Thunderbirds go, and Brain's gets a new look

From  to puppets to computer animated graphics, Brains, the intelligent Thunderbirds boffin gets a new look.

With economic austerity measures, changes contacts, and being generally worse off and another year older, It's easy for any us to feel we all have strings attached : puppets, carrying out the wishes of the masters.  Like Brains, we have to accept change and adapt. 

Prephaps the best way, is by being less plastic, and plyable, is jumping on a Thunderbirds ship to an unknown universe, a fresh adventure and with a new outlook is something we all need once in a while. 

I'm off to SpecSavers to find a pair of Grandma Tracy's glasses, after all  - I still need to see wherever I'm heading, even in a new galaxy.   A new image for the new year why not?

What are your resolutions for New Year & Where will they take you? 

New Years target achieved by end of October

It's been little sacrifice living on supermarket own brands or home made and home grown or wild and free but it has more than paid off.  There have been a few slip ups, tea bags and biscuits from the corner shop, the odd lunch from the bakers, or worse the garage forecourt, pre packaged offerings,. The idea of paying someone else to make an inferior sandwich due to my own weakness is now something that I no longer do without thinking blimey that's expensive.  Lunch for less than a fiver, not really excessive, but a lot when you consider most weeks this year I have lived very well on much less than twenty quid for groceries. Fast food outlets and coffee shops are still a temptation I  do enjoy a Costa, Costa lot, cup of coffee, although I have gone ten months without the muffins, or flapjacks instead making my own. 

Fresh oysters from Whitstable, and a glass of artisan wine - would cost a couple upwards of fifty quid at Wheelers, cooking on stones and sticks on a beach is much much more fun. Oysters wrapped in bacon over an open fire, a BBQ, made of stones on the sand, a salad of marsh samphire in the company of friends can not be beaten.  I fed six for under three quid, and all of them have asked to do it again, and even know now, that the oysters did not come from the fish market, I had been there to purchase a Shukka (oyster knife) they just assumed I had brought the oysters, as I pulled them from the basket.  No I had collected them earlier on the rocks at low tide.  Now a regular summer night -full moon event, for privileged friends certainly more fun than a night at the pub.

Some may mock at me collecting snails,  or picking garlic or damsons in the woods. In many parts of world, with warmer climates these things  are considered a delicacy to be hunted for and eaten after the first rains. Here in Margate rain and snails are both plentiful, very easy to find especially with experience and knowing when and where to look, far more tasty and nutritious than pot noodle any day.

I'm now not sure that a new vehicle which was the original motivation, to save so hard is such a good idea, oh well goals change, the achievement is I've saved fifty percent of my net annual salary. Fifty percent of not a lot, is still not a lot!  but enough for a few books and a course or two. 

Next years resolution : study Mycology!   Could I study it in FRENCH?  
Why not.

Plentiful rain  and snails, are not a good trade off for Mediterranean warmth and sunshine. 
Here, a bigger target for the future, the question is does it have water?  and how long will it take me to achieve it and what's it going to cost to do up?   Till then I'm on a foray in the woods to find my dinner.

Short Thanet Loop

Short of motivation to get going on one of those grey days when it would have been easy to stay in bed, that' s the time to be greatfull when you friends to drag you out, for a short spin around Thanet.

Lights on because the skys were grey, waterproof looked like it might be needed, typically as soon as you get home the sun comes out. What-ever the weather, cycling always makes you feel better.

Recover Ride needed before work today!

The sun is shining and it is a lovely day for it. Just a gentle recovery ride for me today, legs still feeling Whitstable Road and Tyler Hill from Sunday’s Pub Run, slowed down with fish and chips in Whitstable Harbour soaking up the sun.

Maybe just a bit more than our regular Bacon Butty Ride, it's an excuse for a cyclist social, a short ten mile quick fix, where we girls take a steady chatting pace, and put the world to rights. At least we sometimes carry on to the top of the hill, before turning back to The Cafe, at Recolver.   Bacon Butty, is just a training run, well that's what we tell ourselves. A quick spin, for the days when we're busy, limited by time, or the weather is miserable; our good intentions are squashed by the smell of bacon. It’s a twenty mile round trip coastal cycling on the flat from the Margate clock-tower.

Sunday's Turner to Pub Route, a bit more challenging 50 miles+, with a few hills thrown in for good measure. You can take the easy option along the national cycle route following the coastal path most of the way, before turning into a quiet Kentish lane. At The Freewheel, Britons first cyclists pub, you can fill your tubes with air, your stomach with ale or if you prefer energy bars, your lungs, with talk of all things bike this is a great place for any cyclist to head too, regardless of the type of bike rider you are or the direction from which you are coming. Alternatively head for the villages around Canterbury, cross country around Hoath, into Canterbury and out again for some added hills, I decided on the hills before food.   Serious roadie, mountain biker, or shopping bike with a basket, it is all about the bike, the landlord of the Freewheel, has been seen cycling to France on a lovely old cargo bike, for him it is as much about the good wine, food and fun with friends and of course the bike.

There are many good places to stop,  Whitstable, oysters cooked in batter at the Neptune an afordable pleasure.  Soaking up the rays in the trendy harbour fish market with inflated prices, it's a bit of a luxury, just don't give a care if you are in lycra, as some boozed up day tripper yuppies are bound to make fun of you, as they guzzle the next bottle of champers.    JoJo's in Tankerton,  excellent coffee, on an amazing little sun-trap terrace,  the food is also fab - phone and book a table as this place gets packed.

Fish and chips in Whitstable Harbour.

Download Turner to Pub Garmin route, although it may be better to go avoid the cut though Blean woods if you are on road tyres.    Yeh, a personal best on Canterbury Hill ;- )

Sundays Pub Run. 3000 calories plus burned, 

Ride Chartidge

What a fun weekend.

This event was published by British cycling on the events listings.  The Chiltern Hills are a wonderful place for cycling, hills enough to even challenge even the pro's. The Tour of Britain passed though Chesham last year. Whiteleaf Hill features in the 100 best climbs, even if that is way beyond my standard.

I had chosen the shorter, red route, the so called easy option, which was challenging enough. Halfway up Tom's Hill, which is 9.1% at it's steepest.  I had to stop to catch my breath.  Back in the saddle and onward, no way was I going to be caught by the photographer on the brow of the hill, pushing my bike!   Along the flattish to Ashridge, though flowering bluebell woods, refreshing shade and the sounds of birdsong a true pleasure. The "ridge" bit says it all. I felt on top of the world and the views proved it.

The sun shone, arm warmers and jacket off. A glance at the Garmin elevation, showed I was past the highest point. A time to chat with other riders, relaxed and simply enjoying the rhythm of the pedal. One last push into Wiggington village, I felt like Wiggo, even if stopped by the busy road crossing, momentum thrown, and in the wrong gear!  it was a struggle.   The Chiltern Hills felt like mountains, for one who lives on the flat, more of a sprinter than a climber, a tough challenge, even though it was a short 30 miler.

At The Lee Church, my mind wandered to the thought of cream teas. This ride was nearly done, I knew it was just a spin down the lane to the finish.   A slight decent on the finish, wow that's how all rides should end.

The private parking and shower, just a bonus and nothing compared to the pre-event dinner and a weekend away in company of friends - I did hold back on Jean's famously strong gins! even it was a roll out of bed to the start line.

For a school fund raiser, this was a brilliantly organised bike ride.

Vision and Goals

Effective time management starts with clear vision and goals

The work life balance has been heavy on the work side, not the gainful employment, but the working to improve the gainful employment prospects.

Sparked by a change in Employment Terms and Conditions, my focus changed, refreshed the C.V. gained some new qualifications, yes I have been studying too, applying for jobs, writing well crafted cover letters, half a dozen interviews, sifting out the dross jobs, it's quite a pleasure to turn some offers down.  It all takes time, days off suited and booted, and travelling here and there, selling myself to prospective employers.

So my cycling goals have been on the back burner, no time to sit in the saddle.   Totally out of character as even in 2 degrees- January's fog and sleet, I have managed 50 miles or so.  Demotivated by a lack of a place in Ride London, only going out once since the middle of February,  local charity ride in Whitstable cancelled, life is feeling heavy and my general fitness suffering. My knee playing up (old skiing injury) exercise actually helps.

Healthy lunch boxes have been a replacement for burning up the calories on the pedals,  I won't beat myself up that after five days the weekend started scoffing McDonalds, with all the extras that are fully loaded with rubbish calories. Having skipped breakfast, feeling famished and weak willpower.  What the hell, a week of salad box is boring, but without regular exercise,  I can't get away with rubbish food too often.

Time to draw up an action plan, set some goals and have a positive vision.  I start by scheduling a training plan into my diary, a few short rides to get back into the swing of things, and then some longer rides out, it won't be long before I'm once again keeping up with the boys!  and breezing through the spin class.

Sometimes it is necessary to simply say no, I'm busy that time and get on with the things that matter.
Get out there and get on my bike.

New Bikes - Are you thinking about spring and N+1

We agree that the number of bikes you should own is N+1?
Any cyclist will tell you, the number of bikes you should own is  the number you already own, plus one more.    It's agreed by us all.

If you are dreaming of the spring and spinning on a new bike, then the London bike show it the place to go, all the new seasons offerings, and of course it does't stop at bikes,  new kit, and just about everything cycling related, be it road, mountain or any other form of bike.

Thanks Shelley for the temptations to drool over, I'll be checking out the new machines

Chilly Weather Cycling

We all know what they say:  There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.  Well it is true with the right kit, you can still enjoy a bike ride throughout the year.

The answer is to layered up with thermal base layer long sleeved jersey over thick bib tights and woollen socks. So there is no excuse not to go out with friends even when it is just two degrees.  Shoes covered with overshoes, and hands snug in thick gloves.  It is chilly on the decants, when you are cruising and not putting in too much effort. Wind in your face, is nothing that a buff, neck warmer can’t cure. A cheap one from the supermarket, that cost under three pounds is worth every penny, and you can't have too many of these handy things, protecting your head and ears from the bitter cold and worn under the helmet.  

The only time you truly get cold is if you stand still, fixing the inevitable punctures, thanks to the road gritters,  expect more than usual. Make sure you have a tube and a pump, and or invest in a set of good winter tyres,  ride a solid bike.

Cycling home from a night shift, in the early hours of the morning today was a little chilly. Dressed in jeans and boots on an upright heavy bike, with bumpy tyres, a hoodie and a cycling jacket over the top, with a cheap pair of knitted gloves, that flashed christmas lights on the ends of the fingers,  We are not too old to enjoy the silly fun I felt like a kid, with the feel of crisp air in my lungs, cutting through the park, and watching the frost sparkle under the lights as I avoid the gritted roads as much as I could.  My day just ending as others are waking up.   I’m home, as others are de-iceding the car and feel pretty good too.

November Bike Rides

A mild start to the winter, so there has been no excuses not to get out on my bike, not a bad achievement for the time of year!

403KM done, in November, now I just have to work off a bit more due to the upcoming mince pies.

Liv Cycling Apparel - Even better than I thought.

How exciting, a big parcel has arrived, With a clue as to what was inside, from the Giant Cycling Gear blue and white tape around the box.

The competition prize from LIV - wow so exciting    A big shout out and Thank You LIv. It is all so much better than I though.   Now it is impossible possible to lose, not so fast and don't have a garage full of trophies,  but like Marian Voss wearing Liv looking the part and feeling great, when out on my bike.

This race day kit is superb quality with a fit like a glove, excuse the pun. The Liv Passion gloves have had their first ride this morning and already they feel as comfortable as a well worn pair, the gel padding in all the right places, it's even possible to use the touch screen of your gadgets while wearing them, that's a really nice touch.

The Streak Helmet adjusts with a Clinch+ system and hugs the head snug, I have no intention of banging my head to really test it out, the safety standards that it comes with ensure that it will provide all the protection possible.

So once again to everyone at Liv
Thank you