July 2020 Monthly Update

Field of wheat

Garry’s monthly update for July 2020, a busy, busy month!

I received a message via Instagram from a watch company earlier on in the month, asking me if I wanted to be an influencer for them! Really, I don’t even wear a watch! But hey ho I thought I’d see what it was all about, so I replied to them. Haha! What a con, I could buy one of their watches at a 50% discount, take a picture of myself wearing it (they’ve obviously not seen me!) and then they may, may! Post it on their website! Perhaps if they send me a watch for free, I may put a picture up on my website!

Garry’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow! Not quite it was a couple of weeks ago, and we all took ourselves! With zoos allowed to re-open last month, we decided to go for a family day out to our local zoo, Marwell. It was Indya’s first trip to a zoo, and mine and Julies first time back there in over 20-years! It was a great day out enjoyed by everyone. The adults probably enjoyed it more than Indya, although she did react when she saw the animals! And because of social distancing rules, the park was relatively quiet, giving us plenty of opportunities to see the animals. And great value at only £22.

Family
Photo opportunity
Other News

Sad news as far as my hip operation goes, my consultant, Miss Hook, is leaving and going to a different hospital! I must admit that I’m a bit upset about it, although pleased for her. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here today, without her! And it would have been nice to finish my journey back to health, with her. Maybe I should follow her to her new hospital! I look forward to meeting my new consultant. Whenever that is!!

I’ve decided to return to work! Not that I feel fully fit or really able to do too much! But with travelling pretty much out of the question! And no sign of my hip getting operated on this year, there really wasn’t much else to do! I’m not doing a lot and can only generally work until midday! But the lady who I’m working for at the moment is happy with that. So it suits us both.

What with returning to work, I’ve not been out on the bike so much! And besides, I get bored cycling the same places! The other thing is, everywhere seems to be so busy, possibly because most people are holidaying in the UK!

On one of my rides out, I got as far as Chichester, and stopped by the cathedral, wondering where I should cycle to? As I sat there on my bike, I could hear the Peregrine falcons that nest on the cathedral roof making a hell of a racket! I’ve heard it many times before, but this time as I looked up, I spotted one of the falcons perched on a parapet. As I sat there watching and listening, I noticed two other falcons, one on each corner of the tower. It’s times like this when I wish I had a good camera!

Bird on castle
One of the peregrine falcons
Book

My fifth book, which I’ve finally managed to write is now out and available to buy from Amazon. It’s my bicycle tour of Italy in 2010. Although I’d started it sometime last year, I finished it off when we were in lockdown. Maybe if we have a few more lockdowns, I could get a few more of my tours out on paperback!

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June 2020 Update

Boats

It’s not been a particularly busy month, but it’s still been good! I’ve been allowed to hold Indya again, with the introduction of “bubbles!” I went out on an excellent bike ride with friends, had a family meal in the garden. Social distancing observed on both accounts! Managed to get a haircut, and lockdown gets eased from next week! (July 4th) With pubs, restaurants, hotels and campsites all being allowed to open!

The government introduced support bubbles, and I was allowed to have Vicky and her family around, and not have to keep my distance! I was also allowed to hold Indya, it didn’t go too well though! Indya burst into tears! But then I suppose she’s only had her mum and dad for the past three months! Which let’s face it, is one-third of her life! It’s a bit of a shame because, before the lockdown, she was happy to go to anybody! Things have improved a bit, and she will now sit with me for a while, as long as she can see mummy! I thought it was going to be my excuse for not babysitting!

Man and Baby
Who are you!
Out and About

Not too much to say on the cycling front, this month, what with not being able to go away. Although I did ride to Portsmouth (for a change!) and had a good time there, watching the boats coming and going in the harbour. On the way home I went on a detour to Bosham, it’s always lovely there. On the harbour road, there was a pair of swans with their cygnets. Who I passed by without any problem on my way to the quay. On my way back, though, they had moved and sat all the way across the road. Leaving a narrow strip of tarmac between them and the water. As I tried to squeeze past them, one of the adult swans took umbrage and went for me! Causing me to end up in the water!

Swans
These were fine the first time I went passed

I went out on a lovely ride with my good friends Dave and Helen. The first time I’ve seen them since last year! It was only a short ride of 20-miles around the Southdowns, but very enjoyable. On the way home, we stopped off in a park, and managed to get a beer! It almost felt like things were back to normal! After that, it was back to Dave and Helens for something to eat, al fresco, where Julie also joined us.

Other News

We’ve had some superb weather with a mini-heatwave! And while there have been complaints from other seaside resorts, about overcrowding, and people not keeping their distance. I can’t say I’ve seen it here, yes it’s been busy. But on the beach, people seemed to be keeping their distance. It made me keep my distance! I’d generally cycle along the seafront at least once a day, but with it being so busy, I’ve kept away!

Pre-fab unit
A good sign that things are opening up

With the hot weather, I had my first family BBQ of the year, except it wasn’t a BBQ! I just made a simple Greek salad, which we sat outside to eat. And I managed to get Indya to sit on my lap, for a short while!

At the beginning of the month, barbers, and hairdressers had been shut for two months! And my hair was driving me mad, I was looking like the wild man of Bognor Regis! Not any more, after buying some clippers! Although I probably need to cut it again now!

On a slightly depressing note! It’s June, halfway through the year, we’ve just had the longest day! And I’ve not been away on one single camping trip! Or away at all for that matter! But to be honest, with all the problems, we’ve all had these past few months, it doesn’t matter. I’m just glad that everybody I know is safe and well!

Lockdown Easing

Good news with lockdown being eased even more in the coming week! With pubs, restaurants, hotels and campsites all being allowed to open! Not sure I’ll be rushing away though! The campsites are going to be heaving, and you probably have to book in advance, something I’m not too good at! And will they even allow solo campers, I mean, why should they? When they can get a couple or a family in the same area! It’s just not going to be the same this year! I know of at least one campsite that’s not going to open, their shower/toilet blocks! You have to be self-sufficient and have your own facilities! And one of my favourite campgrounds, Hollands Wood, in the New Forest, isn’t even going to open up this year!

Boats
Fishing boats in Portsmouth

As for hotels, what are they going to be like? Will they have restaurants open, could you get in there even if they do! And apparently, they’re talking about bringing breakfast to your room! Maybe I’d just have to do the hotel camping thing, although hotels these days all have heat/smoke detectors! It’s all going to be a bit strange! And as much as I don’t like it, I do understand the reasons behind it all!

June 2020update
Hotel camping in 2011

With all this in mind, I’ve sort of decided that I won’t be going away this year! Or maybe not until the end of the year. But then who knows, I may change my mind! And as I said last month, now would be a good time to get my hip sorted!

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First Long-Distance Bicycle Ride

Hills

My first ever long-distance bicycle ride was back in 2002. I’d been a heavy smoker and had smoked for much of my life. Smoking between 40/60 cigarettes a day, so giving up was a struggle! As a way of taking my mind off the fags, I started to ride my bike. Not for fitness, it was purely because trying to smoke while cycling was always hard! So cycling more made a lot of sense.

I’d given the cigarettes up for about six weeks, and could now cycle four or five miles! When some friends were off to Swanage, camping. I joked that I might ride my bike down to visit them! Well, the joke got a bit out of hand! And before I knew where I was, I was cycling to Swanage!

The Start

Deciding that I was going to cycle to Swanage, I needed to modify my trusty Marin. I bought a rack and some cheap panniers and attached them to my bike. Converting it from a mountain bike to a hybrid. I attached a tent and sleeping back, and off I set, on my epic ride! Not knowing if I would make it or not! But not being one to be beaten, I was determined to make it.

Bicycle
Garry’s Marin bike, a few years later on the Isle of Wight. Now with a front rack fitted

The first leg of my journey was a flat, 25-mile ride to Portsmouth. Finding my way to Portsmouth was easy! Finding my way through the city was another thing, and one I still struggle with today! Thankfully I met another cyclist, who knew the area. And got me to the Isle of Wight ferry. My route to Swanage would take me via the Isle of Wight. Which if you look at the map, is the most direct route! It also missed out a lot of busy roads and Southampton. Another city I probably would have got lost in! The forty-minute crossing to the Isle of Wight also gave me a chance to rest after my first 25-miles of cycling!

The Second Leg

Fully rested, and feeling fit again, sort of! It was time to disembark the ferry and start my ride across the island. Immediately I was confronted with a hill! Great, just what I needed! But I had to get up it to continue my journey! I put my bike in it’s highest gear, and started to slowly peddle up the hill! It seemed to go on forever! But once at the top, I had a nice downhill. Which unfortunately turned into another uphill slog!

That was pretty much, the story of the Isle of Wight! Uphill and downhill all the way to Yarmouth, where I would catch my ferry, off the island. It was only 15-miles, but it was a hard 15-miles! I was glad to reach Yarmouth and board the ferry, so I could rest once again!

Back on the mainland after crossing the Isle of Wight, I was in Lymington. Where I then rode through Christchurch and Bournemouth on busy roads. The roads weren’t as hilly as the Isle of Wight. But by now, I was finding it pretty hard going, and even the slightest of hills felt like mountains!

I’d made it to Sandbanks where I would get my last boat of the day. An old chain link ferry that takes you across the water from Sandbanks to Studland and my final leg! No chance of rest on this ferry, it only takes five minutes! I did, however, stop at a cafe and have sausage and chips! Before getting the ferry!

Ferry
The chainlink ferry between Sandbanks and Studland
The Final Leg

Across the water and on Studland, I set off on my final leg! I was now feeling pretty tired, but with only 10-miles to go, surely I could manage that? After all, I’d already cycled 70-miles!

The last 10-miles, across the Purbeck Hills, were the hardest, as you might expect! Even without cycling 70-miles, they would have been quite a challenge! The ride started off flat, but I could see the Purbeck Hills looming large in the distance!

The flat road didn’t last, and soon I was starting to climb! I reached the village of Studland and stopped at the shop for another rest! And a bottle of coke! But I couldn’t stop there all day! The only way to get up this hill was to keep cycling! Eventually, I reached the top! Stopping frequently, to catch my breath!

Hills water
Looking down from the Purbeck Hills

After conquering the mountain! I sat back and enjoyed freewheeling down the hill into Swanage, and the end of my epic ride! Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, the campsite wasn’t actually in Swanage! It was a couple of miles out of town! Will this ride ever end?

Oh well, let’s get these last miles out of the way! Those last few miles, where hard, very hard! All uphill! And I had to stop several (loads) times to catch my breath! Finally, though, I arrived at the campsite! Exhausted and worn out! But what a feeling, thinking that I’d cycled 80 miles all on my own without any help! Which was a bit of a surprise! I thought it was only going to be a 50-mile ride!

Field tents
The campsite at Acton
After The Ride

That evening I contemplated whether I should get the train home, or to try and cycle back! In the end, I decided to cycle it, after all, if it got too much, I could always hop on the train further down the line. Well, I managed to make it home without the train! Cycling another 80-miles! And without any training, or practice, and on my first attempt!

And that’s why when working out how long I might be away on a trip, I base it on cycling 80-miles a day.

All mileage on this trip was worked at a later date, apart from the finish milage. I never looked on the trip until I’d finished! And to this day, I still don’t look at my mileage until I stop!

May 2020 Update

Fishermans boat

Good news this month with the lockdown being eased! We’re now allowed to go out for unlimited exercise as many times as we like! With that in mind, I immediately made the most of it by getting out and about on my bike. And in the first three days, I cycled nearly 200 miles! With rides to Brighton, Arundel and Portsmouth.

Cathedral
Arundel cathedral

It was terrific to be able to get out and about on the bike, once more. Although I wasn’t exactly prepared on my first ride to Brighton!! Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to take anything with me! And as I’m not meant and don’t particularly want to go into any shops, I couldn’t buy anything! And what water I had on the bike was at least a year old! A hungry and thirsty ride! But really good to be able to get out. I started to take a packed lunch after that.

One thing I did notice on my rides was just how eerie town centres were! It was strange to be in the centre of Chichester on a Saturday afternoon with nobody around. It’s usually a busy, bustling place, this day there were two people! Very strange! Although there was one busy place, the drive-thru takeaways! They were very busy with all the fatties getting their burger fix that they’d not been able to get for a few weeks!

Teddy bears picnic
Thought this was rather amusing. It was in somebody’s garden
Staying Anonymous

On my ride to Portsmouth, I found a wallet on the road. After picking it up and placing it in my bar bag, I wondered what I should do with it? The only police station I knew of had closed down! And I certainly wasn’t going to ride around trying to find one! But if I came across one, all well and good. If I didn’t find one, I would destroy any cards in there and donate any money to charity, unless it was a lot of money, then I’d hand it in at my police station.

Anyway as I was cycling along Southsea seafront, I spotted two police officers and gave it to them.

“Can I give you this, please? I found it on Eastern road on my way in. I’ve not even looked at it yet, I just put it in my bag” I said

“Certainly sir” she replied, looking inside the wallet. “Would you like us to pass on your name, so they can thank you?”

“No it’s fine, thank you, just say, Garry.”

“Are you sure?” the other police officer asked

“Yes, Garry is fine.”

“What’s this, drugs? The first officer said as she inspected the contents of the wallet!

“Drugs! Really” I said.

“Yep, it certainly looks like it to me” as she proceeded to smell the small bag, that had come out of the wallet.

“I bet you definitely don’t want to give your name now, do you sir.”

“No, definitely not, I’m off, goodbye” and with that, rode off!

Other News

I’ve been busy making more videos using photos from some of my previous trips. Which unfortunately for everybody I’ve not yet published! Something for you all to look forward too!!

Watching the local news the other week, my mate Malcolm from the Isle of Wight suddenly appeared! He’d been stopped by the BBC and asked about the Covid-19 app, they were trialling on the island! Your 15-minutes of fame, Malcolm!

Man by water
Malcolm on TV

On a slightly depressing note, I fear most of the things I like to do will be a long time coming! Camping, travelling, and sitting at a bar! Although I hear campsites are going to open at the beginning of July, but will they take tents, or tourers? Going abroad doesn’t look particularly good, either! And any touring will probably have to be in the UK, that’s if I can find somewhere to camp! Anybody want to put me up in their garden? And as for sitting at the bar, that’ll definitely be a long time coming, if ever at all! Now would be a good time for me to go into hospital and have my operation!

On a brighter note, we’ve had some superb weather. Which, as the lockdown gets eased, we can enjoy more and more.

 

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