Tea or Coffee ?

I’m staying in a coffee hotel tonight. Not expensive, breakfast included quality shampoo and a hairdryer. That’s what makes a coffee hotel .I haven’t tried the coffee yet ,so I don’t know for sure but I am. confident to try tomorrow . Isn’t it sad that ‘beware the coffee ‘hotels still charge full rates? So I am very happy here with the fluffy towels and the attention to detail

Beautiful roofed Abbeys today. Selby Abbey ,Howden Minster,Beverley Minster, Watton Priory and Bridlington Priory .A special time of morning prayer in Selby set the day off to a good start (after the baked bean drenched fried egg. … Last night was a tea hotel) . Three delays today .A wrong turning , a six mile diversion and a Fiona moment of leaving bike keys at the bakery . It was good to get to Beverley Minster ,site of an Anglo Saxon monastery but the present building an amazing parish church . So the welcomer there told me , school masterly ,when I said what I was up to . They serve tea and coffee in flasks for any to self serve so they still get my vote and the Minster can speak for itself
To make up time and avoid an A road I rested myself by train to Watton Abbey. This one has a roof ,as it is now a private house ,a few ruined walls in the gardens .And so to Bridlington Priory. Rushed but admired .I trained again to Scarborough to keep on schedule
Whom did I meet today? A lovely gentleman at Howden with a splendid 60 year old bike .He told me about basket loads of vegetables from his allotment .I said I have an old timer too , but only 40 years old and I’ve left it at home . We bonded . And the fantastic baker in Howden who bakes well and found my keys and the welcoming carer in Howden Minster A friendly place indeed .
Whitby tomorrow .Goodnight

Navigating the Rhubarb Triangle

Drip drip drip on the glass after an alarm gone too early . Really?do this ride around the abbeys?
The thing about fundraising for such a great cause as Mercy ministries is that it focuses the mind to get the job done . So a really big thank you for all who have given so generously This is life changing stuff for eternity .And I have so many prayers and pray-ers that yesterday’s blog could have been called ‘Be preprayed’ For those who think they miss out on pray-ers or those who think its a load of rubbish , ask me sometime It’s life saving stuff .

What a start with Jens to accompany me to Hawksworth Thank you x And a lovely lesson in humility as the bike chain fell off at first gear change and helping hands were great. Then the first hill which I am not fit enough to cycle .
Dithering to the last, I took the A65 and with a left glance at my birthplace ,before a right look to family graves in Horsfoth, Kirkstall was quickly in view .I have never loved you A65 , packed, queues , speed cameras . How many hours have you wasted for Leeds commuters ? But by your faults,I was pleased to go faster than the ugly menacing SUVs and overtake bus and truck . Go cyclists go ! We need that Olympic legacy .State of the Art tracks. Not white lines on main roads.

Kirkstall is wonderful, so large and one of the best preserved Cistercian monasteries .I sat overlooking the river . A time of private thoughts … And then it was far too cold and time to pedal on. The Rule of Benedict was breaking because of a sleepy complaining rise from bed and indulgence of self, feeling the cold.
I was so happy to cycle the canal tow path from Kirkstall to Woodlesford and pick up the Trans Pennine route This has improved so much since tarmaced So much smoother than any neglected road.On the roads , the ruts are so deep and dangerous that accidents will happen . Corporate negligence of allowing the status quo and deterioration of road surfaces lies at the feet of all of us who have an MP to write to .And today’s social problem Litter litter litter. Leeds Litterpool Canal

The rhubarb triangle was made easier to travel through with the track but my artistic attempt to photograph strong red stalks and green leaves was thwarted by an old lady forbidding me to use my camera .I thought she was strange but she thought me stranger . Her husband had an overwhelming flush of Polite Englishness and asked if I liked Rhubarb. A strange encounter but no rude barb and no swallowing up into an abyss.
So to Monk Bretton. Found not easily but warm and empty. I had the whole abbey to myself .Oh Barnsley , so much grimness by association ,you are beautiful. Stand up ,erect , love yourself,tidy yourself and be attractive again. Would anyone believe the best cycle track I have been on in the Uk is between Barnsley and Wombwell? You have an uphill struggle Wwell to promote yourself even to an obstetrician but cycling is a great assett. You could start there.
Back to topic .Roche Abbey so amazing and Sister Minny ( not a nun…my big sis ) supplied cups of coffee and water and moral support Thank you! It sustained me to Doncaster train station and onto tonight’s resting place of Selby . After some cross winds , rain and more rain it was special to arrive with a clear blue sky allowing the sun to reflect on the great Norman Abbey and make it shine. Good night and thanks for reading

Be prepared..

So the start of the full week of Cycling around the Abbeys of  Yorkshire is unsettlingly close. Monday 29th April  0630 BST. That’s the plan..the finish time can wait until a more predictable forecast can be given .No surprise then , that a last minuter like me has a lot of preparation to do .The maps , the route, were done months ago , but with not much thought of revision  or minute detail . So is it really going to be a peaceful enough route? Is that quick stretch on an A road an invitation  to be under Eddie Stobart’s wheel? and where is man with a van at his most aggressive ?  My closest encounter with an auto mobile was with a quad bike on a narrow Dales road, so safety is an unpredictable beast, as an individual event. Trends and trending affect populations but bypass many  .No risk assessment will tell me if a quadbiking shephard misjudges.However, to all who know my Boris bike ways, Yes I shall wear a helmet , have lights, have reflective clothing strips, have waterproof panniers, have spare tubes, a repair kit, some food, some drink , some first aidsomethingorother.  And a blogging smart phone .That most of the cycling stuff was bought only yesterday will confirm I am someone who owns a bike and not a cyclist. Am I excited? Of course! Yorkshire Abbeys on a bike, you can out do Chateau de Loire a thousand fold. (Remind me of that on the days I’m tired and wet please) https://www.justgiving.com/Fiona-Schneider3/ r.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/20130424-172709.jpg”>Fountains Abbey

Faintly Remembered

Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison,
Fatal and ominous to noble peers!
Within the guilty closure of thy walls
Richard the second here was hack’d to death;

Pontefract Castle lies in ruins,apparently the locals welcoming its destruction by Parliamentarians in the civil war .And yet it still belongs to the Queen . High up on a rock surrounded by traffic and suburbia it lies at peace .The residents are now rid of the fighting it attracted for centuries. A place of conflict,royal murder, intrigue and politics it was destroyed 100 years after the sacking of the havens of peace that were the monasteries.

Pontefract Castle is reported to be the place of Catherine Howard’s adultery which led to her beheading Perhaps it does have something to do with the sacking of the monasteries .A king with six wives was not going to please the church in Rome . But the monasteries enraged him by paying their tithes to Rome and not to the home coffers . Here in Pontefract there is no sign of the Cluniac Priory surrendered to King Henry VIII on 23 November 1540 . It had stood for 450 years , small but a place for up to 40 monks and a Christian presence next to the bustling castle .Stop to think awhile and hear the history in the station name Pontefract Monkhill .If this monastery had been founded the day it surrendered and lasted as long ,it would have closed just three years ago .It was here for a long long time .

I work near here and had wanted to see the site and remember. And in betwen the driving around also remember Nostell Priory. A name in National Trust ownership and a Robert Adam house paid for by coal deposits beneath .The priory gone but held in the sub conscience.

Both priories too ruined to be on my bike trip, I have mixed sentiments of amazement that the history is so close , but an anger that suburbia squeezes around and the priories are obliterated .Such influence and importance reduced to an A road and a Shell garage with Costa .Peace is now offered by the low walls of a once bloody and very important castle.The wall of Pontefract’s Saxon Church a nod to a much longer Christian heritage on the site (photo) />


Sawley Abbey in all weather

12827_4458757710264_289847268_nThis was a day of thank you ! Thank you to everyone who has ever planted bulbs at the roadside. Daffodils , crocuses .. you lift the mood punching above your size .Thank you !
Fog greeted the day and with the intention of getting above it I made for the top of the Moor. The route to Sawley abbey ,now in Lancashire ,but historically Yorkshire proved difficult to link into my tour timetable . I decided to visit on a day trip of training . Its quite a climb up to Cowper’s Cross and I don’t mind admitting to pushing ,but clinging fog still held the high moor in lock down . It’s a great place to think of the valleys below ,Airedale and Wharfedale and pray blessing .The cross a form to cling onto in the fog of life .
Knowing I needed to cross the Pennine watershed, I was expecting plenty of ups and downs . It was a strange sensation then to have fog so thick that it was difficult to work out if the road was going up or down and to cycle through snow drifts higher than me on both sides of the road . So it was with an added sense of relief that the sun was shining at Sawley and the huge stones radiated a pale heat from the strengthening spring sun . Sawley a small abbey but a place of rest , faith and learning for over 400 years sitting juxtaposed Pendle Hill. A beautiful quiet place in the Ribble Valley . A place of spiritual history . Not much remains of this great place founded in 1147 . Born of an obedient zeal to take the gospel from Citaeux in France into all the world , the legacy of Christians is immense . The beheading of the Abbott four hundred years later was greeted with outrage locally and a faction of the pilgrimage of Grace attempted to protest at Sawley .Just sixty or so years later the hold that witchcraft had in the area became well known . The famous trial of ten people ,some confessed witches resulted in hangings for murder through witchcraft in Lancaster and York .
So what of the interest today . It seemed that some of my fellow guests at the ‘Spread Eagle’ were oblivious to the history across the road and ‘had not noticed the Abbey’ The Pendle witches are more celebrated in memory . I write this a day after ‘ We fight not against flesh and blood .. But against the powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil … ‘ was read by Amanda Thatcher for all who cared to listen and understand . Sawley Abbey serene and ruined still remains as a counter to the history of Pendle’s fame .Even if Sawley Abbey’s people have been silenced the stones cry out to invite consideration of the faith of the first monks . The forty mile return gave great head space to consider the lilies of the field and be thankful . There was still snow to walk through and hail to fall but the tour of the Abbeys of Yorkshire has begun and you can read more about it here



Driving around

It all started well enough. Leisurely breakfast ,not too early . It would be normal to look forward to test driving new cars. But I’m contrary and like my car to be able to take some more knocks without being noticed. Yes, to all things new, but a big no to the first spoiling of newness. And that’s the logic. Stick with the old .
So to do a test drive, I admit , I needed some persuading . VW Harrogate. These guys are on the ball, greet with a smile , coffee , knowledge and understanding . Good test drive . May well get the business. So to next door. A famous 4 rings showroom. I’ll spare you the details but after 40 minutes and an offer to drive a car with 30000 plus miles on it instead of the new A3 we were saying our goodbyes to the manager. The contrast between expectation in a glass car palace and failing of customer service at a basic level leaves a tainted feeling .Let’s have a cup of tea and get over it!
But plans that never plan for the unexpected , or emotions that never plan for the surprise cannot expect resilience . So having thought that the day’s driving was done by 3 pm ,it was 7 pm when we turned the corner in Leamington Spa , heading back to Yorkshire with a passport . The saving of a 20 minute test drive was exchanged for six hours in a car with over 105,000 on the clock . Gas guzzling , oil demanding and no longer pristine but it saved a holiday and gave time for conversation. No need for a radio with good company , but maybe ,…yes I would love a reliable audio system in a car . Audi . Oh dear .

Blogging by finger

As some of you may know .I shall be cycling around the Abbeys of

Yorkshire soon .Mainly for me and also for charity Yes , you can donate here https://www.justgiving.com/Fiona-Schneider3/. Sadly or sensibly , I have delayed my start by about three weeks because of the cold weather. I am really looking forward to it , knowing the first two days will be hard work. This way I shall have a little time to be fitter .theory

But this is not what this blog is about. Its about how to blog on a minimum of luggage on the move. Can I type coherently on a phone ? Will my fat fingers cope with the chore ? Will my fingers get as fit as my legs? !

Many moons ago I decided to study medicine. At least give it a shot. I had wanted to be a flying doctor ever since hearing about them in Australia when I was about six. So eventually the careers advice was tame and perhaps a bit lame . Block headedness set in and if my form teacher said I shouldn’t bother trying then that was enough reason to try for it. And then an equally curious and wrong piece of advice. ‘If you are to study medicine then you will always have a secretary and wont need to learn to type ‘. Teachers , parents beware

Those words of discouragement haunt me still , fumbling so often over a keyboard. I have never ever made myself another ill fitting jacket which was the alternative to typing lessons .

But perhaps today is a day of liberation as I struggle one finger from each hand’ with this iPhone A new technique and those typing lessons would not really have helped .0h. Dear QWERTY Just to see if I can manage to blog on it each day of my Abbey tour

So thats it. It isn’t perfect typing and my keyboard switches readily to german autocorrect. The typing and neck spasm irritate me But maybe it will work. Just for good measure here is a picture. 10 year old D4 the labrador Just checking it out. ( and don’t ask me to edit. Not today anyway )

Beekeeping in the Snow

Beekeeping in the Snow


We all know, in northern Europe, that it has been a late snowy winter and that many humans are already fed up. Why won’t the Spring come ? We need it to be warmer.

We may think of the Selfish Giant described by Oscar Wilde and remember the snowy and icy garden of the giant who would not let children play there. When he relented, the spring came and the summer and the sound of happy children playing in his garden and giving him joy. The joy of seeing others happy was perhaps greater than seeing the beauty of nature. Quite something to think about for those of  us who may struggle with generosity.

But animals and bees are also struggling to welcome the first signs of spring. We see the lambs, not surrounded by daffodils but by snow drifts and cowering in fierce winds. And bees, whose queen tries to rapidly grow the colony at this time of year by laying and laying, are sitting in clusters trying to keep warm and fed. The bees of the colony have no way or where to forage for nectar and pollen. So its artificial feeding with sugar syrup , just to get them to a flowering Spring. Will it come in time ? Alas, for a few brave bees this week, they came out on a flight and returned only to  land on the snow, unable to take off again and dying  within a metre of the safety and warmth of the hive.

But the sun is warmer, now, eleven days into official spring. We feel its stronger rays and are encouraged to look skyward and see a little bit of blue sky and a very large promise of warmer and brighter times. Don’t give up a few metres from your hive of help,opportunity or hope.