This used to appear on ontheroad.nicksellen.co.uk which was all about a bike tour I made around the UK in 2011/2012.
21 February 2012Continue reading →
I spent 5 days with Occupy Edinburgh in The Meadows. I had cycled from Perth that day after a lazy morning because I was asuming there weren’t many hills, there were, and the sustrans route wasn’t doing much to avoid them. I arrived into Edinburgh at around 9pm (long into the darkness) planning to turn up at the protest camp and see if I might be able to stay; the other option was to continue the ride a bit further down to mortonhall campsite, or to pester a friend at short notice.
I didn’t really know what to expect as I cycled across the muddy field to the camp – it’s hard to even see the encampment at night time from the paths around the park – as I arrived the occupants had heard me approaching and called out to me, they get a fair bit of interaction from passer-bys of good and bad nature so are wary of noises outside. I popped inside the tent to find two people huddled in blankets in the cold, they were immediately friendly and welcomed me to stay and helped me carry my many bags into the main tent. This is a remarkable thing to occur in the middle of a large-ish city – a total stranger arrives and is immediately welcomed. I think my touring bike and received pronunciation accent mark me out as an unlikely criminal or trouble-maker but I imagine I would have been welcomed without these things.
A beautiful morning over the Meadows
06 February 2012Continue reading →
I left London around 6 months ago now without much of a plan or probably much apparent reason why I would do such a thing. I was living in shared accommodation which was very nice (a large warehouse space), I did work which I found interesting and paid well, I had nice friends to do nice things with.
However I had a niggling feeling something had to change, my thoughts were that I knew I wouldn’t want to be living in shared housing forever (it’s my main problem with shared housing – everybody is just waiting till they start their “real life” rather it being their proper home). I’m also not so motivated by regular career progression or gathering many more items.
Something had to change at some point, and so why not now?
11 December 2011Continue reading →
11 November 2011
They’re about 2 weeks old and live (for now, mwahahaha) on a Scottish croft that’s aiming for self-sufficiency. I’m told they’re going to be very yummy.
I love the way they sleep in a big pile of piggy!
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I was initially a bit anxious about the idea of cycle touring through Scotland as Winter approached but so far my fears have been unfounded and there are a good number of positive aspects. I am aware that it will still get colder still, but all these positives should stay valid.
(Celtic Winter traditionally starts on 1st November celebrated by the Samhain festival)
31 October 2011Continue reading →
I just finished reading Parliamentary Reform, 1785-1928 by Sean Lang and this is approximately what I learnt (some if it I knew before to some extent).
The book itself is intended as a study guide for A-Level History students and has questions and worked answers.
30 October 2011Continue reading →
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK (1344 meters / 4409 feet) located a couple of miles from Fort William, Scotland. I’m not particularly inclined to do things just to feel I’ve ticked a box and walking up and back down the same route feels kind of pointless. My brother asked me whether I was and I pondered for a bit and decided whilst I was there it would be something to do, there might be a nice view!
In summary it was fantastic – surreal arctic-like conditions.
an american walking towards me (still someway off the summit)
25 October 2011Continue reading →
Bothies are dotted all over Scotland (maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association), they are basic accommodation to be used by anybody, aimed at walkers and climbers needing shelter in remote locations.
I’ve only stayed in one so far and it looked like this:
Corryhully bothy near Glenfinnan
22 October 2011Continue reading →
I got my tent just in time for some winds that my tarp would probably not have survived.
somebodies failed tent – I watched the owners come back after their day out looking a little dismayed (the bench didn’t blow there it’s to stop it from totally blowing away)
Here’s some videos of my tent in the same winds that caused that.
20 October 2011Continue reading →
The tarp has been a great way to camp (see my earlier post about the tarp) – it’s so small, light, discreet, and gives a wonderful sense of being really in the outdoors.
However it has some limits and this trip is not supposed to be a macho endurance test to show how tough I am – days on end of rain and frequently heavy winds are more than a tarp can really be asked to handle. I’ve adapted my tarp setup to be as enclosed as possible and I’ve kept warm and dry in some pretty windy and rainy nights but I don’t want too many more times like this (this isn’t the worst of it):
The time has come to upgrade to something more substantial: a tent
14 October 2011Continue reading →
The West Highland Way is a 96 mile route from Milngavie (on the outskirts of Glasgow) north to Fort William. It’s primarily a walking route but bikes are permitted – you have to decide whether it will be passable though.
The terrain varies and some would be passable on a full-on road bike, whereas some would be only barely passable with the toughest full suspension mountain bike and no luggage. As I have a tough but very heavily loaded bike I was cautious – only if the track had TWO dotted parallel lines (i.e. a “road” of sorts) then I’d give it a go. I also did small sections of single track and lifted the bike over a few styles which is not fun.
There is also many opportunities to meet people along the way and I found at my penultimate stop I recognised 10-12 people in the bar and had spoken to 5 or 6 them. On a related note, in that bar one guy actually recognised me as I had cycled past him about a month ago near Newcastle! (we didn’t even have a conversation the first time round).
Overall it has been simply stunning with some breathtaking views and a very “spiritual” experience…
section across Black Mount (thats what it says across my map anyway)
12 October 2011Continue reading →
As the year is getting on now I might not have many more opportunities for wild swimming. It might be a good time to reflect on the lovely times I’ve had so far. Wild swimming has become quite popular to talk about (there is a book about it) – although I get the impression people don’t get around to doing it that much.
I have the book about it but haven’t actually swum in any of the places it’s mentioned – it did undoubtedly inspire me though. Here’s a set of pictures to inspire you – there are SO many lovely places to swim…
Note: there is a fair bit of my flesh on show in these photos, so do/don’t look depending on how you feel about that!
my first swim – in a small stream off a footpath
09 October 2011Continue reading →
I just got back from a visit to London – the purpose of the trip was to carry on with a project I had started earlier in the year before I left on my trip. I had made most of it but it was not sufficiently ready to put into production without a little bit of a nudge from me.
This is going to be a reasonably technical post explaining how the system works.
06 September 2011Continue reading →
I made a train journey recently that left me near foaming at the mouth after a train which I had paid £120 for a ticket on left the station despite having plenty of room for me and my bike.
the one that left was like this but without my bike on it
29 August 2011Continue reading →
caused by total failure to notice large vertical section of the route in front of me. had I fallen to the right instead I don’t think I my laptop or phone would have survived.
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Whilst in Hebden Bridge I was invited on a night bike ride by Keith from Nutclough Housing Co-op. It is a northern version of the Dunwich Dynamo which I used to do in London. It doesn’t quite attract the same numbers yet though – 5 versus 1000s.
25 August 2011Continue reading →
Radical Routes has a newsletter type thing called Radical Rumours where members can write about what has been going on. I wrote an entry for Nutclough Housing Co-op whilst I was there and this is it:
21 August 2011Continue reading →
I spent five days in Hebden Bridge staying with Nuclough Housing Co-op. I was interested to have a peek out how this kind of living works and keen to help out where I could.
Hebden Bridge town centre
relaxing in the garden of Nutclough Housing Co-op
20 July 2011Continue reading →
Note: this is being written slightly belatedly as I’m behind with my blogging, sorry! I left Manchester about a week ago now…
walking down a main shopping street
I spent my time in Manchester staying with Tim and Heather – when I stay at a place I like to fit in what might have been going on anyway and I think I more-or-less achieved that ! :) – assuming they eat such yummy food all the time.
10 July 2011Continue reading →
My lovely sister Vanessa wanted to know about my feelings, I looked it up and it means:
An affective state of consciousness, such as that resulting from emotions, sentiments, or desires
The best answer is: it depends.
07 July 2011Continue reading →
Just a quick post to let you know I’m ok ! :)
Had a beautiful morning cycling through forests (Sherwood), a quick swim in a lake, and just had “the biggest breakfast you serve” with a latte for £3.45.
a lovely part of Sustrans Route 6 through Sherwood Forest
04 July 2011Continue reading →
Not everywhere is quite so nice as in my “pretty England” post. The not pretty places are often found “tacked” on to the edge of perfectly nice looking towns.
I’ll add to this set as I go along, there will be plenty more un-pretty things to photograph
04 July 2011Continue reading →
I took a day out to visit Lincoln. It’s surprisingly nice (I only say “surprisingly” because I had no idea what was here before I arrived). I’m fast on my way to becoming a history bore and Lincoln has been the perfect place to hone my skills.
A nice view in Lincoln
The things that I found are:
- a magnificently large Cathedral
- a lovely old castle
- one of the only 4 original copies of the Magna Carta (inside the castle)
- a lovely and cute “old town” area on the hill with cobbled streets and cute shops
- a waterfront area with all your favourite/hated chain restaurants
- a nice archaeology museum showing progression of man from ice-age to modern day
- people that actually sound Northern
04 July 2011Continue reading →
The Fens is a very flat area where people struggled for 2000 years to drain the land so it can be put to productive use. The Romans made the first efforts, then a Dutch man (Cornelius Vermuyden) tried with some success in the 17th Century, then finally in the 19th Century a lasting solution after the steam engine allowed the water to be pumped out properly.
There is a lot of stuff growing there now – I saw cauliflower, spinachy stuff, oats, wheat, etc…
spinachy stuff growing in the Fens
02 July 2011Continue reading →
I don’t have a tent with me, instead I’m using a bivy and a tarp. It’s my first trip using this combo and I didn’t actually try it out before leaving.
So far the benefits over a tent are:
- flexible structure that can suit the situation – low and discrete / high and spacious
- can safely cook inside it
- space to sit up and read or get changed
- very lightweight (400g for a large tarp)
my first ever tarp, erm, erection – a classic A-frame shape between two trees
02 July 2011Continue reading →
I love having a cup of coffee and was going to take a cafetierre but was fortunately persuaded to take the much more sensible single cup filter type device (with paper filters). Workhouse coffee in Reading can take credit for that – it’s my favourite and possibly the best coffee shop in the world.
a coffee break in the lovely Crown Lakes Country Park near Peterborough
01 July 2011Continue reading →
Oh thats what they mean by “restricted”
the style stile I lugged all my gear over, not fun!
01 July 2011Continue reading →
I’ll keep adding to this set as I go along so it’ll grow…
30 June 2011Continue reading →
I have got quite a lot of gear on me (as pointed out by John East in a comment on my last post) – it enables me to have my mobile office ! :)
sat with my laptop doing a spot of blogging and working after having had a nice bacon baguette and coffee breakfast
29 June 2011Continue reading →
After months of painful research and preparation (it wouldn’t have taken months if I wasn’t also doing fulltime+ working hours) I have actually managed to leave. At one point I had hoped to already have left by the 10th June (the day my brother died in 2007) but I am glad to be out now.
my first ride on my fully laden bike
25 June 2011Continue reading →
Useful guide on how to store a length of cord without getting it in knots.
24 April 2011Continue reading →
My holidays tend towards self-powered long distance journeys by bike or foot. Each trip taught something new about what I like – the inspiration for this trip is a combination of all my previous trips and thoughts I’ve had for improvements:
- I like talking to people en-route so English speaking countries are preferable
- I don’t like having a sole purpose of covering distance
- wild camping is good for finding special locations – campsites are too often sanitised (and can be expensive given the small amount of time and space I use)
- I’d rather feel a trip is more of a [temporary] lifestyle than a holiday
Given these points I’ve come up with following ideas:
- stay entirely within Britain
- have no fixed destination or timescale
- take ‘extra’ things for something to do other than cover distance (laptop, camera, audio recorder)
- visit people or places along the way of interest (friends, communities, ‘sights’)