Sunday, 1 April 2012

I bear went over the mountain

I was born and brought up in Cardiff. I lived here for 18 years. I used to cycle with my friends Ally and Zoe on my Raleigh racer to nearby fruit farms where we'd pick strawberries . This was when I first fell for drop handled bars. Can you do that? Until today I don't think I fully appreciated how close I was to such beautiful countryside. In London the countryside is 30 minutes on a train or a long morning away by bike.

In an effort to prepare for the round the world cycling adventure and to try and decrease the differential between me and my cycling buddy James, today I cycled around my home city - Cardiff. I left from Rhiwbina, the leafy suburb where my parents live, and cycled through Lisvane (where David Hasselhoff was recently considering buying a house) along undulating country roads to rarely visited villages like St Michaelstone Y Fedw and Machen. When I arrived in Caerphilly the sun was silhouetting the castle. The biggest castle in Europe. Then over Caerphilly mountain. Really really steep. I managed to stay cycling on Ditchin Beacon on the way to Brighton but Caerphilly Mountain - which isn't really a mountain at all - beat me. I had to get off and have a little push. If only I'd taken more advantage of those Welsh hills earlier in my life.

I like the idea that the journey begins before it begins and already I have begun to see things a little differently. I have begun to appreciate the beauty of the British countryside and see the possibilities on my doorstep. Especially on glorious spring days like today.

I remember reading once, on the opening page of a book about London, a quote about how travel opens your eyes to your own place. Perhaps it was this one by G.K. Chesterton, friend of George Bernard Shaw and other Bloomsbury folk. “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” Wales will never be foreign to me but to appreciate one's own land, as others do, has got to be a benefit of contemplating adventure.

NB - For those of you who are not familiar with the lingo of London schools. Bear means very. e.g. I'm bare hungry (I'm very hungry) or there were bare bears (There were many bears).

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