Looking forward to 2018

Well, that’s 2017 gone and 2018 is here. As my post yesterday shows, I did quite a lot with my time in 2017 but reading the post I wrote on this day last year, there were two aims that I didn’t achieve – to do more photography and to take up mountain biking.

I did take quite a few photos last year but mostly on my phone and I didn’t really improve my photography skills. Mountain biking on the other hand, I didn’t do at all; I cycled 150 times over the course of the year but all were on my road or hybrid bikes. With North Wales and the Peak District on my doorstep, there are plenty of mountain biking opportunities close by – I just need to put the effort in the get out there.

As well as photography and mountain biking, I’ve got plenty of things planned for the coming year. I’ve got four individual weeks away in Poland, Harris and Lewis, Orkney and Sweden, and two weeks on RSPB Ramsey Island. I also expect to take some long weekends away, although the destinations aren’t confirmed yet.

I will also be doing some of my usual conservation activities including osprey and peregrine nest protection shifts, bird surveys for Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the British Trust for Ornithology, and the usual fortnightly tasks with Crewe & Nantwich Conservation Volunteers. I also want to do even more exercise than I did last year, more cycling, running and walking – there’s a new gym just round the corner from me, so I might try some other exercise too.

All then looks set for another busy year – I can’t wait! And I’ve already made a start with a morning cycle to blow away the New Year cobwebs.

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Summer is most definitely on!

The first test has started, Springwatch is coming to an end and I’m having my tea by the open kitchen door, being serenaded by a goldcrest amongst the trees at the bottom of my garden.  The evening sun is shining, I have a glass of wine in hand and I’m just finishing a lovely meal – and I have four days off…

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The atmosphere has just been slightly disturbed by a tomato squirting juice all the way up my arm!

Never mind…strawberries to finish.

Summer is here!

…well almost.

The change to British Summer Time signals the real start of my cycling year.  While I do cycle during the late Autumn and Winter, the light nights after the clocks go forward mean I can make the most of the evenings and cycle out into the countryside. The state of the roads in South Cheshire and the lack of care taken by some drivers, means that I don’t feel safe cycling in the pitch darkness, so I keep most of my cycling to the Spring, Summer and early Autumn months.

I’m a moderately keen road cyclist with a occasional return to my former mountain-biking ways.  I try to cycle as often as I can and since last Summer I’ve started cycling and running, one immediately after the other, with the hope of getting to a good level of all-round fitness.  This approach has started to pay off but I need to get back into the cycling element after this took a back seat over the winter (and following my bike being pinched).

Yesterday was the first really nice evening when I could cycle after work.  With light winds and a strengthening Sun, the Summer seemed just around the corner and I was quite pleased with my time over my usual 15mile route around some villages close to Nantwich.

My improving ear for picking up bird sounds seems to have spilled over into my cycling and I noted many more birds than I have done on any previous ride.  The highlight was a skylark singing high up in the warm Spring air as I passed along a quiet country lane – I almost paused to listen but once I get pedalling, I find it hard to stop. I also noted mute swan, canada goose, mallard, carrion crow, jackdaw, magpie, starling, blue tit, great tit, chiffchaff, greenfinch, goldfinch, chaffinch, dunnock, house sparrow, robin, wren and woodpigeon.

No swallows, martins or swifts yet, but they’ll soon be swooping past while I’m on my evening pedals around the Cheshire countryside.

Trying to be a grown up…that’ll teach me!

I try to be a grown up and keep my bikes in the shed and not in my kitchen and some git steals the best one.

Quite gutted about it really – I’d done well over 5,000 miles on that bike.

Back to keeping my bikes in my kitchen it is then!

Farewell, trusty steed.

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If anyone sees a silver and black (with black and grey tyres not red as in this photo) Specialized Tarmac Elite being ridden by a chav in Crewe, let me (or the Police) know!