Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Tale of two stations

Monday, 22nd August: Well my browser is clogging up with “interesting cycle-related snippets” so I’d better get rid of a few otherwise I’ll never get them under control.

Since I generally start with CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) news here it is; the “Guided busway is boost to town’s traders”. Well if you are the town of St Ives anyway, whilst that might not be music to the ears of the shopkeepers in Cambridge it either demonstrates that opening up the route of the CGB is seen as beneficial – or maybe it is just the honeymoon effect. Note I didn’t make a value judgement about the CGB versus re-opening the railway line – but my view is that the CGB was pushed because out railway system is mired in politics, bureaucracy and inefficient practices.

If you are looking for a present for the cyclist who has everything then how about a “bicycle sweater”. Well I think they look neat, although the bike would presumably get heavier when it rains.  After all isn't cycling supposed to be a fun and healthy activity, surely it can’t be so dangerous you would have to wear experimental safety gear.  Mind you if we think it is bad in the UK  then it seems much worse in Australia with their “unsubstantiated bicycle helmet law”. New Zealand seems to have it bad as well – a “Coroner suggested that cyclists could pay for safer roads” after a fatal accident when a motorist lost control of her vehicle and hit three cyclists. I guess I am lost for words – are cyclists just collateral damage?

I did like the cartoon in this article “What to say when a driver shouts at you” confront anger with the unexpected, I like it, I don’t think I’ll be flashing shouting motorists though.

As I write this we are already into the bank Holiday and I am sitting at home, so I must be a “staycationer” and not a driver of one of the 16million vehicles hitting the roads. Apparently there will also be 3,428 buses running instead of trains because of rail works. If so many people are taking to the roads then we can’t be that bothered about petrol prices after all. even though the UK petrol prices are the third most expensive apparently.

Whilst on the subject of motorists who seem to feel that cyclists are at best, second class citizens of the road don't read this article in “this is Derbyshire” – “Cyclists should pay their fair share of tax and insurance” – what happened to decent and honest journalism, or perhaps only the BBC has to adhere to those standards.Perhaps we need Journalism licenses and we should tax journalists by the word – that would surely save newsprint and the planet.

The trouble is we humans like to categorise things, “Lycra louts”, “White van drivers” and now we have “iPod Zombie". Ignore the lack of evidence just hang you argument onto a nice sound bite. It makes me want to cancel my AA membership (although I am only an associate member as it happens). Cars are noisy, dangerous, intrusive and polluting, facts we seem to ignore. The reason we do (and yes I certainly do) is because they have some benefits but – but we seem so wedded to personal motor vehicles that we blinker ourselves and choose to consider all the other road users to blame.

Indeed we are so wedded to cars that you would imagine that Eco towns are designed not only to encourage cyclists but to discourage us from driving – well that is not necessarily so in Upton, Northampton apparently, which has had to have a £17million road built.

Talking about blame, apparently “women waste 50 BILLION litres of water a year shaving their legs in the shower”. Thames Water is the source of this knowledge. So perhaps we ought to have a leg-shaving tax applied to cyclists. I have never shaved my legs for cycling, I am not really sure why it is done – but at least I now have a reason – I am saving some of that 50 BILLION litres of water.

I don’t wear high heels but non-cyclists probably get very uppity about cyclists who do – well on a positive note cycling isn’t all about Lycra and louts – Here are some rather nice pictures of Kelly Brook showing that it is the front of the foot that pushes down on the pedal.

So Monday was another day when I had to go to London – this time around I was not going to get back until  the evening and so was going to have to lock my bike up in one of the high-quality crap cycle parks that they have at Cambridge Railway Station.

To reduce my blood pressure I once again took a route through Coldham’s Common. This time around I went up a little further and then back into the Common past the Abbey Swimming Pool. I learnt two things about the car park there – there were some travellers using it as a temporary stop and that is where my daughter learnt to bay park.

I seem to remember that the cycle path had a gate the last time I cycled this way – now there is a cattle grid which does make it easier when cycling. People who don’t cycle really don’t get why cyclists hate to stop do they?  They ought to try it sometime.  The cattle grids do make it easier but they have to be treated with respect, I have on occasion had my back wheel slip a little when using entering  Ditton Meadows  - actually a link to the Cambridge dragon Boat festival to be held there on September 10th.

At the moment there seem to be cows in all three grazing areas – which made me think.  Not so long ago I remember reading about a concerned resident of Burwell whose son was intimidated by the Koenig ponies. Yet here in the City of Cambridge there are quite a few Commons with cows grazing. So it seems the city-dwellers are more comfortable with large animals that the country dwellers.

This time around I managed to get the cows in my picture of the cycle route from the Abbey pool.

I was pleased to hear a bell tinging as I crossed over the railway bridge over the Cambridge – Ipswich railway line on the Tins route – that was courteous cycling and was answered with a ting back.

As I cycled in to the Station car park from Devonshire Road I was wryly amused to see quite a few car spaces there – and here are a few under the Carter Bridge to give you the idea.

To be fair there were a few cycle spaces as well – although not that easy to find or get to. At least it was dry so I didn’t risk getting mud on my trousers as I walked up through the narrow path between the bikes.

My bike is the one with the Altura bag on the bike – which I took with me of course. Even when there is a space it is not that easy getting you bicycle manoeuvred into it. Perhaps cyclists ought to have compulsory cycle parking lessons.

Imagine the uproar if car spaces in car parks required us to scrape our cars up and down the sides of other vehicles. With the advice to bring an old car for parking. 

This is the route that the CGB bus takes to get onto the Southern Section – not finished – you can also see how there are quite a few bikes parked on the roundabout and even on the 15mph speed limit sign. At least it is being used by cyclists – (well one at least.)

As I waited for my train – there was time to take a picture of the extent of the new middle platform. It is making progress – but that progress seems a bit slow to me.

The new platform looking north. Although the station looks empty there were quite a few people waiting for the London train.

I had to go to Paddington and was interested in the double-decker bike stands. Not for long though – they are due to be removed on the 19th of August according to the signs.

I have not paid any attention to the cycle parking at Paddington, but there is some inside the station area. The last time I was here wit a bike was when I was cycling over from King’s Cross to catch a train to Penzance. I got slightly lost following the cycle route signs, so switched to following the road signs instead, not so pleasant but it got me there.

Look at that – cycle parking with a roof – whatever next.

I planned to catch the 7.15om train from Kings Cross and got to the station with 20minutes to spare. We weren’t allowed past the barriers though until some other slow Cambridge train pulled out, in case we got on a peak train. One of my fellow passengers asked whether they really meant to treat us all as potential criminals. Don’t you just love bureaucracy and its petty rules and regulations.

When I got back to Cambridge my bike was still there – but it had been dragged into the path by the plonker whose bike was next door to it. Just remember if it was you, I have a picture of your bicycle!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Variations on a theme – Lodes Way – not quite

Saturday, 20th August: Well I was going to write this without any reference to “mainly-cycling-related” stories that are currently piling up on my Browser. But those good intentions are going out of the window.  The tab-pressure is too great. Normally when I close my Chrome Browser it will offer to re-open them – but occasionally something goes wrong and they get lost (as a group anyway).

So a bit of Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB) news to start. Talk about hype, I am pleased that the cycle way alongside the concrete “rails” is to be raised up to help reduce the flooding and then given a tarmac surface. But “even after the repairs some parts will be under water for an average 29 days a year”.

So you do wonder what is going through the mind of Cllr Ian Bates, the council’s planning chief, as he is quoted as saying “It is fantastic news that cyclists, walkers and horse riders will have such a high quality path to enjoy”. Is that really the definition of high-quality – or does he think that the under-water bits will add to the experience? 

I rather suspect that someone in their PR department actually wrote that bit of nonsense hype. I used to be involved in marketing – I tried to avoid ever being in a position where I might be quoted in a Press Release saying something that I didn’t believe in and I tried to ensure that it would sound like something I might say.

On the subject of the CGB the Cambridge News reports that “extra busway services confirmed”, starting on September 4th there will be a new timetable. It is good news that the Busway does seem to be attracting passengers. It does make me wonder that one of the reasons that a guided busway was chosen was that it avoids the bureaucratic governmental intervention that seems to be part of our Rail System. What I don’t understand is why our rail system needs such heavy subsidies and yet our fares are at the same time the most expensive in Europe.

Talking about subsidies “Bus cuts challenge withdrawn after council backs down” means that Cambridgeshire County Council will have to carry out an equalities assessment before it cuts bus subsidies.

The trouble is politics seems to be increasingly about lobbying and pressure groups rather than thought out longer-term plans. Well at least it seems that way to me. Something I’ve blogged about is the path between Over and the CGB cycleway. It seems to me that whilst spending significant sums of money on the CGB was fine – there was also penny-pinching on the non-car access to the CGB. Well the route from Longstanton to the CGB Park & Ride is also a major expedition. The path between the two locations is an “excuse for a path”.

We are concerned about obesity (“Global governments ‘must get tough on obesity’“ – and yet the actions all around us seem to favour the car as a means of transport of treat everything else as an after-though. What does appal me is that the Obesity measures considered for lifestyle changes even categorise “school walking trains” as higher cost measures. Flip what sort of world do we live in where because of the transport infrastructure we have developed walking to school is now a higher cost measure.

A place I would consider as cyclist-friendly is the Netherlands and we have a long way to go if we want to achieve anything like the same approach to cycling and yet they still focus on what it takes to encourage more people to cycle to work. The report talks about, amongst other things the attitudes of employers and colleagues and its effects of encouraging cyclists. The provision of indoor cycle parking and showers and changing rooms will encourage a more positive view of cyclists and cycling for instance – and of course the converse is true.

Yet too often we have disparaging comments about “Lycra-louts”, too often provision for cycle parking is rather grotty (I am thinking of the muddy crowded cycle parking at Cambridge Station).  The clear message is that cycling is second-class.  Mind you the sort of people who wear Lycra probably are MAMILs and so not really louts.

That’s enough ranting – this was the ride – a meander around the Wicken Fen area – but up and down various tracks that I haven’t been along much recently. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map shown below. It is 55Km/ 24 miles in length and for a change tends to cross over and back along the Lodes Way route rather then actually use the route much.

For a change I cycled from Cambridge to Swaffham Bulbeck along NCN51 and then through Commercial End then round Fen Lane to Cow Bridge so that I could cycle alongside the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. This is the view up the Lode from Cow Bridge. I think that the bridge is a disused railway bridge on the route of the old Cambridge & Mildenhall Railway Line. What is surprising is how much lower the land around the bridge is. Either there was an embankment along the fields that has been removed or the fields have shrunk.

There are other references to the bridge that indicate it was the old railway bridge and that pedestrians who did not wish to wait for trains to pass at the crossing, which was  to the right of the bridge could use a path under the bridge.

This is a sight travellers on the line might have seen in the Summer – well perhaps not the huge bales of hay. The railway line would have run to the right of the field just out of sight. There is a house just near the bridge which I assume was either the site of or was the Crossing Keeper’s house.

I liked the picture of the bales so much I took another picture.

The last time I came this way it was pretty hard going – I was exhausted afterwards. However I mentioned that to MikeC when I’d bumped into him and then a third cyclist had stopped to ask about ways to cycle back to Cambridge.  He thought that the track wasn’t too bad – well this time it wasn’t – I think I must have used it when the grass was long and after rain. This time around the track was firm and the grass was reasonably short. Swaffham Bulbeck Lode is to the left.

As you can see from the map I carried on past Lodes Way along the byway alongside the Lode.  This field looked pretty well cultivated.

The byway after crossing Lodes Way becomes a fairly decent track.

After taking the Lord’s Ground Drove route back to Lodes Way I carried along Headlake drove and up to what the old map calls Blinkers Hill.  This is a field of spuds getting irrigated, perhaps to make lifting them easier?

After Blinkers Hill the road gets a little more rutted and bumpy until Straight Drove where is deteriorates into a load of gravel with the odd bit of tarmac remaining. There were more fields with bales in them awaiting collection though. I think this was along the back way into Wicken. Although it could have been on the Upware Road. Come to think about it I think it was somewhere along the gravel road (Harrison’s Drove, but not to be confused with the Drove of the same name in Wicken Fen.)

It was official – I’d reached the halfway point. It probably was as well.

And that was when I must have neglected to take any pictures – I am not really sure why – it was just the greyness of the day I guess. I still enjoyed the ride out though, even on a grey day the Fens are worth riding through.

I will just point to this link with a rather nice picture of Burwell Station and bridge though, that is no longer there.


Cycling over Coldham’s Commons

Friday, 19th August: I had to get to London for an afternoon meeting. Fortunately the timing was right for me to be able to pop in after the peak travel and then with the right timing I would be able to get back before the evening peak time.  This off course meant the ticket was cheaper, but it might mean one or other of the journeys would be busy.  I have found that the first train after the morning peak-time and then the trains either side of the peak time in the evening can get pretty busy. especially if you turn up just-in-time.

I can’t complain though at least I didn’t have to be there for a full day and it meant that I could leave my bicycle with Station Cycles rather than have to find a parking space and then leave it locked up.  Strange as it may seem the time taken to find a parking space for my bicycle means I have to add quite a safety margin onto my journey time. So as the cost of leaving my bike at Station Cycles is only £1.5 for the day it saves time. Not to mention the fact that I can leave stuff in my rack pack and so don’t have to wander around London with lights/GPS/rain jacket/tyre inflator…

Also in my small way I am helping businesses such as Station cycles and it is reassuring to know that the “Cycling industry gives economy £3bn boost”. According to a report by the London School of Economics more than a million people also started cycling last year, bringing the total to 13 million. Mind you I am sure the motor industry could similarly claim to boost the economy by large amounts of money. The real challenge is what is the net cost or benefit and what might the alternatives be?

One benefit is that bicycles take up less space than cars and id space is money then bicycles save it. According to an article in the Guardian there are now 1bn cars on the planet. That is a lot of cars. What cars give you is the “freedom to travel” what that translates into is a “slave to commuting” and research in Sweden suggests “Your commute is Killing you”. “Couple in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40% likelier to divorce”. What is worse is that if you are female “Commuting is far more stressful for men than women”.

So what better than to make use of some of the delightful Cambridge Cycle routes that cut through some of the green spaces dotted in around the City of Cambridge.  One (for me) great circle route to the railway station is via Coldham’s Common. It isn’t that much of a detour and is so much nicer that battling through the fumes of some of the busy roads. This common has a fair number of sporting facilities including football pitches, a swimming pool, an American football pitch and there is even space to graze the cows.

Oh would all cycle routes be like this eh – well I suppose it could be a bit wider and longer. The cycle path cuts across from the near the Cambridge United Football Ground on Newmarket Road though to Coldham’s Lane.

It is quite common to see cows grazing on the common – they are no trouble. Also I guess that the route might be a little more congested when there is a football match on. I don’t find football that entertaining to watch (I used to play it though – that’s a different matter) so I am not sure quite what sort of crowds are attracted.

The route does pass under the Cambridge – Ipswich railway line and whilst I don’t tend to need route signs for cycling around Cambridge I do think that the signage is pretty good for cyclists in Cambridge. They give both the place and the mileage, which is helpful – only 1.75 miles to the station from here.

There isn’t a lot of room under the railway line underpass and there are cattle grids on each side – so don’t expect to go barrelling through. I don’t remember it but a cyclist was mugged here in June 2008 and required surgery so perhaps it is better not to go too slowly. Having said that I have been through here late at night and although I’ve passed groups at the benches I’ve never felt threatened.

This route then heads along Cromwell Road and Sedgwick Street – it is one way and to accommodate the residents they are allowed to park their cars using some of the pavement – so that there is only room for vehicles to go in one direction.

The cycle route is shown taking a dog’s leg so that it allows the cyclist to cross Mill Road onto Stockwell Street leading onto the Carter Bridge to the station. I don’t bother I carry on to Mill Road and then cycle along Mill Road and turn down Devonshire Road instead. Since they introduced the 20mph speed limit on Mill Road I feel that it has been easier turning onto it and cycling along it – mind you that might just be down to the summer holidays reducing the traffic in Cambridge.

Apparently “Up to half of drivers flout new 20mph limit”. I started reading the comments – but rather like too much commuting it raised my blood pressure. It is recognised as a problem in West Cambridge (see section 2 of the pdf document). We are a car-sick society – they have a place – no doubt – but lets not shape our lives to suit them please. It also turns out that “Casualty rates at some speed camera sites have worsened” although I suspect that the data has not had the full rigour of analysis. The chance of winning the lottery is roughly one in around 14,000,000. However someone wins it pretty much each week – so even if something is very rare – if the chance of it happening enough times occur then it will happen.

So if you look at enough speed cameras then random fluctuations in accidents will mean that it wouldn’t be unusual for crashes to increase at some camera sites – since they were chosen because of the potential hazard in the first place.

We have a holiday weekend coming up with the August bank Holiday – so one place to visit would be the Haddenham Steam Rally – when my son was younger he enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Time to visit the Phone Box Gallery Again

Wednesday, 17th August: It seems to me that part of modern life seems to focus on constant change. In part that change stimulates progress and business and perhaps less positively waste.  Indeed there are some things we buy that are never the final product. In particular I consider computers as unfinished. Every month or so my computer receives updates form Microsoft, along with regular updates from Google (mainly Chrome) and then less regular updates from what seems like a host of other companies.

It doesn’t just stop at computers, phones get updates software although until Apple and Android perhaps it was only geeks like me that worried about upgrading them.  For a long time digital TV receivers have been able to get updates “over the air” and more recently via broadband connections, even cars can get software “upgrades”, perhaps unbeknown to the owner when they go in for a routine service.

Why – well I suppose it is because in the “non-legal” sense the product doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. I am sure that there are legal “weasel words”  that mean that the approach is acceptable, but I guess more importantly we consumers accept it. Perhaps it allows us to get the product sooner, sometimes it is use to fix a hole in security and sometimes we get an improvement in functionality.

I have used a Garmin Edge 605 GPS for some time, since October 2008 actually. I first used it when cycling from Bath to Bristol, not to show me where to go but to track my rides. I have used it to navigate and I have also used it when lost and trying to find my way home. I also use it to explore, or perhaps rather it gives me the freedom to explore. As it happens the screen size is somewhat small and the map detail gets lost when you zoom out to see more on the screen and since I am generally on smaller roads and byways they disappear from view.

The Garmin GPS is a computer controlled piece of kit, as are many products nowadays and my GPS has been through a fair number of software updates. I’ve lost track of them but, most of them were steps forward and  the Garmin support page shows 12 iterations from 2.0 to the current version 3.3. (A useful resource is this one which summarises much of the advice on the web regarding the use of the Garmin EDGE 705 – which is a higher specification version of the 605).

Throughout the last few updates to the Edge OS mine has had a problem where it reports that it has run out of memory. It hasn’t, but I think there is some form of memory leak where it loses track of free memory. Even if you delete the history stored on the device it still reports problems to the point that it won’t store new ride data anymore. To fix it you perform a “hard reset” and then re-program it with a small number of settings. Why am I wittering on about it – well that happened as I was wondering where to cycle. So instead of planning an interesting route I ended up fiddling with the GPS.

When route planning I have two approaches one is to consider interesting routes I haven’t taken before – byways and bridleways are the type of thing. My other approach is to pick a place to visit and then just head there and back, preferably trying to take a loop rather than the same way there and back.

Which is what happened as I walked out of the house having reset the GPS and amended the settings I thought – well another month must have gone by since I last visited the Phone Box Gallery at Prickwillow so I’ll head there.  As I headed out along NCN51 in my mind the route then firmed up as out NCN51/Lodes Way/ NCN11 then up to the River Lark and back down either on the north or south bridleway to Prickwillow and then back through Isleham and Fordham.

This is the route I took and here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. It is 87Km / 54 miles in length and so needs a bit of time (when you cycle as slowly as I do) but does pass along roads that are in the main pretty quiet. 

Unless I have the whole day I tend to ration my picture taking, well at first and didn’t stop until after passing through White Fen – not all tractors are red (Massey Ferguson) or green (John Deere).  I saw this after joining Lodes Way (at Lode) and just after White Fen.

The rationing continued (on picture taking) until just before Barway. This is not a right of way to general motor traffic but is a bridleway. The NCN11 sign looks as if the arrow has been replaced by a stuck-on arrow. There is also a warning to cyclists to be careful as there is some heavy agricultural machinery around these parts (as well as the odd double decker bus).

Just onto the concrete and to the right was this burst of colour along the edge of the field.  I would imagine it was planted either as a cover crop or to help wild birds.

Which brings me onto the question of what is it? I didn’t know at the time which is why I took a close-up of it so that I could identify it from the comfort of my computer chair. My best guess is that it is Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) – which is known as a cover crop and provides forage for bees.

This is a either Broad-leaved or Spear-leaved Willowherb (I think) – the pictures in my Collins Complete Guided to British Wildflowers both seem similar.

A more traditional cover crop – sweetcorn or maize.

After Barway there is a pleasant mix of decent farm track and tarmac shared us path to Ely. Although we have had some rain irrigation can’t always be left to chance. Ely cathedral is in the background.

As I cycled along the smell in the air made it seem like I was cycling into a rather oniony salad. It was not that pungent, but quite a fresh smell. It was onions being harvested – but not small salad onions. They seem to have been lifted and then left to dry – there was a machine running along the rows lifting them.

After the off-road section I headed towards Queen Adelaide and then up Branch Bank – a straight road running alongside the River great Ouse. Generally I don’t find this road too bad, is is fast and straight but pretty much all of the time motorists obey Highway Code Rule 163. Except for a VW Jetta that looked as it if had seen better days and shot past my with around 15cm/12” to spare. It ain’t clever.

Then the next choice was whether to cycle along the North or the South bank of the River Lark to Prickwillow. I took the north path because the last time along this way I had taken the southern path.  It starts off as a bridleway soon turns into a road (sooner for the north than the south). There was a Pillbox just before Folly Drove.  You can see the hay bales in the background (and the pylons).

A line of trees marks Folly Drove- not a right of way – but the road to Folly Farm.

The view down Folly Drove towards Folly farm.

After reaching Prickwillow the Phone Box Gallery is not far down the road (on the left) – there was a new exhibit – the reason for visiting. The artist (Marine) was born in France in ‘74 and is both a software designer and artist.  Her website is and she write on her blog about the exhibition.

I took a peak and this is what I saw.

On my way back on the road to Isleham I was overtaken by a Police van and Police car with “blues” but no “twos” going at a fair lick. (Flashing lights but no sirens). They fully understood the importance of highway code rule 163 and  despite their high speed, or perhaps because of their high speed) gave me lots of room and seemed to be well in control of their vehicles. Unlike the VW Jetta earlier.

As it was quite a long ride my photography then took a back seat. Mainly because it started raining before halfway into the ride (at around the 35Km mark.)  It also meant that on the way back the two bridleways I took (into Burwell and along Black Drove Way near reach I had some sticky and slippery moments.  In fact on the way into Burwell it was touch and go whether I could remain upright – I did but I was more respectful of the slipper surface after that.


What I’ve read recently

Oops, I was also going to mention a couple of books in my “re-start” post, there you go that’s why I cycle slowly – more haste less speed.  I also forgot to mention that although I keep adding Blogs onto my reading list there has been a drop-off in the number of Posts coming out recently. Mind you I am reluctant to add too many in case I get a deluge of articles. As you might imagine many of them are associated with cycling and I guess that between the nice weather and it being the time for Summer vacations (holidays).

So what have I been reading well quite a few books, most of them not sufficiently noteworthy for me to mention. Anyways the first is this one.  “Two Wheels on my Wagon” by Paul Howard. I have just finished reading a book called “Cycling the Great Divide” about the “longest off-pavement bike route on the world” and seems to be supported by the Adventure Cycling Association.  Now the Cycling the great Divide is  book is more of a route map than a gripping narrative. But I like to dream and it sounds a wonderful thing to do, although I am not sure whether I could find the time.  I used to read a chapter every few days.

Then I saw Paul Howard’s books and thought wow – they “race” it. Or rather they tour it – one stage  - 2745miles/ 4418 Km from the Canadian Rockies to the Mexican Plateau. What attracted me to the book was both the subject and the fact that somehow Paul with almost no MTB experience and a young family in England decided to give it a go.  I didn’t dip in and out of this book I read it through – and thoroughly enjoyed it. I still dream about the Tour Divide, but I am planning on giving the Land’s End to John O’ Groats’ ride another go next year, ten years since I last did it. (The necessary permissions have been negotiated with my wife - - now all I need to do is build up my fitness for next year (and of course book it).

The other book is a “business book”. Google seems to be everywhere and have been around for “ever”. However it hasn’t and this book – “I’m feeling lucky” by Douglas Edwards, employees 59 in Google is a timely reminder that Google hasn’t been around that long and it had its fair share of battles as it grew.

What I do like about it though is the way the strong culture comes through. Indeed it is that strong culture that gives the author pause for thought. Personally I think that a corporate culture is what helps align and bind the employees of a company towards a common purpose. Indeed a good culture is able to transcend the employer-employee relationship and I have long been a believer that a good team of will beat a loose group of “stars”.



The Cambridge Guided Busway still rides

This is really just me “getting rid of” a bunch of CGB related web pages that have stacked up on my Browser.

“Look Mum – no hands”

The good news is that the “Final busway maintenance track works set to being”. One of the good outcomes of the CGB is the creation cycleway alongside. I for one feel that is has encouraged quite a lot of new cyclists as it provides a safe and smooth path and is ideal for a family ride with the kids. It could do with a few more interesting kid-friendly stops along the way though. One problem is that the route runs through the middle of some lakes and is highly prone to flooding. The original design was constrained by the Environment Agencies concerns (and requirements) about the water system – but apparently the cycle way was built lower than specified.  It certainly floods and for way much longer than the original calculations suggested.

So after the August Bank Holiday the bit of the cycleway between St Ives and Swavesey will be closed for the cycleway to be raised and then for it to have a smooth tarmac surface laid. This will not fix the problem – but will hopefully reduce the period over which it floods.

The bus companies (well one of them anyway) are also planning to run extra buses on the CGB from next month to meet the demand. I guess one way to determine whether the busway has had an impact if to look at the price of houses along the way and see if they have changed in price relative to similar housing but not on the CGB. The other test is to see whether households along the way would decrease the number of cars they ran.

I know I call it the cycleway, but I do appreciate that it is there for walkers and horse riders as well.  I very rarely see horse riders, although I see evidence of horses having passed along the way. Well they are pleased with the CGB as well – which is good to see. They also find the increase in fast traffic on minor roads to be a turn off. I wonder how they find the barriers?

On the negative side car thieves have left a stolen car abandoned along the CGB – let’s hope the next step isn’t to burn one out on the CGB.

And finally a “Guided busway warning after cyclists caught on camera”. The issue is that cyclists have been using a short-cut to get onto the cycleway.  This implies that an appropriate access wasn’t planned – the cyclists were merely crossing the busway. If you’ve been along the busway you will know that there are crossing points where cyclists/walkers/horse riders have to climb over the tracks – the only concession is that they are painted red.

Where to (re)start my posts!

I have not intentionally stopped posting, or even unintentionally. The last week has been busy, I have been cycling, more than once, and there are pictures stacked up ready and waiting. There are also quite a few pages open on my web browser that are related to cycling that caught my eye and are waiting to get linked into a post. I’ve also been to London a couple of times and there are a few pictures on my Sony DSC-W200 that have found there way onto my Picasaweb storage space. Probably the real reason though is the house has been quite busy.

We are having some external painting work done which generally requires someone around. Also my son has started a job locally and so he and his girlfriend are staying with us. However, last and by no means least we have been waiting for my daughter’s A level results to come in. Probably like many house-holds up and down the land. her choice of University was the one that required the highest grades and unknown to me and my wife and she had a secret plan to exceed those grades. So for us Thursday started out quite tensely but finished on a high - her secret plan worked and so did all the hard work – she exceeded the required grades and now the focus is on getting ready for University.

Paradoxically two of the Blogs in my reading list both touched on the issue of  writing a Blog and how easy it is to slack off and give up. I read “Blogger burnout” and whilst the frequency of my Posting does vary a bit it normally hovers around 20 a month, which I think is ok.  As for the rest of the issues, I still feel there are things to right about and pictures to take. it is just a question of time really.

There are apparently “Common signs of Blogger’s Burnout” but I think I am Ok and actually it isn’t about the blog, for me it is about cycling around and observing (by taking pictures of) the changing world.  In fact my Blog is an outcome of the things I am passionate about, I do have goals but only in terms of a certain amount of cycling per year. All other things follow. The topic also came up in A View for the Cycle Path – “Three years of blogging – top posts”, which discusses three years of blogging. Phew that’s a long time I thought. But my first Post was on Monday 22, September, 2008 – so I am only a month from my third anniversary as well. Mind you my blog is not as widely read.

So although I have newer pictures here are some taken in March 2008,  before I started my Blog, but not before I started taking pictures. I started taking pictures before the Internet was around – now that is a sobering thought.

Surprise, surprise most of the pictures are taken on my travels around the Fens. Mind you I hadn’t “discovered” HDR photography then.

Ely Cathedral seen across snow and recently harrowed fields.

The footbridge across Burwell lode and part of what is now Lodes Way.

Cycling though Wicken Fen along NCN11, which at this point runs alongside Monk’s Lode.

This is somewhere out towards Pidley I think, where the Pidley Mountain Rescue Team is based.

I think this is out Ramsey Way, but I just picked out a few pictures fusing Picasa, I’d have to go back and have a look at the pictures before and afterwards to get a better idea.

A fishing boat passing by King’s Lynn., just passing the point where the Lynn Ferry plies its trade. Actually I am not so sure having followed the link. Which means I am pretty sure that it isn’t