It’s a new bike. And it isn’t for me.

Jessie's new Islabike Beinn

The last of the little wheelers has gone. In its place is this rather Fab Islabikes Beinn bought today under cover of snow. Random’s little hotrock has passed from third to fourth hand, and I am sure it’ll carry on being a much loved wheeled sidekick.

Islabikes are great people to do business with. Everything they sell is for kids; from the ickle balance bike up to 3/4 size smart road bikes and everything in between. I was tempted by the rather fetching kids full-on MTB with a suspension fork but Isla talked me out of it.

Apparently unless you’re hucking major rock fests and shredding like Sam, you really don’t need anything but the fully rigid. I didn’t think this was a good time to try and justify my extensive suspended mountain bike collection.

The Beinn is lighter that the Spesh it replaces, has more gears with a far wider ratio, some proper off road tyres and oodles of clever designed-for-kids stuff. It even has her name on it – that’s proper factory.

Unusually I am even more excited than when a new bike is for me. Really looking forward to riding with Random (and hopefully her sister who also has a lovely bike but this has so far failed to spark her interest over anything more scary than forest tracks) when we can see the ground again.

It was also more than reasonably brilliant to see her face light up when she realised we could take it home today. It is on this cheery note I shall end, possibly forever due to the high likelihood of certain death on tonight’s FoD ride.

I’d tried being sensible about bikes and riding. It’s a lost cause to be honest.

All I want for Christmas is…

Snow. Finally. Oh Smashing

…. well quite a lot considering. Considering the endless collisions of my legendary impatience and rampant kleptomania are realised in roof to rafters shiny things. Even so, would it be unreasonable to ask Santa to provide an overall’d man to knock jauntily at my door come January 2nd?

And before I could even enquire of his business he would declare “Hi, I’m an out of work painter and decorator. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to use my skills in every room of your house. No payment will be accepted, and there is only one condition before I start. That you let my mate Bob here” [reveals tool wielding sidekick] “to re-plumb all your bathrooms“.

Bit of a stretch for Santa do we think? In that case I shall settle for Christmas to be a bit less Christmassy. Oh I’m not asking for miracles; rampant consumerism is a tide that cannot be turned, Slade on repeat from October appears institutionalised and I’ll even accept that the odd medically dependant may miss nativity plays, BUT I’m pretty damn sick of the weather.

Nothing wrong with a bit of snow at this festive time. No problem with that. Pelting family members with snow isn’t without merit. Snowmen with humourous attachments never fail to raise a smile*, and a world decorated in virgin white is worth a second look.

But this is starting to get a bit sodding tedious. Only a few months ago, a gaggle of us were risking hypothermia at Easter. And tonight was my tenth cosecutive dog walk at below zero. In fact this evening’s stroll was a balmy -2 which compared favourably to a couple of close to minus double digit trudges last week. And while not suffering “trench todger” is welcome, the four inches of snow that’s fallen since lunchtime is not.

The dog tho – he bloody loves it. Snow is canine catnip, and nothing short of the full field trudge is going to do. 7pm the dog is nosing my elbow and giving me a look I’ve started to think of as “clubbed seal pup“. It’s another ten minutes before I’m suited up in the entire contents of my winter wardrobe, old motorcycle gloves, two pairs of socks, wellies and ‘Benny from Crossroads” bobble hat.

Murf already has his coat on and shows his impatience by launching out of the door, failing to remember how icy it is before aqua-pawing straight across the drive and into the opposing hedge. That’s kind of how I feel about riding my bike right now. Yesterday we decided it was too icy, and tomorrow will probably be too snowy. It’s the safe decision, but I’m damn sure it’s not the right one.

I can’t even commute to work unless the ambulance could drop me off on the way to A&E. If it’s too damn slippy to remain upright in your size 10 chunky welly, I don’t hold out much hope for massive traction from 23cc mostly slicks. So it’s walking the dog, night after night in the freezing bloody cold. And it’s three months until Spring.

So here’s an idea. Christmas is all about giving isn’t it? Thinking about what the receiver would like, and how that might – and there’s always a little bit of this – make your life better as well. On that basis I’ve decided to buy Murf a treadmill.

* or a carrot. Or whatever else comes to mind. I’ve always been a fan of the broccoli wanger myself.

Fridge Magnet

In news uninteresting enough that even the Hereford Times would refuse to run it*, we’ve had to spend so much money on a new fridge/freezer there is no cash left to fill it. Finally though, my beer fridge has been released from a two year captivity where it was forced to freeze dangerous vegetables . I had taken to calling it Terry Waite, while fighting a losing battle to locate even a single micron of non brocolli’d space being available to cool a much needed beer.

The new fridge is a bit of a loomer. First Carol insisted on the blitzkrieg washing machine and now we have a floor to ceiling nightmare blocking out most of the available light, and intimating it is somehow more intelligent that me. Yes, this latter day HAL must be at least partially sentient with the instruction manual having a similar page count and level of technical detail as the operating procedures for a Boeing 737.**

Anyway the vastness of the words is mirrored by an internal space that’d easily – and happily if I’m any judge of its evil fridgey face – swallow a small child. Not having one to hand, I was forced to poke my head into the snow white abyss to get a first hand experience of the latest cold storage technology. Immediately obvious were TWO separate compartments to house stuff that’s meant to be green. And I’m not talking beer bottles here.

One of these hated vegetable repositories – in the words of those knowledgeable in fridge-speak – is a humidity controlled ‘crisper‘. Now that is indeed clever, and to prove I’m not some five-a-day denier, it is now brim full of the finest King Edward tubers and a shaker of salt. The curmudgeon of doubt shall only raise his voice should the promised cripsing not deliver my favourite beer accompaniment first thing tomorrow. I’m not even asking it to put them into a packet.

Anyway back to the point – or in this case bottle – in hand. Having been deprived of the beer fridge for all this time, not only has entirely necessary repository for ice cold beverages been cast adrift, the cultural*** loss of performance art in an entirely new media genre could be even more significant.

I was working in the vanguard of a previously under-represented fusion of history and moist glass re-enacting great historical battles through the medium of domestic appliances. I know, when laid out in such simple terms, it’s hard to believe that even with all the internet hosted shit nowadays, no one else is inspired by such a beautiful juxtaposition.

For example my “Dunkirk” had the plucky British beers retreating rapidly but steadfastly to the rear of the fridge being pushed hard by hard charging Becks lagers. Artfully placed were the occasional 25cl French beer lying on their side with a little white flag on the cap, while a couple of Budweisers’ were torn on which side to fight for. As for the Belgium beers they were nowhere to be seen, and a crate of Kronenbergs could be seen loitering in the salad tray changing their labels to something with umlauts.

Even better was my “Yalta Summit” which had a complex distribution of all the major European beers. Sadly I decimated the Polish section one night after a particularly thirsty ride. Art imitating Life eh?

Worryingly even on receiving the freedom of the fridge, I’ve nothing but nasty lagers to celebrate its return to a proper purpose. All my liquid therapy nowadays seems to be grape related with occasional forays into warm beer generally with “organic” in the title.

I’ve thought about this for a bit. Wondered if maybe there’s something deep and meaningful in matching drinking preferences to mental states. Statistically grouping the poison you imbibe to make some kind of sense of the world. But, after due consideration, there is only one conclusion I can draw from this disinterest in gassy lagers.

I am getting old. In fact I may already be there.

* While exposure to the banality of local papers partially prepared me for this fine weekly publication, it was still shocking to read “Old Person Dies. After Illness”. I kid you not.

** This stuff is beginning to worry me. Where will it end? “No sir that’s not a radiator, it’s a personality enhanced heating system augmented with the latest AI, and for a small upgrade the on board raconteur chip can gurgle like Peter Ustinov”

*** I cannot call it art. My friend Dave – who is a proper galleriest – tells me art can be anything you like. Most of the engineers I know insist “it is only art if it includes colouring something in“

The Aluda Triangle

It wasn’t long ago that I bought a new camera. It wasn’t long after that when I lost it. It’s either nestled in the woods below the Malvern hills, or trousered in some scrote’s pocket up top.

Entirely in keeping the Law so well espoused by Sod, it was ejected on the only descent post which I failed to check for continuing velcro encasement.

Frustrating as the loss certainly is, a new phenomenon it certainly is not. For ever me and my stuff have suffered geographical separation at an escalating rate of “oh shit not again“. The current trade deficit must run to thousands, with only marriage and occasional outbreaks of common sense to keep it below eye wateringly tragic.

I cannot – and dare not – catalogue the Generation Game carousel of carelessly abandoned chattels, but let’s run a whistle stop tour of the highlights; five pairs of Oakleys’, three sets of expensive prescription glasses, a library of books abandoned in all corners of the world, a bridegroom in the UK, a good friend in France*, a car and then nearly my life at Universal studios, myself a hundred times in the woods, expensive watches, cheap watches, other people’s watches, two pairs of shoes in one week, money, credit cards and my wedding ring.

Twice. In one week. That week being our honeymoon. Not possible to do something more dumb that that you may think? Try offering “Yeah sorry, but it doesn’t mean anything” in mitigation.

On reaching a million, I stopped counting lost car keys and although there’s a rumour my random redistribution of possessions is somehow less chaotic than previous years, this is analogous to an arsonist only setting fire to one building at a time.

I may lose less, but it is worth more. And while there’s a part of me somehow proud of such ineptitude, the bit with the wallet in it craves a solution, a system, some kind of magnetic personality into which I can orbit cherished things.

God I’ve tried. Systems, post it notes, the three-pocket-pat “spectacles, testicles, wallet”, not leaving the house with anything valuable. None of it works, this year I’ve lost both the kids at some point, and once properly abandoned the dog in a Forestry car park.

And it shouldn’t be hard really. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but I have clothes with pockets and bags with zips. Coping strategies include the tool wall in my workshop which was designed not for proud display of an extensive hammer collection, but to provide a fighting chance of locating the backup mallet once the first one has disappeared.

I have a theory and that is that none of this is my fault. Surprised? No, me neither. But let me hypothesise a little more. Last week my security pass was on a desk in a small room. At no point was the door opened**, no obvious thievery was at play, false floors and hidden compartments entirely failed to materialise.

But the pass still de-materialised. Gone. Not on the desk, not in my bag, not sucked into an air conditioning vent, not reduced to atoms by a passing death ray. No, just gone, away with the fairies, flipped into a different dimension, very possibly pining for the fjords.

Not even a man skilled in the art of being entirely flipping useless could manage that. So I give you the only possible answer, what we’re talking about here is nothing short of “THE ALUDA TRIANGLE“. Exactly like the famed Bermuda Triangle only not quite as big, not in the same place and with less planes in it. Otherwise, a spitter.

I shall just pause for a moment to bathe in your open mouthed amazement. Slap-Headed you shall be – as was I – when struck by the simplicity of the solution.

Somewhere in this shadowy void swirls all that has been lost, forgotten, discarded and abandoned. I fully expect to be re-united sometime when I am appropriately worthy and/or dead.

If it is – and I am every hopeful – the former, make your way to my virtual doorstep for some previously enjoyed items. They’ll be nearly new, barely used and of no use to me at all.

As even someone with six bicycles and only a single pair of legs can see that nineteen pairs of sunglasses, fourteen watches, five hundred and eleven socks and a four foot cuddly model of “Roger the Rabbit” is far too heavy a personal inventory.

* For two days. He found me eventually which considering that a) there were no mobile phones back in those days and b) I was not only in the wrong train station but the WRONG COUNTRY was a bloody outstanding effort. For which I rewarded him with a small Yorkshire sized beer.

** Even tho it was a very small room, too full of people operating hot electronics in the pursuit of some boredom challenge. Anyone opening that door would have been crushed by a few of us making a run for it.

Al the Unflown

Garway December 2010

Three times I have trudged up steep hillsides encumbered by expensive pieces of moulded plastic, and three times have I descended same hill without so much as a sniff of being able to launch them into the slope.*

It’s been nearly a month since a windless day scuppered my last attempt. Winter arrived early for Christmas, and appears to be hanging around for a while yet. And while I’m stupid enough to inflict trench-todger in sub zero temps on a mountain bike, even I can see standing still on the highest and windiest point around isn’t going to be a lot of fun. Especially as access tends to be via untreated, broken up doubletracks on a gradient.

Still day off, monster westerly forecasted, above zero for the first time in weeks – surely portents of a successful day ahead. The lack of actual blowy weather against the lies on the Interweb was nothing more than a back-story to the main event of actually getting there.

My faux-by-four may be lambasted by Landrover beards’ and the like, but I’m still amazed at the stuff it gets up. Our road is a good start since one good freeze closes it to anything 2 wheeled drive that’s not a tractor. The steep, ice-encrusted slope was another, shimmied up there with only increasing revs demonstrating how hard the 4WD was working. I was keen to engage the manly diff-lock, but apparently that’s not something to be attempted while teetering on the edge of traction half way up at 15% slope.

Had I not been on board the dithering bus to unflown-central, the bloody glider would have been at least briefly committed to aviation. But no, the wind died and with it my hopes of anything other than flinging bits of foam about. It’s no much about flying then, more throw/sigh/collect as I’ve shown below:

The Fling.

Garway December 2010

The Brief Period Of Aviation.

Garway December 2010

The Inevitable

Garway December 2010

The Trudge of Shame

Garway December 2010

Always worth the walk for the view tho

Garway December 2010

Eventually the wind circled round nearly 180 degrees creating an instant competition of who could fly a glider back down the slope and end closest to the truck.

It would be unfair of me to gloat as befits the winner. Let’s just say my victory was sweeter because it included a piece of precision flying where I dumped the foam wing on top of the only tree for about 9 miles. Actually that’s not true, there is another spiky number some way off to the south side. Ask me how I know.

On arriving home, I couldn’t but help notice the gale now raging at the front gate. So before I contact deed pole, I need to decide on “Al the Unflown” or “Al the sodding Weather Jonah“. Honestly it’s enough to make me reconsider the planes with bloody great fans on the front. Although the last time I tried that it didn’t end terribly well either.

Ho Hum, beer time methinks.

* Most proper flyers throw them off the slope. I’ve found it saves time to just crash them straight away and get it over with.

That’s new then.

There is much love for newness. We a’e all constantly beseeched to embrace change. New is cleaner, brighter and somehow better. Built is obsolescence is the marketeers’ wet dream. The true cost of disposal are lost in the economics of shiny.

My loyal and – I can only surmise – medicinally enhanced readers may register surprise at my stout resistance to the pull of the new. Hard to reconcile this position from a man who disposes of bicycles at speeds close to light.

Here’s the deal; some new experiences are not welcome. And while avoidance of camel buggary, the upper-classes and time trialling are simple even for a man short of patience and sanity, others creep up on you before unleashing their horrible newness.

Chill Blains of the todger. That’s one. In fact, the argument could be closed right there. The juxtoposition of a much anticipated warn shower striking frozen gentleman’s regions can be aptly summarised thus: “FFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

-5 is not a super temperature to begin a night ride. Frankly it’s not even a good time to be outside. And yet here were the magnificent seven presenting themselves in various genres of a fashion crime, shivering and looking for excuses to go straight back home.

Fair amount of scope for that. Frozen mechs could be thawed by a desperate wee, but stuck cables proved trickier. Freewheels were gluey with thickening grease, fluid froze in brake lines, pistons in calipers*

Trails were fantastic though, when we could get to them. Access was via icy fireroads which claimed more than one victim. The normally impressive array of lights were displaying all sorts of new things, although the old, tired idea of illumination didn’t appear to be one of them.

Cold batteries sent high-precision electronics into winter meltdown. After a few descents I learned to blink in sequence with the flashing approximation of lumens on the bar.

Eventually even turning on occasionally became too much for the poor thing, leaving me to divine the trail with the help of a fading helmet torch and occasional bark.

Stamping feet, and our own special-needs version of the sprinkler did little to return warmth to extremities bone-frozen by the unrelenting cold. Increased heart rates as dry, grippy singletrack morphed into tyre sliding ice sheets didn’t help much either.

After a couple of hours, we called halt before at least one rider shaped puzzle was ice entombed for the next generation of Channel 4 discovery programs: “An amazing find, the human shaped object is clinging to a tree, mouth open and wearing shorts. He may have been in a tribe, but appears he has been abandoned”

Damn straight. Not hanging around when there is a nice warm shower waiting at home.

* This is not a euphamism. Although later it could have been,

Frozen Mech’s at dawn

Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride

Today I was an extra in the horror flick of that name. For two hours, my role was to squeal “Is this the bit where I die? No, must be here then? Oh, ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH”

Crash. Fade to black.

Thankfully as it was only made up* I didn’t actually die, but it wasn’t through a lack of opportunity. The frozen trails of last weekend were still rock hard but now encased under a thick layer of ice.

Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride
I knew this, and have ridden enough to understand the frictionless consequences of the freeze/thaw cycle, but still I had to ride. A crap week at work leaked into the weekend and was met head on by a Saturday hangover, which made me want to chop my head off.

So half the weekend gone and my only contribution to Thespian services was a world-weary re-incarnation of Mr Grumpy that the family didn’t deserve.

Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride

Portents of what lay ahead were all around. Firstly de-icing the car was a twenty minute job which made me late enough, before further time was wasted while kettle-tech(tm) gained me access to the trailer locks.

Locks that had re-frozen by the time I arrived at Jezz’s gate some 20 minutes later. No matter as so was his gate. Going to be one of those rides is it?
Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride

It was. Pretty much the same as last week in conditions similar, and yet entirely more menacing. Ice was everywhere, on the roads, packed down on high traffic trails and hidden under guilty leaves.

Descending speeds came down, but it was that or ploughing into gates/rocks/people. Brakes were more scary, the front one especially. Trying to stay relaxed while all things pucker shaped are puckering up was more than a little mentally challenging.

Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride

But really this is a matter for rejoicing. Two consecutive bluebird rides. The mud and sludge and grim of winter belayed by a protracted cold snap. The terror of hissing tyres on ice tempered by the relief of remaining upright and the same shape.

Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride Frozen Mechs at Dawn Ride

The freezing eyes of a blinking shimmy from the ridgeline bringing forth the inner warmth of this landscape being your playground. The realisation that the seasons have truly changed, and the joy that the next one is spring.

You’d not get me out on the road bike tho. That’d be lethal!

* In the same way as economic forecasts, household budgets, cost of bicycles and the answer to “how much did you have to drink last night” are merely glittery cast-offs from some boring place called “Truth“.

You have to laugh….

Malverns @ -7
That's me. Looks cold eh? There's a reason for that.

… mostly at yourself. Often at your friends. And increasingly at the Met Office PR team who appear to have their credence radar permanently set to “pratfall“.

First we had the BBQ summer which triggered floods not seen since Noah was a lad. Then we had the promise of a mild winter at which point the entire country was transformed into a set for Narnia. And now this- “2010 is the warmest year since either a) records began or b) 1997 depending on how hard we’ve hit the cosmic fail button

A logical counterpoint would suggest the poor old tea leave diviners have been chronically misrepresented. Firstly the sizzling summer was a 60% probability which is about as statistically significant as a shampoo poll. Then the Arctic conditions of this year were the result of a freakish crashing of hitherto unseen variables, camping out well past any computer model could predict.

And yes this is the warmest year on record. If you look at medians and not specific events. Right now though, I seem to be riding into , through and shiveringly out of such events which is rather fab during, but motivationally crippling before and toe poppingly painful afterward.

Sunday, 7am. -7.4. Five minutes loading the bike and I’m already late. This is mainly due to an unscheduled pet activity; namely defrosting the dog. 7:30 warmed by coffee and central heating, I struck out onto icy roads with the temperature gauge beeping -8 and suggesting the Siberian engine setting.*

No matter. At least the mud shall be temporarily banished under an ice crust. and no other silly bugger is going to be icy toe side of a warm duvet. More right than wrong, but the hills were alive with the sound of nutters’ knee knocking by the time we’d been over half way out and back.

Every trail was rock hard and tho – where foot traffic was negligible – pretty damn grippy. All the time being crunchy under wheel and framed by a child-painted blue horizon. Wales was full of snow and foreboding, but due east was just lightly dusted and crackling. In the middle, we rode on ridge and woody singletrack that felt like summer from the axles down. Above that both Jezz and I were swathed in layers of expensive fabrics and heroic grins.

And rather than our normal “got to get back, got to get back, got promises to keep” approach to Sunday morning rides, we took it easy, took some pictures, stood astride fantastic bicycles feeling pretty damn good to be taking in some altogether more fantastic views. Lots of climbing, quite a few kilometres, all felt pretty fast which bodes well for when cold and dark becomes difficult and boring.

Normally late January when motivation is in thrall to sofa suck. Which makes the daft nonces who wait until the new year to start winter riding all the more unfathomable. The Malverns are a tough gig at the best of times, which January absolutely isn’t. Early this year the hills were full of huff and puff, until New Years’ resolutions wilted in the face of not being arsed.

Not us. We’ll be getting up at stupid o’ clock. Stumbling about in the dark cursing at the stupidity of it all. Getting wet, cold and unpleasantly windswept. Chipping off frozen mud because the hosepipe’s been frozen for six weeks. Looking at the confused faces of our dear ones who have all sorts of good reasons why we shouldn’t, and then doing it anyway. And it’ll be good – sometimes great, sometimes averagely ok but always epic – once tyres hit the dirt.

I’ve said it before, but it needs repeating- Mountain biking is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.

* I have a photo of that in case you think fibbing for the sake of strutting a heroic stance may be at play here. I can’t show it to you though right now for which explanations may follow. It really depends on whether the embarrassment falls below a level acceptable for public ridicule.

Strangers

Post FoD Night Ride

My previous FoD night ride started in daylight and ended in darkness. This time around pitch black was wrapped round my shivering preparations, before even a wheel was turned. It may still be a month until the Winter solstice, yet it feels as if we’re there already.

Other differences presented themselves out of the darkness. Firstly, a nearly double digit turnout of riders I’d not seen for two months. The lumens’ arms race showed no site of abating, although it has branched off in interesting technological directions. Of all those branches, I am hopeful that the “Mickey and Minnie Ears” evolution is subject to brutal natural selection.

Following that helmet light setup put me in mind of a Disney rave with the mice off their faces on acid. This was an unwelcome distraction to a man already much distracted by a trail surface offering the traction properties of polished glass.

Post FoD Night Ride Post FoD Night Ride

In one of those ‘it’ll be funny afterwards’ ironies, my toes were frozen as were my fingers and probably my ears. Although that was nothing more than a guess since feeling had left the helmet some time ago. The trails however were not frozen. They offered a number of alternatives; 1) deep mud but rideable 2) slidey mud sort of rideable 3) large puddles hiding patching of mud rideable if you were lucky and 4) Chiltern-esque stretches of absolutely no point in even trying to ride.

We did of course. And much falling off and general finger pointing followed. Even the Singlespeeder was cut a bit of slack until the full moon rose hauntingly above the treetops, and it became clear that Adam’s Facebook profile reads “Likes: Singlespeeds, exploding knees, beards and werewolves“. Can’t turn you back on ’em for one second – it’ll be off with your derailers or something even more ghastly.

Post FoD Night Ride Post FoD Night Ride

There was plenty of time for piss taking, excuses and the new sport of precision mincing because this ride group isn’t exactly motivated by speed. Oh sure, it rambles along at a decent pace but stops are not mere halts for breath catching, more an opportunity to select the next victim. Compare this to Malvern rides which are all a bit “wham bam thank you mam” and non the worse for it, but there’s fun to be had with nine people and no mercy.

Everyone fell off. Some more than others. Some – smug mode – not at all until the penultimate descent on a fast, flowy trail barely hovering above the water table: “oooh nice drift, I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve….. not got it”. It was almost peaceful as I slid down the trail on my arse, the bike long gone behind a distant tree.

A new ending started tonight. Final grind up a fireroad to access a cracking bombhole hidden deep in the woods. Again many of the group were in the vanguard of “All Mountain Free-Mincing” while a few of us just rode down the bloody thing. From below, the circling lights of the lesbian horde put me in mind of a very camp UFO experience “ooohhh I’m not sure about that, noo you go first

Honestly, just get on with it man. They did. Eventually. Proper cold at rides’ end. Six desperately defrosted cars and hurriedly packed their gear. Three had a more leisurely experience via the pub.

Post FoD Night Ride

I love the FoD in the dry when it’s fast and whippy and you can rocket through the trees for ever without riding the same trail. I’m quite surprised to find much of that love extends to the muddy season as well. C’mon winter, I’m ready for you.

Woody

Winter Colours

Odd looking thing isn’t it? Back in the days before the tiny chip inside the camera sensor became sentient, such an effect would have required a depth of knowledge around focus and field. Whereas now one just twiddles the idiot dial to “1cm macro” and hits the “go” button.

What’s stranger still is that a few of the default settings are actual quite useful. The “Pan Focus” essentially selects a depth of field from the front to the back of the image making everything in between quite sharp.

Although sometimes it has to use such a punchy ISO to get there, and the resulting noise is a bit irritating. Still I have two children, so irritating noises are pretty much the background day to day hum 😉

Winter Colours Winter Colours

This cold spell (or in Daily Mail Speak “We told you all those hand wringing hippies were talking shit about global warming“), will see the final few leaves – clinging onto frozen branches – soon to join the mouldering winter carpet. So I thought I’d best all snappy with the new camera before naked trees and dead stuff dominates the landscape.

Winter Colours Winter Colours

I’m pretty impressed with the results (if not the composition, there’s only so much the Camera can do to be fair) in decent light. Focussing seems pretty quick, two macro settings are really spoiling me, the jury is out on black-dog mode and low light images tend to the grain, but generally bob on. Battery life appears to be an issue compared to the S80, but this may be either unrealistic expectations, or something more warranty related.

Winter Colours Winter Colours

Talking of woody, that’s where I’m off tonight. Minus anything with a biting north wind make the Malverns Hills a tad bleak for night riding, so it’s off to the Forest where frozen mud and much merriment awaits.

I wasn’t sure which clothes to wear, so decided to go with “everything I own“. The only downside of such a fashion choice is I dare not strip off in those dark woods – It would be a cross between American Werewolf in London and Deliverance!