Sunday 27 February 2011


At last. 1000 views has been reached!

I wasn't even around to see it as I have been away for half term in the back of beyond, where 3G, wifi and even a phone signal was impossible!

For those of you who have viewed any of my ramblings, thank you. I now have to get to 2000 views.

Saturday 26 February 2011

Review of the Wetlands Centre on Richmond Cycling Campaign Site

Have a look at my review of the Wetlands Centre on the Richmond Cycling Campaign site as a guest blogger.

Check them out as they are doing a wonderful job at promoting cycling.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Special Forces Casio PRG-240-1ER Pro-Trek Watch on a Brompton

You may be like me? I like big watches. Not the dainty, elegant little number that sits there on ones wrist. Not a wristwatch that sits there in the background, trying not be be noticed, like a sickly child with a note from matron; sitting on the sidelines and at best, bringing on orange slices at half time. No! Not me.

I am writing this as I have purchased a new watch. My previous watch suddenly gave up the ghost and therefore had to be replaced. It is harsh but that is the way it had to be. Below is a picture of my new bad boy. A Casio PRG-240-1ER Pro-Trek.

What a watch! Huge but not heavy.

Just look at it! It is over 5cm across and being an ABC watch - Altimeter, Barometer and Compass I know that at the push of a button I can find my way from New Bond Street using the built in compass. Check my elevation when on Hampstead High Street with the altimeter and find out if there is going to be any dramatic weather changes when riding along the King's Road by pushing the barometer button.

In addition I can find out the sunrise and sunset times for all major cities. Find out the current time in all major cities. Use the stopwatch, 24-hour countdown timer or one of the 5 daily alarms. Add the fact that it is solar powered and requires no batteries, is incredibly accurate and can withstand a depth of 100 metres, I think I'll be alright out there in the field as it were!!

I received it in the post this morning and have spent the best part of the day looking at it. Going out and about on my travels, a few people commented, 'what a big watch!' I merely gave a knowing smile and replied, 'I know...I know.'

The ABC buttons that provide 3 of several functions.

Riding to the local shops on my Brompton to get a litre of milk, I glanced down and thought that surely the SAS must use a watch like this? Surely Special Forces all across the world would? It soon dawned on me that the gulf between the cowardly me and the SAS or any Special Force for that matter was an ocean apart. Would I ever need these functions in the middle of London? I suspect I probably won't but it's nice to know that they are there...just in case!

Sunday 20 February 2011

50th Blog Entry/Nearly at 1000 Views

Well, I have today made my 50th entry since staring this blog and I am almost at 1000 views.

I am rather pleased at both of these mini-milestones and only hope that I am able to continue to set aside the time to maintain the blog and even expand it slightly. (Although I'm nit sure how I'd do that)?

For those of you without a blog I can recommend doing one, as it really is quite therapeutic (and a lot of fun).

So, keep reading as I want to hit 1000 page views before February is up!

Hellfire Caves, Mausoleums, Golden Balls, Red Kites and Ghosts!

Today we found ourselves away from London and in the Buckinghamshire countryside at West Wycombe.  Situated in the heart of the Chilterns just off the A40, it made for a different day out.

The area is dominated by a few landmarks.  The Mausoleum and Golden Ball (part of Saint Lawrence Church) on West Wycombe Hill can be seen for miles around.

The Mausoleum and Golden Ball to the right of the picture.

We did take bikes with us but soon realised that the area was far too hilly for them. We therefore parked in the Garden Centre car park at the bottom of West Wycombe Hill and walked up. The walk up the hill provides some wonderful views of the Chiltern countryside. We were also treated to numerous sightings of Red Kites. These once endangered birds were reintroduced into the area a number of years ago and have since grown in number. They are quite a magnificent sight and we were able to get some close views as they soared overhead.

As you go up the hill to your right you will see the grounds of West Wycombe Park and Dashwood House. It is regarded as one of the finest palladium houses in the country and is worth a visit in its own right. It has provided the backdrop for many films and dramas over the years. The Duchess, The Importance of Being Earnest, Cranford, Inspector Morse to name but a few.

Dashwood House.

About halfway up the hill you will find a tearoom and the entrance to the, Hellfire Caves. The caves were originally constructed in the 1740's to help combat local poverty by providing work. Local farm workers were paid a shilling a day to tunnel and mine chalk and flint. This was then used to build houses in the village, the Church and the Mausoleum.

The caves themselves are quite spooky and descend downwards. Lighting is minimal and there is defiantly an atmosphere. We were spooked a few times when we turned a corner and bumped into other visitors.

Eventually you reach what is called the Inner Temple, were goodness only knows what went on!

Our ticket cost £15 for a family of two adults and two children, which is pretty good as there is no time limit on how long you spend down there. Our children went from start to finish three times and loved it.

Luckily we didn't encounter any of the ghosts that frequent this location. Paul Whitehead paid for his heart to be placed in the mausoleum when he died. In 1829 (I am sure you can guess this next bit) it was stolen. He is supposed to haunt the caves in search of his heart. Had I seen anyone I suspected to be Paul Whitehead I would have taken flight and made the swiftest of exits!

If you are anywhere near West Wycombe, do give this location a go as we had a lovely time. Make sure you bring a good pair of walking boots or trainers as it was quite muddy when we went. Might also be worth bring a pair of binoculars for the almost guaranteed views of Red Kites.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Lamy Safari Fountain Pens - a deign classic. (Like a Brompton)

If like me you are cycling around on a brightly coloured Brompton - mine being a rather tasty orange is case you didn't know - you might be interested in a company called Lamy who make some rather funky fountain pens.

Lamy is a German company that make some wonderful pens for all budgets and tastes. Many are regarded as design classics and they can be bought at any good stationers or pen shops. (I have included the link to their website below).

Most of the time I am communicating via my iPhone, iMac or MacBook Pro but there are times, even in this day and age when I have to use a pen. I cannot abide those dreadful ballpoints or rollerballs.  No! I use a fountain pen.  Now, in my time I have had Mont Blanc's, Pelikan's and Duofold's but none of them can match the simple elegance that can be found in a 'Lamy Safari.'

Lamy Safari's in assorted colours.
As you can see from the picture I have quite a soft spot for them. The orange ones are my particular favourites for some reason? (Sadly, you can't get them in that colour any more). They cost roughly £12-£14 and the really great thing is that Lamy bring out a special colour in a limited run every year. They write beautifully and with a converter you can use bottled ink of any colour you like. In addition you can get them in any nib size you care to mention and can easily buy another nib if it isn't to your liking. They are supposed to be a pen for young children but I love them as they are quite a good size for an adult hand. If the hard wearing plastic is not to your taste you can even go for an 'Al Star' which looks exactly the same as the Safari but is made out of lightweight aluminium. (The silver coloured pen in the picture at 6 o'clock is an Al Star.

So, next time you are in London and you see a devilishly handsome chap on a tube train, with an orange Brompton in one hand and a stylish and perfectly formed orange 'Lamy Safari' in the other, say hello. If I like the look of you, I might even say hello back.

Monday 14 February 2011

Getting ever closer to 1000 page views!

I know it is rather childish but I am getting very excited about the milestone that is 1000 page views! Silly isn't it.

Bigger blogs probably have this number of hits a day but I am ever hopeful of achieving what has become a magic number for me.

Anyone out there reading this (and can I say that I could hug each and every one of you), please feel free to comment or provide a location in London you'd like me to visit on my Brompton. I would then write about it in my own particular way.

In addition please follow as I would love more than the two loyal followers I currently have.

So, until my next blog entry happy cycling.

Vampires at Kensal Green Cemetery on a Brompton!

Not that long ago I thought to myself go somewhere different. Go somewhere mysterious and unusual - on a Brompton of course. I ended up in Kensal Green Cemetery, a location that was certainly out of the ordinary.

I have written about a visit to Kensal Green Cemetery previously on this blog but felt that I didn't really do it justice.

Kensal Green is in North West London on the Harrow Road. The nearest tube is Kensal Green (Bakerloo line). It was founded in 1832 and covers 72 acres. The cemetery is very well maintained with neat gravelled avenues and a neo-classical chapel almost at its centre. Many regard it as one of the finest Victorian cemeteries in the country, let alone London.

The neo-classical Anglican Chapel
There are some very famous Victorians buried at Kensal Green. These include: Brunel; Thackeray; Trollope; Wilkie Collins and in the Roman Catholic Chapel adjacent to Kensal Green Cemetery Mary Seacole.

Many of the graves, mausolea and monuments are breathtaking in their size, scale and detailing. We had the whole cemetery to ourselves and I have to say it looked very Hammer House of Horror. Very gothic to the extent I half expected to see Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi creep out, only to have me trying to make my escape on my Brompton. Picture that if you dare!

Just one of the incredible monuments. The four men on the posts stare at you wherever you stand by the way! 
There are tours of the cemetery every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. but if you are really brave you can have a tour of the catacombs on the first and third Sunday of each month. The £5 cost per person is very reasonable.

The catacombs are everything you would expect catacombs to be and more. Dark, damp, dusty, scary and full of atmosphere. Coffins are set in tiers and our guide was very knowledgeable and made the hour or so fly by. You are not permitted to take photos down there. which is quite understandable but believe me you wouldn't want to just in case some of the people with you didn't show up on photos!

Just imagine seeing this at night!
Cycling isn't permitted once inside the cemetery but you will be so fascinated by what is on offer that is a small price to pay. We got there late afternoon and left about 10 minutes before closing. The arrival of sunset certainly set our paces racing. Those of a nervous or superstitious disposition, might want to take some garlic. Just in case!?

Tuesday 8 February 2011

1000 Views of my Blog! Well almost.

Yesterday I viewed the stats for this humble blog for the first time. This was perhaps a mistake. I am getting ever closer to 1000 page views and since seeing that I was this close I have been viewing the stats more often.

I must say that I am very grateful to anyone who has strayed on to this blog and read my ramblings. So, if you are reading some of my blog entries for the first time, hope that you like them. If you do, please spread the word as I have become almost obsessed in getting 1000 page views. This is very childish I know but there we go.

In addition, please feel free to drop me a comment or two. I would love to hear from you. I would also be thrilled for one of you readers out their to send me off on an adventure in London - on my Brompton naturally - only to retell my experiences on this very blog.

Anyway, for the moment I will watch the stats now and then and hope I exceed the magic number.

Monday 7 February 2011

Roman Baths in London on a Brompton!

London is a very unusual place to say the least. You really never quite know what you are going to stumble across. The beauty of travelling on a Brompton is that interesting locations can be accessed within a short cycle ride. Today I was treated to an extraordinary sight that I had not know ever existed until very recently.

Finding myself near Temple (I won't go in to the reasons why) I decided to try and find Strand Lane and a location that I had heard about a few weeks ago, with a rather integrating surprise awaiting those able to find it. A Roman Bath!

The Lane itself is a rather dirty affair with rubbish bags festooned across the floor. It is not generally the type of place I would be seen dead in as it looked like mugger heaven. If you are brave enough to go to the end and look to the right, you will find a window with a light switch on the outside, yes the outside. I didn't need to use it as peering in through grimy glass,  I could just make out a sunken Romanesque bath in the gloom. It really was a strange thing to see in the middle of London and stranger still is the way one views it. 

Apparently the jury is still out on the Roman credentials. It could indeed be Roman but no one is completely sure? Some say, it was at one time fed by a spring of water. There might be some truth in this as I am sure I remember hearing on one of those Halloween Ghost Walk sojourns, a stream once flowed from around here to the Thames itself. I could be wrong on that one though.

I found out later on via an internet search that the site it actually run by the National Trust! Even more amazing is that you can contact them to arrange an appointment to see the interior!! I'm not sure I personally would go that far but it is well worth a visit and yet again, if I had left my Brompton at home I would probably have not seen it.

So, if you are in central London and near this location, give it a go. It really was one of the most unexpected things I have seen in London. (The most unexpected thing, was two people wearing those golf sale signs having a fight on Oxford Street, whilst still wearing said signs).  

Sunday 6 February 2011

Ghosts, Newgate Cells and strange goings on, on a Brompton

Last Friday I found myself at the Viaduct Tavern in the heart of the City. It was definitely a place I won't forget in a hurry!

Being tea total I ordered a diet coke and took in the general atmosphere. The customers seemed to be solicitors, city workers or banker types - you get the general idea. The pub itself seems to be Victorian and you could almost transport yourself back in time to the fog filled streets seen on countless film and television programmes. The Viaduct Tavern does have an interesting surprise up its sleeve however and this is the reason I took myself and my trusty Brompton with me, to pay it a visit.

The Central Criminal Courts are across the road and they were built over the former infamous, Newgate Prison which was in operation between 1188 and 1902! What has all this to do with the Viaduct Tavern I hear you ask? Well, if you ask in a gentlemanly way the staff will allow you to venture downstairs to view their cellars. Now these aren't just any old cellars, some of them contain the actual cells that survived Newgate Prison's closure.

The cells are horrid!! Cold, dark, musty smell and leave one in no doubt that their purpose was for. Apparently, one cell in particular has received a great deal of interest from ghost hunters all across the world for obvious reasons. I was permitted to go into one of the cells and found the whole experience quite terrifying and couldn't stay in their for long. Staff told me that they don't like going down there at night and avoid it at all costs. Doors tend to close by themselves. Strange sounds can be heard - people moaning, footsteps, people talking and doors being slammed shut! I had my iPhone with me and intended to take some photos but I was totally preoccupied with a feeling of unease so forgot about it completely.

I can't say that I would go there again but believe me it was an experience and going back outside later on with the sun setting as I cycled off, did make me feel quite uneasy. If you find yourself in central London you might want to give this a go yourself. However, I suggest you take a friend to share the experience and don't go there in the evening when dark, even if it is on a Brompton!