Cycling at Bedgebury Forest, UK

Cycling at Bedgebury Forest

If you Google ‘Bedgebury’ you’ll see that this is the National Pinetum and has been the UK’s finest collection of conifers since 1925. Which is gorgeous, but not if you are my teenage boys, who sort of lost me at ‘pinetum’.  If you research a little more deeply, however, and this is the point where my lads zoned back in again, you’ll find a load of cool videos of skilled mountain bikers taking on the singletrack trails of one of South-East England’s most exciting forest enterprises. Cycling at Bedgebury Forest is a superb day trip from London and a regular family day out from London for us now.

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Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy, Northern Ireland

Words fail me right now as I visit the newly opened Seamus Heaney Homeplace in his homeland of Bellaghy, Northern Ireland. A moving experience that captures not only the great Irish poet’s work, but also his extraordinary life as a family man. Here is his daughter, Catherine Heaney, talking about how she feels about its opening, the details of which were run by the family meticulously and with great sensitivity. And it shows. If you love poetry, and Heaney, don’t come to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland without coming here.

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Secret Adventures

The element of surprise becomes more elusive with age. Social media hasn’t done much to help that either with every event, personal or professional, publicised from nascence ad nauseum. Which is why the new initiative, Secret Adventures, is so refreshing. You know a certain amount of what you are signing up for in advance, be it a kayaking, hiking or swimming, as well as the city, or the nearest station, but the exact location is left to your imagination until the last minute. My secret adventure in London was a treat.

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A gloriously unhasty retreat

There are times when we all need to retreat. To rest, to reflect and to recover. But often we don’t take the time, or make the time, to do so. I have always been slightly envious of meditating and yoga bunny friends who can tap into this ability to ‘just be’. I never seem to have the patience, and my ‘retreats’ are usually more in the form of hiking, biking or swimming. Or just diving  – into a bottle of wine. All of which are great, but actually usually lead to a stimulation of the brain or senses when sometimes, I just need to switch them off completely.

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