Monday, 1 May 2023

London gets ready for the coronation

If you live or work in central London, you cannot help but notice all the preparations for the coronation next Saturday. 

There has been bunting, large flags, seating going up at Horse Guards and outside Buckingham Palace and even two new arches in Carnaby Street. Shops have out up displays and Burlington Arcade has gone Chelsea Flower Show with national flowers of the countries of the UK. 

There are several road closures making it an absolute pain to get around. The best description of what is happening was and overheard conversation with a 'Big Issue' seller and someone buying a copy when they remarked, 'Chuck is getting a new hat!' 

The road closures naturally cover almost all of St James and Whitehall but also that around Waterloo, Blackfriars and Embankment. I for one will be avoiding the entire area at all costs, only to return when it is all over. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people and see you on the other side!

Sunday, 30 April 2023

Why I passed on the Tweed Run this year

The Tweed Run returned to London yesterday. It is essentially a cycle ride through iconic parts of London with participants wearing as much tweed as they dare. Tickets usually sell out very quickly but this year I didn't even try. I'll explain. 

My first Tweed Run was over ten years ago and I have participated in several up until the 'C' word stopped all the fun. This year tickets cost £50 and despite being fortunate enough to be able to afford the entry price, I just couldn't bring myself summon up the enthusiasm to but one. 

The Tweed Run is great fun as you cycle around London and its iconic landmarks, making wonderful backdrops for photos but it is only about 12 miles and painfully slow. On several of the Tweed Run events I have attended, after taking lots of photos, saying hello to people I know and nodding at members of the public who are beguiled by so many cyclists decked in tweed, I have become so frustrated at the snail-like pace I have abandoned the ride as I had had enough. I suppose living living in London and seeing many of the iconic bits whenever I feel like it, had a part to play in this. There are many occasions where I find myself on one of my Brompton bicycles, in a suit, in London and get the same reaction from people as I cycle by. 

I think everyone should experience The Tweed Run at least once and I count myself lucky to have done so several times. However, I can easily get out a Harris or Donegal Tweed sports jacket with a hint of orange at will. 

Until next time, stay safe out there. 

Saturday, 29 April 2023

Brutal Brompton visit

Last week I paid a visit to a friend at Barbican. Despite being there many times over the years, I always enjoy going there. I cycled there on my Brompton and parked it up, leaving it nice and secure and headed inside. 

Barbican is a mixture of residential properties and next to the Barbican Arts Centre and former Museum of London - now closed and will eventually move down the road to Smithfield Market. The whole site is a rather fine example of brutalist architecture and has a Grade II listing. The estate was built between the mid 1960s and 1970s and not intended as social housing. My friend bought their property a few years ago when it was rather expensive. It is now eye-wateringly so and as many are leasehold, various annual charges can be £10,000 plus. 

The Conservatory is always a particular favourite of mine. It is the second largest in London - the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens taking top spot. 

I am not really a fan of Kew Gardens and much prefer the brutal backdrop to the one within Barbican.  Unless you have a friend who lives at the Barbican Estate, there are only certain times that you can pay it a visit. It really is worthwhile. 

There is lots of access to the estate but naturally lots of it is not accessible to non-residents. Go there and you will almost certainly see many people, who are fans of all things brutalist, paying the estate a visit. 

The estate has been used many times in film and television over the years and I was amazed to hear that its most recent use was for the Disney+ series, 'Andor.' 

If you are in London and want to see something a little different, do pay it a visit. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!