In my weekly Youtube update, there was an video of a speech made by Hannah, a young Type 1 diabetic, about living as a teenager with diabetes.
Personally, I was lucky. I was diagnosed with diabetes at 20 years old. I was an independent student, living alone away from home but spending enough time at the family home for my Mum to spot something was amiss and have me diagnosed. My age played a huge part in me being comfortably able to change my lifestyle and manage my condition. Also, importantly, I didn’t have to grow up whilst managing my diabetes. I feel privileged to have avoided that.
Hannah was diagnosed at 2 years old so she’s dealt with Type 1 diabetes throughout her living memory. This audio clip is well worth a listen if you, or anyone you know, is growing up with diabetes or any condition which needs daily management. Her experiences probably aren’t unusual, and should help other people to learn about dealing with a medical condition – and with the people around you!
If you’d like to know about more about living as a teenager with diabetes, then have a look at Hannah’s blog: The Bad Diabetic.
I’m undergoing a renaissance in my photography at the moment, motivated by some projects I have underway for the Spring & Summer. Photography has always been a love of mine, so the chance to enjoy it again is one I’ve grabbed with both hands.
I recently picked up a digital SLR to replace my (very) old film SLR which had been broken for some time. I still had an old LowePro Toploader Zoom bag, but it was very dusty and looked distinctly low-rent compared to the shiny SLR.
So, I picked up a new bag. My requirements were:
Must fit a DSLR plus long(ish) standard zoom lens
Needs space for spare batteries; memory cards; money & credit card; extra lens filter…
Would be protective of my lovely camera
Preferably looks ace
I’ve become quite fan of showrooming recently. I definitely wanted the “try before you buy” experience so I took my camera (in the ancient Toploader) to PCWorld and tried it for size in a few bags. Some were deceptively small on the inside, looking initially like fairly chunky pieces of luggage. Others just didn’t fit the bill. One case stood out – the £40 Case Logic DSLR bag.
But… £40? Excuse me? Quite a lot for a smallish bag, really. So I had a think… Then I got my mobile phone and had a browse… Then I found it online for less than £25.
Now, I don’t mind paying a premium for good product, demonstrated well and available from stock in store. However, I’m no mug and I’m not paying an 82% premium for a quick feel and instant gratification (calm down ladies and gents, you’re reading the wrong blog for that sort of thing).
What’s The Bag Like, Then?
Before I give you my verdict, let me tell you about the hammock. Yes, a hammock inside a bag… This sits over the top of the void and holds your camera body away from the base of the bag. It means that, when you put your bag down, the weight isn’t suddenly put onto the end of the lens. It was this feature which pushed me to choose this bag more than any other.
There’s also a rubberised waterproof sheath around the bottom of the bag, which will be very handy on those bad-weather days.
Handy Memory Card Net in the front pocket – big enough for an iPhone. Side pockets are a decent size too.
That Hammock, and the memory foam lid. The Hammock is an excellent way to stop your lens getting bashed.
Side view. There’s a pocket on each side.
Front view, showing rubberised foot and good quality strap.
I do like the bag. A lot. The zip opens and allows you to open the top flap away from you, with perfect access to grab the camera quickly. The side and front pockets have enough room for a few extra bits and bobs and the strap is very comfortable, with plenty of adjustment to use across your body or just over your shoulder.
Would I Recommend it?
Yes, I would. If you’re in the market for a new DSLR or you’ve got one and want a new compact bag for it, I’d tell you to have a look at the Case Logic DSLR bag and stick it on your shortlist. Just make sure you get the right size for your camera – they do a shorty one for standard lenses too.
I recently treated myself to (a demo version of) Photoshop Elements. When I popped out for a short ride around the trails near home last Saturday, I took my compact camera and my gorillapod to snatch a few shots.
To give myself the bast chance of catching a good photo while the sun was low in the winter sky, I set the timer and programmed the camera to take ten shots in quick succession.
Uploading the photos from the camera and scrolling through, a thought struck me… Can I make an animation from these?
Well, one quick search on Youtube later and the answer was “Yes!” – Result.
Down Carr Lane
Back Up For The Camera!
So, what do you think?
… and more to the point, where could I use some now that I know how to do it?
For too long, the UK rain has been keeping me off the bike. It’s a well-used quote that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”, and this is true, but rain is rubbish.
Rain has a way of removing heat from your body like no other weather. Rain finds a way of trickling down the back of your neck. Rain results in damp doormats and sodden shed floors.
I don’t like rain. As a bespectacled man, rain is also a complete pain in the backside when it comes to seeing ANYTHING.
So I’ve kinda got used to not doing many miles. Recently, though, there’s been no rain…
There’s Been Snow
Snow’s different. Snow’s pretty. Snow’s compliant. Snow’s even grippy when it’s not been squashed or refrozen into ice.
I like snow.
On Sunday I layered up: Aldi base layers (£9 each, top & bottoms); Endura top; Ron Hill running bottoms; Aldi mid layer; Altura jacket; two buffs; a beanie hat; big Sealskinz gloves.
I made up a flask and was ready to go. Incidentally, this should have been Bovril but I was devastated to discover that my beloved had spotted the Bovril was out of date and disposed of it. I wrote “BOVRIL” on the shopping list and made myself some coffee.
My ride wasn’t particularly adventurous. I tested the ground conditions with an outward leg along the canalside to discover that the snow was wet enough and (mostly) deep enough to offer lots of grip, so with a smile I headed up past Hollingworth Lake onto the Pennine Bridle Way.
I wasn’t going fast. It was a good workout, with the snow slowing me down, rendering everything a virtual uphill. I just selected the granny ring, modulated my breathing so I wouldn’t die and plodded along. Bliss!
As I passed through a gate at the bottom of the hill past the M62 viaduct, a pleasant bloke on a shiny Specialized Camber 29er came alongside and we chatted for a few minutes about our bikes and estimated his timing for his return loop back to his car in Littleborough. If that was you, I hope you got back in time and I should’ve asked your name!
Turning uphill on the PBW towards Piethorne Reservoir I spotted a dark shape smack bang in the middle of the trail. A toad, maybe two-thirds the size of my fist, was crouched there slowly getting covered in the still-falling snow. I’m still not sure whether he was motionless because he perceived me coming along the trail (as he’d usually be camouflaged on that ground, but the obvious whiteness rendered that option a bit foolish) or whether he was, in fact, frozen to death and had already met his amphibious maker.
Pennine Bridle Way towards Piethorne
Snowy Strava – See Link Below
The trail down from the top of the hill towards Piethorne was exposed to the wind and had turned, over a few days of thawing and refreezing, into a cascading sheet of ice. Thankfully I was looking well ahead so steered onto the grass and opted to walk that section. My non-bruised hips will thank me for that decision!
More snow covered the trail a little lower down, so I climbed back aboard down to the reservoir and took the path alongside the water, until it joined the service road. From there I (carefully, with one foot dangling for support just in case the patches of ice along the road caught me by surprise) rolled down through Ogden into Newhey and back home.
Staying at home in the warm would have been the easier option by far, but I’m so glad I ventured out. It was only a shade over 11 miles but by staying off the well-trodden path and keeping my eyes on the scenery, I was able to truly enjoy my snowy, slip-sliding shenanigens.
Don’t let the snow keep you indoors. As I read somewhere else recently “enjoy the weather – you can’t change it“.
January is passing me by. Before 2013 began, I resolved to write an inspirational “Start Of The Year” article, highlighting the wonderful things that cyclists had done in 2012. It was to be a work of gravitas, impact, empathy and skill. It was to draw on the wonderful successes of the London 2012 Olympics and it was going to apply some of those successes to the very real achievements of you, the readers and the 12×100 cyclists.
The landscape’s better with your tyres in it.
Take the road less travelled.
But I didn’t do it. It’s too late now. It’s mid-January and all the “New Year” blog posts have been done. Extremely well, in most cases.
So instead, you’re getting this. I’m hoping you’ll like it.
2012 In The 12×100
I’m based in the UK. The bulk of the 12×100 riders are, too. As a consequence we didn’t ride as many miles in 2012 as we did in 2011. The weather in the UK has been rubbish. Not biblical (unless you’re living in parts of Yorkshire or Dorset) but consistently rubbish: rainy, dark and cold. Not conducive to riding bikes.
With that said, the results have been amazing. A grand total of 63,640 miles cycled by the 34 people who logged miles in 2012. This is an average of 199 miles per month each for those cyclists who logged each month – most of those miles were for leisure. People having fun on bikes. This makes me smile. I hope it makes you smile, too.
A little surprisingly, the month with the highest miles logged was May, just before the rain began. The rain didn’t stop until late December.
If you’ve not taken part in the 12×100 Monthly Cycling Challenge yet, hit the link on the menu above. There’s a little form for you to fill in. Do it now. All you have to do is decide to ride your bike regularly. Try to ride 100 miles or more every month, but if you don’t do it, don’t worry too much.
I’ll share something with you which isn’t a secret – I don’t do the 100 most months. In 2012 I only actually cycled 624 miles. Not exactly a sparkling achievement. But it’s 624 miles more than the other 43 year-old bloke who spent all his evenings and free days watching TV and eating crisps.
My life will be longer as a result of those 624 miles. If I can do 100 miles a month in 2013, my life will even longer still.Will yours? I hope so. Ride your bikes. Tell ‘em Phill sent you 🙂