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There are days when I ride somewhere because it is the fastest way to get somewhere…

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…and days when I grit my teeth and tell myself over and over that it is good for me and the environment in the hope my smug green glow somehow has mystical weather-protecting qualities, and get home with a beard full of ice and shoes full of water.

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And there are days when everything comes together and the sun shines and the air is clear, and even though it is a long way to go and the temperatures are below freezing you couldn’t pay me enough to travel any other way…

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…so if you came here  for the ususal grumpiness, it has been delayed by good weather. Normal service will be resumed. Eventually…

Look: Blue sky...

Much excitement today: not only was the early morning ride actually conducted in daylight, but under blue sky and on a dry road. There were snowdrops, a lack of mud, and a red kite flying overhead.

Of course, as soon as I’d got over this, I remembered that this means the growing season will be upon us soon, and I don’t have the vegetable beds ready, or the seeds ordered, and I need to sort out the compost bin, and…

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The long silence was not due to my having gone out on the lash to celebrate the end of the apprenticeship. That would be unlikely because 1: I am ‘somewhat’ older than the average apprentice and I don’t need any help to do more silly things in public, 2: An extreme introvert who tends to hide during parties, and most importantly 3: I really dislike the taste of alcohol. I appreciate this puts me in the running for the Most Boring Person on the Planet competition, but regular readers knew that anyway.

The last two weeks were mainly spent doing a translation job for a documentary (I now know enough about heart disease to make me seriously paranoid), getting my CV up to date, playing with the boys and Beautiful Daughter, and cycling through snowstorms to pick up ‘important’ pieces of paper from various offices.

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Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad organisation and poor time management.

Oh, and I now have the paperwork to prove that I’m a Real Carpenter, at least as far as the state of Baden-Württemberg is concerned. Still working in what we do next though…

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Just to show I do get outside occasionally. The Xtracycle carrying the chisel and saw rolls from my workbench to my employers workshop.

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The ‘BMX Track’ reopened in summer, having had more maintenance than most of the local cycle infrastructure has seen in several years,* so we spent part of an afternoon trying it out. Unfortunately the lumps are now just a bit too fierce for the Xtracycle, which provided a great excuse is why I had to be content with sitting in the shade and photographing the boys enjoying themselves instead.

Ah, the joys of being able to ride with short sleeves.

Only a few weeks until spring…

*Which is why most of the infrastructure looks like a BMX track.

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Happy new year for 2015.

2014 was quite a rollercoaster year for us, what with the sudden realisation Beautiful Daughter was on her way, shortening the apprenticeship and trying to work out what this meant for us as a family, there hasn’t been a lot of time to sit down, let alone do stuff we wanted to work on like deal with some bigger projects in the garden to try and make it a more pleasant place to be and bring people, maybe even build it in to a microholding.

On the other hand I’ve (almost, one month and two exams to go) finished an apprenticeship in my second language, and we have three fantastic boys and a lovely little girl. As you can see the boys are riding well, and this is probably the only view I’ll get of them when we are cycling together in the years to come.

We are also broadening our horizons. Goodness knows where we will be at the end of 2015.

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Beautiful Daughter crashed into the wider world about an hour and a half into December.

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Once she decided she was coming it took about thirty minutes before were holding a beautiful, wriggly baby with functioning vocal chords, which she tested pretty well immediately.

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The hospital staff took one look at Beautiful Wife’s medical history and decided she could probably manage another child pretty well, especially with The Boys helping out, so they’re letting her come home today.

She just called to say she’s allowed to come home around ten, and the apartment is a right mess…

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This is the most interesting picture I could make of ‘revising for a carpentry exam’. As you probably know, the actual revision is even less exciting. I’m still hiding away from distractions like the internet, hence woodwork bench in the background.

All the theory exams are next week because obviously the best way to see if someone has understood two and a bit years of learning is to give them a couple of hours of multiple choice questions.

Today was supposed to be Business Studies revision, leaving the next two days free for doing maths. Except that with perfect timing, I’ve picked up a cold, I’m thoroughly groggy and can’t think straight.

Urg. Whine.

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People who hear I cycle to college often react with surprise and imply that I’m incredibly hardcore but I honestly don’t see it as a big deal: the ride is only 20 kilometres (12 miles) one way, and I get to sit down in a warm classroom all day before pootling back: essentially I get to have two short bike tours with a day at college inbetween. Besides, so far I’ve seen deer, rabbits, kestrels, red kites, buzzards, lots of smaller birds I’m gradually getting to know, and last week a fox ambled across the road as I went through a forest.

It helps that I only have to do it once or twice a week: I think I’d see it differently if I was riding every day.

The photo is on a new section of the route: I had to change because one of the towns I went through has closed a main road to lay a new sewage pipe and decided the cycle way is much more useful as a diversion for the Very Important Drivers rushing to the autobahn, and I don’t feel like dealing with stressed drivers trying to control their car and use their navigator while drinking coffee at half past six in the morning.

I did wonder about writing to the council and pointing out that by pushing cyclists like me out of the town, it means we can’t stop and spend money in their supermarkets as we pass,  but then I remembered I’m too miserly to do that anyway, and besides the new route has views like this and no traffic whatsoever, so I didn’t bother.

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More wandering about in York. Part of the waterfront before the tour boats start churning the water up. The building on the extreme right is a pub which flooded so often it ceased to be a niusance and became a part of the attraction.

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