Category Archives: cycling

Hockey, Darts, Coombe Hill and The Grand Union Canal

Sunday morning stroll around Coombe Hill

Hockey Coaching

A disappointing turnout on Monday evening with about 10 people coming along – I’m hoping the numbers aren’t a reflection of what we are doing and more about half term / general apathy.

We built on the previous week by introducing more dynamic basics routines, receiving the ball on the move and passing on the move, we also re-introduced the cone gate for them to focus on too. We then moved onto some aerials training which had been requested by one of the younger participants. Aerials is something I’ve never been able to do properly and would never dare to try it in a game. To be fair they all did the exercise of throwing the aerial top D then shooting pretty well. No goalie though and still a lot of shots missed. Paul then introduced a couple of great exercises, firstly 3 v 1 in a box and passing to each player on a cone, trying to intercept and then a 3 v 2 exercise, introducing basic defending skills, line to goal concept and of course shooting. We then finished with a small game. I’m still enjoying it immensely and building the exercises up over the weeks and working as a team with Paul is very enjoyable and I think working well. Watching the down time though, it is still all about shooting from the top of the D, some things will never ever change, only the very odd person practising their skills or close control etc.


Simon, part of the triples I was ‘helping’

Martin Whatsapp’d me last week, he was desperate for a player for the triples knockout competition. I had no idea what that was, and my memories of the last time I played in the World Cup Football period last year was one of barely being able to hit the board. I used to be ok (20+ years ago) but agreed to come along to the General Arms in Chesham to help out under The Crown Pub team branding! The strategy for me was to ‘hit the board’ aiming bottom left for maximum possible points. It seemed to work as we won the first match, I even hit a double 16 to checkout one game. We should have won the second match, but unfortunately we were knocked out. Drinking lime and soda probably didn’t help my cause either. The pub itself was quite nice with plenty of TV’s showing the night’s football action. The other darts players were friendly too.

Cycle along the Grand Union Canal

Grand Union Canal near Watford / Croxley Green

On Saturday afternoon in between taxi trips, I popped out on the hybrid to do a short cycle ride along the Grand Union Canal. I rather fancied a sausage sandwich at Cafe @ loch 81 too which doesn’t close until 5.30. I pootled down past the Dumb Bell and and picked up the canal by The Coy Carp pub as usual. I quickly arrived at the cafe so thought i’d carry on a bit longer before indulging in the sausage sandwich, eventually turning around somewhere around Watford. I just love the tranquility by the canal and the quaint views of a bygone era. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to the cafe at 3.45, they’d stopped serving hot food – 15 minutes earlier would have been fine. So a cake and cup of tea had to suffice.

Coombe Hill Family Walk

Coombe Hill panoramic (Jamie must have moved!)

I’d wanted to pop over to the highest point in the Chilterns for some time now, particularly with Rebecca. It was a glorious day and we eventually managed to get the whole family (begrudgingly) out of the house and over to the National Trust car park by Coombe Hill. I have to say, it hold spectacular views over Aylesbury and the surround areas (including Chequers). It was a delightful short walk with everyone and we all caught up on what’s been happening, made me so pleased and was the best time spent with family in ages.

Web Work Week

The highlight of the week was a trip to Milton Keynes for the SME Bucks MK small business awards where I had entered Cater For You into the Fastest Growing Business category. I was delighted to be a guest of the AJH Cables team who were also there in the Best Entrepreneur category. Apart for that, it has been head down getting through a huge amount of web work including ongoing work on the Fastbreak site which is now getting to alpha stages, J&J and preparing images for the new Cater For You web site. We should be signing off the final designs for that and look forward to the next stage of front end development.

Rickmansworth Golf

So I finally managed to get a round of golf in. It was a glorious day on Friday, so after a lunch time meeting in Chesham I managed to get to Rickmansworth and dash round in the glorious sunshine. A bit of a rush so we didn’t play terribly well, but was nice to feel the warm sun on my skin.

Dumb Bell

Finally, on Sunday Sarah and I walked Molly up to the Dumb Bell pub to watch Crystal Palace on TV and have a quiet drink. We bumped into Banner and had a delightful few hours catching up and giggling away. We also had one of their burgers, it was delicious too.

In the Dumb Bell with Molly, Banner and B

Next week is a very busy work week and I’m hoping I can finally shift my cough / cold combination – still fine to work and function, just really annoying.

Le Manoir Meal, Hockey and Wine Tasting

The first half of the week was quiet down in Eastbourne again but made up for it at the end of the week and I took one of my more amusing photos for a while.

Hockey Coaching and Watching

Before popping to Eastbourne, I resumed by hockey coaching career with Paul on Monday evening, trying to build on the previous weeks work with more basics of moving the ball, attacking and defending exercises with a game at the end. After watching a few of the player’s games recently, learning to pass the ball quickly, accurately, picking it up whilst moving, not letting it bounce of the stick straight to the opponent and knowing what to do with it all needed work! One of the first exercises was right back to basics and exaggerating the sticking of the left elbow out and up in front to teach them to dribble in front of them rather than besides their feet. Also worked on left hand strength with a game of killer in the D just using the left hand.

I also ended up watching a couple of sessions with Jamie playing – Bucks training on Friday and ACHC U14s match on Sunday. Some of the principles applied to them as well, but there was an awful lot of ball watching going on, lack of structure and watching the line to goal which was interesting. I think what makes a great player is not just the technical ability and confidence to execute a move, but the ability to read a game before it happens, where the ball is going to be moved and hence what position to stand in ready for the play to unfold. Friday was also good as I caught up with an old friend Matt from Aylesbury Hockey Club who I’ve toured occasionally with a few times over the last 20 + years.

Web Work

Plastic Gin Glasses – with reflections!

Undertook plenty of work again this week for the usual clients. I was having particular fun trying to migrate a lot of data to a new WooCommerce web site into my local staging Desktopserver web site. I popped in to see Ian at J&J Air Systems again this week too – we are continuing to make good progress on visitor numbers for their site. We still have a huge amount of work to do though, but it is exciting.

I only popped into Cater For You for a few hours this week, but took a number of photos for a combination of new products and new photos for the new web site. I put up a couple of photos for a brand new plastic gin glasses section, but think i’ll have to re-do them as the reflection of the camera and lightpod is so bad.

Birthday Celebrations

Wine tasting

We spent the weekend celebrating Sarah’s birthday. First off was a trip to Oxfordshire and a meal at the Le Manoir. As you can see from the photos, Sarah was looking absolutely beautiful, I’m very lucky. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t wander round the gardens, but the whole afternoon was a fabulous experience. The knowledge of the serving team, the reception, the quality of the food was all exceptional and incredibly friendly, a special afternoon for us.

Afterwards we had a small family gathering to celebrate with a glass or two and a slice of cake. Saturday was the main day though as Sarah had organised a fabulous wine tasting event. The event host was very knowledgeable and introduced us to three white then three red wines, introducing us to how to test the alcohol levels (legs), acidity and which region of the world the grape would come from. It was unilaterally declared that I was a cheap date as I couldn’t tell what was what due to my taste buds!

Special mention to Stratton Bakery too who did Sarah’s absolutely fabulous birthday cake, something very special indeed with after eight mints all round it.


My foot was still painful, but I did do a few dog walks with Molly and also tried a cycle ride. Particularly exciting was that I was allocated a place in the Prudential ride 100 ballot so need to get back up to speed on my bike. I’m afraid Saturday was a bit of a disaster as I completely ran out of energy and then got cramp in my calf in pouring rain, so had to phone Sarah to pick me up after 25 miles. It is almost half a year since I did the London to Brighton I guess, but this will be almost twice as long as that. The Isle of Wight I think was over 70 miles, but that was very hilly too. Need to get my head down to get fit again though. I’m also considering doing a duathalon if I can get my foot back running without pain again.

Particularly amusing when walking Molly was seeing a lorry driving from the HS2 site at the back of us – completely dominating Chesham Lane. Also is a dump of garden waste on Shire Lane again and a few photos of the development starting at Newland Park. Whilst I was cycling I saw what I thought was a hilarious photo of a horse hanging out of The Swan pub in Swan Bottom.

Still no golf…

London to Brighton Cycle Ride

Ditchling Beacon pano

About a year ago, in the Dumb Bell over a pint or two, Cashman and I were chatting, as we do and drifted onto the subject of cycling. I was in yet another enforced hockey injury sabbatical (see previous Hockey Masters post and my achilles issues) and needed something to keep me fit to try and limit the risk of my Psoriatic Arthritis coming back.

Bacon Sandwiches at Loch 81 Cafe So we decided to enter the London to Brighton cycle ride and started our ‘training’ going down to West Hyde. From there we picked up the canal (nice and flat) most Sunday mornings and had a bacon sandwich at Lock 81 Cafe (highly recommended) and a cup of tea before cycling back.  That ride is a measly 12 miles or so, not quite the 56 or so miles for the London to Brighton cycle ride!

Spring arrived and Cashman bought a new road bike as we thought that it could be a bit tough on his old mountain bike and we started doing some more training.  At this point, we owe a huge thanks to Finchy, a seasoned professional who showed us some of his favoured local routes.  Shortly before the actual ride I was riding 2/3 times a week through the long sunny evenings normally over 30 miles each time.

Training near Ley Hill

Training along the country roads near Ley Hill

I used to love running as I explored the surrounding countryside and places I had never been before and beautiful views.  Cycling takes this to the next level and Finchy showed us a whole series of routes around the Chilterns, predominantly via Ley Hill (where I might have occasionally curtailed a ride to see my mate Martin!), St Leonards, Cholesbury, Hawridge, Hyde Heath and more.

I surprised myself with my training and even hired a bike on the Isle of Wight, completing the round the Island cycle route with my brother in law.  That was an epic achievement over a whole day covering almost 70 miles, glorious countryside and a lot of hills – who knew it was quite so hilly.  The roads (unlike Buckinghamshire) were like cycling on a billiard table.

So the day itself came along and I had no qualms about finishing thanks to the IOW trip, just the odd worry about a puncture – but I have tyres that minimise that risk.  It was a dry day, though overcast and cold at the start at Clapham Common.  Thanks to Cash’s better half Ang for driving us there for our start (and for driving my bike back from Brighton too).

We set off a little later than we hoped at 8.30 and were quickly on our way.  The initial few miles were a series of traffic lights and roundabouts, which was tricky with clip in pedals and we saw one or two people falling off their bikes at the lights!  We were soon out of the suburbs and into some beautiful Surrey villages coasting along with the crowds.

London to Brighton Lunch Stop

London to Brighton Lunch Stop

We did stop for lunch, but the queues were so long we decided to press on without eating – we had plenty of reserves about us, so confident we could keep going.  The ride was a delight until we arrived at the hill at Ditchling.  This was an absolute killer, but I had gone ahead of Cashman so thought I would try and cycle the whole way up and relax at the top.  I managed it!

The final ride into Brighton was a delight and the city is really geared up for cycling though again the constant traffic lights were there to stop and start us.  By the end of the ride, I was tired but also ecstatic that i’d achieved what we had set out to do and tick it off my non bucket existent list.  The time of just over 4 hours was pleasing too.

The beer with Cash and our families in glorious sunshine and hot weather was well deserved, even if I had to drink it out of plastic pint glasses.

The two long rides have really whetted my appetite and I’ve entered the London 100 cycle ride and hear in February whether I’ve got a place or not.  In the meantime, with the darker nights, my cycling is restricted to the weekends and maybe a few more bacon sandwiches…

Below is the Strava route (slightly short) and a few photos of the day.

A huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me too, raising over £400 for Versus Arthritis.

Seaford Parade, Eastbourne Beach and Gardening Update!

Seaford Parade and FairWe as a family had a very relaxing and enjoyable bank holiday weekend. We popped down to Eastbourne on the Saturday morning first thing avoiding all the traffic and went down to the beach – where it was fairly overcast and not particularly warm.

As we were there the beach went down to low tide so were hunting round the rock pools to see if we could find any wildlife which was good fun.

Back at the house, we had taken the stablisers of Rebecca’s bike and she managed to cycle across the whole lawn without falling off which was pretty impressive – more so given that grass isn’t the easiest surface to learn on. Jamie was of course really wanting to do the same, but he is some way off yet – not least he cannot touch the floor yet – he can just about stretch to the peddles!

On Sunday we went down to Seaford on the bus from Friston for a village parade they were having. It was an absolutely glorious day down there, the highlight was of course the bus ride. The first photo is of them on a train ride at the fair which was at the end of the parade. It was so good we all were slightly burnt in various places – arms and backs.

Seaford ParadeThe bus service really is good down there – it is every 10-15 minutes between Brighton and Eastbourne hardly any need to drive really and you get to see the beautiful scenery in between.

On Monday we spend the day in the garden in the sunshine which was really nice. I finished off planting all the greenhouse plants in to the garden and clearing more space in the veg patch. It is fair to say it is absolutely packed now. I have several vegetables I’ve not planted before including peas, onions, red cabbage, strawberries and parsnips.