Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Magnolia Blossoms

Over the last week or so the magnolia (stellata I think) in our back garden has been on full show. The transitory blooms are such a treat in early spring. However, at the first sign of frost or rain they shrivel up and turn brown.

In anticipation of the rain tomorrow I popped out with my camera to try and capture the moment. The resulting shot is no masterpiece but it will see me through until this time next year...although hopefully we'll be out of the country...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Two 2500' peaks in the Black Mountains

On Saturday, Sarah and I decided to head off on a trip to the Black mountains. We picked out a circular walk from a magazine and jumped in the Disco. All this is down to the need to sort out suitable footwear longer treks....putting the boots through their paces.

After a brief stop in Abergaveny for coffee and supplies, we headed up to Llanvihangel and then down the valley to the car park at the head of the valley. It was only at Llanvihangel that it clocked that we were going to exactly the same place tha I had come mountain biking with Cass & Cara back in October/November.

Unlike the trip in October, the weather was fantastic. The only downside was a haze that meant that the fantastic views out North from the pass at the head of the valley were lazy striking. The walk sent us up exactly the same cattle track, past the reservoir to the pass. At the head of the valley we bore left to head up the ridgeline to the series of peaks that we were heading for. Aside from the decidedly boggy sections between the peaks the walk was stunning. With the wind to our backs on the ridge walk, the going was relatively swift.

After 4 hours and around 20km we headed steeply back down into the valley and eventually to the car park. The leather boots are now starting to break in nicely...not so sure about Sarah's boots though. May need a rethink on that front after the blisters...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sitting next to Big Magnus...

I was on the plane out to Belgium on Monday morning and found myself sitting next to Magnus Backstedt. After doing a little work I got chatting to him about his plans for the season and how he was recovering from the crash that he had on the track in the Autumn. He had recently had the plate out of his shoulder and said that his fitness levels were right up there with previous seasons. He seemed quite bullish that he would get the miles in during the Tour of Flanders and will be back for Paris Roubaix. I asked him if he fancied his chances for the Tour prologue. He said that it certainly suited him as a power rider...I suspect that he is quietly licking his lips in anticipation.

Hats off to Maggy for being so approachable and having a long chat...I'll definitely be cheering him on in the Spring Classics and London (along with Messrs Wiggins and Millar)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Sapperton Circular Walk

Sarah and I went out for the second of our walks taken from the Footloose pocket guides that we bought at the Christmas market in Bath a few years back. This time we ventured a little closer to home. Sapperton is a beautiful little Cotswold village just West of Cirencester. The walk took us North of Sapperton past Pinsbury Manor (now that is a gaff) to Hoar Stone Longbarrow (not much to look at to be fair). We then headed down the hill and up into Edgeworth.

Apart from being a beautiful village and having a wonderful Tudor manor, the church (St. Mary’s) had some fantastic stained glass windows.
I am not normally seduced into churches, having had an overdose in my youth from my overzealous Grandfather, but this was intriguing. A mixture of Saxon, Norman and Gothic styles it seemed worth a look. Although it was a little dark inside, the stained glass windows were absolutely stunning. I was amazed to be able to get some sharp photos whilst handheld (hooray for the Nikkor VR lense). After 5 minutes wandering around the church we pottered on into the woods of the Bathhurst Estate and down to the remnants of the remnants of the Daneway Portal (the entrance/exit to the now defunct Daneway tunnel on the Severn & thames canal). After a short, but steep, climb back up to Sapperton we returned to the car feeling self-riteous and a little jaded in the legs.

The new walking boots saw action again (and plenty of mud). They seem very comfortable and are now wearing in. Here’s to more long walks...who knows, there may even be a few more church visits...that would be a turn up for the books...Grandad will be proud!