Eurythmics singer in public relations (7 letters)

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I try not to go into Lichfield on a Saturday if I can help it. Being a misanthropic sort the sight of hundreds of shoppers consuming leisure in the sun when there are so many better things to do, leaves me a bit cold. The bikes I saw were subtly different to those on display during the week.

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There were plenty of people cycling into town to pick up a few things. They were employing a number of methods to get them home. Panniers, baskets and trailers were all on display.

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This couple were looking a bit lost as I sat eating my sandwich on Bird Street, but they had just stopped someone to ask for directions so I didn’t disturb than any more than a quick snap.

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Then back home via Beacon Park where I observed a whole vacuum cleaner in a basket. Not something you see every day. Not in Lichfield anyway.

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He spoke to She Spoke Of Bikes In Birmingham blog

Last night via Facebook I chatted with the lovely Donna of the She Spoke Of Bikes In Birmingham blog. Donna is one of the people I have asked to write a guest blog for me but she has been so busy we decided to do a Q & A along the lines of the questions she asks of the cyclists she meets in Brum.


Tell me about your bike and where you got it?

I have two bicycles. The bike in the picture (above) is a Dawes Duchess. She is called the “The Duchess of Kings Norton.” I purchased it from Bike Pro in Kings Heath, Birmingham about three years ago. She’s not fast but she has a sturdy steel frame that I have customised to my own specification.
My other bicycle is a Globe Work 2 Mixte frame, that I purchased five months ago from the Specialized Concept Store in Erdington. This is called Francois.


Where did your bike take you the last time you rode it?

My bicycle took me from home to Kings Heath, then Kings Heath to Gas Street Basin, then from Gas Street Basin back to home. The round trip was approx 18 miles done by road and segregated bike lanes on National Cycle Network 5.

Why do you cycle?

As a child I always wanted my own a bike and travel places on it. I never did because I didn’t own a bike of my own and I couldn’t cycle. In my family we had one bike to share between six children, and by the time I could ride our Raleigh Traveller was mashed up. I did have a Raleigh Tiger trike, but it really didn’t “cut it” when it came to travelling further than the local sweet shop.

I cycle today because I love travelling by bike and train because I get to see so much more and meet some great people. It keeps me fit and healthy, it’s clean and green. I also like the freedom of cycling. I love the buzz and happiness it gives me and I believe it is a sensible and very accessible choice of transportation.

What do you think could be done to improve the cycling experience and encourage people to do it more?

Educate motorists through the media. Provide more on road cycle lanes. Maintain traffic free cycle routes and lay them with tarmac instead of gravel that wears away quickly. In some areas give cycles priority over the motor car. Advertise the benefits of cycling more widely.

Finally, why did you choose to write a blog, and what do you hope to do with it in the future?

I began to blog about cycling in Birmingham because in three years as a commuter cyclist, I was surprised at how many people I met saw cycling as something unusual, something of a novelty and not as a realistic and sensible choice of transportation. By presenting these real life stories, I could hopefully paint a picture for cyclists, none cyclists and maybe cyclists, that presents transportation cycling in Birmingham as realistic, accessible and a sensible choice. My hope is that people who stumble upon She Spoke of Bikes in Birmingham, will either find inspiration to try cycling, get an idea for a type of bike, or find something or someone that they can connect with. I hope it helps to do away with some of the limiting beliefs that people have about cycling for transportation and leisure.

I am not sure that I plan to do anything with it, however it has raised some attention in Birmingham and I now hope that it can give Birmingham some ideas about what people do and don’t like about Birmingham as a city for cycling and cyclists.

Thanks very much Donna, a real pleasure – you can read more from her blog here and on Facebook here.

Locked up in Lichfield part ten – gnarly

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I spotted this BMX locked up one Saturday outside St Marys on Market Square. I saw the same bike a few days later outside the Gatehouse pub. Not sure about locking it to that post as you could just lift it off and carry it away. Never saw the owner but when I see it I always imagine it being rode (ridden?) by a fully grown man in a hooded top, holding on to his youth when others around him have followed more boring grown up pursuits. I hope so.

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Alternative Sheriff’s Ride

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I noticed this poster outside the Guildhall advertising the annual Sheriff’s Ride, to be held this year on Saturday 7th September. The event involves a 20 mile horse ride led by the Sheriff around the outskirts of the city and is open to any horse rider who meets the events strict dress code and pays a £25 entry fee. The historic event dates back to 1553 when a royal charter separated Lichfield from Staffordshire and granted the city the right to appoint its own sheriff. Under the charter the sheriff was commanded to survey the boundaries of the new city every September, a tradition which has been upheld ever since.

As long as i’ve lived in Lichfield I have noted these quaint traditions but never felt they were relevant to me. To remedy that how about we have a ride that is open to all? One that doesn’t need a route that crosses private land but uses public roads instead? So, for this year at least, let us have an alternative Sheriffs Ride. On Saturday 7th of September there will be a bike ride around the streets of Lichfield, open to all. No need for an equine ambulance or police escort. Participate in the celebration of history and tradition rather than watching from the pavement. Who knows, maybe if this annual bunfight is forced to save costs when services to the community are being cut, the Sheriff may have to adopt a cheaper steed next year. Let the beasts of burden have a day off and make the Sheriff expend energy himself on a bike.

Cycle Rides For All – July ride cancelled

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Next months Cycle Rides For All on 7th July has had to be cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. We were due to do two rides from Beacon Park at 11am and 1pm and these will not take place. The next scheduled ride is on Sunday 4th of August, a 12 mile ride to Fradley Junction and back. Meet at 10am at Freedom Cycles on the day. Sorry to those looking forward to the shorter ride. They have been very popular and hopefully will be in the programme for next year.

From our Ireland correspondent – Away Day by Fionntra

We spend some of the Summer in Ireland. I get to go fishing and play the music I learned in Lichfield mostly at Chris Jordan’s pub at Freeford, the Horse and Jockey in the Monday evening Irish session. As a bonus I started to cycle again after a break of 25 years or so having seen so many people hiring bikes and riding round the Slea Head ride at the end of the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry where we hang out, ‘Back West’ as the locals say. West of Dingle, out to the most westerly point in Ireland. I set a target to do the ride myself. First time involved lots of stops to catch my breath and ‘Enjoy the View’ as my sympathetic cycling friend Tim says. It is a regular ride now that needs no stops, but you still do at strategic points to gasp at the scenery, the wildlife and the flora. Grand on a half decent day and completely magical in sunshine. The scenery is magnificent.


Yesterday the sun broke through and after a day out I had time for an hour on the bike so I went down the hill to the coast to look at some more out of the way corners. I did 4 miles and enjoyed every minute on and off the bike.





On the way back home to meet my deadline for tea I sidestepped to Baile anEanig to see the stream and old ford. I finished with a thrash back up the hill and arrived to the minute. Not like me, at all, at all!


    Old Ford Bridge at Baile anEanig

Later I played at Tommy O’Sullivan’s Court House Pub in Dingle. I met a piper from England, Pete, and as we were going we chatted, as you do, and he asked whether I played in Dublin. “No, mostly here, Lichfield and Birmingham”. His eyes sparked at the word Lichfield. “Do you know my great friend Damien then?” There was only an affirmative to give and other names too. It is a small world sometimes.


Went to see a man about a dog

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Earlier in the week the weather was fine and as I had the time, I cycled over to Rugeley to pick up these rolls of flouro pink bar tape, won for just over a quid on a famous auction website. Unusually the seller wanted to meet me in a layby next to a pub for collection. My wife told me not to go – it’s bar tape not a dodgy DVD player I reasoned with her. In the end I met an upstanding man and following a friendly chat we parted and I made my way home. I decided to get back to Lichfield on the canal tow path, all the way to Streethay. When I got home he had sent me an email refunding the amount I had already paid. As I told my wife, you get a different class of folks over in Rugeley. Thanks again matey. Here are some snaps I took on the journey.

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Straws n rasps on the Lchfield Road into Handsacre.

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New Handsacre allotments.

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Rugeley market.

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New houses going up on old Love Lane caravan site, Rugeley.

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Hawksyard Estate. I did a double take at this character peeping out of the foliage at me. Found an inconclusive discussion about it on the Canalworld forum.

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Tunnel coming away from Hawksyard.

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Armitage Shanks.

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Two desire paths. White and dark chocolate with a melted milk choc canal.

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Fradley Junction.

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On the Coventry Canal.

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Over the grassy bridge at Streethay Wharf.

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Pushed along the verge on A38.

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Railway crossing at Burton Old Road.

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I thought I had seen enough grass on my return journey. Was enjoying the smooth concrete again until I came across this.

Lost in Lichvegas

I was walking through the estate today when I came across an old fella sat on a wall puffing on his pipe. Leaning next to him was a purple folding bike, basket stuffed with carrier bags of clothes. He said he was looking for Curborough Road, for Pat who lived in the house with the white door but he didn’t know where it was. Everybody has white doors round here. He said he had been sent by his wife from Burton on an errand. My first thought was of those tweets along the lines of ‘man missing in Lichfield, please look out for him’.

So we chatted for a while as he re-lit his pipe, scorching his eyebrow as he did so. Turns out his name was Cedric and he said he stayed over at the Fradley Arms last night on the way. Within three minutes I had his life story in far too much detail to go into here. He’d had a few troubles but his injection today made him feel much better. I was just round the corner from my in laws so I went and fetched the first bike I could lay my hands on, this kids mountain bike.

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So off we went, me leading him along the pavement as he didn’t want to go on the road, puffing on his pipe down to and along Curborough Road. He was better on the bike than on his feet and as we were nearly there he suddenly recognised where he was. We got to the right house and there was Pat stood on the doorstep as if she had been expecting him to turn up just then with his bags of clothes. It wasn’t because he was on a bike that I stopped, it was because he looked lost. Not just geographically mind. Just another soul easily overlooked or ignored as people go about their hectic lives.

(Not) Locked up in Lichfield part nine

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As I mooched around town yesterday I snapped three photos of bikes left outside shops. The first was this lovely single speed propped outside the entrance to Wilko. The second was outside British Heart Foundation. I watched the owner take some donated goods from his pannier and drop them off in the shop.

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The last was a couple of lads outside B&M on Market Street. I used to joke that I didn’t lock my bike up in the town centre because I wanted to lose it so I could justify getting a new one. Truth is the chances of someone riding off on your bike are very slim. The more you observe, the more you notice the unlocked and unattended bikes and it’s often the same ones.


Mum’s the word by Esther

    Feeling a little burnt out it was a real pleasure to receive this. Thank you.

My favourite ride is the one I get to do on dry Sunday mornings when Wood End Car Boot is on. No kids to worry about, bargains and fun to be had.
I’ve been meaning to take some snaps of my regular journey for a few weeks now, but the camera has either been on other bike rides or being used for an animation that just has to be finished.
It’s not a long ride, I can’t even tell you how far it is, or how long it takes me, but I enjoy every minute of it. Early morning peace and quiet on the roads has its advantages.
The plane vapour trails in the sky this morning caught my eye when I tried to get a snap of Mr. Blackbird who was singing in the overgrown hedge at the top of Dimbles Lane.

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For the past few weeks there has been a 10mph sign on Eastern Avenue following road resurfacing, this hasn’t stopped motorists from doing their normal speeds sending road chippings hurtling towards me making me cringe as I freewheel down the big hill.

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Watery Lane somehow makes me smile for many different reasons. It’s the first sight of open fields and countryside wildlife. I always hear the skylark(s) up the tiny hill just past the railway bridge.

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I stopped today, for the first time ever, at my favourite field and in the waste land next to it were three bundles of bouncy fluffiness.

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Riding through Curborough, the sign “Please drive carefully” was tinged with irony this morning.

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A bike would find it incredibly hard to do this to wildlife.

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The old post box always catches my attention.

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Then it’s a gentle cruise down past the sewage works (no smell today) and steady climb up the final hill. Turn onto Wood End Lane and there it is, dinosaur poo! Named by someone else’s kids, but will forever be dinosaur poo wherever I see it in a field.

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Nearly there, the traffic gets a bit busier and always the disapproving looks from drivers as I win the road to turn into the entrance.

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So after all the excitement of the ride comes the expectation of the car boot. How many sellers? How many cars in the car park? It’s been a disappointing season weather wise this year, most of the Sunday’s I’ve been able to get to the car boot have been cold and grey, but dry and I’ve come back laden with goodies. Today – where was everyone?

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It was a lovely morning, sunny, but the car boot was about half the size it is on a bad day! Maybe all the rain yesterday put sellers off. Still, I got me some bargains and headed off home.

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It’s a slightly different ride on the way home, the same roads, I just have stuff in the basket and backpack and have to concentrate more.
Big shout out to the LCC chap in his Zipvit gear, who was the only cyclist to smile and say “Good morning”. A smile goes a long way and it was much appreciated.
I couldn’t help stop and take a shot of the pylon bringing electricity to the city.

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Bargain of the day? A wooden flute for 20p.

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