TWO Auchterarder tandem cyclists are celebrating after reaching the finals of a UK competition with their Matildas Musings blog which describes their amusing adventures on Perthshire’s roads and beyond.

News of the national recognition has come at a perfect time for a Valentine’s weekend celebration for the couple as they went on their first ever tandem ride during a first date four years ago – and immediately fell in love with both their new hobby and each other.

Bloggers Colin Calder and Diane Lockhart are delighted that their Matildas Musings internet blogging site has been named as the only Scottish finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2016.

Out of 2000 entries their travel-log blog has reached the final 10 in the Most Innovative category – the innovation being that the blog is written from the perspective of the tandem, affectionately called Matilda.

As it says on the blog site, it is the story “about two crazy 50-somethings who happened to fall in love and bought a tandem to have a ‘something-different’ hobby for their new life together in Auchterarder”.

The pair started their blog simply as a way of recording their memories and photos of tandeming trips – and the food and wine they consumed en route - after they bought a classic Jack Taylor tandem, which is even older than the two cyclists.

But Matildas Musings - with its self-deprecating humour – soon became a hit among family and friends.

They eagerly awaited the next instalment of the trials and tribulations storyline involving Colin - aka the “old git” - and Diane – aka the “old gal” - and persuaded the tandeming duo to make the blog public.

Launched to all two years ago, the blog now has followers not just in its Perthshire base – but has global appeal with readers as far away as the Yukon in Canada, South America, Thailand and New Zealand.

The blog’s increasing audience base now includes many members of the UK Tandem Club, and other cycling enthusiasts - but is also read by many people who don’t ride bikes.

As the UK Blog Awards description says: “The funny and colourful descriptions capture the imagination of the reader, transporting them along to make them feel they are sharing the journey and experiences of the mad tandemers!

“Matildas Musings is totally innovative and definitely offers ‘something different’ in the crowded blog market. After all how many blogs out there are ‘written’ by a tandem?”

Diane, who owns the popular Number 57 Hair Salon in Auchterarder, said: “We got into tandeming literally by accident four years ago on our first date. We planned a walk at Loch Katrine in the Trossachs and noticed tandems for hire.

“We thought that would be a fun way to break the ice on our date, but we both got hooked on it immediately - despite the constant heavy rain, and us falling off into an unglamorous muddy heap on at least two occasions.

“And the rest, as they say is history.”

The pair fell for each other and bought their own tandem for weekend trips while dating.

Then in October 2013 Colin moved to Perthshire from Glasgow as they moved into a new house together in Auchterarder – complete with Matilda in the garage.

Most weekends team Matilda can be seen out on the quiet country roads of Perthshire, with trips to Loch Rannoch and Loch Leven being particular favourites.

But the duo are also keen on getting a little midweek exercise of an evening and taking a quick tandem ride from Auchterarder to Dunning or Forteviot – complete with a pit stop in a local hostelry to provide the fuel for the return journey.

The tandemers do their own version of a Tour de France each year for their summer holiday – driving to France before tandeming around 200 miles on Matilda through some of the most renowned vineyards in France.

Two years ago the destination was Burgundy and last year it was Bordeaux.

The pair are already booked to tour the Loire Valley this summer – all recounted on the Matildas Musings blog site.

Colin, an ex-journalist who now works as a communications officer for Big Lottery Fund Scotland in Glasgow, said: “The blog gives me a fun outlet for my creative writing. Blogging about our trips abroad gives us lots of laughs as we recount the warts-and-all tales of us trying to get synchronised with each other’s foibles, while trying to speak French and enjoying our indulgence for nice wines.

“We are amazed at becoming a finalist which underlines just how popular the blog has become – it has literally taken off and grown handlebars and pedals.”

Colin and Diane are now eagerly awaiting the next stage of the competition – with the final judging being revealed at a glitzy UK Blog Awards 2016 presentation evening at the Park Plaza Hotel in London at the end of April.

Colin said: “Whatever happens we are delighted that the blog has caught the imagination of the public and the judges. It really is quite an honour to be the only Scots finalist out of such tough competition.

“And our success with the tandeming blog is proof of that tandeming maxim that it is ‘always more fun doing it together!’ “

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