Evening all! How are we doing? Feeling good? Enjoying your Thursday so far?! Ready to dive into another weirdly rambling weekly blog episode?! Well that’s certainly what you’ll get if you read on…!
Right now – for me – it’s Wednesday evening, I’m sat on my sofa – all comfy on my Rumpl blanket, which didn’t quite get put away after my recent camping trip – writing this episode with Scala Radio playing in the background. I like having music on in the background, and Scala continues to be my radio station of choice these days. I find the mix of modern classical and show music the perfect accompaniment to being productive.
Silence is often the noisiest thing I can hear, and while it’s lovely when I’m out and about (an opportunity to listen to the sounds of nature), it’s incredibly off putting when I’m working, writing or even doing chores. They say silence can be deafening, and it really is for me. That’s almost certainly a red flag I should be concerned about, but until I want to face that one, I’m happy putting music on in the background to cut through the silence and help me concentrate on the task at hand.
In this weekly blog episode, I’ve got a ‘life is all about the journey’ life lesson (haven’t included one of those for a while!), a few words on my weekend in Lincolnshire with family, an update on my bike preparation for Morocco (and a note on the earthquake), and another adventure audiobook review. You’ll notice I am a little behind on telling my story in my weekly blog, and so while I had a fantastic time at Comms Unplugged at the back end of last week, I will wait until my next episode to reflect on that experience. It’s quite nice having lots of little adventures to talk about!
Life is Music
Let’s start with the lesson that’s pertinent to the fact that I always have music on in the background…
“Life is a piece of music” is something that Fern Cotton said on a recent Happy Place podcast, and I heard myself say out loud, “yes, that’s exactly it”.
You’ve heard me repeat “life is all about the journey” a thousand times. It’s been the sub heading of my blog since I started it back in January 2010, and it’s a saying (which can be attributed to a bunch of different people including Emerson) that I do my best to live by. You know, making the most of the travelling (and meandering), not just rushing to my final destination.
But even with something that I do my best to practice, it pays to hear the message in a slightly different way sometimes.
So, let’s think about it in musical terms instead.
Enjoyed from Start to Finish
A piece of music is designed to be enjoyed from start to finish. The aim of the composer is to grab your attention at the start, and keep it all the way to the end. As listeners, we are meant to take the time to enjoy the music itself, not just will it away to get to the cadence at the end.
How you listen is up to you. You may sit quietly and listen intently, paying attention to all the different parts and how they intertwine with each other. Or you may choose to let your body move a little and dance your way through the piece. You may even open your mouth and sing along. Indeed, some compositions will have you doing all three!
The point is, while the first note grabs your attention and the last note provides a suitably themed conclusion, it’s how the melodies and harmonies move you that matters.
Music has loud bits, quite bits, melodious bits, clashing bits, intricate and complicated bits, and everything else bits. And it all goes together to make something that is beautiful, tells a story, and fills your head and heart with song.
So yes, life is a piece of music. Make the most of the bit between the first and last notes. Join in, sing along, listen intently, dance, allow yourself to be moved, and enjoy. Feel all the feelings and make the most of the voyage all the way along.
Family Picnic at Belton House
A couple of weekends ago we headed over to Lincolnshire to spend time with family. Apart from catching up with those important to us, there were three things on the list; visit Belton House for a picnic, install a water butt for my mother-in-law, and go to Sports Bike Shop to buy a summer riding jacket ready for the heat of Morocco.
Belton House, near Grantham in Lincolnshire, is all about art and design. The house and gardens showcase everything artsy, starting with 17th century sash windows and cast iron-framed orangery in the Italian Garden. The interior decoration is as impressive, where there is a collection of silver and porcelain, and a world-renowned library.
Despite living in Lincolnshire for nearly 20 years, this was (shamefully) my first visit to Belton House. We visited for a picnic with family and friends, and to make use of the National Trust’s largest adventure playground with our nieces and nephews.
We started our visit with a wander around the house, which – as the description above suggests – was full to bursting with artwork. There were all kinds of paintings, tapestries, chandeliers, glassware and ceramics, and more books than in the British Library (okay, so maybe not quite, but it was a massive book collection).
The King’s Bathroom
We really should have been paying attention to the booklet they gave us as we walked in to the manor house, because then we would have known the room we commented on as looking like it was decorated in the 60s (based on the style and the old electric heater on the wall) was, in fact, where the then Prince Charles lived when he was at RAF Cranwell in the 70s. Yes, I stood in the now King’s bathroom. I’m sure it was much nicer than the available quarters a little down the road!
There was also a bedroom with a very very tall four poster bed, which made the bed itself look really dumpy. And a rather lovely painting of rabbits on the wall in one of the hallways, which I kind of loved. I’d not say this was my preferred art style (I’m not about to buy anything like this to go up at home), but I did rather enjoy this one – especially the bunny with its face in the bowl on the right. Cute.
After a wander inside and around the courtyard, we spent the rest of the day enjoying the grounds, especially the extensive playground. Some of the group went on the narrow-gauge train. I attempted the slackline and clambered on one of the climbing frames, but really this bit was for our nieces and nephews to enjoy themselves.
If you’re in Lincolnshire and have National Trust membership, then Belton House is definitely worth a visit.
The Wheels on the Bike…
A couple of weekly blogs ago I spent a thousand words whinging about having to be an adult and fix things that were broken. One of those things was the rear wheel of my BMW F650GS, my trusty steed that I’m intending to ride from home to the Sahara Desert very soon.
You’ll recall I’d found some corrosion was pushing just a touch on the bead seal on my rear wheel, breaking the seal enough to allow a bit of air to escape. I was losing a little over one psi of air each day, which is enough to be very annoying on a long trip. Ideally, I would get the wheels properly refurbished and powder coated, but there wasn’t time for that before Morocco.
So instead, I took my bike to a small local shop, who knows my bike already, and were already set up to replace my chain and sprocket set as it was time for that. The guy there took off my tyres, cleaned up the rims, and put on some bead seal paste (liquid rubber) to create a proper seal, before putting the tyres back on. This didn’t cost me much, and should make good the issue until I next need to take the tyres off.
I’ll look at getting the wheels properly refurbed over the winter, when I ride very little anyway, but in the meantime, this will do just fine. I hope.
Honestly, I was so upset and worried about the stupid air escaping from my rear wheel so close to my next big overland adventure on my bike, and I am still getting over the sleepless nights and tension it caused even now. Why do things always come when you can cope with them the least?! At least it’s sorted, my bike is ready to go.
I’ve had a few messages about the earthquake in Morocco and how that might be impacting our plans.
First up, let me say, what horrific scenes there have been coming from Morocco since Friday night. I have experienced a teeny tiny earthquake once in my life and that was scary enough, I honestly can’t imagine just how terrifying such an experience must have been. It’s so sad to hear of the increasing death toll, and see the pictures of homes, cultural sites, and indeed, whole communities, flattened by the quake.
The epicentre of the 6.8 magnitude earthquake was high in the Atlas Mountains, not too far from Marrakesh. Our route, devised by Globebusters, was due to go right through the affected area, including over the Tizi-n-Test pass between Marrakesh and Taroudannt. Drone footage of one of our intended overnight stops has been all over the news, scenes which I think will live with me for quite some time. And yes, the thought that we could have been there has indeed crossed my mind. But my visions and emotions are nothing like it will be ingrained in the memories of those who live there.
Remembering And Theory
This is one of those times when I have to remember “and theory” (go back and read weekly blog episode 122). It’s okay – and quite normal – to feel two apparently conflicting emotions. In this case, I’m very much feeling horror and concern at the scenes in Morocco, and upset at the potential impact on our upcoming overland adventure. We booked this trip two years ago, should have gone last April (but the ferries to Morocco weren’t running thanks to a disagreement between Spain and Morocco), and I admit I felt a real sense of ‘are we meant to go on this trip’ on Saturday.
At the time of writing, the plan is still to go to Morocco and ride as much of the intended route as possible. We really want to see Morocco and the vast majority of the country has not been directly impacted by the earthquake. Globebusters have been in touch, and are speaking with their partners in the country, and we trust them to make good decisions about the route and overnight stops.
It is unlikely we will be riding in the Atlas Mountains, as the mountain passes are currently not passable, and may still not be when we are there. We’ll see. There’s also a question as to whether it would be appropriate to visit towns and villages very impacted by the earthquake. As much as I know tourism is important to the people of Morocco, filling our motorbikes with fuel and eating food when the locals are struggling to get supplies of either doesn’t sit quite right. Again, we’ll see how things are when we are on the way – the situation will be much clearer when we are there.
There doesn’t seem to be an official DEC appeal, the various charities working there seem to be doing their own thing. The British Red Cross are supporting the local Red Crescent teams who were on the ground immediately, providing search and rescue, food and water, shelter, first aid, and other much needed services.
I thought it might be another double audiobook week for me – but I’m about an hour away from finishing the second one, so I’ll wait until next week to review that.
Audiobook: Fearless, Louise Minchin
Subtitled Adventures with Extraordinary, Fearless is the story of Louise Minchin going on 17 “exhilarating adventures with trailblazing women who are breaking down barriers, smashing records, and challenging stereotypes”.
I mentioned briefly in my last weekly blog episode that I actually know a couple of people featured in this compendium of adventure stories, and was even invited to take part in one of the adventures Louise features (the Hike Bike Paddle for the Youth Adventure Trust – sadly an important diary clash meant I had to say no). And I think that made this book all the more interesting, because I have some first-hand insight into just how incredible these ladies are.
Fearless came about because Louise was driven to finding ways to tell stories of female adventure, courage, endeavour, and exploration. She noticed that the only adventure stories she was telling on breakfast television were of men, and wanted to redress the balance. And rather than just telling the stories of these women, Louise got stuck in and took part in adventures with the people she featured. This adds a very interesting dimension, because not only do we get some information about each inspiring lady, but we also get the consistent tone of what it feels like to take part in the activity being described.
An Empowering Listen
It was a really great listen, I found it empowering, and was happy to hear just how determined and strong women can be. The adventures are all different sizes, from those which I reckon I could see myself doing, to those I definitely couldn’t – I mean I’ve give all of them a go, but I would not be as successful as Louise was!!!
Although I have to admit the audiobook was presented just like a news piece to camera…!
Next up is Unlost, the story of Gail Muller’s journal along the Appalacian Trail. Actually I’m nearly done with it – so you’ll be getting a review of that one in my next weekly blog.
See You Next Time!
And I’m done, another weekly blog episode ready to publish for your reading pleasure. At least I hope it’s your reading pleasure, I guess I can’t really decide that for you!
Next week I’ll catch you up on how I found Comms Unplugged this year, trying a new-to-me One Hour Outside activity, and a few words about a special teaspoon. See you then.
Buy Me a Cuppa?
If you enjoyed this weekly blog episode and fancy supporting me and my mini adventures this year, you can “buy me a coffee” for £3 (well, a cup of tea, if that’s okay?). Head over to Ko-fi to find out more. Thank you.