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

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