The post in which I waffle on about swans — and showcase a few pictures featuring said birds

When I awoke this morning, a surprisingly mild December day beckoned. But by the time I'd got my act together — I faffed around on the internet, did a bit of housework and read a couple of chapters of a book — the blue sky had given way to a dull, overcast, grey sky.

It didn't matter. There was little wind, no rain and the temperature was a relatively comfortable 8°C — in other words, pretty much perfect for cycling.

Conscious of the fact we had a lot of rain yesterday, I decided to bypass the Thames tow path, which I usually follow to get to Barnes, and cycled direct to Richmond Park along the main roads instead. This meant I shaved a good 10 or so minutes off the time it usually takes me to get to Roehampton Gate, because I didn't have to take it slow through mud and giant puddles, nor give way to dog walkers and joggers.

Once in the park I followed my usual route along the Tamsin trail and stopped to check out these swans below…

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I think they thought I was going to feed them, because instead of flying away, they swam straight towards me.

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When they realised I had nothing for them to eat, the four babies rooted around in the reeds by the shore…

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…under the watchful eye of mum.

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Once they clocked I wasn't going to throw them any bread or titbits they decided to take their leave…

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And the whole family, now joined by dad, went on their merry way.

Which is what I did too. I ended up cycling the whole of the Tamsin trail, in an anti-clockwise direction, but moved onto the proper road at Broomfield Hill Wood so that I didn't have to go down the steep decline on a treacherous surface (I climbed up it the other day and found it was too slippy for my tyres to get any purchase). But once at the bottom of the hill — which is an exhilarating chance to freewheel the entire length of it — I moved back onto the Tamsin trail and continued on to complete a full circuit.

And because I know you're all dying to hear about my feet, I can tell you that today I wore two pairs of socks and I didn't notice the cold seeping into my toes until the 9-mile mark. By the time I got home they were both a bit numb, but nowhere near as bad as they have been in recent weeks.

Total distance: 16.33miles (26.27km) | Ride time: 1hr, 34min and 06sec | Average speed: 10.4mph | Top speed: 21.8mph

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