Sunday 31 January 2016

Day #2 - Taking mind off whether in/out of BWC 2016

With the tailor on standby I decided to take up an absorbing new hobby. Not knowing what this might be I stumbled across a book in a charity shop for the princely sum of 50p which I purchased with enthusiasm!

However, my new hobby which did momentarily take my mind away from thoughts of the BWC were soon dashed.

I discovered that my ornithological knowledge of some common birds of Britain was somewhat out. Flicking through the pages I ascertained that a considerable amount of further study and fieldwork would be require in order to make my new hobby viable.

I discovered that:

Black Pigeon was in fact a Crow

Sea Pigeon was in fact a Seagull

Red Chested Pigeon was in fact a Robin

Eagle Pigeon was in fact a Kestrel

Aquatic Long Legged Pigeon  was in fact a Heron

I have concluded that the learning curve for my new hobby is just too steep and thoughts of the BWC 2016 have returned!

The search for something to take my mind off it all continues...

Saturday 30 January 2016

Day #1 - Taking mind off whether in/out of BWC 2016

Have tailor on standby rather than preparing my summer collection - which basically consists of lots of orange!

London Canals and Greenway on an Orange Brompton

Todays ride was the, London Canals, Olympic Park and Greenway Explorer. I had been a maybe for this all week and even though, Mark (King of the Hill) would be leading and its route was a particular favourite, I was doubtful about going.

Even with my cycling gear on I still didn't think I would go and after all but forcing myself out of the front door I still had thoughts about turning back. Whatever you name it, the mojo has not been there of late.

Getting to Trafalgar Square I saw the familiar sight of Mark and my spirits lifted. Soon many others joined - some old faces and a few new ones.

As we waited a gentleman, curious about the number of Brompton bicycles put his hand on my shoulder and engaged in conversation. I estimate him to be in his 50's and he was worse for wear after what I suspect was a serious nights drinking. Brought up to to be polite to everyone I chatted briefly back. My suggestion that what he needed now was a hearty breakfast, was acknowledged as a good idea but he had just had one. With that he bid me farewell and went about his business.

Fashionably late my partner in crime, Andrew arrived and with that we were off with bemused onlookers not quite sure what was going on.

Initial progress was slow and there were a few rather inconsiderate and dangerous drivers. One of a tour bus, the other a delivery truck.

Every so often we stopped for those who had got stuck at traffic lights before moving on.

Our ride leader

The élan of Zoom Zoom

Just before St Katherine Docks we stopped and I took the opportunity to take a few photos of the famous bits, namely Tower Bridge.

Adhering to the strict no cycling across the bridge into the docks we dutifully walked our bikes the short distance.

This route as I have written many times before has become a favourite of mine and I do not think I will ever tire of it.

On the weather front it had rained quite heavily the previous night and when we started off there was grey cloud. Thankfully we experienced no rain and if anything the prospect of finer weather look favourable.

Cycling along canals is not really something I enjoy. They are narrow and usually busy with walkers, joggers, dog walkers and other cyclists. At the back of my mind is the thought, what would I do if the bike went in? This is not the best attitude to take when cycling along said canal paths so I took them gingerly to say the least.

One heavily ridged bridge, perhaps used in the days when cancel barges were powered by horses was interesting wearing cleats!!

Along the canal the every increasing desire to line it with waterside flats and accommodation continued. It was however good to see that a couple of chimneys, hinting at the areas industrial past remained.

Sadly the entrance to the Greenway and a small section of it was closed. This didn't really stop proceedings as we took the detour and eventually found our way there again.

The Greenway is footpath and cyclepath built over the embankment containing the Northern Outfall Sewer. 

Most of this sewer was designed by the great Joseph Bazalgette after the cholera outbreak of 1853 and the Great Stink of 1858.

With perfect timing we arrived at the Woolwich Ferry just as it had arrived and boarded almost immediately. The Woolwich Ferry has been in operation in one form or another since 1889. While halfway into our journey a man was handing out information about a proposed new river crossing. It was ironic that it mentioned that the future of the ferry service might be in doubt if a new crossing went ahead. 

Taken while on the ferry

Once on the other side of the Thames I made my farewell to everyone as I wanted to head back so that I could get back home.

I stopped off at the Thames Barrier Visitor Centre to have a little refreshment. The lady serving must have recognised me and my Orange Brompton as well as my partner in crime as she said, "where is the yellow one?"

On the way back the weather turned for the better and the sun began to make more of an appearance. I stopped every so often to take the off photo.

The rest of the group would be using the cable cars after their lunch and I had a quick look out just in case I spotted anyone.

In picture below the lone seagull was standing with scores more on a little sandbank moments before a few waves started to flow over wear they had been standing. With this they all flew into the air and protesting vocally as they screamed their utter disapproval. 

Every time I have been this way a lone Cormorant has been drying its wings on a wooden post. I know that it isn't the same bird but I fancy its expression was, not you again when it saw me taking a picture.

I made good progress to the Greenwich foot tunnel and even though it looks empty in the photograph below, it was not! There were dozens of people behind me and further along many more. It would seem a video for a group called 'Haus' was being filmed. It looked like some sort of zombie film to me as one of their number was prostrate on the floor!

On the other side my progress was swift and where possible I accelerated hard, enjoying the speed.

With the end in sight I made a final push and seeing the Shard I knew I was not too far from where I needed to be.

I arrived back at Barbican in very good time and from there home. The weather continued to impress and as I neared the end I speculated about taking a layer off as I was getting hot.

This was a well needed ride. I have not really been on too many of late. I am not sure this has restored the mojo fully but it has given me a push in the right direction. Next week I hope to go on a Richmond to Box Hill and back to Richmond. This should be good and I have to admit to looking forward to it - a good sign.

Many thanks to Mark for organising and leading the ride and to everyone else who came.

Link to map and ride data

Monday 18 January 2016

London Lumiere on a Brompton

Friday night was to be my first proper outing for 2016 with the wonderful Bromptonians of London. For one reason or another I very nearly didn't make this one as my motivation to do so has wained considerably of late. Thinking that it might do me some good I decided to go after all.

All I knew was that it was something to do with light and art, scattered about various locations in central London.

The meeting point was the London Eye at 18:30 but unable to get there for the allotted time I was fortunate that Mark (King of the Hill) was in a similar situation. We therefore met at Trafalgar Square for 19:00 and the others would make their way to us.

I had parked my car off the Marylebone Road and cycled to Trafalgar Square, however my passage was soon blocked by several security guards. Many roads were closed which resulted in me pushing my Brompton as I walked.

Making it to Piccadilly, I saw what must have been one of the light/art things. They resembled several coloured tadpoles floating along. The road was crammed with people and there was barely room to move. To be honest I had almost had enough of light/art there and then in terms of the crowds. However I pressed on as I was certain things would be better with my fellow Bromptonians. 

The first few pieces of art were at Trafalgar Square - the Centre Point sign, a bow around the forth plinth and plastic bottles in the fountain.

Almost immediately arriving at Trafalgar Square I saw Mark and not long after that the troops started to arrive.

I elected to just take my iPhone 6 as I didn't want to bring my big camera - purely as it is still fairly new and all that.

At Leicester Square there was some sort of garden theme going on. It was all very colourful and judging by how many people were around I suspect Homebase will be selling something on a slightly smaller scale some time soon.

With David quite rightly moving us after we had had a bit of a look, we came across several floating people. They were craftily constructed and swayed in the breeze. It is amazing what you can do with some chicken wire and a few led lights!

Back on Piccadilly, things had if anything calmed down from earlier on. A montage of colour and shapes were projected on a building. My gut reaction was that this is what it must be like to take drugs.

The large, colourful fish, plankton, tadpoles or sperms with wings were doing a roaring trade and many people - me included - simply took a few photos as heaven knows what they were meant to be?

At the lower end of Piccadilly, one side Air Street the backside of an elephant could be seen projected and loving about. It was at this point I pinched myself to see if it were all a dream and then again considered whether taking class A drugs might offer the same hallusination ?

Seeing the various light art dotted around London via Brompton was probably the best way. It allowed you to get to the various points quite quickly as I served to keep you a great deal warmer.

With Regent Street devoid of traffic, Piccadilly Circus was packed and it reminded me of New Years Eve.

At the other side of Air Street the front of the elephant, whose rear we had seen previously was displayed. I can honestly say I was not expecting this.

Further up Regent Street dancing men jumped and ran across the building. Sadly it finished as we arrived and didn't resume fully by the time we moved on.

Our last stop was at Kings Cross / St Pancras. A large illuminated birdcage, with working swing was a draw to some of our number, who waited patiently so that they could have a go.

We said goodbye to those that had to leave while some of us that remained headed inside St Pancras to a coffee establishment for some refreshment. This was the time honoured half way stop on all of our Christmas lights rides.

Having to get back I made my farewells and headed back into the night. Thankfully I did not get lost and made it to my car in good time.

Many thanks to David for organising the ride and the company of my fellow Bromptonians.