After wimping out of riding this morning because it was sleeting, once the sun peeped out very briefly I thought I’d better get on with it.
Back to Corsham via the Post Office, and then into Previous. This is a new shop, selling vintage stuff, cards, gifts and so on, with a small cafe upstairs.
I headed straight for the cafe, keen to see if it had improved under its new owners. Last time I came here, I was with my family for a quick lunch. We order soup and sandwiches- nothing complicated- but waited about 30 minutes for it to finally appear. If you’ve ever seen the Victoria Wood sketch, featuring Julie Walters, as a very old, very slow waitress, you’ll appreciate our hilarity as our waitress finally brought the food saying “One soup… and … another … soup”. *
Today service was much quicker, and they even had my favourite Almond milk for my mocha. On enquiring about vegan cake I was told they always have 1 vegan option and 1 gluten free option which is great. We both searched all the labels and found the flapjack was marked as Vegan. Like the granola bar from Grounded this was pretty solid, but still pretty good.
It was still cold when I came out, but the warmth of knowing I’d finished this year’s Coffeeneuring challenge kept me going all the way home.
Just under 5 miles cycled, almond milk mocha and solid flapjack consumed, warm happy glow achieved.
Recap to come!
* If you haven’t seen it, go google it. It’s worth it!
Sunday dawned, bright and sunny, and still I was reluctant to get my bike out. “It looks a bit chilly”, “It’s nearly lunchtime”, ” Want to come with me???” Honestly I was worse than a whinging toddler. It was only the thought of getting my penultimate Coffeeneuring trip of 2018 safely in the bag with still a week to go that got me out of the door.
I headed back to Corsham, and went into their branch of Grounded.
I was too late for the Vegan breakfast (too much whinging earlier!) but I was delighted when they told me they did have a cake that was vegan. Admittedly it was the healthy (and solid!) looking granola bar, but still a cake.
Despite my misgivings regarding where I parked my bike, of course it was fine when I came back to it. I popped into the Co-Op for a few things whilst I was there and then headed back home.
Corsham was looking extremely photogenic in the autumn sunshine, so I obliged and took a photo. Sadly no peacocks today.
On my way back up Hartham Lane I was struck by the redness of apples against the blue sky – so of course had to stop for another photo. No wonder I’m such a slow cyclist!
Stats:- 5.2 miles cycled, 4 photographs taken, 1 soya mocha, 1 solid (but vegan) granola bar, 1 ride left to do!
After last week’s soggy ride, I was hopeful for a drier day despite combining Coffeeneuring with swimming again. I headed back to Chippenham, made it into the session with 40 minutes to swim and splashed for 1400 metres which I was very pleased with!
Turning towards town I remembered the steps I encountered last time and set off in a different direction to avoid them. This put me onto the Wiltshire Cycleway for a short distance which meant I cycled through the park (where parkrun is held every Saturday), past a slightly strange statue, and ended up in town right by the bike parking having avoided a busy section of road.
I headed to Caffè Nero, one of my favourite of the coffee chains, because this cafe is less crowded than most others, they always have friendly staff, they have a good range of drinks & food AND they let dogs in. We don’t have a dog, but I love seeing other people’s pets sat in the cafe.
I ordered my now usual soya mocha, and whilst they were sadly already sold out of their tomato, pesto & vegan cheese toasty they had plenty of their (accidentally vegan) mince pies.
I headed for home, back up the busy road, and whilst waiting at the traffic lights to go under the train line through a viaduct designed by Brunel, I suddenly spotted this sign on the pavement:-
Pretty sure of my Highway Code, I turned onto the pavement, safely away from the traffic, and rejoined the road after the junction. I spotted this sign again at another roundabout further up the road, and again managed to safely avoid a busy junction. I was very pleased with myself, but the glares I got from the pedestrians I met on the footpath were of the “if looks could kill” variety. I’m certain they all went home complaining about cyclists on pavements, as I’m pretty sure most people don’t know what the sign means (unless they’re a cyclist!)
Anyway, to recap. Another successful Coffeeneuring trip, to Caffè Nero in Chippenham
10 miles cycled in total
1 soya mocha and 1 mince pie eaten
3 new sneaky (and safe!) shortcuts discovered
6 glares-from-pedestrians received (that I spotted – could have been more!)
In a break between the heavy showers today I thought I’d dash to Corsham, my closest town, for a swim and then a coffee for this week’s Coffeeneuring trip. The swimming pool there is part of a very recently rebuilt centre that now includes the library, a police station, sports centre, climbing wall and of course, a cafe. Sounded perfect.
I waited for the very heavy rain to pause, then dashed out quickly before I saw sense and changed my mind. I hadn’t appreciated that the heavy showers might have stopped, but the water hadn’t had time to drain off the roads yet, and so less than half a mile from home saw me freewheeling through the middle of an enormous puddle, feet as high as they could get off the pedals, and yet I still got wet up to my ankles. The thought of having to put wet socks and trainers back on after swimming nearly had me turning back for home, but the promise of this year’s Coffeeneuring patch kept me going. There were 4 big puddles in total on this lane that I had to cycle through, but once you’re wet, you’re wet, right?
Reaching The Springfield Centre, I was amused that mine would be the only bike outside in the enormous rack (can’t think why), so I chose what I thought was the best spot, in the corner shielded by the roof and two walls.
My swim was good, but as feared it was truly horrible redressing in cold damp socks. I reckoned I’d earned a good mocha. And maybe even a cake. Or lunch. Or … Oh. So turns out the vegan options were somewhat limited in this tiny cafe, with certaintly no vegan sandwiches in the fridge and nothing to show there was anything else available for lunch. Lady appears behind the counter. Conversation goes thus:-
Me “Hi. I’d like a mocha please. Do you have any non-dairy milk?”
Lady Behind Counter “We’ve got soya milk.
Me “Brilliant. Can I have a soya mocha please?”
LBC (firmly) “Well – the chocolate powder’s not dairy free”.
Me (innocently) “Really?”
LBC grabs the catering size tin and squints furiously at the ingredients, desperate to prove her point. After a long pause she says hopefully “cocoa butter???”
Trying not to laugh I politely say “Oh no – that’s from the cocoa, that’s not dairy”.
With a triumphant replacing of the tin firmly at the back of the counter, LBC delivers her knockout blow
“Well we’ve run out of it, anyway.”
So that’s how I ended up drinking a Butterscotch Soya latte, smelling of chlorine, with damp feet. I didn’t dare ask about vegan cake, so chose some ready salted crisps. This may be my least impressive photo from this year’s Coffeeneuring campaign.
Coming back out, I discovered that even with my carefully selected parking spot, I still had to ride home on this:-
The ride home was uneventful, as the puddles had mostly drained away, but was completed with damp feet, trainers, hair and backside.
Springfield Centre cafe
5.1 miles ridden
1 butterscotch soya latte (tasted nicer than it sounds, but sadly served in disposable cup)
1 packet ready salted crisps
1 irritated cafe employee
2 unexpectedly damp parts of me (feet and backside!)
Apparently today is World Vegan Day – it was news to me, but obviously it made it a highly appropriate day for some veganeuring. I really wasn’t feeling it today, I had a day off but could happily have just gone back to bed. I eventually persuaded myself I’d feel much better if I headed outside to do something, whatever it was! I didn’t feel like heading to a cafe so I made a drink, grabbed a flapjack, stuck my bike helmet on and headed out the door before I could change my mind. “Coffeeneuring without walls” is totally a thing, and was made for trips like this. It was probably intended for slightly more adventurous rides, but hey – we all do what we can.
I stuck to quiet lanes after my recent fright at a roundabout, and yesterday’s incident with a 4×4 whilst out running, and found myself cycling along a lane I used to regularly cycle on. It was the long way home from preschool, and in those days I had my chunky 4 year old son on the back who had demanded the “pretty way home” whilst I wanted the quick route home for lunch. Chunky four year old is now a long, thin nearly 6′ tall 17 year old! The bike was the same one I used to ride though – still going strong!
I stopped in a field just off the road, parked the bike up and had a wander about whilst drinking my mocha and munching my flapjack. The sun came out, the birds were singing, and I felt peaceful and calm.
Rather than heading into the village and the busier road home, I turned back the way I’d come. I couldn’t resist cycling right around a triangular junction (because I could) and I even took a slight detour in order to incorporate a hill into my route back. On meeting a car on a very narrow lane I was instantly anxious, but then amazed when the driver pulled into a passing place and patiently waited for me to come past. I waved and shouted my thanks, to which the driver pleasantly replied “No problem!”
My faith in human nature has been somewhat restored.
4.5 miles cycled
1 homemade vegan mocha with Dark chocolate almond milk
2nd Coffeeneuring trip of the season on a sunny, but cold and blustery day. I decided if I didn’t go today, I’d never fit all my rides in in time.
Additional theme for this year’s rides seems to be “rides with tales”. Today’s was “Road Closed -I don’t think so!”
I rode past the sign, with fingers crossed, and although the road was fenced off just before the sneaky shortcut I needed to take, fortunately there was a special way through. Phew!
Today’s ride was a 7.8 miles round trip on my shopping bike to a Costa coffee. Not an exciting option, being part of the largest coffee chain in the UK, but good coffee and a choice of vegan options. Stuck to my “Veganeuring” theme and had a really tasty vegan mince pie (never too early!) and a soya mocha.
I could also have had a vegan Christmas cake slice, a cookie or a wrap, but I’ll save those for another time! Good bike parking on the other side of the retail park’s car park, so it is out of sight once you’re inside the cafe but it does have a roof in case it rains.
Maybe next time I’ll have a straightforward ride with no stories or drama??!
Autumn arrives, and with it – Coffeeneuring! Two years ago I managed to complete the Coffeeneuring challenge and achieved my badge. Last year I miscounted my weeks and sadly failed. This year? Well – it’s another year, another start and I’m keen to be successful again. I’m so keen I actually got my dates wrong and went Coffeeneuring last weekend before the official 7 weeks had even started. I chalked it up as a warm-up ride, and set off for my real first Coffeeneuring trip today.
In case you’re wondering, Coffeeneuring was devised as a way to encourage people out on their bikes for pleasure, particularly after the long “randonneuring” rides over the summer. The full rules, regulations, and guidelines are given here. Actually that makes it sound very official, and it’s not really. Very roughly rides must be at least 2 miles, you should visit a coffee shop (or similar), drink coffee (or similar), and repeat 6 times over what’s roughly a 7 week period. What you must not repeat is the cafe, have no more than 2 trips per week, no more than 1 per day, and your ride mustn’t be part of an organised ride. Oh, and organising your rides with a “theme” is encouraged as well.
With all that in mind, I decided this year I would try to find vegan treats at every cafe stop. On my premature Coffeeneuring trip, an enquiry about vegan cakes was met with a very short “No!”, so I was interested to see how I’d get on elsewhere. Oh – and I’ve named my challenge “Veganeuring “, just to be annoying.
So today, my day off in the week, was the perfect time to start. I had a number of other things I needed to do in town so I decided to go for it and combine everything into one big event. It made for an eventful trip.
Heading into town I stopped to help a lost looking man with a map – a proper paper OS map. I showed him where he was, pointed him in the right direction and set off again, feeling very virtuous. Moments later this veritable Good Samaritan was nearly knocked off her bike at a mini roundabout. Apparently a bright turquoise reflective cycling jacket in broad daylight makes you invisible. Without wanting to dull my halo at all, I should confess that hand gestures were exchanged at this point, but none of them vulgar. That incident made my heart rate spike I can tell you!
I eventually made it to the Leisure centre for a short swim, and then on down into town to a cafe called “Grounded” for my official Coffeeneuring stop. This is a really lovely cafe, with seating both inside and out. It overlooks the river, and has very handy railings outside that I locked my bike to.
I had a very nice almond milk mocha, but sadly they had no vegan cakes. Remembering they serve a Vegan breakfast I was surprisingly restrained and only ordered toast with vegan margarine and jam. I had to laugh -as the waiter brought my order over, he loudly declared “Vegan toast!” I could almost hear the thoughts of the people around me “what’s in normal toast that isn’t vegan??!!”
Then I walked my bike up through town to meet my parents. The bike parking on the town bridge was full, which was pleasing but annoying, so I found a good place further up the high street. As I was locking my bike up, I noticed the man I’d helped with his map again. He thanked me once again, confirmed he’d found the wood he was looking for, and asked my opinion on the local coffee shops. I was so pleased to see he was having a successful day out!
Stopping to retrieve a baby’s dropped sock I also met a lady I’ve been seeing around Chippenham for 20 years, but never spoken to. We used to get the same train every morning to work, but being British had never actually talked to each other. We were finally having a lovely chat, stood on the pedestrianised area outside The Angel Hotel, when I was nearly run over by a Range Rover screeching to a halt inches away from me. I was beginning to think I had a target painted on me!
After a cup of tea and lovely catch up with my parents I mounted my bike once again, and made it safely home.
“Try everything once except incest and folk dancing” – Sir Thomas Beecham.
Well I’m glad to report this post does not involve incest, nor folk dancing (although I have already tried that – primary school in the 1970s was very different to today), but it is about trying something new.
Following on from trying pacing at parkrun last month, when the opportunity arose to attend a Tai Chi session at work I jumped at the chance. The coincidence that it was one of my running friends, Valerie, who was taking the session made it a lot less daunting but I still had a look on You Tube to see what I could expect. Apparently it involved a very muscular man in a tight white vest, standing ankle deep in water. I showed the video to my husband who asked if work were also going to provide the waterfall that the man was standing in front of, but as the location for the session was going to be on the second floor I answered that this was unlikely, unless there was a major plumbing incident.
I arrived at 8:15 am promptly, and was relieved to see my friend Valerie hadn’t morphed into a muscular man in a vest. There were only 4 of us, plus Valerie, in an open plan space at the top of the office, surrounded by unused chairs and desks, so it could have felt a little awkward. Maybe surprisingly it didn’t, after we got started it just felt very relaxing and calming. The cracking and popping of joints I’m sure helped break the ice, and loosened us all up before a day sat at our desks.
I really enjoyed it, and felt almost too relaxed for work afterwards – but sadly that soon wore off. I was very pleased to see the sessions will run again next week, and have already signed up. Thank you Valerie!
After my local parkrun recently invested in some lovely pacing tabards, they requested volunteers to wear them for the first time. Ever keen to try new things, I said I’d give it a go and put my name down as the 32 minute pacer.
Thinking I probably ought to practice running to a certain time, I popped out for on local 3 mile route and ran it in 32 minutes and 1 second (this did include a stop to retie my lace). Not bad I thought!
Full of confidence I rocked up on Saturday 1st September.
How smart do we look? And just in case you don’t recognise me, here we are again:-
So did I manage to get even closer to my target 32 minutes and win the box of chocolates? Not quite, my official time was 31:30. Obviously I needed to stop and tie my shoelace again!