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Its catch up time again here so I have combined some of this weeks bloggable activities, such as they are, into one post.  Whenever any of the cycle racing ‘grand tours’ are on TV my external activities are limited to those that can fit into a morning slot.  I therefore had to scratch my head to remember what i did and then combine them all here.

Cycling’s ‘grand tours’ are the Giro d’Italia in the spring, The Tour de France in the summer and the Vuelta d’Espagna in the autumn.  All of these are three weeks long and due to the increased popularity of cycling here in the UK they are now live on TV for many more hours.  This week the Tour of Britain was also thrown into the mix with live transmissions of that and the ‘Vuelta’ on at a similar time on different channels.  Both races were on different Eurosport channels and the Tour of Britain was also on ITV4.  Fortunately I have Sky Plus so I was able to record one whilst watching the other.  There was also the advantage of advertisement break dodging by switching channels to avoid them so I was juggling between three channels at times.  However I think there might have been some collaboration between the TV companies as just recently I have noticed they do seem to go to adverts at more or less the same time.  I think the red hot TV remote control and the sofa might appreciate a well deserved rest next week.

On Monday morning the weather was favourable for a bike ride so I dusted down the Colnago and took it for a short Ouse Valley ride of about twenty miles to re-acquaint my legs with the rotating motion of pedalling.  It wasn’t too bad actually and the weather was great, which helps in motivating me to get out.

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On Thursday we went to the National Trust property, Ascott House near Wing in Bedfordshire.  Its somewhere we have never been before despite it being just a half hour drive from home.  I think the main reason for not visiting before is because of its restricted opening hours.  Its only open from 2pm until 6pm on weekdays, and only in Summer.  This was almost our last opportunity of this year as Friday was the last day of opening before the winter closure.

It is a beautiful Jacobean house with paintings by the likes of Stubbs, Gainsborough and Reynolds and extensive and spectacular gardens. It is another property donated by the Rothschild family to the National Trust and is still lived in by part of the Rothschild family, hence the visiting limitations.    After some research I found there are nine other residences in and around the chilterns and home counties that are or were part of the Rothschild property holding.  They are all very substantial and spectacular properties to say the least and parts of a lot of them will be familiar to filmgoers as filming locations for some very popular films.  (I will put the above and some more photos from the outing in my photo blog later)

On Friday I spontaneously phoned my friend Cyril in Wellingborough to see if he was either home and available for a visit or on a bike ride and we could maybe rendezvous somewhere or at home and fancied a bike ride.  When I spoke to him he said how spooky it was because he was just thinking about calling me for similar reasons.  So the upshot was that we organised a rendezvous at Earls Barton then rode to Emmaus at Carlton for a bottomless cup of coffee and a slice of their splendid carrot cake.  We didn’t take advantage of the free coffee refills though.  This ride totalled about thirty miles for me.

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All the current cycling tours finish this weekend to allow for the travel and preparation of the cyclists for the World Championships in and around Richmond in the USA next weekend.  This will mean that I will be back to having full days available for external activities, this could involve some longer bike rides (Except next weekend!!).  It will in turn hopefully also mean I will have more to write about and more pictures instead of just boring route maps to break up the text.