Why Mornings Feel Better After Valentine's Day

A triathlon coach once told me, "early training gets easier after Valentine's Day because that's when we start noticing the mornings getting lighter again".

He's right.  Early morning trips to the pool are much easier after 14th February.  But why?

The Winter Solstice falls between 21 and 22 December in the Northern Hemisphere.  It's also known and "midwinter" or the "shortest day".

For a moment let's ignore the meteorological and other definitions of winter.  In terms of daylight, we feel the lack of it when the clocks "Fall Back" at the end of October (28th Oct in 2018).  Now let's do some simple maths.

The number of days between the clocks going back and Midwinter in 2018 was 54 days.  What comes 54 days after Midwinter?  Valentine's Day.

Daylight Saving is significantly asymmetrical around Midwinter, with the "Spring forward" happening around 100 days after the 21st Dec.  Quite why this happens, I'm not sure.  One explanation I've heard is to do with matching temperatures, but that seems unlikely.  In 2008 there was an Early Day Motion in the Westminster Parliament aimed at reducing this asymmetry, but like most EDMs it got nowhere.  Maybe the idea of starting "summer" time in February, with snow on the ground, just seemed daft.

I'm just pleased the lighter mornings are starting once again.

Video: Swim Lismore to Port Appin

A new swim for 2019 on the HighlandOpenwaterSwim.com calendar.

We swam it a week ago to get a feel for what it's like and to spot any problems.

We found a few, which I'll mention, but on the whole it's going to be a superb event.

First, take a look at the video and you'll get a feel for what it's like.

First Highland Openwater Swim of 2019

It will be at Glenuig on 16th February.

This weekend the tides were almost the same as they'll be on the day of the swim, so three of us did a recce.

The video of the swim is below.  Oh and if you're a kayaker please come - we need support kayakers!

The tide will be coming in so we'll swim with it and hopefully any prevailing wind around into Glenuig Bay.

It's a short swim to start the programme, but probably quite chilly, especially in the bay where a river reaches the sea.  I thought the swim was over too quickly as I appeared to turn into Glenuig Bay, yet I was less than half-way, so don't be fooled.

Music: Bensound.com

There's a small cliff on the shore-side as you enter the bay and a large flat rock underneath where the water is very shallow, so swing wide and you'll be in more swim-able waters.

We had thought we'd exit by scrambling up a path, but it's rubbish.  However, work your way deeper into the bay and, after a short rocky plodge, you'll find a dark sand beach that leads back to the starting point at the Village Hall.

Where we'll have a talk by the astonishing swimmer Colleen Blair, recently voted number 4 in "2019 World's 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women".  I filmed her successful swim across The Minch last year for The Adventure Show, a world first.

Registration at HighlandOpenwaterSwim.com costs £10, then swim entry by donation - please give what you can.

Rite (and Right) Of Passage. My Bus Pass

Why have they used my Dad's photo on my bus pass?  Oh.  Yeah.  Right.

After 2018's year of monthly challenges to mark my 60th year on the planet comes official recognition of this event in the form of my National Entitlement Card, otherwise known as my Bus Pass.

I've used it twice, once to Inverness and once to the nearest town.  There's quite a community on that local bus and I see the service in a whole new light.

Everyone on it this morning had a bus pass.  It got me thinking.

Weatherproof Cycling Case for your Phone - and Do Good

This is a great phone case for a cyclist and it's made by Cycle Of Good.  Even if you read no further, please click that link and check them out.

The pouch is 'weatherproof', by which I mean it would be fine in a rear pocket, under a rain jacket, but don't try submerging it.

It's made from recycled, blown out inner tubes rescued from landfill, so it has sound environmental qualifications.

Plus it's made in Malawi, where an organisation trains tailors in one of the world's poorest places to earn a "decent living turning trash into treasure".

All the money made pays for childcare and non-profit enterprise in Malawi, a country with strong historical links to Scotland.

The Best Bike Box I Have Used

The Bonza Bike Box is the best I've used.  You can probably find a nice discount code too.

But there might be an issue regarding rust on its catches which I'll explain in a moment.

It's not the lightest way to transport a bike.  If you have a 23kg allowance, you'll not squeeze in much extra kit.  But if you have EasyJet's 32kg allowance for bikes, you can get most of what you need for a week's riding inside and in hand luggage.

Check Airline allowances on Bonza's website.

Bike Box Alan is arguably tougher as the sides of the case seem to fit together better.  However, it's larger and more difficult to squeeze into a car, especially if there are two of you travelling.  Also the Alan internal strut is detachable (or at least it was on one I rented) and therefore can go missing.  Mine had the strut replaced with a random metal bar.

December: Best SwimTrek Action Shot of the Year

I can't call this a 'challenge' since it wasn't up to me whether I completed it.  But winning it is great.

I'm delighted one of my photos from our July Challenge made it into SwimTrek's top five photos of the year.

We swam the Corryvreckan - you can read all about it on this blog here, and learn how to do it yourself.  I've been working on my swimming photography for a while now, and something like this is a real boost.

Thank you SwimTrek, I'm chuffed.  And we will be travelling with you again fairly soon, this time to the Southern Hemisphere.  Check back for that story.

Also coming soon, a review of the Bonza Bike Box.