100k on a Sunny Day

Alec, Wendy and Bryony with their bikes against a wall

Tom and I had some new additions to Team Prust this year, for our usual spin around the Island (previously, and previously again).  We joined the other 2000 riders for a day of perfect sunshine, dry roads, and spinning spokes.  Riders arrive in their droves from the mainland to join in this relaxed cycling allsorts ride, and it’s always a treat to hear unfamiliar visitors raving about the beautiful and varied Island roads.

Our North coast route took us up and down (and up again) through damp shady woodland, before rounding the corner to a fabulous view of St Helen’s Bay, and a flat spin along Bembridge Harbour.  After topping up on tea and cake we headed through the narrow lanes beyond Brading and out on to the South coast road above Ventnor.  Bicycles littered the road at the Whitwell pit stop, where we grinned at the drivers in their hot tin boxes.  A long steady climb up to St Catherine’s Point, a steep descent down to the breadbasket of Atherfield, and out on to the coast above Compton.  Riders less fearful of a puncture than I took the gravelly trainline path past the estuary to Yarmouth, before the final eastward push back to Cowes, with the wind at their backs.  We didn’t escape the puncture fate, and the four of us spread out at our different paces.  But regardless of how closely your team sticks together, on this ride you’re rarely out of sight of another friendly rider.

Tennyson view

Cycling past daffodils

Bikes against a bank and Wendy cycling

With events like this, and next week’s Walk the Wight, we delight in showing off this fabulous dot in the Solent.  I only wish every day the bikes would outnumber the cars so dramatically.

Pebble Dash

Waves on pebbles at Shanklin Chine

Bryony watching the sea

Contending with a chesty cough, my outdoor time this weekend was pretty still.  We took a trip to Shanklin Chine, a classic old seaside destination with a quiet out-of-season feel.  I’m not very good and sitting and doing nothing, but a pebbly beach certainly encourages it.  The roar of waves and retreating rattle of hundreds of pebbles rolling over each other is a sound that demands full attention, and cuts out everything else.  I could sit and listen to it for hours.  Which is a good job, when you’re on a beach trip with a photographer.

Sea pilings, Shanklin Isle of Wight

Shanklin Chine, Isle of Wight

Bryony walking along a beam

Snow Day / Sick Day

Blackbird perched on a snow stone wall

Whilst every kid on the Island, both big and small, was whooping in delight at Friday’s snow day, I was left coughing in bed.  I’m pretty sure it’s the first EVER snow day I haven’t been out the door in the first hour of its discovery.  Tom more than made up for my sickly excuses, with boots on by 9, and thermos and camera in hand.  He was gone just long enough for me to start getting worried, and for him to take a lot of photos.

Logs and fence covered in snow

Snowy path

Snowy bench in Parkhurst Forest Isle of Wight

While Tom was out exploring the unfamiliar landscape of our local area, I spent the weekend relishing some enforced rest.  I took a trip home to see the family.  We sat and caught up on busy lives, while I concentrated on such arduous tasks as finding the comfiest spot by the fire, and choosing my second slice of cake (gingerbread or coffeecake?)  A day with family, holed up by the fire amidst a snowy scene is a pretty good way to spend a sick day.  The snowball fight will have to wait ’til next time.

East Cowes Mini Aventure

View of Cowes old town from East Cowes

Sometimes big plans just don’t happen. Sometimes that extra half hour in bed is too sweet, and a brunch with family warrants just one more cuppa, or a project at the kitchen table is too involving to abandon. And sometimes not having a car makes travelling to some scenic country spot just a little bit too much bother. But, failed plans can make room for mini adventures; this one an easy explore on our doorstep.

So today we didn’t get up to the downs before breakfast, but instead ran down to the chain ferry and across to East Cowes after teatime.  We explored a local bit of townside coast, and watched our little town from across the estuary.  It’s surprising how many interesting things there are amongst the concrete.  Old ship yards and high windowed warehouses looking out on an esplanade of sunday strollers and kids fishing.

Seagulls sitting on East Cowes breakwater

Sea bird on the beach

Old fence by the sea in East Cowes Isle of Wight

Rusty on the sea wall at East Cowes, Isle of Wight

We got a little carried away in the quiet pace of it and would have missed supermarket opening hours, if it weren’t for Tom being a much faster runner than me.  So, thanks to him we had yummy Sunday dinner and a well-stocked evening by the fire.  Feeling ready for another busy week.


Dimbola Lodge

Once I hit Friday afternoon, sat on the couch after work with a cup of tea, I’m pretty disinclined towards anything very busy. Saturdays are best for pubs and parties, after a day with no alarm clock, a lazy brunch, and plenty of fresh air. Fridays are made for a quiet pint and a bit of peace, after a week of early starts, rushed mornings and too much time in front of a computer.

So, last night’s Shhh club was ideal Friday night fare. My favourite Freshwater spot, Dimbola Lodge, transformed it’s cafe in to a cosy bar, complete with candles, cushions, and Campo Viejo. Friendly faces and free run of the house’s exhibitions in the interval made this the perfect setting for an evening of quiet instruments and beautiful voices.

Angelina Grimshaw‘s resonant voice and accompanying mandolin filled the place with visions of almond blossom and passing trains, while Puzzle Muteson‘s mournful voice and perfect finger picking richly deserved the appreciative hush of this quiet audience. Truthfully, it was the promise of Mary Hampton that got me off the couch that afternoon. Her songs are a beautiful mix of 14th century poems, previously unheard gospel songs and lines of Emily Dickinson. Her guitar playing is always wonderful to listen to, but her a capella offerings were heaven in this still small space. I can think of no better way to end a busy week than with a bit of hush.