Monthly Archives: May 2020

back on track

river finn from killygordon bridge

Having successfully completed May’s Metric Challenge spin on Friday I was more determined than ever to remedy the fact I missed out on April. That was done this morning with a repeat of Friday’s route.

click the image to view on strava

Not much changed from Friday. It felt a lot warmer at the start, the breeze was definitely stronger but there was significantly less traffic and a lot more bikes.

It seems like everyone has given up on the 5kfromhome limit but at least the majority were solo, in pairs or groups of 4 with at least an effort at social distancing. I only saw one large group of 9/10 who were tightly grouped and giving no regard to the restrictions.

Today’s spin has also given me a monthly total of 472km. Admittedly more than half of that has been in the last week but that’s my biggest monthly total since October 2018. I have to go back to 2016 to see consistently high mileage like that with only 3 months exceeding this month, or getting close, between now and December 2016.

image from garmin connect

Phase 2 of the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions is due to start on June 8th and from that date we will be allowed to travel up to 20km from home for exercise. There’s also talk in the media that this may be removed completely ahead of schedule but even at 20km my June Metric spin should be less repetitive and more like a traditional ride.

independence day: resurgence

From IMDb:

Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind’s new space defenses be enough?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Set 20 years after the original and bringing back a good few of the original cast (although not Will Smith) while also showcasing a lot of familiar faces and introducing a lot of new faces, essentially the younger generation and their turn to save the Earth from alien annihilation.

There’s nothing surprising about this film, it follows a fairly standard but very successful formula. It’s basically aliens show up, the Earth is brought to the brink of destruction and a small group of heroes save it in the final few minutes doing something no other race in the galaxy has managed to do so far.

However, you shouldn’t watch one of these films for intellectually challenging stimulation, it’s all about entertainment and this definitely has it. Excellent special effects combined with good characters* and a good musical score create a fast pace that carries you along. I watched this on TV but I’d say it was a fantastic cinema experience.

*the only character that seemed out of place was Brent Spiner’s. He was way over acting and in full-on “human Data” mode. I hate to say it but he doesn’t suit this type of role and should have stuck to what he’s good at!

2020 metric challenge: may

My March 100km spin was done under the 2km lockdown restriction. This was still in place up to the end of April and I just couldn’t raise the motivation to repeat the March experience which wasn’t enjoyable at all.

This month the restriction was relaxed to 5km from home. Doesn’t sound like much but it opened up one good route. It also allows the option of the main road between Killygordon and Castlefinn. Combining this and the hillier route over the last couple of weeks I’ve managed to get my cycling back up to a decent level again and have even begun to enjoy it! In April I’d only managed 161km but up until yesterday morning I had almost 270km for May.

All this additional cycling had given me the legs, the confidence and the motivation to make sure I didn’t miss the May 100km.

Yesterday was forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures set to hit 25-28°C during the afternoon. That might seem low to many but for us it’s about 10°C warmer than usual. I didn’t want to have much climbing so I decided to use the figure 8 loop I’d used for shorter spins. This goes between Killygordon and Castlefinn using both sides of the river and an additional crossing in approximately the middle at Liscooley. It’s a rolly kind of road with a couple of short steep climbs but at 135m of elevation in 17km it’s as flat as it gets around here.

I decided that I also didn’t fancy the climb up to our house for breaks or at the finish so drove down and parked the car at the picnic stop just outside Killygordon. This worked really well as I was able to break the spin into 3 chunks. At 35km I stopped for a quick break to replenish my bottle and eat a bar. At 70km I stopped for a proper break and something more substantial. A cool bag with food and water in the boot was perfect to keep everything chilled and provide me with a cold bottle each time I stopped. Lunch sitting under the shade of a tree was very pleasant and there was a much reduced temptation to stop altogether as I wasn’t at home.

As an additional bonus I was able to finish the final loop slightly shorter, avoid the climb up from Liscooley Bridge and stay on the main road all the way from Castlefinn to Killygordon.

In the end up I felt pretty good at the finish. There was a bit of a breeze (about 20km/hr from SSE) that was a pain when it was a headwind but the short loop meant it didn’t last long and it helped reduce the effects of the worst of the heat and gave me a nice boost on the opposite side of the loop. Last night my legs were tired but with the lack of climbing it was very little compared to other recent and shorter spins and didn’t prevent me going for a run this morning. All in a very enjoyable spin and a completely different experience to March!

click the image to view on strava

the daylight war

The Daylight War (Demon Cycle #3) by Peter V. Brett

From Goodreads:

On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead him to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all–those lurking in the human heart.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It took me a while to get into this book but I think that may have been due to the amount of reading I’ve been doing during lockdown and how quickly I’ve been shifting between books making it difficult to switch storylines and characters.

Once I did make the necessary mental shift this book was excellent. Similar to the second book it looks at the story from both the Krasian and Thesan sides with a detailed look at Inevera’s back story this time. The story also switches between the two sides much more often than the second book which makes it much more readable and far more enjoyable. It also gives the pace of the book an extra shot of urgency.

Apart from Inevera’s story the other major storyline is the huge battle at “Waning”. It’s mainly told from the Hollow’s perspective and the action is expertly described with great detail. It’s a very complex section of the book but the writing style prevents confusion making it exciting and tense.

When I started this series I thought it was a trilogy and I was well into this book before I realised the story is told over 5 books. I couldn’t see how the story was to be drawn to a climax and was relieved that it wasn’t.

There was quite a sudden shift close to the end of this book. It should be jarring but it’s very smart and leaves the reader looking for more. Reminded me of the old black and white Saturday morning shows like “Zorro and “The Lone Ranger” that often finished with a classic cliffhanger.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels


Bikepacking has become my new obsession! I’ve been aware of it for a while and it’s always attracted me as it combines so many elements from activities that interest me. A combination of cycling, hiking, camping and backpacking. It appeals to the boyish attraction of adventure and unknown – possibly a mid life crisis at this stage though!

image from

Over the last couple of years I’ve read various articles about bikepacking but this week I’ve fallen down the YouTube and Google rabbit holes and have spent hours watching videos and reading articles. I’ve become a theoretical expert on the best camping options, packing variations, kit options and bag suppliers. I even have a shopping list for kit that I don’t have yet, food options and a few ideas for places to go!

It must be the enforced lockdown bringing on the urge to travel and explore and it’s definitely the extra time that has given the opportunity to research but I’m determined to take at least one short trip before the end of the Summer.

image from

Header image from

no country for old men

From IMDb:

Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall this was a great movie. The atmosphere is dark and foreboding from get go and Javier Bardem is fantastic in the hitman role. He’s like a human terminator all the way through. Tommy Lee Jones is society’s conscience worrying about how the world is degrading and Josh Brolin is the unwitting victim that doesn’t know he’s in over his head.

I have to say though that I didn’t like the end. The very final scene just didn’t do it for me. I would have much preferred to finish it with the scene just before. Also everything seemed to be happening at a steady pace and then boom, it’s all over. It just felt wrong to me. However, I’d still recommend it and I’m glad I watched it.

jack ryan: shadow recruit

From IMDb:

Jack Ryan, as a young covert C.I.A. analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Having read the reviews my expectations we’re low enough going into this but it’s actually a pretty good movie. Typical action movie fare but well done. Decent story that storms along at a good speed and four good actors that work well together and are well cast for the parts they play even if the Russian accents are more Hollywood than Moscow. Definitely worth watching.

jason bourne

From IMDb:

The CIA’s most dangerous former operative is drawn out of hiding to uncover more explosive truths about his past.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The 5th and most likely final, installment of the Bourne Series of movies. It follows on directly from The Bourne Ultimatum and recall requires knowledge of at least the first three movies in the series. If you have watched and enjoyed them then this one will come as no surprise as it keeps to the same story and characters.

It’s far from predictable though. The quality of production and direction is superb and the story moves at a perfect pace that keeps the action fast without losing control of the story. It all leads up to an excellent final confrontation proceeded by a great car chase and face to face action scene.

The two main characters are fantastically portrayed by Matt Damon (definitely one of my favourite actors) and Tommy Lee Jones but are very well supported by CIA agent Alicia Vikander and asset Vincent Cassel

If this is the final Bourne movie then it’s a very fitting end to an excellent series of movies.

new boundary

On Tuesday last week our restrictions were relaxed to allow us to exercise up to 5km from home as opposed to the original 2km. Apart from an aborted MTB spin it took me a full week to yesterday to get motivated to get out on my road bike.

I had identified what looked like a pretty decent route that used some familiar roads but also threw in a few completely unknown sections to give a distance of 35-45km that could easily be stretched to 60km with a little bit of repetition.

I had planned to go out shortly after lunch but my motivation was still low and with the weather looking poorer than the last few days, it took until 3pm before I forcibly pealed myself off the sofa.

There was a noticeably sharp edge to the wind that created a dither about clothes and I eventually settled on jersey and gillet with arm warmers based on the fact it allowed me to remove layers if needed. Turned out I needed them all, especially on the descents and the only change was opening zips on the longer climbs. Definite change to my last few spins.

For a route that was chosen from a map based simply on the 5km radius it turned out pretty good. There are a good mix of climbs and descents, some short, some long and apart from a couple of short sections good surfaces. Turned out to be way more climbing than I expected though and with tired and achy legs and a reasonably strong Northerly breeze I really struggled and it felt much harder than it should have and despite it being my first proper cycle since 26th March I didn’t really enjoy it. I ended up taking the shorter option of 35km instead of the 45ish I had originally planned.

Despite all this moaning and complaining it is a good route, one I will be repeating over the next few weeks of continued restrictions and possibly beyond when I want a short but challenging spin.

One stretch is really enjoyable. Although it’s uphill it’s lined with fairly mature conifers on both sides and almost up to the edge of the road. It creates a great tunnel effect and a reasonably unusual sight around here as a lot of the mature forestry has been harvested over the last few years and the new plantings are still very young. Worth stopping for a photo

just trees

Strava link for the header image.

deja dead

Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan #1) by Kathy Reichs

From Goodreads:

Her life is devoted to justice; for those she never even knew. In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Temperance detects an alarming pattern and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her, her best friend and her own daughter, in mortal danger…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This was a good book but I found it hard to get into. Nothing much seemed to be happening for the first half/two thirds of the story but it did definitely pick up towards the finish. The story skips around quite a bit which makes it a difficult one to read in small chunks and the style also doesn’t lend itself to reading one chapter at a time. The introduction of a lot of unfamiliar Canadian police and political organisations and acronyms compounded this.

My other issue was the unavoidable comparisons to Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta series. I had read a few of this Temperance Brennan series a number of years ago and found them quite good and when I went back looking for them found Kay Scarpetta instead. That was unfortunate as Temperance Brennan is a much better series as far as I remember.

Temperance is also a much better character and despite some annoying personality characteristics is very likeable. Then there is the permanently pissed off and dismissive Claudel and the smoldering relationship with Ryan. The development of the murderer and the building of the case against him is well done.

I’m expecting to enjoy the rest of the series and possibly consign Kay Scarpetta to the bin once and for all.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels