Saturday, 19 May 2012

The land of Fjords, high prices & at least one thief

Frank picked me, my bike box & 2 seed bags full of panniers, tent, sleeping bag and lots of stuff neede to keep me going during 10 weeks of cycling. I left Harvey in the wonderful hands of the Balfour clan & my house with house sitter extrodinaire Ann Andrews - a 69 year old from Darwin

Getting ready to go was probably as difficult as the ride is going to be. After the traffic jams on the bypass, the flight could not have been better. For some reason I didnt get charged for my bike I met a guy called Damian ftom Wolverhampton who had lived in Norway for 7 years, so I got a lot of gen on Bergen from him As we flew west we left soaking Haddy behind & into sunshine I watched the sun go down  on the roof terrace of the YMCA

Bergan is a lot like Oban but posher Loads of expensive boats with a backdrop of big wooden buildings & mountains Around the fish market it buzzes Up to now I have had enough ups & downs to  last the whole
worst lows were trying to sleep in a bunk above a woman whose snoring ranked as 10 on the rickter scale The worst was forgetting to take my tool bag off the bike when I went to the library - it got nicked with all my priceless & essential tools in it The best was meeting a Canadian guy called Eric Bohm who gave me some of his set I didnt know wether to laugh or cry

Tomorrow is the first big day on the bike & the weather is suppoded to b ok Bergen is well worth a visit

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Two days to go!!

The evil fairies are at it again. Two punctures before I have even started! and my big box does not fit into the bike box.  Even so I am on target to get the bike in the bike box and onto the plane to Bergen this coming Friday at 7pm. It might take a bit of creativity with the box... adding a bit of cardboard here and there. The other bit of jiggery pokery has to be  done with the panniers. My luggage allowance is two, 20 kilo bags and hand luggage of 10 kilos. The problem is that I have four panniers, a tent, a sleeping bag and a mat. All these come to less than 40 kilos but will be charges as excess if they go though check in separately. So... I have got some rubble bags and I'm going to put the lot into two bags and see if they will accept it. Over the phone, a nice Norwegian lady said it will be okay, but I'll be pleased if it all works out.
The good news is that the bike is going well. I did a trial run to Gifford with all the gear on it today and after the initial strangeness of the heavy front panniers, everything went well. The hill up to Gifford is a challenge at the best of times, but in low gear with all the luggage it was fine. On the way back I got up to about 25 mph,  and the bike was stable, so finger crossed it all looks good.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Cycling Mindset

Really getting myself into a mindset to cycle 6000kms around the North Sea Cycle Route, helped by reading Scott Wallace's blog He has completed a quarter of his trans America route from east to west - he has been meeting some good & generous people      I have been getting my gear together Today I bought a nice sleeping mat & a trangia for cooking  The key is to keep things light so I have been buying stuff with that in mind My tent has already seen service in Shetland & weighs in at 3.6lbs & the rest of the gear is pretty light too I want to try it out before I go... If it ever stops raining Had a run out on my bike the other night to see what it feels like with front panniers - pleased with feel of the  bike although the butterfly handle bars make going around corners at speed a bit tricky
Might kip on the new mat in the back bedroom tonight to see how it feels

Monday, 7 May 2012

Running and painting

I took part in the Edinburgh to North Berwick road race on Saturday. It turned out to be a good day for running... mostly sunshine and cold and breezy. This was a good omen for the race, particularly in view of the weather when I was in North Berwick the day before. It was very cold, with a strong north easterly wind blowing. The race went well - I kept a steady pace of under eight minute mile pace for the first nine miles and within a minute of my fastest mile after that. There were two exceptions to this, and they were the hill at Luftness and Dirlton. I had been dreading the hill at Dirlton from the off because the other time I did this race - two years ago, I died a nasty death on that  hill. This time was different. I certainly slowed, but kept running up it and came out of it in reasonably good shape. I grabbed some jelly babies from a helpful spectator on the road into North Berwick and with two miles to go I realised I was going to smash my time of two years ago. Then I had just managed to creep in under the three hour mark. This time I did it in 2.45.25, so I was completely chuffed with that. The legs were a bit sore at the end of the race so I went for a paddle in the cold sea... yes it does help. Well done Sandy Wallace who got the over 60's prize in 2.34 and to Stuart Hay who got the over 40's prize in 2.04

Here is a water colour painting of the houses and green at Gifford  I took from a photo  and painted at the North Berwick Art Group

Friday, 4 May 2012

Telford College

A white A4 sized envelope hit the mat at my front door the other day. When I picked it up, I saw the words Telford College written on the outside. I was surprised at my reaction. I went into avoidance mode. I couldn't open it because inside was the result of my application and interview to study for the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. I haven't felt so nervous since I was an eighteen year old waiting for the outcome of job interviews. In the end I tore the envelope open and took a tiny peep at the first line of the letter. I saw the word 'pleased' and let out a very big 'YIPPEE.' I'm not kidding... I wasn't able to read the letter properly until the afternoon. When I did, I found out that I have got a student username and password - so that must make me an official student. The course starts on 20 August at the sparkling new campus in Granton. This is such an amazing development in my life that I can hardly believe it.
 The course is in three parts.  To start off we get to try out all sorts of different media. This will be stuff I have never done before, such as sculpting, printing and getting into digital 3d animation, plus a whole lot more. The next section of the course is about focussing on the area of art I want to develop and learning the skills necessary. The final third is producing a piece of art which is judged as part of the ongoing assessment of the course. There are various assignments that have to be completed  in order to progress on the course. I am also expecting that we will be looking at our attitudes to art and unblocking preconceptions about what it is all about.
So that leaves a couple of months to go on a long cycle ride around the North Sea Cycle Route. I will be taking my sketch book and water colours with me. 14 days until I leave for Bergen.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Smartphone & 18 days to go to Bergen

This is  my first post using my new mobile I have found out that this requires a whole new set of skills so bear with me on the typos
I'm also multi-tasking - on a web site looking for house sitters while I'm away 17 May - 26 july. If  ur interested get in touch
Two big bits of news - First is my brand new shed/sftudio Its 12 x 8' & a great place to do my paintings in
You can find out about my other piece of fantastic news on my next blog ;-)