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Let battle begin…..

Oh dear, rural war is about to break out again….. In our group of villages, we spent a couple of years and about £150,000 fending off the wind turbines…….. so far, we have won the battle……but not necessarily the war.


Stewart Island

Like many off-shore islands. Stewart Island seems to have its own rhythm of life. Like St Mary’s in the Scillies, the centre of community life revolves around one small township, Oban, and the few roads that exist, radiate no more than 6km from the town centre. In other words, everything of importance should be within walking distance……but you would be amazed at the number of cars on the island.


There is even a bus service, a bike hire business, and a car rental service!!


I cycled most of the sealed roads on the island, and I still only clocked up 14km


but the quality was in the climbs and descents…sharp and unforgiving, but with ‘stop-in-your-tracks’ views over every crest.


Despite the beautiful bays and beaches, this is not a bucket-and-spade destination. Reason? The water is cold, even in summer, and it rains for 265 days in the year…but not today :0)


This is an old wind-up telephone from the 1920s, still seemingly functional, by the roadside. I tried calling the operator, but it must have been her lunch break……..


Stewart Island is a microcosm of the principal environmental problems challenging NZ. Its native population of flightless birds including the kiwi, has been decimated to the point of extinction by predator mammals introduced by emigrants and settlers in the last 150 years. Stoats were introduced to control the rabbit population, but they got distracted by bird’s eggs and chicks. Possums were introduced from Australia for their fur,  but their predation is destructive. So too is the presence of domestic dogs and cats, all of which causes heated debate as to where to find a solution. One thing I can say, following my ride the length of the country: there is a worrying widespread silence, where there should be a cacophony of birdsong. One press article maintained that over 21 million eggs and chicks are lost to predators every year,

which is sending some species into a downward spiral.


Flowers on road cones are an expression of solidarity with the people of Christchurch, who are remembering and commemorating the second anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed their city.


Tomorrow, back to Invercargill to prepare the bike for its flight to Sydney. Oz, here we come!

From Red Bull drinkers….may the good Lord deliver us!

It is not my intention to use this blog as a forum for ranting, but I do have a serious issue with some of the Red Bull-quaffing members of our society. Back in 2008, to celebrate my retirement, I cycled form Land’s End to John O’Groats and, in the process, did a relatively detailed study of over 1000 miles of this country’s roadside verges. Of the drinks cans discarded in the hedgerows (of which there were many), by far the majority were Red Bull cans. This led me to zip off an irate letter to the Guardian (which they duly published) suggesting that an environmental tax be levied on Red Bull drinkers, or that something be done to make them (or the company) accountable for the appalling amount of litter in our countryside.

Just a few days ago, when out riding the tandem with my wife, we climbed a short hill a few miles from our home. The ascent was steep but the length of climb was no more than 100 metres. As we laboured to the top, my attention was caught by not one…not two…..not three….not four…..but five Red Bull cans on the verge. In other words, one discarded can every 20 metres. This raised a lot of questions in my mind. Five different drinkers, or the same drinker discarding his/her can on the same stretch? Are these boy-racers who speed along country lanes keeping themselves stoked up on caffeine to intensify the experience? Or are they exhausted company-reps dashing from one meeting to the next, keeping themselves awake as they drive excessive mileage in pursuit of unrealistic business targets? Who are these people…………..?

Am I alone in my grievances against these environmental hooligans? What if this ‘little rant’ were to go viral and the sheer weight of public opinion were to bear down on these offenders? What if……..?

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