Friday 29 April 2011


A few months ago I was getting rather excited about approaching 1000 views of my blog. This morning I had a quick glance and discovered that I now have just over the 2000 mark.

Thanks to anyone who has read my humble efforts and roll on 3000.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday 28 April 2011

BlackBerry on a Brompton

Regular readers (welcome - you know who you are) will be all too aware that I am bordering on fanatical about all things Apple, with my iPhone being on par with my Brompton for the daily joy it brings. There have however been a few problems.

Like many of you I strive for a good work, life balance and when I go home (within reason) I like to leave my work behind. All too often however my iPhone provides emails from work or worse still phone calls from colleagues at work. Added to this is the fact that my calendar app has all my work entries. Yes I know I can easily hide these and turn the phone off, but I love the iPhone for all the other things you can do on it. Fun things.

It struck me I needed another phone and I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew it had to be a BlackBerry. Many have a physical keyboard and of course they have the best email delivery system in the game. Press send and your emails magically appear on your BlackBerry almost instantly. Added to this, they have a very good calendar.

I didn't want a new phone on a contract so I managed to buy a second hand unlocked Bold 9000 that was in mint condition for not too much at all. A free BlackBerry sim from the lovely people at T-Mobile gave me the BlackBerry email service and internet access for 6 months! The Bold 9000 is not the latest phone but it has a wonderful screen and the best physical keyboard of any phone I have ever used. It is a bit of a beast in terms of its sheer size, but you have seen a picture of my shoes which surely indicates that I am not the height of Tom Cruise. I have written some lengthy emails with ease on the Bold and the fact I receive them instantly on the BlackBerry, means I can respond to them all that quicker.

BlackBerry Bold 9000 - a brilliant phone!

I now have the best of both worlds. I know that only work emails, texts and calendar entries will come on the BlackBerry. This, for me is a welcome change and already it is working out pretty well. For those of you out there in a similar situation to me, I can wholeheartedly recommend one.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Geocaching on a Brompton

Today I went geocaching with an old friend. They have been going on about the joys of geocaching for years, so today after putting off several previous invites I took the plunge.

We met at Little Venice and cycled all the way to the City, as the GPS arrow was pointing in that direction. Eventually we reached the exciting bit where the GPS unit was almost in a frenzy and informing us that we were close.

Close meant rummaging around trees trying to avoid dog mess and the penetrating stares of onlookers who must have thought we had been let out for the morning from some institution!

After what seemed like an age my friend let out a yell of triumph and came towards me to show me his prize. I was expecting, well, something almost pirate-like. A chest at least. I was slightly crestfallen to see that his bounty was a 35mm film canister. Yes, one of those little black tubes from yester year. Inside I was expecting a sovereign, a ring, perhaps a pearl. No. It contained a soggy piece of rolled up paper. My friend wrote his name on said paper and then updated his discovery on his BlackBerry - not even an iPhone!

That done we cycled to a nearby cafe where my friend discussed the merits of urban geocaching in graphic detail. I am not overly sure about its long term appeal for me personally, but was certainly an experience.

If there is anyone out there who is into geocaching please leave a comment and state your case.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


It really is quite amazing that I have been blogging for a while now and not discovered, BlogPress.

This now means that even more of my thoughts and ramblings can find their way here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Police Officers riding Brompton Folding Bikes!

I have been enjoying the better weather and have been out and about on my beloved Brompton.

While out I saw a couple of Police Officers on their customary mountain bikes. It occurred to me that surely in an urban environment a Brompton would be the perfect form of transport? Just imagine what it would look like - pretty cool I would guess.

If they were ever used by the Police just imagine how this would filter into television programmes. There might be the odd chase scene in major cities on Brompton folding bikes. The possibilities are endless.

What do you think? Drop a comment.

Sunday 10 April 2011

The London Wetlands Centre Review

This review was one that I was kindly asked to write a few weeks ago for the great people at the, Richmond Cycling Campaign to appear on their blog.  I am now placing it on my blog in all its glory.

If you live and work in London you might, like me, sometimes get fed up with all the traffic jams, crowded tube trains and generally the fast pace that is living in a major city.  There is however somewhere you can take the family; where you can unwind and experience nature at its very best.  Somewhere you can recharge your batteries.  Somewhere slap bang in the middle of London!  Interested?

I am talking about the, London Wetlands Centre.  Located just a stones throw over the Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes, the London Wetlands Centre is a little oasis of calm and tranquillity. One of nine Wetlands Centres dotted around the country, it was the brainchild of the late artist and conservationist, Sir Peter Scott.
You will find it hard to believe that you are in the middle of London!

Open seven days a week, it only closes on Christmas Day. Opening times are 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. but after 27th March it stays open an hour later. The cost for my family to get in (two adults and two children) was £29.50 but we decided to transfer the cost of this to a yearly membership of £64.40, which we felt, was a bargain as we knew we would visit there again soon.

We travelled to the wetlands centre on our bikes from Hammersmith Tube Station.  (Me on my Orange Brompton of course).  It is on the ‘Sustrans Cycle Route 4’ and you can even come via the picturesque Thames towpath. At the Wetlands Centre in addition to the standard cycle racks there are fifty, very secure bike cages.  We were able to put two Brompton’s and two children’s mountain bikes in one cage, along with all our helmets and fluorescent bibs.  Make sure that you bring a good chain or lock though as you lock it yourself from the outside.  (Just make sure that you really do this properly) We have always felt very secure in the knowledge that our bikes were perfectly safe and there is the added bonus of a huge CCTV camera pointing directly at the cages.

The bike cages

Bring your own lock and make sure it is all secure before leaving

My two daughters, both under 10 loved their visit to the Wetlands Centre. The site itself is 42 hectares, dominated by a large central lake around which are numerous paths and nocks and crannies to explore and get lost in.  With so much to explore you could easily spend a whole day there. 

My daughters loved walking around seeing the collection of captive birds – important conservation work for rare or endangered species.  While there one of the wardens fed the birds and let my daughters have a go. It is little touches like this that make a place special.

The observation area is a huge glass fronted room on two levels where you can view out on to the main lake.  From the top floor you can see many famous London landmarks including Battersea Power Station, Royal Albert Hall and the London Eye.

The observation area

Wonderful views from the observation area

The children’s playground is one of the best I have ever seen as well as being safe and secure.  Zip wires, tunnels, climbing areas and the water fountains that spray up from the floor totally at random was all great fun.

The pond zone allows you to have a go at pond dipping and the underwater camera, which you can control, was incredible.

The restaurant which serves hot food from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m is a great way to rest tired feet.  The quality of food is very high.  We had a meal at lunchtime only to later come back for a cup of tea and sample some of the rather tasty cakes.

While the rest of the family was at the playground I walked round with a pair of binoculars and an old bird guide.  I was transported back in time and felt like an excited 9-year-old boy.  While there I spotted a Bittern – an illusive brownish Heron type bird.  There are many hides dotted around overlooking the main lake but Peacock Tower provides the best views.  Looking out of this large two-story hide, I could hardly believe that I was in London.

Peacock Tower.  A great viewing area!
I can wholehearted recommend the London Wetlands Centre.  There really is something for everyone.  We came away feeling calmer and definitely wanting to go back.  The staff are friendly and very helpful, the range of activities for children (and big children like me) is great and the restaurant is one of the best we have ever been to located in an attraction. Added to this the ease in which we were able to cycle there and then safely store our bikes made the visit even more enjoyable.  We will definitely go again perhaps via the Thames towpath and if you see someone locking away a bright orange Brompton, it might just be me?

Comments / Subscribers

A kind reader pointed out that my setting had been set so that only those with an google account could comment. I have now changed this to allow hopefully anyone to comment so please feel free.

I would also love more subscribers as I only have three! I am very grateful to my three subscribers (one of which is David Lindo. Please have a look at his blog by the way. It is brilliant for all us urban types who also like dabbling with some bird and wildlife watching in an urban habitat).

The sun will come out tomorrow - on an Orange Brompton

It has been some time since I committed anything to my humble little blog. This has mainly been due to a busy few weeks at work.

The sun is out and like bears, hedgehogs or the tortoise from Blue Peter (assuming they still have one) Brompton Folding Bikes of all ages and colours have started to come out of the long winter hibernation. It is a sight that is magical to all those in the know.

You of course may be like me? I am not a fair weather Bromptonian and have gone through the wind, rain, sleet and snow of an English winter. However, now that the sun has finally started to come out, I am much happier.

I have been toying with the idea of getting another Brompton. I have looked on Gumtree but have to report that all the Brompton's I have expressed any interest in, leave me with the word dodgy ringing in my ear. I'll explain. I sent a text to one person to ask if the bike in the picture was the actual bike. It wasn't. The words, "...but it is exactly the same as in the picture," were text back. This played itself out in the similar way for no less that three separate adverts! Anyone out there with any experience of this, please comment.

A friend told me about the Cycle Scheme where you are able to make some savings on buying any bike up to £1000 via your employer.  I have yet to properly look into this and again anyone reading this who could tell more, please comment.

My Brooks saddle continues to not only look good but is getting more and more comfortable as it has broken in.  I can definitely recommend one for your Brompton. This will prove vital for the Brompton World Championships in August. I haven't started training in earnest yet but I feel I must put in some work before the big day.

I will hopefully post much more post in the next few weeks, so until then keep riding the Brompton and if you haven't got one yet perhaps the prospect of a fantastic bike that you can take anywhere and get in the colour of your choice might spurn you into action.