the sheep, but also they are for hay storage in the worse seasons. It would be very common for these barns to be 16 by 30 feet in dimension, and all dry stacked rock meaning no mortar.//////
The number of miles of hand stacked rock is staggering, it would be a huge number for sure. To see it in person on a clear day, to see how far up into the moors ( moors are the top most country which is treeless and covered in a variety of weather that turns deep purple in the fall ) and upon how steep of ground the rock has been stacked is mi d boggling. Apart from all that, the sheer size of the base rocks is just frightening, given the time frame when this work was done, it leaves me wondering how did they actually manage the rocks themselves. The men must have been like iron for sure, as many walls are a full 8 foot height and of tapering thickness from several feet thick to about 18″ width at the top. As if that were not enough, there is often one faith per small fenced field, a field varies in size by seldom do you see one that would be over 50 acres in size. The Dale’s we first inhabited by the Vikings they think, Lord knows where they parked their boats???? So who stacked all this rock and does it still go on today, all God questions. Certainly the Vikings stacked some, but the bulk of the rock was stacked between 1600 and 1800 time period./////
There are professional rock stackers today, of course they are universally known as stone masons. But dry stack, which is a Yorkshire trait, is a different breed from that of stacking brick and mortar. Dry stack requires careful thought and planning as small shim rocks are inserted in JUST THE RIGHT SPOT to aid it keeping a wall strait and level. It is the most time consuming method on one hand, but also the cheapest as it requires no mortar etc.i did see a brand new lrock house being erected all dry stack, and walls of a out 2 foot thickness, two story with huge wooden beams laid in place for second floor supports. The roof was just going up as I rode by, bare and naked with the heavy timber rafters exposed, left me the I impression that these were timbers cut green and framed up from that state, not a load of lumber from a yard./////
While riding, I did not see one person walking with his trusty order collie companion, seen tones of “trekkers”, re recognizable in there brilliant colored gear, but not one old fellow walking with his heavy wool sweater and the iconic black and white dog we know and love. So who tends the sheep, and who repairs the walls. Obviously, many men today who may have been out walking the moors. y day in James Herriots day, have a town job somewhere, that would be my best guess. As to the walls, while they are very expensive to maintain, they are exceptionally expensive to build today. That cost is. ore in large part by an agreement with the EU Farming Protocol. To assure the continuation, and enhancement of a unique cultural region and experience, the maintainenece is in part shared thru the whole of the EU. To what extent, of that I am not sure, but the program does exist.////
Well hello I say, as a fellow long haul cyclist and I meet on an incredibly steep hill. His name Terry, hails from New Zealand, also a world cyclist. Older than I, he being 73, you will find that the UK has some of the toughest cycling you can find he assures me. Barely a s ow capped peak, save for but a few further north. Here you can encounter five 20% climbs within a single mile in some areas, and then a long grade at 10-15% for as much as 2 miles. Terry is tall, rugged and fit for his age, causing me to ask what he done for a living before he retired. Well he says, do we simple workers ever really get to retire?? When life began I was a school teacher at the High School level, had a wife and all the rest. But the wife up and left, and the kids are more painful to deal with each day it seems. One day while sitting having tea in the comfort of my English home on a Saturday morning. I noticed an ad in the paper that read ” wanted, apple pickers in New Zealand”, that was in 1972. I have picked apples and other things every season since, I live quite simply on the west coast of the best island, that being the south island he says with a wink. Of yes, I do some substitute tea thing and fill ins at the Post Office when regulars goes on holidays. Basically, I try to make enough extra every year to simp,y escape the New Zealand winter, which is rain everyday for three months. I love to go to USA or Australia, get out I to the outback of OZ or into Nevada and Arizona. Just dry out a little he says with a smile. I love USA he claims, the rest of the world could use a little of your countries freedoms./////
We part ways, me to the north and he to the south. I cycle thru Thwaite and have tea and reflect a little on the conversation with Terry. It reminds me of a similar talk I had with Chris and Jennifer just 2 days before while standing on a brilliant stone bridge in Bainbridge. I sure wish we had a flaming red headed Prime Minister says Chris. This country could use a swift kick in the economical pants, it’s just atrocious how these politicians run the country. Barry a one of me has ever worked out here where us stiffs make a go of it. Ah Chris, but he is so rude isn`t he says Jennifer, his wife. Yeah, I`all grant ya that gun. So, I ask them if they ever tire of political merry-go-round answers. Where they talk for 5 minutes but never answer the actual question. Of my God yes, we are both so sick of the verbal escape plan. So I says, when President Trump stands up and says XYZ without and extra fluff, why is he all of a sudden crude and uncouth? Well you have a point there says Jennifer……..maybe he could soften the tone just a tad says Chris. We have been to USA several times they tell me, just love it, especially southwest, like Cody and Sedona. I bought a hat and boots I was so impressed with cowboys, seen them all over on the streets of Cody, had ta have me a pair as well. Those boots, they make a person walk funny now don’t they. Did not have the heart to tell him that good boots don’t make you walk funny, and most of the cowboys he seen where other tourists who arrived the day before. None of that was important, the essense of what made America great to him was our apparent freedoms. Praise God above, for the greatest nation on earth JW added this.

Blog 6- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

 

Blog Post 6- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour A sky dark grey sky of rain laden clouds greets me like a British anthem when I awake, no rain thru the night, but I am betting that we get rain thru this day. Rolled my tent, made some toast and tea then headed out. I had layed in bed, looking at my map on the phone, I knew I had to begin riding east to smaller country.

That was the only realization that I had come to at that point, the rest would be revealed as I rode, by the people that I met and the country I passed thru. One such fellow was a guy who said he was the mayor of this little town I passed thru.


We of course came to know this thru conversation and my lamenting the abundance of vehicles. He proceeded to tell me that something like 70 plus percent of English head for the lower southwest corner of the country on holidays. Quite simple he said, it’s the warmest, the best beaches and plenty of parks and hikes for the children. So just avoid the southern half of the UK I says in jest. If it were me, YES he says. Try Scotland he says with a smile…..I hear its lovely up there one day a year. We both got a chuckle.


On we go, and I am now searching out roads, tracks, etc that are listed as lanes or roads given a name but not a number. In some places there are plenty, others it is really a struggle and you end up having to hit a major road someplace just as a connector between the littles. These prove to be very intimidating each time. School is out, school is still in, heck I don’t know, so I begin asking. Schools here are on a rotational summer holiday agenda. Meaning g that each county is given a 2 week date and during that time only that school is out. That’s the best explanation I have had to date.

Another issue with using the gorgeous country lanes to travel by, a two fold problem really. You cannot see a darned thing, not kidding, rock walls and or 8 foot tall hedge rows impede you seeing anything on either side of that lane. So you watch for gate openings etc to stop and take a peek at the lay of the countryside.


It is truly beautiful, really is. Another thing I noticed was laying in the tent at night my legs tired, and I know I had done some serious sweating thru the day. My ride miles would be 40-50 miles, close to my usual ride pace of 55 average. But when you look at the distance by a major road it was only getting me in the mid twenty mile range down the road. So at this pace I would not be back home till like……2026.


I simply cannot spend all my time zig zagging if I want to get round this place and back home. Down a hill, up a hill, maybe a little spurt across a flat, then up a hill and down a hill was my routine for the day. Rode down and around a corner and met 2 cyclists stopped and looking at their phones. As it turned out, they are 2 guys run a cycling tour package company. On this day, they are mapping out some new loops as he called it. One guy done most of the talking, and was rather a heartless chap it seemed. I told them the trouble I was having, to which he said, welcome to cycling UK. He says we map out loops that offer different challenges to our groups, we try to plan a loop in which we can stop to eat twice, and maybe have an interesting historical item to visit. We ride 2 maybe 3 loops from a small town, then move by van to the next location and do it again. That’s what I would suggest that you do. I says, well. I don’t have a tag along van, and these country lanes while beautiful, they don’t get me very far across the UK at any point time. No, that is true he says, but you will be safe, so stop your whinging. Right I says, giving him my fishmongers eyebrow.


I think my phone is trying to tell me that it needs a rest. Can’t keep it charged up all day, even with the front hub working just fine, battery just loses to much juice. So about 2pm, and since every cross roads seems to have a tiny pub. I pop in, have a tea and charge me phone. I have only eaten at a pub one time so far while I was riding. Still making supper at night for myself. But one of the options that I have considered, is sending most of my camp outfit back home, even lighten my tool pack. But on those days when you get rained on thru the day, it leaves with no way to have anything hot at night before you climb into bed. I don’t mind not having my dinosaur pajamas to wear while I am out traveling, but if I can’t have my hot milk and biscuits, there may be hell to pay. The hills are getting smaller and smaller as I make my way further east, trying to slip under Birmingham and on east from there.


Ever vigilante to be watching that I don’t box myself in and force myself to tackle a road to big, especially those roads marked A. Zoomed down a steep hill and banked hard right……..dead flat and fresh mowed grass on each side, no rock walls or even a hedge……was I on the moon? Put the tent up, right on the side of the road, so few cars. The tent and sleeping bag needed to be aired out, so in the last few ray’s of sunshine, they waved in the wind. I sat there eating tuna in tomatoes (Dan Quail) sauce, and a couple slices of bread and cheese. Just looking out at a field of fat round clean sheep…….so, do ya think that one day a guy sees a sheep with a random branch stuck in the wool as it drags behind the sheep, and that’s the origin of the CUE TIP.


Anyways a fellow, badly winded from running, rounds the bend not but 200 yards to my left. He can hardly breathe as he walks past so we get to talking…..well, okay, I talked and he huffed for the most part. He is runnin another ½ marathon but wants to get into triathlon. I was a swimmer while in University he says, so I have that handled pretty well. Running was always a part of the swim season training, but the cycling has me really stymied he says. Why is that I ask, the traffic, the bloody traffic. Sorry, you will have to stop whinging on about the traffic my mate, that whining belongs to me I says. We compare notes, but his is far worse and happened right here on one of these tiny little country try lanes. My friend was cycle training ing for a triathlon, was struck and killed by a young kid just going way to fast, not but 10 miles from here in that direction he points.
So needless to say, my wife is not to happy when I tell her I am going to go train for cycling. I am a teacher, so I ride a spinner alot, at school and at home, but as you may know, it’s just not the same. Yeah, I can appreciate it I says, my wife is always disappointed when I get back home too.
Bright colors and activity on the opposite side of the passing hedge row bring me to a halt. I thought it was a farmer market, but if so, it was a long way out in the country for one. So, I mozzy in and low and behold it was a go cart racing competition. Plenty of carts, maybe 50-60. And they raced from 4 years old on up to 16. Twin engine carts capable of doing better than 70 mile an hour, and the little tykes raced bantam carts with 1 engine.
First guy I walked up to, and I spoke a few words, he says I used to live in Oregon for 8 years. Beautiful state he says totally tree covered. I asked him if he ever crossed the Cascade range and seen the other side. No, why. Well next time you go back, when you head over that way bring a tree with you so there will be a least one on the east side. Nice guy, an aeronautical engineer. Stopped to talk to another fellow, James. He is a lorry driver and he build operating rooms in hospitals. Yes I know a very unusual combination. He delivers medical equipment all over UK and Scotland. We visit about his cart, and his sons last year of racing. Just to expensive to move up to the next level, a out 100K a year for cart and crew at the next racing level. But he says, if you can shine in that stage you may win your way into sponsorship and the next level of racing which is an actual car. But very few make it he says. He proceeds asking about myself, and the bike. End up talking about roads etc. Well the south is crowded out by the English, the east coast is crowded out by the folks who come over from Belgium, Holland etc. Let’s just say that it’s already crowded, but in the summers it is especially crowded. Get to Scotland mate, that’s my advice, it won’t be much better but they are less crowded in the middle and over crowded along the edges so you may find somewhere to ride. I am sitting in a cheap hotel in Banbury at the moment, and the guy in the next room is smoking joint after joint. I have been leaning out this window for half and hour, inhaling like a mad man, still can’t feel a thing, must be cheap stuff he is rolling. Speaking of just that, I think that every other Brit is a vapor, little old ladies, young men and women, it is everywhere. Sort of surprised me really, being socialized medicine and all, I just thought they would have come up with a manner to curtail the practice.
A word to the rest of us Trump supporters. If he doesn’t do something about cutting spending, what we will have seen is McConneell will have traded Trump his executive orders strait across for NO-LIMIT spending. Sure worries me, that we are not making inroads on lowering the level of the swamp, nor working our way thru some true budget cuts. Okay, my political rant is over……Whitney, don’t read this paragraph. Not about cycling, just observations and comments. I
have finished 4 books so far. The case for Trump, by one of my favorite authors Victor Davis Hansen was a very interesting read. Followed by Remi Adelekes story called Transformed, also a very interesting read and a great chance to see a man’s heart changed toward Christ in a powerful way. A Dan Silva book, I like his fictional books spy thrillers. I wanted something a little heavier, and my son suggested Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – I have this book but not read it yet. I did also download another book by Ayn Rand, called We the Living. I really think that if you have a brain numbed adolescent with ripped skinny Jean’s sitting on the couch exercising his thumbs, slap him, then hand him this book. So many of the young ( of which I am one- young that is) feel that Red Bernie Sanders has the answers to their problems. Dang, they need to read this book by Ayn Rand. And I am just now on chapter 5 of Drain the Swamp. Interesting for sure so far. Once again, here is a guy calling on us THE CITIZEN to act. The take away is that we complain, we reelect, and re-complain.
I know that God never sends me where I can`t go, He sends me where others cannot go. And for this I am very grateful. I asked for advice, I asked for wisdom, I asked him to make my path clear. And to my way of thinking, he certainly did thru the people that I met over the last few days. So, I rented an apartment overlooking the beach, and will be home in 3 months…….ya right, Jdub is not a beach guy. Give me a lawn chair to reweave with Baler twine while sitting in the evening sun in ……..Quartsite. Holly doodle, did I really say that?
I am in another rat trap room, looks like a motel room right out of 1960 in Alturas California for instance. But it’s a room, my clothes are all washed…..yes they badly need the washing. My intention was to train it north to Newcastle. Last night I found a cycle route planner and after playing with it for several hours, I have decided to ride out of here….unbeaten for the moment at least. My ride is 235 miles north to Newcastle. If the ride and mapping prove to be an issue there are 2 cities along the way that offer train service north as a way out. Good night and may God bless us all.

Another issue with using the gorgeous country lanes to travel by, a two fold problem really. You cannot see a darned thing, not kidding, rock walls and or 8 foot tall hedge rows impede you seeing anything on either side of that lane. So you watch for gate openings etc to stop and take a peek at the lay of the countryside.
It is truly beautiful, really is. Another thing I noticed was laying in the tent at night my legs tired, and I know I had done some serious sweating thru the day. My ride miles would be 40-50 miles, close to my usual ride pace of 55 average. But when you look at the distance by a major road it was only getting me in the mid twenty mile range down the road. So at this pace I would not be back home till like……2026.
I simply cannot spend all my time zig zagging if I want to get round this place and back home. Down a hill, up a hill, maybe a little spurt across a flat, then up a hill and down a hill was my routine for the day. Rode down and around a corner and met 2 cyclists stopped and looking at their phones. As it turned out, they are 2 guys run a cycling tour package company. On this day, they are mapping out some new loops as he called it. One guy done most of the talking, and was rather a heartless chap it seemed. I told them the trouble I was having, to which he said, welcome to cycling UK. He says we map out loops that offer different challenges to our groups, we try to plan a loop in which we can stop to eat twice, and maybe have an interesting historical item to visit. We ride 2 maybe 3 loops from a small town, then move by van to the next location and do it again. That’s what I would suggest that you do. I says, well. I don’t have a tag along van, and these country lanes while beautiful, they don’t get me very far across the UK at any point time. No, that is true he says, but you will be safe, so stop your whinging. Right I says, giving him my fishmongers eyebrow.
I think my phone is trying to tell me that it needs a rest. Can’t keep it charged up all day, even with the front hub working just fine, battery just loses to much juice. So about 2pm, and since every cross roads seems to have a tiny pub. I pop in, have a tea and charge me phone. I have only eaten at a pub one time so far while I was riding. Still making supper at night for myself. But one of the options that I have considered, is sending most of my camp outfit back home, even lighten my tool pack. But on those days when you get rained on thru the day, it leaves with no way to have anything hot at night before you climb into bed. I don’t mind not having my dinosaur pajamas to wear while I am out traveling, but if I can’t have my hot milk and biscuits, there may be hell to pay. The hills are getting smaller and smaller as I make my way further east, trying to slip under Birmingham and on east from there.
Ever vigilante to be watching that I don’t box myself in and force myself to tackle a road to big, especially those roads marked A. Zoomed down a steep hill and banked hard right……..dead flat and fresh mowed grass on each side, no rock walls or even a hedge……was I on the moon? Put the tent up, right on the side of the road, so few cars. The tent and sleeping bag needed to be aired out, so in the last few ray’s of sunshine, they waved in the wind. I sat there eating tuna in tomatoes (Dan Quail) sauce, and a couple slices of bread and cheese. Just looking out at a field of fat round clean sheep…….so, do ya think that one day a guy sees a sheep with a random branch stuck in the wool as it drags behind the sheep, and that’s the origin of the CUE TIP.
Anyways a fellow, badly winded from running, rounds the bend not but 200 yards to my left. He can hardly breathe as he walks past so we get to talking…..well, okay, I talked and he huffed for the most part. He is runnin another ½ marathon but wants to get into triathlon. I was a swimmer while in University he says, so I have that handled pretty well. Running was always a part of the swim season training, but the cycling has me really stymied he says. Why is that I ask, the traffic, the bloody traffic. Sorry, you will have to stop whinging on about the traffic my mate, that whining belongs to me I says. We compare notes, but his is far worse and happened right here on one of these tiny little country try lanes. My friend was cycle training ing for a triathlon, was struck and killed by a young kid just going way to fast, not but 10 miles from here in that direction he points.
So needless to say, my wife is not to happy when I tell her I am going to go train for cycling. I am a teacher, so I ride a spinner alot, at school and at home, but as you may know, it’s just not the same. Yeah, I can appreciate it I says, my wife is always disappointed when I get back home too.
Bright colors and activity on the opposite side of the passing hedge row bring me to a halt. I thought it was a farmer market, but if so, it was a long way out in the country for one. So, I mozzy in and low and behold it was a go cart racing competition. Plenty of carts, maybe 50-60. And they raced from 4 years old on up to 16. Twin engine carts capable of doing better than 70 mile an hour, and the little tykes raced bantam carts with 1 engine.
First guy I walked up to, and I spoke a few words, he says I used to live in Oregon for 8 years. Beautiful state he says totally tree covered. I asked him if he ever crossed the Cascade range and seen the other side. No, why. Well next time you go back, when you head over that way bring a tree with you so there will be a least one on the east side. Nice guy, an aeronautical engineer. Stopped to talk to another fellow, James. He is a lorry driver and he build operating rooms in hospitals. Yes I know a very unusual combination. He delivers medical equipment all over UK and Scotland. We visit about his cart, and his sons last year of racing. Just to expensive to move up to the next level, a out 100K a year for cart and crew at the next racing level. But he says, if you can shine in that stage you may win your way into sponsorship and the next level of racing which is an actual car. But very few make it he says. He proceeds asking about myself, and the bike. End up talking about roads etc. Well the south is crowded out by the English, the east coast is crowded out by the folks who come over from Belgium, Holland etc. Let’s just say that it’s already crowded, but in the summers it is especially crowded. Get to Scotland mate, that’s my advice, it won’t be much better but they are less crowded in the middle and over crowded along the edges so you may find somewhere to ride. I am sitting in a cheap hotel in Banbury at the moment, and the guy in the next room is smoking joint after joint. I have been leaning out this window for half and hour, inhaling like a mad man, still can’t feel a thing, must be cheap stuff he is rolling. Speaking of just that, I think that every other Brit is a vapor, little old ladies, young men and women, it is everywhere. Sort of surprised me really, being socialized medicine and all, I just thought they would have come up with a manner to curtail the practice.
A word to the rest of us Trump supporters. If he doesn’t do something about cutting spending, what we will have seen is McConneell will have traded Trump his executive orders strait across for NO-LIMIT spending. Sure worries me, that we are not making inroads on lowering the level of the swamp, nor working our way thru some true budget cuts. Okay, my political rant is over……Whitney, don’t read this paragraph. Not about cycling, just observations and comments. I
have finished 4 books so far. The case for Trump, by one of my favorite authors Victor Davis Hansen was a very interesting read. Followed by Remi Adelekes story called Transformed, also a very interesting read and a great chance to see a man’s heart changed toward Christ in a powerful way. A Dan Silva book, I like his fictional books spy thrillers. I wanted something a little heavier, and my son suggested Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – I have this book but not read it yet. I did also download another book by Ayn Rand, called We the Living. I really think that if you have a brain numbed adolescent with ripped skinny Jean’s sitting on the couch exercising his thumbs, slap him, then hand him this book. So many of the young ( of which I am one- young that is) feel that Red Bernie Sanders has the answers to their problems. Dang, they need to read this book by Ayn Rand. And I am just now on chapter 5 of Drain the Swamp. Interesting for sure so far. Once again, here is a guy calling on us THE CITIZEN to act. The take away is that we complain, we reelect, and re-complain.
I know that God never sends me where I can`t go, He sends me where others cannot go. And for this I am very grateful. I asked for advice, I asked for wisdom, I asked him to make my path clear. And to my way of thinking, he certainly did thru the people that I met over the last few days. So, I rented an apartment overlooking the beach, and will be home in 3 months…….ya right, Jdub is not a beach guy. Give me a lawn chair to reweave with Baler twine while sitting in the evening sun in ……..Quartsite. Holly doodle, did I really say that?
I am in another rat trap room, looks like a motel room right out of 1960 in Alturas California for instance. But it’s a room, my clothes are all washed…..yes they badly need the washing. My intention was to train it north to Newcastle. Last night I found a cycle route planner and after playing with it for several hours, I have decided to ride out of here….unbeaten for the moment at least. My ride is 235 miles north to Newcastle. If the ride and mapping prove to be an issue there are 2 cities along the way that offer train service north as a way out. Good night and may God bless us all.

Another issue with using the gorgeous country lanes to travel by, a two fold problem really. You cannot see a darned thing, not kidding, rock walls and or 8 foot tall hedge rows impede you seeing anything on either side of that lane. So you watch for gate openings etc to stop and take a peek at the lay of the countryside.
It is truly beautiful, really is. Another thing I noticed was laying in the tent at night my legs tired, and I know I had done some serious sweating thru the day. My ride miles would be 40-50 miles, close to my usual ride pace of 55 average. But when you look at the distance by a major road it was only getting me in the mid twenty mile range down the road. So at this pace I would not be back home till like……2026.
I simply cannot spend all my time zig zagging if I want to get round this place and back home. Down a hill, up a hill, maybe a little spurt across a flat, then up a hill and down a hill was my routine for the day. Rode down and around a corner and met 2 cyclists stopped and looking at their phones. As it turned out, they are 2 guys run a cycling tour package company. On this day, they are mapping out some new loops as he called it. One guy done most of the talking, and was rather a heartless chap it seemed. I told them the trouble I was having, to which he said, welcome to cycling UK. He says we map out loops that offer different challenges to our groups, we try to plan a loop in which we can stop to eat twice, and maybe have an interesting historical item to visit. We ride 2 maybe 3 loops from a small town, then move by van to the next location and do it again. That’s what I would suggest that you do. I says, well. I don’t have a tag along van, and these country lanes while beautiful, they don’t get me very far across the UK at any point time. No, that is true he says, but you will be safe, so stop your whinging. Right I says, giving him my fishmongers eyebrow.
I think my phone is trying to tell me that it needs a rest. Can’t keep it charged up all day, even with the front hub working just fine, battery just loses to much juice. So about 2pm, and since every cross roads seems to have a tiny pub. I pop in, have a tea and charge me phone. I have only eaten at a pub one time so far while I was riding. Still making supper at night for myself. But one of the options that I have considered, is sending most of my camp outfit back home, even lighten my tool pack. But on those days when you get rained on thru the day, it leaves with no way to have anything hot at night before you climb into bed. I don’t mind not having my dinosaur pajamas to wear while I am out traveling, but if I can’t have my hot milk and biscuits, there may be hell to pay. The hills are getting smaller and smaller as I make my way further east, trying to slip under Birmingham and on east from there.
Ever vigilante to be watching that I don’t box myself in and force myself to tackle a road to big, especially those roads marked A. Zoomed down a steep hill and banked hard right……..dead flat and fresh mowed grass on each side, no rock walls or even a hedge……was I on the moon? Put the tent up, right on the side of the road, so few cars. The tent and sleeping bag needed to be aired out, so in the last few ray’s of sunshine, they waved in the wind. I sat there eating tuna in tomatoes (Dan Quail) sauce, and a couple slices of bread and cheese. Just looking out at a field of fat round clean sheep…….so, do ya think that one day a guy sees a sheep with a random branch stuck in the wool as it drags behind the sheep, and that’s the origin of the CUE TIP.
Anyways a fellow, badly winded from running, rounds the bend not but 200 yards to my left. He can hardly breathe as he walks past so we get to talking…..well, okay, I talked and he huffed for the most part. He is runnin another ½ marathon but wants to get into triathlon. I was a swimmer while in University he says, so I have that handled pretty well. Running was always a part of the swim season training, but the cycling has me really stymied he says. Why is that I ask, the traffic, the bloody traffic. Sorry, you will have to stop whinging on about the traffic my mate, that whining belongs to me I says. We compare notes, but his is far worse and happened right here on one of these tiny little country try lanes. My friend was cycle training ing for a triathlon, was struck and killed by a young kid just going way to fast, not but 10 miles from here in that direction he points.
So needless to say, my wife is not to happy when I tell her I am going to go train for cycling. I am a teacher, so I ride a spinner alot, at school and at home, but as you may know, it’s just not the same. Yeah, I can appreciate it I says, my wife is always disappointed when I get back home too.
Bright colors and activity on the opposite side of the passing hedge row bring me to a halt. I thought it was a farmer market, but if so, it was a long way out in the country for one. So, I mozzy in and low and behold it was a go cart racing competition. Plenty of carts, maybe 50-60. And they raced from 4 years old on up to 16. Twin engine carts capable of doing better than 70 mile an hour, and the little tykes raced bantam carts with 1 engine.
First guy I walked up to, and I spoke a few words, he says I used to live in Oregon for 8 years. Beautiful state he says totally tree covered. I asked him if he ever crossed the Cascade range and seen the other side. No, why. Well next time you go back, when you head over that way bring a tree with you so there will be a least one on the east side. Nice guy, an aeronautical engineer. Stopped to talk to another fellow, James. He is a lorry driver and he build operating rooms in hospitals. Yes I know a very unusual combination. He delivers medical equipment all over UK and Scotland. We visit about his cart, and his sons last year of racing. Just to expensive to move up to the next level, a out 100K a year for cart and crew at the next racing level. But he says, if you can shine in that stage you may win your way into sponsorship and the next level of racing which is an actual car. But very few make it he says. He proceeds asking about myself, and the bike. End up talking about roads etc. Well the south is crowded out by the English, the east coast is crowded out by the folks who come over from Belgium, Holland etc. Let’s just say that it’s already crowded, but in the summers it is especially crowded. Get to Scotland mate, that’s my advice, it won’t be much better but they are less crowded in the middle and over crowded along the edges so you may find somewhere to ride. I am sitting in a cheap hotel in Banbury at the moment, and the guy in the next room is smoking joint after joint. I have been leaning out this window for half and hour, inhaling like a mad man, still can’t feel a thing, must be cheap stuff he is rolling. Speaking of just that, I think that every other Brit is a vapor, little old ladies, young men and women, it is everywhere. Sort of surprised me really, being socialized medicine and all, I just thought they would have come up with a manner to curtail the practice.
A word to the rest of us Trump supporters. If he doesn’t do something about cutting spending, what we will have seen is McConneell will have traded Trump his executive orders strait across for NO-LIMIT spending. Sure worries me, that we are not making inroads on lowering the level of the swamp, nor working our way thru some true budget cuts. Okay, my political rant is over……Whitney, don’t read this paragraph. Not about cycling, just observations and comments. I
have finished 4 books so far. The case for Trump, by one of my favorite authors Victor Davis Hansen was a very interesting read. Followed by Remi Adelekes story called Transformed, also a very interesting read and a great chance to see a man’s heart changed toward Christ in a powerful way. A Dan Silva book, I like his fictional books spy thrillers. I wanted something a little heavier, and my son suggested Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – I have this book but not read it yet. I did also download another book by Ayn Rand, called We the Living. I really think that if you have a brain numbed adolescent with ripped skinny Jean’s sitting on the couch exercising his thumbs, slap him, then hand him this book. So many of the young ( of which I am one- young that is) feel that Red Bernie Sanders has the answers to their problems. Dang, they need to read this book by Ayn Rand. And I am just now on chapter 5 of Drain the Swamp. Interesting for sure so far. Once again, here is a guy calling on us THE CITIZEN to act. The take away is that we complain, we reelect, and re-complain.
I know that God never sends me where I can`t go, He sends me where others cannot go. And for this I am very grateful. I asked for advice, I asked for wisdom, I asked him to make my path clear. And to my way of thinking, he certainly did thru the people that I met over the last few days. So, I rented an apartment overlooking the beach, and will be home in 3 months…….ya right, Jdub is not a beach guy. Give me a lawn chair to reweave with Baler twine while sitting in the evening sun in ……..Quartsite. Holly doodle, did I really say that?
I am in another rat trap room, looks like a motel room right out of 1960 in Alturas California for instance. But it’s a room, my clothes are all washed…..yes they badly need the washing. My intention was to train it north to Newcastle. Last night I found a cycle route planner and after playing with it for several hours, I have decided to ride out of here….unbeaten for the moment at least. My ride is 235 miles north to Newcastle. If the ride and mapping prove to be an issue there are 2 cities along the way that offer train service north as a way out. Good night and may God bless us all.


On we go, and I am now searching out roads, tracks, etc that are listed as lanes or roads given a name but not a number. In some places there are plenty, others it is really a struggle and you end up having to hit a major road someplace just as a connector between the littles. These prove to be very intimidating each time. School is out, school is still in, heck I don’t know, so I begin asking. Schools here are on a rotational summer holiday agenda. Meaning g that each county is given a 2 week date and during that time only that school is out. That’s the best explanation I have had to date. Another issue with using the gorgeous country lanes to travel by, a two fold problem really. You cannot see a darned thing, not kidding, rock walls and or 8 foot tall hedge rows impede you seeing anything on either side of that lane. So you watch for gate openings etc to stop and take a peek at the lay of the countryside.
It is truly beautiful, really is. Another thing I noticed was laying in the tent at night my legs tired, and I know I had done some serious sweating thru the day. My ride miles would be 40-50 miles, close to my usual ride pace of 55 average. But when you look at the distance by a major road it was only getting me in the mid twenty mile range down the road. So at this pace I would not be back home till like……2026.
I simply cannot spend all my time zig zagging if I want to get round this place and back home. Down a hill, up a hill, maybe a little spurt across a flat, then up a hill and down a hill was my routine for the day. Rode down and around a corner and met 2 cyclists stopped and looking at their phones. As it turned out, they are 2 guys run a cycling tour package company. On this day, they are mapping out some new loops as he called it. One guy done most of the talking, and was rather a heartless chap it seemed. I told them the trouble I was having, to which he said, welcome to cycling UK. He says we map out loops that offer different challenges to our groups, we try to plan a loop in which we can stop to eat twice, and maybe have an interesting historical item to visit. We ride 2 maybe 3 loops from a small town, then move by van to the next location and do it again. That’s what I would suggest that you do. I says, well. I don’t have a tag along van, and these country lanes while beautiful, they don’t get me very far across the UK at any point time. No, that is true he says, but you will be safe, so stop your whinging. Right I says, giving him my fishmongers eyebrow.
I think my phone is trying to tell me that it needs a rest. Can’t keep it charged up all day, even with the front hub working just fine, battery just loses to much juice. So about 2pm, and since every cross roads seems to have a tiny pub. I pop in, have a tea and charge me phone. I have only eaten at a pub one time so far while I was riding. Still making supper at night for myself. But one of the options that I have considered, is sending most of my camp outfit back home, even lighten my tool pack. But on those days when you get rained on thru the day, it leaves with no way to have anything hot at night before you climb into bed. I don’t mind not having my dinosaur pajamas to wear while I am out traveling, but if I can’t have my hot milk and biscuits, there may be hell to pay. The hills are getting smaller and smaller as I make my way further east, trying to slip under Birmingham and on east from there.
Ever vigilante to be watching that I don’t box myself in and force myself to tackle a road to big, especially those roads marked A. Zoomed down a steep hill and banked hard right……..dead flat and fresh mowed grass on each side, no rock walls or even a hedge……was I on the moon? Put the tent up, right on the side of the road, so few cars. The tent and sleeping bag needed to be aired out, so in the last few ray’s of sunshine, they waved in the wind. I sat there eating tuna in tomatoes (Dan Quail) sauce, and a couple slices of bread and cheese. Just looking out at a field of fat round clean sheep…….so, do ya think that one day a guy sees a sheep with a random branch stuck in the wool as it drags behind the sheep, and that’s the origin of the CUE TIP.
Anyways a fellow, badly winded from running, rounds the bend not but 200 yards to my left. He can hardly breathe as he walks past so we get to talking…..well, okay, I talked and he huffed for the most part. He is runnin another ½ marathon but wants to get into triathlon. I was a swimmer while in University he says, so I have that handled pretty well. Running was always a part of the swim season training, but the cycling has me really stymied he says. Why is that I ask, the traffic, the bloody traffic. Sorry, you will have to stop whinging on about the traffic my mate, that whining belongs to me I says. We compare notes, but his is far worse and happened right here on one of these tiny little country try lanes. My friend was cycle training ing for a triathlon, was struck and killed by a young kid just going way to fast, not but 10 miles from here in that direction he points.
So needless to say, my wife is not to happy when I tell her I am going to go train for cycling. I am a teacher, so I ride a spinner alot, at school and at home, but as you may know, it’s just not the same. Yeah, I can appreciate it I says, my wife is always disappointed when I get back home too.
Bright colors and activity on the opposite side of the passing hedge row bring me to a halt. I thought it was a farmer market, but if so, it was a long way out in the country for one. So, I mozzy in and low and behold it was a go cart racing competition. Plenty of carts, maybe 50-60. And they raced from 4 years old on up to 16. Twin engine carts capable of doing better than 70 mile an hour, and the little tykes raced bantam carts with 1 engine.
First guy I walked up to, and I spoke a few words, he says I used to live in Oregon for 8 years. Beautiful state he says totally tree covered. I asked him if he ever crossed the Cascade range and seen the other side. No, why. Well next time you go back, when you head over that way bring a tree with you so there will be a least one on the east side. Nice guy, an aeronautical engineer. Stopped to talk to another fellow, James. He is a lorry driver and he build operating rooms in hospitals. Yes I know a very unusual combination. He delivers medical equipment all over UK and Scotland. We visit about his cart, and his sons last year of racing. Just to expensive to move up to the next level, a out 100K a year for cart and crew at the next racing level. But he says, if you can shine in that stage you may win your way into sponsorship and the next level of racing which is an actual car. But very few make it he says. He proceeds asking about myself, and the bike. End up talking about roads etc. Well the south is crowded out by the English, the east coast is crowded out by the folks who come over from Belgium, Holland etc. Let’s just say that it’s already crowded, but in the summers it is especially crowded. Get to Scotland mate, that’s my advice, it won’t be much better but they are less crowded in the middle and over crowded along the edges so you may find somewhere to ride. I am sitting in a cheap hotel in Banbury at the moment, and the guy in the next room is smoking joint after joint. I have been leaning out this window for half and hour, inhaling like a mad man, still can’t feel a thing, must be cheap stuff he is rolling. Speaking of just that, I think that every other Brit is a vapor, little old ladies, young men and women, it is everywhere. Sort of surprised me really, being socialized medicine and all, I just thought they would have come up with a manner to curtail the practice.
A word to the rest of us Trump supporters. If he doesn’t do something about cutting spending, what we will have seen is McConneell will have traded Trump his executive orders strait across for NO-LIMIT spending. Sure worries me, that we are not making inroads on lowering the level of the swamp, nor working our way thru some true budget cuts. Okay, my political rant is over……Whitney, don’t read this paragraph. Not about cycling, just observations and comments. I
have finished 4 books so far. The case for Trump, by one of my favorite authors Victor Davis Hansen was a very interesting read. Followed by Remi Adelekes story called Transformed, also a very interesting read and a great chance to see a man’s heart changed toward Christ in a powerful way. A Dan Silva book, I like his fictional books spy thrillers. I wanted something a little heavier, and my son suggested Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – I have this book but not read it yet. I did also download another book by Ayn Rand, called We the Living. I really think that if you have a brain numbed adolescent with ripped skinny Jean’s sitting on the couch exercising his thumbs, slap him, then hand him this book. So many of the young ( of which I am one- young that is) feel that Red Bernie Sanders has the answers to their problems. Dang, they need to read this book by Ayn Rand. And I am just now on chapter 5 of Drain the Swamp. Interesting for sure so far. Once again, here is a guy calling on us THE CITIZEN to act. The take away is that we complain, we reelect, and re-complain.
I know that God never sends me where I can`t go, He sends me where others cannot go. And for this I am very grateful. I asked for advice, I asked for wisdom, I asked him to make my path clear. And to my way of thinking, he certainly did thru the people that I met over the last few days. So, I rented an apartment overlooking the beach, and will be home in 3 months…….ya right, Jdub is not a beach guy. Give me a lawn chair to reweave with Baler twine while sitting in the evening sun in ……..Quartsite. Holly doodle, did I really say that?
I am in another rat trap room, looks like a motel room right out of 1960 in Alturas California for instance. But it’s a room, my clothes are all washed…..yes they badly need the washing. My intention was to train it north to Newcastle. Last night I found a cycle route planner and after playing with it for several hours, I have decided to ride out of here….unbeaten for the moment at least. My ride is 235 miles north to Newcastle. If the ride and mapping prove to be an issue there are 2 cities along the way that offer train service north as a way out. Good night and may God bless us all.

Blog 5- Shamrocks and Kilts

What you are reading here is the 6th full blog post that I have put up. Many thanks to world press, which is a total pain it has erased all the work I have done on 3 posts prior to this. So JW will be in UK a little longer…..like 2 weeks longer. While cycling about, I happened to meet a WordPress Comp-engineer. I quickly bludgeoned him senseless with my tire pump, left him laying on the side of the road in a pile of computer shortcuts……that’ll teach him. When I was called before the magistrate to answer for my crime, I explained who he worked for and that I was a blogger. The judge awarded me a 2 week holiday in Wales all expenses paid, told me that beating should have happened years ago…..he was a blogger as well. All joking aside, this will be the last time I blog using this dang WordPress platform. Dad, just be patient my daughter would say.

So, where the heck were we because I have to run thru my memory bank, all the way back to leaving the Isle of Man by Ferry to Liverpool. I was told, that unless I had tried Queenies, Manx Kippers and Donaldson`s Ice cream, I was not really on the IoM. That leaves me, a man with a severe fish phobia, needing to try fish, ICE CREAM I can handle. Queenies and baby scallops, served on a piece of sourdough toast, then a white wine sauce is poured over them, along with a lite waist slimming salad of course its fish don’t forget. And since Mom was not there to remind me, the lady at the next table reminded me that “there just full of Omega 3.s as well, aren’t they delish”. OMG, would somebody please figure out how to make Angus Beef be chalked full of Omega 3’s. Enough already.

Ice cream, is chalk full of everything supposedly bad for you and goes down so easy. That’s what I love about BAD FOR YOU FOOD. Here is the taste for you folks at home. You can eat a chocolate bar wrapper and all, and it will go down with great enjoyment. Try that with a package of fish buddy, and see If I ain’t right. But back to the food blog, the Donaldsons Ice Cream was just okay, I had a small 2 kilo tub, they had family size but that would be just to much. Next morning is Ferry morning. So, following Mom’s directives I am at the Terminal 17 hours ahead of departure……..its 21 hours if your flying. GOSH she just knows so many things about travel……just amazes all of us. Sure taught all of us how to sleep in airports.

Lamenting that I had not had Kippers yet, the man I was talking to says, My God man, ya have 3 hours till the Ferry comes in. Ride right down there at that window painted blue, best kippers on the Isle he says. I done just that, rode right down, walked thru the hanging chain door and asked for Kippers. Sorry me mate the fella says fut we don’t have any BAPS, not to worry says I, I don’t drink beer anyways. He eyeballs me in that weird “fishmonger” manner, you know with one eyebrow higher than their hairline….its uncanny. Baps he says are just a soft dinner roll, that’s how they would be served on a Sunday brunch. No matter I says, I am trying them with or without. OKAY, so he just nuked them very lightly, flips and peels the silver skin off, reflips and serves them to me – 3 herring fillets that once smoked become Kippers. Now tell me there ain’ta GOD, that’s no miracle of cosmic collision folks that’s FISH as the Master intended. Evolving right before our eyes. They were fantastic, really liked them, and they would be better with a Bare Bottle Brew for sure. I bought 8 extra packs, 3 per pack and sent them to Nevada and Levi, and to Pine and Whitney to try out. They will be good for about 18 days packed like that. Never heard if the box made it.???

Ferry ride was nondescript, lasted 3 hours on calm seas. Off loaded in Liverpool around 6pm, and just went to cycling east bound. This is where my life on this trip began to change, and from this point on, its affect becomes more and more pronounced. But more on that later. There is z fellow, Nigel Armitage, a very popular fellow on YouTube and Vimeo. He is a master stitcher, and his uploads are very informative and brilliant to watch on the platforms mentioned, plus you can sign up for a membership which gives you access to much more of Nigels informative student package. I spent the full day with Nigel and his lovely wife Emma, we dined at a local pub and they made sure that this Yank had a well aged British steak in his belly before he left in the morning. Thanks Nigel for your easy friendship.

The ride out of Burton, was a cross between riding small roads and some of the many miles of antiquated canals that weave thru England. Which brings me to a point about canals. Primarily hand dug of course from approx 1740 – 1800. The canals are typically 25 feet wide by approx 5 feet in depth, they are hand dug then the vertical walls have been rock lined, and the bank edges have all been stoned to stave off edge erosion and eventual destruction of the canal bank. My research shows some 5000 miles of canal had been dug historically, and today about 3000 miles of canal remain in daily use. Every canal has a “TUGWAY”, which is where the heavy horse teams would be walking as they pulled the boats along. Of course over time these canal boats have transformed from simple vessels for hauling raw product, to very ornate oats that are full fledged homes today with every modern convenience…..heck I seen some that had pencils and erasers on board. I can’t tell you how many Locks there are, but indeed there are a bunch. Each lock handles just one boat at a time, and passing thru a lock takes15-20 minutes. The runways today are cycle and walk paths.

My intention was to head over into Wales and cycle some of that area. I even sent and email ahead to. Fellow whom I have only met thru Instagram, Black Mountain Leather Supply, I warned him I would do my best to stop and visit if at all possible. My intentions were good, but the on the ground reality was very different. It was a combination of several thi gs really. An absolute over abundance of traffic on even the smallest of roads was a primary issue. But tired legs, or maybe too old legs were also an issue. I simply could not climb these steeper hills with enough speed to feel safe doing so.

The road to Ludlow, was my personal road to Emmaus. Rock walls lined both sides of the road for many miles, ivy, and other greenery clung to the rock walls and a silhouette of the shape of the average car was carved forever into this verdant green covering. The black top is ruff edged, no lines, and where it ends, quite literally its about 12” distance to the rock wall itself. I seldom if ever counted the 12 count between cars that were just on my lane, and it was every type of vehicle, from heavy trailer type lorries to young kids with Dads car for the first time. One particular climb was extremely tight, and when I finally could pull off on a farm lane entrance, I had ivy leaves captured within the folds of my jacket sleeve, and abundant discharge within my pants. I was officially done. Someday, my children will have children, and I want to see them on that day. Zt this rate I will the picture on the mantle that is always turned backwards for some reason. Here’s our Dad, the HOOD ORNAMENT, they will say to there kids.

I sacrificed and rode back I to Ludlow convinced that I had had it with this trip. Had a flat white tea, and thought long and hard about this whole process and what quitting would mean to my own psyche. It just seemed ominous to me too up and quit. It’s not like I owe it to anyone to either ride or quit, we don’t do this for applause and accolades, it’s really a much more personal thing than that. Several hours later, reading maps, thinking issues thru, I conclude. Several people had already warned me of just how much h traffic I would encounter when headed south, plus you pretty much have to avoid any road that starts with A, even many B roads are to congested. Stay with farmlands was my decision.

And with that, I cleaned my pants, and started my way more or less east on nothing but farm lanes which are given names and not a number designation. If the lane had a number given it, I would totally avoid it. For the next few days, I would ride 30 to maybe 45 miles in distance, only to arrive at the conclusion that as it regarded a linear distance it was barely 20 miles in some cases. Also a huge problem, as you wear yourself out and only getting 20 miles closer to the final goal of making it around the UK. It forced another great debate within my soul. That of achieving the sort of distances it demands in order that you get around in a reasonable amount of time, al with consideration for your personal safety as well. More on all this later, many have prayed for my wellbeing g and for wisdom to be shared thru the people I meet, and Gods gentle hand guiding me. Thanks to the saints who have prayed for me, they have not been wasted.

Blog 4- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour.

We hit the beach a runnin boys, we turned those bikes around………well something like that as Johnny Horton sang. We rolled off the Ferry that took us from Belfast to Douglas on the Isle of Man at a leisurely 2.5 hours time frame. Arrived later afternoonish like 4pm or so. I had already bought food and had it packed on the bike, 15 packs of cookies and a tub of ice cream……okay kidding about the ice cream.

The island is actually very mountainous, so you get climbing right away.

Before I get to carried away with cycling antics, I need to tell you about Cheryl and Brian, because they weave thru my next few days of life like a kilim rug. Our meet begins in Belfast as we all sat waiting for the Ferry. A simple conversation, as is usual, begging with a comment about the bike and the direction. Well it all gets turned around pretty quick into a discussion of Trump, Christ, carbon foot prints, Al Gore etc. And I am confused, opinionated, but still confused. Confused because I am not making the mental connections as to, how these subjects and people are connected.

Just sitting on a sunny corner having a “flat white”, that’s a hot tea.

So, as it regarded Pres. Trump, clearly my two new friends had taken in everything the media had dished up as being a truism. I assured them he was not red headed villan in my books. And that what he has achieved thus far from a business standpoint, is well, nothing short of miraculous looking at the stats. Now, about Gore, I was not so kind and gentle. Albert is bag of wind, a catastrophe of thought and theory, a man riddled with negative anecdotes and not ONE SINGLE solution…….oh, and please send $7.95 to help me save the world would be my description of him. We all boarded pretty much amicably agreeing to disagree. I did find out Cheryl is the minister at cute little stone Church in Dalby.

A very typical piece of IoM countryside and a tiny village which is called “Balla” in Manx Gaelic

Up the road I go, and Douglas and Amarillo grow smaller in my rear view mirror. Traveled on an A sized carriageway for a few miles. As soon as possible I got off onto the smallest of backroads headed for Injebreck. Which as it turns out was once a fancy Hotel with a large pavillion where folks would come to picnic in the summer. Long gone now, the building is still glorious and the surrounding yard a botanical masterpiece. I know this because by pure God willed luck, I was out of water right at Injebreck…..and knocked on the only door around. A wonderful gal came to the door, Julie Stipple. She filled both my bottles with outstanding spring water, then gave me a tour of what used to be the old hotel. Outside she walked me thru her late husband’s garden masterpiece, with rhodendrens, honeysuckle, lilac and double Rose’s of every color.

ODT is the Gaelic abbreviation, or in “Hinglish” it is called an Old Dead Tree.
Winding our way up what I think is the base of Snaefell Mountain.
One of my better campsites, had a few rolled you downhill or inserted a tree root in the nether places.

A long and winding route up and around Snaefell, I was darn glad for a chance to roll downhill for a change. At least half the mountain top is fully exposed and the wind will RIP your hair out by the roots. Rolled down a mountain bike track for a couple miles, it was pretty rough on old Shirley, crossed a damn spillway and then roared down the mountainside into Thuly a Will. Wow, what gorgeous little piece of the world that is.

Pretty typical of the small roads that I tried to stay on while riding IoM.

Basically followed the creek down it’s very stony path for several miles. Waiting for a junction that would take me north towards Ramsey. Everywhere on IoM, is 5 miles apart, and Ramsey not much further than that.

There were some places that just took your breath away, rock,gorse, rain clouds.

Ramsey, sits at the north end of the IoM, and faces the north like a rampart set against the mountains that back it to it’s south. The flats that make up the northern tip of the island lay stretched out in front. Its estimated the flats were created by advancing ice flows during the ice age. Who am I to argue, I am just a guy on a bike. By the way, I am wearing normal hiking pants, and lined ones at that it’s been from cool to downright cold somedays.

Have no idea what flower these are could be blue bells, but they just covered some hillsides.

Backroads, mountain bike tracks would lead me now westerly and south. Balllaugh, I stopped at the Raven Bar to have a flat white and charge a few batteries up. My phone is dying a slow death me thinks, it does not hold a full charge for even half a day if I am not careful. And yes, I do keep it plugged into the hub at all times while riding..

The sage of the Raven Bar, there is one in every bar I think . He is the town’s unofficial greeter, self appointed world and local historian, and all round go to guy for the latest gossip or off color joke. I went for the joke first, then the gossip.. I found out some interesting possible stats about the island, that I have to say over time and meeting others they would seem to be quite accurate it seems. ITo begin with, it’s an expensive island to live on. The highest GDP of all Europe, the 9th largest economy in the world. Not to mention more billionaires and millionaires than you can shake a Wall Street Journal at.

Sheep handling corrals at the bottom of a ravine.

It’s the result of creating a income tax haven for corporations etc. For some islanders, this has proven to be a wise decision, while for others they feel that it has brought an income level that has changed the intrinsic feeling of the island. Hard to know, but I bet there is a double sided blessing to it for sure.

Heading up over the top and on towards Glen Rushen .

Heavy cloud cover greets me as I roll back the tent door ( I am beginning to get along better with my tent, hate to admit it, but it’s not really that bad) I rode what is left of an old rail line between Balllaugh and almost into Peel. It was fun, even exciting as you ride past sheep, sheep, then more sheep and a few overweight cows. I am not accustomed to seeing cows that appear to be RIB-LESS. They are standing there, almost bouncing, like helium inflated cow-ballons. Its unnatural it is.

Looking due south at the headlands near Ayr Lashlin, what an outstanding spot.

Rolled into Peel and it was early so I hit a tea shop, had a flat white and cranberry tea scone. Wonderful visit with the other 7 people who occupied the tiny shop. The morning discussion was about Police work, the dangers of it, and how so nobody had actually brought a pistol to the island. No telling what sort of trouble this could lead to? The citizens of this fIre isle are taught to immediately call FART, not to fart, but to call FART. of course, as a non-islander I am app,ying all sorts of thoughts to this notion. Finally it is just to much, these folks are. zrrying on about the tactical advantages of FART, The superior training ing………..and I am thinking I have never trained for farting, maybe that’s what I am missing. Turns out to be the police Fast Action Responce Team. And be it known that those who retire out of this unit are truly the ONLY ones to have actually earned the title of ……you got it, Old FARTS

Archibald Cox son, he is a world famous silversmith, you should go check him out says the man with but 2 teeth as he sips his fea. Still sitting in the tea shop I am. There is a big display of his work up at the cathedral, just oop the street lad. So I wander back up the hill, and make it to the Cathedral. I immediately run into a gregarious and jovial fellow named Henry as seen center below. To his right and seated is Connor who is a Music major, and specialist in pre- 1700 organ music. He didn’t know a lick of ZZ Top or AC-DC…..music schools these days fall so short on their promises. And lastly is Andrew, a Thoelogy Masters student, and soon to enter the Vickerage. Certainly looked at the Cox display of work, very impressive, not only his smithing skills but also his oils, drawings etc as well. Time for lunch said Henry, will you join us he asks. Certainly. The Vickers house, a multi roomed affair, with several men living within its rock walls. It’s not really a halfway type house, just an invitation to stop and stay should you feel like working for your room and board and possibly while their develope. closer relationship to Christ himself as a result.

HENRY at center, CONNOR seated, and ANDREW the would be Vicker someday.
And then the lad asks me was there any wind on the Island?

As it turned out, these guys also knew Cheryl and Brian whom I had met on the ferry trip over. We had fresh sea spinach, fried, very good. Shaved carrot salad with wild dill and Gorse petals ( which are edible as it turns out ) Sister Margaret’s meat loaf, also very good……..oh yes and French fries. 2 this is I have found synonomous with the island eating habits, TOAST and FRENCH FRIES. I thought Jeremiah has a serious TOAST addiction, but I am sadly la king what it truly takes. Henry as it turns out has a degree in environmental science, and came to the island to open an art store. He found the church work more rewarding and gave up the store front. And by the way he says as I depart late afternoon, be sure to stop in DLby and say hello to Cheryl and Brian for us.

I set out of Peel towards DLby, but its hilly. I had been having some chain skip issues, and looked things over several times to no avail. This evening however it would become k own. The bottom wheel on my rear driller finLly gave way, just hanging by a thread. I was done. Mostly downhill back to Peel, I went I. the morning and sat and had tea in my favorite tea shop till the bike store opened. Got my part…..sort of, it was a used item and did not actually match perfect but got me by. Took a moment to wash a few items before again leaving for Dalby. When I finally did make it, I seen the quaint tlittle rock church right away. Met up with Chryk

And bRian and wwent to there very quaint little cottage to have lunch with them, more talk about Christ working thru us, a little talk about the environment, and then it was time for me to head up the hill and into the forest heading south. Dalby 5o the top is steep…..sorry Brian, I know you said it wasn’t much of a hill, but it is a hill. As suggested I turned of onto a mtb track out today Lashlin, what a great place. You can see the headlands s they call it, the Calf of Man and a great blue vista that is the Irish Sea. Steep hills covered in bright yellow gorse and white cotton ball shaped sheep. Up to the top and turn right and head for Rushen, down thru that and into Ballakilpheric. Turned back notherly at Colby, and rode one of the bigger roads that I had been on, the A2. Maybe 2 or 3 miles, and took to the tiniest roads and tracks I could find. Douglas now lay in front of me, and my time on Isle of Man would come to n end, sadly, but it has to happen sometime.

I have been told that “you ain’t been to the Isle, less ya tried some Queenies, smoked Kippers and had ya some Davidson’s Ice cream. So last night I had the Queenies, which are on friend baby scallops laid over a crisp slice of sour dough toast, then they pour a white wine and mustard sauce over all that. The sauce has lemon grass and bits of bacon in it. Fabulous, and JW is not a fish lover………….I don’t remember where it says it, but I k ow God said eat beef, I made fish for the cats. Today, apart from getting this blog posted, I will find Kippers and dang sure find that ice cream. I am officially having a heck of. time with my new Go-Pro Hero7. It does take stunning images as well as video for me. But the app that connects to my phone is a tedious little bugger and always disconnects or becomes unpaired. And lastly, I was going to edit on my tablet but my tablet OS is not capable of doing such. Job. Apart from that folks, I am feeling healthy, blessed indeed and fortunate that there are some out there praying for me and reading the blogs. Thank you all, and my prayers for all who mY be reading this.

 

The dry stack rock building is the handi-work of Henry at the Cathedral,
This happy fella called Garrett` stopped by my tent to check k on me and see if I was okay.

Blog 3- Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

Once again I have been fighting to get the images downloaded off my camera from the SD to my tablet. Finally got that done today, and I think the issues are resolved going forward. So with that in mind, this post will be primarily images. All images have been taken between Dublin and Belfast.

 

The last ship built by the same firm that built the Titanic, same company has gone on to build huge wind turbines today. They are hoping to sell a bunch to AOC….. and see if they can SINK AMERICA.


The splendid Capital and Parliment buildings of Belfast.
Splendid piece of wall art here in down town Belfast.
Cutting across town in Drogheda, went thru the rail station. Was told to be extra careful as there is a big Gypsy drug war going on in our town……” it’s a wee bit like the bloody wild west doan’cha know!”. So indeed I was careful and rode with my slingshot out and at the ready.
This was a beautiful scene, but you wouldn’t know causing my image was badly out of focus. So I out of focused it even more and put a frame around it.

The rest of these images is for the folks with an artistic bent, no matter if it’s engraving, wood carving, leather carving. I just love old buildings especially Cathedrals. They showcase a level of art and craft that the new rectangular Lego Block shaped buildings -YUCK