Tuesday, 17 October 2017

This Brummie Artist Went To Market ...

The Birmingham Wholesale Markets have been operating in the city centre for over 850 years. That is a Very Long Time. The picture above was taken over 100 years ago.
But in the new year, they'll be moving to a new site. So a local artist, Danny Howes, decided that the bustling life of the market - which opens at 1am, and does most of its business whilst the rest of us are still asleep - needed to be recorded.
So he went down to the market and observed the people at work, and painted pictures of them going about their trade. I am so pleased he did this - not all the traders are happy about the move, and it is good that they have been recorded for posterity. You can read the full story here - but I wanted to share the pictures, because I think they are great. You can feel the bustle, imagine the banter...


Fish sellers

Fish and Game

Loading up


No Deal

Staff Only

Take Away

Lunch at 8am
These artworks were in an exhibition throughout September- not surprisingly, almost all of them have been sold already.
It seems a very male-dominated environment - not many women in the pictures! But I love the little details - the creases in the jeans, the light reflecting in the tiles and on the stainless steel teapots, the plastic bag of red and green peppers, and the feathers on the game birds hanging up. Danny visited the market 6 times and took over 1000 photographs [everything moved too quickly for him to make sketches, he said] It took between 2 and 3 weeks to complete each canvas [each about 2 foot x 3 foot in size]
Thank you, Danny, for acknowledging this little slice of real life, which is about to change after so long. I hope the workers settle in quickly to the market's new location .

Monday, 16 October 2017

Only Connect

This post has nothing to do with Victoria Coren Mitchell's excellent Friday night programme. We love it - but acknowledge that it's not everyone's cup of tea.
"Hello, Grandma! Rosie, seen here with her favourite Auntie, knows exactly what to do with today's technology. Unlike previous generations, it is so much easier to make connections with one another across the miles.
Now we have mobile phones, so we can call from almost* anywhere...
No more queuing with a pile of 2p coins by the public callbox outside the University Hall of Residence.
No more standing in the draughty hall at home, by the front door, waiting for the phone to ring.
Now we have emails pinging in our in-box, so...
No more hunting for a stamp so we can post letters** to the ones we love.
No more waiting impatiently for the postman to deliver their messages to us
Now we can take a picture on our phone and share it immediately on Instagram
No more loading films into the back of the camera
No more waiting for the holiday pictures to come back from the chemists where they are being developed
*except Norfolk, mobile phone coverage is rather patchy there
** personally, I still think a real letter is a special treat

E M Forster urged us to 'only connect' - life is better when we connect, and when we share, and when we really care about others. Let's make an effort today to really conenct with someone. Make time for a proper conversation, send a text message of encouragement to someone facing a challenge, post a card - or an email - to someone miles away. You have no idea what a difference a connection like that might mean to the recipient.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

On The Seventh Day, The Lord Rested - And So Should We

This wonderful Norfolk saying just about sums it up!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Charity Begins At Home

This one needs no added comment, does it?

Friday, 13 October 2017

A Wise Man Once Said...

Just lately, I keep coming across quotes from Martin Luther King.
Looking at world events, and the politicians and their responses, this one seems quite apposite, don't you think?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Yes, I Know It's Thursday...

...and usually this term that means I will be in my classroom. But when I was asked to take on this teaching, I explained immediately that I was committed elsewhere for the first two weeks in October. I was convinced they'd say 'all or nothing' - but the school was happy to cover the dates I couldn't do. Last week we were at Cornerstones, and that holiday was 'bookended' by our preaching commitments at Foulsham Chapel. Yesterday and today involve travelling to WWDP Preparation Days, and tomorrow I am off to the Connexion Conference. These arrangements were all in place before the teaching job was thought of. I wasn't happy about the idea of letting people down and backing out of those arrangements.
As a Supply Teacher, I only get paid for the days I when I teach. But it is more important to me to do the things I believe to be important, than to accrue the biggest pot of gold. What does it profit a girl, if she gains the whole world, but loses her own soul?

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Giving It My Undivided Attention

One important task for the next week is writing a book review. I am really looking forward to this task!
My dear friend Lucy Mils has just written her second book - The Undivided Heart. Three years ago, her first one - the Forgetful Heart - was published, and I happily reviewed that for her [here - do check it out]
I feel very privileged this time, to have a pre-publication copy to read and review.
It is a PDF copy - which will feel a little odd, I am really a proper-paper-pages-person. I suspect that this one will be just as good as the last, so I will end up buying a volume for my shelf, once it is available in 'proper' book form. Watch this space, the review will appear on the blog before too long...

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Back But Blinkin' Busy!

A few days away at Cornerstones in the Autumn always sets me up for the roller-coaster ride towards Christmas. But much as I love my time in Norfolk, I have work to do back in Dorset. The calendar is jam-packed for the next few weeks. Teaching on Thursdays and Fridays, church on Sundays, and a lot of WWDP Preparation Days round the country, plus involvement in a couple of conferences... and lots more besides. 
I debated having a blog break for a week or so. But have I decided instead to prepare some posts in advance.  A few clips and quotes which have amused me, or made me reflect. 
From your many kind comments, emails, and even real-life-conversations, I know lots of you read this blog every day. Thank you for taking time to share my journey.  I don't want to disappoint my friends, so for a week or so, you'll still find a Thought For The Day to keep you going! 

Monday, 9 October 2017

Can You Solve My Problems?

Don't worry, nothing is wrong. This is just the title of the book which I have been reading all week. 
Alex Bellos has put together a collection of maths puzzles which I have found challenging, amusing, and some quite baffling. But all have been a fun diversion. In one chapter he describes how the satisfaction he gets from completing a Sudoku grid is akin to that enjoyed by others filling in their colouring book. If you can relate to that, then I think you'd enjoy this book too.
Some puzzles require logic, others need calculation skills, or algebra or understanding of simple geometry. Many require you to spot the pattern [or the difference] I admit this is a very geeky, niche interest. But I am loving working through the challenges.
If you are wondering about the puzzle on the front cover, the answer is this;
It is the first square - simply because every other shape has reason to be the odd one out, but this one doesn't! [#2 has no border, #3 is round, #4 is blue, #5 is too small] 
If this means nothing to you, that's fine. But you may want to consider it for a Christmas gift for the maths nerd in the family. 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Cut Above The Rest

This week see the 50th Anniversary of the production of the world's first plastic handled scissors. That might seem a weirdly trivial fact, but to the people of Fiskars in Finland, it is a really big event. As the prototype went into production, the designer specified handles in red, black or green- but the machinist had some orange plastic to use up. A vote was taken in the company - and orange won. The rest is history, as they say.
I have had my original Fiskars since 1969, and I use them for dressmaking. I keep them sharp with a proper Fiskars sharpener.
The Fiskars Ironworks opened in 1649 and has been producing useful items ever since. They are rightly proud of these scissors. They have said that every pair of the classic 21cm design made this year will have a special logo on the blade. I checked this out recently - and found some on sale in Norwich. 
Fiskars have made this brief video clip celebrating their iconic design.
They say that 'a bad workman blames his tools' - I think a good worker values her tools, keeps them well-maintained, and uses them for the right purpose, to good effect. If my scissors are my tools for needlework and craft, then my Bible is my chief tool for life. My verse for the day is 2 Timothy 2;15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Health Warning

It so often happens - you keep going at full speed, and then when you slow down, everything catches up with you. I was pretty tired last Friday night, and my foot was hurting and my throat felt a bit sore.

Over the weekend, my throat became even more painful, and I realised the foot issue was a verruca. 
After buying various things at different places, I ended up at the local GP's surgery. I now have antibiotics for an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Hoping to be fit and well before I have to preach tomorrow morning. 
At least I haven't had to teach this week! 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Going, Going, Gone!

When I was given a Rather Large Marrow recently, Bob was concerned about whether we would manage to eat it all. Marrow is not his favourite veg - but he knows I am unhappy about wasting food.
So I worked very hard to find different ways to serve it.  I did stuffed marrow, and marrow lemon curd [here]
Five years ago I blogged about this veg [To marrow, and to marrow, and to marrow] and back then I did three things - a savoury stuffed marrow, jars of preserve, and a cake. This year I have done similar things, and the third part of the trilogy was this tea loaf.

This loaf is quite light as it has no butter in the recipe.You need a greased and lined loaf tin, and you should preheat the oven to 170'C
150g light brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
150g grated raw marrow
grated zest and juice of ½lemon
75g sultanas
75g semolina
1 tsp almond essence
150g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

  1. Whisk the egg yolks and butter till pale and creamy [3 minutes with electric whisk] Stir in grated marrow, lemon zest and juice, sultanas, semolina and almond essence.
  2. Sift flour, salt, cinnamon together and fold in using a metal spoon
  3. In separate bowl beat egg whites to soft peaks. Stir a tbsp into the cake mix to loosen, then fold in the remaining egg white as gently as you can.
  4. Tip into loaf tin, level the surface, bake for 1 hour [until skewer comes out clean when inserted]
  5. Cool in tin for 10 minutes, transfer to wire rack to cool completely before serving. It is good as it is, or spread with butter - especially when accompanied by a nice cup of tea!
If you have no marrows, you can use courgettes, pumpkin, squash, carrot - or beetroot if you want a marbled purple loaf. 
I have enjoyed this years marrow-fest, but I do not want to cook any more marrows for a while, thank you!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Yule Never Believe It!

It is only the first week in October, and but I've spent a little bit of time getting a few things sorted out for Christmas. Once I get back to Ferndown, I know I shall be really busy, and teaching is seriously depleting my energy levels. So these have been tasks enjoyed in a relaxed way...
I have made my Christmas cake. It is now wrapped [in greaseproof, then in foil] and in the tin - ready to be marzipanned and iced later. I am not sure I shall make it here at Cornerstones again - it was the first time in over twenty years I did it all by hand [my Kenwood Chef's in Dorset] 
I labelled and some jars of chutney, and put their little mobcaps on, then wrapped them in Christmas paper.
I wrapped quite a few other small gifts

My final activity was to make a couple of table mats. I have 8 glass mats, which I usually use as place settings - but the family is getting larger, and I needed some bigger central mats for putting hot casseroles, and veg dishes etc in the centre of the table. I found these two large ceramic tiles for 30p each in B&Q. I stuck some squares of scrap leather underneath to act as feet. I am extremely pleased with them - they will probably get used this week when we have visitors. I like the simple Orla-Keilly-esque foliage design.
Not bad for 60p and a few minutes with a tube of Uhu!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Rise And Shine!

Many of my shoes over the years have been inexpensive fabric, plastic or pseudo-leather. MY diminutive stature and Essex heritage also meant that I have a great fondness for vertiginous heels. A year ago the physio said my knee problems would be greatly improved with a pair of decent lace-up leather flatties. 
I went out and purchased some lovely green Clark's 'Hamble' brogues. These normally cost around £60 [I got 20% off as it was Black Friday] Since then I picked up a virtually new pair of lighter brown Hambles in a CS for £4, and a similar pair, with a small heel in darker brown for £5. Both pairs had no wear at all. Dress code at school means wearing 'proper' shoes - so these are ideal.
Similarly Bob has some formal 'Oxfords' in black and brown. He has rather large feet, and these shoes cost a lot of money [and they never appear 'as new' in CS shops!]
If you are paying around £50 for something, it deserves some TLC now and then. The wet weather, and walking across damp grass has dulled the shine. So last week I lined them all up and treated them to some proper spit'n'polish. This is the way Grandad taught me to clean my shoes before I joined the Brownies. You can find a wonderful explanation and helpful tips on the British Legion site here. I freely admit that I do not go for the full mirror shine - which can take around 2 hours work per pair. I am more concerned to remove surface mud and bring a little gleam to my toecaps.
But even a small amount of occasional attention will 'feed' the leather, smarten the appearance and prolong the life of the shoes thus saving money, and helping the planet. An inexpensive tin of shoe polish lasts ages [but I am still hunting down some appropriate green polish- those ones are currently being buffed up with the 'neutral' cream which feeds the hide, doesn't produce much shine at all]
How often do you polish your shoes? 
Are yours synthetic ones you can just wipe with a damp cloth? 
Is a biscuit tin under the sink, containing polish, brushes and dusters a thing of the past, nowadays only owned by members of the Armed Forces [present and past], uniformed youth organisations, and middle aged housewives?

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate...

...only love can do that.
So said Martin Luther King.
It is so sad that the events in Las Vegas yesterday happened on the United Nations Day of Non-violence. Let us remember those caught up in this tragedy, and continue to work for peace in our own corners of the planet.
The President of the National Rifle Association in the USA said this

No sir, I disagree. The BBC reporter in Las Vegas yesterday mentioned this quote, and said he did not see how more guns would have helped in the situation 
I prefer these words from MLK

Monday, 2 October 2017

Safely Gathered In*

Come, you thankful people, come
Raise the song of Harvest Home
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin
God our Maker will provide
For our needs to be supplied
Come, with all his people, come
Raise the song of Harvest Home

The Foulsham Harvest Festival Weekend was splendid - lots of scarecrows, in the church and throughout the village. Jack Sparrow won the prize this year

The chapel was decorated with bunting - and some amazing birds flying above the congregation [which fitted well with Bob's sermon on The Parable of the Sower] The Little Acorns Craft group had made a wall of cheerful scarecrow faces. The display of fresh produce - for the HomeLess Night Shelter, and array of tins , for the Food Bank - was quite splendid. Outside, still more scarecrows on the bench [one slightly more mobile than the others!] After the service, a lovely harvest lunch with our friends.

You can't hear Bob's sermon, but you can at least enjoy the video clip he showed...
* fond memories of a friend in Kirby Muxloe, whose aunt always referred to her 'Harvest Festival Knickers' - where she said that 'all was safely gathered in'

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Harvest Festival #2

We arrived at Cornerstones around 11pm on Friday night. Saturday was spent doing odd jobs - but I did pop over to Foulsham Chapel to see the Scarecrow Festival which is part of their Harvest Thanksgiving. It was evident that the folk had worked incredibly hard to put this event together. Today the chapel will be open all day for folk to come and see the scarecrows (and enjoy the amazing cakes and other refreshments in the hall) But morning and evening will be the Sunday services as usual - conducted by Bob. By the look of the banner outside, they are clearly expecting him to provide a lively sermon! 
More pictures of the scarecrows will follow later...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

An Alternative Boxing Day

More than 25 years ago, when we lived in Bexleyheath, a lady came and spoke at our church women's group about the work of the Biggin Hill Romania Group. Romania was in desperate need, following the fall of the awful regime of President Ceaucescu. One of our young Mums was desperately upset by the stories of orphaned babies being left on concrete floors, with nothing to keep them warm. She made an impassioned speech in church, challenging us to knit 100 blankets over the summer. I think we ended up with nearly 150.
Fast forward to 2017 - and I am in a church where there is a cupboard where knitted goods are collected and regularly go to the BHRG [This charity conveniently has a Dorset team in nearby Poole]
UCF is a very generous fellowship - and for a number of years people have prepared shoeboxes for the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child Appeal. However, like many others, we have had growing concerns recently about this organisation, and particularly regarding some statements made by their director, Franklyn Graham. Last year we did not do the SP/OCC boxes as a Church Project.
This year we have decided to do Christmas Shoeboxes again, but they are going out with BHRG instead. It is a much smaller operation, with staff who know the recipients and we are happier about the arrangements. I've just prepared my box...
The instructions we received about contents were helpful, and very clear. I have prepared a box for a boy aged 15+. I put in warm gloves and a pack of socks, toiletries, stationery items and some sweets. We were also asked to include a Christmas card with a photo of ourselves.
I know that many of our members are busy preparing boxes for younger children - one lady has knitted lots of hats etc. and donated them for others to use in their boxes. There is also the option of making up larger 'family boxes'  and some of these too are being sorted out. 
If your group is looking for an alternative shoebox appeal, do check this one out.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Audrey- Actress And Ambassador

It's more than 50 years since she portrayed Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and almost 25 years since her death from cancer - but Audrey Hepburn remains an icon of style and beauty.  Steph dressed as HG for a fancy dress party, and since her teens has had the film poster on her wall [a stylish Italian version thereof, bought on holiday in Florence]
Over the next few weeks, Christie's Auction house will be selling off some of AH's possessions. Her two sons have asked that these be in small lots, not large collections. They recognise how much their mother was loved and respected, and so want to make these things accessible to lots of people rather than a few wealthy collectors. I hope this is successful. 
As well as being a gifted actress, she was a loving mother- and for five years, she worked as an Ambassador for Unicef. Audrey herself knew what it was like for children to suffer - born in Belgium to a Dutch mother, she lived through the German occupation of the Low Countries, suffering extreme malnutrition and depression. 
But despite the privations of her childhood, Audrey grew up to be a gracious, graceful woman.
It says in 1 Peter 3:4 "Your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God's sight" 
I think that Audrey's words below reflect the truth of this verse.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Moomin Wimmin

On Tuesday, Oxfam announced the launch of a new campaign, "The Invisible Child"
The world's favourite fictional Finnish family, The Moomins, represented by Moomin Characters Ltd, and Oxfam have formed a new partnership to help women and girls around the world fight inequality and escape poverty for good. Since the majority of people living in poverty are women, the rights of women and girls are at the heart of the charity's work.  Long-held prejudices often mean that they are denied basic rights like education, a fair wage or decent working conditions. Women and girls are also often the worst affected when emergencies strike. But Oxfam knows that the skills, determination and ingenuity of women will win through, and by supporting them poverty can be overcome. 
This partnership centres around The Invisible Child, a short story by Moomin creator Tove Jansson, which will be available to buy from Waterstones, the Moomin Shop Covent Garden and Oxfam shops, with at least £4 from each sale being donated to Oxfam's women's projects worldwide. 
Published as a standalone title for the first time, The Invisible Child is about a little girl who turns invisible after being badly treated by the woman supposedly caring for her. She is given a place to stay at the Moominhouse and, when shown warmth, kindness and respect by the Moomin family, she gradually reappears and regains her place in the world - a right that every woman and girl should have.

Sophia Jansson, niece of Tove Jansson and creative director of Moomin Characters, said: "Tove was a strong and independent woman who lived life the way she wanted to - unlimited by ideas about how a woman should behave or what her role should be - which isn't too surprising considering where she grew up. Finland has always been a leader in women's rights, and was the first European country to give women the vote in 1906. However, not everyone is this fortunate, and I'm sure that Tove would be very glad that her stories are going to help women all across the world escape poverty and find their voices." Sophia visited Rwanda herself, to see first hand the work which Oxfam us doing to empower women - enabling them to find education and employment.
Here's The invisible Child [I love the pink bow 'floating' in her invisible hair!!]

Oxfam's Director of Women's Rights & Gender Justice, Nikki van der Gaag, said: "The values woven into Tove Jansson's wonderful stories - justice, compassion, kindness - perfectly echo what Oxfam represents and fights for every day.  From empowering business ventures like beekeeping and fruit-growing, to rebuilding lives and homes after disaster strikes, we support amazing women all around the world. 
We believe that every woman and every girl deserves the right to be visible and have their voice heard, so we're very proud to partner with Moomin Characters to launch this inspiring Moomins' tale."
As well as the storybook, there will be a tote bag, handkerchief and teatowel in the range. I'm hoping for a hankie!
[Thank you, Liz, for alerting me to this one as soon as you heard about it - I expect Rosie will have her own copy of the book very shortly!]

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

In The Sweet By-and-By...

That's the title of a hymn penned 150 years ago by an American called S Fillmore Bennet. It begins thus...
There's a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
It has been recorded by dozens of famous American singers [Johnnie Cash, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, Glenn Campbell etc] and is a very popular 'dirge' played at New Orleans jazz funerals. Composer Charles Ives referenced it in several of his works, and Mark Twain mentioned it in 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court'
I have been humming it all week -and I blame Bob and Jon for this. Bob, because he wanted a display for Harvest, and that needed me to source some pigeon peas - and Jon, because when I was in London last week, I asked if he could recommend an ethnic food shop where I might find them. Jon's immediate replay was "Down the Walworth Road, in the by and by" I was slightly taken aback by his turn of phrase, then discovered this was in fact the name of a local African food store!
They were so helpful when I asked about pigeon peas- did I want a can, a small bag or a sackful? I opted for a can and two small bags.
On the side of the can was a recipe for rice'n'peas.
Moro de guandules con coco - which translates to 'Moorish Pigeon Peas with Coconut' is a traditional dish originating in Africa, but it travelled across to the Caribbean with the slave trade, where it is known as rice'n'peas.
I checked out the recipe, and bought a few more items, then served Bob rice'n'peas the other night. We both really enjoyed the meal. I used the can this time, which made it a speedy recipe- in future I shall have to remember to presoak the dried peas. 
1 tablespoonful oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
400g can coconut milk
300g long grain rice
400g can of pigeon peas
400ml vegetable stock
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper

  1. heat the oil, soften the onion and garlic
  2. stir in the rice and milk
  3. stir in the peas and stock
  4. stir in the salt, pepper and thyme
  5. bring to boil, then simmer gently till rice has absorbed the liquid
That's it! [you can add chillies if you must, or use red kidney beans or vary the recipe in other ways - see here] but we were happy with this simple, filling food. Here's Johnnie Cash singing the song...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Give Peas A Chance

Our Harvest Weekend went really well - lots of people at Saturday's Supper & Quiz Night, the alco-free drinks went down well. Good congregations on Sunday, and lots of stuff for the foodbank. We also took some time to consider this year's Christian Aid Harvest Appeal - this is to help farmers like Frank in Malawi, encouraging them to grow pigeon peas.
Like many farmers in Malawi, Frank is pinning his hopes on a very special crop this Harvest - pigeon peas.This hardy crop is ideal for Malawi’s dry soil. Its deep roots are resistant to drought and can withstand the country’s increasing and destructive flash flooding.
But no matter how hard Frank works on his crops, he can’t escape a life of grinding poverty. Unscrupulous middlemen are exploiting farmers by using illegal buying scales to drive down prices. It’s not enough to be good at farming. To survive, you have to be good at business too. We learned about this Profit From Peas Project, and how relatively small amounts of money can make huge differences to people's lives.

£70 could buy a bicycle so that an experienced farmer can ride to hard-to reach areas and teach other farmers how to make good money from their peas
£100 could help provide a business training session, showing poor farmers how to negotiate higher, fairer prices and reach new markets for their crops
£300 could buy 15 farmers special pea varieties that have the best chance of growing well in Malawi. It could also buy them equipment like fertiliser and farming tools to get their peas off to the best start.
£500 could set up a Farmers’ Club. Farmers join these clubs to help each other out, and to support each other to get fair prices for their peas
Find out more here. Steph visited Malawi with Unicef, in 2008, so I was particularly interested in this year's appeal. I made a display for the back of the church using the Christian Aid materials - and even had bowls of pigeon peas for people to examine. There were plenty of opportunities for Bob to make bad puns during the service - he even suggested at one point that we went Anglican and 'passed the peas'. 
Harvest Prayer 
Source of all life, 
for all who have been sowing seeds, 
cultivating soil, 
and harvesting for many years, 
but still find themselves living in dire poverty, 
we pray. 
Grant wisdom and guidance for improved farming methods. 
Grant farmers ways to profit from their harvests, 
and the opportunity to move from stagnation out of poverty. 
Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Pedal Power

This quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein, but I don't know if that's accurate. But it is a good challenge at the start of another week. Unlike many people, I am busiest from Wednesday night through to Sunday evening. It is sometimes hard for me to get motivated on a Monday. 
This week I am determined to do more cycling, it definitely raises my energy levels, even just a short ride to church, the library or the Post Office. Cycling saves money, improves fitness and doesn't harm the planet. What's not to like?