Matilda meets the other ‘Tilly the tandem on a long awaited date on a wet and windy ride to Perth!

I was uber excited at finally meeting “the other ‘Tilly the tandem” and her crew Linda and Jon.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew’s superb fun ride where Matilda finally gets to meet “the other ‘Tilly the #tandem” on a long awaited date on a wet and windy ride to Perth!

Excitement had been building for weeks about my big meet up after I amazingly discovered there was another bicycle made for two called Matilda out there – tho this one is affectionately known as ‘Tilly for short by her crew of Linda and Jon Reed.

The other ‘Tilly’s crew are on “a slow pedal” to Scotland from their base near Ipswich and have pedalled over 600 miles for the big event!

You can check out the details of our (somewhat shorter!) route by clicking on the Strava map below.

I was uber excited when my dynamic crew said today was the day and we headed from our home base of Auchterarder to meet ‘Tilly at Bridge of Earn as they pedalled on their route from Kinross to Perth! Unfortunately Team Matilda was hit by a heavy squall en route, and was forced to dry out over a welcome coffee at the newly re-opened The Earn Coffee Shop while waiting.

But that was soon forgotten and the big meet happened on the Brig which spans the River Earn and there was much parping of my horn as Team ‘Tilly came into view, which the “old git” recorded on video for posterity! So click here to view or on the image below.

After the “old git” and “old gal” introduced themselves to Linda and Jon – and I said a big friendly hello to ‘Tilly – there was time for the obligatory photo opportunity showing the two tandems!

I gave the other ‘Tilly the tandem a welcome “kiss” at the Brig at Bridge of Earn!

Linda and Jon have pedalled over 600 miles from Ipswich to meet Matilda on their Viking Serengeti.

The schedule then saw the two tandem crews to have a short ride together from Bridge of Earn, pedalling on The National Cycle Network Rt 775 into Perth City Centre.

The tandem crews pedalling into Perth on The National Cycle Network Rt 775.

Once in the city centre the “old git” had organised a celebratory glass of prosecco – followed by great coffee, toasties and cake at the brilliant Artisan – Espresso & Wine Bar, while us tandems had a good catch-up and got to know each other a bit better!

The two Matilda tandem crews enjoying a glass of prosecco at Artisan Espresso and Wine Bar!

It would need to be said the other ‘Tilly is somewhat more experienced and wider travelled than me! Linda and Jon have been riding tandems for 25 years and ‘Tilly is their third one – a Viking Serengeti which has clocked up around 40,000 kms and been to no less than 48 countries.

Jon, Captain of Team ‘Tilly and “the old gal” toasting the new tandem friendship!

The “old git” and the “old gal” hit it off immediately with Linda and Jon who recounted how they suggested meeting up after reading about Team Matilda in BIKE Magazine Europe back in March where we appeared over five pages in glorious technicolour!

Linda, Stoker of Team Tilly and “the old git” toasting the Matildas meet up!

And apart from the coincidence of our tandem names, ‘Tilly also has a blog in which they recount their adventures on ‘Tilly the tandem, and “Ten Tonne Taffy” – or “FatTaf” for short – their “beast” of a motorhome … and a Stoker who doesn’t like hills!

I do however have to stress one difference, that ‘Tilly’s blog is written by her Captain Jon – unlike me who is of course the UK’s only blogging tandem!

Cheers! The two Matilda tandem crews had to drink the prosecco outside to meet Covid rules.

A couple of hours flew by in what seemed like minutes as we all swapped stories about tandem tours, trips, adventures and of course misadventures!

All too soon it was sadly time to go our separate ways – but only after some photos on the banks of the River Tay in Perth. I must say I was a tad envious that the other ‘Tilly the tandem had a rear name plate which looked just like a number plate! I may try to persuade the “old gal” I need one of those!

Here I am getting to know the other ‘Tilly the tandem on the banks of the Tay in Perth city centre!

Rear view! I must say I was a tad envious of the other ‘Tilly the tandem’s number plate!

Front view! The other ‘Tilly the tandem was heavily loaded up for touring.

A final shot of Linda and John of Team ‘Tilly before the crews had to go their separate ways.

Linda and Jon headed to the luxury of their hotel, just a few hundred yards away across the river, while the “old git” and “old gal” pedalled off – but immediately hit a brutal strong headwind which stayed against us every mile of the pedal back to Matildas Rest.

It was so energy sapping the “old git” suggested stopping at The Kirkstyle Inn for a reviving tonic (with a small measure of the amazing new house ‘Little Earl’ gin in it!!) to ensure they got home. The “old gal” thought this was one of his best suggestions while tandeming … ever! Tho it almost didn’t happen as the Kirkstyle’s new outdoor Garden Larder was really busy – but my crew enjoyed their drinks on extremely comfortable hand crafted chairs made from the wood of spirit barrels. How appropriate!

My dynamic crew had to stop for a tonic to refuel (with a small measure of gin) at the Kirkstyle Inn.

Suitably refuelled – and with clouds building and threatening another downpour – my dynamic crew battled the headwind for the final four miles back from Dunning as quickly as they could and were much relieved to get home just seconds before the rain started and so avoided another soaking.

Safely out of the wind at Matildas Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 3 gongs – quite amazing given the adverse weather conditions – one 2nd best, and two 3rd bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 35.9 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 04 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.7 mph despite the headwind on the return leg! Elevation was 1,681 feet. The maximum speed was 30.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2,171 calories and produce an average power output of 176 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Shame about the wind and the rain but it was still a fabulous fun day out in tandem in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

And of course it was very special for me to finally get to meet the other ‘Tilly!! But the big question I am sure all my blog readers are wondering is … will there be a second date?!!

There is talk that Linda and Jon want to meet up again when Team Matilda are down in their home patch for the Nutty Tandemers Club 2021 Tour de Suffolk, which is planned for September. Now, if that happened, it would result in a trio of tandems!! So watch this space!!

Lockdown2 Ride13 – Trying (and failing!) to beat rain to Forteviot but welcome stop at new Garden Larder at Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning

The Kirkstyle Inn adapting to the Covid restrictions with a new business venture – the Garden Larder.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew had a fun #Lockdown2 Ride13 tandem trying (and failing!!) to beat the rain to Forteviot, but had a welcome stop at the new Garden Larder at The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning.

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem to get some much needed exercise for their 13th #lockdown adventure – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

The weather had turned a bit unseasonal of late – but there appeared to be a brief weather window on Wednesday morning where the “old git” felt Team Matilda might squeeze in a flutter to Forteviot before the rain which was forecast for just before lunchtime. But guess what – the rain arrived early!

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The wind had abated and it was relatively mild, so my dynamic crew decided to risk baring their legs for today’s ride. Even the “old gal” wasn’t cold so it must have been quite mild!

So we headed off from Matildas Rest and out of our home town of Auchterarder in a different direction to most of our recent rides. We pedalled on fabulous gently undulating quiet country roads towards Dunning and then on to Forteviot.

With little wind I am delighted to say that Team Matilda fair whizzed along as the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” kicked into gear, and we arrived in Forteviot in what seemed like no time at all.

Synchronicity kicked in to gear and we soon arrived at Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland.

Forteviot is steeped in Scotland’s medieval history as it was an ancient Pictish capital of Alba – where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

There we saw the amazing Cradle of Scotland- A Stone for Forteviot which is a proud centrepiece to the village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the the historic Dupplin Cross.

The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot. It is now housed in the nearby St Serf’s Church in Dunning – which we passed – and is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

The “old gal” at the Pictish stone carving at Forteviot to mark the area’s role in the birth of medieval Alba.

The carving forms a vivid centrepiece to the village green and the quaint houses formerly occupied by the workers on the Dupplin estate, which were built in 1927. The Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project has provided the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

There was time for a nutty picture opportunity at the superbly hand crafted village bus stop – where the “old gal” tried to thumb a lift – more in hope than expectation!

The “old gal” thumbing a lift (more in hope than expectation!) at the bust stop in Forteviot.

The eco-friendly bus shelter was created as part of the Tay Landscape Partnership funding for the area by local forester Jim Thomson who runs his own Woodland Craft business. The shelter also houses a brilliant information board giving lots more detail about the deep history of the area.

Meanwhile the “old git” was keen to show off his bare legs – posing in front of the historic Forteviot Village Hall!

The “old git” at Forteviot Village Hall, bravely baring his legs to the elements!

The village is really beautiful and worthy of a visit – including the Aberdalgie Forteviot Church of Scotland with some very historic headstones in its graveyard.

The “old git” at the AberdalgieForteviot Church of Scotland – just as the first spots of rain fell.

Just as my dynamic crew decided to start their return journey the first spots of rain started to fall so it was heads down and pedal to cover the miles back home. There was a stop for a breather as they cycled back thru Dunning – a village which is also rich in history having been burned to the ground during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.

Great to see that the friendly country pub called The Kirkstyle Inn – which my dynamic crew have been known to visit from time to time for a small libation! – has just opened a new venture called The Garden Larder offering a superb takeaway service of coffees, cakes and sandwiches to help it survive the current Covid restrictions.

There is also an intriguing sign – saying ‘Practice Pheasant Crossing’ – to encourage drivers to slow their speed driving thru the village! Naturally that was too good a photo opportunity to ignore!

Intriguing sign to encourage drivers to slow their speed at The Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning!

The Garden Larder also offers a small range of locally sourced deli items like artisan bread and herbs as well as a range of gifts from local artists.

The “old gal” and “old git” treated themselves to a perfectly brewed strong coffee and a yummy home made fruit scone with a slice of delicious caramel shortcake. And if my dynamic crew’s licking of their lips at the tasty treats is anything to go by, then Jamie – mine host at The Kirkstyle Inn – is on to a winner!

The newly opened Garden Larder offers a great takeaway service of cake coffee and sandwiches.

With the rain now falling a good deal harder, it was a quick blast back from Dunning for my dynamic crew – with the “old gal” in particular giving an extra push in her duties as my stoker as she doesn’t like pedalling in the rain!

Despite the rain arriving earlier than forecast, it was good to be out getting some exercise and the ride clocked another 15 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer, taking the total to 291 miles from the 13 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being amazingly worthy of 3 gongs given the weather – two personal bests; and one 2nd best.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 15.6 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 05 minutes. The average speed was a very healthy 14.3 mph despite – or perhaps because of – the rain! Elevation was 709 feet. The maximum speed was 25.3 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 892 calories and produce an average power output of 203 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view or on the image below.

Shame about the rain but there were still hugely positive feelings from #Lockdown2 Ride12. My dynamic crew continue to feel lucky, fortunate and blessed to be able to keep healthy – mentally and physically – with our madcap #tandem adventures on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

The flutter to Forteviot was certaily good fun – my dynamic crew just want a more accurate weather forecast for the next pedal … and perhaps some of that much warmer weather that Englandshire is currently experiencing!

As for me, this “old lady” tandem needs a rub down with an oily cloth to keep my bits lubricated!

Lockdown2 Ride7 – Spring has sprung so first appearance of la bouclèe … but only with tonic – not prosecco! – on ride to Bridge of Earn.

Spring is in the air! Lots of snowdrops adding a splash of colour just outside Dunning.

This blog is the story of how my dynamic crew enjoyed a fun #Lockdown2 Ride7 #tandem adventure where Spring has sprung, so the first appearance of La Bouclée … but only with tonic water – not prosecco! – on a ride to Bridge of Earn.

The “old git” and “old gal” were keen to get back out in tandem taking advantage of calmer conditions for their seventh fun #lockdown adventure – while adopting Cycling UK Scotland‘s #cyclingfromhome mantra in #tandem in rural Perthshire, mainly on Sustrans Scotland and The National Cycle Network routes.

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

It was Team Matilda’s first ride of meteorological Spring so the “old git” dutifully looked out my la bouclée wine carrier to give it its first appearance of the year. But only to carry a bottle of tonic water – not our favoured prosecco due to adhering to #lockdown restrictions.

First ride of meteorological Spring so my trendy la bouclèe French wine carrier makes an appearance …

… but only to carry tonic water … not our favoured prosecco… due to #Lockdown2 restrictions.

Hopefully my dynamic crew will be able to enjoy their infamous and trademark prosecco picnics again before too long.

Hopefully time for our prosecco picnics again soon!

The “old git” decided the “old gal” needed a change of scenery – he is very thoughtful that way, you know! So we headed in the opposite direction to recent rides, heading out of our home base town of Auchterarder on a ride to Bridge of Earn, some 13 hilly miles away!

It was all part of the “old git’s” masterplan to show the “old gal” the benefits of their combined 4 stone weight loss on their tandeming exploits. And I am pleased to report she was impressed as we fair whizzed along – and those hills which previously caused difficulties hardly seemed to exist! The difference is profound – especially this early in the tandeming year!

We pedalled on fabulous rural country roads firstly to Dunning, then on to Forteviot – famous for being an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland. Spring may have officially been in the air – but the sun stayed stubbornly behind the cloud on the outward leg. That made the DIY coffee and cake stop at Bridge of Earn, very welcome … if not essential. And once again it obviously was not a picnic!

The coffee helped revive the “old gal” after a chilly pedal on the outward leg.

The coffee stop at Bridge of Earn was a DIY affair … rather than a picnic!

Fortunately the sun broke thru the clouds on the return pedal which made the ride considerably more enjoyable. It was a real joy to be tandeming into bright sunshine the whole way home – with sunglasses actually a necessity rather than a fashion statement!

With the sun out there was time to enjoy the signs that Spring has sprung into bloom with beautiful carpets of snowdrops adding a splash of colour at the side of our route. The “old gal” called a photo halt to get some pictures of the snowdrops at both Forteviot and outside Dunning.

Basking in the bright sun and enjoying the backdrop of a carpet of snowdrops at Forteviot.

The “old gal” even spotted some ‘Yellow on the Broom’ which is a sure sign of the weather improving here in Scotland. In just a few days it will be in full bloom – which will match my dynamic crew’s jackets!

Yellow on the Broom! Definite signs that Spring is springing into bloom! And the sun appeared!

There was a real feelgood factor when we returned to Matildas Rest – having clocked another 26 miles onto the #Lockdown2 milometer – which now sits at 160 miles for the 7 rides completed so far.

Back at Matildas Rest – with a real boost and optimistic feeling from seeing the first signs of Spring – the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 5 gongs – one 2nd best and four 3rd bests – which is pleasing at this early stage in the year for a well travelled route for Team Matilda.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 26.7 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 04 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.9 mph despite the always present wind! Elevation was 1,301 feet. The maximum speed was 33.8 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1,580 calories and produce an average power output of 190 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so click here to view, or on the image below.

So, once again there were hugely positive feelings and great exercise from #Lockdown2 Ride7. My dynamic crew continue to feel lucky, fortunate and blessed to be able to keep healthy – mentally and physically – with our madcap #tandem adventures on a bicycle made for two in our rural Perth and Kinross Cycle CampaignPerth and Kinross Countryside TrustAuchterarder Community Cycling and Love Perthshire area.

Let’s hope for more Spring weather – combined with seeing the green shoots of Spring on the next fun spirit-lifting #tandem pedal!

Squeezing in a windy pedal to ancient Pictish capital of Alba – Forteviot – with Anne and Alan debuting new bikes

My dynamic crew with Team AA – Alan and Anne – ready to roll from Matildas Rest.

A short blog post which recounts my dynamic crew managing to squeeze in a windy #tandem to the ancient Pictish capital of Alba – Forteviot – on a ride with solo cyclist friends Alan Ince and Anne Connell – Team AA!

While not an official National Cycle Network route, the ride from Auchterarder to Forteviot in southern Perthshire is all on quiet back roads and is a joy to pedal.

You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

The “old gal” was delighted to see a bright object rising in the sky – otherwise known as the sun! – as my dynamic crew fuelled up with a healthy breakfast. But it was going to be chilly so the next task was kitting up in multiple layers of winter cycling gear.

Next the “old gal” – in her role as “chief mechanic” – lovingly gave me the once over to check all my bits were in working order, and that my tyres were rock hard.

The reason time was of the essence was that my dynamic crew were making an essential drive to see the “old git’s” Mum in Ayrshire later in the day.

Team AA arrived bang on schedule, and after the compulsory photo we all headed off from Matildas Rest on the planned pedal around Pictish Perthshire – heading towards the historic nearby village of Forteviot – pedalling thru Dunning – covering a distance of just under 16 miles.

There was a lovely tailwind on the outward journey which saw my dynamic crew clock up four personal bests on the stretch to Dunning as the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” kicked in and they quickly picked up speed, with all three of us perfectly in tune! But Team Matilda paid for it on the return … as they always seem to do!

The crews were really enjoying the conditions in the glorious Perthshire countryside – and the sunshine appeared right on cue for the ride to give everything and everyone a healthy glow!

It was great to see so many cyclists out – and in what seemed like no time we covered the 8 miles and pedalled into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

There we saw the amazing Cradle of Scotland- A Stone for Forteviot which is a proud centrepiece to the small village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross.

My dynamic crew with Team AA at the Cradle of Scotland – A Stone for Forteviot.

The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot. It is now housed in the nearby St Serf’s Church in Dunning – which we passed – and is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

The Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project has provided the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

Alan and Anne having purchased two new bikes – a Liv and a Giant – from our trusty bike doctors Richards Cycles in Perth – and this was their debut ride. And very pleased they were with their new steeds it seems!

Anne and Alan give the thumbs up to their shiny new Liv and Giant bikes!

The crews enjoyed a socially-distanced “DIY Costa Coffee” stop at the bus shelter at Forteviot – coffee from a flask with the first mince pie of the season!

DIY Costa Coffee-style stop at Forteviot bus shelter – with first mince pie of the season!

The new eco-friendly bus shelter was created as part of the Tay Landscape Partnership funding for the area by local forester Jim Thomson who runs his own Woodland Craft business. The shelter also houses a brilliant information board giving lots more detail about the deep history of the area.

The brilliant information board in the eco-friendly bus shelter details the history of Forteviot.

The Forteviot village “square” (or green to be exact!) provided an ideal sun-kissed stop – with its quaint houses which were rebuilt for workers of the Dupplin Estate in 1927 and create a beautiful focal point for the village.

The sun created some great long shadows at the picturesque Forteviot village green.

Re-freshed by the DIY coffee stop, it was time to pedal back into the now fierce headwind!  As the “old gal” said: “Why is there always a headwind on the way home?!” Let’s just say it just shows what a difference 180 degrees can make!

The crews had a stop for a breather as they cycled back thru Dunning – a village which is also rich in history having been burned to the ground during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. But sadly, due to Covid, no opportunity for a reviving libation at the great friendly country pub called The Kirkstyle Inn – which my dynamic crew have been known to visit from time to time!

The last notable historic landmark the crews pedalled past – but didn’t stop at – was the monument to Maggie Wall. This is an eerie stone cross with a hand painted date of 1657 and it is said to be a memorial to the last witch to be burned at the stake.

Not surprisingly there were no personal bests on the return leg but my dynamic crew and Team AA battled on to arrive back at Matildas Rest.

After bidding farewell to Alan and Anne, with a Covid-friendly fist pump, and safely out of the wind the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of a healthy total of 5 gongs – made up of 4 personal bests and 1 second best times. Amazingly one of those was nearly a minute – 56 seconds to be exact! – quicker than our previous best! It couldn’t all have been the tailwind … could it?! Must be something to do with my dynamic crew’s fitness … surely!

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 15.7 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 13 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.8 mph – which given the headwind on the return leg was perfectly acceptable! Elevation was 711 feet. The maximum speed was 31.1 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 923 calories and produce an average power output of 187 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D mapping video – so take a look below.

All in all a super way to get some much needed rays of the sun and exercise while pedalling with friends – a great way to start a Sunday!

Naughty Matilda jumps on train to Dundee to ride to champagne afternoon tea and Aqua Vitae at Lindores Abbey Distillery

Waiting on a deserted station platform full of anticipation about my first ever train ride!

The Latin phrase ‘aqua vitae’ literally means the water of life! And today my dynamic crew decided to embark on a ride to enjoy a glass of their own water of life in the form of a champagne afternoon tea at a distillery. And the fact that Lindores Abbey Distillery produces its own unique brand of Aqua Vitae – while waiting on its whisky to mature – meant it was a ‘must visit’ destination!

But before enjoying the delights of the afternoon tea treats, my dynamic crew had to pedal there – and the “old git” decided that it would be a great tandem trip to ride from Dundee back to Matildas Rest – with a perfectly situated half-way stop at the distillery.

Brill idea – except that plan involved a slightly naughty adventure of getting me on a train! That doesn’t seem too difficult I hear you say. But given that tandems are officially not allowed on trains – and the “old git’s” dogged desire to beat the system – it added a bit of an edge to the day!

Is anyone watching us?! – me and the “old git” waiting on the train pictured from the station bridge!

The sun was already rising in a blue sky as my dynamic crew set off for the local Gleneagles railway station situated on the main line to Aberdeen and Inverness.  My dynamic crew were well aware that ScotRail’s official policy is to welcome cycles on all its trains but the small print states: “We don’t allow tandems, tricycles and non-folding cycle trailers as they take up too much space.”

But that wasn’t going to stop Team Matilda’s plan! The “old git” had booked two single tickets and two bike places online for the service to Dundee. My dynamic crew waited a tad nervously for the train to arrive – expecting a loudspeaker announcement if they had been spotted on CCTV on the platform.

Waiting a little nervously for the train on the platform at the impressive Gleneagles station.

The train arrived, the guard looked at all three of us for a moment and asked if we had booked. The “old git” showed the tickets and the guard said: “Ok on you go!” It would need to be said that it was an older train with a guards van storage section just behind the diesel engine – but we were on! And once the train moved off we knew there was no going back! I was securely stacked in a spacious bike rack beside four other sleek looking touring bikes – and there was plenty of room for me to fit in.

We’re on! The “old git” ensuirng I am safely secured on the bike rack!

Naturally my dynamic crew were somewhat chuffed that they had managed to get me on board. The “old git” – keeping with his reputation for planning – did have a Plan B in place should I have been refused entry to the train, which would have been tandeming to the distillery and then retracing our steps to pedal home again. But it just shows that bluffing it can pay off! In just over half an hour the train pulled in to Dundee station and in seconds I was out of the train and on the platform! I felt just a tad mischievous, but it was mission accomplished! And the station has been revamped recently, with the addition of a tandem-friendly lift which took Team Matilda up to street level. Easy!

Dundee station has a tandem-friendly lift to get me to street level!

After the excitement of actually getting on the train, the “old gal” was in need of a caffeine fix and there was a quick pit stop for morning coffee and a scone at the pleasant RSS Discovery cafe opposite the station. Before heading away on our ride there was a quick photo opportunity at two of the life-size figurines situated at Discovery Point – beside the new V&A Dundee design museum – which were part of the Oor Wullie’s BIG Bucket Trail, which claims to be Scotland’s first ever national public art trail.

The “old gal” – who has a likeing for a strong coffee – naturally had to have her photo taken at the ‘Full O’ Beans’ installation, while the “old git” had to pose as Oor Wullie at the ‘Dazzle Wullie’ artwork!

The “old gal” and me causing a stir at the ‘Full O’ Beans’ installation.

The “old git” trying his best to pose as Oor Wullie at the ‘Dazzle Wullie’ artwork!

My dynamic crew headed for the lift to get up on to the pedestrian and bicycle deck of the Tay Road Bridge to start our ride by crossing the River Tay on Sustrans Scotland National Cycle Network Route 1. You can check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

Ready to roll! Handlebars view of the cycle deck on the Tay Road Bridge.

After crossing the bridge in unusually benign conditions of a magnificent blue sky with not a cloud on the horizon, our route took us on NCN Rt 1 through the pretty town of Newport on Tay – which offered some spectacular views out across the river and the Tay Rail Bridge.

Bench with a view! Newport on Tay offers spectacular views across the river.

It was a great day to be out tandeming and Team Matilda pedalled on joinging NCN Rt 777 to Newburgh – thru Wormit and just before Gauldry the signposted cycle route directed us off the B995 towards the village of Balmerino. All of a sudden there was a shock to my dynamic crew’s relaxed demeanor when suddenly out of nowhere a monster hill appeared!

Much puffing and panting later the “old git” and “old gal” finally emerged at the top of the category 4 climb (and a wee bit of a push!) – and a quick look at the map fortunately revealed that was the worst of the hills! The sun was high in the sky and the “old gal” was actually heard to say that it was a bit hot – and for someone who is often cold that is quite a statement!

The “old gal” enjoying the amazing views over the fields to the sun-kissed Tay.

The views over the sun-kissed Tay were nothing short of amazing – making it a memorable tandem ride. With the temperature continuing to rise, the “old git” was glad to stop in the shade for some water, overlooking the impressive ruins of the 14th Century tower house Ballinbreich Castle.

Some much needed shade for the “old git” overlooking Ballinbreich Castle.

A quick downhill and we were tandeming into Newburgh where we were to find our wonderful oasis of Lindores Abbey Distillery – which was to be the venue for our stylish champagne afternoon tea treat.

The distillery is a relatively new visitor attraction – with whisky starting to be produced in December 2017. But Lindores is actually the historic seat of whisky making in Scotland – with distilling taking place on the site at least as early as 1494, although it was most probably happening long before that.

This is known because of the earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky (or Aqua Vitae, as it was then known), which appears in the Exchequer Roll of the same year. It mentioned a Brother John Cor, a Lindores monk, who was commissioned by King James IV to turn 8 bolls of malt into Aqua Vitae.

Here I am striking a pose at the entrance to the stylish Lindores Abbey Distillery.

The “old git” had pre-booked – as advised on the website – but my dynamic crew were non-the-less ultra impressed to be personally welcomed as we arrived at the entrance by Jane Clark, one of the managers at Lindores. And the staff made a great fuss of me, calling me a “celebrity visitor!” – and insisting I be pushed thru the shop area into a courtyard complete with a cycle rack.

A juxtaposition of an old matured tandem with an old matured whisky barrel!

As I had a rest the “old gal” and “old git” were escorted upstairs into the fabulous trendy glass surrounded Legacy Bar – which offered a wonderfully sophisticated and air conditioned atmosphere for their afternoon tea treat.

My dynamic crew were presented with a chilled glass of champagne – where they toasted the joys of tandeming – before enjoying a veritable feast of delicious finger sandwiches, savoury pastries, scones with cream and jam, delicate small cakes, and a perfectly formed cheesecake mouse. Apart from the champagne this is washed down with a choice of fragrant teas or speciality coffees – and one of the delights of this culinary experience is that all the produce is freshly home made and locally sourced.

Cheers! The “old gal” and “old git” having a champagne toast before their afternoon tea!

This was all wonderful value at £25 a head, and enjoyed looking out onto the unbelievably blue skies to the Tay Estuary beyond. My dynamic crew were introduced to Helen McKenzie Smith part of the husband and wife owners team, who describe themselves as ‘custodians of Lindores.’ Helen was charming and patiently answered all the “old git’s” questions about their project to revive whisky making on the ancient site – after a break of over 500 years!

For spirit to be officially called whisky it has to be matured for a minimum of three years and a day, so Lindores is looking forward to being able to market its first batch in December 2020.

Interestingly Lindores has decided not to go down the traditional route of many Scotch distilleries in producing gin while waiting on the maturing process. Instead – given the history – the distillery is producing its own handcrafted botanical spirit which it has branded Aqua Vitae.

The “old gal” enjoying a sample of Lindores own pre-whisky Aqua Vitae botanical spirit!

As previously mentioned, the earliest Aqua Vitae was made at Lindores as long ago as 1494, and the distillery staff have authentically recreated that recipe and reimagined it as ‘an inquisitively versatile spirit’. It is distilled in pot stills and then infused with a blend of spices and herbs, including cleavers, and sweet cicely, which grow in the gardens, amidst the grounds of the ancient Abbey, and is entirely natural, with no added sugars. Naturally the “old gal” and the “old git” were treated to a sample – which they both pronounced as being delicious!

After a most enjoyable time at the distillery, my dynamic crew explored the fascinating remains of Lindores Abbey itself. Known as the ‘Church by the Water’, it was founded in 1191 by David Earl of Huntingdon, on land overlooking the River Tay Estuary, given to him by his brother King William I. It was built with local red sandstone, and covered a very large area – the extent of which is still clearly visible today. Particularly well preserved is a section which was the eastern entrance to the Abbey.

The “old gal” and me could feel the history at the eastern entrance of Lindores Abbey.

This artist impression – created by examining the remains – shows the Abbey’s impressive size.

It was time to head away from Newburgh and start the not insignificant task of a 21 mile pedal back to base. I am sure I detected more than a bit of a champagne-fuelled wobble over the first mile or so before the “old gal” and “old git” got back into their pattern of synchronicity!

The “old gal” bracing herself on leaving Newburgh for the 21 mile pedal home!

The route home took us thru Abernethy – the one the biscuits are name after! – and then the hamlet of Aberargie before joining the rather busy A912 for just over a mile to Bridge of Earn where we rejoined quieter more enjoyable country roads to Forteviot.

And then it happened, my dynamic crew suddenly became somewhat less dynamic as they bonked – the cycling definition of hitting the wall thru a lack of energy – on the section from Forteviot to Dunning! The “old gal” was convinced the hot temperature had a part to play – but the “old git” quietly thought that the stoker’s performance had been hit by the after effects of the fizz!

An urgent reviving pit stop was called for at Dunning and Team Matilda had a long ice cold soft drink at the friendly The Kirkstyle Inn – along with one of their “emergency” energy gels – to restore factory settings! The effect was instant as when my crew set off again for what they expected to be a hard slog of the last five miles home, it amazingly turned into an easy canter with the miles flying as my crew seemed turbo-charged – which resulted in Strava recording two personal bests along the way!

We rolled back into Matildas Rest with the sun still blazing in the sky. Over a relaxing coffee on the decking, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as showing that my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 38.2 miles with a moving time of 3 hours 16 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.7 mph given the hot temperature and the overall elevation of 2088 feet. The maximum speed was 35.8 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 2422 calories and produce an average power output of 184 W.

And there was at least 38 smiles to match the miles – with the added advantage of bluffing our way on to a train for the first time – which for the “old git” and the “old gal” is the mark of another great day out in tandem! After all, the laugh really is my dynamic crew’s unique recipe for their own Aqua Vitae!

A Musings Special on mini Tour de Perthshire with Team Travelling in Tandem

Cheers! The Nutty Tandemers Club having one of their signature prosecco re-fuelling stops!

Early in June we were scheduled to be taking part in our self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way challenge. But sadly personal circumstances resulted in that adventure having to be postponed.

But my dynamic crew did manage to meet up with good tandeming friends John and Jane – who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – for a couple of days for a mini Tour de Perthshire.

John and Jane – dubbed Team JayJay for the trip – kindly re-organised their holiday schedule in light of the postponement of the HebWay trip. Plan B saw them book a few nights at a local caravan park in Perth to allow us to meet up again for a couple of rides.

The two tandem teams had previously enjoyed two memorable previous trips – the inaugural Le Tour de Perthshire du Tandem in 2016 and Le Tour de New Forest du Tandem last year.

The Nutty Tandemers label came about from John and Jane having similar views as my dynamic crew on not taking tandeming too seriously and having lots of fun on a bicycle made for two!

Day 1 – Nutty Tandemers Club sunny fun ride around Tibbermore Kinkell Bridge and Trinity Gask

The Nutty Tandemers Club line-up for a group photo near Kinkell Bridge.

Great excitement as Team Matilda were heading to meet up with John and Jane – aka Team JayJay – for the first of two planned rides. And for this “old lady” there was the excitement of teaming up with Siggy, the attractive gent of a tandem belonging to Team JayJay’s stable of no less than three tandems – which also includes the vintage Henry and their original Pino semi-recumbent Bluebird.  Whisper it, but I hear Siggy is a bit of a charmer of a gentleman tandem … with an eye for the older ladies!

We all met up at Noah’s Ark Caravan Park in Perth – and after warm greetings we pedalled off on a route which would take Team JayJay round some of our favourite local spots.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

After negotiating our way down from the caravan park and enduring a busy junction of the A85 over the A9 we were glad to turn off onto a much quieter road towards Tibbermore. The sun was shining and we managed to pedal a whole four miles before stopping for tea and cake and a much needed catch-up at Gloagburn Farm Shop!

Recharged we tandemed onwards thru the picturesque village of St Davids before a nice descent to our first point of interest – the historic Kinkell Bridge which is a grand four-arched bridge over the River Earn and dates from 1793. It gives great views over one of Perthshire’s top salmon beats and provided a suitable venue for the first Nutty Tandemers photo stop! After all we only had two days to get 12 good photos for next year’s calendar!

John and Jane – making up Team JayJay – taking in the views at scenic Kinkell Bridge

Kinkell Bridge is just 3 miles from the “old git” and “old gal’s” home base.

Give way! The Nutty Tandemers ready for more pedalling at Kinkell Bridge

After Kinkell Bridge we started the climb away from the River Earn in an area known as Gask Ridge Frontier  which was the earliest Roman land frontier in Britain – built in the 70’s or 80’s AD, 40 years before Hadrian’s Wall and 60 years before the Antonine Wall.

Up we went past Trinity Gask Parish Church which traces its history back to 1770 before it was time for one of the Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco re-hydrating stops! And naturally I had helpfully carried the bottle of fizz in my trendy la bouclee French-wine carrier!

Time for one of the Nutty Tandemers Club signature prosecco re-fuelling stops!

Jane making sure the “old gal” doesn’t spill a drop of the obligatory prosecco!

Group selfie time! Prosecco cheers for Team Matilda and Team JayJay!

Time for a breather – and a welcome refreshment – for my dynamic crew!

Refreshed we continued to climb before re-emerging on to the Tibbermore road where my dynamic crew decided to show Team JayJay the fascinating historic Tibbermore Church which is now in the care of the Scottish Redundant Churches Trust. Dating back to 1632 the characterful building ceased being a parish church in 1986 before being transferred to the trust in 2001.

Apart from being worthy of a visit in its own right due to its unusual layout, and its history, the church has another more recent claim to fame – which sees it visited by people from all over the world – as a recognised stop in the VisitScotland tour of Outlander filming locations.

Now it needs to be said that John and Jane – like the “old git” and the “old gal”- are one of the few people on the planet who have never watched an episode of the popular hit show Outlander. But clearly the mystical and spellbinding series has caught the imagination and is a ratings winner in around 40 different countries. The series, filmed in Scotland, is particularly popular in America and Europe and is now seen as a goldmine for attracting tourists by Scotland’s tourism agency.

John Jane and the “old gal” at the archway entrance to Tibbermore Church.

The church was used as a film set for the infamous witches trial – series 1 episode 11 called ‘The Devil’s Mark’. Over 10 days in June 2014 Tibbermore Church was the focal point for 120 crew and 200 extras involved in the production – transformed into the fictional Cranesmuir Church.

For the many fans of Outlander, the witches trial is one of the most memorable. The plot line sees Claire and Geillis Duncan accused of being witches – for which the punishment is being burned at the stake. The design of the building particularly lent itself to the key trial scene with the pulpit serving as the dock. Despite a spirited defence things don’t go well for Claire and Geillis – and in an attempt to save Claire, Geillis confesses to witchcraft. The “old gal” and Jane bravely shunned any superstitions and stood in the pulpit – which doubled as the dock – to recreate that scene!

The “old gal” and Jane recreate the infamous witches trial scene!

Escaping that drama it was an easy pedal back before a final uphill stretch back to the caravan park. Me and Siggy were safely locked up before the tandem crews had a quick change before heading to the nearby Glover Arms for a very welcome bar meal and a hospitable and entertaining evening.

On arrival at the Glovers Arms – while having a celebratory refreshment and perusing the menus – there was time for the “old git” to check Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 9 gongs – 5 personal bests; 2 second bests; and 3 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew – accompanied by Team JayJay – tandemed a distance of 28.6 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 21 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.2 mph given the hilly terrain while the elevation was 1015 feet. The maximum speed was 31.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1498 calories and produce an average power output of  159 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D video – so take a look below.

Day 2 – Nutty Tandemers Club windy ride to Forteviot Bridge of Earn and Dunning

John and Jane – Team JayJay – at Bridge of Earn prior to Storm Hector arriving.

For the second ride of the Nutty Tandemers Club mini tour Team Jay arrived at Matildas Rest by car for another local route favoured by my dynamic crew – to Forteviot and Bridge of Earn.

The weather had sadly deteriorated from the day before – being a bit colder, breezy and also a bit of drizzle, but not bad enough to stop the ride.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

With a nice tail wind we were soon approaching Dunning and had our first stop and a piece of local history at the monument to Maggie Wall. This is an eerie stone cross with a hand painted date of 1657 and it is said to be a memorial to the last witch in Scotland to be burned at the stake.

The “old git” decided this was a suitable venue for what has become a tradition of the Nutty Tandemers Club tours – a recreation of the three wise monkeys ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ scene. During the 2016 tour it was at the side of Loch Katrine and last year it was on the Isle of Wight.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – The Three Wise Monkeys 2018 version!

The new version captured by a photo we rode on thru Dunning and on to our next history lesson at Forteviot. The open roads allowed Jane to capture the “old git” and “old gal” in action, wearing their newly branded Team Matilda hi-vis rain jackets, especially purchased for the HebWay.

An shot of Team Matilda in action – with newly branded rain jackets – taken by Jane.

Despite the lack of sunshine it felt good to be out on the quiet scenic country roads of Perthshire – which are great for tandeming and cycling. Soon we all tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

The tandem teams had a stop at the fabulous new centrepiece to the village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross. The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot.

Thumbs up from the Nutty Tandemers at the new centrepiece stone at Forteviot.

The eye-catching stone carving – called ‘Set in Stone – the Birth of Alba’ – is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project run by the Tay Landscape Partnership to provide the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

Back on the road and with both crews enjoying their usual doze of fun and laughs the miles seemed to whizz past. Even a fairly tough twin-peaked climb out of Forteviot – didn’t phase them as they battled on to the top. The reward for that climb is an enjoyable long downhill stretch in to Bridge of Earn where we had a suitably nutty photo shoot at the bridge over the Earn.

Time for a Nutty Tandemers photo shoot at the bridge at Bridge of Earn.

The “old gal” and “old git” having a laugh despite the less than perfect weather.

Back views can often be better! But a good shot of my dynamic crew in their new jackets!

The road out of Bridge of Earn is a bit of a tough one at the best of times – a long slow grind of a tandem – but the fact that we were now battling a pretty fierce head wind rendered some of the comments coming from my Stoker’s position unrepeatable in what is after all a family blog!

Approaching Dunning the “old git” made a call for a stop at my dynamic crew’s favourite friendly country pub, The Kirkstyle Inn. One of its appeals is its range of artisan Scottish gins and this offered the ideal opportunity for a small libation to fuel up for the final miles home! After all it would have been rude not to!

The Kirkstyle Inn at Dunning was a perfect spot for a reviving gin for the Nutty Tandemers!

During our gin stop the weather took a further turn with conditions becoming both a bit wetter and a lot windier as Storm Hector gave us an indication of what was in store the next day. This made the final few miles back to Matildas Rest pretty tough going – but it was still a good ride.

Out of the rain and wind the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 21 gongs – 8 personal bests; 7 second bests; and 6 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed both crews tandemed a distance of 27.1 miles with a moving time of 2 hours 22 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 11.4 mph given the hilly terrain and the weather conditions, while the elevation was 1256 feet. The maximum speed was 29.5 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1590 calories and produce an average power output of  167 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D video – so take a look below.

After being a bit battered by the weather the “old gal” produced a welcome pasta dish which was naturally washed down with some prosecco during a jolly evening of suitable nuttiness!

It was really a great mini break for my dynamic crew to be able to spend a bit of time enjoying the company of  John and Jane – who yet again proved to be real kindred spirits to my dynamic crew!

Regrettably it was not the grand adventure that was originally planned, but plans are already underway to to reschedule the Nutty Tandemers Club Hebridean Way challenge for next year. And I for one can’t wait!

Sunny tandem to Bridge of Earn for carrot cake on HebWay warm-up ride

Carrot cake and coffee in warm sunshine – de rigueur for happy tandemers!

Sunday lunchtime and right on cue the weather offered idyllic conditions for tandeming – bright warm sunshine and little wind. Which was just as well as the “old git” had decreed today would be a ride on a lumpy hilly route as training for Team Matilda’s forthcoming  Hebridean Way adventure. And he had a special carrot to tempt the “old gal” with – the promise of some tasty carrot cake at the half way point. Oh the sweet talker – he certainly knows how to get the best out my Stoker you know!

More about the HebWay later – including a photo shoot of my dynamic crew in the tour t-shirts – but first a run to Bridge of Earn. We weren’t able to start from Matilda’s Rest as our usual route across the A9 was closed due to a major police incident – so we started from the next village at Aberuthven.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

First stage was an easy canter towards the village of Dunning, then on to Forteviot. The synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” was working well with all three of us on Team Matilda perfectly in tune! It was a great day to be out and feel the warm air between my spokes on the quiet country roads of Perthshire – which are great for tandeming and cycling, as shown by the number of bikes we saw while out on our ride.

“This is the kind of tandeming I like” exclaimed the “old gal” as my dynamic crew pedalled along feeling very pleased with themselves. In what seemed like no time at all we tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

A quick stop at the fabulous new centrepiece to the village – a large carved stone inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross. The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot.

Lovely warm sunshine means t-shirts and shorts at the new Pictish stone in Forteviot …

… in contrast to our last visit in February when my dynamic crew needed coffee to keep warm!

What a difference in weather conditions since our last visit in February when it was barely above freezing the day before the Beast fae the East blew in. No warming coffee required today for my dynamic crew as they admired the ‘Set in Stone – the Birth of Alba’ artwork.

The eye-catching stone carving – which is sensitively floodlit at night – is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project run by the Tay Landscape Partnership to provide the area with a key legacy monument marking the area’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

The carved stone in Forteviot is inspired by its Pictish history as an ancient capital of Scotland.

Back on the road and my dynamic crew were enjoying their usual doze of fun and laughs on my saddles as the miles seemed to whizz past in idyllic conditions. Even a fairly tough twin-peaked climb out of Forteviot – didn’t phase them as they battled on to the top.

The reward for that climb is an enjoyable long downhill stretch in to Bridge of Earn, with the “old git” reveling in his role as Captain – revealing that we were hitting the 30 mph mark at times! As we turned into the Brig Farm Shop and cafe my dynamic crew were amazed and impressed to find they had arrived in record time of just 57 minutes. There’s obviously life in this “old lady” yet! I must admit I do like it when we are whizzing along as it makes me feel like a young thing! Mind you, I guess it probably also has something to do with my crew’s weight loss – now totalling 50lbs – and improved fitness!

The Brig Farm Shop & Cafe was Team Matilda’s half way point on the ride.

Talking of weight loss … it was clearly time for a well-earned coffee and cake! Given the sunshine my crew decided an alfresco refuelling was required on the colourful decking area overlooking the farmland and ordered some carrot cake – de rigueur for many tandemers and in particular the “old gal” and the “old git”! And very yummy it was, or so they tell me! In fact so scummy that the “old git” nearly had his hand bitten off trying to get a photo before the “old gal” demolished her portion!

The “old git” just managed to get this photo before the “old gal” demolished her carrot cake!

After a nice relaxing time it was time to head on the return journey. My dynamic crew were in buoyant mood after such a good first half of today’s route – but unbeknown to them, while they were indulging their taste buds, the wind got up. Now as all tandemers know to their cost – when there is wind it is always blowing in an unhelpful direction! It was still pretty warm, but the “old gal” and the “old git” had to battle against a fierce head wind.

The road out of Bridge of Earn is a bit of a tough one at the best of times – a long slow grind of a tandem – but the head wind rendered some of the comments coming from my Stoker’s position unrepeatable in what is after all a family blog! Let’s just say that the average speed we achieved on the way to the cafe was not being achieved on the way back – much to the chagrin of my Captain! But Team Matilda gamely battled on (well truthfully there was no alternative!) tandeming back thru Forteviot and on to Dunning before arriving back at the A9 and Aberuthven.

Back at Matildas Rest, and in a welcome break from the head wind, the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of no less than 17 gongs – 12 personal bests; 3 second bests; and 2 third bests.

The detailed Strava figures showed my dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 24.0 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 56 minutes. The average speed was a healthy 12.4 mph given the hilly terrain and thanks to my new gears – while the elevation was 1091 feet. Actually I am quite chuffed to report that the average speed was 2.2 mph faster than the 10.2 mph when my dynamic crew last tandemed to Bridge of Earn in June last year. The maximum speed was 32.9 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 1361 calories and produce an average power output of 175 W.

As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D video – so take a look below.

With the strong wind and the hilly terrain it was more good training for our Hebridean Way challenge in early June. Just 3 weeks to go now before me and my dynamic crew meet up with good tandeming friends John and Jane – who have their own Travelling in Tandem blog – for our self-proclaimed Nutty Tandemers Club tour and the not insubstantial task of covering 185 miles over five days tandeming!

In the protected garden the “old git” decided Team Matilda needed to take a couple of pictures in the bright sunshine to unveil the newly arrived HebWay t-shirts – complete with our snazzy tour logo.

The “old git” and “old gal” sporting the new Nutty Tandemers Club HebWay tour t-shirts.

As always our t-shirts are produced by Sprinterz – a local digital print and embroidery specialist firm run by a good friend of the “old gal” called Gill and her husband Kevin. The highly professional team at Sprinterz produced stunning eye-catching t-shirts made of lightweight Cooltex material.

My dynamic crew are hoping for some warm sunny days tandeming the Hebridean Way.

To personalise things the arms of the tour t-shirts have the team names printed on the sleeves – Team Matilda obviously, and Team JayJay named after the initials of John and Jane!

The sleeves of the t-shirts list the crews of Team Matilda and Team JayJay.

This will be the third tour of the two tandem teams following two memorable previous trips – the inaugural Le Tour de Perthshire du Tandem in 2016 and Le Tour de New Forest du Tandem last year. Both produced some fabulous sun-kissed tandeming so my spokes are crossed the weather gods are on our side again for the third time pedalling!

Team JayJay – John and Jane – in action on board their tandem Siggy.

Jane and John certainly seemed to have lots in common with my dynamic duo – such as not enjoying hills and definitely enjoying prosecco! In fact both Team Matilda and Team JayJay seem to have the same views on not taking tandeming too seriously – which is nuttily summed up in the tour logo!

The tour logo in detail.

As for me, I am looking forward to teaming up with Siggy, the attractive gent of a tandem belonging to Team JayJay’s stable of no less than three tandems – which also includes the vintage Henry and their original Pino semi-recumbent Bluebird. Whisper it, but I hear Siggy is a bit of a charmer of a gentleman tandem … with an eye for the older ladies! So you never know he and I may just have a little bit of a HebWay holiday tandem romance!

Siggy is also very clever and he has couplings which allow him to be separated into three sections – making it much easier to transport to the Outer Hebrides. Mind you that shouldn’t be too much of a problem as John and Jane flew to India with Siggy for an amazing tandem adventure back in February!

The “old gal” smiling in the sunshine as she looks ahead to lots of laughs on the HebWay.

So in a nutshell the Nutty Tandemers HebWay tour involves two fun-loving couples on two tandem bikes cycling 185 miles “on the edge” on the Outer Hebrides from the start on Vatersay to the end at Isle of Lewis – covering 10 islands, 6 causeways and 2 ferries. I mean what could possibly go wrong?!

My dynamic crew just need some ideas for prosecco and carrot cake stops now before departure!

Out of hibernation on a rusty flutter to Forteviot

The new stone in Forteviot is inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the Dupplin Cross.

My dynamic crew decided they could wait no longer for the temperature to start rising. And much as the “old gal” likes some warmth, there was a resounding acceptance that Team Matilda had to emerge from their winter hibernation before rust and inactivity seized up all our joints!

Our last outing was just over two months ago – back before Christmas, with a short ride to Carols at Tullibardine Chapel. So, with the weather forecast giving dire warnings of the Beast from the East blasting freezing temperatures and lots of snow at the start of the week, the “old git” decided it was a case of now or never!

Ready to roll for 2018! Emerging from my garage at Matildas Rest!

My crew wakened to bright sunshine but the temperature was still stuck on zero as they fuelled up with a hearty but healthy breakfast. Next task was getting kitted up in multiple layers of winter cycling gear before I finally emerged out of my comfy garage at Matildas Rest for the first time in 2018.

After the “old gal” in her role as “chief mechanic” gave me the once over to check all my bits were lubricated and in working order, we headed off.

The “old gal” – half of my dynamic crew – wrapped up against the elements!

The “old git” had chosen a run that would be a pedal around Pictish Perthshire – heading towards the historic nearby villages of Dunning and then on to Forteviot, covering a distance of just under 16 miles with a few hills thrown in to test their fitness after a long lay off.

Check out the details of our route by clicking on the Strava map below.

With the sun on our faces my dynamic crew tentatively pedalled off into the glorious Perthshire countryside towards Dunning. Despite initially feeling like tandem novices all three of us were quickly back into the way of it.

It probably helped that the first stretch involves a steep downhill which saw us record a speed of  just over 25 mph within the first three minutes of leaving Matildas Rest! Let’s just say that speed wasn’t beaten for the rest of the ride.

But the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” soon kicked in and we quickly picked up some speed, with all three of us perfectly in tune! It was great to be back out and feel the fresh air between my spokes on the quiet country roads of Perthshire – which are great for tandeming and cycling, as shown by the number of bikes we saw while out on our ride.

“This is the kind of tandeming I like” exclaimed the “old gal” as my crew pedalled along feeling very pleased with themselves. In what seemed like no time at all we tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

We had travelled the near 8 miles in 50 minutes – which wasn’t too bad considering it was our first ride of the year – and the village was looking its usual pretty self in the sunshine. The village “square” (or green to be exact!) has some very quaint houses which were rebuilt for workers of the Dupplin Estate in 1927 and are create a lovely focal point for the village.

Time for a welcome cup of hot coffee for my dynamic crew at the new Forteviot stone.

As my crew enjoyed a cup of hot coffee – which the “old gal” had thoughtfully added to a flask before departure – they discovered a fabulous new centrepiece to the village since Team Matildas last visit.

A new carved stone now stands proudly – inspired by the strong Pictish culture and the historic Dupplin Cross. The original rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot. It is now housed in the nearby St Serf’s Church in Dunning and looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

There is no plaque in place as yet to tell you about it, but a chat with some locals saw my dynamic crew discover it is called Set in Stone – the Birth of Alba and is a new Pictish stone celebrating Forteviot’s important role in the birth of medieval Scotland.

The new stone carving – which is sensitively floodlit at night – is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Pictish Stones project run by the Tay Landscape Partnership to provide the area with a key legacy monument marking the kingdom that became Scotland. The new contemporary Pictish sculpture is being formally unveiled on Saturday 17 March at 12 noon.

The “old git” in his not remotely colour coordinated winter kit! But he wasn’t cold!

While enjoying the warmth of the coffee the “old gal” noticed that the old green wooden bus shelter was being rebuilt – and went over to speak to the workman who was cutting and sawing wood. This turned out to be local forester Jim Thomson who runs his own Woodland Craft business.

Forester Jim Thomson is building a new bus shelter as part of the Tay Landscape Partnership project.

Jim has been contracted to build a new eco-friendly bus shelter in Forteviot as part of the Tay Landscape Partnership funding for the area. It was certainly one of the best built bus shelters my crew had seen!

The new environmentally friendly wooden bus shelter taking shape in Forteviot.

It was great to see such activity in the village – which will hopefully provide a flow of visitors keen to find out more about the Pictish history of the area.

Bidding farewell to Jim, and before we got too cold, we headed back on our return journey – passing another historical site worth visiting in the village – Forteviot Church of St Andrew where archaeological studies indicate that Christians were first buried in the graveyard in the 6th century.

My dynamic crew pedalled furiously to create some heat – and were in buoyant mood as they discovered that there was (for once!) no headwind to battle. Despite a few hills climbing out of Forteviot we were soon tandeming into Dunning – a village which is also rich in history having been burned to the ground during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.

Here I am parked up outside the Kirkstyle Inn in Dunning – need a loo stop they said!

It is also boasts a great friendly country pub called The Kirkstyle Inn which my dynamic crew have been known to visit from time to time! It provided the ideal place for a loo stop – which the “old gal” then decided would be a good spot for a small libation to fuel up for the final miles home! After all it would have been rude not to!

The “old gal” decided a small libation would help the ride home!

So after a lovely Scottish artisan gin, it was time for the last four miles home. Gosh it had suddenly turned a good bit colder – wonder if that was anything to do with the cosy pub and the gin!? Surely not! We pedalled off quickly and didn’t stop at the the last piece of local history on today’s trip – the monument to Maggie Wall. This is an eerie stone cross with a hand painted date of 1657 and it is said to be a memorial to the last witch to be burned at the stake.

The return trip to Matildas Rest took just 10 minutes longer than the outward journey – which given the hills and my crew’s rustiness is a commendable effort. While having another warming cup of coffee the “old git” checked Strava which officially recorded the ride as being worthy of 2 gongs … amazingly we recorded a personal best and a 3rd best.

My dynamic crew tandemed a distance of 15.7 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 51 minutes. As always it is the smiles not the miles that count, but our average speed was 8.5 mph and the elevation was 633 feet. The maximum speed was 25.7 mph and Team Matilda managed to burn up 801 calories and produce an average power output of 108 W. As always the route is brought to life in our Relive 3D video – so take a look below.

So the first outing of 2018 now ticked off! Both the “old gal” and the “old git” are hoping some warmer weather is on its way soon for sunny tandem rides!

Brr! the “old gal” shivering on return … hoping for sunnier tandem days ahead!

What a difference 180 degrees makes on Forteviot flutter

The "old gal" basking in the Spring sunshine at the bus shelter at Forteviot.

The “old gal” basking in the Spring sunshine at the bus shelter at Forteviot.

You’ve heard the old cliche about a football match being “a game of two halves” – well our latest tandem adventure falls firmly into the camp of being “a ride of two halves”! And it truly underlines just what a difference 180 degrees can make when out tandeming!

Back to the start and Sunday was the day Spring was due to start in Perthshire and for once the weather matched the forecast and we awakened to bright sunshine at Matildas Rest. My crew were in happy mood as we had a hearty but healthy breakfast – within the guidelines of the Hay Eating Plan – before we all got kitted up and headed out into beautifully sunny Perthshire’s countryside.

The “old git” had chosen a run that would be a pedal around Pictish Perthshire – heading towards the historic nearby villages of Dunning and Forteviot, covering a distance of around 16 miles with a few hills thrown in to test our new found fitness! You can check out the details of our route on Strava below – and don’t forget to click on the map image to get the full data and statistics! 

wad-strava-mapWith the sun at our backs my dynamic crew pedalled off towards Dunning, before heading further out into the glorious Perthshire countryside – enjoying deep breaths of the fresh air. Everyone was feeling very healthy and – even tho I say so myself – this “old lady” was fairly flying along. the synchronicity factor of the “old git” and the “old gal” was really high and all three of us were perfectly in tune!

“This is the kind of tandeming I like” exclaimed the “old gal as we raced along feeling very pleased with ourselves. In what seemed like no time at all we tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

Bright sunshine and the first shoots of Spring with pretty snowdrops greeted us at Forteviot.

Bright sunshine and the first shoots of Spring with pretty snowdrops greeted us at Forteviot.

We had travelled the near 8 miles in an impressive 33 minutes, and the village was looking very pretty in the sunshine. The village “square” has some very quaint houses which were rebuilt for workers of the Dupplin Estate in 1927 and are create a lovely focal point for the village.

The village "square" in Forteviot is a real focal point - especially in the sunshine!

The village “square” in Forteviot is a real focal point – especially in the sunshine!

The sun was actually warm on the skin and was a welcome change to the near Arctic conditions we had faced on our recent tandem rides. The “old gal” basked in the sunshine in the quaint wooden bust shelter in the middle of the village, before checking out some snowdrops.

The sunshine had my crew in buoyant mood with plenty of laughs!

The sunshine had my crew in buoyant mood with plenty of laughs!

Another historical site worth visiting in the village is Forteviot Church of St Andrew where archaeological studies indicate that Christians were first buried in the graveyard in the 6th century.

My dynamic crew were in buoyant fun-filled mood and all was good with the world! At least it was till we headed back on the return journey. As soon as we left Forteviot Team Matilda realised that the wind had got up – and it was blasting directly into the “old git’s” face!

It was like cycling on sand as we pedalled into wind which was much stronger than a flutter! A check on the weather later confirmed that we were fighting against gust of around 30mph at one one stage!

On we battled back into Dunning stopping to get our breath back in the village which also has a history – being burned to the ground during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. The oldest house remaining dates from 1730. It is well worth a stop at St Serf’s Church too, where the bell tower dates from around 1200. It is no longer used as a church and belongs to Historic Scotland as it houses the Dupplin Cross. This rare 3m high cross, carved out of sandstone in around AD800, once stood in the palace of the Pictish Kings at Forteviot.

There was time for a quick photo of me with my new natty new waterproof saddle covers that I was sent by my pals at Sustrans Scotland.

My natty waterproof saddle covers - a lovely gift from Sustrans Scotland.

My natty waterproof saddle covers – a lovely gift from Sustrans Scotland.

The last 5 miles seemed very long as the wind continued to blast. We didn’t stop at the last piece of local history on today’s trip – the monument to Maggie Wall. This is an eerie stone cross with a hand painted date of 1657 and it is said to be a memorial to the last witch to be burned at the stake.

After a gargantuan effort we finally made it back! Let’s just say that those 180 degrees made a massive difference to our performance. Battling against the wind it took us an incredible 59 minutes – almost double the outbound time – to grind out the 8 miles back to Matildas Rest.

Strava officially recorded the ride as covering a distance of  15.6 miles with a total moving time of  1 hour 32 minutes, at an average speed of 10.2 mph – which was not too bad considering the wind factor on the return journey!

The total elapsed time was just 1 hour 46 minutes – the difference accounted for by a quick photo stop! Top speed was 27.1 mph and the elevation covered was 425 feet. Together we managed to burn up 837 calories, and produced an estimated average power output of 136 W.

So all in all a good outing – a fantastic first half of trip, with a more challenging second half! But – despite the wind – the great thing is that Spring looks like it has finally Sprung!

So here’s to more sunny rides! And clearly #perthistheplace!

Historic Pedal around Pictish Perthshire

The entrance to St Serf's Church which houses the Dupplin Cross.

The entrance to historic St Serf’s Church in Duning which houses the Dupplin Cross.

Sunday dawned again – and after a week off after our epic Easter Tour de Loch Rannoch du Tandem the “old git” was keen to get us all back on the road again. The only snag was that my dynamic duo had to visit the “old git’s” mum in Kilmarnock in the afternoon – which involves a 140 mile round trip by car – so the alarm was set ridiculously early so my ride out could be completed by lunchtime.

“What time have you set the alarm for – that’s the middle of the night” moaned the “old gal” in mock dismay – well at least the “old git” thought it was mocking! (Whisper it, but she told me it wasn’t!) However I have to say she was keen to get some exercise to help the Hay Plan weight loss regime that my dynamic duo have been embracing. And it is obviously working as yesterday’s weigh in saw them having lost a combined total of 3 stones 2 lbs in just 8 weeks.

I am most impressed, and it certainly reduces the strain on my ageing frame! I mean that is the equivalent of 22 bags of sugar that I don’t need to be carting about! So obviously  I am expecting us to be moving faster as we don’t have as much weight to carry! I mean my crew will soon be back in their slimline – matching obviously – lycra cycling shirts too at this rate! Watch this space! And don’t say I didn’t warn you!

So after a hearty breakfast – within the guidelines of the Hay Plan – we were heading away from Matildas Rest in beautiful Spring sunshine. The “old git” had decided that today’s run would be a Pedal around Pictish Perthshire – heading towards the historic nearby villages of Dunning and Forteviot, covering a distance of around 16 miles with a few hills thrown in to test our new found fitness!

The “old gal” was so keen to get underway that she unfortunately forgot to start the Strava app on her iPhone – which automatically records our routes and provides all sorts of statistics about average speeds and elevation over the journey.

In fact it was some five miles into the ride – as we entered the village of Dunning – that the “old git” asked the “old gal” if she had started Strava. “Oops” was the cry from the back saddle and with the “old git” muttering under his breath something about it being frustrating to lose miles, we pulled over and the technology was switched on!

So you can check out most of the route of our Pedal around Pitcish Perthshire on Strava here – although it actually started from Matildas Rest in Auchterarder and not Dunning as the map shows!  

Strava small Forteviot

Through Dunning we pedalled, heading further out into the glorious Perthshire countryside – enjoying taking deep breaths of the fresh air. Everyone was feeling very healthy and in what seemed like no time at all we tandemed into Forteviot – an ancient Pictish capital of Scotland, where King Kenneth MacAlpin died in the 9th Century.

Here I am at the focal point - the village square" at Forteviot.

Here I am at the focal point – the village square” at Forteviot.

The village “square” has some very quaint houses which were rebuilt for workers of the Dupplin Estate in 1927 and are create a lovely focal point for the village.

During a quick walk around, my dynamic duo discovered Forteviot Church of St Andrew. The present church, the third on the site, dates from 1778 and adopts the form of a Georgian box chapel, but dates from the 13th century. A look at the history shows that recent archaeology indicates that Christians were first buried in Forteviot graveyard in the 6th century.

Forteviot Church of St Andrew blah blah blah which dates from xxC

Forteviot Church of St Andrew which dates from 1778 but has a history dating back long before then.

Back on board we set off back to Dunning but only after a quick pit stop to get a shot of this “old lady” looking at my best in the sunshine, showing one of the many picturesque rural cottages along the way.

A lovely example of one of the many picturesque country cottages in the Forteviot area.

A lovely example of one of the many picturesque country cottages in the Forteviot area.

The “old gal” was in her element as the lack of wind made the tandeming most pleasant and her good humour was helped by the “old git” flicking up and down my gears to maintain momentum going up any steep stretches. And there were a couple of long inclines on the way out of Forteviot which the “old gal” wasn’t looking forward to, but with their new found fitness, I can report my dynamic duo managed them without a problem! And yes we were moving faster! Result!

The "old gal" smiling with a backdrop of the wonderful Perthshire countryside.

The “old gal” smiling with a backdrop of the wonderful Perthshire countryside.

At the top of the hilly section, the “old gal” was even happy to stop and pose for a picture, smiling as she took in the wonderful rural Perthshire landscape – an almost idyllic scene.

Within a short time we tandemed back into the lovely historic village of Dunning. It was originally established around the 12-13th century but the village was burned during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. The oldest house dates from the 1730s.

In the very centre of the village is St Serf’s Church, and we parked up at the entrance to the church which has a distinctive and largely intact bell tower dating from around 1200.

The St Serf's Church and bell tower, dating back to 1200.

The St Serf’s Church and bell tower, dating back to 1200.

It is no longer used as a church as it now belongs to Historic Scotland and is the home of the famous Dupplin Cross.  This rare and impressive 3metre-high Cross was carved out of sandstone around AD 800, and once stood in the palace of the Pictish kings at Forteviot where we just pedalled from.

It was made for King Constantine, son of Fergus, who reigned from 789 to 820 – a fact revealed when a panel on the cross was discovered to have some Latin wording.

The impressive and something Dupplin Cross - history on our doorstep!

The famous Dupplin Cross – history on our doorstep!

My dynamic duo had a quick tour from a wonderfully enthusiastic Historic Scotland guide – who wouldn’t take no for an answer – and gave them a rapid history lesson which included the facts that the Dupplin Cross is the only complete example to survive in Pictish territory and that it was during King Constantine’s reign that the kingdoms of the Picts and the Scots began to merge, before finally uniting under King Kenneth around 843.

This “old lady” was actually quite glad there are some ancient artifacts that actually pre-date me! I was actually feeling quite a young thing while steeped in all this history! What was amazing was that the “old gal” who has lived in the area for more years than she cares to remember has never visited it before! As the “old git” said it is amazing what you find on your doorstep!

My dynamic duo decided that a reviving cup of coffee was necessary – with no edibles (or alcohol) as they were being good! They even actually managed to get the self-timer to work so got a shot of both of them together!

Time for a coffee before heading home - and the self timer worked!

Time for coffee before heading home – and the self timer worked!

Suitably fortified by their stop, we set off on the five miles back to Matildas Rest with one last stop for a final piece of local history at the site of a monument to Maggie Wall. This is a kind of eerie stone cross with a hand-painted date of 1657 as the story is that this is a memorial to the last witch to be burned at the stake back then.

The Maggie Wall monument just outside Dunning.

The eerie Maggie Wall witch’s monument just outside Dunning.

A quick spurt for home and everyone happy with the outing. This tandeming really is a great way to get some exercise you know … for all three of us! It actually made the “old git” and the “old gal” feel very virtuous on their long drive to Kilmarnock later!

If you haven’t already checked the route of this blog on Strava, you can do so here. Remember there was the issue of the “missing miles” – just as well my low-tech “unofficial”milometer still records the journey without any fancy wifi apps – and recorded the distance as 16.1 miles, with a moving time of 1 hr 42 minutes. The average speed was 9.4 mph and we reached a heady 23.2 mph as our maximum speed. See I told you that weight loss of my dynamic duo would increase our speed!

And finally, not long to go now so remember to keep all your fingers and toes crossed for my blog – which is a finalist in the Most Innovative category of the UK Blog Awards 2016. Not only is Matildas Musings the only blog ‘written’ by a classic Jack Taylor tandem, but it is the only Scottish finalist. The results will be announced at a glitzy awards presentation evening at the Park Plaza Hotel in London on Friday April 29. Here’s hoping …

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