Tag Archives: travel

Covid-19 and Preparations for Exploring Scotland

Well, this pandemic has certainly scuppered my plans to visit lots of castles this year. But in the scheme of things, that is not so bad. I will see them eventually I am sure.

In the meantime I have been filling my no work time by preparing for trips in the future.

A while ago I went to the Isle of Mull for a holiday. While on that holiday I picked up a free book issued by Visit Scotland. You can download it free here. It lists many films and TV shows that have been shot in Scotland. Seeing I have lots of free time now, I made a map of most of the locations with the name of the film they refer to.

The blue place marks are ones I have not seen yet, the brown ones I have already visited at one time or another. While placing some locations I was a bit ticked off as I knew I had been there, but had not been to that specific location.

The movie Cloud Atlas was mentioned a few times and I was intrigued.

So I have ordered the book and DVD, though I am not sure when they will arrive. I hope in the future I will be able to visit some of its locations mention in the book.

Plus I really want to explore Glasgow, that was mentioned a lot too. I have been once, but didn’t really get a chance to explore the area.

In the meantime, I am not going anywhere. I am doing as I am told and staying home or within walking distance of my home. Stay safe 🙂

Just a Rin

Today I cycled to one end of the Rin-Rin in Tsukuba then cycled half the route. I will cycle the rest on another day as this trip was 75km for me. The whole Rin-Rin is about 42km.

I have cycled it before a couple of times so I was not too bothered by not finishing it today.

Here is a map of the start of the Rin Rin from Iwase.

And here is a link to a map of the whole RinRin route.

My cycle to the starting point took me 40km, I used my gps to avoid going uphill. It was a perfect day for a ride. A porridge day, not too hot, not too cold.

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The vegetables were out and so was I.

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The butterflies were out too.

I had planned on going to Mcdonalds for breakfast, but when I arrived at the RinRin I was so happy that I just kept cycling. I didn’t go out last weekend and felt a bit hard done by, what with my nice clean bike and all. Then I realised how lucky I am, not going out one weekend and I feel sad. It means I go out a lot and have loads of places to go.

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This is the map at the start of the route, the real route. Just to prove I was actually there. The rinrin is an old railway route that was turned into a cycle path. It is also lined with cherry trees so is stunning to ride along in the spring. It is a great route at any time of the year though. With rest stations (bathrooms) along the route, a 7/11, cafes and places to hire bicycles, plus it is flat…what more could you want?

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There are abandoned stations along the way which are perfect for a rest or a picnic. And handy mile markers so you know how far you have come or gone.

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Of course there are great views of Mount Tsukuba all the way along the route.

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This is one of the places where you can hire bicycles. There is a shop around the corner where you can get a key to a lock. This place also has car parks and is on the bus route if you don’t want to cycle there.

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This time I got to mile/km marker 19ish and stopped for a coffee at the place I usually stop. At that point I checked my map and if I finished it and went home it would be a 90+km day and I wasn’t up for that. So I decided to quit and go back another day from that point to finish it and then cycle home.

Each time I go on this route I stop at

ピットストップつくば北条

Which you can find here:


I recommend this place for a number of reasons…

  • It has a car park and they don’t mind you leaving your car while you cycle
  • The coffee is great and only 300yen with a biscuit
  • The lady who works there speaks English and is very friendly.
    • She remembered me from a year ago and could chat to me about my summer holiday, bit spooky but nice
  • I think they have bikes to rent and equipment to fix bikes
  • There is a clean toilet
  • You can get food at certain times of the day, but just ask the kind lady
  • It has the best cherry trees nearby
  • And best of all it is almost half way between the two ends if you don’t want to cycle up and down the whole thing twice.

I enjoyed today, when I first cycled this route I could not make 25km, so I am pleased with today’s efforts.

 

Kokaigawa River

There is a small road that runs along the Kokaigawa River near Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan. This river is very long and from my starting point I could have gone north or south. This time I chose north as the weather forecast said it might rain and I knew the way home from the north side.

Here is where I started from.

 

If you go here during the cherry blossom season the south route has hundreds of trees…another reason for going north this time. Look out for the next post around April or May. Incidentally if you are every around here during July the park where I started from has a water feature for kids to play in that is pretty awesome. The huge slide is pretty cool too. Adults can only play when nobody is watching so no pictures here. I know the map makes this place hard to see, but it is at the bottom of the reservoir.

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There is a free car park and two toilet blocks here. And on with the journey. As this route follows the river it is pretty flat and as it is quite rural there are quite a few hidden treasures along the route so keep your eyes peeled.

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I cycled along for a while until I saw a sign for a local temple. This is also a good place to cross to the other side of the river. if you don’t cross here you might get lost later or run out of road. This temple looks deserted most of the time but it is quite active. They have festivals, bonfires for daruma in the new year and lots of other activities..including taiko drumming. A friend of mine loves this temple and made a wiki page for it, which you can find here.

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This shrine is so friendly there is even a sign in English demonstrating how to pray.

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As you can see I am on drippy today as I am fairly close to my home, no car journey today.

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This is the view from the bridge. This bridge is quite old and was damaged in the 3/11 earthquake. It has now been repaired, but its use is restricted to small vehicles.

As you cycle along there are many small shrines, so if you are not in a hurry stop and take a look.

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There is Mount Tsukuba.

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My destination today was the Aeon mall in Shimotsuma. I have never been to this mall, but it was like most other malls in Japan. And look at that sky…no rain today, the weather man lied.

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Of course being a mall there was an abundance of choices for lunch, but no buns dancing..disappointing.

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Hmmm pizza. At this point I had cycled 26km, 10km to the park and 16km from the park to the mall. I have earned a small pizza.

Across the road from the mall on the right be looking at the map..if you move it up a bit to Shimotsuma, is Kokaigawafureai Park. This has a funky building in the shape of a butterfly. There is a small museum type thing inside with examples of other insects, I think from memory, I didn’t go in today. The reason for my non-entry is the fact that on the ride I got in the face by a large grasshopper and near misses from other. I was all insected out.

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This place is a perfect place for a picnic and if I had remembered it was here I would have bought a sandwich or bento at the mall and ate it here. There are many things for children to do and a few things for adults too. Like a mini golf course and lots of flowers!!

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Look at the size of those sunflowers, my hand is huge by the way, I really needed a banana for scale. (my hands are tiny)

As I was cycling I decided to use an app I downloaded a while ago, but never used…imotion. It takes stop motion videos on your phone or ipad. Here is one way of the cycle, 16km in 4:31 minutes.

I will do this trip again as it is good exercise, easy, and accessible for me. It is better with a friend though…you know who you are….now all my friends are going “me”…yes you 😉

Kasama – drive, cycle, hike

I intended to cycle around Kasama today, but it didn’t work out that way…I got a bit lost and had to walk for most of the trip.

Here is the map for the area where I went.

I parked at the Kasama Prefectural Natural Park, but I recommend parking before there at the parking south of Kanzeonji Shrine. It has toilets, vending machines and is on the route of the hiking trails. It is also close to the town center and is free.

There are many things to do around here, so it is not just a cycling destination. Take a look at the links in the reference section to find out more.

This was my day though. I intended to cycle around the area and then see the town, maybe get lunch. I took a look at the path and it seemed a little muddy and slippery.

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I turned around and went on the road. This is the area for a whereigo cartridge so I set to completing that. This a sort of game where you go to certain GPS locations in order to find a cache. I am going to give no clues here, you will have to complete it. This cartridge leads you to boulders around the area. I found the first easy enough then..went off road for the second stop.

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As the GPS led me to a wooded section I decided to leave my bike chained to a post.

IMG_1625 I climbed up through the trees and immediately got covered in mosquitoes. I was wearing mosquito repellant trousers and scarf, plus I had put lots of repellant on my t-shirt and arms. It kept them at bay for a while, but I sweated so much that I had to keep reapplying it. By the way don’t you think the past tense of sweat should be swat. Anyway, I climbed up about 100m then came to a road…how annoying, happens a lot, stupid GPS.

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I found and played on the boulders, plus found the cache. If you are coming here to hike and play I recommend coming in autumn or winter. The mozzies were infuriating…even though I didn’t get bitten. Walking through the forest reminded me of when I lived in Thailand. I used to go walking with my dog and a friend in the jungle/forest there. My friend would walk ahead swinging a stick to get rid of any spider webs. After walking into a big one today I picked up a stick and started swinging…no more webs in the face.

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After jumping around a bit I decided enough was enough and it was time to go back to my bike…one problem…I forgot to put a waymark where I left it. I could not remember the direction.

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I walked back to the road, but I wasn’t sure if it was the same section. So I started walking, eventually, I would find civilization. After walking a few hundred meters I got a map. When you are in a highly wooded area GPS on a phone doesn’t work very well so it was handy to find the map, there weren’t many signs around. My GPS machine did work, but there were no points of interest to figure the direction I needed, hence the need for a waymarker. The map showed that there was a circular route my bike was somewhere on it. I was at a T-junction, 50/50 chance I would go the right way…I wasn’t lucky. Though I did see other things on my walk it ended up taking me an hour to get back to my bike. Never forget to leave a waymark!

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After getting to this sign I knew exactly where I was and there was a mark on it for the big rock I saw at the beginning. Almost there.

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Can you see my bike in the distance?

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I was so happy to see it. I pushed it back up the hill to my car and relaxed into my seat with the A/C. By this time I was shattered and decided to head straight home. But then I saw the other car park and thought, well I am here, might as well see the temple.

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The drive home was really interesting and enjoyable. I set my GPS to avoid toll roads and highways, find the most direct path, please. Apparently, that meant going up and over two mountains, including a really steep road. A REALLY steep road. I am sure if there was another person in my car I could not have got up it. It was almost a dirt track. Even on this road, I saw a cyclist going up…going slowly, but still going. He is my hero.

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References

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/shritemp/kasamainarijinja.html
http://database.ibarakiguide.jp/db_kanko/?type=en&detail&id=0800000000592
http://www.alientimes.org/Main/KasamaNotJustALittlePotteryTown

Welcome to the BumbleBike!

I decided seeing as I have a nice portablish bike and I want to get fitter and do more stuff and blah, blah, blah then this is the perfect subject for my new blog. I was looking for a theme as I finished the last blog which you can see here.

http://luckywalkstokyo.wordpress.com/

The theme of this blog is the bike, not gods or specific places, just the bike. Actually it might be a other bikes too, but for now it is a yellow one…you never know what can happen to a bike or a person.

yellow bike
The Bumble Bike

I bought the bike on a whim thinking I could take it on trains and travel around. Turns out 11kg is light at the beginning of the day, but oh so heavy at the end. Plus putting it in that tiny bag is a pain in the ***. So actually I think I have only taken it two places on the train…but oh wait thinks I..I have a car. I can actually fit it on my back seat, even though my car isn’t much bigger. That opens up a whole new world (well, probably 100-200km). No packed trains, no packed bag. The world is my bumblebike. Let the journeys begin…maybe?!