Thursday 31 December 2015

Happy New Year Everyone!

I have already had some Happy New Messages from some of my Australian readers and I thought that I would send my own to you out there.

Many thanks to you out there for continuing to read my blog and occasionally sending me messages.

So, with only a few hours to go here in London before we sign in the new year, I hope that you have a wonderful 2016 and that you too are able to have your own adventures - hopefully on a Brompton!!

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Brompton Christmas Bank Holiday Video

When on the Christmas Bank Holiday ride I managed to capture a little video in addition to some photos. You can find a link to that blog post by clicking  HERE

The video is quite short  but hopefully gives and idea of what it was like - a very social amble around a slightly less busy London due to it being an official holiday.

As always try and watch in the highest quality setting you can.

Link to short video

Monday 28 December 2015

Christmas Bank Holiday Ride

Today was a particularly fine day on the weather front and luckily, Bob - veteran of the Friday night rides to the coast and all round good egg - was the leader of a ride that would take advantage of some unseasonably mild conditions.

The meeting point was the usual Hyde Park Corner at 11:30 but before then I had to pay a visit to an old stomping ground to post a New Years Card.

Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall looked rather fine in basked in sunlight and while I took some quick photos, tourists stopped doing the same and started taking photos of a certain person dressed in lots of orange on an orange bicycle.

South Kensington holds many interesting locations and for me non more so than Albert Court. This was once the home of the famous archaeologist Howard Carter. When I was a lot younger I recall being entranced by the memories of some old dears - long gone sadly - who were neighbours of the great man.

The Albert Memorial across the road always looks better when the sun is out and as I passed by, it was as if Prince Albert nodded in approval at the engineering that had gone in to my Brompton.

I arrived in good time and several familiar faces came into view. David, Anne, Jenny, Miranda, Charlie and of course Bob.

It seemed strange to be here at 11:30 rather than 23:30 and the familiar faces - normally seen just before midnight - only served to enhance that feeling.

Bob who like myself was unable to make the St Crispin's Day Ride was very pleased that Jenny had not only brought his event hat but also his bottle of wine.

Almost as if Bob had planned it, a few members of the Household Cavalry could be heard approaching the arch.

This of course meant everyone and their uncle got out cameras to try and capture the moment. The soldier on the end was definitely in charge, judging by the volume and clarity of his voice.

The first building Bob informed us about was the Arch itself. Apparently it used to have a statue of the Duke of Wellington on top but after his death it was removed and replaced with the current one. This was all new to me and it was good to hear more about the famous arch I have waited under and near on so may night rides.

David looking good

The ever stylish Anne

Jenny about to do one her selfie photos

Retro or what


At midday we headed off down The Mall. The fact we were doing this brought the Brompton World Championships back into our thoughts and discussions. Would it be here again? Would we get in? Wasn't it brilliant!

There were no cars but the odd pedestrian ambling in the middle of the road, selfie stick at the ready proved an interesting obstacle.

It was not long until we had reached Trafalgar Square. Nelson's column looked rather resplendent against a cobalt blue sky and like so many people living and commuting in London, something I probably take for granted.

The column was constructed between 1840 and 1843 and is 51.6 metres tall. The four bronze reliefs at the base of the column were cast from captured French guns.

The next location was the BT Tower but probably known and perhaps even still called by its former moniker, the Post Office Tower.

It was constructed in 1961 and completed in 1964. At the time of completion it was the tallest building at 177 metres in both London and the UK. It held this record until it was overtaken by Tower 42 in 1980.

Participants listening to Bob's building information

St Paul's Cathedral was up next. The current cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London laid the former building to the ground. At 111 metres tall it was the tallest building in London until 1962. Its dome is still among the highest in the world.

Cross the river Thames we headed towards a location I had no previous knowledge of that proved to have an interesting past.

Cross Bones is a post-medieval and disused burial ground. It was an unconsecrated graveyard for prostitutes. By the 18th century it was a paupers burial ground and closed in 1853.

The site is also known as the 'Single Woman's churchyard' and a local group, Friends of Cross Bones is trying to establish a permanent memorial garden. Being a prime location for development time will tell whether they achieve their goal.

The Shard - a building I still for reasons unknown have a dislike for - is currently at 309.6 metres the tallest building in Europe and the 87th tallest in the world.

I cannot really explain why I am not too keen on it, other than I am not too keen on it. I suspect it is because it is visible from so many parts of London and there is nothing you can do about it?

On route we passed the Lloyds Building. Now this is a building I like. Designed by Richard Rogers it is now a Grade 1 listed building.

The Gherkin, or 30 St Mary Axe to be precise is another building I really like. Designed by Norman Foster is really is an iconic building and for me more so than The Shard ever will be.

At the base of The Gherkin was Ai Weiwei's 'Stacked' sculpture. This was certainly an interesting sight and only fitting that we gave it some attention.

Of course that was the moment when several Brompton participants thought they could do much better and decided to make their own impromptu artwork entitled, Brompton Photo Opportunity.' Bob who was quite understandably seeing the end in sight - pint to beer - told those with their Brompton bikes in no uncertain terms to get a move on.

The last building before I had to make my way home was Heron Tower or 110 Bishopsgate to be official. At 202 metres tall it is the tallest building in the City of London and number 3 after The Shard and Canary Wharf.

After this the rest of the group would head to Tower Bridge (I think) before partaking in a well deserved drink. I had to head home and thankfully I managed to do this in good time as the roads were not as busy as they would be normally.

This was a great little ride. Many thanks to Bob and Martin for organising and leading us on a very interesting journey.

The map and ride data can be viewed via the link below and if I can get my act together I will put together the small amount of video I shot.

Link to map and ride data

Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas Bromptonians

It has been an eventful year for yours truly in more ways than one. I hope to go on lots more adventures in 2016 and hope that many of you are able to do the same wherever you live.

If you have had a favourite blog post of 2015 please let me know by leaving a comment and perhaps telling me why.

Whether you are enjoying this time of year with family and friends or alone, have a lovely Christmas and keep pedalling or maybe start pedalling. You never know, Santa just might bring you your very own Brompton...

Have a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year Bromptonians!

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Brompton Christmas Lights Night Ride

The Christmas Lights Night Ride on a Brompton is something I look forward to greatly. This one was keenly anticipated by yours truly as I have only really started riding my Brompton again after some time off due to injury. In addition to this the last few weeks have been manic at work and our car died resulting in us trying to scamper around for a suitable replacement.

The meeting place was Charring Cross Railway Station at 23:45. I headed out into a night that was unseasonably mild. I had only a few layers and wondered whether I would be too hot in those. In fact it was hard to believe that it was late December!

The start at Charring Cross Railway Station

Getting to Charring Cross was an eye opener. Friday night would be one of the busiest times of the year in London as it was the height of the office party. With no car I had to resort to public transport and it was with a heavy tread that I boarded a tube train.

It wasn't long until my worst fears were realised. As the tube train pulled up at a stop, I could hear wailing and singing over the sound of the train. This wailing and singing got louder as several young ladies boarded our carriage. It was a good thing that it was unseasonably mild as these ladies wore dresses that consisted of material covering not much more than the surface area of a small napkin. The wailing and singing continued and could still be heard when I got off the carriage and the tube train set off to the next station.

I stopped briefly at Trafalgar Square to take a few pictures. A couple were arguing and in the process of having a very public and heated argument. As it was all getting a little Jerry Springer for my liking I decided to head straight to Charring Cross.

The ever elegant Anne
It wasn't too long before the troops started to arrive. Ben had been the leader of an evening ride on a similar theme to the all night one. His ride ended at Charring Cross where ours was to commence.

Ride Leader

It was lovely to see everyone even though many were heading straight home having already put in a few miles.  My nocturnal cycling partner Geoff turned up as Santa. It was a brilliant outfit but totally unexpected.  Throughout the night you could hear a hearty 'happy Christmas' to passers by.

Is this really my nocturnal riding partner Geoff?

I was hoping that Mark (King of the Hill) would be able to make this ride but as we left Charring Cross there was no sign of him. He had said that he was 50/50 as he had not been feeling well in the run up to Friday. More on this later.

Trafalgar Square

Setting off into the night

We set off into the night I could not help but think of all the night rides I had been on over the years and how much I enjoy them.

The Eye

Look at the time!

David had said that there were some light he would like us to see that were something special. We soon discovered that he was not wrong.


 'Pimlico Plumbers' had a spectacular display that lit the entire street up and was great fun.

Kung fu?

My new muse?

David received a call from Mark to inform that he was coming on the ride. In fact Mark has called both David and I but we had not answered our phones. Luckily we would meet him and another participant at Tower Bridge.

We have all been on this route many times but I never tire of it. It is one where I happily take photos and the odd bit of video.

Talking about photos and videos it was my intention to shoot all my video in a high 1080p bit rate. In addition to this I had spent ages researching the best white balance settings for photos and video for night shooting. These I had saved to the memory.

Of course it didn't go that way. I shot all the video in 4K which is notoriously bad for night low light shooting and a little shaky without a shout tripod. As for my custom white balance, everything was set to auto.

There were some bonuses for shooting video in 4K. For any of the footage I shot I was able to extract an 8mp still image. Many of these are included in the photos you wee here along with ones that are at the full 16mp. Can you spot which is which?

We meet up with the King of the Hill 
Tower Bridge looking goo at night

Totally chilled

David probably had a rough outline of the route but this year he decided to take us east as far as Greenwich. This was a great idea as by the time we headed back to the traditional areas associated with the Christmas lights things would be quieter.

Geoff's Sanat outfit could barely stand the pace and luckily he wore cycling tights underneath as he would have revealed parts of Santa no one would want to see.

Oh dear Santa

Heading into Canary Wharf was fun and the lights from the decorations and office blocks illuminated our path.

As always the east of London was under construction and we braved a narrow walkway that circumvented building works that were proceeding through the early hours of the morning. The construction workers had to take a double take when they saw several people on Brompton bicycles with Santa on one too!

The Greenwich foot tunnel is open 24 hours a day, all year round. In the early hours of Saturday morning we had the place to ourselves. The child in all of us definitely came out as we travelled under the river Thames.


Coming out from the depths with the Cutty Sark in view was strange in that we were the only souls around.

Heading back towards central London we chanced upon a sign that we stopped and took photo of in honour of Brian who was unable to attend.

In honour of Brian

The Shard was doing all sorts of strange things. As well as changing colour, the occasional cloud cover brought about an eerie quality to proceedings.

As the top changed from red to green I was could not decide which I liked the best? It reminded me of Star Wars and the various light sabre colours.

At just past 03:30 we arrived at St Pancras station which would provide our refreshment stop. In the past this also served as a means of sanctuary from the cold outside. This time, the weather being so mild cold was not a factor at all to the extent I considered whether a cold drink might be a better bet.

As we neared the entrance the familiar and booming voice of Bob penetrated the night air calling my name. I was instantly transported to many a Friday night ride to the coast where Bob frequently acts a a tail end Charlie. Bob was on duty and coincidentally coincided with his break so we all headed in to the only establishment open to partake in a cup of coffee.

It was a bonus to see Bob and even though he was unable to join us on the ride I suppose he sort of did anyway for a while.

Saying farewell to Bob we headed towards Oxford and perhaps the most famous views of the London Christmas lights.

Near the many buildings near the University of London there were a few benches that many of our number took full advantage of. Again we had the place to ourselves.

Oxford Street was all but empty. Despite the mildness of the weather, it seems that even the most hardened of party goer had long gone home.

Oxford Street

The lit up arches that do look rather good proved to be an irresistible draw. Camera and phone were out in force taking some snaps as a memento of the night.

With my camera attached to my Joby X tripod my fellow participants were very obliging in cycling to and away from the camera while I attempted to record some video of their efforts. It was all great fun but with so much more to see we pressed on.

New Bond Street

Even before we had arrived at Carnaby Street we could smell smoke and seeing a fire engine conformed the worse.

As we took some photos the smell got worse and it seems that there was indeed a fire in a nearby nightclub.

The smell of fire in the air

Leaving Carnaby Street we pressed on towards our final destination, Covent Garden.

Covent Garden did not disappoint. I have to confess to not really liking this area during the day and it is not a location I choose to go to as it just too touristy for my liking.

Covent Garden

It was only fitting that Geoff boarded a special train made out of Lego and patiently posed for several photos.

Brompton Junction, a great little shop had window display which was orange in its theme. I can't put my finger on it but I though it was quite brilliant.

The ride was all but over but we stopped one last time to have a cup of tea/coffee and chew the fat for a little longer. Despite not sleeping since Thursday night, I felt fine. Saying our goodbyes until another time we all made our separate ways.

I headed for Barbican but before I got there I headed for the Millennium Bridge for one last look at some wonderful views.

From the Millennium Foot Bridge

Returning to St Paul's Cathedral I crossed the road and was about to head to Barbican when a homeless gentleman on the floor with a sleeping bag said 'Merry Christmas.' I stopped and said Merry Christmas back. Opening my cavernous Carradice zipped roll bag I searched for the bar of Snickers and 2 x flapjacks that I had packed but not needed. In my mini O bag I looked for a bottle of water. Offering then to the gentleman he accepted gratefully. After a brief chat about what I had been doing all night he told me how he came to be on the streets. To my great shame I didn't even ask his name.

St Paul's Cathedral from the Millennium Foot Bridge

This was a brilliant ride. The company was great and London at night rarely disappoints. Special thanks to David who yet again guided us on yet another wonderful adventure.

If the photos or my words don't quite convey what this adventure was like, you might want to check out the short video I made. It is in the previous post.

Map of route and ride data