Cycling in Bandon: The International Expert Report

This is not even an attempt at humor. This is dead serious.
And if you don’t take it seriously, you could die.


An international traffic consultancy, which had better remain anonymous, wonders why children don’t cycle to school in my home town. In the next pigeonhole of their report they show this photograph of North Main Street. Behind the photographer, up further, steeper, busier hills, there are four schools… On the other end of this road, the only road across the only bridge, there are four more schools… These international consultants tell us they made “a site visit”, that is, they came to look. (That must be their helicopter top right, giving a new meaning to “a flying visit”.) Still they wonder why children don’t cycle to school! cycling_in_bandon

You don’t have to be an idiot to be an “international consultant”, but it certainly helps!

Andre Jute is a novelist and painter — and a cyclist — who lives in West Cork.

High noon in Bandon. At least no snow in Ireland.


High noon in Bandon.
At least there is no snow.
Cycled around the town just to get out.
Andre Jute is a writer and painter.

Merry Christmas


Today’s ride to Kilmacsimon Quay along the River Bandon

Today’s ride: 21km across the hills nestling in a loop of the river between where I live on the River Bandon and Kilmacsimon Quay at the tip of the upper estuary.


The photo is of a restful lane providing a shortcut home via Ballylangley, from nearer Innishannon, also on the river.

You can’t ride home along the river because right by Innishannon there is a short section of narrow road without hard shoulders and very fast, impatient commuter traffic.

More about my bicycles and adventures on them.

SuperWhooper Escapes the Isle of the Damned

The Bandon River, on which I live, is one of the places the Whooper Swans overwinter. I often ride out on either of the two roads that flank the field on which they sit. You can get very close on one road, where cars have accustomed them to noise and people, and on the other you can look down on them with binoculars. But you shouldn’t conclude from this painting’s name that it is a realistic rendition of a Whooper; it isn’t, it is an allegory, a Whooper crossed with Dante’s Inferno, and I’ve crossbred it with a snow goose from some vague notion that a snow goose wouldn’t like the heat of Sodom & Gomorrah. The mind of a literarily inclined artist is awfully confused— er, I mean subtle.

Andre Jute: SuperWhooper Escapes the Isle of the Damned, acrylic on canvas, 2014, 6x8in
Andre Jute: SuperWhooper Escapes the Isle of the Damned, acrylic on canvas, 2014, 6x8in

I enjoyed making the Isle in the background so much in acrylic with a colour shaper that I’m ordering an oil bar (a thick stick of pigment mixed into wax that one applies directly to the canvas) of burnt sienna to slash at a larger canvas. I’m not ordering a set of oil bars because I really like working with water soluble oils and have plenty of other media, including normal solvent-based oils; we’ll see how I like one oil bar, then perhaps I’ll buy a set.

The Matriarch of the Herons over the Bridewell

The Matriarch of the Herons over the Bridewell
Much wildlife in the photo below, so much in fact that I chased off the ducks and the seagulls for being clutter… The heron, bottom centre of that photo, ignored me because its family has a special relationship with me. I released its ancestor downriver a bit. The peaceful scene you see below, is slap bang in the middle of town, so it wouldn’t have been suitable for a wild heron, but the heron bred, and pressure of population and familiarity brought herons upriver into town. In fact, there are so many herons now that one day I walked up behind a fellow on the bridge with a telephoto lens like a canon, photographing five whirtling herons contesting a fishing patch, and said to him politely, “Sir, that lens will give you nothing but blur unless you steady it on the rail.” When he turned around it was my friend Richard Mills, a British Wildlife Photographer of the Year, etc, etc, pages of etceteras, most definitely a maximum photographer whose hands don’t shake! Of course I pretended it was a joke! I also saw a young heron fishing on a branch stream beside a lane where I cycle, earlier in the year. The original matriarch for a few years expressed her gratitude for me giving her a rich salmon river by flying past my window up the Bridewell (a tributary of the Bandon on which I then lived) at dusk every evening and perching for a rest in a tree directly outside my living room window. Pity about the telephone line… (Another pocket camera job, Canon Digital Ixus 300  this time.)

The Swan at the Weir
The Swan at the Weir by Andre Jute.
Returning from my bicycle ride this afternoon at dusk, crossing the Bandon on the footbridge below my house, I caught this photograph and composed it inside my pocket camera and by judicious application of the zoom control. (Olympus 720-D, like the mu but sturdier and cheaper, if heavier in stainless steel, more likely to survive bicycle service.)