Author Archives: Jane Smith

LEJOG – Peter’s 70th Birthday Challenge

Well he did it! 12 days averaging 80 miles most days in awful weather much of the time, Land’s End to John O’Groats.  Approx 910 the route he took.  I feel in awe and so proud.  I was of course logistics back up in my little Skoda but what I had planned to be a leisurely role was anything but relaxed or stress free.  I was constantly aware of the huge effort Peter was making day after day, drawing into the depths of himself but had not considered what it would be like to wave him off each morning and wonder if I would see him again.  I am not exaggerating, he looked small and vulnerable alongside some of the huge vehicles thundering past him.

I hope you won’t mind but so much has happened I will write about the trip in instalments.  No worry then of missing any crucial bits out.  We set off on Saturday 8th September for what seemed then like a long drive to Cornwall, paled into insignificance when I set off for Scotland in 30 mile stints.  We stayed in a hotel at Lands End but it was such a rip off, I was embarrassed as so many tourists make a bee line for the place.  Despite the surroundings the views of the headland are breathtaking and the hotel staff so friendly and kind.  We had a photo taken at the temporary sign as the main sign which is up in the day is “owned” by a photographer who charges a lot of money to take photo.  Business is business I know but this is taking advantage. Enough moaning as it did not detract from our efforts.

At 9am Sunday 9th September after a hearty breakfast Peter set off on his marathon ride.  I felt very emotional waving him off, apprehensive and proud all at the same time.  I admit to a few tears so walked part of the headland before setting off myself.  We met up after 40 miles or so at Truro for a lunch break and for Peter to stretch his muscles.  I found supermarkets helpful to get supplies and hot drinks.  Another lone rider left just after Peter, I passed both of them at different stages, and we met him again lunch time.  He was cycling a much shorter distance but appreciated having someone to chat to during a break.  We coincidently met up the next day too at Okehampton. En route to Taunton. Sunday we stayed at our first Premier Inn at Liskeard, the routine was repeated 7 other times during the long journey and Premier Inns were an ideal break.  Even had bike sleeping with us!!

Monday 10th September we rode (not together!) over parts of Dartmoor to Taunton.  The scenery was stunning but once in Devon the hills were testing for Peter.  Tuesday 11th we stopped in Bristol at our eldest son’s house for a family reunion as our younger son left yesterday for a new life in Turin with his Italian wife so more emotions again.  Adam, the eldest, then cycled with Peter to Monmouth over the Seven Bridge which was great for Peter.  3 counties in 3 days and ending up in my homeland Wales.  Next day Wednesday 12th September onwards to Shrewsbury via Ludlow which was when I started to compile a list of places to revisit.  Each day my schedule was tight but a routine soon developed.  No time for sightseeing!  We stayed north of Shrewsbury in our third Premier Inn where there was an interesting welcoming committee. Yes alpacas in the middle of Shropshire!

I’ll finish here for now but more next time. Thank you for your support and encouragement in this venture.  It has been a life enhancing experience in many ways.

Advertisements
Gallery

A Rose By Any Other Name?

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I was doing a crossword this morning and the clue was Delphinium, the answer was Larkspur which is part of the same family I assumed.  It prompted me to research both flowers and see if they are in fact the … Continue reading

Follow Your Dream

I wonder if we all have dreams but some of us never realise them for one reason or another, a bit like bucket lists.  My husband Peter’s dream is to complete the challenge of cycling the whole length of England and Scotland alone, a challenge known by several names but he calls it LeJog.  Land’s End to John O’Groats, an approx 950 mile journey.  There are several routes but Peter is in the process of finalising his preferred route, it all comes down to stamina and strength of will to achieve this dream.  I will be logistics support in my small Skoda car!  An important responsible role but at least I am not on a bike!! I find the idea exciting but challenging and think lots of humour, as well as providing refreshments and a comfortable night’s sleep, to be part of my role.  The whole thing depends on an all clear for me in August from the Breast Clinic at my two-yearly check up. Peter also must be sure his health is up to the task too. On 4th September Peter will celebrate his 70th Birthday so this trip will be his personal fulfilment of a dream.  Many people undertake the journey but often in groups with lots of support.  My husband has always been a loner so why change the habit of many years.

Our recent trip to Cornwall was part of our research into the enterprise.  We checked out Land’s End (the start) but from a distance as it was £6 to go into the area around the famous signpost – more of that if we manage the trip.  Land’s End seems to be a theme park now but remains the iconic starting point for many such challenges.  My role is to book suitable overnight stays, meet up regularly to refresh Peter and be a general factotum.  I hope to use the time in between meetings to explore some of the areas we pass through.  I am not familiar with Scotland so am looking forward to new places, albeit fleeting visits.  I hope to update you all with our plans plus possibly raise money for a charity.  What I don’t want to do is put extra pressure on Peter.  I anticipate other challenges to be the weather, possible injuries and bike repairs so my little car will be a hub for all eventualities.  Communications may be a trial at times but we will overcome as the song says. Now Peter does daily training rides when he finishes work, usually 25 miles plus 80 mile rides most Saturdays and Sundays. Occasionally I persuade him to take a day off to recharge his batteries!  We have a family nickname OMIL for him (Old Man in Lycra!) based on a term MAMILS (Middle Aged Men in Lycra).  His outfits are quite distinctive but a necessary extra safety measure.

I realise I’ve not shared my dream, at the moment I just want him to succeed.  If any of you wish to share your dreams please do so.  I anticipate a couple of interesting months ahead! Watch this space!!

Cornish Pleasures

Peter and I went to Cornwall this month for a much needed break, we booked a cottage for a week.  In September Peter is planning a long cycle journey, 70th Birthday Challenge to himself, so part of the holiday was to test out various starting routes so the bike came too! I’ve put a link below so you can get an idea of the perfect place we based ourselves at for the week. Our cottage was called Spring Water Barn, formerly used as a pumping station for the natural spring water on the Bonython Estate.  Sadly a phone/washing machine incident has prevented me showing most of the photos I planned to show you from Peter’s phone!  No explanations required I am sure!!

Bonython Estate is a 20 acre estate with beautiful gardens which are being restored.  Set on The Lizard in Cornwall, the southerly most point in Britain, it proved to be the most relaxing place I have ever visited.  Our luxury cottage was surrounded by woods in a private garden with sun most of the day, perfect for evenings sipping wine and bird spotting.  In fact most of the time the only sounds we heard were birdsong as the other two nearby cottages were empty all week.  Although it was difficult to leave it we went out each day to visit the beautiful coves and small towns in the area.  The first day we did a 3 mile walk to a cove called Poldhu, great walking down but luckily regular local buses ensured I didn’t have to walk back up the very steep hill back.  We had lunch at a beach cafe watching families enjoying themselves on the beach. The sea sparkled and it was wonderful. Lunch finished with a scrumptious Cornish Cream ice cream cone – perfect.  We had intended to visit the Marconi Monument marking the spot of the first Morse code communication with America but the thought of another steep climb up and down made me change my mind.  I thought of how easily we “chat” with each other so quickly today which started from this small point.

Next day we drove around the coast to Mousehole, where we stayed in November and unfortunately Peter had taken ill.  This time we managed to walk two miles back to Newlyn a centre for artists since the turn of the 18th Century.  A small gallery enabled me to view local art students’ graduate work with sea views through the windows providing Nature’s art work. Lunch in a local cafe of fresh crab provided a welcome break and revitalised we walk along the seawalk back to Mousehole.  It felt a bit emotional as Peter has recovered well and is dealing with his condition amazingly. My big pleasure was the next day when we went Park and Train to St. Ives and the Tate Gallery.  Traffic is so awful in the narrow streets of this popular seaside town that measures are being taken to restrict the volume of cars.  For a small charge it was possible to park all day at Lelant and catch the regular train to St Ives, this branch line is one of the most profitable routes in England.  £10.80 for two adults all day (not worked out dollars sorry) but cheap.  I had two hours of art whilst Peter searched out a lunch spot and explored the town. A Patrick Heron exhibition was interesting, but my favourite works are by Barbara Hepworth. Barbara worked and lived in St, Ives with her husband Ben Nicholson and their children.  Her house is a wonderful place to visit too but sadly I was too tired to climb the hill up to visit this time. I have seen it several times and love the mix of her works and plants in the garden outside her studio.  No room to talk more about her but please look her up.

A wonderful quote by her about her aim as an artist: “…to infuse the formal perfection of geometry with the vital grace of nature.” (Ref. Barbara Hepworth’s Sculpture Garden by Miranda Phillips & Chris Stephens).

The visit was completed with crab sandwiches and a glass of Rosado blush in a cafe on the Porthmeor Beach below the Tate.  As we walked back to the station Peter treated me to another gorgeous Cornish Cream ice cream, I couldn’t understand why he’d just bought one for me – but his chocolate cone had been snatched by a huge seagull before he even managed a lick! Gulls are a bigger problem for St. Ives than traffic, despite copious signs and warnings people will feed them titbits.  They are becoming a danger as they fly down and steal whatever they fancy.  I did share mine with him!

On our last day we visited Porthleven, a small fishing port where the catch is landed daily and then served in the many cafes surrounding the harbour.  Our lunch was in Amelies, next door to Rick Steins, where I had Crab Soup followed by Moules served with home-made bread.  Half a carafe of Provence Rose Blush – heaven. My photo doesn’t do justice but suffice to say one of the best meals I have had, do check out the website.  I hope to return to Porthleaven for a few days In October. The day ended with a walk around Bonython Gardens, one of the treats of staying there is free access and after the public leave it’s one’s own secret garden for a few hours. The highlight for me was the Yew Chapel shown at the start of my blog.  Yew Trees have been trained and trimmed to form a chapel complete with alter and pews with a cross above the altar.  I found it so spiritual, surrounded by beautiful woods and utterly peaceful. So many Cornish Pleasures.

 

 

http://www.bonythonmanor.co.uk/

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives

http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-st-ives/barbara-hepworth-museum-and-sculpture-garden

http://www.ameliesporthleven.co.uk/

 

Gallery

English Country Gardens

This gallery contains 4 photos.

May has been a busy month for me but the highlights have been two visits to different gardens near to home.  The first to Great Chalfield Manor, a 15 century manor house with Art and Craft gardens plus a church, … Continue reading

Gallery

The Wedding

This gallery contains 2 photos.

The Wedding has taken place, no not Meghan and Harry, my great-niece Kerys and her fiancé Dan now Mr & Mrs Watson.  On Friday 20th April family and friends gathered together at an hotel on the top of a Welsh … Continue reading

Book Review

March has not been as I planned.  I have had influenza then gastric flu for four weeks! Everything has been cancelled and today I am starting to feel “normal”.  It has left me feeling weak, vulnerable and old!! Lots of rebuilding physically and emotionally to do but Spring is blossoming so I have time.  Apologies to those bloggers who have submitted interesting posts that I intend to  comment on later.

One thing I have managed to do now I am recovering is read so I have decided to submit a book review that I think you might be interested in.  A friend recommended this book knowing I am not normally a fan of short stories.  Reader, I Married Him edited by Tracy Chevalier is a collection of twenty one stories by different writers, some I have read work by previously others unknown.  The writers took the final line of the famous book by Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre and their response to the novel is the impetus for their stories.  The result is a mix of different scenarios, countries and plots.  The short story format influences the context and action of each one.  The discipline required to present just enough information must be intense and the gaps imply must so much for the reader to consider and assume.  I have read Jane Eyre at various stages of my life from teenager through young woman and now an older woman but I am always surprised by the inner strength both Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte exhibit in their situations.  Life as a Victorian woman writer was difficult, she and her sisters first published under false male names, but through these women generations of writers and readers have triumphed.  Read this book and maybe it will inspire some you to new heights.  As always I will be interested in your comments.

During this month Peter, my husband, has been amazing despite having flu for a week and I am glad “Reader, I married him”!

I wish all of you a very Happy Easter, with chocolates treats if you want them!  Next month I hope to be back on top form.

Here is the link to the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015EXDQJO/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1