Monday, 8 October 2012


It’s funny how finding a reduced pasty from Asda can set the tone for a day. A simple bargain that plays a subconscious bearing on an otherwise undisturbed day, easily breezed through. Value for money and serenity remained a prominent theme throughout yesterday as the final year of University truly began. Up until now settling in had been at the forefront of thought and a lack of a trusty steed (following the destruction of my bicycle in April*) had prevented any form of escape from the intense reacclimatisation to city living. However, equipped with a new bike, new lens and a mind in need of refreshing, the day to escape had come.
The new bike (supposed to be a bargain from Halfords) lived up to its price tag and was uncomfortable at the very least. Although none of this mattered because the Cumbrian sun beating down on pale skin overrode any notions of negativity. Departure from the city was slow and cumbersome, not unlike the bike. Encountering the Great Cumbrian Run did not help matters as trying to manoeuver what essentially feels like a bicycle made for kids proved more difficult than anticipated. The majority of the runners were running past me as I tried desperately not to impede them in any way. Navigating the crowds of enthusiastic onlookers also proved to be a challenge.

Once upon the open road, rather stereotypically with the wind in my hair and the golden sun illuminating the troublesome fields of corn still in need of harvest, a wave of familiarity struck me. Reconnecting with Sandsfield, then Burgh-by-Sands, Dykesfield and finally Drumburgh. It was good to be back.

A week or so previous to this delightful Sunday afternoon there had been an American Golden Plover at Drumburgh. The task of finding the needle in a needleless haystack proved to be as fruitless as could be expected. After scouring the Eden river channel (at the correct tide level as had been advised by Cain Scrimgeour) there was no sign of it. Hundreds of Lapwings, Black Headed Gulls and Common Sandpipers with the odd Redshank, Lesser Black Backed Gull and Cormorants dotted around along with a solitary Grey Heron.

 As far as wildlife photography was going it was slim pickings as the unreachable salt marsh habitat proved more enticing than a seat next to a man with a gun shaped object. I guess when you see it through their eyes… 

There was no better time to test the other bargain. The Canon 50mm f1.8 lens was certainly a bargain and will prove useful for future film projects. An opportunity to play with its low depth of field always turns out to be a fun distraction.

Eventually, as the tide began to flood the Solway estuary, splashing could be heard. It took a while to register but something was trying to get at a trio of Redshank perched precariously close to a miniature muddy slope. A quick switch of lens back to the 400mm meant spelled the end of the DoF fun. Never got to see this creatures true identity, only ever saw the rippled following each failed attempt at a snap at the birds, but it was probably a seal.


The daunting realistation that this trip was coming increasingly close to having an incredible total of 0 close up wildlife pictures left me frantically looking for a subject. Fortunately a couple of Collared Doves posed nicely. Not the most exotic of birds but they have a certain charm and are definitely a step up from Pigeons.

True to form the bike ride proved entertaining on the journey home as the handlebar came loose. 10 miles worth of wobbly bicycle riding on the bike that only 3 days before had been put together for a £20 service change (not much of a bargain after all). Thanks for trying to kill me Halfords! Never a dull day out in Cumbria. At least the lens and pasty went down a treat.

Footnote: An Allen key has since been purchased and extra time was found to practice on “wildlife” with the 50mm lens.

[The following is a story relating to the "April*" section of the last story that explains the bike situation... it's just a better story than this one and fits in nicely with the theme]

* April featured the climax of filming for the Stumpy documentary. A last ditch attempt to get documentary affairs in order. With just 2 weeks of filming and editing left I had managed to get an interview with the manager of RSPB Campfield Marsh.

People may be aware that bike troubles had already been an issue if they have read previous blog post however this time repairs had been made and a bicycle pump purchased...

At 10am, following a rigorous tyre inflation and repair session, I left knowing full well that I had left plenty of time to cycle the 15 miles to Campfield Marsh. Almost instantly the front tyre deflated so I hopped off, brandishing the pump and reinflated the tyre ensuring the cap was reattatched approriately. Just outside Carlisle the tyre repeated its little trick. Determined to make it on time, regardless of numbers of pit stops necessary, I ploughed on. Miraculously the tyres remained well behaved for around the next 6 miles before having their final hissy fit (literally... its downfall was easily audible). Despite multiple patches and copious volumes of glue being slathered over the inner tube the tyre had given up. Stranded in Burgh-by-Sands, 7 miles from home. It was only 11am just had to think hard.

A pricey bus journey and abandonment of the bike (albeit temporary abandonment) was the only option. The bus terminated at Bowness-on-Solway and lugging my camera equipment, including a 6kg tripod, the final miles became somewhat of a trek: a trek at a canter.

Thankfully I made the interview with 5 minutes to spare; Norman Holton was a true gentleman and perfect interviewee. The next mission was to get home. With no money and just a return ticket to Burgh-by-Sands getting home would happen eventually. How long it took became irrelevant. I had the interview and that was all I needed; or so I thought as the heavens opened. Within minutes of stepping out of the entrance to Campfield Marsh I was drenched.

A hop, skip and a jog to Bowness ensued, rendering me breathless and resembling a drowned rat that had just been washed in with the tide. Sodden I stepped into the King’s Arms PH (the final pub on the Hadrian’s Wall path). The locals informed me I had just missed a bus and the next was in around 50 minutes. Unexpectedly the landlord and locals were very accommodating and the pity drink and good company was much appreciated.

At around 6pm the bus came and whisked me away to Burgh-by-Sands and back to the wreck that was the bike. The bike maintained it’s stubborn ass
façade and dug it’s heels in; refusing to be repaired, choosing instead to be pushed the 7 miles home. This journey proved to be the last for this bike as on the 7 mile journey the rear tyre also gave in. Still not quite sure how but the inner tube was slashed and hanging out between the lip of the tyre and the rim of the frame:
The final straw that broke the ass’s back.

Thanks for reading! (especially if you made it this far).