February 2001

From our Wrexham Correspondent

Home thoughts fromÖ.well, home!!

Hello from the frozen North East! Just a quick column to wish you a (belated) Happy and Healthy New 2001. As most of you know 2000 was not the year of promise for all of us but I felt a quick note to fill you in on progress made might be a) cheering and b) a way to thank you all for your good wishes, cards, and phone calls that arrive periodically at the ĎFrog Houseí. Especially welcome are the unexpected which make me laugh (thank you all who went to Bridges, for example - how I chuckled on receipt of the cards!!).

Iím feeling stronger now than I have for ages but unfortunately, fortnightly treatments drag me back down to depths I did not know could exist, forget the Three Rivers Audax (100 miles of hills), forget the Stelvio Pass ( 2760 metres), forget the Corris YH hill last year. Still it will be good practice for those grueling hills my husband finds from time to time on the tandem!

Speaking of which, being such a frustrated stoker, IF next weekend is nice and not icy, IF I feel OK, IF we can think of somewhere flat to go, I may introduce my tender backside to Mr. Brooksí leather comfort zone(a.k.a. the saddle) for the first time in 9.5 months (gosh, even Deb Lewis had had less time off for having a baby!) ( Ah but you donít have a plus 30 year old baby who canít be trusted to be left in charge - Ed). Since we do not have a satellite link to the Internet you may have to buy (What do you mean Luke doesnít charge you? For a paper of such quality? (This is how to get yourself into print-Ed)

Youíll have to read this august publication next month to find out how it went (if it went).

BUT seriously folks, this has been one long, strange trip and I will be glad to get off and rejoin some sort of normalityÖ.But I know I wouldnít have got this far without the love and support of our really good friends in the North Wales Tandem Club have shown us. Stick with me - not long to go now and weíll be climbing REAL hills not just the mental variety!

Lots of love ( funny end for an aspiring journalist!), Clare (Whitehouse)

Long Mynd from 2 feet high

I sat rigid with cold aboard my trailer-bike as my depressingly cheerful Father pushed his bike and therefore me along yet another ice laden lane in the wilds of the Long Mynd. As he kept babbling on about keeping an eye out for deer and squirrels I lamented my decision to accompany the silly old fool to this wintry TC meet in sunny Shropshire. Ahead lay a gaggle of equally cheerful tandemists all pushing their steeds up the frozen stream that at one time had been a lane of sorts. Anna had the right idea snug inside her trailer.

The weekend had started well, packed all the essentials a girl has to have on an overnight stay - Amy the dolly, Amyísí clothes, some crayons, paper, hair bands, some string, and a pair of plastic scissors, oh and a pop-up Rupert the Bear book. Dad on the other hand had been dashing about packing useless stuff like clothes for us, our bikes, and some food, which turned out to be biscuits and tea, a lot of use they were for breakfast! My baby brother tried to help Dad pack but was unable to communicate effectively - itís a generation thing.

So we arrived, got sorted out and no sooner had I closed my eyes than the rabble arrived, stayed long enough to dump their bags then dashed to the pub, where the rowdy pensioners had already tamed the locals! When I woke at the late hour of 6am said merry makers were still snoring. This was despite my making them aware it was now morning (but dark-Ed), and they should get up. Dad hushed me up and bundled me downstairs to play some silly game with hoops, before scrounging some breakfast, what an embarrassment! ( Breakfast on the first day was kindly supplied by a collection of tandemists, I would have starved otherwise - so thank you!). After being wrapped up like the Michelin Man we set off.

Lunch was at the Copper Kettle at Leebotwood, which had such a huge display of cakes I was sure the old man was going to spend all afternoon there. Then, in Church Stretton, he dragged me all round some old shops, full of nothing but grown up stuff. I was still able to get some money out of him to buy a necklace however - well a girl has to know how to survive! Then, despite my questioning his slow progress up the little hill (Ha! - Ed), he went very slowly and even resorted to pushing again! At the top he kept saying how beautiful it was. Donít grown ups say some fool things? He only shut up when I told him "Itís only grass and trees". We were soon back at Bridges YH and made the most of the giant slide and swings. At one point however Anna and I could not get near the swings or the slide as they were crawling with happy tandemists, so happy were they I think maybe they had more than water in their bottles. One particular big boy called Kevin was sliding headfirst down the slide, while Dad was trying to swing right over the top of the swings!

After a lovely meal and plenty of pudding ,(not cooked by Dad I may add - was this more scrounging or was it planned?) I headed off to bed, and advised Dad to do the same. Would he listen? I donít know why my Mum puts up with him, I really donít! Yes youíve guessed it, it was the naughty boy from the slide again, Kevin. He and Dad stayed up drinking Hughís beer with Mike until it was almost time to get for breakfast! Apparently they said how wonderful it was to be Dad, but they made a botch of it ( included too much truth I think) and now Mike is definitely not having kids! In the morning Kevin seemed fine, as did Mike, but Dad kept popping outside during breakfast, and come to think of it, he actually gave up (rather than throw up - Ed) his cooked breakfast to Chris. I can never quite work adults out? Luke did his best to look after me during Dads trip around the car park, but was obviously relieved when reinforcements arrived in the form of Sue and Gerald. Dad took ages to get ready, but eventually we were off again, which brings me back to the icy lane.

Lamenting leaving the warmth of the YH, I sobbed quietly due to my cold fingers and toes. Until Sue, David, and Sandra decided to play a glove swapping game, strange I know, but thatís adults for you. But the best was I ended up with almost all the gloves on! Warm fingers!! Thanks to all who played the glove swapping game with me! Lunch in front of a roaring fire in the Three Tuns, where my Dad looked decidedly dodgy every time he spotted some beer, brought us all back to life for the trip back. We had a great weekend, in fact I was sorry to leave the good company. So good a time we had that I will try to drag the old man out for a few more this year, but hopefully in warmer weather. Thanks to all who made the weekend go with such a swing, and especially to those who looked after me while Dad was not !!

By Rhií Lewis (with help from a friend).

The Twilighters Trot

A gobsmacking turn out considering the poor, nay desperate, forecast. Even Martin and Julie made the journey from Nantwich and yours truly dragged himself from his sickbed. Itís amazing the lengths people will go to for the chance of listening to the Rowdy Pensioners dulcet tones wafting over the Clwyd valley.

We wended a roller coaster route via Dyserth, Rhuallt, and Bodfari, to a mega nosh at The Bull in Denbigh where most tucked into a Roast Dinner for £2.50!! I wanted a pudding but was out voted, if thatís what you can call it.

We eventually dragged our selves out into the open and headed back for Sunny Rhyl by some lovely back lanes which were doing fairly good impersonations of tracks thanks to a good coating of mud.

We all congregated Chez Taylor for incredible Apple Cake, other goodies and a presentation of a "Sing Something Simple" recording, which we shall of course treasure. We came to set off for home and, guess what?, the rain started big style. ITíS MAGIC. Come to think of it Hugh looks a bit like Paul Daniels; Mmm!


MARCH 11th

Meet at Chez Wyle for 10am. No doubt licensed premises will be en - route for lunch.


Meet at Graham and Debbies in

Betws GG at 10am. I donít know if this is a pub lunch as Graham may still practicing abstinence!


At the Bridges weekend the idea of a North Wales team top was mooted. It was felt that a fleece body warmer type of thing with an embroidered logo was probably more practical than a lycra top.

Becky contacted some suppliers and had a sample at Hugh and Annís run. The consensus was that the sample was fine but that the back needed to be longer and have pockets. Navy blue with a yellow flash would mean we were keeping at least some of the traditional TC look. The anticipated price is in the region of £15-18 per top.

Watch this space.


episode 2


At that moment two sharp retorts came from without. Holmes was on his feet and at the window in a flash. "Quick Boltson the plot is afoot".


"To the door Boltson, and hurry".

I flew down the stairs, then realised I had no wings nor were my underpants outside my trousers and so crashed to the floor, and threw open the door but the street was empty. Vadison was at my shoulder and we gazed deflatedly at the sight before us.

The beautiful blue machine which had conveyed the unfortunate Vadison to our door stood forlornly against the wall whilst its tyres breathed their last breath.

We bundled the distraught Vadison and the sorry looking machine into a taxi and gave the driver instructions to take him home.

"What a fool I was Boltson, I should have been wise to the terrible evil which is stalking our poor client and at least protected his machine".

"Have you a theory Holmes ?"

"Well, Boltson, maybe I have but let us see what you have deduced thus far."

"Vadison certainly seems to me a most unextraordinary fellow he has no inflated ego, or rough tread to him, in fact itís hard to see that anyone could have anything against such a likable fellow. My greatest worry is the effect that this excessive pressure is having on his mind. We must expedite a rapid conclusion to this sad affair for the sake of his health I fear."

" Quite Boltson, and that is why you and I must travel to the Fielding Arms immediately."

"Itís a bit late for that, any evidence will have long gone."

"Evidence phooey Boltson, tonight is Quiz night you fool."

And so it was I found myself enduring endless delays and cold tea courtesy of our, once proud, railways en route for North Wales and the infamous Fielding Arms.

I say infamous for further inquiries had revealed that this den of iniquity was frequented by persons of questionable age and morals. Indeed, it was rumored that the Cliff Adams singers had once performed, if that is what their evil acts can be called, on the premises.

I would like to say that we took a handsome from the station to this inn of ill repute but a beat up old Peugeot from Rhyl station was all that we could muster.

We entered into an atmosphere of cigar smoke and stale beer.

I immediately noticed a greying couple in one corner hustling some none the wiser local youths in a very one sided game of cribbage. The couples furtive hand signals were ensuring a rapid demise to the younger elements game.

Holmes had meanwhile booked us some rooms and arranged for vittles in the form of chicken Ďníchips. He pulled me to a corner table.

"There Boltson sit our two chief subjects."

"Surely not Holmes. They seem too genial even though they are taking their cribbage opponents to the cleaners by less than fair means."

"But look at that shiny dome on him Boltson."

"Thatís hardly logical Holmes."

"Listen Boltson wasnít the baddy in Thunderbirds bald?"

"Well, yes I suppose so."

"There you are then, I rest my case."

I was about to rise to this bait when we were approached by one of the innís staff and proffered a quiz sheet which Holmes grabbed eagerly whilst I paid the entry fee.

"Pardon my mentioning it Holmes, but isnít it rather bad form pitting one of the greatest minds in Britain against a bunch of local proles?"

"Nonsense, Boltson I have just as much right to play as anyone else and thereís a bottle of the finest Polish white wine at stake."

"But what if we lose?"

I realised too late that I had uttered the unthinkable. Holmes visibly swooned at the idea of defeat. The other teams eyed us suspiciously obviously suspecting a ringer in their midst but none of them sure who had introduced this wild card.

The male half of the ageing card hustlers approached us.

"Mr. Cheshire Holmes I presume."

"You presume correct my good man but how did you come about my identity."

"There arenít many undercover detectives wearing deerstalkers and tweed cloaks wandering round Rhyl these days."


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