Thursday, 8 December 2016
Thursday 8th December
A day sorting out my health! A few birders have been in touch to ask why I haven't rushed to the mega rare dusky thrush only ten miles from where I am in Chesterfield. Well, now that all is sorted I can reveal that needed to see a doctor. As I hope you all know, one of the four charities I support, and I hope you may give a donation to, is the wonderful Asthma UK. As is usual when one supports a charity it is often because of a close personal link. I have been asthmatic since being a young child. I cannot remember a time when I was anything but and memories of asthmatic attacks in my past come flooding back as I type. Paris, when I was twelve years old on an exchange programme and a doctor called out in the middle of the night to help me. Driving a car around, also at night, with all the windows open to try to force air into me when in my twenties.
Anyway, recently it has been niggly tightness not helped by a lack of Salbutamol. I ran out of my 'blue' inhaler and so today a doctor's appointment at the superb medical centre here in Chesterfield and a brand new inhaler to keep me going.
Couldn't explain before; my loving Mum is watching my every move on the blog and Facebook and she, bless her, worries about her eldest. Being from Birmingham I will always be her 'Bab' no matter that I am sixty years old!
Sixty! Free prescriptions. Yes . . . . free medicine for the over sixties. Thank goodness for the NHS. Never did understand why asthmatics aren't exempt from prescription charges as are so many debilitating conditions. Oh well, I am getting old.
Tomorrow, hopefully, the dusky thrush will become bird number 317 on my year list; a list that is already replete with incredible birds.
Speaking of birds . . how about a few more from my Peru days?
Tambopata, near to Puerto Maldonado, July 2014.
A selection of birds and other amazing creatures.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Wednesday 7th December Fresh SW
Very mild, 12C
Reaching Chesterfield, the town with the crooked spire atop the town’s main church, sitting in the town library listening to Quadrophenia by The Who on headphones, I am desperate to sing along.
Knowing that the other library users would complain, I sit and type instead.
Today’s cycling was different to the last few days in that there was wind in the face and steep hills to contend with. There was also a security guard, Ash, to contend with at entrance to the library and for the first time for a long time I wasn’t able to leave the bike and The Lads anywhere securely and so had to find tonight’s accommodation by other means.
Saw this in a shop window whilst going to the Chesterfield Tourist Office :-
No problem, find it I did, and after leaving the bike and possession there, I made my way back to the library to catch up with this blog.
Right, what has happened since last I typed?
Monday 5th December
A day off! Stayed in my superb farmhouse bed and breakfast room and sorted out emails and organised some projects for next year. A really lazy day! Fabulous and boy, did my back and joints deserve the rest!
Tuesday 6th December No apparent wind
Very thick fog and very cold, 2C
I cycle to Retford taking as much care as possible due to the tricky weather combination of frozen roads and thick fog. A stop in Kirton in Lyndsey to admire the World war memorial and read of the local RAF heroes.
Tough going it may have been but it was fabulous when a motorist came alongside me as I cycled, well careered down a steep hill. He opened his window and laughingly said I was going 40 mph! (miles per hour) I doubted that but laughed at his cheek.
Good to see that Tigger found it a laugh too in the next village.
38.91 miles 1085 elevation feet up 1099 down
And so to today. 24 days to go and a new life starting at the end of those; volunteer jobs, Israel and Peru. It is going to be interesting but first the little matter of seeing the dusky thrush.
Today’s mileage 25.33 miles 1351 elevation feet up 1108 down
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Sunday 4th December Light E-SE
Mostly sunny, cold as sun went down, 4C to 2C
I cycle to and through Hull and over the Humber Bridge. Not a lot happens except for an exciting moment when a male sparrowhawk almost hit me as it came from behind a hedgerow beside the road!
38.31 miles 928 elevation feet up 625 down
Saturday 3rd December Almost no wind
sunny, Mild, 6C
Flat landscape again and a lack of wind make the cycle from Beverley to Welwick easy enough. Through eastern Hull and along the main road I leave my panniers at a bed and breakfast just before Patrington.
Reaching Welwick saltmarsh nature reserve beside the Humber estuary, there is a group of birders looking over the grasslands. The reported pallid harrier had been seen just before Noon. I stand and wait and chat.
In three hours there are few birds but those seen include many birds of prey; merlin, kestrel, sparrowhawk, buzzard and both hen and marsh harriers.
There are even a few short-eared owls quarter the marsh.
Light is starting to fade when I make the mistake of going for a stroll to warm up my frozen feet. I only walk a hundred yards or so but when I return to the birder group, they are all celebrating the pallid harrier having flown past! Some birders start to leave happy in their distant views.
Ten minutes later a ring-tailed harrier flies towards us. Pallid harrier UTB! Bird number 316.
It flies over fields in a large circular route before appearing in front of us over the saltmarsh again.
Brilliant. Anther great bird goes onto the Green Year list. Will this bird be the last addition to the list?
32.42 miles 524 elevation feet up 550 down
Friday 2nd December Almost no wind
sunny AM, rain all afternoon. Mild, 6C
Time to get back on the road after a couple of days exploring York. The weather is fine for at least the morning and the route for the first twenty miles is flat and straight; well after I get out of York anyway.
What have I been up to the last two days? Well, other than relaxing in the superb York Youth Hostel, I have walked along the River Ouse into the city each day in order to access either York Minster or the Jorvik Museum.
Strangely my Biking Birding year of 2016 is beginning to feel like that of 2010. Back then not only did I visit every RSPB and WWT nature reserve but I also visited around forty cathedrals around the UK; not York Minster though.
Having paid the necessary entry fee into this huge church, the magnificent medieval stained glass windows take up my time. It is fascinating to look at the variety of expressions and styles in the depicted faces and wonder what stories each window tells.
The memorials of metal or stone attached to the walls tell stories of their own.
A grave adorned with figures gives moral guidance with a sting in the tale.
More stained glass and the best yet, The East Window with stories from The Book of Revelations.
More memorials . . .
The huge North Window is strangely dark, grey and oppressive.
The Jorvik Museum is closed. Clues as to why I had seen along the way into the city; high debris mark on fences around riverside trees and thick silt on riverside steps and paths show that floods have passed this way recently and more extensively last Christmas.
The entrance to the museum is guarded by a large Viking man and and his lady. Dressed as in those long gone days, they tell me about the Boxing Day floods and of how the famous Viking exhibition ride, replete with smells and artefacts, is now being refurbished following the damage done.
A temporary, smaller exhibition is available just a few yards away, artefact in cabinets and display boards detail the original finds, the extensive archaeological dig and the history of Jorvik – York. There are Viking people to meet and talk to; Benedict, Rachel, Adam and 'Bork.' Only the last do I remember the Viking character name. All surround the fantastc centrepiece of a reconstructed Viking boat.
Adam has a loom to show.
Benedict has actual Viking artefacts to talk about and allows one to hold; a metal knife, a leather shoe, ladies size 4. He also has a Viking game that looks like a cross similar to chess. Benedict explains the rules, complex and interesting.
Bork has the same game and lots of Viking clothes for one to try on.
And so to today and a comfortable ride to Beverley. No wind and quite a few cycle paths alongside the main road keeps me safe. The road is flat until just past Market where a long hill takes me over a chalk escarpment.
The only stop is to photograph a perfect but sadly dead tawny owl. Such a beautiful animal with no apparent damage from the impact that killed it.
Into Beverley and into the Minster, another church to visit.
The carvings in the choir and along the walls attract attention here.
The Angel Gabriel with sunglasses looks across to The Virgin Mary, two modern sculptors away from the metallic Mary and Joseph depiction.e
A cross taken from the World war One battlefield is here.
32.90 miles 955 elevation feet up 942 down