Out on my bike yesterday, to do 50 miles (81K). I have a target of 70 miles this year as my cycling mate John is 70 in November, although the way he floats up hills, you’d never know. A former football (soccer) player at a good level and an accomplished marathon runner, he now excels on the bike. So, out on my new Forme Longcliffe bike (mine is as pictured on website), complete with pedals which fit with my Shimano cycling shoes’ cleats. Having cleats on your shoes which fit into the pedals and give you power on the updraft as well as the downdraft, not only makes me a proper cyclist, but gives me some extra power – at least that’s what I think it does. A fair bit of cycling is in your head, so if you think your new bike is improving your cycling, then it will. The new Poetry Books Society Choice is Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts. A drysalter was a person in medieval times who worked with, according to the book’s blurb, “powders, chemicals, salts and dyes, paints and cures”. the book is 150 poems of 15 lines each but it does not read as if the poet is constrained by this format. Roberts’ poems often read like the hymns and elegies he uses in the poems’ titles, and although there is an element of spirituality in the poems, they are not overtly religious, although I’m sure that some readers may see them as thus. Some very lyrical poetry here e.g. “There is a dancer in the woods outside/ I can hear her at night among/the mink and musk deer, redolent of truffles, needles”. We have had an excellent summer here in Scotland – first one for years. The flowers in my garden are bursting with health and growing so fast that I fear that some will not last until August. Photo 1 shows a pot with petunia, fuchsia, geranium and verbena in flower, with the stalks of gladioli emerging. Photo 2 is a close up of the verbena. The warm weather has also produced a great crop of strawberries – the first time that I’ve grown the fruit in any numbers for many a long year. Photo 3 shows today’s crop. Scottish strawberries are much tastier than their counterparts in north America or Australia and this crop is delicious.