Wednesday, 30 January 2013

One Month in ... January Summary

  • Books Delivered: 10
  • Bike miles travelled: 159
  • Weight Lost: 2lbs
  • Charitable Contribution: ~£25

Before I review / remind you where I am, I have some book catching up to do:

Six Of Swords (12miles) – slight diversion, in that this was posted to a colleague in our US office but I did cycle into work with it.

Lawrence Dallaglio: It’s in the Blood (12 miles) – a handover in the Kings Ransom car park, occasioned by difficulties in matching schedules... a lady requested it for her husband who used to play rugby (injury i think) and she hadn’t told him what it was when I handed it over, which was kind of sweet

Gray’s Anatomy (12 miles) – I considered keeping this but it would have sat on my shelf gathering dust so go it must. A 200yd diversion on my way into work (Note to self: I must do a post on Sale)

Picasso (12 miles) – another diversion... chap lives in Bolton but we tried to hook up in Altrincham as he was in town – we got snowed off. So i’m dropping it off on my way up to a meeting in Preston as it’s just a short hop from the Motorway

There’s one more to share but that’s a separate post.

So, the overview. I resolved at the start of the year to give away a huge pile of books (and I mean huge) using the range of social media at my disposal. I wanted to get off to a good start so used Freecycle which is where the bulk of Januarys books have gone. It has the benefit of people who want free stuff go on there and they’re all local!

Next Social Media. Twitter first, recently joined by a FB page and more esoterically Pinterest and Librarything (click on all links for my accounts). The last two being a repository for cover pictures and available book details respectively.

As a reminder, for every book I deliver by bike I add £1 plus 5p per mile travelled on the round trip to a charity pot which I’m pushing through to Justgiving once a month. In addition I also forgot that I also committed to £5 per lb of weight lost... the Justgiving page is: and I’m also happy to take donations in addition to what I’m putting in there myself.

A number of things I have learned already:

  • I don’t know the hidden depths of the wider area I live very well – I’m discovering all sorts of wonderful things and sharing as many of them as I can
  • Investment in a new winter hi-vis jacket with additional inbuilt rear light was a sound one
  • I need to be more curious without being nosey – it’s a fine balance but people love to talk
  • I need to keep re-explaining what I’m doing otherwise some posts just won’t make any sense

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The previous delivery provided a trip down memory lane (or memory track?) and this one had a tangential trip down memory lane of its own.

After a previous book on the History of the FA was claimed I received an email from Sue whose 70+ yr old father suffered from Dementia. He had been a long time football fan and the book would have provided (provoked?) some memories of days gone by… I knew I had to do something, so I advised I’d find something appropriate.

Age does funny things to us in terms of memory, we all get affected by short term memory loss – we can keep it relatively agile through various techniques but in those with Dementia short term memory loss is a permanent feature. Short term memory stores all those things happening to and around us, it takes things in, filters it and decides what should flow through into long term memory which in itself is divided (simplistically) into event based memory – dates, things that happened etc. and more functional memory – the things we don’t even consciously think about – riding a bike, boiling an egg and such like. In the later stages of dementia, these longer term memories start to be affected and our need for care increases.

Long term memory is a powerful thing – we can probably all think of a song that evokes our first love and brings to mind, sounds, sights, smells. Caring appropriately for memory in those with Dementia can really improve quality of life. So as a football fan, Sue’s father might not be able to remember the current manager of Aston Villa1, or who plays at the Keepmoat Stadium2, but could probably reel off the starting 11 from the 1966 world cup final or in my case it would be the Leeds Untied FA cup winning team of 19723 (despite being an infant at the time).

Burnden Park c/o 
So this book was perfect – The Football Grounds of England & Wales, but before Keepmoat, Ricoh, DW, Emirates et al provided some of the money which built spanking new stadiums of seemingly opulent luxury (if the ticket prices are anything to go by). The book was printed in the mid 80s so there aren’t any behemoth Premier League stadia in there… Roker Park, not Stadium of Light, Burnden Park not the Reebok Stadium .. well you get the picture. My hope is that upon receiving the book ,  the memories of standing on a freezing cold terrace on New Years Day with a cup of Bovril and a Meat Pie of questionable provenance came flooding back and a smile arose at the thought of George Best dancing down the wing as various ruggedly built defenders tried to decapitate him.

I don’t know whether it was irony or sod’s law or something else, but I printed off a map for the house and because I kind of knew where it was I didn’t really refer to it again. As I turned into what I thought was the appropriate road (no signs) I knew this wasn’t quite right… which I found out after posting it and then cycling past the right road … happily I had labelled the pack so book was eventually happily received ….

1.        Still Paul Lambert at the time of posting but hanging on.
2.        Doncaster Rovers
3.        Harvey, Reaney, Madeley, Hunter, Charlton, Bremner, Giles, Lorimer, Gray, Clarke, Jones

ASIDE: I’ve changed my donation rule – I’ll be donating 5p per mile on top of the £1 per book which makes a 40 mile round trip a £3 donation instead of £1.40 which seems more proportionate.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Heatley & Warburton Station (Disused)

On Paper this was a lovely Sunday ride. Out on the Trans Pennine Trail to Warrington and back along the Bridgewater Canal. In the main it was pleasant, if a little cold. However with lots of recent rain the stretch of the canal from Warrington to Lymm was like Glastonbury in a bad year. Mud everywhere – a nice 20 mile route felt more like a hard 30 – but all to the good I suppose.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
I enjoyed this one for another reason. The lady that responded to my latest Freecycle ad had a purpose. She provides transport for a young man with Learning Disabilities who has an obsession with the Chronicles of Narnia and with Harry Potter and this book would be very well received. She’d wanted to pick it up on her to the young man as he lived near me but I explained my project which she really liked and I lined the weekend up for delivery – I’m told the book was well received.

I wanted to talk separately about the section of the Trans-Pennine that I ride on quite a bit. This particular section, from Altrincham to Warrington was once known as the Lymm Railway but has been transformed into a walking / cycling / running / horse riding thoroughfare. Like many such railways it became increasingly little used as a result of the growth of the motor car ad roads to support – it became one of many victims of the Beeching Report – testaments countrywide to the once formidable power of the railways. Many lines are being reopened largely due to volunteers but I doubt this would ever see the return of trains – only in ghostly apparition, smoke billowing in the night.

The Station
About 4 miles into the straight, flat stretch there is a station building and platform, overgrown, but recognisable – I often think when I pass it that if I won just enough money to indulge passions I’d but the station and set up a little cafe for the many passers by whatever the mode of transport. Perhaps a corner of the cafe could contain history of the railway and any images we could find that folk could peruse whilst sipping their tea and eating their homemade cake / bacon butty. There would be space for locking of bicycles and chairs along the platform to drink in the sun when it deigned to put in an appearance..... And back to reality

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Two for the price of One

The Canal Boat graveyard was a ‘should have bought my phone moment’ – I’m sure I’ll be back that way again, but it was an unexpected sight whilst pootling along the Bridgewater Canal in the mid-section of this particular book delivery. You’ll either need to go there or await my return with camera / phone.

The two book thing was a little bit of a cheat to be honest. The communication skills book has been added to the ‘work library’, which essentially means its bulking out the shelf on the bookcase in my office. Of course there are a few people I could recommend read it but I’m much too diplomatic for that (maybe I’ll add the diplomacy book later).

However, the good thing was that work was on the route of one of the ways I could get to the second drop off, so I got to ride a decent section of the Bridgewater canal  which runs from Runcorn to Leigh. To press the furthest west I’ve been is Lymm and this trip extended the route East to Stretford (it does run all way into Manchester). Between Altrincham and Stretford it’s a tale of second half good, first half not so good, to reverse a caricatured Sven Goran Eriksson quotation. From Altrincham to Brooklands Tram station is rutted and gets extremely muddy and is not for the faint hearted (particularly of a winters evening). Past Brooklands and its had some good investment and attracts cyclists, runners, people walking their dogs and others just out for a stroll – a vision of what all urban canal sides should be.

Having located the drop off point I manoeuvred my way back to the Trans Pennine WayNational Cycle Route 62 – of which more in later posts I think. Suffice to say that the mid stretch of this, which cuts through some woods adjacent to farmland was heavily flooded with patches of up to 50 metres at a time of the pathway under water. Luckily a ‘serious’ MTBer had passed me earlier but was struggling to shake me off and he acted as my guinea pig to make sure they were passable (they were just – good test for the bike in its first off road excursion)

All in all it was a good Sunday ride out, 20 miles bagged, 2 books delivered and £2.20 added to the charity pot. Shame about the lack of photos though.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Freecycling Through West Sale

Winter commuter bike now with added luggage.

About 6 years ago I found myself working in an environmental charity in London. Career wise it was an unusual diversion but was a logical extension to something which started with attending Greenpeace meetings in a room above a pub in Leicester whilst studying at Leicester Polytechnic. Among the many things I learned whilst working for the charity was the burgeoning number of groups trying desperately to encourage and help people to reduce, reuse and recycle. I joined and have continued to use Freecycle, mainly in a giving capacity – I loathe the idea of throwing stuff away that still has life in it and that’s the very essence of Freecycle – you have no more need of something, it still does what it says on the tin, you advertise it and someone local takes it off you… Simples. I’ve given away all sorts from books to beds over those years and so it seemed apposite that I should use that source to get me going (I expect Social Media to take a while to kick in with generating books requests.)

I duly posted an OFFER, detailing my librarything account and letting people know they could choose their own book and then …. I had a post rejected email. Mr/Ms Moderator was claiming my post was a service… I have to admit I temporarily lost my shit but remained composed enough to send a vaguely sensible reply. Its here I have to give credit to the moderators who I expect spend a lot of their own time doing this for no measurable reward. We had a back and forth where the rules were explained and I elaborated on what I was doing and we reached a compromise where I decided to (regularly) list individual books.

An official history up to and including Euro 96

I listed the book above and a Star Wars book (no takers) and had a couple of responses for the England book in fairly short order. It just so happened that it was about a half mile diversion from my usual commute (I’ll come to that later) so was a good chance to strap on my newly delivered Rack and Panniers (thank you Santa Claus) and cycle into work to head some things off at the pass ahead of my ‘full’ return to work after a New Year break.

So, the long and short of it is, I have book 2 delivered and have notched up my first 12 miles cycling with a rack and panniers – blessed relief from a heavy rucksack to be honest. Now I’m away to put a couple more books on Freecycle.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Card Tricks to Culketh

Card Tricks to Culketh

*      Miles Travelled: 30 9diversion to work and back included)
*      Tumbles Taken: 1

So book 1 was a magic book and strictly speaking fell outside of the rules but remember rule 1 – these are just guidelines. This was an order from the ailing online empire but was just 10 miles away as the crow flies so was duly chosen as book 1 of the nascent project

Its worth saying at this point that I hadn’t really thought through what would be in each posting so I can’t tell you much about the book that Amazon doesn’t other than I bought it in a job lot of magic books on ebay and when they arrived they stunk of cigarette smoke – I had to stick them in the garage for months before I could go near them. Magic and cigarettes -  that winning combination.

I can’t tell you much about the recipient other than he shared a name with a Premiership football manager and appeared to be still in bed at 10:30 when I delivered the book (all the curtains being closed a giveaway – perhaps it was a late night of smoking and practising card tricks?)

As for the journey it was a pleasant enough rural road ramble north and west from Altrincham to Culketh on the other side of the M60. Two notable landmarks passed on the way: Dunham Massey Park (of which more in a later post) and the Warburton Toll Bridge which crosses the Manchester Ship Canal and is free to cyclists but charges all of 12p to cars (or at least did the last time I drove across it. As a cyclist it’s an unavoidable bridge as the only other crossings are a good way away and are in the main Motorways…. It’s here that the listed tumble (see above) occurred much to my chagrin. On this particular crossing the traffic was being controlled by lights and down to one lane. The first crossing I waited and let traffic through before me. The second crossing I stole a march and barged into the cordoned off area where I though I’d pootle along on the ‘pavement’ area. The cast iron ‘kerb’ had other ideas and in the wet condition unceremoniously dumped me on my arse – oh how the driver first in line must have laughed – the b*stard! I'll spare you the gory, bloodied knee picture.

Wikipedia can give you the lowdown on the bridge:

Warburton Bridge is a privately owned Statutory Tolled Undertaking which incorporates a public highway road length. The high-level cantilever bridge crosses the Manchester Ship Canal on the B5159 road, connecting the A57 with the A6144, and was commissioned under the Rixton & Warburton Bridge Act 1863. The original stone bridge spanned the River Mersey prior to its later diversion into the Manchester Ship Canal. The toll operation has a significant impact with maintaining the smooth flow of traffic into the surrounding areas. Along with the detection of unauthorised vehicles, attempting to use this three ton weight restricted route. Both bridges and the unadopted approach roads are privately maintained. It is one of the few remaining pre-motorway toll bridges in the United Kingdom, and the only one in Greater Manchester

So one book delivered and more to come – onwards and upwards.