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!

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