walk

Today’s walk was a bit shorter than yesterday’s (I’d had a busy morning in the garden). Glorious (though hayfevery) honeysuckle by Gregory’s Mill Bottom Lock, still a few bluebells in the wooded bit by Gregory’s Mill Top Lock, and the buds of dog-rose starting to open along the side of St Barnabas school.

map of route

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honeysuckle flower

afternoon stroll

My first half-decent walk since Easter – a mile and three-quarters in 40 minutes. It would have been longer, but I was delayed starting due to waiting for the burglar alarm engineer, as a fault had shown up just as I was intending to leave!

Rather sniffly (cow-parsley gives me hayfever), but great to get out, and the white candles on the horse chestnut by the Bilford Road bridge were spectacular as always.

map of route over satellite view

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earth path with cow parsley at the side

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close-up of white horse chestnut candle

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active day

Having had a respiratory infection last week, I reported it to the Synexus RSV vaccine trial I’m part of, and was asked to go in yesterday morning. I explained that I can’t do rush-hour, standing-room-only trains, so they offered a cab. I’m slightly uneasy about how sending a cab from Birmingham to Worcester to fetch me, and the same on a return journey, sits with my generally Green approach. However, pragmatically, I suppose it’s a question of “greater good” – RSV is a killer of infants and elderly.

I was up early. As Monday was a Bank Holiday, I hadn’t had any confirmation of the cab arrangements, so rang Synexus just after 8. They were happy to confirm that a cab had been booked for 0900h. The driver was rather too chatty for my taste at that hour of morning, but still better than rush-hour trains!

I’d been invited for tea at Clare and Ian’s. Not only Ian’s 60th, but also Leslie visiting from Australia: we worked out that the last time I saw Leslie was at Ian’s 40th exactly 20 years ago!

ebikes I’ve had

Ten years ago this week, I bought my first e-bike. A very elderly grey “Powabyke”, it cost me about £100 and I had to collect it from Bristol. It was a major success, and within a couple of months I’d bought a very-slightly-less-elderly bright blue Chinese model, of the kind that Thompsons were then importing, and passed the Powabyke on to Maurice. That led to a summer of rides out to nature reserves, and bike-picnics by the canal.

The Powabyke lasted a year, Maurice moved out, I moved house, and by May 2015 was posting “I needed a new bike ‘cos my last one was 7 years old when I bought it second-hand over two years ago. It died … well, needed attention to the lights, replacement drum brake, attention to the motor, and new batteries, so not cost-effective to repair. Replacement electric bike. Exactly the same as my previous second-hand one, but this one is new!”

That got stolen two and half years later, and as I don’t cycle much in winter, it was the following May before I said “To replace the cheap and cheerful electric bike I had stolen last autumn, I have gritted my teeth and just ordered a rather nice shaft-drive (no messy chains or oiling) folding electric bike, 3 hub gears (no bloody-finnicky derailleurs for me!), with carrying bag. Also a silver-grade lock and cable, a pannier bag, and insurance. I blanched slightly at the total cost … it will have to live indoors rather than chained up outside! That was part of the reason for “folding”.

So I’ve had my current bike for coming up to five years now. The pannier bag was quickly replaced by a solid top-box, which holds walking-stick, emergency cagoule, seat cover, pump, helmet and high-viz, and suchlike. It’s well overdue a service, and needs new inner tubes – they’re currently full of self-sealing gloop as Worcester roads are massively puncture-causing. When the “Council Tax Rebate” comes though, that’s what it will be spent on!

I cannot now easily remember what life was like in pre-bike days: my succession of ebikes has been profoundly liberating and empowering.

grey and blue ebikes by canal

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new blue ebike

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Me on current bike, at Critical Mass ride

Fish!

as I’ve just emailed Simon and Geoff:

“You may remember that I mentioned on a Broads trip a few years ago that a fish pass and underwater viewing gallery was planned for Worcester. It’s been gradually opening over the past few months, mainly on very over-subscribed group bookings though it has just started a couple of “drop-in” sessions.

I went (as part of an organised Green Party group) this afternoon. It’s magic! In the 20 minutes slot we had in the viewing gallery, we saw two schools of roach (to my surprise, mainly small fish attended by a couple of much larger ones). There was a chub. There were also, at intervals, salmon … a total of three, making their way up-river to spawn.

My photos are shit, as the fish don’t exactly hang about (though I’m told there are much better photos and videos etc on the “Unlock the Severn” website). But it was a totally magnificent experience!”

view of fish ladder from the top

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home again

Back home last night, after a weekend at Green Mount, rather later than planned. The half-past four train was delayed by about 40 minutes, and as the 4 o’clock train had been cancelled it was rather busy. Problems with points at Didcot, apparently.

The tulip humilis that I planted under the patio peach are just showing deep purple colour in a couple of flowerbuds … it will be interesting to see if they complement the pale pink of the just-opening peach flowers, or clash with them horribly!

Having had a reasonably active few days so far in March (my food and weight log starts a new year every 1st March), I’ve decided to set a far more ambitious target for walking. Whole-year results for 20-21 were a daily average of 3304 steps, and 21-22 rather less at 3074. I’m now aiming for an average 4,000 steps a day March-October, though I accept it can drop to around a thousand a day over winter. Fingers crossed!

So, a walk today, my first of the year in Worcester though I’ve managed walks at Green Mount. Down to the canal, up to Bilford Road Bridge, back past recycling centre and over the canal bridge to home. The steep walk up from the canal nearly defeated me, of course, but it doesn’t take many walks for me to get used to it. My average 1st-7th March inclusive is 4920, and today’s effort will push it up a bit, to give me some slack on days that walking is difficult.

deep purple tulip humilis bud with leaves

out and about

Yesterday was a trip up to Worcester Royal Hospital to have a 24-hour ECG monitor fitted. I was just slightly nervous as a) it was meant to be “drive-through”, and arriving by e-bike didn’t seem to be catered for and b) I’d forgotten to put my e-bike on charge last time I used it, and was a bit unsure if it would make it there and back!

As it worked out, everything was fine.

Later yesterday there was the “Reclaim the Night” march, co-organised by Hannah. I’d managed to mainly charge the ebike by then so a quick trip into town, leaving the e-bike at the Cross and walking down to Angel Place. Louis (plus banner) arrived shortly afterwards. I ran into assorted Greens as things were waiting to kick off, and was very pleased to see and briefly chat to Rob Hedge and the kids – it’s the first time I’ve seen Rob for about 10 years!

A rather chilly evening, which didn’t improve my mobility, so I ratted out halfway through the march. Still, I’m glad I went. On the way home, the back tyre of the ebike started deflating – bugger! I hope I can fix it before I have to get up to WRH to return the ECG monitor – buses are free with my pensioner pass (which so far I’ve never used!), but standing around waiting for them is not a favourite occupation.

Castle Street

As part of a Green Party visit, yesterday I was at the Castle Street drug and alcohol treatment centre, which brought back a confusion of memories associated with my very many visits there with Maurice, initially under “Pathways to Recovery” and subsequently under “Swanswell”.

It’s now operated by Cranstoun, and if the visit is anything to go by, they’re out of sight better than previous contractors! I was massively impressed by their attitude to working constructively with other agencies (GPs, domestic violence, etc) and awareness of the need to treat service users as individuals: it’s a very welcome change from six or seven years ago, when any attempt to involve any level of multi-agency working was met with obstruction and complaints about budgets. An awareness of, and ability to encompass, broader aspects of a service user’s life are a major and much-needed change.

I feel more certain than ever that a “criminal justice” approach to drug use is misguided and counter-productive: a “medical / social support” model is so clearly the way forward.

group visit at Castle Street

winter creeps in

I spent the morning in a Worcester Green Party event, in a small hall with door and window open (covid precautions) and didn’t feel cold – in fact, I didn’t need to keep my padded jacket on. It was at St Nicholas Church barn, on the far side of Warndon, and I’d cycled there. I missed a turn coming home, and ended up at the roundabout next to the Hospital, from where I know my way rather too well.

I’m now home, the thermostat shows 22C, and I’m bloody freezing! Time to light the stove, I think.

Image of tin of Zip firelighters, label says "24 wrapped firelighters"