surfsensei

Reflections and observations on life in general.

Category: cycling journeys

Early this morning.

It was a good weather forecast today and I’d decided to ride the bike to work, around 11 miles to Stirling.  There was some fog today, as I rode along the back lanes and small roads.  I would have missed this, if I had driven:

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No more writing, tonight, instead, an early sleep and aim to be up early again tomorrow. May you all sleep well.

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Despite the darkness

I’ve been cycling a slightly longer but vastly calmer and nicer way to work lately, along the Wyrley and Essington canal towpath. It adds about ten minutes at most to my journey and immesurably more to the quality and happiness of my working day.

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The waterfowl have been breeding well this year and there are families of ducks, geese, coot and moorhen busily feeding, nesting, squabbling and resting along the entire route. It’s not bad for a canal network that passes through what used to be one of Britain’s most busy and polluted industrial areas. Among other factors it is a testament to the work of many volunteers and bodies like the Canal & Rivers Trust.
There is a profusion of plant-life, without which the birds would not be here, of course; ducks, like people, cannot live by bread alone!

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The waterlilies are beginning to emerge from the muddy canal bottoms, growing towards the light around the bottles, cans, tyres, supermarket trollies and occasional bikes that continue the ancient tradition, if not spirit, of casting offerings into bodies of water to bring good fortune (or avoid arrest!).
I saw some particularly fine flowers opening, like their cousins the lotus, among floating debris from people I presume more interested in numbing their minds than waking them to the beauty around them.

waterlily blooming amidst beer cans & bottles
Somehow I found that more inspiring to photograph than the more conventionally “nice” compositions all around.  It reminded me that hidden beauty still emerges despite the litter, vandalism, graffiti and darkness of despairing, angry and agitated minds. Whatever the conditions, the waterlilies persevere in rising towards the light; there’s inspiration in that.
Enjoy your journeys.

Cold War Hercules Mushrooms

I’ve had a lovely bike ride today, out west to the RAF Museum at Cosford, briefly visiting the impressively-housed Cold War Museum and then on to Ironbridge on the River Severn and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.  It’s an odd thought, looking back on it, that the Cold War and all its ramifications and consequences was only possible because of the technological pioneering that took place in this small gorge, where water, coal, limestone, some iron ore and wood were conveniently available in the one area.  That made it economical to start using coke, rather than charcoal, to produce iron of a higher quality with which more could be done, such as building a bridge over the river – the Iron Bridge.  It’s an impressive structure.

On the way out along the quieter back lanes, I found some unexpected treasures:

W3singer the Lone Singer in Codsall

W3firstautumnsign first signs of Autumn, just after a pot-hole that nearly had me off my bike.W3mushrooms1   

a tree trunk outside the front gate of a hidden house, surrounded by this dense mushroom ‘forest’,

 W3poppies  poppies in a field just outside the airfield

.W3hercules under the wing of a Hercules… W3coldwarmuseum to the beauty of cold steel… (ok, probably aluminium then!) This impressive building houses various aircraft, displays, tanks and missiles from the Cold War era.

I remember watching, and hearing, the Vulcan bombers flying over our house in Cornwall in the 60s, the futile nonsense of the ‘Protect and Survive’ leaflets distributed in the late 70s/early 80s by the Government, many more memories from that period up until the momentous fall of the Berlin Wall, which I watched on TV.  So many changes, so much technology and creative effort in pursuit of a conflict that, in reality, was entirely constructed in our minds; it really is possible to fool all of the people nearly all of the time, or at least for a considerable time.  The definitions and causes have shifted, but the same stupidity persists.

Apparently this was ‘World Peace Day’, as well as a day on which many people marched to draw attention from governments and other institutions to the urgency of real action on climate change.  Both of these are issues which we have the capacity to solve, within a year if we really decided to, but we would need to motivate ourselves in the same way and with the same degree of commitment to the cause as we have done so successfully in our wars… I see no sign of any attempt by those currently in power either politically or financially to take the leadership actions required to do this, to solve these real problems that face us all.

Some might find the contents of the Cold War Museum depressing, chilling or even superficially exhilarating if you don’t consider the full implications.  Today I felt some of the first two and recalled the latter from earlier times in my life (watching a Sea Dart launch from an aircraft carrier was quite something, better to be behind it than in front).  I do admire the technology for the skill in solving challenging problems but most of it is really a misguided, if so far necessary, effort.  What I do find hopeful though is that it shows what we could achieve with a change in our aim, by lifting the veil of the siren illusions and prejudices and distractions that seduce us collectively onto the rocks.

Maybe we have to just go ahead and start to do it ourselves, even if that is just to get out on a bike for the afternoon.