Friday 29 October 2021

Streets an Alleys of London on an Orange Brompton

What seems like ages ago, on 19th September, I went on another quite brilliant London themed ride. This one was titled 'Streets and Alleys' and would to be an eye opener on some of London's street names.

I set off early and could not resit taking a photo outside a property where John Lennon used to live in Marylebone.

I stopped off for a cup of tea and a roll at the Serpentine Cafe overlooking the lake. As I munched away looking out at the familiar view lots of memories replayed in my head. One of these caused me to almost burst out laughing. In one of the Jeeves books, Bertie Wooster recalls when he was once adrift at sea - with Jeeves - and thought that they might have drifted to home territory but mistook the Serpentine for the South China Sea!

There were lots of familiar faces and the turnout of Brompton riders was pretty good which is always a welcome sight.

Our meeting point was Hyde Park Corner and once the soldiers on horse has trotted past - arriving on schedule to the very second - we were off.

Rotten Row

Our first port of call was quite literally but a few steps away. Rotten Row came into being when William III moved to Kensington Palace up the road. With lots of naughty highwaymen lurking in the shadows, 300 oil lamps were set up to try and make things safer. Over 100 years later it was a popular spot for well to do sorts to promenade around. Its original name was Route du Roi but become Rotten Row - a short of pigeon English version of it perhaps.

Man in the Moon Passage - off Vine Street

The history behind this one almost brought a tear my eyes. Back in 1791, the famous double bass player, Frantisek Kotzwara paid a visit to a  prostitute in Vine Street with a rather outlandish request for her, to castrate him! Naturally, she refused - who wouldn't? Undeterred by this Kotzwara - obviously on a roll - still enjoyed himself but the nights naughtiness ended up with him dying via auto-erotic asphyxiation, the first time it was ever recorded as a cause of death. You couldn't make it up!

Seven Dials

Seven Dials in Covent Garden is a location I have always thought caters for three groups: tourists, hipsters and office workers. The original layout for it was designed in the 1690s with the idea that it would prove popular the well heeled. It did but also attracted many that that well heeled did not particularly want to fraternise with!

Hanging Sword Alley 

What a great name. It took its name from a fencing school whose existence was first recorded in 1564 - and remained there well into the 17th Century. Later on it became known as 'Blood Bowl Alley' after a an infamous drinking establishment. Later still it reverted back to 'Hanging Sword Alley.'

Bleeding Heart Yard

The courtyard probably got its name from a 16th Century inn called the 'Bleeding Heart.' However, legend has it that Lady Hatton (from the family who owned much of the area of London, Hatton Garden) made a pact with the devil, who danced with her and subsequently tore her heart out. This was then found the very next day still beating in the courtyard. 

The location also appears in the Charles Dickens novel 'Little Dorrit' as the home of the Plornish family. 

Cock Lane

Perhaps not a surprise, Cock Lane was the site of legal brothels in the medieval period. It is also the location where the 'Cock Lane' ghost revealed itself to startled onlookers in 1762. (I suspect they were never the same again)!

Wardrobe Place

This was the location of the Kings Wardrobe. Most people have a fitted wardrobe or something just about still standing from IKEA but Edward III back in the 1300s set up a few houses to keep his finest inside. 

Photo bombing the tourists

Sherborne Lane

In the 13th Century this street was called 'Shittborwelane' and later 'Shiteburn Lane' due to the foul stench emitting from nearby public toilets. Perhaps appealing to the sensitivities of the the general public, the name eventually settled with 'Sherbourne Lane.' Thank goodness for that!

Pudding Lane

This is generally thought of as the location for the bakery where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. The bakery was located opposite the Monument. 

Mincing Street 

In the 19th Century Mincing Lane was the centre for all things tea and spice. The popular radio programme 'Round the Horn' starring among others, Kenneth Williams, made the word 'mincing' popular in slang terms for the way certain people walk. 

French Ordinary Court

This passageway go its name from food venues where all the meals cost the same amount. The French part comes from the arrival fo French Huguenots who opened several 'Ordinaries' in this part of London to caster for the tastes of their fellow immigrants.  

Crutched Friars

These Friars were part of a Catholic religious order in England and Ireland first recorded in the 13th Century. The name comes from the staff they carried with them with a crucifix on top. The word 'Crutched' is a corruption of crucifix and nothing to do with crutches at all. (Saying that, I bet one of them had a limp). 

Horselydown Lane

This was originally an area of pasture used for grazing animals during the Middle Ages. If you were old enough, you could stand there with Tower Bridge only up the road and say that you remember when it was all fields!

Disney Street 

Actually a very old name from the Norman era deriving from the surname d'Lsigny. Zoom forward to more recent times Walt Disney actually visited this street and had some photos taken while he was in London. 

Many thanks to Ross for another great ride and lots and lots of interesting information. (He could become an official guide). I always enjoy these rides and the 20 or so miles flew by. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 

Thursday 28 October 2021

Brompton change the names of their bike models

Not that long ago Brompton decided to change the way they names their bicycles. Previously it was all M, S and H but now it's A, C and C Electric. Oh, and there is also Low, Mid and High handlebars. Confused? Don't be.

The A Line:

  • 3 x gears
  • Mid handlebar (M in old money)
  • White main frame and black extremities 
  • No mudguards

For my money this looks a little like the B75 but in a different guise - older handlebar and brake levers.

The C Line:

  • 2, 3 or 6 geras
  • Low, mid, high handlebar 
  • Front carrier block included 
  • Choose your colour 

Within the C Line are a few sub-categories

C Line Urban:

  • 2 x gears
  • Low, mid, high handlebar 
  • Mudguards
  • Lighting and rear rack optional 

C Line Utility 

  • 3 x gears
  • Low, mid, high handlebar 
  • Mudguards
  • Lighting and rear rack optional 

C Line Explore 

  • 6 x gears
  • Low, mid, high handlebar 
  • Mudguards
  • Lighting and rear rack optional 

Brompton Electric C Line Urban

  • 2 x gears
  • Mid, high handlebar 
  • Mudguards
  • Lighting intergraded

Brompton Electric C Line Explore

  • 6 x gears
  • Mid, high handlebar 
  • Mudguards
  • Lighting intergraded

There has been much chattering about why Brompton has gone to the trouble of renaming what they call their bikes instead of thinking of disc brakes, several more gears...the list goes on. I go on lots of rides that the Brompton really isn't meant for. It is essentially an urban commuter and that is its target market - both here and worldwide. I will continue with the urban commute, pottering around and going on longer adventures on my 3x Brompton C Line Explore, Mid  bicycles with optional lighting! 

I am sure that Brompton had a good reason to make this change. Trying to put myself into the shoes of a an urban, hip city dweller (those days are long since past since I could be described hip, if at all) I am wondering if it all makes sense and would I be able to find what Brompton suited me best? I think it probably does. I am just glad that there isn't the option for the standard and firm suspension block!

Stay safe out there people!

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Brompton Nicholas Hawksmoor ride

Last Sunday was a Brompton Club ride and meant to be a themed ride on the buildings of Nicholas Hawksmoor. I had not heard of him before and am shamed to confess that I am none the wiser. Read on and I will explain. 

The meeting point was outside London Bridge Station, which was a new meeting point location for me. I cycled just over 6 miles from NW8 to reach the start and thought it was quite a chilly morning. Making it to London Bridge in good time I saw the first Brompton contingent that soon moved on to the second one waiting a little further up the road. There I found some familiar faces and quite. few new ones too.

Quite promptly we were off to our first location - The Monument. This commemorates the Great Fire of 1666 in which lots of old London was lost to the ravages of a the fire that legend has it, started in Pudding Lane a stones throw away. 

Cycling down Pudding Lane we came to a junction and a church opposite that had something to do with Hawksmoor. 

It was good to catch up with Jenny and Sam. I don't really know how long our association goes back but it is several years now. Sam sometimes recalls a Christmas lights ride which saw us cycled down Brick Lane. It was there that I saw sights I will not forget and as such I have avoided that area after the fall of darkness ever since!

At Embankment I stopped to take a photo of the memorial to Sir Joseph Bazalgette, engineer extraordinaire. I am convinced that he would have approved of a small wheeled folding city bike!

We stopped off at Westminster Abbey. The Towers had something to do with Hawksmoor - you can tell perhaps that I wasn't paying attention. 

The last time I stopped here to take a photo, it was a cold evening and the Abbey was the backdrop for one of the many Lumiere London installations. 

As we approached Buckingham Palace, the streets were lined with people awaiting the changing of the guard. I think that many were bemused by the sight of over 30 Brompton riders gliding by. It reminded me of the Brompton World Championships.

At Kensington Palace we stopped for another group photo. It has been ages since I have seen so many Brompton bikes out for this sort of thing. It was all rather lovely. 

Not long after this photo was taken I got a text message from a relative who lives but a stones throw away, inviting me for a stop of luncheon. I couldn't refuse. Making discrete farewells I headed off and in less than five minutes I was inside and seated waiting for a feast. 

One day I will find out more about Nicholas Hawksmoor! I still enjoyed my little adventure, despite only cycling just over 12 miles in total. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!