Posts Tagged ‘cyclist’

Gradbach Mill (day 2)

This is day 2 of a trip to a Youth Hostel (which opened in 1984) called Gradbach Mill. It seems like an odd name to me. Looking up the history tells us the name possibly comes from a Henry Gratebach mentioned as living in the area in 1374.

We decided on the full breakfast to start us off: orange juice, grapefruit, cereal, big fry-up, toast, & tea. We set off walking up the hill. Initially on the road we soon came to a turn off and began the cross country stuff. OS map in hand we were making for a village I’ve mentioned in a previous post but will keep it as a surprise for now. Here’s a narrow bridge over a stream

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Then just a bit further on a TV aerial attached to a drystone wall. We couldn’t immediately see which house might be using it but closer inspection revealed the wire to it was broken. It does show how difficult it is to get reception in the area and the lengths people will go to to try and get a signal. (You might remember I mentioned that the hostel didn’t have any for TV, phones or PC.)

After crossing a few more fields we were onto tarmac for a short while. The road had been resurfaced recently and there was a 10mph speed limit sign. Here it is.

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This gentleman had obviously fallen over. We deduced he had probably been running and therefore exceeded the speed limit causing him to end up flat on the road. (He seems to be pointing at the sign to warn us.) We thanked him and moved on. There wasn’t time to help him but we hoped he was ok.

Across a few more fields and we were nearing our target. Here’s the sign

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Yes, it’s the sign for a village called Flash. If you remember the post from 10.4.13 (I is for interesting) you will know that this is the village whose height above sea level has been measured and found to be the highest in England and in fact the whole UK. We wondered what to expect but set off on the 1 mile to get there indicated by the sign; not surprisingly it was all uphill! The edge of the village is some way out from the houses and here’s the sign. Shortly after, a cyclist went past us and we almost felt as if we should be cheering and running alongside like they do in the Tour De France and maybe shouting Allez-allez. We didn’t.image

And a little further on in the village itself we saw this sign on the wall of the pub

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Yes that’s right – the highest pub in the British Isles. If you need an edge that’s not a bad one is it? After 2 hours walking across fields, up hill and down dale we were ready for a quick stop: a drink in the highest pub in the UK would be nice. We knocked on the door and were told that it didn’t open till 4pm! (It was 10.58am.) There are some who believe the term “flash money” comes from the alleged counterfeiting of banknotes in the village. It’s a nice idea and seems to fit but it’s probably an inference made from a novel (Flash) written in 1928 by Judge Alfred Ruegg rather than historical facts.

The next building was the old schoolhouse.

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And a little bit further

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Of course there’s no “new” police station.

We carried on and came to the local primary school. Here’s the sign.

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Now read that motto under the logo at the top: ‘Reaching Ever Higher’. Remember where we are – the highest village in the UK! I liked that. However after a bit of research and a conversation with a local person we found out that the school was actually closed. Apparently, in Sept 2012, the school roll fell from 7 in 2011 to zero pupils and the school closed at the end of Dec 2012. The local council said that in the last 10 years only one child had been born in the catchment area. Property prices also meant it was difficult to attract younger families to the area. The village had had a school for over 250 years (since 1760) so very sad it could not continue. (The Ofsted inspection in April last year gave a figure of over £22,000 funding required for each pupil; a comparable figure for my local urban primary school is £3,700 per pupil.)

Next building of interest was this one

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It looks like a large square house but originally it was a Wesleyan Chapel built in 1784 (and rebuilt in 1821 according to the date stone). There were 60 members of the Methodist Society which grew to 90 by 1790. In the 1851 Census there were 180 attending the evening service. It closed in 1974 and, as with many old chapels, is now a private house.

We walked on. Although a fair way out of the village we came to a place called “Flash Bar Stores And Coffee Shop”. We got some food here as it was almost lunch time. As we sat outside this vehicle pulled up in the parking area next to us.

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On the top right above the windscreen you might be able to see “Your Library”. Yep that’s right in these more isolated places there is no local library so the villages depend on a mobile one. I spoke to the driver who told me he covers quite a large area. Each stop has a scheduled time so people know when to expect him. While we were there a couple of folks came; one lady had an armful of books. I do hope this service will keep going as it’s a big help for those who can’t get to the town libraries often miles away.

After lunch we walked all of 20 feet (6 metres) across to the Traveller’s Rest for a drink. The place had a bit of a theme of “ye olde England” with the toilets being labelled – Knights & Damsels.

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Soon it was time to head off as we were only half way round on our walk and it had taken 4½ hours so far. (Lunch and drink though had taken longer than we had anticipated!)

On a lane we came to one of those stalls left unattended with an honesty box for stuff you buy. Although we didn’t buy anything there was a note hanging on it

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I think you can probably read it. Imagine that a colony of Wallabies once existed in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

This next pic looks simply like a stone bridge.

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Could be anywhere? No, this is quite a special place called “Three Shires’ Head”. It’s the point on Axe Edge Moor where the borders of 3 English counties meet: Cheshire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire. It’s an 18th century packhorse bridge over the River Dane; remember that’s the river that our Youth Hostel in its original incarnation used to drive the big water wheel that powered the mill machinery.

The rest of the route back had one difficult part. We came to a field of cows and of course we needed to be the other side. When you get close up to cows you realise just how big they are and how easily just 2 or 3 could cause you a lot of damage. You don’t mess with cows, you will lose! (Same for horses by the way – when our kids were younger we were walking across a field and a herd of horses surrounded us. Unsure of how to react, and being townies, we tried to push our way through. Man versus horse – another one you’re not going to win. Fortunately something took their attention and a small gap appeared so we could make our escape.) We skirted the herd of cows keeping close eye on them. Heads came up and a few started heading towards us. We took a bigger sweep out onto a farm track behind another wall before coming back into their field and heading for the stile at the other side.

And soon we were back at the hostel. Then it was evening meal, more backgammon & head off to bed for night 2. We liked this place.

 

Falling off my bike whilst moving at high speed

The first time I fell when moving fast, I was cycling along the side of the road through Brompton, on my way into London. I was in the cycle lane and there was a bit of a traffic jam. The cars were stationary but the cycle lane was clear so I was cycling quite fast. I was approaching a section of the road that had a Keep Clear sign, for cars to turn into a car park on my left. As I approached that section, I looked but nothing was turning so I kept cycling. All of a sudden, a big jeep thing swung quickly into the Keep Clear section and across my path into the car park. A millisecond before it would have hit me, I pulled on my brakes and skidded around so I was side on to the car. By the time it had disappeared into the car park, I had fallen sideways off the bike and skidded along the tarmac road, leaving the majority of my leg skin there. As this fall was post-cleats, the sudden pull of my body off the bike had been too fast for the shoes. I stood up, in my socks, and noticed that my cleats were still attached to the pedals on my bike! People rushed over, offering support and cursing the jeep driver. I stalked after him into the car park, in my socks, pushing my bike. I caught up with him and poked my head in the driver’s side.

“Are you going to say sorry?” I demanded.

“What’s wrong? Are you ok?” The man seemed worried.

“You just pulled in front of me and I had to brake really hard and I came off my bike.”

“O god, sorry! I didn’t see you.”

“EXACTLY!” I said, self righteously.

“But I, I didn’t see you.”

“Thats not ok. That doesn’t excuse you,” I ranted. “Why weren’t you bloody looking!?”

After a long rant, I mounted my bicycle, awkwardly because of the shoes on pedals and because I now realised that the seat had been shunted out of place, and flounced off, as best I could given the situation at hand.

The next time I fell off my bike whilst moving at speed was a similar situation. The cars were still at a set of traffic lights but the cycle lane was clear so I was cycling quite fast. A lazy mother was dropping her child off at school and instead of driving her into the school car park, she had obviously told her to jump out at the lights. The little girl, not looking of course, opened her car door just as I passed and almost knocked me out. I was thrown clean off my bike and onto the pavement. The edge of the door had ripped the skin between my little finger and ring finger apart and was bleeding all over. My arm felt broken and my leg had taken a bit of a pull in the wrong direction.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” I yelled at the little girl. In hindsight, this may not have been the best thing to say to a little girl.

Shell shocked, I struggled to my feet as the Mum came around from the drivers side and asked me if there was anything she could do.

“I think you’ve done enough!” I snapped, as I got on my bike and gingerly cycled away.

I had a bruise on my arm from shoulder to elbow which was deep purple and yellow and lasted for weeks. It wasn’t broken but I couldn’t really use it for the next two days.

Bloody kids.

The time I told a man off in the street

For a few years, I volunteered at a legal charity in London. It was on a road with lots of important looking buildings that were law firms and chambers and inns of court, etc. All very suits-and-ties. It’s a quietish road during the day as the solicitors and barristers are busy in their offices squirreling away. I worked at a desk which faced out onto this street.

One day I heard some people talking loudly. I leaned over to see what was going on. A cyclist was getting a telling off from two guys in suits standing next to a very flash car. I had cycled in that day so was inclined to be on the cyclist’s side, if there were sides to be had in this discussion. As it went on, the two gentlemen from the swanky car just got louder and the cyclist, if he was responding at all, was very quiet. I couldn’t hear the exact words they said so gave up being nosey and went back to my work. I noticed the cyclist pedalling off.

Back to work, thought I. I can still hear their voices. O well, block them out. Concentrate. Concentrate on this filing…. I can’t. They’re getting louder and louder. I can hear actual words. I’m on the second floor up, what can they be shouting about so loudly that I can hear them all the way up here?

I peered out of the window. They were shouting, one of them particularly, about the cyclist. Still. Just mouthing off about how much they thought he was an idiot.

Where do these people think they are?! You’re on a quiet street surrounded by offices full of suited educated men and women who do not conduct themselves in this manner. These loud men had suits on and a flash car. So I didn’t understand why they were acting like idiotic students. Didn’t they get it? I became incensed.

I couldn’t work because I was so distracted by them. Everyone was. It went on for fifteen long minutes. They must have honestly thought that everyone wanted to hear their inane nonsense.

“I’m going to tell them to shut up,” I announced, to questioning looks from my colleagues.

Down the stairs I went, out the door and headed over to them. They smiled, probably thinking I was going to tell them how impressed I was with their shoutyness and could they please take me for a ride in their expensive car because I’m a woman and therefore don’t need any more form of stimulation than a fancy car.

I did not ask them to take me for a ride in their fancy car. O no.

“Can you please keep your voices down, we’re all trying to work,” I said, to two stunned faces. I waited, no response….

“O, and you’re just assuming that it’s us?!” the loud one said finally, in a confrontational manner. He was starting down that road, you know, the one which consists of a lot of ‘you can’t prove it was me’ and ‘you’re jumping to conclusions because I’m young and have a flash car.’ He looked ready for a verbal fight and gave me his best ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ face.

“No. I know it was you. Because that’s my window (I gestured to my window) and I’ve been watching you for the last fifteen minutes,” I said.

Silence.

More silence.

And then I flounced. I flounced away. Because I could. Because they had just been royally told off by a girl.

And that is the story of when I told a man off in the street.