Saturday 24 December 2022

An Orange birthday message to Stanley, Australia

I have written many times that this blog was first and foremost an online diary for myself, so that I can look back and see what I have been up to on my Brompton bikes. A very welcome bonus over the years has been connecting with many people all across the world, who kindly read my ramblings and occasionally contact me. Not long ago I received a message from Elise all the way from Adelaide, Australia about her Pappa, Stanley who is turning 80 on 5th January. I have to say it was to make my day. 

Elise explained in her message that her Pappa, Stanley (surely it must be Stan in Australia) loved reading my blog and reading about my adventures. (Do you know dear reader, I instantly warmed to Stanley)! Elise wondered if I could drop him a message for his birthday but I felt I could do better and write a blog post in his honour. 

A rather fine P-Type

Elsie explained that her Pappa has a Brompton and has been a keen cyclist all his life. He keeps it clean and in 'new condition.' He is a man after my own heart. 

The photo below is from 1976 when Stanley cycled from Klemzig to Victor Harbour and back - getting on for over 120 miles. It is wonderful that Stanley still cycles at approaching 80 and I feel we can all take inspiration from him. I certainly hope that if I am still around at 80, I will be doing the same. 

What a handsome chap and wearing an orange top too!

Your Granddaughter Elise and the rest of your family must love you a great deal and I think what she has done here is a wonderful thing. 

So Stanley, we have never met, live thousands of miles apart, are from different generations and yet we have a common bond that is cycling and of course a Brompton. I wish you a very happy birthday for the 5th January, a very merry Christmas and many more years of cycling adventures. (Naturally, it goes without saying, keep reading this blog)!

Until next time, stay safe out there Stanley. 

Brompton London Christmas lights ride

Last Friday was the Brompton Christmas lights ride. It was the day of train strike but this not being an issue for me - as I rarely use public transport anyway - I headed for the meeting point at Trafalgar Square. There were a few familiar faces out on their various Brompton bikes. 

I arrived just in time, taking a detour to see the lights on Regents Street, before we almost certainly viewed it as a group. London was busy and I very much welcomed this as I still remember lockdown and how it resembled a ghost town (something I really disliked). 

Trafalgar Square

We set off promptly and after a few minutes we arrived at Covent Garden. Covent Garden has a long history going back to the Romans and Anglo-Saxons. The market has long been displaced by all manner of shops, eateries, clubs, theatres and pubs. 

Covent Garden

Seven Dials is a a road junction within Covent Garden that is essentially a roundabout. At its centre is a column bearings six sundials with the column being the seventh. I am ashamed to admit that it can be rather amusing to watch those unfamiliar with the various directions on offer, as you can often see then going down one street only to return to go down another.  

Seven Dials

Not far away Carnaby Street provided lots to see. Close to Oxford Street and running almost parallel with Regent Street, it has been living off its popularity from the 1960s. Back then it was frequented by the likes of The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Carnaby Street

There are still some rather good shops to be seen on Carnaby Street and it is always decorated rather nicely for Christmas.

Oxford Street is Europe's busiest shopping street and this evening was not exception. Originally is was an important Roman road. Much later it was just known as Tyburn Road as the Marble Arch end was the notorious site for public executions. For the Brompton user it was a lovely way to see the lights and ride in a Brompton peloton 
Oxford Street

The lights on South Molton Street have not changed for years but are always a welcome sight. The street runs from Oxford Street to Brook Street and contains lots of unique shops. 

South Molton Street

Bond Street is home to many very expensive shops. Many do not display a price tag for their wares and the old adage, if you need to ask, you probably cannot afford it, rings true even today. 

Bond Street

One of my favourite shops, 'Chappell' that sold all kinds of sheet music has long gone. I do recall going there to buy the sheet music for mainly television/film themes, rushing home to quite literally butcher them on the piano!

At 181 Piccadilly, stands Fortnum and Mason, an upmarket department store that has been around for years. Despite still being very much the real thing, over the years it has become more touristy. Despite this, it still makes one of the nicest range of tea you can buy anywhere. 


The Regents Street lights rarely disappoint and often rival and better those found on Oxford Street. Again, it provided lots of photo opportunities. 

Regents Street

At 46 Berkeley Square stands, Annabel's. This is a private members club that always decorates its outside well at Christmas. Some might say that this is the best part of it. I couldn't possibly comment! 


After - I think 7 or so miles - and with SW7 only a few pedal strokes away though Hyde Park, I made my farwells and headed off. I was starting to feel the cold, despite the several layers I had gone out in. 

In Grosvenor Square they had a rather lovely display of illuminated flowers. These were made all the better by a thin layer of snow that was just about still there from earlier in the week. 

Grosvenor Square

Heading back through Hyde Park, Winter Wonderland was in full swing and lots of people were out and about either going in or coming out. It did not take too long to get back to the warmth and as I looked at my parked Brompton, I considered whether I would be out on it before the end of 2022?

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Sunday 20 November 2022

Brompton Ashford to Dungeness and back

It had been ages since I cycled to Dungeness. The idea to get the train from St Pancras to Ashford and cycle there and back to Ashford was talked about many months ago but a combination of availability and rail strikes meant that it could not happen until Saturday, 22nd October.  

I had intended to retire my Orange Titanium until perhaps March / April next year but this didn't happen. My Cloud Blue, which is my commuter hack, was so filthy from my rainy commute the week leading up to this weekend and with me using it up until the Friday before, there was no time to give it a clean. My Orange Special Edition was also out of action as I had been unable to get the shifter working. (More on that another time). So, my Orange Titanium came out to play. 

The meeting point was St Pancras for Dr John and I and as I got there in very good time, I decided to have a spot of breakfast while waiting. I was soon joined by Dr John who is currently enjoying his well deserved retirement. He had a new inner liner to his existing helmet that he said made it safer. I instantly thought of the hair net worn by a character from Coronation Street called, Ena Sharples. This brought me to two conclusions. First, the fashion police of NW8 and SW7 would have a field day if I wore that cycling through! Secondly, it really did remind me of that hair net!!

Surely you get what I mean dear reader!

For me, the similarities are uncanny!

We boarded our train in good time and were able to get a good spot. In addition to this, the train carriage was pretty quiet. At Stratford Station we were joined by Geoff and our trio was complete. 

After setting my Wahoo to point in the general direction of the lighthouse at Dungeness, we set off. Dungeness was about 20 miles away and there wasn't any rush, so I took a gentle, conversational pace. Naturally I stopped whenever there was something of interest to take a photo of. 

It took a few miles before we left the urban behind and when the Kent countryside arrived, as always, it did not disappoint. 

The only drawback to all the loveliness we cycled through, was the strong headwind that stayed with us almost the entire route to Dungeness. 

The draw of Dungeness is its uniqueness. It is one of the largest areas of shingle in Europe. As soon as we reached views of the sea, the strong winds we had cycled into disappeared and the sun even made an appearance!  

Naturally, it was time for a few photos and once I started everyone was at it. There is something very different about Dungeness to other seaside towns. It does have a certain remoteness about it. 

Prospect Cottage, the former home of the late film director and artist Derek Jarman was a welcome sight and looked as lovely as I remembered it from my last visit.  Part of John Donne's poem, 'The Sun Rising' is still there to make you pause for thought as you take it all in. 

There are several outlets where you can buy seafood in Dungeness but we opted for the Britannia pub. Rather than fish and chips I opted for a burger and very good it was too. 

After luncheon we did a few more stops at the two lighthouses. The Old Lighthouse had a Grade II listing. Opened in 1904 is was decommissioned in 1960. For a small fee you can climb up to the viewing platform. 

The more modern version started operations in 1961. For me the Old Lighthouse wins. 

The nuclear power station is ever present. In 2015 it was granted a second ten-year life extension, which extends its probable closure date to 2028. 

The miniature steam railway has been going strong since 1927 and we all stopped to see if one of the engines might just pass us by before heading back to Ashford Station. 

Hearing it long before we saw it, the little train - a little like Thomas the Tank Engine - motored past, steam flying and some happy smiles on the faces of the many occupants of the little carriages. 

The journey back to Ashford was certainly memorable. Part of the route - which Dr John and I had definitely cycled on our previous visit - gave way to a muddy track. The photo below shows the best bit which could not be cycled at all. The area in one of ongoing development as new estates are built.

Eventually we made it back to Ashford (albeit with muddy bikes) and got on the train back to St Pancras. We said goodbye to Geoff a few stops from London and once back in the big smoke, I said goodbye to Dr John. 

A memorable adventure and one to repeat in the summer months of 2023 perhaps. Many thanks to Geoff and Dr John - despite their bikes needing a good clean afterwards!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Sunday 16 October 2022

Brompton London to Ashford

What seems like ages ago now, on Friday 23rd September I joined what was to be the last group Friday night rides. 

There had been lots of forecasts of rain for this ride. My usual personal weather forecasting of sticking my head out of my front door ten minutes I was to leave home, made me think that there would be little rain, so I packed a light rain jacket for the saddlebag and that was it. 

I decided to take my Orange Special Edition with me as I have relegated my Orange Titanium to hibernation for the winter. It might make a return sometime in March 2023 for what might be the first group ride to the coast of 2023. 

The start

Those little details matter!

Just before Westminster Bridge at the lights a fellow Brompton rider chatted about all things Brompton. Seeing my moniker on my bike he asked if I was off for a night ride to the coast. I said yes to the night ride but informed him I would be cycling to Ashford. Saying that he should give it a go one day, he shuddered and said, 'no way could I do that.' As the lights changed I said that he should and as I passed him he simply shouted out, 'okay.'

Almost at the start.

A few hours before the ride, Mark - King of the Hill - sent a text message asking if I was going to ride up at the front with him. This was going to be the first of these rides where he would be ride leader. Naturally I said yes and I would assist Mark for much of the ride - especially the London section - helping junctions being waymarked as we went along. 

At the meeting point, there were a few familiar faces. Jenny, Eben, Dr John and Ian who had come all the way from Sheffield. After the briefing we were off into the night and a lovely night it was. 

Getting ready for the off.

London is a rather large place as we cycled through Bermondsey, Deptford, Lewisham, Eltham heading ever further southeast. Our pace was purposeful and Mark was doing a great job leading the ride. Ironically we had to wait over 30 minutes at 'Mark Way' while a mechanical was sorted out by the excellent tail end Charlies. 

Somewhere in the early hours.

There were a few tasty hills on the way to the halfway and a descent that had to be taken seriously due to the gravel and potholes. We arrived at the halfway stop later than planned - due to the the lengthy wait for a puncture to be repaired - at just after 04:30 in the a.m. The location was a village hall in Golden Green. For me this was a little like a time warp as it resembled something out of 'Dad's Army' and I could picture meetings being held there, made better by cups of tea and homemade cake. 

The village hall.

This partly became a reality as, Tim and his wife (usually purveyors of the finest halfway stop in the land at the Church of the English Martyrs in Stroud) had decamped to this location. The offerings where the same: ham and cheese rolls; Victoria Sponge; Lemon Drizzle and Bread and Butter Pudding. 


This was all consumed with enthusiasm by all and as for me I tried to keep my eyes open. Conversation from me was sparse as a result and at any moment I could have fallen into the deepest fo sleeps with snoring and quite possibly mild dribbling. 

Parked Brompton bicycles

Thankfully both my companions and I were spared from this and almost an hour later we left saying our goodbyes and thanks to Tim and his wife, to an early morning still consumed by the dark. 

The second half allowed us to experience the slow transition of dawn and the sunrise produced its usual wonderful hues and colours. The remainder of the ride was a great deal flatter than the first half which allowed for a purposeful but still conversational pace. 

The Kent countryside again provided some glorious views and the odd oast house confirmed where we were. 

We arrived at Ashford just after 08:15 and saying goodbye to Mark I made my way to a near deserted Ashford International Station. From there I got the fast train back to London and was home in excellent time. 

Another great adventure. Mark did a wonderful job up at the front and the tail end Charlies were equally good at the rear. The next ride will be sometime in early 2023 but knowing me, I will try and drag Dr John out for a pre-season nocturnal excursion somewhere if the weather is kind beforehand. 

There you have it dear reader. Possibly the last night ride of this type for 2022. I still have hopes that there will be a Christmas Lights all nighter but just have to enlist enough willing participants to join me. 

Until next time, stay safe out there.