Monthly Archives: July 2018

There are no lanes in the sea…Swimming Pool Wars

There are no lanes in the sea…fighting for position at the start of a race.

Swimming pool rules are designed to keep all users safe. The Lifeguard’s job is to keep all pool users safe, not to police the lanes so that the ‘best’ swimmers can complete their training session unimpeded.

There seems to be scant regard from most pool users for those of us who wish to follow a training plan and not be impeded by other pool users.

I am fortunate in a having a local swimming pool which is often  underused during the day and sometimes I have the luxury of a lane to myself.

It is not always the case though and it is a constant source of frustration when slower swimmers get in the way. We’ve all met the breast stroke swimmer with dry hair and intact make up oblivious to everyone else in the ‘fast lane’. We’ve all suffered the slow head down crawler who refuses to give way when turning at the ends. The person who is there first and therefore ‘owns’ the lane. The swimmer who always comes at 06:25 every third Thursday and therefore has priority over everyone else. Or even as one young man informed me ‘old women should be in the learner pool’. So far out of line and in this case the lifeguard did intervene as he was becoming aggressive. Multiple swimmers in a lane often lead to lane wars .We all need to be polite, communicate, and treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. For swimming pool lane harmony all that is required is for everyone to adhere to one golden rule of pool swimming.

Be aware and adapt to what is going on around you.

If all swimmers using lanes adhered to this one simple rule all anger and frustration would be gone.

However – not only am I lucky to have an underused public swimming pool close by I also have that greatest of resource a short walk from my home. There are no lanes in the sea.

There are no lanes in the sea!!

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The Four Red Posts Of Dorset.

The Four Red Posts of Dorset

In October 2017 I decided I would try to do another year of RRtY having previously completed a year back in 2014. For the uninitiated this is an Audax challenge: Randonnée-Round-the-Year (RRtY).

It is regarded as one of the tougher challenges on offer from Audax. RRtY requires a ride of a minimum of a 200 km ride in successive calendar months at Randonneur pace. You can start in any month, but miss a month and you have to start all over again.

In a year of milestone family occasions which seemed to coincide with local Audax Calendar events, I have found myself devising a DIY 200 km most months. I have always been intrigued by the red fingerposts in Dorset so I created a 200 km ride to take in the Four Red Posts Of Dorset.

There are four red fingerposts in the county which are a source of much debate, without any consensus becoming apparent. Are they the locations of gibbets? Or are they the position of a hanging? Or maybe they are the place of an overnight stop for convicts on their way to the port before transportation to Australia? Whatever the case, these four are widely dispersed through the county, the best known one being on the main A31 at Anderson which allegedly signified to prison guards to turn here for Botany Bay Farm, where they could rest the prisoners overnight. The others are situated in quiet, less frequented lanes at Hewood, Poyntington and Benville. They all have white lettering on the red fingers.

While researching how to devise a sensible route taking in the four red posts it became apparent that the posts were not situated randomly. The prominent sign near the Botany Bay pub on the A31 is just under 14 miles from the site of the County Gaol in Dorchester. The red post at Benville is also about 14 miles from Dorchester. Hewood is due west of Benville and is just under fourteen miles away from Benville. The post at Poyntington is also 14 miles from Benville to the North East. This supports the theory that the posts were to guide transportation of prisoners.

To me these 14 miles distances did not seem random. 14 miles would be a reasonable distance for a group of shackled prisoners to march – Google reckons it’s a four and a half hour walk. Coming from the west (from who knows where) they would arrive at Hewood, then 14 miles to Benville , 14 miles to Poyntington . The jump to Anderson is 28 miles so I am going to say that there is a red post missing there – maybe somewhere around Sturminster Newton. From Anderson on the A31 it is 56 miles to Portsmouth where the prisoners would board a ship to Australia. 56miles – 4×14 – 4 days march.

It is quite likely that there were other posts that are no longer there. In the 1950’s there were 1285 fingerposts in Dorset with only 717 surviving today.

To me this does not look likely to be a random coincidence. Could it be that these red posts were on set routes for those moving on foot? Did they all mark resting places? If so for whom? Were they solely there to mark the route taken moving prisoners, or did others use them too?

Back to the bike ride: I started from my home in West Dorset at sea level and headed west to Hewood.

The red post at Hewood

In order to make the route into a 200km I then went North to Chard Junction before heading East to the Red Post at Benville.

Unfortunately this sign has suffered some damage probably through vandalism.

The vandalised sign at Benville.

I have a picture from August 2017 when the post wasn’t damaged.

The same sign before it was damaged.

Dorset AONB Partnership have a Fingerpost Project which repairs and safeguards these fingerpost. The County Council no longer have a remit to repair them so hopefully this initiative will restore this sign.

I had never visited the next red post at Poyntington which is North of Sherborne. On my route it was about 25km north and east from Benville. We were pleased to find this post intact and looking lovely.

Poyntington

Our onward journey was to Anderson to the most famous red post near the Botany Bay pub on the A31. I took a meandering 65km route South East to get there and managed to avoid riding on the very busy A31. The red finger post looked as if it had been newly restored and was in pristine condition.

The pristine red post at Anderson.

Now with 134 km completed we just had to head for home in a westerly direction. The route we were riding was mandatory having been submitted in advance to AUDAX DIY SW area organiser. On completion I would submit the GPX file from the ride for verification.

It was a grand day out and If you fancy it the GPX file is here for you to use.