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Travels on a Motorcycle

Overland journeys, allotment dilemas, cycling, open water swimming and walking a dog.

Month

July 2015

Name Changer

I get married next weekend.  With six months of preparation complete the only thing we have to do now, is to enjoy our day to celebrate our commitment to each other as man and wife and the start of our life’s journey.

People have started to ask I will be taking my husband-to-be’s surname.  My answer is, ‘no, I thought I’d just hang onto the one I’ve got’ and people respond by saying ‘fair enough, it’s a bit odd to change your name, isn’t it?’  Then we chat about the weather.

Except I could only wish for such a response.  Instead, I am asked why.

It’s obviously something I’ve given some thought to or I would blindly follow the crowd.  

My husband-2-be is keen that we share our name as a show of family unity and it’s tempting to change my name to please the man I love.

For me, it’s not as simple as that.  I am loyal to my family name.  Agreed, it’s the surname my mum took when she married my dad.  But they were different times.  Mum’s mail would have been addressed with dad’s name proceeded with ‘Mrs’.  Even as a child that didn’t seem reasonable.

The bottom line is that my name is part of my identity. I quite like having my own identity.

Changing my name feels subservient.  Laura Dover will no longer exist.  I will no longer have the name of the person who has National Tae Kwon Do titles, a Bachelor of Science degree and saved hard to buy and keep her own property.  Laura Appleby has no history.

My lovely H2B feels strongly, I said that he would be very welcome to take my name. By his response, I might as well have suggested that he chop his knob off.

I shouldn’t have, to but in case there is any doubt, I love Jamie and there is so much more to our relationship than a name.  We share so much more.

Article: Be More Productive: The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books

Be More Productive: The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books

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The Bantham Swoosh – part 2

Let me tell you about the Bantham Swoosh.  It’s a 6 km swim along an estuary in South Devon, England.

Six kilometres.  That’s a long swim.  180 lengths of my local 33 m pool. Just shy of 4 miles if you are still working in ‘old money’.

But this swim has a trick up its sleeve.  The ‘swoosh’ refers to the the push of the outgoing tide which is strong enough to transport swimmers like human pooh sticks for the last kilometre.

Standing on a concrete slip way at 9 am with 400 others, the swoosh felt a long way off. At 9.10 am the chilly estuary water had my immediate attention.  As we made our way down the slip way the estuary water introduced itself by seeping down the neck of my wet suit.  Now we are friends.

We breast stroked between clumps of seaweed waiting for the peloton to disperse as swimmers found their own pace.  The water in my wet suit had warmed and my hands and feet, either acclimatised or numbed.

Immersed in water that only ten minutes ago was less than inviting, there was nowhere else I would rather be.

I found a comfortable stroke, breathing every stroke at first to keep an eye out for my swim buddy. Visibility is a meter or so but in the shallows the water clouded with sand.  Much more interesting to swim under the open sky and negotiate anchor chains and seaweed rather than plasters in the pool.  Seaweed hooked on my goggles for a couple of strokes and a clump attached itself to the timing chip on my ankle.

As I relaxed, I began to breath every 3 or 5 strokes.  Concentrating on my breathing and feeling the water snug around me, my stroke pulling me along fast enough to pass other swimmers but not enough to raise my heart rate.  Almost meditative.

Aside from keeping a weather eye out for boats and other swimmers, all I had to do was swim.  Nothing could touch me.  Inside my own head and away from the office and wedding planning.  The next hour or so would be mine.

After an hour, we swim past the distinctive Bantham Boat house, the effect of the swoosh started to take hold.  Swimming became effortless covering meters with each stroke and then all, too soon, we were shepherded onto the steep, sandy beach.

Back to reality, a big hug from Jamie and a hot chocolate to fend off the cold.  Life is the same, but I am now Laura, open water swimmer.

The Bantham Swoosh – part 1

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Riding off road at Walters

Off road motorbike adventures are the stuff my dreams are made of.  The stumbling block; I don’t know how to ride off road.  So, when I had the chance to try, I jumped at it.

Walters Arena is 4000 acres of disused quarry and occasionally ‘Walter’ occassionally allows people to ride their motorbikes around it.  Over the 4000 acres there is a mixture of gravel and wooded tracks to challenge every level of rider.  Plenty to test me.

My off-road experience is unimpressive.  Fortunately, I have a good imagination.  To the onlooker I am bumping up and down curbs or riding across camp sites.  In my head, I’m making easy work of a dry river bed or traversing the Savannah.

Walters is light on refreshments so the lone coffee van draws a small crowd.  The terrible coffee doesn’t keep the crowd but the view of the gravel circuit does.

Laura on GSOnce into the arena, confident riders putting GSs through their paces, standing on the pegs like trial riders.  No learners.  My Savannah disappears.

Even though I was the master(ish) of curbs, taking my 800cc Triumph around the track seemed a tall order. I had booked some time on a FE250 Husquavana.

The Huski is light and so tall I could only tip toe the ground with one foot.

My guide pulled away, riding one handed over stones and rough gravel.  He watched me instead of where he was going.   I felt self conscious and made a couple of awful gear changes. This was going to be a very slow game of follow my leader.

Obstacle one; a 45 degree gravel slope.  Stopping wasn’t an option as I couldn’t touch the ground.  Even if I could put my feet down it would be like stopping on marbles.

Only one thing for it; I twisted the throttle as far as I dared, the tyres dug in and very obligingly, the Huski popped up the hill without a complaint.  I had to stop myself patting a thank you on the tank with glee. From slow to pro.  Then back to slow again when I was overtaken by a swarm of GSs.

We continued round the track.  The marble sensation of the gravel became less daunting and we completed two circuits including section through the woods.

Rejoining the crowd at the coffee van I watched the experienced riders and if I was to get any closer to my off-road adventure, it was time to take the Tiger round.  It wasn’t, fancy and it wasn’t fast, but I practiced until I could complete a lap standing on the pegs.  Only just off the learner mark but another step closer to my off road dream.

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