24 March 2013

Spring rolls into... Winter!

Spring arrives and the weather just gets worse! The return of snow was not what I had in mind for mid-March but that's what we got and that's what we had to make the most of! 

But before we get to the snow I'll step back a couple of weeks first. My cycle ride home from work on Monday March 11 took me all the way down the River Derwent cycle path from Derby to Borrowash, not a journey I do too often on my commute. And I'm rather pleased that I did - I was lucky enough to be able to watch a Barn Owl hunting near the river, just as the sun was setting! It wasn't the closest view I've ever had of a Barn Owl but any view is always a privilege. I repeated the same route on the following two evenings and on both occasions was treated to the joys of the owl. All good stuff!

Tuesday March 19 and, for me, the first real sign that Spring is here. On the ride to work I heard a Chiffchaff singing along the cycle path by the River Derwent, my first of the year. Interestingly, this is the exact same date and almost the same location as the first Chiffchaff I came across last year. A returning bird maybe? On March 22 2012 I saw my first Sand Martins of the year - I wonder if they will be waiting for me tomorrow morning? With this weather, I very much doubt it!

On Thursday, March 21, I reached the first cycling milestone of the year when the ride home from work took my mileage for the year past the 1,000 mile mark. I may not have set myself any cycling targets this year but getting the first 1k under my belt did feel rather good, especially with the weather we've had so far this year. 

So, back to the snow. The forecast on Wednesday evening of this week was for snow to hit the region late on Thursday evening and that's just what it did. By the time I set off for work on Friday morning the roads were covered with wet, slushy, snow and the cycle paths weren't much better. Using the mountain bike meant I had no problem with grip but the lack of full mudguards resulted in a rather wet ride! Further snow and also a bit of a thaw later in the day saw me arrive home in the evening soaked to the skin and with a bike that looked like it had been to hell and back. Some serious cleaning was needed - both for the bike and myself!

As if to rub salt into the wound, the Derby Telegraph printed another of my photos in that very day's edition... a photo that showed just what Spring should be like! It was taken on March 5 and shows Crocuses flowering in Alvaston Park.

Crocuses in Alvaston Park - 05 March 2013.

And that, dear reader, brings us back to this weekend... and yet more snow! Luckily, I wasn't at work yesterday so I was able to stay in the warmth of the house and watch the snow continue to fall, all day. The only time I ventured outside was to top up the bird feeders, which took quite a hammering yesterday. The birds were certainly very hungry.

Woodpigeon waiting for yet more food.

Goldfinches in the snow.

This morning the snow had eased a little and so we decided to get out for a little fresh air, and breakfast! The result was a walk of just over 5miles taking in part of Alvaston, the Blue Jay pub for breakfast, the River Derwent and then back to home. Although the snow had more or less stopped for much of the walk the sky remained very grey and dull, not ideal conditions for the camera but I did at least try. Some of the results are below...

Next weekend we change the clocks, it's Easter and we'll probably be flooded! It can only get better, can't it?

10 March 2013

February... I managed to raise the cycling mileage a little during the month with a total of 375 miles covered. I also logged my longest ride of the year so far, a rather feeble 26.23 miles on the mountain bike! Still, the year isn't supposed to be about clocking up a large number of miles by the year end, it's all about just enjoying being out on the bike. With that in mind, I'm happy with how it's all going so far.

One ride that I did put a bit of extra effort into was the commute to work on the morning of February 28. It had been very cold and frosty overnight and this had left the unmade cycle paths dry and firm - ideal conditions for a fast ride on the mountain bike. So, I left home at 7:00AM and headed off towards Elvaston Castle for an attempt at getting the "lap record" on the Strava web site for a 2 mile ride around the park! 

The best time logged on Strava had been 7mins 27secs, an average speed of 16mph. By the time I'd completed my loop it was down to 7mins 01sec! Not bad for an old 'un that, even after all these years riding bikes, still can't bunny hop the speed bumps I encountered on one part of the ride though!

A hot lap of the castle.


My aim of getting out with the camera more during this year isn't going quite as well as I'd hoped so far. The weather hasn't been good enough, I've been short of time and, well, I've just been plain old lazy! But, some encouragement to keep at it has come my way in the form of our local paper, the Derby Telegraph. They have printed two of my photos in recent weeks.

The first was the photo of Alvaston Lake I took back in January...

...the second was also taken in Alvaston Park, on one of the few sunny days we've had so far this year!

Hopefully as the year progresses I'll be able to post more photos here - if the weather allows that is! Right now... it's snowing once again!


And finally... we, or should I say Lynda, have changed our car again. I don't drive enough now to have too much of a say in what we have or when we change our cars! This one is, once again, another Ford Fiesta. It's a Titanium model, metallic silver, and just a few months old. 

The new car.