Cycling to work: charm or chore?

The alarm clock sounds, you don’t quite believe it. No, it can’t be, You rolled over and saw it was 3am like two minutes ago, how is it 7am all of a sudden?! When did that happen? Have all the clocks broken? Have all the machines gone down? It it Y2K? Is it FINALLY Y2K? PLEASE SAY ITS Y2K!

download (3)Its about time!

But it is not Y2K, its never bloody Y2K. You drag yourself out of that beautiful comfy place and into the shower, the roller coaster ride begins: too hot, too cold, too hot, too cold, too hot, too cold. Give up. As soon as you leave this supposed sanctuary the cold air is sneaking up and clinging to the water on your skin, you’re shivering and angry. Kitchen, kettle, fridge, food!

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Ah Tuesdays…

WHERE IS THE MILK?! You bought the milk, you know it was there, there was enough, there was MORE than enough! How could someone do this?! Who could actually do this? What selfish and cruel individual would leave to a lonely, hungary, milkless morning? BAM! You hit the counter top BAM! You throw the spoon into the sink BAM! You kick the front of that stupid bin BAM! You push the unopened milk by the sink over…. BAM! You-wait the what? Ah, ah ok. So THERES the milk. Hmmmm, you must have left it out of the fridge, perhaps you can forgive those imaginary milk stealing housemates.

So you get the breakfast, you scoff it down, you pull on the work clothes that you don’t quite feel comfortable in (you haven’t got round to cleaning the ones you prefer, and people will probably notice if you wear them again, either from their memories or your smell) and you grab your bike and leave for work…… or do you? Do you grab the bike? Do you ride your bike? Is it how you want to start your day? Is it an exhilarating, invigorating, fun and healthy start to the day? Or is it a pain? Is it a horrible struggle that just compounds your morning misery. The question I’m always asking myself is: are the windy,wet and slow days worth it for the sunny, dry and fast days? Are they worth it for you? 

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What cycling to work definitely always looks and feels like. 

I’ve cycled to work every workday of my life, for the first 10 years of that, I was doing it because it was the only way I could get to these jobs, I had no car and could never afford one. Public transport was inconvenient and too expensive. And I didn’t trust it. Walking would take too long. And I found it boring. Since then though its been voluntary, I voluntarily cycle to work every day and some days I cannot for the life of me remember why…

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Whats that falling from the sky? Oh yeah, the sad truth. 

When its rainy and cold and windy and dull its the worst. The worst way to start the day for absolute sure, but when its sunny and I’m feeling healthy its a joy. But should I get a car or a moped? I’m just not sure.

What do you reckon? Leave your two cents in the comments below.

Choosing a Personal Trainer

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When you make the decision to change your life and become fit, one of the first steps you may well take is to find yourself a personal trainer. Not just anyone will do though, as many people are able to advertise themselves as personal trainers without any specific qualifications or accreditation. However there are some tell-tale signs that a PT is worth their salt, and here are ten of them.

 

Easily the most vital of all the factors is that the trainer ought to be knowledgeable. Knowing how to exercise in a safe and effective manner is very important, but knowledge around nutritional advice is also high in the list. A good Trainer will know the difference between exercise and dieting fads, and systems that have been proven to work. A certification is certainly useful, and they should keep up-to-date with advancements in the field of fitness.

 

Secondly, a PT needs to be reliable. At the very least they should treat your time with respect, given that you are paying for their time, so they ought to show up on time and be ready to get into work. But reliability can also mean dependability, so you ought to be able to trust them.

 

Confidentiality is also important in that respect. You should feel about your trainer as you would about the doctor – that they won’t share your details or case with anyone else, and will treat you with the due respect. The trainer is not only someone to count your steps and time your movements but should also be able to help you to make a change in your life, and as such you need to feel comfortable with them.

 

Another element of a good trainer is that they’re friendly – they ought to be a people person who is able to get on with other people from many other walks of life. They also need to be good at listening to their clients and taking feedback in order to perfect the routine. An excellent quality personal trainer will be able to talk to most people.

 

Your trainer should also be a role model for you and their other clients. There would be no sense in hiring a trainer in worse shape than yourself – they ought to set an example in their fitness and their diet that clients can follow. This shows they are dedicated to the job and the ideologies behind it.

 

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Safety should be of utmost important to a personal trainer. They should ask for your medical information before you even begin exercising, set up some tasks to assess your current level of fitness, and coach you on how to use gym equipment safely.

 

As a role model, the personal trainer should be well-organised and set an example for the maintaining of exercise logs. This is the best way for clients to set their own fitness targets, and teaches them how to do so in a natural way.

 

A trainer should also, while showing their client what to do, encourage them into self-reliability. Hiring a personal trainer is not a long term solution, and instead there should be an eventual point where you no longer need them and can move on to work by yourself. If a trainer ever says it could be an indefinite amount of time working with them, you should try to find someone else who will utilise your motivation to keep you going far after you’ve finished paying them.

 

Appearance is less important, but can still be a factor. Obviously the clothes worn should be suitable for exercise, but preferably staying away from makeup or revealing clothing. A good personal trainer won’t care what they look like, as the focus here is on you.

 

Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are really important factors as this is what will keep you going. In terms of motivation, nothing comes close to being as driving as a great attitude. If they’re excited to exercise, you will be too! Sense of humour is also a nice one – unless you’re completely focussed on unwavering, dedicated training – that can help sessions go quicker and make you more likely to want to go.

 

Hopefully now you will have a better idea of what constitutes a good personal trainer, and if you can find someone to fit all these categories you will be in for a winner!

Cycling in Perthshire: Things to Do and Places to Stay

Perthshire is a beautiful and varied region, from the rugged mountains of Highland Perthshire to the North to the rolling hills and lush agricultural lands of the south, with the historic market town of Perth to explore, as well as a range of other delightful towns and villages. Cycling through Perthshire is an excellent way to see this place close up, enjoying the wild nature all around you as you pedal from one quaint town to the next, past lochs, through glorious glens beside winding rivers and over high passes with stunning views.

Cycle Tours of Natural Highlights:

The Pitlochry/ Kinloch Rannoch circuit is a 45 mile circuit showcasing the very best that Highland Perthshire has to offer. There are dramatic mountains, rushing rivers, hills and glens, atmospheric lochs and famous viewpoints, all in one magnificent cycle route.

If you like mountain biking, then the miles and miles of trails around Blair Atholl should really appeal. One of the best routes takes you up from Blair Castle to Glen Bruar, with some lovely forests and picturesque views.

For those looking for a bit of a challenge, and who have some experience mountain biking, could also try the Beinn a Ghlo Circuit, a long and remote route that will take you through deep into the gorgeous Grampian mountains.

Attractions:

If history is your thing then you will be in seventh heaven in this area. Visit the Palace of Scone, where Kings of Scotland were crowned for five hundred years. Go to the sight of the first Jacobite Uprising at the Pass of Killiecrankie, and visit Blair Castle, where Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed for a time. Take the boat trip to Loch Leven Castle to see where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned, or Huntingtower Castle, which also has links to the tragic queen. The Black Watch Castle and Museum is a must for anyone interested in military history. Stanley Mills are a fascinating glimpse into Victorian industry, while the Scottish Crannog Centre will take you all the way back to the Iron Age. Whichever part of Perthshire you choose to explore on your cycling tour, living history will surround you.

If you are an animal lover, why not combine your cycling trip with a Highland Safari from Aberfeldy, or the British school of Falconry at Gleneagles. You are bound to see birds and animals throughout your trip, but those attractions could prove fascinating fun for all the family. If you do love birds, then be sure to visit the Loch Leven Nature Reserve with its RSPB hide, and in the summer, see the pair of Ospreys nesting at the Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre and Wildlife Reserve near Dunkeld. Craigower near Pitlochry is an important butterfly habitat.
Cycling getting a bit too tiring? Need to calm down? Take a wee dram in one of Perthshire’s whisky distilleries, or a beer from a local microbrewery – but not if you are getting straight back on your bike of course! Take a pitstop and sample the world-renowned drinks.

Places to Stay:

You will spoiled for choice when it comes to lovely places to stay in Perthshire – from castles to campsites there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget. There are a great number of log cabins in scotland, and Perthshire is no exception. Why not stay in a cosy lodge while cycling in Perthshire, for a touch of the rustic that still retains many home comforts? Here are just a few options:

Stay on the banks of Loch Tay, at Loch Tay Highland Lodges, or Highland Perthshire Lodges, by Aberfeldy. You could stay at Erigmore, Dunkeld, or Kenmore Luxury Lodges, for a touch of luxury and extravagance, or at Kinnard Woodland Lodges for easy access to Pitlochry, the starting point for many cycle routes. Or for the mountain bike routes around Blair Atholl, stay at one of the woodland lodges on the Estate. These are just a few of the many delightful accommodation options for your Perthshire holiday.

Wherever you stay, and whatever you decide to see and do during your cycling trip to Perthshire, you are sure to find delight in the many sights, wonders and attractions of the breathtakingly beautiful region of Perthshire. So pack your bags, get on your bike to come and see it all for yourself!

Best Places to Cycle in Yorkshire

Since the Tour de France took to the Yorkshire hills and dales, cycling has become even more popular than it was in this beautiful shire. Whether you are looking for gentle cycling routes, or full on all-terrain, long distance rides, there are plenty of wonderful places in the Yorkshire Dales and the broader Yorkshire area in which to indulge your passion for travelling on two wheels.

- For family fun:

For a gentle cycle route for the whole family, and a treat for history lovers, why not visit the genteel market town of Ilkley. From there, you can cycle the popular route to Bolton Abbey. Feeling fit? You can keep going on longer routes that will take you to Skipton or Embsay.
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On the Yorkshire coast, another lovely route for families is the Scarborough to Whitby RailTrail, which runs along the route of the old railway like taking in the beautiful coastal views and pretty seaside towns of the region.

- For a day trip:

Try the Settle Circular for a route of moderate difficulty, which takes in many of the pretty little villages of the southern Dales and crossing dramatic limestone valleys. It is about 38 miles, with a couple of hills at Halton Gill and Attermire, but with plenty of opportunities to stop for a cream tea or a pint, this is not too arduous and is perfect for a lovely day trip.
For a slightly more difficult day trip, why not take on the Swaledale Circular. The bad news is that there is uphill – a lot of uphill! The good news is that there is a pub at the top of it, and a lovely ride back down on quiet roads. The views and the pint to be had at the top in the Highest Pub in the land are well worth the effort to climb the steep Tan Hill.

-For Long-distance touring:

To fully explore many of the lovely hills and villages of the Dales, why not attempt the 130 miles of the Yorkshire Dales cycle way? You will be taken on a winding tour through the beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Alternatively, why not cycle the West Yorkshire Cycle Route, which more or less follows the boundaries of the county. It is 150 miles, mostly on road, that goes through some interesting and varied towns and countryside. For accomodation on this route, there are plenty of options, my personal favourite is a static caravan holiday homes park in West Yorkshire called Bowland Fell Park. Check it out here!

For trans-county routes, why not try the Way of the Roses, which comes through Lancashire from Morecambe and winds its way through Yorkshire to the North Sea Coast? Or the amazing 350 mile Pennine Cycleway, which stretches from Derby to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

For accomodation,

Yorkshire is perfect for cycling – so get on your bike!

Staycation time!

What are the main things you look for in a holiday? Somewhere warm? Relaxing? Adventurous?

 

Most Brits probably think about getting away to somewhere the sun shines a little brighter. The hotter it is, the happier we are – even more so if it means we can complain when we get home! It tends to be that more winter breaks are taken in the UK, perhaps to do some Christmas shopping on a mini break in Edinburgh or exploring the markets of London on a late summer weekend. But it’s easy to forget that the UK also has an amazing coastline, and many wonderful places to visit.

 

That’s why more and more people are opting for a staycation.

 

In the UK, including all of our various islands, we have a total of 19,491 miles of coast line. Now of course it’s not all picturesque, but a large proportion is! There isn’t anywhere in the UK which is more than seventy miles from the coastline, so for holiday-goers who love peninsulas, islands, coves, headlands and most of all beaches, there are plenty of places to go.

 

There are at least a thousand islands that make up part of the UK, and only 290 of them are actually inhabited all the time. Many of these have some outstandingly beautiful scenes, as well as plenty of lifestyle attractions to keep you busy for a few hours, or days.

 

These are some of the best coastal spots to visit in the UK.

 

Amusdarach in Inverness – a breathtakingly beautiful beach with clear views across the Isle of Sky, it is only one mile to the south of Morar. White sands and clear blue skies (on a good day) make it the perfect spot for a picnic or a bit of an adventure!

 

St Margaret’s Cove, Kent – Noel Coward once lived here, and then sold his house to Ian Fleming, creator of the British icon James Bond. The Royal St George golf course was the setting for a scene in Goldfinger, and the Red Lion pub a mile from the bay claims that he stopped there for a drink before flying to Switzerland. It’s also only 18 miles away from Calais – close enough to get a French mobile signal!

 

Woolacombe Bay, Devon – A beautiful beach for dog walking, you can visit the Woolacombe Bay Hotel for cream teas on pristine laws which stretch down to the ocean. There are lots of different walks available on the beach or through cliffs.

 

Rottingdean, East Sussex – Just to the east of rocky seaside Brighton, it’s an adorable little village just above the shore lie. Rottingdean is perhaps most famous for being the home of Rudyard Kippling and for being a smugglers haunt.

 

So why pass up the UK for somewhere hotter and more expensive? Save money and get to know your own country a little better this year on holiday.