Sunday 3 April 2016

Now in York and on 193 for the year

The last week, since Carnforth I have been mostly in a youth hostel in Earby, near to Colne in Lancashire. It had no Wifi, no TV and no mobile phone signal. 
Since leaving there I have been to the magnificent Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve and had four new birds for the Green Year list, namely sand martin, willow tit, bittern and swallow.
I am now at the RSPB Members weekend at York University, an incredible event.

So detail of the cycle from Carnforth to Earby today and when I get Wifi access I'll catch up with the details for the days since leaving the hostel and tell you about my adventures at Fairburn and the RSPB weekend.

Friday 25th March light to fresh SW sunny or sunny intervals warm 11C

Carnforth is full of giant eggs attached to houses and businesses. Well it is Good Friday.

It is a pleasant day with some warm sunshine and only a light wind. The route back towards the East coast over the Pennines takes me to Kirby Lonsdale. I had wanted to go another way but the bridge over the River Lune must have been damaged in the December storms as the road that way is closed.
I can tell that it is going to be one of those tough days where my inner voice dwells to long on the negative things from the past and every part of my body that has ached over the days and months of cycling seems to be doing so once more, especially my left knee. I could do with some music on the MP3 player but I never listen to it whilst cycling on the road. Eternal Sunshine!

The A65, the road from Kirby Lonsdale heads south-east towards Skipton, is horrible. A sign states that Skipton is thirty two miles away. Not that the road isn't beautiful. The landscape is superb with Ingleton and other high flat Pennine and Yorkshire Dales peaks providing a gorgeous backdrop. The greenery at this time of year is muted awaiting the Spring blush. The trees are still bare and distant woodland looks grey.
No, I can't fault the scenery. It is the traffic. Constant traffic of cars mostly with a lot of motorbikes and the occasional large lorry keep the decibel level extremely high. At no time do I feel in danger though as I tuck in along the kerbisde.
A couple of texts arrive with one changing the mood completely. Carphone Warehouse's offer can be deleted but the other is a Happy Easter message from a very dear friend, Diane. The dark mood of guilt, blame and shame of relationships past are immediately replaced by a flood of memories of adventures and scrapes with Diane. Sunrise over Beachy Head, somersaulting car on black ice near Thurso, when 'hit me with a peat bog' became a mantra for anything surprising for a few years, just as 'well forgive me' was the same in the film, Fisher King.
Another text of Easter wishes from my cousin, Rosemary and her son, Paschal; it is great that these arrive when I am feeling my lowest.

I push the bike up a steep hill where the lane is an avenue of tall ash trees. I wonder how long these magnificent trees will be here with ash die back on it's way. There is alo a single wind turbine slowly turning near the top.
Things come in threes and a car stops me and a silver-haired gentleman starts a conversation and is reluctant to leave. His name is Steve and he tells me that he was a violinist. I mention some of my personal favourites; Ian Underwood, Jean Luc Ponty and Stefan Grappelli yet Steve was a string quartet player before arthritis set in. He was also an advertisement photographer and is now retired. Steve is eager to talk and the conversation includes his love of opera, particularly Wagner. Indeed Steve has a ticket for the ****** Wagner festival. The cost of the ticket, £5,000 means that I will have to give it a miss.

I reach the charming, small youth hostel and Earby, near to Colne where my first ever experience in front of a class of children occurred over forty years ago. My first teaching practise at Colne High School back in 1974 was an adventure. A group of teacher training students had been minibused to the nearby Nelson and put up in a bed and breakfast. I remember the mass of food the landlady gave us all as one evening we watched an England football match on the TV; memorable to me as an Aston Villa player, Brian Little came on for a substitute cameo. This was the first Aston Villa player I had ever seen play for England.
A memory from the teaching practise was when the head of science had me kill and dissect an earthworm in front of all of year 10's students! At 19 I wasn't much older than this crowd and this baptism of fire with boiling water to kill the worm dispelled any nerves for future lessons.

41.74 Miles 2336 feet elevation up 1878 feet elevation down

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