Wednesday 31 December 2014

Orange Brompton 2014

This has been some year. If you have been reading this blog for s while, you will know that I am quite keen on going on lots of Brompton related adventures and 2014 has been a good year in terms of that!

To date there have been 1,224 comments made on the blog and much more correspondence than this via the contact email address listed on the main page. I have been humbled and delighted by many of you taking the time to contact me. For some it is simply to say hello. For others it is telling me about your own adventures. Perhaps best of all are the 31 people around the world who have bought a Brompton and attributed its purchase to me.

2014 has been a year where I have been on some much longer rides. Even though I am one year older, I still feel that my overall fitness has improved - directly because of owning a Brompton and of course using it. My hope is that 2015 will bring further improvements.

There have been over 124 blog posts this year and to pick out my own highlights has proved difficult. I have however posted below a few of my favourites and if over the New Year period you find yourself bored with nothing else to do, you could do worse than give them a viewing.


This was a night ride with a difference. Cycle from central London east towards the Docklands and Canary Wharf and top it all off with fish and chips.


By February many of us were chomping at the bit for a longer ride. It came in the form of the Gatwick Express. This was a ride from the London Eye to Gatwick Airport that proved to be a ride I would not forget.


March brought the first of a series of wondrous night rides. This is where one meets at Hyde Park Corner just before midnight and then cycle through the night to the this case Burnham on Crouch.


There is a now annual Brompton gathering in Sheffield. This was the first time I visited the delights of this fine city and had a lovely time and received a warm welcome. I really hope to make the ride in 2015!


A few of us decided to enter a sportive called the Mitie Revolution. This was to be my first attempt at a 100 mile ride in one day. It contained lots of hills and believe me it was possibly the hardest thing I had ever done on a Brompton! Click on the link to see if I managed to clock up the 100 miles.


The Nocturne is a great event and not content with just this I also took part in charity 60 mile night ride around London later that evening! 


No surprise, the highlight of my year is the Brompton World Championships. This event for me, cannot be bested in any way. It would be true to say that I am thinking about what training I need to do for 2105!

It was in July I said goodbye to my original orange Brompton. I sold it to a lovely lady, via another lovely lady in Australia. You probably need to read the blog post to find out more.

The Dunwich Dynamo is quite a well know ride and this was the first time I attempted it. If achieved it would be the longest ride I had ever done and be the second 100 miler for 2014.


Another night ride from central London to the coast - in this case Whitstable. It was the first big ride for my new P type Orange Brompton. Read about how I got on with it.


London to Brighton is a classic cycle ride and one of my favourites. Towards the end one has to contend with the infamous Ditchling Beacon and I was keen to see how i would get on with my new P Type Orange Brompton.


It would be true to say I thoroughly enjoyed the St Crispin's Day night ride and I will be there for 2015! If completed this would be the third 100 miler this year...


A night ride from Kew Gardens to Box Hill and back has always been a favourite. It has it all. Distance, pace, ascent of the famous Box Hill and the prospect of eating at a Wild West themed restaurant! 


A ride throughout the night in London at Christmas is quite a magical occasion in many ways. This is without a doubt one of my favourite rides and has become an annual fixture.

The Videos

All that remains to be written is for me to thank you out there for continuing to read about my adventures, for all your kinds words of encouragement  and for the many of you who have taken the time to contact me directly. I wish you a very happy 2015 and hope that you will also enjoy your own adventures, whatever form they take.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Kensal Green Cemetery on a Brompton - Blog and Video

With a little time on my hands yesterday and in the area I paid a visit to a favourite haunt of mine - Kensal Green Cemetery. Opened in 1833 it is in my opinion one of the finest if not the finest Victorian cemetery in the country let alone London.

I arrived at the cemetery just before 16:00 and was thinking that it might have been either closed or about to close. Enquiring at the gatehouse a friendly lady said that the cemetery didn't close until 17:00 and as long as I was back before then all would be okay.

As I entered the sun was already going down. I am not prone to superstition of any sort but a little voice in my mind reminded me of all those 'Hammer Films' starring the great Christopher Lee / Peter Cushing in which Dracula would be out and about as soon as the sun was setting.

No sooner than I tutted at this voice in my head several Ring Necked Parakeets noisily flew overhead screaming, almost bat like. The cold and crips air was punctuated almost immediately after this by a Tawny Owl twit twooing, disturbed by yours truly and flying off to a nearby tree, unseen but almost certainly watching to see what I was up to!

As well as some photographs I also took a little video footage. You can see my results and perhaps get an idea of what this location was like by clicking on the link below. It is less than 2 x minutes long.

Back to the photographs. The strange thing about the photos i posted on here is that the camera I sued is so good in low light, all looks a great deal lighter than it actually was. Believe me by the time I took the first photograph I could only just about see where I was going and what I was doing.

I suspect that a modicum of fear may have taken hold as as result of my surroundings had I not been concentrating so hard on what f-stop, ISO and shutter speed to use. The tomb below is one of my favourites and I always seem drawn to it. The four guards acting as columns almost looked down at me from wherever I was.

The gas works in the distance didn't help matters either. There seemed to be a dull hum emitting from its general direction?

The last two photos below were taken in almost pitch black with only slight illumination by a half moon and the last beams of light as the sun well and truly set. Again my cameras low light prowess was truly impressive.

Realising that the time was 16:45 I headed back to the entrance and thanked the lady on the gate. I had just about made it. Cycling is not permitted in the cemetery but you can of course wheel your bike along as I did. It is well worth a visit and my suggestion is to go at the same time I did as things will become much more atmospheric. (Perhaps don't go alone).

Below is the link to the short video I hastily made. Again things seem a great deal lighter than they actually were due to the really good low light performance of my little camera. As always watch it in the highest quality you can.  Link to short video

Monday 29 December 2014

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London

This afternoon I was visiting some friends in Queens Park and as I arrived early I decided to pay a visit to 'BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London' or more commonly known as Neasden Temple and I have to say I am glad that I did.

The idea for this came from a few other Bromptonians who had been chatting about going and as I wasn't too far away and had the time to get there, take some photos and get back I decided to pay it a visit.

I hadn't a clue how to get there so used my iPhone to navigate and listened to the voice commands. This worked faultlessly and got me there and back to my friends house without incident. My knee was still rather tender and sore and if anything I should not have cycled anywhere. I was very sensible however and cycled at a snails pace not putting any extension on my bad knee - it fact it only  lets me know something is wrong when coming down stairs.

Having a Hindu Temple in this part of London is quite an assault on the senses. No disrespect to the surrounding area but it appeared to me to be one big industrial estate. The word dump sprung to minds as I cycled along like a pensioner however after 20 minutes something quite beautiful came into view.

If you are visiting the Temple on your Brompton, you won't be allowed inside with it - which is fair enough. The security guards were excellent and could not have been more helpful and accommodating if they tried. They offered to look after my Brompton while I took photos and said that if I wanted to go inside they would do the same with my camera bag. Time constraints made me unable to accept their kind offer but I would have otherwise. (If only security guards at other establishments were as helpful, polite and friendly).

It was a rather cold afternoon with a very blue, cloudless sky. Now this is the strange thing. Depending on the light, the marble/limestone actually changed colour. Light golden brown turned to brilliant white. It was most unusual.

The stone - Italian marble and Bulgarian limestone was shipped to India, carved and then shipped back to the UK where it was build into this beautiful building.

The detail on the carving is rather special and one is left wondering how it was done and who were the people with the skill to do it?

Much of the outside of the building - the only ares one is permitted to take photos handheld - was fenced off sadly so I was unable to walk around fully. If truth be told it didn't concern me as for a few minutes I was almost transported to India. In this moment the chill in the air disappeared and I fancied I could almost hear a sitar being played.

In reality I did hear a sitar being played as a car parked in the car park was perhaps playing 'Sitar Moods' with its windows down.

This really is worth a visit. The welcome is friendly and the views stunning. As for the seeing the inside, I am sure I will get round to it another time.

Brompton Back East Bimble Video

Yesterdays ride from Trafalgar Square to the O2 and then back on the Thames Clipper was lots of fun. I have posted a link below in case you have not read it.

My knee felt pretty ropey last night and is a little tender today so I will have to make sure I take it easy the next few days.

Along with the photos I also shot some video. Below is a link so that you can see what I got up to. As always, watch it in the highest quality you dare. Hope you enjoy it and please feel free to leave a comment.

Link to short video

Sunday 28 December 2014

Back East Bimble

My Partner in Crime, BumbleBee and I had been planning our very own night photo ride for some time. Due to work commitments he was unable to attend the official Christmas Lights ride and this one was going to start just before midnight on 27/12/14. However as BumbleBee was going to working the next day it didn't seem right that he miss a nights sleep, so we arrange to meet at 07:00 Sunday morning at Trafalgar Square.

As soon as we met at the start location we headed off east. We reached St Paul's Cathedral and took a few pictures. I was busily watching Bumblebee as he is a pretty good photographer and always produces shots of interest.

St Paul's Cathedral just after dawn
The sun was making its way above the horizon and casted an amber glow over everything. It was very pretty and we had these view more or less to ourselves. A photographer with fairly meaty tripod in hand looked as if he had finished taking his pictures and was off home.

The view from the Millennium Bridge

I cannot count how many times I have stood on this bridge? It it also a location that Bumblebee and I have taken many a photograph.

The Christmas lights were still evident everywhere and even though it is over for another year, it was lovely to see them. On my solo Boxing Day ride I saw a fox walking along the Strand. This morning there was another walking bold as brass near the Globe Theatre. They seem to be everywhere!

Christmas not over yet

Stopping at the south side of the Thames to take photos of Tower Bridge Bumblebee strategically placed his Brompton where the small fountains of water were gushing forth so that he could take some photographs. He managed to do all this without a drop of water touching him or the bike.

Master photographer at work

Crossing Tower Bridge I looked up to see if I could see the new glass platform. I made a mental note to go there one day as seeing the cars go by below must be quite a sight!

Once on the north side of the Thames we took in a slightly different view of Tower Bridge. This is where things took a turn for the worse! It was a particularly cold morning with a mild frost. Stupidly I tried to head down towards a better view of the bridge on decking. The combination of thawing frost on decking and SPD shoes was enough to make me slip over.

I wasn't hurt but I had twisted my knee. I was able to continue as far as the O2 but was thankful that Bumblebee was happy to return to Embankment on the Thames Clipper as I suspect I would not have been able to cycle. As I write this my knee feels pretty ropey but I am sure that a few days of rest will do the trick.

As we cycled further along I spotted some Black Headed Gulls being quite obliging and almost posing for pictures.

Black Headed Gulls

They were obviously very used to people as they seem very nonchalant about me approaching.

Bumblebee and I were doing pretty well as far as the route was concerned and we managed to get where we wanted to go without resorting to Garmin devices or iPhones.

I wonder what his photo will turn out like?

Canary Wharf was literally deserted and security guards outnumbered everyone therein. Taking a few photos along the way we wasted little time in heading for the O2.

The heart of Canary Wharf

We got a good view of the Traffic Light Tree by the French sculpture, Pierre Vivant. I like this a great deal and still remember the first time I saw it and wondered how on earth we were going to know how to proceed?

Arriving at the Greenwich foot tunnel I decided to take the lift down and then up just in case the knew wasn't up to it.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

On the outside again we were greeted by the familiar sight of the Cutty Sark. For once I decided to ensure that I took a photo with the entire ship in frame as I do not think I have managed this before for some reason?

At last a complete picture of the entire ship

With the O2 in sight we pressed on. A lone Cormorant was the third ornithological nicety seen on this ride. Along with the obliging Black Headed Gulls I also had my best view of a Kingfisher just after Wapping.

The O2

A lone Cormorant

When we reached the O2 we retired to the 'Slug and Lettuce' for their all day breakfast that was consumed with enthusiasm. That done we decided not to press further on and took the Thames Clipper. This journey didn't seem to take as long as previous ones as it was still quite early and there were a lot less people about.

Bumblebee was kind enough to give me one of the Brompton Christmas cards he made at Brompton Junction as few weeks ago and wrote about in his blog. I felt very special and will be framing it and putting it in my study as I think it looks pretty fine.

Handmade from my Partner in crime

Cycling anywhere with my Partner in crime Bumblebee is always fun. He was very kind to mention me in a recent blog post thanking me for encouraging him. I have to say that I would say the same of him. I always knew that owning a Brompton would be fun but I did not expect to develop so many friendships along the way. I don't know what Brompton adventures 2015 will bring but I am pretty certain many will feature my Partner in Crime and friend Bumblebee.

Map and ride data

Saturday 27 December 2014

Solo Boxing Day Ride

A few of the Brompton troops were meeting at 11:00 at Richmond for a little Boxing Day cycle but alas that was too late a start for yours truly as I was visiting family later that afternoon and would not have got back in suitable time. Undeterred, I decided to venture out for my own solo Boxing Day ride.

Things were pretty quiet with few people other than tourists taking photos, however the strangest thing I ever seen on the Strand near Charring Cross station was a lone fox trotting across the road and up towards St Martin-in-the-Fields.

My route was pretty simple really. I would travel from Trafalgar Square to some great views of Canary Wharf just past Wapping and then turn back. I was rather pleased with myself for navigating this far without getting lost. Of course I have cycled this route so many times over the years - the latest being the week before on the Winter Photo Ride - it has become reasonably familiar.

At St Paul's I stopped at the Millennium Bridge to take a few photos which proved challenging. The sky was a very bright white/grey which did nothing to enhance the sights on offer. I suspect black and white would have been the order of the day perhaps?

While composing the photograph below there was a family carrying suitcases taking in the views. It appeared to me that they might be catching a flight home later in the day. Their teenage son decided to run through the small fountains gushing from the floor, tripped over, fell and got himself totally wet. His parents reaction was pretty shocking, insofar as things became physical and the comical took on a rather dark slant. Walking back to my Brompton and passing them I commented that there was no need for that after which they left.

Cycling over Tower Bridge on a quiet Boxing Day morning was the best. I crossed the entire bridge without a single car, bus, motorbike or coach in sight. The only distraction were tourists hasty trying to take a photograph of someone on an Orange Brompton with a general orange theme going on!

Once on the other side of the river I took in the all too familiar views of Tower Bridge. To my left a lone Heron was considering whether to venture further into the river for breakfast. To my right the bridge itself.

Just before St Katherine Docks I spied the large sluice gates that allow water from the Thames into the docks. I wonder if they are ever used or now just an homage to the past?

Wapping with its bone shattering cobbled streets (that I actually really like) was next. A few dog walkers and joggers were the only people I saw. I stopped to take a photo of one of the mini cranes that would have been common in the past and used to load and unload goods into warehouses and factories all along the river. These factories are now of course riverside accommodation and the cranes are just for decoration.

A structureI have cycled past many times before was the steel bascule bridge. Having the time to stop I took a few photos. Bridges like this were quite common in this area in the past and allowed larger ships from the Thames into the many basins.

The bridge simply rolled up on the curve via a ballast tank on the bridge. It was a very simply but effective design.

I suspect this particular bridge is simply for show the days when it rose into the sky are long gone. Still, at least it is still there and not replaced by something less pleasing on the eye or in keeping with the areas industrial heritage.

I took a camera with a lens having a slightly longer reach. This allowed me to obtain closer view of Canary Wharf.

Time constraints meant that this was to be the furthest I could go but I plan to travel further east another day when I have more time.

The gentleman below mudlarking, arrived on his bicycle, locked it up to the railings and then proceeded to go onto the foreshore looking for any historical gems washed. The usual finds can be parts of clay pipes that were almost disposable items in the past. Those living and working near/on/by the river simply threw rubbish into its depths.

On my return I stopped outside the Prospect of Whitby to take a quick photo. This lays claim to being the oldest riverside tavern dating from 1520 and it may well be. The building looks Victorian to me but apparently the oldest part still remaining is the 400 year old stone floor.

In the past it was a meeting place for sailors, smugglers and everyone in between. Charles Dickens is said to have visited this pub and I can only imagine what it and this area must have been like in his time!

Heading back I took one last photo of Tower Bridge before heading towards the City. Even then things were pretty tame as far as the traffic was concerned which I appreciated.

As I passed St Paul's Cathedral I glanced over towards the area of the Millennium Bridge to see literally hundreds of people walking towards it. Glad that I had visited it first on my journey I pressed on.

The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace was closed to traffic and I suspect this meant the changing of the guard. I haven't officially been to see this in ages but have got caught up in it unintentionally a few times. Well worth a visit and if you want a top tip, don't stand too near to Buckingham Palace. You will be able to get a much better view further down The Mall.

This was a good little run out and I managed getting on for almost 30 miles in total. I haven't done a solo ride like this for what seems like ages. It reminded me of the sort of thing I got up to when I first bought my Brompton. Back then I didn't know many other Bromptonians and it made me consider how things have changed.

Map and ride data