Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wicken Fen and beer

Saturday, 5th May 2012: Revenge of the Sith. Although it was a Saturday there wasn’t a lot of space time as we had unknown quantities of people possibly coming to stay and we were also going over to some friends for lunch on the Sunday. There were of course bounds on the quantities, but it involved our son and invitations to his friends but he was away overnight and his phone had run out in between him checking with us that it was OK and him letting us know what was happening.

Things got sorted although meal planning was interesting and designed with flexibility in mind. It all worked out in the end though – but being a Bank Holiday the Saturday morning supermarket shop took longer even though we got there early.

Still I will start with a bit of cycling news – “Fine for driver who crashed into cyclist”. All I can say is that it must have been pretty scary for the cyclist and although not seriously injured took a bit of a battering. It was a SMIDSY caused by the “low sun”. If you want some depressing reading – then the CTC SMIDSY Case studies are here. I wonder what the issue is?  I can’t find anything readily to hand (or Google).  Is it wider roof pillars on motor vehicles, or driver distraction or driver inability to compute cycling speeds or what?

I guess inventive excuses sound interesting for news items although I doubt they cut much ice in court. What do you say when caught driving at 74mph in a 30mph zone in Histon “I needed loo”. I am glad it wasn’t him that knocked me off my bike in Histon and broke my collar bone a few years ago.

This incident where a “Drink-driving mobility scooter driver mowed down a pensioner” was a SMIDSY it appears. The judge wasn’t clear on quite how the ban would affect his operation of the scooter and told him to ask the DVLA. (The mobility scooter whilst not a motor vehicle is mechanically propelled).

There is some more positive cycle news though – apparently “Cycles sales to hit record high” with sales set to reach £700million this year. Apparently it is driven by Olympic Role models. Maybe it is – but is that the right message to get a real uptick in everyday cycling? The item does say that 49% of those surveyed feel it is too dangerous to ride a bike on the road. The article does bang on about helmet wearing although at best the evidence is mixed and the Dutch do cycle and don’t wear helmets and have less accidents.

Also have you had a bike stolen?, well the Cambridge Police have discovered a haul of around 60 bikes  and are looking for owners.

Although I had been around Wicken Fen yesterday it was just easier to go out on a similar run due to time constraints and the weather wasn’t very inspiring, all the sun was in the morning. Being a Saturday I was able to catch up with the week’s Archers though. It would seem that one of the current storylines is causing controversy – but we have been asked to keep an open mind.

I also swapped lenses, just to alter my perspective.  The first photo-stop was on the NCN51 opposite Quy church looking North-West at the yellow fields and Pylons.

The View North-West from Quy Church

With a zoom lens (100-300mm on my Digital camera – which is 200mm-600mm in 35mm speak) – I could even see a tail plane over at Cambridge Airport which will be house-building free for the next 20 years. One of the reasons I stopped at this point was to use the fence to steady the camera – taking multiple (for HDR) pictures with a long lens needs the camera to be steady.

The HDR software I use – Photomatix has also been updated to 4.2 – with some decent improvements – I am glad I got this software, it keeps on getting better and better.  I have only had to contact their support once and they were very helpful as well. and no I don’t get a kickback from recommending it.

Cambridge Airport from the Quy Roundabout

Although the lens has quite a lot of magnification is was still possible to get a picture of this cyclist heading down Church Road rather than crossing over along NCN51.

Cyclist on Church Road, Quy

As it happens that was the way I was planning on cycling – although I went down Church Road past the chicanes where despite having the right of way an oncoming car at the second constriction drove at me. Fluorescent yellow must be the new invisible. I then turned off into Main Street – which is no longer the “main street” and then crossed over and headed down Station Road.

I stopped on the bridge just after Bush Farm to take a picture of Quy Water – full, but with some room to spare.

Quy Water, Quy

Station road then connects with a byway and then route of the old Cambridge to Mildenhall Line (If you carry along Station Road you reach Allicky Farm.) This then brings you out on the outskirts of Lode.

The Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line – looking back from Lode

After that I headed along Lodes Way, with a quick stop to rest my camera on the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge. I’ve not really though about it before – but those pylons are the ones that run across Middle Hill behind Swaffham Bulbeck and Swaffham Prior (from Burwell) about 4.6Km/ 2.9 miles as the crow flies. The footbridge is 0.2Km away and there are also two pylons runs before reaching the bridge.

I rather like the way the vertical railings reflect in the water.

Footbridge on Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

After that I cycled to Upware – stopping to admire the plastic along Great Drove – shoots are emerging – weeds or crops. I have assumed that they would remove the sheeting before plants grew through it to avoid damaging the crops when it was removed. I am not really sure quite how it is used though. This item on plastic mulch certainly tries to sell the advantages.

Mulch Films in the fields along Great Drove near Upware

Along the other side of the drove were what looked like salad crops – I can’t remember whether these had the benefits of mulch film or not – I think they did.

Salad Crops alongside Great Drove near Upware

After that the only bit of drama was cycling along Docking’s Lane to avoid cycling along the A1123 to Way Lane (and so onto NCN11 back to Wicken Fen). That bit of the NCN11 route is almost everything a cycle route should be and the A1123 (Stretham Road) embodies much of what I dislike about certain roads. Docking’s Lane which makes it sound better than it is is really a muddy farm track and quite slippery after all the recent rain. It keeps my on my toes maintaining my balance though.

The view on the skyline is of Soham with the pink water tower more or less in the middle.

Soham seen from Wicken

After that there was a stop to take a picture of the Lodes Way “almost” Ha-Ha. Read about it here and also about the Harrison’s Drove bridleway fiasco. It seems to me that the NT are well capable of shooting themselves in both feet, by alienating local support.

As you can see this ha-Ha is now a two-lane Olympic swimming pool. Or perhaps it is a linear reservoir?

An ex-Ha-ha along Lodes Way seen from Newnham Drove

A set of pallets awaiting turf-harvesting in a soggy field. The picture was taken from Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge – I was using it as a rest, I think. I have tried looking up information on how much turf id taken away with the grass –but can’t easily find anything.

Turf Pallets – near Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge

And finally it was time to go home – to discover we still weren’t sure how many additional people were staying the night. (It turned out to be none – but we didn’t find out until the next day, which is when they did turn up.

I do enjoy a decent pint of beer and am pleased that in these tough times some pubs are still able to survive, such as the Green Man in Grantchester and yes I have been there. A pub  scheduled for demolition has been “saved” although I wonder if it really will be ok (The Dog and Pheasant – Chesterton High Street.)

The trouble is my regular pub going days are over – in fact they ended a long time ago. I used to play in a Darts team at my local when I lived in Northampton but life catches up on you. Every year I like the idea of attending the Cambridge Beer Festival but somehow never do.

I do suffer from beer goggles though and no I don’t mean that in the conventional sense – I suffer from it when in the Beer aisle of my local supermarket – so many interesting beers to try and yet so little time – especially when I tend only to drink one bottle with my supper if I have been out cycling.

As it happens I do like to taste local beers and recently these two from Oakham Ales caught my eye and then my palette. They are from Woodston in Peterborough which if their Postcode has landed up on the right spot is just off the Wellingtonia Cycleway. (There is an interesting website) A reasonable definition of local is of course somewhere I might cycle to and from in a day, there is no point in overly restricting ones choice of breweries. (And Theakstons gets an exemption in any case and not because of its 185th birthday).

These are the beers – great flavours and not too strong – which I like -  4.4%  if my memory is working although the website indicates it as 4.0%. (Compared with Old Peculier at 5.6%)  They had a four-for-slightly-cheaper offer the next time I was ogling the beer aisles so I bought eight of the Inferno.

Apparently we will see mid and low-strength beers driven by a change in the way alcohol duty is applied – that could be interesting.

Oakham Ales – Inferno and Bishops Farewell

I know what you are thinking – how come if I like cycling so much to I have to bribe myself with a beer afterwards?  Maybe it is just a sneaky way to justify buying beer when we do the weakly shop!

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