20 November 2009

Eye of the Storm

Gale force winds today - or at least, that's what I expected. I did consider chickening out (I sort of did yesterday - had an appointment, just 'had' to drive), but I'm glad I didn't. Going into town in the morning there was a steady head wind - hard but didn't feel dangerous (it's the sudden gusts I don't like).

In the evening, I must've caught, literally, the 'eye' of the storm - it was fairly quiet almost all the way, having been windy earlier, and even windier as I write this. Thank Heavens, good luck when it comes is not to be sneezed at.

12 November 2009

Moments of joy

In my journey back home there's three 'moments of joy' - three 'checkpoints', if you like, where I feel I've achieved something.

The first one is precisely leaving the city centre - reaching the MEN Arena or thereabouts.

The second one is leaving Cheetham Hill and heading for Heaton Park - don't get me wrong, but Cheetham Hill's shopping area, buzzing it may be, but traffic-wise it is chaotic in all sorts of ways - parking is haphazard, speed limits are ignored (if traffic is moving at all!), pedestrians are notoriously careless (my Sep 2007 fall bears witness). Then you reach the crossroads with Middleton Rd and the change is stark - the same road becomes quiet and residential.

And the third one is turning into Thatched Lane in Besses O'Th'Barn - the home run begins there, and I know I'm 10' away from home.

View Three moments of joy in a larger map

In the bleak midwinter...

Well, not quite - it's a few weeks until winter 'proper', but we've had the first frosty mornings. Two weeks ago I checked and replaced batteries as my journey back home is now done after dusk. Last week I replaced shorts with long trousers and light mittens with fleecy gloves. Other people I've seen wearing hats or skull caps, so I'm not the only wimp!

It's not bad when, like this morning, it's bright out there, and dry. Other days I've got drenched, soggy shoes (must sort out better ones) being the main problem (I think by now I've got the right all-weather gear on the other departments).

Meanwhile, the city begins its Xmas preparations - the markets are being assembled, foreign vans are unloading their goods, the lights are on or soon will be. There is also that added bustle of people spending more time shopping. It's not a good time for cycling in Manchester city centre, I tell you - it is bad enough as it is, with poorly lit streets, careless pedestrians and diabolical one-way systems. But I dread Xmas time as it exacerbates all these things.