Tuesday 31 August 2021

Purrfect Brompton London ride

Last Sunday (29th) I was up early and off to the start of the 'Purrfect' ride which as you can probably guess was very much cat themed. Some of you may or may not know, but I own several Maine Coon cats and I suppose you could say that I am very much a cat lover. It was therefore of little surprise to me that there would be so many cat themed references around London. 

The start was Russell Square and Nick - our ride leader and all round good egg - was already there along with some familiar faces. At about 09:45 we headed off to our first stop.

This stop wasn't too far away and outside Euston Station our first cat was a statue of Captain Matthew Flinders and his cat 'Trim.' Flinders is credited with with the name Australia being given to the country Australia. His cat Trim accompanied him on his journeys. Flinders was buried in St James's churchyard behind the station with the actual location being forgotten. When HS2 works began behind the station, his grave was rediscovered. Along with several others he will be reburied at some point in the near future. 

Further up the road Greater London House. A former cigarette factory, at its entrance stands two 2.6 metre high bronze statues of cats in the Egyptian style. There are a number of other cat themed decorations and it's a really lovely building. Not far away in the British Museum you can see the real thing. 

Cycling through Camden is always interesting and on a Sunday morning in daylight, probably a little subdued. 

Not too far away in Anglers Lane, Kentish Town there is a monument plague dedicated to a cat called Boris who loved at the house between 1986 and 1996. There isn't really a huge amount of details or background but I bet Boris was not only loved but a real character. 

We cycled further along through a section of Hampstead Heath. In the distance the London skyline could be seen. We also passed Highgate Cemetery (not as good as Kensal Green in my opinion) and part of Swains Lane. This is a famous steep climb but Nick - who does not like hills - managed to find a flat part. 

Our next stop was the entrance to the Whittington Hospital. Above the entrance is a large sculpture of a cat. The first hospital on this site was built to cater for lepers in 1473. On this day a bemused delivery driver could not quite fathom what on earth we were all doing - by the look on his face. 

Just round the corner came our next stop on Highgate Hill. The Whittington Stone 0f 1821 - with statue of cat added in 1964 - marks the approximate spot where future Lord Mayor of London, Dick Whittington was heading back to his from the City where he had not made his fortune. He apparently heard the ringing of Bow Bells in the distance and had a change of heart. 

As we turned into Whittington Park a floral cat sculpture stopped us in our tracks for more photos. 

Within Islington Green sits a memorial to the street cat 'Bob.' Bob the cat had a strong friendship with busker and 'Big Issue' seller James Bowen, James credited Bob in helping him to turn his life around. He penned their adventures into several books and there is even a film. 

In Queens Square almost as if jumping off the top of a wall is a bronze statue of a cat called, Sam. The statue does in fact commemorate Patricia Penn - a former resident of the square and cat lover and nurse - who championed local causes. 

Our next stop was the Savoy hotel. I have only been inside a coupe of times for cream tea type snacks but have been dragged to the theatre next door a few times. Outside are some topiary cats based on the Savoy's own cat Kaspar. Carved in 1927 Kaspar was the 14th guest in the dining room when 13 guests were present. 

You might spot that the cars are exiting on the wrong side of the road. This is as the entrance to the Savoy Theatre is on the right hand side of the road and the idea is that anyone waiting to drop people off at said theatre won't block the entrance to the hotel. 

Heading south we arrived at our penultimate destination, the Salter's family cat statue overlooking the Thames in Bermondsey in a prime location. Also sitting in a prime location was the chap enjoying the views. He ruined my photo but I forgave him instantly when he said, 'lovely bike.'

Our final destination before heading back to Russell Square was to Gough Square to see Hodge cat. Hodge belonged to Dr Samuel Johnson - of dictionary fame amongst other things - and he was suppsoed to have spoilt it rotten. Quite right really! 

Once all the photos were taken we headed back to where wee started. I said my goodbyes before heading back. In all I cycled just under 28 miles. 

As always a great ride and lovely to see and hear about parts of London that are new to me. London has so much history and stories that there is always something new to be found. Many thanks to Nick. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Saturday 28 August 2021

The partners in crime ride once again!

This morning I was up bright and early to meet my partner in crime, Andrew. The last time we saw each other was at the LBC birthday bash at Brompton Junction and the time before that...ages ago. The date/time was set and today I made my way to the 08:30 start point at the London Eye.

I started in St John's Wood. Some of the posh houses there have their own security staff and despite seeing me quite regularly, they eyed me with suspicion? Perhaps it was due to me being on my Cloud Blue Brompton instead of my usual Orange? The journey from there to the London Eye was just over 5 miles and took me almost 23 minutes at a fairly casual pace. 

London didn't seem too busy for a Saturday morning for once but there were lots and lots of police officers about, possibly due to the protests.

While waiting for Andrew I did the typical Brompton owner thing of taking a few photos of their bike with London as a backdrop! Not long after taking the photo below, Andrew arrived. 

The start near the London Eye

It was a little like old times almost straight away. We cycled east, chatted, caught up with each other and what we had been doing and stopped every so often...to take photos of our Brompton bikes!

Back together again

When we reached Canary Wharf we found a popular coffee establishment at which I had a tea and Andrew a hot chocolate - so wasted on us. With our drinks and snacks finished we headed off again. 

Just like old times, we got lost! I could blame the road closures for this but I can't. Eventually we found our way back. Andrew pointed out that we had in fact returned to the same spot and had cycled around in a very large circle. I was hoping that he would not notice!

The route back

We reached Tower Bridge and heading across it we cycled back towards Hyde Park Corner. I let the Wahoo plot the route and it always seems to take you the more scenic and quieter route, which I really like. Once at St James's Park we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. When I completed my ride I had cycled just over 19 miles, so just over 24 miles in total. 

It was lovely seeing my partner in crime again. It is strange to think that this friendship started - like so many - because of a folding bicycle! I am sure that there will be more adventures for us to come.

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Brompton Beatles to be repeated?!

You might have read my fairly recent blog post about a Beatles themed Brompton ride I did with a couple of friends? Well, it looks as if I may well be repeating this at some point in the near future. 

A friend who lives not far away from Abbey Road (where I sometimes park my car) wants me to repeat the ride along with another who is going to be in London for a few months. 

I don't think that I will add a huge amount to the route but I know that some of you out there know a huge amount about the Beatles and might be able to offer some more suggestions. If you have any ideas for locations more or less on the route I took, please contact me to let me know. 

So, watch this space for another Beatles themed ride/blog post. 

Stay safe out there people. 

Monday 23 August 2021

Virtual Brompton World Championships 2021

The Brompton World Championships is - for me at least - the premier cycling event. Nothing really comes that close. The BWC did not happen last year for obvious reasons and will not happen this year. There is however an alternative. 

The RideLondon event that the BWC tagged on to from 2015 is no more but there are plans that it is set to continue from 2022 - 2031. It won't go out to the Surrey hills and will be over one day instead of the a weekend. Whether a BWC event can be shoehorned in remains to be seen and if not whether Brompton HQ will find an alternative venue. Anyway, coming up this weekend 27th - 29th August Brompton are setting five challenges. 

Hidden Gem

This is where you give a shout out to your favourite local business. You need to take a photo of yourself and your Brompton at this location, telling why it is your favourite place. You share this online with #myBWCHiddenGem

Urban camouflage

With this one you try and blend in with your surroundings. You share this online with #myBWCUrbanCamo

Brompton Geographic 

For this you ride to a scenic location, take a photo (with your Brompton in the shot obviously) and share online with #myBWCBromptonGeo

Fastest Fold 

This one involves you submitting a video of you unfolding your Brompton. You need to show your time on camera. Share online with #myBWCFastestFold

Best dressed

You can still get to wear what you would have if there was a BWC. Share your finest outfits (and Brompton bikes) with #IamBWCBestDressed

If any of these take your fancy, submissions need to be made the deadline 31st August midnight (BST). A great idea and I do know a few people who will be doing this. So, if this is of any interest to you, get your Brompton and outfits at the ready. A word of warning if you venture out in your full BWC outfit - expect lots of photos, questions and stares from onlookers!

Stay safe out there people!!

Saturday 21 August 2021

Brompton Overnight London to Bishops Stortford

Friday night was meant to be London to Cambridge overnight but for me I ended up going as far as Bishops Stortford. 

The meeting point was the usual one near the London Eye and I made my way there in good time. The ever increasing number of people out and about has increased since the last time I had been this was - a good thing - and it gave a sense that some sense of normality was returning. 

At the start point there were the familiar faces of Dr John, Charlie, Ross, Stuart and again the very welcome return of Geoff. 

After the safety talk we got ourselves ready and almost on the stroke of midnight we were off into the night. 

Sadly we didn't get too far. In fact is was about a third of the way across Blackfriars Bridge as some poor unfortunate had suffered a puncture. 

I wasted little time using it as a photo opportunity and took a few snaps to remind me that I had come this way as it were. Once we heard the call of 'all up' we were off again. 

Our route out of London pretty much followed that of the Dunwich Dynamo as far as Epping. I was rather pleased to get through central Hackney and when we reached the blue bridge that sort of marks the official start point of the Dynamo, I had to stop for a photo. 

The Dynamo route out of London isn't my favourite I have to admit as I have always found it rather busy. This night was no exception. Once we got further and further out, things did start to get better but then disaster struck. 

Ahead I could see that riders had stopped and it initially looked as if they had stopped to regroup so that everyone could join a cycle path running adjacent to the road. Parking my bike I was about to take some water when I stopped the reason why we had stopped. Sadly, when trying to join what was a slightly raised part of the cycle path a rider has clipped it and fallen. 

Just to say straight away, he was okay. I am sure that he will have some sore bits but he was fine. He was at first almost motionless and was out of it I gather for a few minutes. He had hit the deck pretty hard and had some cuts to his face and arms. At that point I knew that for me the ride was over. 

I am not squeamish and in my time have had to deal with all sorts. However, few years ago when riding with a friend, they were knocked off their bike when a car overtook and turned left suddenly, with the result their leg was badly broken. At the time I did everything I could until help arrived but since then I have had a thing about bike accidents involving others. This was the main reason I knew that the love for this ride had gone. Definitely something I need to work on and get over!!

I considered heading back to London from that point but decided to get to the halfway stop. A secondary reason and not really as important, was that I knew I'd reach Cambridge later that I would have liked, resulting in me getting back to the big smoke later than I needed. 

The miles to the halfway stop at the services at Bishop Stortford were on quieter and more pleasurable country lanes. At the services we had some sanctuary. I ate a sandwich that I had brought with me and said my goodbyes as the others left. I had a quick chat with Nick (who had been the ride leader out of London and as far as Epping and was also calling it a day) and then made my way to the station. I got the 06:07 train to Liverpool Street that took about 40 minutes and by about 07:15,  I was back home. In all I only cycled 45 miles instead of 66 miles. 

Many thanks to the ride leaders Nick and Claire and to the people who attended the poor chap who took a tumble. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!