Promise you won’t tell anyone?

BerkshireI wanted to publish a small gallery of favourite photos from the Berkshire village where I have lived for the last ten years as a farewell and a memento.

I had never heard of Finchampstead when I got a job in Guildford but friends encouraged us to consider Wokingham as a place to live because of its environment and its schools. Quite by chance my wife found a house and a school place for our son out in Finchampstead. It was formerly a tiny village with origins as a hamlet in the Royal Windsor hunting forests. But in the 20th century it grew rapidly as housing was carved out of the woods but there is a real legacy of woodland with its country parks and National Trust woodland, not to mention the remaining Crown estates which provide the magnificent mountain biking at Swinley Forest, just a few miles away.

As well as all the great things that go with family life I found one really unexpected thing in Finchampstead. Don’t tell anyone but I actually started enjoying walking. The environment has a lot to do with it but of course the most important stimulant was my furry sidekick. So just a few seasonal favourites from the last five years of walks , culminating with the leading actor himself in the autumn’s leaves, our last walk before we packed the car.

Finchampstead, Wokingham BerkshireBerkshire AutumnBerkshire, Wokingham

California Country Park, FinchampsteadCalifornia Country Park WokinghamBerkshire, EnglandDog California Country Park Finchampstead Wokingham Berkshire

New year, new blog

Geoff Mayne; Kevin Mayne; Ben Mayne

New Year's Day Ride by three Maynes

Following a long tradition in the Mayne family we celebrated the new year with a bike ride. The ritual matters to us, we know that under the skin, no matter how overstuffed we are by the Christmas period we are at heart cyclists.

Getting the blood moving, opening the lungs and feeling the pedals turn over means that the year will be OK because riding a bike will be the physical and mental therapy that we fall back on when we are jaded.

This year we were three generations.

Geoff, Grandad, Dad – call him what you will. At 74 years old he has just completed a 14,000 mile year, one of his highest ever. Riding almost every day back in Bungay, Suffolk he is the picture of health. Those miles will have moved him still further up the league table for mileaters, the 300,000 Mile Club. You wonder why I became a cyclist – look no further.

And at the other end of the spectrum is son Ben, who as a student has managed to dedicate himself far more to his computers than his bike this term, but with no miles in his legs can still jump on a bike and join me for a couple of hours yesterday and over an hour today.

As the weather looked a bit mucky we did my byways route around Finchampstead, linking together dirt roads and minor tracks through Barkham and Arborfield until the increasing rain forced us home after about 90 minutes. Job done, honour satisfied, we have reaffirmed ourselves.