Thursday, 27 November 2008

Just messing around with my camera.

No cycling today, I've got a cold and a bit of a temperature, so thought I'd stay indoors, and experiment with uploading images from my camera, as opposed to using the camera on my mobile phone. The mobile phone got me started, but the quality is poor, at only 2 megapixels. Mind you my camera, that I hope to be using from now on, is an old one, it's a Kodak Easyshare C530. I'm hoping that not only the quality will improve with its 5 megapixels, but also the occasional reader to my blog, will be able to click on the picture and get a larger image, just as I'm able to do when I view my favourite blogs, namely mnbicyclecommuter, and up in alaska.

The first picture is of my garden shed, which is stuffed full of all the bric a brac of our house, home and garden. I promise to get a shot of inside soon. But I'm quite proud of the organised chaos inside, there is so much inside, yet, I still manage to park and gain access to my Subway 1, for my commutes and leisure rides. In fact I think I'll go and take that shot now, won't be a moment.
Some mess eh? But the good news is I've just clicked on the image, and yes my reader(s), can get a magnified version if they want/need to. So some progress is being made slowly but surely, one day I hope to be as professional as you other bloggers out there. So be patient with me.

The picture below is of Elizabeth and my youngest son, Tierloch, that I took a couple of weeks ago, when we went for a walk along the canal at Resolven. They are stood on the cycle path I sometimes travel along.
I had a couple of other shots of the shed, interesting subject I know, which I uploaded to the blog, but had to give up trying to manoeuvre and delete, so I'm going to try to upload again and reposition, here goes.
Success! This shows the confined space I have to work in,
you can plainly see the Subway 1, in the bottom right hand
corner, and all the "vital household supplies," that Elizabeth and the boys, Keiron and Tierloch banish to the shed.

Here's one final shot for you to look at.

As you can see, a study of the shed door with various jackets hanging on it. These are my high viz jackets, essential now we're on winter time, pitch black when I leave in the mornings, and the same on the way home at night.
Talking about the shed, it's long been my goal to use it as my bicycle workshop, and storage area. Keeping all my cycle specific gear, as it grows is proving a nuisance for Elizabeth, so storage in the shed, is definitely the answer. However, as all of you can see, there's just no more room. Back in the summer, we bought a shed in kit form, that currently is stored in Tierloch's garage around the corner, we just haven't got round to laying a base for it, and erecting it, I'm not a good mechanic/engineer etc., I think I'm more of a thinker than doer. Still it's all waiting in the wings for these major leaps to be made. Time is the key, and who was it that said tempus fugit.
I'm off now to pick up Elizabeth from the haidresser's.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Feeling so helpless, useless....

Just responded to the TV appeal for aid in Eastern Congo, donated £20, whatever that's worth in this 'credit crunch.' Can't get the image of a little boy of 6 or 7, carrying a sack, of what I presume are his only belongings, to fade from my mind. But it's the look of total fear and dejection on his face, that already haunts me, a little boy lost and alone, trying to survive. It is heartbreaking.

What kind of world is it we are living in? What can we do, better still what can I do?

Making a donation is something, but not enough, and I feel just so helpless and useless...

Monday, 17 November 2008

What did I say about time?

Looking west across the Neath river meanders
across the wide valley floor in it's "old age stage"

Yet again time has flown, I haven't been on my bike for 3 days now, and didn't manage to write up about my last ride either, which I was very pleased with, and enjoyed, because it was a new route for me.
Virtually the same shot, just trying to improve
what can be seen, on this damp morning, as you
can see, with no success.
A nicer image here of the old church at Cadoxton,
I presume it is St. Cadoc's. one of the famous
saints of Wales.
This new route then, it was down the opposite side of the valley. I travelled down the valley as far as Resolven, then crossed over the bridge, travelling through Resolven itself, then along the B road, from there into Neath itself, via Aberdulais, and Tonna, but on the left side of the river.
The road is more up and down, than the one on the other side, which is the main reason I've never ventured upon it, because of what I now believe is my psychological fear of hills. Also it's a longer route into Neath.
Well I was very pleasantly surprised, because the hills did not give me any grief at all, and I'm getting more comfortable using the derailleur gears. I don't think they were as bad as I'd allowed myself to imagine. Consequently, the ride was very enjoyable, but I didn't tarry, as I had to get back to Elizabeth, so didn't have time to take any photos. Well just three, again not very good quality, but the good news is, I've just figured out how to upload pictures from our old camera, which has twice as many pixels, so hopefully the said quality will improve. Of course I'll have to remember to carry it with me.

Friday, 14 November 2008

So much to do, so little time.

That heading, no doubt, will strike a chord with everyone. I've thought about those two facts often, but now as I get older, it rings truer and truer. The world is a massive place, no one will ever see it all, indeed my small home country Wales is a huge place, if one was to try and see it all, but at least on that scale, it could possibly be done. How much time would it take? I've no idea, except to say, maybe a lifetime.

What about this beautiful valley that I live in, could I see it all? I presume I could, but I don't just mean see it , I mean "see it" in all its clothes, winter, spring, summer and autumn, in snow, rain, winds and mists, also to understand its history, through pre-history, the iron and bronze ages, Celtic, Roman times, the middle ages, the Tudors, the Stuarts, through the industrial revolution, what happened here in the two World wars, and so, so much more.

I think you'll all agree, it would be a lifetime's work, to see and understand the whole of this Neath valley. That lifetime would need to be free of any other committments, with a ready supply of finance etc..

But what a joy that life's work would be, and best of all, it could be done from the saddle of a bike. What better way to traverse the whole of this place, and at a pace that gives one the chance to see all and miss nothing, though it might take many repeated trips to note all its wonders, and hidden charms.

So much has been achieved by so many around the world, incuding, no doubt, in this little valley in Wales. I'd love to see it though layers of the past, to see what common themes, if any, have survived down through the centuries. But it all takes time, something that is hard to come by, with a partner, full time job ( thank God ), and a family home to keep going. I often kid myself, when I retire I'll have time..... Just a pipe dream, but hopefully I'll keep my cycling going, up, down and across this beautiful valley, getting to know it ever better, but only ever scratching the surface to seek all it has, is and will be.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Photos on stream again.

Took this shot on my way home from Pontneathvaughan
( Pontnethfechan in Welsh )
I had a great autumnal ride this morning, I got up with Tierloch, my youngest son, who leaves for his work at 05.45, and I was out on the road, lights ablaze pedalling down the valley, away from the sunrise. I did my usual loop, through sleeping Glynneath, around a silent Cwmgwrach, down the valley, through Resolven, but then turned back at Ynysarwed. By this time it was getting light, and I started to take a few photos.
These shots are not in the same sequence as my ride, I uploaded them all first to this blog and am now writing around them, if you understand what I mean. Still very much a novice at this.
This is the walk/cycle trail towards some waterfalls
at the very top of the Neath valley.

Another shot of the same trail.

At the foot of the falls, I'll have to look up the name.

This is the end of the trail, looking up at the falls.
This is actually a bridge over the dissused section
of the Neath canal, built to carry coal from Cwmgwrach washery.
Fascinating how it's become overgrown.
This is the road I travel on my local rides, as well
my commute, passing the above bridge on the right.
Looking back up the valley towards the sunrise
from the same spot.

This is the dissused canal looking back towards
Glynneath, this is where I saw the female otter
and her two cubs, earlier in the year.
Still on the same bridge, looking down the canal,
notice it's only a trickle this side, the canal preservation
society has been levelling the left side, and strengthening
the bank. Sadly it comes to a deadend a couple of hundred
yards on.
Here's the river Neath, looking from the now
defunct railway bridge, that used to carry coal
over it, to the washery, and back again, before being
carried down to Swansea docks, via Neath, either
by rail or the canal.
Looking upstream from the same bridge.

Sadly my phone camera completely fails to
portray the beautiful autumnal colours of the
trees, on the edge of Rheola forest, approx.,
halfway between Glynneath and Resolven.
I cycled up into the forest along a forestry road
and took this picture of a stream flowing towards
the Neath river.
This is Pontwalby, my part of Glynneath, I live
up the hill, turning left past the top house. When
I first started cycling, I found it hard, still do, on
occasion, when I'm tired after a long day at work.
This is the bridge at Pontwalby, which means
Walby bridge, but what you see is the Neath
river, Walby must refer to the tributary that
joins the river just round the bend downstream.

Looking back upstream from Pontwalby bridge.

The Subway 1.

Looking down the Neath canal towards Ynysarwed,
which means Arwed island, presumably because the village,
or should I say, small terrace of houses, sits on a little hill
at the side of the valley. Notice the towpath, which I cycle along,
and the bridge, which is mainly used by a farmer to get to
his farmhouse to the left.

This part of the canal is in total disrepair, this
used to be one of the locks, at Abergarwed.

Looking towards Ynysarwed again, but this time
from the lock, quite a pleasant scene, as nature
reclaims its own.
Here's the Neath river at Abergarwed which means
mouth of the Arwed, this is where the Arwed river or
stream joins the Neath river.
A quieter section of the river upstream from

And again.
This is the cycle trail I use at Cwmgwrach.
Well I hope this gives any reader a further taste of my neck of the woods.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Time flies, doesn't it.

It's almost 2 weeks since my last post, where does the time go? The weather has been horrendous, but I've braved the rains and winds, to keep up a daily average of 20 miles at least. I can do a 2 hour loop each day before Elizabeth is up, and then share the rest of the day with her, when I'm not working, and do my 40 mile roundtrip commute, when in work for the day or night. The Subway 1 continues to perform well, but I've decided to get some pedal clips, because my new cycle specific shoes slip on the pedals when wet.

Stupidly I thought any pair would do, so I bought a pair in Halford fo £6.99, brought them home to discover they won't fit the Subway 1's pedals. We live and learn I suppose, so for the moment I'm back to square one. The slipping is a real problem when I stand out of the saddle going up hill, it's only recently that I've acquired/used this skill, I believe the geometry of the Subway 8 made it difficult for me, while the Subway 1 is more accomodating, then again perhaps it's all in my head.

Going to have to stop for now, I'll try to write up some more asap, time certainly does fly, sometimes I wish I could, but even that skill would be pushed into 2nd place after cycling.