How to scare away boars


Everyday problem, right? Here’s an elegant solution from The Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island.  A stream runs into a bamboo cane, blocked off at the end. When the water in the cane reaches a certain level it tips over and empties. It then crashes back onto a strategically-place stone, making a gong sound. It clearly works as there are no boars in sight, other than this elegant sculpture. He is called ‘Tacca’ after the artist who made him and he is a copy of ‘Porcellino’ who resides in Florence.

Bike on front of busPS – these gardens are gorgeous at any time of year and worth a visit. Buses run to and from Victoria and you can take you bike on the bus. What’s not to love? Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to pop your bike on the front of a bus in Edinburgh? *sigh*


Cambridge – ‘Bicycle capital of the UK’

Bike facilities at YHA Cambridge

I knew there were lots of bikes and cyclists in Cambridge but nothing prepares you for the reality of it. Even in the Artic conditions of this weekend, the streets are full of bicycles. Bikes are used to carry children (often more than one), shopping, dogs and anything else that needs to be transported. YHA hostels always have bike ‘sheds’ but the Cambridge one has a range of bike lockers AND a maintenance point – so I didn’t need to bring my pump or multi-tool kit.

Alternative antlers in the Old Bicycle Shop restaurant

There are so many bikes that the riders don’t need to be afraid of the motorised traffic. Bicycles were here first, after all.  However, some of the manoeuvres are startling – cyclists in dark clothing just dart across the traffic wherever they like. It’s even more hair-raising (if you weren’t wearing a hat to stay warm) in the dark where bicycle lights are clearly considered a waste of energy. Make a stand against climate change – ride your bike without lights. Eeek!

I was sad not to have adventures on my bike here. It is really too cold for recreational cycling – at least for this softie! But the city is beautiful and
the history so interesting. Bikes are not at all a modern invention, relatively, and so it should not seem so incongruous to see this bowler-hatted College porter behind all the bikes at this College gate. There is an ‘illumination’ festival on just now during which complex lighting shows are played on many of the old buildings in the city – gorgeous.

Note to self: come back with a bike in warmer weather!


Colonia – a town of many modes of transport


This is why I needed a mountain bike in a town

This little colonial town is pretty, especially a warm sunny day. It’s full of tourists, which made me feel like a local because I speak some Spanish and know what I like on the menu. Living in Edinburgh, it’s hard to impress me with old buildings and cobbled streets – though parts of these streets are like mountain paths before the Romans sorted them out.

The best fun, for me, in Colonia, was the variety of transport. While the town is small, the surrounding area includes a huge stretch of beach, along which runs a fine paved road. Many of the tourists are from a country where walking is considered odd (I’ll let you guess where!). So being able to drive around is a great solution. You can hire bicycles (my choice, of course), motorbikes, quad bikes, golf-caddy-type electric cars or bigger electric cars.

Don’t even think about overtaking me

I met one group in a ‘golf caddy’ while I was cycling the ‘rambla’ by the beach. I overtook them with much smiley greeting and waving. A little later, as I was cruising along enjoying the day, they overtook me with waves and shouts of ‘ciao, ciao’. Oh no you don’t! ‘No ciao’, I shouted as I pedalled harder and overtook them. By now we were taking photos of each other – their camera activity being a little safer than mine, since they had one driver and three passengers. We kept meeting each other and had a final wave after I handed back my hired bike and they headed off into the sunset, slowly!


Bamboo bikes and an ex-tower


Wandering around Buenos Aires on my first day here, I was thrilled to come across Urban Biking who do a range of biking tours of the city and also nearby Tigre. A tour with them is part of the plan this week, but I couldn’t resist an early photo with the bamboo bikes. They also have mountain bikes but I must have a shot on these bamboo ones.


Later I was able to have a closer look at this impressive
landmark – the Monumental Tower. It was a gift from the British Residents to the people of the city in 1910. Relations with Britain changed drastically in the 1980s and so the tower was renamed. The board outside calls it the ‘Ex-Torre de los Ingleses’. I love that. It did, indeed, used to be ‘Torre de los Ingleses’.