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Paradise regained*

It has been six weeks since I was last on the mountain bike. Paradise regainedI had to recover from a small operation and am only now fit enough to go off road.  As I set off the weather was a bit miserable (below freezing, sleet and snow), but before long I was warmed up enough so that the same conditions changed into not so cold and hardly any snow, with the usual added benefit of this sort of weather that most people hide indoors leaving the woods alone.  The thin layer of fresh snow soon smudged out the footsteps, paw-prints and tyre tracks, making it look even prettier.  Six weeks of little exercise has of course left me pretty unfit, so I trundled around one our my summer evening favourate routes in twenty minutes longer than the usual hour. Of course, cycling through snow, even if not so so deep slows you down as well.  Doubtless what is left of my muscles will be complaining like mad late on. But all that did not matter, I was back on the bike and back in the woods!

(*Note for Dutch readers, the title is a famous poem).

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Kingfisher!

This is admittedly a little off topic, but given that most mountain bikers enjoy being in nature as well as cycling, maybe not too far off. Kingfisher in WageningenIt is cold out.  The temperature is - 5 degrees C, although the wind makes it feel more like -13. That means that all the small streams out in the countryside next to Wageningen (the Binnenveld) are frozen, so there are no fish to be found for the kingfisher. However, in the suburbs warm water from various sources comes into the ditches keeping them at least in part ice-free and suitable for fishing.  It also means that if the birds come there, people are walking and cycling past all the time, so it is possible to get not so far away (though any closer than this photo and it flies off) with it being too scared.  First we saw the bird, but came too close and it flew off.  We then cycled off into the (cold!) Binnenveld to see what else there was to see, but on the way back home called at the same ditch again, and there it was. We crept closer and managed to get the photo here. Yes!

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Butterfly in the woods

It is not the time of year when you expect to see much iButterfly in the woodsn the way of butterflies, but this weekend there was one in the woods! As you can see, it is a painting, and it was fresh, the paint was still wet. What was particularly nice was that the artist used the natural shape of the bark to form the butterfly's body.

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Winter´s end

Finally the ice and snow of the last months has gone.winter´s end It is back to muddy paths and warmer temperatures. Today (28 Feb) it was 8 degrees and I was so warm that I had to take my waterproof off. The wildlife was also clearly showing signs of the apprach of spring. Near to this photo (the woods by Bennekom) I could hear woodpeckers knocking on  the trees, see signs of wild board turning the earth over and flocks of coal tits and finches were flying around.

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Glorious autmun

Blue skies, bright sun and cool temperatures. Most glorious autumn weather; the woods are looking quite spectacular, not to mention a greater-than-normal diversity of toadstools this year (after the damp summer)autumn

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Thick snow

After a thick layer of snow fell last night, the woods were spectacularly beautiful today. All the trees were covered in a thick layer of snow and in much of the woods the snow was pristine with only footprints from rabbits and deer. It has not been so cold, so in places the snow and ice was on top of puddles of soft mud which was not frozen, so when cycling along across what looked like a piece of smooth snow all of a sudden it would crack and the bike would fall into the water. Fortunately none too deep

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