29th April 2016

0429
(Just a still – please go to our Facebook page to watch the video)

Back home, and back to the blog.  Some thanks, first of all:

– to Róisín for doing such a brilliant job at keeping you informed here and on Facebook;

– to Geoff for his sterling support work, accompanying us for the beginning and end of the trip on his mobility scooter, replenishing our stocks of leaflets and turning up across the route just when we needed him most;

– to Michael and Emma, who lent us the camera, took us to the starting point, edited the videos, extended wonderful hospitality to us at their home on the second night and filmed the interviews and much of the other footage;

– to Janie for planning, navigating, filming and being the perfect companion, funny, inspiring, encouraging and ever-patient, with all the things I hadn’t got, including a woolly hat, boiled sweets and a sense of direction;

– to everyone else who helped and supported us, especially Jane, Neville, our Green Party colleagues and the wonderful Fermanagh & South Tyrone cafés, pubs and hotel where we ate, drank and slept along the way;

and most of all to Martin, without whom I couldn’t have embarked on any of this, whether we’re talking about the election, the cycle trip or any of the other Green stuff I do.

Four videos are now available to watch on the Fermanagh & South Tyrone Greens Facebook page, covering the whole expedition from instigation to arrival in the drizzly Diamond.  They don’t quite capture the full experience of the sleet and freezing hail, but do a great job at showing the gentler bits…

28th April 2016

 

 

Photo credit: Ronan McGrade, Fermanagh Herald
Photo credit: Ronan McGrade, Fermanagh Herald

 

#Greencyclefst Complete! A huge well done to Tanya and Janie!

 

After hearing some more detail of last nights’ shenanigans in Belleek (wonderful hospitality), I wondered how the heads would fare this morning; particularly as the clouds were grey and swollen, but Tanya and Janie are made of sterner stuff than that! They enquired to the landlord, over their poached eggs, what the weather forecast was; he was reluctant to say, perhaps he was afraid to!  As I watched from the window of my cosy training room, I could see why he held back.  I have to say, that writing this blog has been a little challenging, ‘small-talk’ (weather, food etc.) is quite difficult for me, and it did bring me back to the third-person lifestyle, ‘Sindy’ annuals I read as a young girl.  I’m more of an ‘Anne of Green Gables’ whimsical. I was however, happy to help out and try my hand at blog style writing. I hope I’ve done an OK job. I wish I had more time to mull and muse, possibly not useful or necessary for a daily blog. I’m sure it was quite difficult for Tanya, to entrust her site to me, I hope we’re still friends afterwards!

I digress, back to the journey! Tanya and Janie set off after the rain had slightly abated, much to the bemusement of the barman; you’d have to be mad to do politics, never mind crazy cycle rides in the rain. They took to the hills from Belleek to Derrygonnelly, the A46 has some of the most beautiful wild and winding roads of Fermanagh. Derrygonnelly of course is home to the successful Inishmacsaint craft brewing company; named after the nearby island, inhabited in the 6th century by St Ninnidh and his monks. They were probably quite partial to some fine brewed ale themselves. The hailstones became unbearable so they took refuge in the Old Pals’ Bar upon arrival in Derrygonnelly. Of course, they had the obligatory political/economic conversation; surely one of the most important aspects of the journey – finding out first-hand about local economies and needs, in a relaxed and easy environment.

28th April 2016

Buoyed once more, they hit the pedals for the final phase of the cycle, past the resplendent wind turbines and magnificent Lough Navar. Another stomach filling pit-stop and chat with a young Green voter and onwards towards the Diamond in Enniskillen, the end point. I wasn’t able to be a part of the welcoming party due to school pick-ups, but I hope they were warmly received. Four days, 195km, connecting with local communities, meaningful networking and of course spreading a more progressive and egalitarian political message.

I wish Tanya my best good wishes for the continuing campaign and if you happen to live on the Sligo Rd/Old Rossorry area, it has been my trundling self (walking of course) delivering your leaflets and knocking on your door.

Congratulations, Tanya and Janie, you did a wonderful thing!

 

Róisín

 

26th April 2016

26th April 2016

 

Day two of #Greencyclefest – Fivemiletown to Irvinestown.

As I looked out my window this morning and the single wind turbine was gently spinning, I had high hopes for Tanya’s 50km cycle. As we all know though, experiencing the spectrum of seasons in an hour is not unusual in Fermanagh! After I packed the kids off to school, I turned to make coffee and the darkness and hailstones came; and although my heart sank a little, I knew our Green Lassie would pedal power her way through, regardless.

Tanya started her morning after resting her (not as aching as expected, although there was an unwelcome knock on the head from a very substantial door knob!) bones in The Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown. They looked after her very well and she was more than ready to start day 2. It was going to be a busy one, as well as the cycle ride, Tanya had another campaigning engagement in Enniskillen. Janie and Tanya cycled through the hail towards Tempo and meeting a lone jogger on the road, they felt slightly less crazy, just. They were greeted with warm hospitality from Jane and Victor and then continued on their way (uphill) to hustings.

Hustings was chaired by Rodney Edwards and held at Fermanagh Rural Initiative in Enniskillen, to a packed audience. This very worthy organisation supports the training needs of those who are seeking to return to education and the workplace. They are very aware of the isolation and specific needs of individuals and families living in rural communities. They also provide a community transport service to alleviate the inaccessibility experienced by many; this is invaluable to those who are elderly and those with disabilities. It was refreshing to see projects which mirror the community ethos of the Green Party; sustainability and grassroots democracy. The current Stormont strategy funds big capital projects, benefiting those with private cars; public and community transport are given the meagre crumbs to sustain them. Indeed, the motto of Stormont could be, “to he who has more shall be given”. The questions at hustings were thought provoking and hopefully illuminated how an elected, Green representative, would support and encourage such initiatives.

As the other representatives (most likely) left in their private cars, Tanya and Janie donned their high-vis vests and pedalled through the now, very welcome sunshine. They cycled to Ballinamallard via Coa and on to Irvinestown (huge thanks to Emma and Michael for their warmth and generosity). There was lots of conversation along the way, honest conversation, no gimmicks and no gloss. As I look at the photo above, I feel immensely proud, the simplicity of the mode and the perseverance and dedication of Tanya and Janie is so uplifting. I wish them well on their onward journey to Belleek. I hope that the sun shines and the breeze is just the right side of refreshing.

Róisín

25th April 2016

25th April 2016

 

Day one of #Greencyclefst is complete!

It gives me (Róisín – chronicling for Tanya) great pleasure to announce, that the first leg of Tanya’s journey; to spread the ‘Green’ message to the constituents of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, is successfully complete! After a 50km cycle through the mighty winds of South Tyrone (perfect for wind turbines!), Tanya and Janie have made it to Fivemiletown.

Their journey from Dungannon to the domed steeple and broad streets of Aughnacloy passed relatively easy, Janie lost her chain, but it didn’t deter them. Spring was definitely in the air as Tanya spotted hawthorn and primroses, and aside from horses and crows, they were also met by the glossy DUP van, who offered the ladies a lift! We’ll have no sabotage, please! The wind drove them on through Favour Royal Forest, Augher, Clogher and Fivemiletown (anyone else hear the 261 tannoy?), where Tanya is now distributing leaflets – this lady knows no bounds and her resilience is inspiring.

I’m happy to say, that the journey was punctuated by visits to local cafés; I’m told that The Diamond Café in Aughnacloy and The Old Station House in Augher are particularly good. The sustenance and re-invigoration are necessary, I’m sure it won’t be easy to perhaps challenge and educate some areas which have been steeped in tribal politics for generations.

What a wonderful way to meet and greet constituents, view the spectacular scenery and spread the Green message, this is a true ‘Zero waste’ campaign! I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Tanya (I think she will be pedalling solo for some of the time), and Janie a safe and pleasant journey tomorrow as they travel from Fivemiletown to Irvinestown, via Clabby, Tempo and Ballinamallard.

Good luck, Tanya. We’re all behind you!

 

 

24th April 2016

Photo credit: Ronan McGrade, Fermanagh Herald
Photo credit: Ronan McGrade, Fermanagh Herald

Final preparations for #Greencyclefst, mostly wandering around the house saying to myself, ‘Yes, I need some of that.’  The panniers would be in danger of being severely overloaded, except that lemon and ginger teabags don’t weigh much. Fortunately it was the fourth Sunday of the month, so Quaker worship morning, which left me feeling a little more spiritually, if not physically or technically, prepared.

From tomorrow, Róisín will be taking over this blog, so expect a marked improvement in punctuation and syntax (she’s a professional) as well as a refreshing, committed and creative voice.  I’m looking forward to reading it…

23rd April 2016

Our cycle ride begins the day after tomorrow, and has now been mentioned in the Belfast Newsletter, so is a real thing even East of the Bann.  Yesterday Janie and I collected our gilets, bags etc. from LE Graphics in Enniskillen

0422after which I visited the long-established bike (and motorbike) shop McNulty’s in the town centre and got myself fixed up with a classic pannier bag set.

0422cThe bike I’m riding, by the way, is my old Moulton, which has hardly been out of the garage for the past twelve years.  When we lived in Lucca in Tuscany I used to ride it to travel between the various factories where I taught English, and it was widely admired by the bike-aware Lucchesi, including Il Re Leone Mario Cipolini (well, he definitely looked at it as we cycled past one another).

Today I met up with Róisín (a good excuse to be back in the wonderful Happiness Trap) who is going to keep this blog going for me over the four days that we’re on the trip.  In theory I can update it from my phone (see last Sunday’s post) but in practice it’s a fiddly business, even with a reliable wifi signal, so I’m very grateful that Róisín can deal with that side of things.

Tomorrow I’ll need to pack up properly (in the picture above, the bags are just stuffed with cushions) – meanwhile dinner at the Horseshoe & Saddler beckons….