It rained – suddenly roads were turned into streams and my inadequate clothing leaked. I was soaked to the skin in seconds. We were travelling downhill into Askrigg when water gushed up through the drain tops. The gentle rolling countryside of the Dales was transformed in moments into a threatening place where rains lashed, water courses overflowed and lightening crashed around us. All we had were two frames of metal and wheels of steel against all those forces of the natural world.
As we sheltered in the village pub we dripped and waited for the storm to pass. The damp stayed with us for the rest of the day. The short ride to Hawes felt like a long trek into town.
But when a taxi finally delivered us to our cottage, warm dry clothes never felt so comforting. The stream outside the window had turned into a torrent to live up to it’s purpose as the source of the mighty River Wharfe – feeding the waters collected from the hills above Oughtershaw into the channel that finds it’s way to the sea through the beauty of Wharfedale to Ilkley and Otley and on to join the Ouse at Drax south of York.
That was just one day of our holiday. Some days we walked, others cycled, but the rain was constant.
It winds across 170 miles of some of Britain’s most spectacular countryside. The new Way of the Roses Cycle Route has just opened and I’m itching to get into the saddle to conquer it.
The route passes through places that are deeply embedded in my life – Ripon and York, places where I have lived and now live. The roads outlined in yellow on the map are both familiar and new. I have probably traversed the whole route at one time or another – but never strung together in one long trek from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Altogether it looks to be better than the C2C which in my experience loses it’s charm as it crosses some of the more industrialised parts of county Durham and on to the sea. The Roses in contrast skirts the Yorkshire Wolds and heads towards Bridlington in its closing miles.
I have another reason to face the challenge of the ride. I am involved in setting up a new charity to provide homes for homeless people in York. It’s a daunting and challenging project in itself, but we need to some seed funding until it becomes self sustaining. At a meeting to form the charitable trust this week I raised the prospect of riding the Way of the Roses, and the challenge was immediately picked up by my relatively new friend Ed Hambleton. Ed and I separately had the vision to provide housing and support for homeless people and were brought together when, in the same week, we contacted Green Pastures Housing for some help and guidance. That was at the end of last year. Now we are working together with other Christians in York to breath life into the vision.
So expect another invitation to visit a giving website and donate to our cause.
One thing puzzles me about the Way of the Roses route. Next to the village of Clapham just off the A65 there’s a puzzling warning. “Steep hill, poor surface, pedestrians, children, dogs and dark tunnels” Just what awaits us there?
This is where we parked our car for today’s walk. As we returned, lights twinkled in Castle Howard and the Christmas lights glowed on the trees along the drive and down the hillside towards the lake. Above them the crescent of the moon shone brightly in the dying light of a good walking day.
I have recently seen two films. The Boat that Rocked and The Damned United.
The second of those films I watched on my own, the assumption being that it was a man’s film. It gave me the chance to enjoy it without being conscious of what Joan might have thought of it had she been sitting next to me; a significant factor.
The Damned United
Brian Clough as depicted by Michael Sheen, was not a complicated person. He had drive, doubts, nerve, he was obsessed, thought a lot of himself and told anyone who would listen, and many who cared not to, just how good he was.
His dependence on Peter Taylor, who put up with almost all of his arrogance in a very gracious way, was clear from the start. So when Clough went to Leeds without Taylor, it was also clear he was being set up to fail.
For me the film rang true because of that honest depiction of both sides of leadership shown in the character of Brian Clough. That it was set in a footballing context only made it more engaging. It had that northern grit seen in films like Brassed Off, The Full Monty and Billy Elliot, and reflected a working class world that still existed in the 70s. I left the City Screen in York, thoughtful and satisfied.
So I was delighted by the Screen Yorkshire interview with Andy Harries of Left Bank Pictures who lifted the curtain on the negotiations behind the scenes that allowed him to film The Damned United in Yorkshire.
The Boat That Rocked? Well it did, but for me the film sank. The music was good but the weak storyline and the monotonous depiction of debauched lifestyles on board Radio Rock was tasteless. It wasn’t a worthy document of the pioneers who opened up a channel for pop radio in the UK. There are better ways of wiping the smug grins off the faces of BBC and government officials than pretending pirate radio was responsible not only for free radio but also for the whole of the permissive age. On reflection this was more the man’s film in a unreconstructed, cave man sort of way. Brian Clough’s story was much more about real life and family and gives insight into a man’s world with a very accessible storyline.