Book Review 2017 – Part XI

Not being able to cycle for a few days because of nasty cold means that I’ve managed to write one blog entry each day, with Part X Book Review here and an air quality entry here.

I first read Jericho Falls by Christopher Hyde almost 30 years ago. It was delivered by accident when I was a member of a book club and I forgot to send it back. I’m glad that I did because it’s a brilliant thriller/horror novel. I’d lost my original copy many years ago, so when I saw that it was available for a few pence form a large online retailer – I pounced.

hyde

The story revolves around a small town sheriff from a nondescript town in the middle of nowhere. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is biological warfare, government coverups, evil military and general edge of your seat stuff. It’s a little dated, no mobiles, no internet, no Facebook, etc, but overall it stands the test of time well. It is worth looking out for, especially if you’re a Dean Koontz fan.

Generally, on a Monday, I borrow my wife’s car and drive to work, usually managing a quick swim at the Howe Bridge pool on the way. Driving home I get to listen to Simon Mayo’s book club on Radio 2. Usually by the time I’ve got home I’ve forgotten whatever book it was they were talking about, but The One by John Marrs stuck with me.

The plot is that a scientist has discovered part of our genome that identifies if we are attracted to someone, or if someone is ‘The One’. I would suggest that the science behind the book is a load of rubbish, but the premise is quite good. We follow the lives of six individuals as they interact with their ‘One’, without their stories ever crossing. This helps because sometimes a character might be a bit boring, while another is interesting, and then later in the book vice versa. There are plenty of plot twists along the way, including one character’s ‘One’ being a serial killer. Definitely recommended.

Another thing to like about John Marrs is that for his first book he self published, and gradually it gathered momentum until he could become a full time author for his later books.

Advertisements

Book Review 2017 – Part X

I’ve been a bit slack recently with my book reviews, and with my blog in general. I’ve not stopped reading, I’ve just stopped writing about the books that I’ve been reading. It’s got to the point where the stack of books that I need to review is bigger than the stack of books that I’ve not read yet.

First off then is another cycling adventure book; The Beardless Adventurer by Donna Ashton. A couple in their 40’s decide to cycle across Europe, all the way to the Black Sea. Between them they have very little cycling experience. and Donna has a bike which is too large.

bookX

They both had a romantic view of cycling quiet French country lanes, with the sun shinning and being able to stop in quaint villages to buy fresh bread and cakes. The reality was closed campsites, hilly back roads, rain compounded with various aches and pains.

They persevered and it does end up being a great adventure, and I especially like their ineptness at the beginning because it gives me hope that I can manage the same one day.

Eleven Minute Late by Matthew Engel isn’t a cycling adventure book. Instead, as the title cryptically alludes to, it’s about trains in the UK. I was hoping that it would be a kind of Bill Bryson on trains, and it was, to start with. Matthew buys a two week unlimited travel card and sets off on various journeys, including the longest in the UK which runs from Penzance to Dundee and takes almost 12 hours.

I like reading about obscure routes where trains only run once a week. He also stopped off in Rogart, and small station in the Highlands where me and my wife spent an enjoyable night sleeping in a converted train. Unfortunately the book veered off into the history of the railways, who ran them and ultimately discussed privatisation. Interesting, but not really what I was looking for.

That Stupid Cycling Jacket

A few months ago I blogged about a very close pass that I was subjected to (read about it here), and how at the time I was wearing my “stupid cycling jacket”, photo below.

20171022_093122

My beautiful wife was understandably a little miffed by my comments, as she had bought me the jacket. The main reason why I feel that it is a “stupid cycling jacket” is because it feels necessary to wear it on my commute. The traffic between Wigan and Leigh is bad. There’s too much of it, too much congestion and no decent cycling infrastructure. During the summer it wasn’t too bad, but now, towards the end of October, it’s getting dark, the schools are back and the weather is starting to get a bit grim. This all adds up to a much more unpleasant commute.

At least I have my “Polite” hi-vis jacket. Truthfully though, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Drivers who generally give cyclists enough room, continue to give me enough room. The problem is those drivers who don’t understand, don’t think it applies to them, are in a hurry, or simply don’t care. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how visible you. Much like the new signs that have appeared on the roads around Lancaster.

20170906_183616

These signs are supposed to make drivers more aware of cyclists, and to give them (us) at least 1.5m when overtaking. Again, like the cycling jacket, they don’t make the slightest difference with some drivers.

People who read the Telegraph or the Daily Fail believe the rhetoric that cyclists are an epidemic that need to be eradicated. Maybe “1.5m” could be burned into the retinas of fat middle-aged Audi drivers.

As I have said before, cycling is the answer (here) to congestion, air pollution, obesity, and therefore we should be doing everything possible to encourage it.