Wednesday 30 March 2016

A day out in Brighton

This morning I was up early and wanting to keep myself busy - for obvious reasons - I suggested to Mrs Orange and the Orangettes a day out in Brighton. This was met with their approval so we headed off and got there in good time.

The weather was good. It wasn't the hottest of days but it stayed dry all the time we were there and the sun was shining. Our first port of call was the famous Pavilion.

I suspect the Royal Pavilion to give its official title is a love it or hate it affair. I fall on the former and just think that it is quite wild and crazy.

It started in 1787 as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales who was later to become George IV. It was the designer John Nash who we can thank for the wildness of the design.  He was also responsible for Regent Street, Buckingham Palace and Carlton Terrace to name but a few of his more famous designs.

I think the last time I was in Brighton taking photos of the Pavilion was early one morning after a night from London. If I recall rightly I we had arrived early and needed to kill a little time after breakfast before catching the train back to London.

The waves were crashing in and I wondered what it might be like walking or riding along the Undercliff?

The British seaside has been in decline as a place of recuperation but the company of my family, the views and sea air seemed to lift my sprits and hopefully done me some good.

In the not too distant future I hope to participate in another night ride to the coast, this time a few miles up the coast in Shoreham. Despite this I would imagine I will return via Brighton and be able to  sample its delights, if only very briefly.

Monday 28 March 2016

A photo walk in London

With a few things to do this morning one of the tasks on the list was to take eldest Orangette so that she could photograph some scenes of London for an upcoming art project. So, with our cameras we headed out, walking rather than on bicycles. (I am awaiting an order of cables for my Orange P type as they all needs replacing).

We started at St Paul's Cathedral and made our way to the millennium footbridge. Part of this route is of course a very familiar one to you out there if you have been reading my blog for a while.

The bridge was rammed with people, aimlessly ambling around it has to be said like the walking dead, with neither purpose or reason. I suppose being a Bank Holiday that is perfectly okay.

I decided to take my Panasonic GX7 which is a great little walk around camera as it is small and lightweight. I have always liked it a lot as despite being ultra portable, it is abel to take good pictures. I used the little 14-42mm kit lens which as far as kit lenses go, is pretty sharp.

All of the photos are jpegs straight out of the camera with nothing done to them - mainly as I don't have the time or skill to care about possibly enhancing them.

Eldest Orangette took some pretty good photographs  and will certainly have enough for her artwork later on.

We were really lucky with regards the weather as for all the time we were out and about the sun was shining. This of course changed later on in the day when the heavens opened!

At the office of the London Mayor I have never seen so many selfie sticks! Everyone and their uncle had one. The most ridiculous bar none was - and I kid you not - someone with a pole attached to a 12 inch iPad Pro!

Occasionally when out in London you do hear some silly comments. When I was taking the photo below a tourist could be heard asking someone with them whether Tower Bridge was the Tower of London. I had to stop myself from laughing and pointing.

No, not the Tower of London?!

Walking over Tower Bridge proved to be quite a perilous affair as it involved negotiating more of the walking dead with selfie sticks.

Once on the other side of Tower Bridge we were able to leave the tourist trails behind by taking short cuts that only Londoners with prior knowledge would know about.

I am pretty sure that I will return to this route at some point in the near future and although I can cover ground quicker and see more on my bicycle, I did enjoy the walk.

Friday 25 March 2016

Wet and wild London to Southend

The Friday night rides to the coast are for me the stuff of legend. I have blogged many times that they are addictive and with a new season of night rides to the coast planned, I had been looking forward to this one - London to Southend - for several weeks.

Sadly, my dad passed away on Tuesday - one week after reaching his 90th birthday -  after succumbing to old age and nearly two years of suffering the indignity of severe dementia and all that entails. I took the view that the overnight ride to the coast might do me some good.

I was going to take my favoured Orange P type but oiling the chain and gear cable I discovered that the latter was frayed and about to snap. When I moved the gear selector on the handlebar, it did snap. I could have put a new cable on but decided to take my Orange Titanium Brompton instead. With no dynamo hub I had to rely on battery lights and quickly got them on charge.

Saying goodbye to Mrs Orange and the Orangettes I headed off into a rainy night with a selection of waterproofs wondering if the forecast of persistent rain was accurate?

When I arrived there were already a few participants there and some familiar faces came into view. Geoff, David, Adrian, Peter, Iain, Charlie and Miranda were all there along with Bob, our ride leader. It was just like old times and all the general feelings of excitement started to emerge.

And so it begins

With the customary ride briefing that requires a certain amount of audience participation and the rain still falling at just after midnight, we were off.

The first of many

Our progress out of London was quite slow. There were lots of road works and the traffic was heavy at times. I had worried about whether my lights were going to be up to the challenge of dark country lanes but for almost the entire ride there was some form of street lighting / source which meant I was more than okay.

As always on these rides there were stretches where I was cycling along on my own with nothing but a faint rear light to be seen in the distant but I have to say that there were a great deal less on this ride. It was at these moments that thoughts turned to my my dad. Random memories replayed in my mind to offer some small comfort.

In my haste I had left the house without a pair of gloves. Luckily Geoff had brought a spare pair and even more luckily they fitted my large farmers hands!

We arrived at Junction 31 services at about 03:30. We were well aware of the lack of comestibles on offer so people tucked into whatever they had brought with them.

Geoff's gloves were heavy with all the rainwater they had absorbed so a trip to the toilets and their dryers was in order. Lots of other participants were attempting to dry all sorts and members of the public also using the facilities looked on with a combination of bemusement and incredulity.

Look at the state of my Orange Brompton

Geoff's gloves

Social medic catching up

I had decided to take my trusty GX7 camera. This is quite old by modern standards but still one of the favourites in my stable of photographic tools.

Tim a ride leader for a previous night ride to the coast had brought out his new all ball special edition. It was certainly a looker and I was to have a closer look at it a few hours later!

After an hour or so Bob informed us that we were to go in ten minutes and that we should have a look at our tyres just in case we had a puncture. We set off and only a few hundred yards away Bob had his bicycle upturned and was making good a puncture. Typical!

A special edition

In the middle of nowhere

In the middle of nowhere Bob had the call that Tim had a rear wheel puncture. Geoff and I cycled back but Tim already had the rear wheel off and was making good the repair. With that done we headed back to the group.

Our ride leader

Sadly, Geoff had to head back a quicker route back to Southend as he needed to be home for a later appointment. The ride had been delayed slightly due to a few punctures - always more frequent when it rains or has been raining.

Out comes the sun

With the back of the ride broken and the sun coming out the end was in sight. This meant a full English breakfast so the pace quickened.

Almost at Southend

Palm Southend!

With just over 64 miles clocked we arrived at Southend. Our former haunt the 'Rose Cafe' was no more but Bob had managed to secure the 'Beaches Bar' which had some pretty fine views out towards the estuary and Southend Pier.

Breakfast with a view

The breakfast was very good and and it was certainly enhanced by those views. With our breakfast eaten, David and I headed for Southend Central and made out farewells.

Our train was in time and just before 11:15 we arrived at Liverpool Street Station. David and I cycled as far as St Paul's Cathedral before going our separate ways. As I cycled along I could not get out of head that it was a Saturday.

This was a lovely ride. I am glad that I went on it as it did take my mind off the obvious and those moments when I cycling alone with only my thoughts for company, thinking of happier times did help.

Many thanks to Bob and his team of tail end Charlies. Hopefully we can do it all again when the next ride - one of my favourite of the night rides to the coast - to Whitstable takes place in about a month from now.

As always the map and ride data can be viewed by clicking on the link below.