Tuesday 26 September 2023

Pergola plans

It started with a conversation, and a wish to sit on the roof of our outhouse and enjoy the view. I searched Pinterest for inspiration but could find nothing suitable. Eventually we had the idea of a double height pergola with secret seating.

Darren spent many hours drawing up professional plans, and then ordering the metal scaffold poles. 

Whilst waiting for the giant meccano kit to arrive, we levelled the ground and built some steps to sort of the right height. 

Then the big day arrived and Darren had to work out how to put it all together. 

After a couple of false starts it came together, and we concreted in some of the uprights to hold it firm. 

Next was the raised seating. 

There was almost a change of design mid build, but then we went back to the original plan, and the metal is now all up. 

All that is left to do now is put in the floor, the wooden scaffold board seats at ground and first floor level, hitch up a swing, plant grapevines in the corners and finally, sit back to enjoy a gin and tonic while watching the sun set. 

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Opera at Cardiff

Darren made the plan a couple of weeks ago - a nice cycle to Bristol, train to Cardiff, matinee at the Opera House, dinner and overnight hotel, 86 kilometre cycle ride home. All of this was to take place in bright sunshine and favourable winds.

In real life, we caught the bus to Bristol, the train to Cardiff which was nice and exactly on time, but we hadn't factored in the torrential rain. 

The walk from the station to the Opera House was not exciting, and it was surprising to think that we were in the centre of a capital city. There was no one else around, but also no shops, caf├ęs or bars along the extensive waterfront. 

However, the Opera House was modern and superb. 

Once inside we had front row seats and were almost sitting on top of the orchestra.

We saw a Spanish opera called Ainadamar, which included flamenco dancing and traditional Spanish music. Right below us was a gap in the orchestra and two men appeared who tap danced and clapped in time to the music.

The opera was excellent, although I think that both of us had a little nap in the middle of it. 

The next morning the rain had turned to drizzle and I was relieved that we caught the train back to Bristol and then the bus rather than the long cycle ride.

Saturday 16 September 2023

Cheddar Gorge half marathon

 I have spent the four weeks since my last half marathon, wondering whether to drop down to the 10k race today. This is mainly because I managed to fall off my bike so I haven't done much training, but the bruises are fading and I am regaining the use of my arm, which you don't need to run anyway. 

It wasn't helped today by torrential rain on the way to the start, and then having to do a huge detour as the route that we expected to take was closed.

In the end, we found the right car park, nipped in the horrible toilets and walked in the rain towards the start. This was far further than we expected, so there was only five minutes left to get our timing chip, drop our bag off and then immediately get to the start line for the pre race instructions.

Actually this was very fortunate as I didn't have time to get cold, or to reconsider my decision. 

Off we went, straight on to a 16 per cent hill, and then uphill but less steeply for the first seven kilometres. After a few minutes a minor miracle happened as the rain stopped and I seemed to be going well. 

It was an out and back course with seven k uphill, seven k undulating and then seven k downhill. 

The run in to the line was so steep that I had to zig zag across the road to slow myself down. 

And then it was over, and we collected our massive medals. 

Darren was really pleased to finish in one hour 55 minutes, and I was amazed to get two hours 15 minutes. 

Ps, we got a normal sized medal, but then because we ran five races this year we got the super sized one too. 

Monday 11 September 2023

Greenwich and Battersea

We had a lovely weekend at Greenwich and Battersea with Tina and Matt.

Firstly we caught the train to Canary Wharf and stopped for a look around. 

The buildings are incredible and although it doesn't look like it from this photo, the place was buzzing. There was loads of people around and dozens of new bars and restaurants.

In case you are wondering, this is the outside of the first photo. 

We went to revisit the garden above the tube station, and it was as lovely as last time. 

Then we set off to walk to Greenwich to meet T and M. I hadn't checked the distance and it was farther than I expected, but included the iconic Greenwich tunnel. 

It was a bit spooky and damp walking under the river and we timed this photo well to make it look deserted. In reality there was lots of other walkers and cyclists too.

After a nice night out with cocktails sipped under the rigging of the Cutty Sark, we got up early for a run to and around the O2. 

Then we caught an Uber boat along the river. 

The views were superb and we cruised from the far east of London to the west, eventually arriving at our destination of Battersea power station.

As much as possible of the original building has been retained, and now it is a shopping centre with apartments on the higher floors.

It has enormously high ceilings and we spent a happy few hours window shopping and eating lunch before catching the train back home.

Sunday 3 September 2023

Frome Market

I am going to start by complaining about the English language. We have a town called Frome near to us, and I thought that it was called Frome, pronounced like Rome. Our neighbours often talked about a place called Frome, but pronounced like Broom.

I was not sure, but thought that they were two different places, but in actual fact, they are actually one and the same. 

But don't let that put you off, because they have an amazing market on the first Sunday of every month, and on a sunny day the whole of Somerset was crammed into it's lovely ancient streets. 

Somehow amongst the throng we bumped into our next door neighbours, ate a very tasty vegan Japanese unpronounceable lunch and bought a metal flamingo for the garden. 

We really need to go back without all of the people, as it looked to be full of fantastic buildings. Maybe even visit the town museum, where very interestingly, the sign for it said Froome Museum. 

I knew that I was right about the spelling, and I haven't even mentioned the famous cyclist who also spelt his name as expected.