Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An orbit of Cambridge–Satellite Dishes and Showers Pt 3

Saturday, 20th April 2012: This is part 3 of 4 of a ride that took me around the satellite dishes of the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO).  When I blog about my rides if there are too many pictures then I tend to split them up into chunks of 15 pictures per post. Partly to cut loading time depending upon the connection speeds available out there and partly because it makes for an easily browse-able chunks.

This was a route that I had not been on for a while, and there were some tracks that took me closer to the MRAO than before, so that when I got home and checked out the pictures there were loads. Even when I had trimmed the number there down were still quite a few more than normal. The problem is I find it difficult to leave pictures out although I do find that when I come to write the post that there are near duplicates that could have been trimmed.

I also think I might have been a bit geeky and taken too many pictures of the Satellite dishes and the yellow fields.

As I cycle around it sometimes strikes me how irrational we humans can be. Why is it that old buildings can be venerated yet new constructions vilified. What makes one structure interesting and another an eyesore. What am I on about I hear you think. Powers of ESP are very useful.

 Winking smile

It was because I find the satellite dishes to be in the interesting camp and yet would prefer not to see so many large electricity pylons dotted around the countryside. I can’t say I am that happy about seeing wind turbines popping up all over the place either.

I suppose the ideal is unspoiled countryside, the trouble is space is at a premium. There is a growing population driving an increase in the need for houses, schools, shops and workplaces. The population has grown by 20% in the last 50 years and the demographics have increased the need for housing particularly in urban centres with exorbitant land prices driven by short-supply and high demand.

At the same time we have real concerns (IMHO)  about climate change and issues such as with the “industrialisation of food production”  affecting bees (and their dropping populations) to biodiversity. Whilst at the same time needing to be able to feed people.

We also have what must be an incredibly inefficient way of getting people around – a transportation system that consumes land, time, pollutes in many ways and consumes 100,000 tonnes of diesel and petrol daily in the UK. Of which a large proportion is used to allow each of us to sit in a box with room for around 5 people, but on our own.

At the same time old buildings become places to be preserved and admired such as Ely Cathedral, proudly standing out on the Isle of Ely and of course Cambridge has more than its fair share of venerable buildings. So I guess my concern is that we don’t stumble into turning the UK into a hodge-podge. I do think we need sustainable power I do think we need places to live and work and I do think we need to have a better idea of the trade-offs. (Here are some Google pictures of our changing planet.)

As an example of planning pressure we are getting lots of developments popping up around Cambridge – here is a proposal  for a Cambridge Sporting Village. Although I think using the term village is a little misleading compared with how I see a village.

Anyway back to the actual ride. Just as I was about to turn down the last leg of the new permissive bridleway, which runs parallel to the satellite dish track I stopped for some more dish pictures. There is something about the satellite dishes that, at least for me, makes a statement and adds interest.

I must cycle around the Wadlow Wind Farm area and see what I feel about the Wind Turbines. It is interesting that there is a Wadlow Wind Farm Community Fund – is this the modern way by which communities can be persuaded? I did look for a website objecting to see what concerns there were – it appears to have stopped its objecting. ( Apparently noise and flicker can be troublesome.

MRAO Satellite Dishes near Barton

Here is a map of my route, which was a lot shorter than it felt. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link, it is only 40Km long (25 miles) . It takes in a few bridleways though and a new (to me) one as well.

Map of my Ride around the Satellites of Cambridge

I didn’t notice the grab handles on the sides of the dishes when I took the picture – does some giant come along to align them.

Five pretty Satellite Dishes all in a row
MRAO Satellite Dishes near Barton

There is something about these dishes that give them a dynamic feel as if they are all set to move of hurl great bolts of plasma into the sky or maybe I watch too many SciFi films…

Three more Satellite Dishes in a triangle
MRAO Satellite Dishes near Barton

This was one last picture of the oil seed rape growing alongside the bridleway along with clear skies – well to the right anyway. You can also see the way the hills rise slightly in the background. Comparing the map and satellite views I reckon that is Roman Hill on the other side of the A603

Looking from the MRAO Satellite Dish track towards Roman Hill

As I headed towards the byway to Cantelupe Road there some ominous clouds and indeed as I then cycled down the road a shower started. I also passed a mum and her child out for a cycle. Now I am in no doubt that if there a places for families to cycle they will – but they need to be safe, calm and accessible without having to venture onto the roads. If many adults perceive the roads to be too dangerous then they are clearly not going to risk their kid’s lives.

Actually the number according to a recent survey is more than half of UK population believe roads in built-up areas too dangerous for cycling, says Sustrans. we are then told that training is the answer that is what will stop those nice motorists from harming us. However kids aren’t born with the training and even when in the process of being trained kids are prone to impulse – so the inevitable conclusion must be that our built-up areas are too dangerous for kids to cycle on.

Wasn’t that the message of the Chairman of AddisonLee, the minicab company “gave” In this Guardian article

by suggesting that cyclist death and injury is inevitable as cyclist numbers increase, and is largely the fault of untrained cyclists

So children and teenagers should not be allowed on the roads, which makes me wonder just how do they learn and where? Although according to Cyclists in the City he has also gone on to say that Cycle routes aren’t practical in the City (of London). Although I think that when motorists say that what they really mean is they don’t want any space “given” to cyclists and want it all for the benefit of motorists.

The trouble is with cycling is that it is so easy to get worked up about issues – I must get out on my bike more often. As I cycled along Cantelupe Road, getting quite wet, well in the shorts department I felt my choice of clothing was reasonable. I was dry and warm enough and my legs would dry pretty quickly once the rain stopped.

When you start seeing large pink pigs motionless in fields then perhaps it is time to seek help. But just to prove it was not an hallucination here it is. I seem to remember there was a Scarecrow alongside the last time I cycled this way and so I assume it is associated with the Haslingfield Scarecrow Festival.

A pink pig in a field on Cantelupe Road, Haslingfield

On reaching Haslingfield I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go next and almost by default found myself cycling along the Barton Road, heading North towards, well Barton. There are satellite dishes to be seen all around it seems on this road and so inevitably I stopped to take some pictures. This one seems to be stirring up and almighty storm ready to rain down upon me.

Satellite Dishes stirring up a storm on the Barton Road

The construction of satellite dishes gives them a very definite look. I supposed some of this is because of the type of structure and some is the conditioning by films such as James Bond where in at least two of the films I seem to remember satellite dishes being part of the action. Any moment and I expected it to swivel its eye down to the horizontal and then fixate on me and blast me off my bicycle. I wonder if my Frame guarantee would have covered me for zapping by aliens.

A closer view of a Satellite Dish stirring up a storm on the Barton Road

Along the Barton Road I came to a bridleway I have been along before. The last time wasn’t too bad, but the time before was really hard work. Still I had time and what are bridleways for if not for cycling. A quick check of the maps does not show up a name for the bridleway although it does like it was more road like on the historical maps.

This time around it was not too bad. Certainly I would be happy to cycle along it again and to plan it into a route.

Bridleway between the Barton Road and the Wimpole Road near the MRAO

As you might expect the byway runs pretty close the to the MRAO, in fact it runs through it and over one of the private internal roads on the MRAO site. Which of course means yet more pictures of dishes.  I bet this dish can pick up a fair few channels.

Another of the MRAO Dishes, seen from a bridleway

I crossed the private MRAO road just down from Lord’s Bridge which used to be a stop on the Varsity Line. (Here is a rather nice site map of the MRAO.). The not so good news is that the bridleway dumps you on the busy and speedy (for cars) Wimpole Road or A603. This is not a road I would choose to cycle along – although to be fair the passing cars gave me adequate room. Since I had gone north from Haslingfield this time I headed South. I did have a quick look on my Garmin SatNav to see which way would give me the shortest ride before being able to turn of the A603. *I rarely use the SatNav for navigating when cycling around the Flatlands it takes the fun out of exploring.

The turn off was not too far down the A603 and I joined the Comberton Road and started heading in a more northerly direction again. As I did I could see the satellite dish in the last picture from a different angle , at least I think it was the same one. I could also see quite a lot of rain as well. So far I wasn’t doing to bad a job of dodging the showers and I had dried out quite well since the last sprinkling.

An MRAO Satellite Dish seen from the Comberton Road

As I cycled up the road some spring flowers were growing along the verge – Cowslips or Primula veris. If you check the Wikipedia entry the name Cowslip derives from “cow dung”. The Latin name has veris which means “of spring”. There seem to be a couple of wild violet flowers that have also sneaked into the picture.

And so as I cycled up towards Comberton my thoughts were were next. Another byway route won out.

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