Saturday 31 July 2021

Touch up paint for the Cloud Blue

Yesterday I collected some touch up paint for my new Cloud Blue. I hope that I won't need to use it but I am glad to get some - just in case. 

Brompton used to produce and sell touch up paint but no longer do so. It is now a case of looking up the RAL number and finding somewhere that sells that particular number.

I have to say that this particular paint is a really good match. I tested out tiny amount on a part of the frame that you'd never look at and it was perfect. Worth buying a bottle if you can find it. 

Stay safe out there people!

Friday 30 July 2021

Getting read for the Whitstable Winder

The Whitstable Winder - I think it is still called that - is a Brompton ride that I have been on several times over the years. The brainchild of gentleman that is and friend Mark (King of the Hill) it has always proved to be very popular and I am sure that this one will be so too.

Most people join at Otford having taken the train from Victoria. I will be joining Mark and perhaps a few others in central London just before 07:00 in the am to cycle the 26.45 miles to Otford to meet the main group of riders. Hopefully, we will get there in time for a second breakfast, like Hobbits! From there it will be another 48ish miles to Whitstable, after which we'll get the train back to London.

There is a rather tasty incline to tackle in the form of Hollingbourne Hill. It is 1.2 km long with an average gradient of 8.7% and maxing out at 16.5%. Should be interesting! I cannot really remember what I think of it - other than it is a bit of a beast - and just hope that I get up in one piece. 

The statistics

Another big draw for this ride it the rather lovely Kent countryside, which rarely disappointed. Should be a good one! So, I am now off to check the bike over make sure that I have everything I need ready.

Stay safe out there people!!

Kent countryside and a peloton of Brompton riders

Thursday 29 July 2021

Are you a Brompton Ambassador - definitely not!

There are many of you out there who - despite me saying a few times before on this blog - think I work for Brompton. I don't.

I have received a few emails to ask one would go about becoming a Brompton Ambassador and get a Cloud Blue Brompton, in the same way did. I am very sorry to disappoint, but all my Brompton bikes (including the Cloud Blue) were purchased by your truly. In fact I do not know what a Brompton Ambassador is, whether they have them and if they do how they are recruited?

Despite my blog (which is an online diary/journal of my adventures) getting a very healthy number of daily, weekly, monthly...views I would imagine a Brompton Ambassador to be younger than me and command a much higher online presence.

The truth is I just write away about whatever takes my fancy. In the 10+ years of writing this blog, Brompton have not invited me to any of their events, launches, provided me with any freebies or anything to test out or review.  I haven't expected them to. I am sure that to Brompton, I am nobody.

So, to confirm once and for all, I do not work for Brompton, I am not paid to be a Brompton fanboy and I am not a Brompton Ambassador!  

Stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Brilliant Bikes, 100 mile service for the Cloud Blue

Today I drove to 'Brilliant Bikes' in Chobham, Surrey so that my Cloud Blue could have its initial service/check over after completing its 100 miles. 

The 100 miles didn't really take me a long time to reach and two rides was all that was required to pass this milestone. 

Having the 100-mile check up is always a good thing to do after getting a new Brompton. I think that the spokes, crank axle bolts and pedals are checked as well as the cables. The spokes in particular definitely needed a look at as one was loose on the Brighton overnight run. 

At the same time I decided to take my Orange Titanium with me as I had noticed a little side to side play in the rear wheel. It was probably nothing but best to get looked at by the Brompton Jedi Master that is Mike. 

If you are in the UK and have not heard of Brilliant Bikes I would be surprised. They started off as a mail order company selling Brompton parts and spares. I cannot think how many of these I have bought from them over the years. Like their name, they truly are Brilliant and I shop their exclusively for various Brompton parts. Many of my Brompton friends do so too. 

They opened up bricks and mortar shop several years ago where they sell Brompton bikes and other bikes too. Go to the shop and you might be lucky enough to see Mike there.

They now have a YouTube channel fronted my Hannah - who also has an Orange Brompton. Their channel is informative and entertaining and occasionally there are outtakes at the end which are wonderful. 

Sunday 25 July 2021

Television blast from the past in Hammersmith

Today I stopped off in Hammersmith on route to somewhere else and could not resist paying visit to a couple of locations. 

Hammersmith Bridge, designed by the great Sir Joseph Bazalgette was opened in 1887 and has a Grade II listing. Until quite recently, this bridge (one of my favourites in London) was closed to cyclists and pedestrians from August of last year. Recently the bridge was opened up once again to cyclists and pedestrians and I took full advantage of it today. I went across north to south one way and came back the other way. 

There was quite a bit of rowing taking place on the river Thames below. A couple of eights were fighting it out and going at a terrific speed, encouraged by two small boat following. It was megaphones at dawn as instructions were screamed out, each trying to spur their team to do more. 

At various points on the bridge are lots of coats of arms. These were painted over in the same green paint as the rest of the bridge but at one time must have looked quite stunning in their correct heraldic colours. 

Just up the road is a small bench sitting at the junction of Queen Caroline Street and Hammersmith Bridge Road. I have been here more time that I can count as it was a bench that featured in the opening credits of the BBC television programme 'Bottom.' This ran for 3x series and all began in 1991. I loved it at the time. (In fact my parents liked it even more)!

At some point the bench was removed but after its star Rik Mayall passed away, a petition persuaded Hammersmith Council to replace it, which they did in 2014. The wording on the plaque was a group effort from several fans.

Friday 23 July 2021

Happy travels Dunwich Dynamo riders

Saturday will see many embark on the Dunwich Dynamo. This is an organic nocturnal ride from its start in Hackney Fields to Dunwich beach, some 112ish mile away. 

The last time I did the DD was 2019. I was going to do it in 2020 but you all know what happened to spoil my fun. 

Despite the fact many fellow Bromptonians will be doing this ride, I won’t. The difficulty of getting back from Dunwich in the absence of coaches back (which I am never that fond of anyway) make it a non-starter for me. 

So, anyone doing it this year I wish you a happy and safe adventure. Despite the weather forecast of some rain, it will be warm and skin is waterproof. I remember getting soaked on one DD I rode on but I soon dried out. You’ll have a great time, so enjoy.

Stay safe out there people  

Thursday 22 July 2021

Tinie Tempah - 'Pass Out' on a Brompton

Many people ask if the British really do talk about the weather. The simple answer is yes. It is universal conversation starter for just about everyone. Recently, London has experienced a heat wave and another feature of great summer weather, is that in London it brings people out on foot, in cars, motorbikes and in my case, an Orange Brompton. 

I had been near Dulwich College and was making my way back towards SW7 and passed through the outskirts of Brixton. In the distance I could hear music playing, that was loud. As I got closer I saw a silver 'G Wagon' that seemed to be all speakers in the back being filmed. (I later discovered that there were in fact no seats in the rear at all and they were taken up by speakers). What followed was astonishing. 

I joined a small crowd who stood watching the car from about 50-60 metres away. A couple of security guards very politely requested us not to take photos or video. I obliged and in many ways glad that I did. Without warning, the particularly fine 2010 Tinie Tempah - 'Pass Out' track was played. The volume was unbelievable. After the small electronic snare drum intro, the base kicked in. It was so deep and powerful the mudguards on my Brompton rattled and its depth went through me and the ground I stood on vibrated. People around started to sing along and scream to it but so great was the volume, it was as if their volume had been turned down to zero.

After about 30 seconds it all stopped, only to start up and again startling me and pretty much everyone else around. This happened a few more times and as I pedalled off towards Hyde Park I could still hear it. I was told that it was footage being shot for a YouTuber. I have searched possibilities but drawn a blank. If anyone lives, works or was in the area leave a comment. Equally so, if you know who it was or if you heard it too. Believe me you could not miss it!!

Naturally, all the way home and the next day I was humming this song in my head. Stay safe out there people!!

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Cloud Blue Brompton goes to Brighton overnight

The London to Brighton bike ride is a classic and one of the routes many cyclists want to experience. I have been fortunate to complete it several times and last Friday was a classic in every sense of the word.

I decided to take my all new Cloud Blue Brompton with me for this one. The reasoning behind it was simple. It was new and it would be its first nocturnal adventure. I cycled from Maida Vale to the start new the London Eye and as it was a warm night and I was glad I wore short sleeves. (More on that later on)!

Our ride leader for this one was Adrian. In fact it is Adrian's first route to Brighton as ride leader that Dr John and I have used ever since and as such remains my all time favourite. After the safety talk and almost on the stroke of midnight, we were off. The buzz and excitement was there as people clicked into pedals and various GPS devices bleeped to tell their owners, they were off! As we did a song that I heard earlier blasting through some pretty impressive speakers stayed in my head. So it was that I pedalled off to 'Move Bi@#h' by Ludacris playing in my head!

The pace of the ride was at the usual purposeful and conversational pace and it was great catching up with some familiar faces not seen in a long time. Zoom Zoom was one of them on a rather lovely new road bike. 

As we cycled along, chatting away the time flew by and before we knew it we had approached the cattle grid at Farthing Downs. At the top we regrouped and took in the views - what we could make of them. The little red lights in the distance were Crystal Palace apparently. 

This point always marks the point at which the urban gives way to rural and winding country lanes become a feature. 

At Farthing Downs we sometimes see cows the the adjacent fields. They were nowhere to be seen but as we cycled along there was something moving...running in the metre-high grass to our left. Apart from the sound of something out there and the the top of the grass being displaced, I could not see what it was. Every horror movie replayed itself in my mind until someone ahead said that it was the cows running along side us! Phew!!

Our progress was good and there were to my knowledge, no mechanical issues. I stopped a few times to make tweaks to my new Brompton. The first was the gear indicator chain which required all of one half turn to make things good. The second was the front brake calliper which I tightened a little so that the front mudguard was centred. My new Cloud Blue road rather well and I was glad that I brought it out to play.

Our halfway stop was the Scout Hut in Burstow. There we had some sandwiches, hot drinks and a flapjack served by the lovely volunteers who get up at stupid o'clock for us all. In fact we arrived 10x minutes early at 03:20 am. 

Some participants decided to sit outside but I opted for inside. We were later joined by the lovely Natalya who had been outside but caught the cold. As we spoke about what it was like outside and that she felt it was chilly, I started to get cold myself. When I stepped outside the psychological damage had been done and it was as if I were Sir Ernest Shackleton in the South  Pole. I felt compelled to put arm warmers on and a boil in the bag rain jacket on. This stayed on for a few miles until I started to feel overdressed. 

Dawn was beautiful. Birds sang their hearts out and many of the Brompton contingent resorted to type, taking photos of everything! 

Naturally, the Brompton user must take a photo of their Brompton wherever they are and in taking this photo I was soon joined by the Tail End Charlies. Pedalling off to join near the front, this pattern was replayed as another scene caught my eye and a photo was needed! 

As always we stopped to regroup for those further back. This provided the opportunity to catch up, have a snack, a drink or in Zoom Zoom's case, forty winks!

Our route from the Scout hut was all new and an interesting one. I still haven't made up my mind fully whether I like it better than the one I am used to as it allowed us to ride on some lovely winding lanes with stunning views. 

The car park at the base of Ditchling Beacon arrived suddenly and many powdered their noses before making their ascent. The Beacon rarely disappoints and the views on offer this morning through the gaps in the hedges were beautiful. 

I made it up to the top and basked in the glorious views. There were cheers for those who made it and encouragement for those making the last few turns of the pedals. 

We waited until everyone was up and then made our way into Brighton. This is almost exclusively downhill and highly enjoyable. At one point some riders have been known to set off the speed cameras but not this time. 

After a few photos of my Cloud Blue with the Pier in the background, Dr John and I made our way to the station clocking up 57 miles. Stocking up on some refreshments we boarded out train and I reached Blackfriars at 09:41 saying goodbye. I reached the tube station of my choice to find things were suspended. In fact almost all routes home via the tube were, so I cycled back. As I passed the statue of Sir Ernest Shackleton outside the Royal Geographical Society, I fancy I could almost hear laughter coming from its direction. 

I made it home a little later than planned but thoroughly enjoyed it all. Many thanks to Adrian for a wonderful route and his team of Tail End Charlies. The Brighton run is always rather special, perhaps as it was my first overnight ride to the coast that started this near addiction. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Looking forward to Brighton

Friday into Saturday morning will be another overnight adventure to Brighton. This will be one of the larger group rides, that until quite recently, have been seen the number of participants attending greatly reduced due to the C word.

My initial thought is to take my new Cloud Blue with me. Firstly it would be great to give it a good run out on its first night ride to the coast - and tackle Ditchling Beacon. Secondly in cycling to Brighton I will probably clock up over 100 miles since I bought it, meaning I can take the bike in somewhere for its initial check/service.

The forecast is looking good and I am already looking forward to it. 

Until then, stay safe out there people  

Sunday 11 July 2021

Down the pub - historic London cycle ride

Today was a rather different ride with people I normally see on night rides to the coast. This one was a day ride that took in several London historic pubs. Having read history at university for a couple of degrees before I joined the rat race, it is always something I have liked a great deal. Combine this with cycling on a Brompton, finding out something new about London and meeting up with some familiar faces, it was an easy choice to make myself free for this one. 

The start point was Hyde park Corner. I got there early so decided to cycle around for a bit and take the odd photo here and there. Naturally, lots of these featured my new and rather fine Cloud Blue Brompton!

At Buckingham Palace I would like to say that I saw the flickering of a net curtain being pulled back to see what that fine bicycle was, but it might have just been my imagination. 

Once the soldiers on horses went past we got ourselves ready and were off to find out about some rather interesting locations. Our ride leader was night ride to the coast ride leader and gentleman that is, Ross. He had a real treat ahead for us and the route would take us all to several locations I had not heard of or seen before. 

The Star Tavern Grade II  listed public house in the rather plush Belgravia has had many famous customers including Peter O'Toole of 'Lawrence of Arabia' fame, the late Princess Margaret and even Diana Dors. It is also famed for being the location where the Great Train Robbery, carried out in 1963, was planned and masterminded by Bruce Reynolds in its upstairs rooms. 

The Star Tavern 

The Star Tavern

The Grenadier, also in Belgravia was originally built in 1720 as the officers mess for the senior officers but opened to the public in 1818 as The Guardsman. It was renamed The Grenadier in honour of the contribution they made at the Battle of Waterloo. 

The Grenadier

It is reputed to be one of the most haunted pubs in London. Legend has it that a Grenadier called Cedric was beaten to death for cheating at cards. Inside the pub you will find various bank notes pinned to a section of wall which is said to ward off Cedric - or other ghostly apparitions - from haunting you as you sip your pint!

The Grenadier

The Sherlock Holmes, in Northumberland Avenue is a Victorian themed pub that contains lots of memorabilia all about its namesake. The original collection of this was put together during the Festival of Britain in 1951. Originally called the Northumberland Arms, it appears in the 1892 Holmes story, 'The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor.' The Turkish bath that Holmes and Watson used to frequent can still be seen in the nearby Craven Passage. 

The Sherlock Holmes

The Ship and Shovell, another Victorian era pub located in Craven Passage, is quite unusual in that it is two separate buildings facing each other, connected by a shared cellar. 

Ship and Shovell

It was lovely catching up with everyone and to see so many out on their Brompton bicycles and plans were penciled in for more rides in the near future. 

The weather was very kind and near perfection. When I got up there was actually fog outside but it was burnt off pretty quickly. 

The pace was conversational and when needed we stopped to regroup. This didn't really take that long and even London traffic lights seemed to know that we were coming and cooperated. 

The Black Friar

The Black Friar, is a Grade II listed pub build approximately 1875 on the site of a former medieval Dominican friary. It remains on of the few art nouveau pubs in London and was saved from demolition by a campaign spearheaded by the late poet, Sir John Betjeman. 

Doggetts', is a pub whose name refers to a a boat race that pre-dates that of Oxford vs Cambridge University, originally organised by the actor Thomas Doggett. Every September there is a race for single sculling boats between London Bridge and Cadogan Pier in Chelsea, some 4 miles away. I am going to try and find out when it takes place so that I can go and watch the start. 


The Boot and Flogger, in Southwark is the only premises allowed to sell wine without having to apply for a licence. This dates from a charter of 1567 granted by Queen Elizabeth I. 

The Boot and Flogger. 

The George Inn, in Southwark is a Grade I listed pub is the only surviving coaching inn in London and it really is a stunner. It was frequented by Charles Dickens and referred to in his books, 'Little Dorrit' and 'Our Mutual Friend.' The acting term, playing to the gallery, may well have derived from inns and pubs like this as many were used by Elizabethan theatrical productions. 

The George Inn

The George Inn

The Kings Arms, in Borough has a large royal coast of arms above it. This came from the demolition of the stone gate which stood at the south end of Old London Bridge which somehow found its way suspended outside the pub. 

The last ride had a Russian submarine, this one a Russian tank!

Dirty Dick's Pub, on Bishopsgate got its name after Nathaniel Bentley refused to wash himself for the rest of his life after the tragic death of his fiancee on their wedding day. There is again a Charles Dickens connection as he is considered the possible inspiration for Miss Havisham in 'Great Expectations.' 

Dirty Dick's Pub

The Viaduct Tavern, is a Grade II listed pub that is one of the last of the Victorian gin houses in London a stones throw from the Old Bailey. It is said that in the basement there are the remains of a few cells from the demolished and infamous Newgate Prison. Despite them perhaps being a remnant of a debtors gaol affiliated to the prison, it is nice to think that they might be...

The Viaduct Tavern

The old Bailey on the site of Newgate Prison

Ye Olde Mitre, is Grade II listed pub at Ely Court, Holborn. Built in about 1773 but there are reports that the original building was built in 1546. It is said that Queen Elizabeth I once danced there. Strangely, the pub was actually once part of Cambridge as the land it occupied belonged to the Bishop of Ely!

Passageway to Ye Olde Mitre

Ye Olde Mitre

What a fine Brompton!

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, is a grade II listed building on Fleet Street. Build around 1538 is was rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of London. There are quite a number of literary figures who were regulars. These included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, P G Wodehouse and Charles Dickens - who obviously got about a bit!

The Seven Stars, is a Grade II listed pub in Holborn is said to have survived the Great Fire of London. The Seven Stars is said to have come from its former name the League of the Seven Stars after the seven provinces of the Netherlands from the many Dutch sailors who where among its first customers who settled in the area. It is also famous in modern times for the owners cat who wears a legal ruff!

The ride ended at another pub in between Paddington and Hyde Park. I decided to head straight off along with a few others that had the same idea. As I cycled back England fans were out in force and chanting, singing and at one point cheering me at full volume as I simply cycled past. When I dinged my bell and waved back they responded with louder cheers. 

Another great ride! I really do like these history rides and Ross provided us with a great route and some memorable locations. I don't actually drink but there are a few pubs we visited I want to go back to to get a better look. Let's hope they do sparkling water!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!