Morvelo City Cross 3 – Leeds – The Snail races again


Fantastic blogpost by Ian – the Morvelo City Cross looks like a huge amount of fun and something I’d really love to try one day.

Originally posted on Into The Orchard:


Trumpets, cowbells, cheers, beers, thrills, spills, music, laughter, beards, baldies, fat bikes, thin bikes, mountain bikes, cross bikes, single speeds, bananaman and a werewolf were all present as the third iteration of the Morvelo City Cross concept hit the mean streets of Leeds.  Never mind the Tour de France, Holbeck Urban Village surely hosted the most fun bike racing that Leeds will see this year, all thanks to Emma Osenton and her mighty crew of helpers and sponsors.

As regular readers of this blog and my projectsnail idea will know I’m no racer and have no ambitions to be but I made my debut at City Cross 2 and seeing as City Cross 3 was basically a roll down the hill from my house I thought it would have been rude not to have another go.  This is racing Jim but not as we know it and while there were…

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off the beaten track

Today I cycled 8 and a half miles, saw two rabbits, a squirrel, a fox and a *huge* dragonfly.

I also got quite lost and had a puncture.

I had a brilliant time.

Regular readers may recall my recent bike-related post, the road less travelled, in which I trundled my merry way around bits of the Wakefield area that I hadn’t explored. I mentioned there was a track down by the golf course under a bridge that I hadn’t yet explored, so today was the day.

I’d had a busy day and only an hour or so to fit my ride into, so set off from home towards the train station. There’s another interesting track down there which I’ve always wondered where it would end up. Turns out it runs alongside the railway track for about half a kilometre and brought me out roughly in the right direction for the golf course. Cross that one off my ‘where does it go?’ list.

I got up to the golf course, found the track and trundled along there quite happily for a while before coming out on the main road about fifty metres from the road leading the golf course.

Cross another one off the list.

Quite pleased with my exploring, I reckoned I had about half an hour left. There was yet another unexplored road nearby (as mentioned in the previous post), so I set off down there.

Up past the houses the road drops to a single track down between the hedges. I spy a couple of fellow cyclists up ahead, just as the road forks. They head off to the left, but I spot a sign saying that Newmillerdam is 2.5 miles off to the right. Now, Newmillerdam is roughly on my way home, ish. So I turn right.

The road disappears at this point, and I’m bumping along a dry track next to some fields. It’s all very scenic and quiet and as I’m bouncing along I spot a rabbit bounding along ahead. It takes off into a field on the left and I come to the end of the track.

There’s a field ahead of me with some fledgling cabbages neatly planted in rows, but there’s a fairly clear path across it, and on the far side I see a yellow marker post for the path. I set off across and soon get to the trees on the other side. The track here is pretty narrow, but just wide enough to cycle down, albeit very carefully. There’s a bridge at the bottom crossing the railway track, then it opens out onto another field.

This is where it goes slightly pear-shaped.

Now, this field is thigh-high with greenery. There’s no obvious track going across it. I can go left or right. Right looks a bit overgrown, and left is downhill.

Left it is. I get to the bottom of the field and there’s still nothing obvious indicating which way to go. I pause for a swig of water and another rabbit bursts from cover, spots me and hurtles off into the hedge to my left.

Oh well. I continue down the edge of the next field – I can see a road in the distance, and have worked out roughly where I am. I just need to go down this field, find a way through the hedge, and I’m back on the road.

After a dozen or so yards I realise that I really need to be carrying my bike so it doesn’t damage the crops. I’m being nettled and brambled, but the sun is shining and I’ve just spotted the biggest dragonfly I’ve ever seen keeping pace with me. The bottom corner of the field yields no exit, but a curious fox pokes its head out to see what this lycra-clad lunatic is doing.

Along the bottom of the field then, and there! The road. I send an apologetic text home to say I’ll be a little late and set off up the hill.

Hmm. It’s very bumpy.

A little… too bumpy.

Puncture in my rear tyre. And guess who didn’t pack a bike pump? I’ve got all the other paraphenalia for fixing a flat, but the pump is handily attached to my other bike. Ooops.

Still, it’s a fairly slow puncture, so I struggle on up the hill and make it home, a little late, a little sunburned, a little bloody from the brambles, but with a grin on my face.

Look. If I hadn’t taken that track, I’d not have seen the rabbits, the fox or the beautiful dragonfly. I now know that the path *does* lead directly across the field.

But that’s for another day.

Things I learned at Scout Camp

Hesley Wood Scout Activity Centre badge
It was our Scout Group camp this weekend. Sixty Scouts, Cubs and Beavers from Wakefield getting together at Hesley Wood Scout Activity Centre near Sheffield for the weekend. Huge amount of fun, despite the torrential rain on Saturday!

A few things I learned whilst at Scout Camp:

Scout leaders run on tea
Tea is brilliant. Ok, we knew this already. But a nice hot mug of tea in the great outdoors which, and this is the important bit, someone else has made for you, is at least 25% more brilliant. True fact.

First rule of scout camp: Scout leaders (and their assistant adult helpers, ie. me) run on tea. If you see an adult without tea, then chances are high that they need some tea. Make them a brew. Bonus points if you can train a scout to do it.

Inspired by our scout leader, I got myself one of these:
Lifeventure thermal mug
It’s a Lifeventure thermal mug, cost £11 and is absolutely superb at keeping your tea hot – essential when you’re trying to wrangle scouts doing activities. Keeps tea hot for ages. And I mean properly hot. I went for the matt green option (as you can tell) as it’s a bit more grippy than the shiny ones. Already love it.

You can put the world to rights at 2am 
Once the scouts are in bed (or at least in their tents, being relatively quiet), the kettle goes on (again), the chairs come out and the world is put to rights.

Bacon sets you up for the day
Scouts have a virtually limitless capacity for bacon, and don’t really care how burned it is. Some of them actively prefer the more… crispy bits.

Which is handy.

Scouts love something to do
Scouts are great. They’re pretty self-organising if left to their own devices in a wood and will spend ages finding sticks/mud/water. You can keep a scout amused for a surprisingly long time by looking pointedly at a campfire and saying that it needs more firewood.

Campfires are great
Campfires are brilliant. Another thing we all know. But! Did you know that you can make bread (or cake!) on a campfire? Take a Dutch oven (big cast iron pot), pop it on the fire to get nice and hot, put an upturned bowl at the bottom, bread dough or cake mixture in a metal tray/bowl on top, lid on and whoosh. Campfire bread.
campfire bread

A good knife is essential 
Opinel no.6 knife
Something always needs cutting up, be it vegetables, bits of string or just opening packets of something. Mine’s an Opinel No. 6 knife, is ridiculously sharp and is brilliant. I’ve added a bit of sugru (the black stuff) around the locking collar as it can get a bit slippery.

Sporks are great
I love my spork. Some scouts turn up with a range of utensils, but I’ve yet to come across anything at camp that requires anything other than a spork. Mine even matches my new mug. How fancy is that?
spork spork spork

I’m terrible at remembering names
I’ve pretty much got the names of all of our scouts now (only taken 2 years), but when faced with an assortment of cubs and beavers, I’m lost. However, cubs and beavers find it hilarious that you can’t remember their names. I’ll resort to pointing at them and just running through random names until either I get it right or they tell me. They’re even more thrilled when you remember next time!

Slugs are horrible, icky things
Slugs are horrible. Here’s a valuable tip: ALWAYS (and I mean always) check the inside of your boots before putting them on. That squishy lump isn’t mud. And it’s not pleasant to have to clean partially squished slug out of your boots. Or off your socks.

Trust me on this.

Helping out is fun
A recent study suggests that volunteering is good for your health. Certainly on camp you get plenty of fresh air and exercise! It’s also great to give something back – I was in the cubs and scouts when I was younger and had a great time. All of the people running the camp are volunteers, and without them, it wouldn’t happen. Which would be sad. And, many hands make light work.

Fancy getting involved?

A pair of queens


I’ve started a separate blog about poker. I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you’re a poker regular, a novice or have never played before. Pop over and say hello!

Originally posted on cracked jacks:

stacks of poker chips
It was my second poker-in-real-life home game last weekend.

The first was a couple of weeks ago at my friend Andy’s house – I paid my money in, had a few beers and some tasty chilli and quietly folded my chips away over the course of a couple of hours. I’ve played online for a while now, but playing in person is a completely different kettle of fish.

More on that later.

One hand in particular stuck with me (for reasons which will become apparent!).

The evening is drawing on. We’ve lost two players already. The cards are dealt. (I can’t quite remember all of the details, but the key points are here. I may be missing some callers)

I peel back my cards from the baize. QQ. Nice, that’ll do.

The action moves around the table. A bet before me, and I raise. Andy calls, as does Jess.

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Movies – an A-Z roundup

So, April is done. My movie A-Z is over. I had a lot of fun writing it (and watching the movies).

Our alphabetical journey through film took us from Alien (and its sequels) through to Zardoz (and *that* photo). Along the way we stopped off in the eighties for Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club. We dallied in old-school animation with Miyazaki and Howl’s Moving Castle before going more high-tech with Pixar’s Up and WALL-E and Jack Black’s turn as Po, the Kung Fu Panda. We caught fire with Katniss Everdeen in the second Hunger Games movie and talked Bond old and new – Connery’s Goldfinger (to counter his Zardoz), Brosnan’s GoldenEye and Daniel Craig’s Quantum of Solace – not as bad as people make out, especially if you consider it the second half of Casino Royale.

Brosnan also gave us The Thomas Crown Affair, whilst Casino Royale’s Mads Mikkelsen turned up again as the mute Viking warrior One-Eye in the acid trip that is Valhalla Rising.

We journeyed into space, firstly for the big budget blockbuster The Empire Strikes Back (a thinly-veiled cover for me to wax lyrical about Star Wars) to the smaller films: Pitch Black and Moon. We got to Moon from Labyrinth, featuring Moon’s director’s dad in some splendidly scene-stealing trousers.

Speaking of scene-stealing trousers, Burt Reynolds’ jeans in Smokey and the Bandit could give Jareth’s a run for their money any day of the week. Throw in Bob Peck’s thighs in Jurassic Park and you’ve got quite the party. Something you’d only see in a cheese-induced dream, which leads us nicely onto Inception.

Back to reality with a bump (and a claw hammer) for Oldboy and The Raid, two superb examples of their genre. The action turned more Hollywood for National Treasure (featuring GoldenEye’s Sean Bean) and Die Hard (which had the Breakfast Club’s Mister Vernon). See? I did try and link this lot together!

Some letters were harder than others. X was only ever going to be The X-Files or X-Men. This time it was the former. Next time, the latter?

We finished with some laughs, courtesy of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. And, of course, Mister Connery. That photo always raises a smile. Oh, go on then. Here it is again.


That was my A-Z. I know I missed out a ton of really great films, and had some brilliant suggestions along the way via Twitter and in the comments. I may turn this into a regular thing. What do you think?