Sunday 31 July 2022

New role for Brompton Cloud Blue bicycle?

I make no secret of the fact that I love my Cloud Blue Brompton. It is not Orange but I really like the colour. Recently I have given some serious thought to changing its role.  

Up to now my Cloud Blue has been my short trip, London ambling around Brompton. It is on this bike that I poodle along various locations. With two Orange Brompton bikes and with this colour now discontinued, I think that it might be time for me to use the Cloud Blue for everything I have been using it for, but also for my commute. 

I say commute however there are times when cycling to and from work is impossible. I do think that on the days that I can take a Brompton, I would be happier doing so with the Cloud Blue. Nothing is set in stone yet but I am giving it some serious thought. 

Saturday 30 July 2022

Usual London shops ride on a Brompton bicycle

This morning I was up bright and early and off to Hyde Park Corner on my Cloud Blue Brompton. Of late I have been using my other two orange Brompton bicycles and thought it only fair I took it for an outing. 

I arrived before the agreed 09:30 meeting time, the sun was shining and it was going to be a lovely day for it!

After saying hello to some of the usual suspects we followed Nick, our ride leader, for another of his themed London rides. I particularly like them as it is in London naturally but also because we cycle to locations I might have passed by and yet know nothing about 

#1. John Simons. 46, Chiltern Street. 

Our first location was an upmarket gentlemans outfitters. The window display offered a peek into what sort of clothing was on offer. My eyes were drawn to a rather expensive pair of suede shoes - offered in two colours - that screamed 1970's Geography Teacher. Now there is of course nothing wrong with this or that look but I personally wouldn't want to pay large sums of money to achieve it. Having a good look through the window (as you can probably guess) I took the view that I would not care for any of the the items offered for sale. 

#2. Niwaki. 38, Chiltern Street. 

Almost next door was our second shop, this one offering various Japanese tools for your home and garden. Certainly more upmarket than Homebase!

#3. V V Rouleaux. 102, Marylebone Lane.

As you can see in the photos, this shop is a supplier of all things ribbon. Dresses, no problem. Decorating your party, no problem. Pagan Maypole ribbon, probably no problem. 

#4. John Bell and Croyden. 54, Wigmore Street.

This shop is essentially a rather posh version of Boots or Superdrug and has been around since 1798. I have only ever stepped inside there once. I had collected a newly strung tennis racket from Wigmore Sports across the road and sliced my finger open on one of the ends of a very sharp spring. I went inside to buy a plaster or two but the lady on the counter took charge and cleaned and bandaged my finger quite beautifully. Before I left she gave me a supply of bandages, just in case. 

#5. Pollock's Toy Museum. 1, Scala Street.

This has been in its current location since 1969. I do remember going there when I was little, enjoying the James Bond, Aston Martin toy car from Goldfinger.

#6. Treadwell's. 33, Store Street. 

This quite the bookshop, selling books on magic, the occult, spiritualism and witchcraft. 

#7. Hobgoblin. 24, Rathbone Place.

This shop is another I have been to over the years.  It sells a wide variety of musical instruments from around the world. I have bought a ukulele from them that I still own to this day. 

Natalia in the photo below went inside (upon my insistence) to see what this instrument was.

#8. Reckless Records. 30 Brewer Street. 

It was not that long ago that some of us who went on Charlie's album covers ride were at this very location. Reckless Records has been buying and selling vinyl and CDs since the early 1980s. 

#9. I Camisa and Son. 61, Old Compton Street. 

This billed as the first real Italian food store in London and goes as far back as 1929. I have to say that I am not 100% about that as I think, Terroni's in Clerkenwell goes back further. 

# 10. Algerian Coffee. 52 Old Compton Street l00.

If you like coffee and tea (tea being my favourite) this is a rather good place to go if you want something a little different to the genetic high street outlets or supermarkets. 

#11. Paxton and Whitfield. 93, Jermyn Street. 

This rather fine establishment has been around for ages - in fact from 1894 in this location, They are the oldest cheesemongers in England and have two Royal Warrants. This is another shop I have used quite a bit and remember going there as a youngster with my mum. Well worth a visit and you can try before you buy and sample all sorts using their expert knowledge. 

#12. Floris. 86, Jermyn Street. 

Floris is the oldest perfumery in England and still family owned and run. In addition to being perfumers to the current Queen, past customer include Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming and Marilyn Monroe. There is little chance of buying a bottle of 'Brut 33' however I am sure they could make something that came close!

It was outside this shop that our ride leader Nick stoically carried on providing a history of Floris whilst competing with the sounding of a nearby church bell and shouts of 'louder' from certain participants. 

#13. Farlows. 9 Pall Mall. 

This is another shop I have been to in the past. In what seems like a former life, just before university, I worked in a bank not far away on Pall Mall East. The bank job was horrid and instead of lasting more or less up to the point I started university, I could only stomach it for five months. I remember nipping into Farlows as I wanted a replacement Barbour jacket for the one that I had had for years. They didn't have the one I wanted but I do remember them having a fly fishing display that I comically caught my trousers on and almost toppled over!

#14. Cecil Court. 

Cecil Court is just off Charing Cross Road and is a rather interesting place to go to if you like books that are themselves interesting. Here you will find specialist bookshops that cater for one specific genre. Some cost less than £1 while others a fortune. In recent times I have to say that it has always given a Harry Potter vibe. 

#15. Stanfords. 7, Mercer Walk. 

Stanfords is a specialist travel and maps bookshop. Dating from 1854 is sells one of the largest quantity of maps and globes in the world. Another shop I have been to several times and I do remember going in there many years ago to get a few maps of Europe for an interrailing trip - does anyone still do that - and the lady in their was so helpful she pretty much planned out an incredible route on a main map for me. 

#16. Ede & Ravenscroft. 93, Chancery Lane.

If you have ever graduated from a university in the past, you might have obtained your robes and motor board hat from this establishment. My daughter recently graduated and she got her robes about two hours before the ceremony. It was all really well organised and rather slick. I recall having to go to this establishment to get a fitting and take with me all wrapped up in brown paper. It was a bit of a chore, equally so taking it back!

#17. Amazon Web Services. 60, High Holborn.

This particular building had us all stumped and not a single person guessed what company might be based here. 

#18. Coppermill Ltd. 118-122, Cheshire Street.

A very unassuming shopfront for a company that sells industrial cleaning rags and holds a royal warrant. Established in 1920 it has remained a family-run business. 

#19. Blackman's Shoes. 46, Cheshire Street.

A family business that was the first shop in London to sell Dr Marten boots.

#20. Labour and Wait. 85, Redchurch Street.

This isn't an old shop but is of the rather hip and trendy variety. Inside you can buy all sorts of household items.

#21. Gleave and Co. 111-113 St. John Street.

A rather unique shop selling every part the discerning horologist might need.  Established in 1948 is is still in the same family. 

#22. Condor Cycles. 49-53 Grays Inn Road. 

First opening its doors in 1948, Condor have been making some wonderful bicycles ever since. I own a Condor road bike and have visited the shop many times. It is a wonderful shop and once you buy one of their bicycles you are part of the club. It still stands as perhaps the most pleasurable buying experience I have ever had. 

With our shop stops completed we headed back to Russell Square where some participants  enjoyed some refreshments. I made my goodbyes and headed back. Another really interesting and enjoyable ride. I do like these London rides as they always provide locations that I might otherwise not know existed. Many thanks to Nick for leading the ride and providing a great route. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people. 

Sunday 24 July 2022

Broken light mount!

My usual light for nocturnal adventures is the Exposure Torro. This light is a few years old now and there have been several updated versions but it has remained a very dependable companion that is guaranteed to illuminate the path ahead with several hundred lumens for 10 hours - not that I really need it to last that long but nice to know it does. The other light I use a great deal is the Lezyne Mega Drive 1800i. This too is a beast of a light and the addition of the Infinite Battery pack that came with it, provides a longer burn time if needed. As you can see in the photo below and also my the title for this blog, there was a little bit of a disaster. 

I have had this light for a few years and use the strap to mount it to the handlebars of whatever Brompton I care to use. Sadly, when trying to do this, it just snapped in two. Now this wasn't the end of the world as a short term measure I took the strap off another Lezyne light (that was the same) and used it instead. The real issue came later on when trying to buy a replacement. 

I tried to find somewhere that stocked it but couldn't find any at all, to the extent that I gave up. I put my email address into a couple of sites to be informed when they had stock. After a couple of weeks I had forgotten about it until an email pinged into my inbox.  Seeing that there was stock, I decided to buy two. They were only £4.99 each so I thought getting a spare might be a good idea.

I now have a fully usable light again and I think that in future I will be a little more careful when taking it on and off bikes!

Until next time, take care out there people!!

Saturday 23 July 2022

Wahoo Roam back to normal

I have gone through lots of different bicycle specific GPS devices. I am a big fan of them for recording ride data and occasionally used them to navigate where I was going. Those by Garmin - for me at least - were unusable and either took an age to actually load a route or could not load a route at all. I have of course used my phone but that isn't always practical and sometimes throws up route that I don't feel are cycle friendly. When I bot a Wahoo Bolt, things changed. 

With the Wahoo I actually found that I could navigate really easily...anywhere. As such, I started to cycle to locations I would not otherwise have got to. Another bonus was that, using your phone, you could type in any location, address or postcode and within seconds the route is loaded up on to your Wahoo in seconds. In addition to this, the routes it suggested always seem to cycle friendly and on quieter roads. 

So, it was a bit of a shock when I headed off from NW8 and tried to load up a route. It didn't work. There was no firmware update so I was stuck. I managed to get where I wanted to - eventually - but I really missed the simplicity and full proofness of my Wahoo.

I searched on a Wahoo forum when I got home indicated that Wahoo knew there was an issue and that they were on it. Three days later an update sorted it all out. Phew!! 

When on the recent Dunwich Dynamo I could thankfully load up a saved route and use it to navigate. This all worked fine and it was only the 'take me to' function that was not working. I am really glad that I didn't need to use it!

Until next time, stay safe out there people!

Thursday 21 July 2022

Dynamo lighting?

As I type this I am sitting in my study looking at at my Cloud Blue Brompton, a spare dynamo hub wheel and a set of front a rear Supernova lights. I think for this Brompton I might actually fit it all.

I have always liked dynamo lighting and hubs but the little wire bracket for anything other than the lightest of lights seems to shear off at the most inconvenient times. I ended up getting fed up with this happening and went back to battery lights. 

I have just ordered a few of the wire brackets that hold the light in place from the always brilliant. 'Brilliant Bikes' and they should arrive in a few days. Once they arrive I will fit everything and keep those spare brackets in with my toolkit bits - just in case the inevitable happens. 

It will certainly be more convenient to have a set of lights that are usable whenever I feel like it. The fitting process is easy and should not take too long. I will let you know how I get on. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Album Covers in London on a Brompton

On Sunday, 10th July - which seems like ages ago - I went on one of the Friday night ride to the coast day rides. This was a day ride and would see us cycle around London in the pursuit of locations that were album covers. Our ride leader was the gentleman that is and veteran of night rides to the coast Charlie. He said that this was actually the first ride he had been the ride leader of but you would not have known it. We met at Hyde Park at 09:30 and once all attendees had arrived we set off at 10:00. 

We cycled through Hyde Park and the weather was lovely. Warm but with a cool breeze - perhaps magnified and enhanced by the fact we were gliding along on bicycles. 

Our first album was from Carly Simon and titled 'No Secrets.' The cover photo features her standing in front of the Portobello Hotel on Stanley Gardens. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have passed this location and been totally oblivious to this. Naturally, I had to try and get a shot of my Brompton in roughly the same location. 

As soon as we started to head towards NW8 I knew that there could only be one album cover on offer and I was right. 'Abbey Road' was the 11th studio album by the Beatles. Charlie initially stood some way off the famous zebra crossing but soon agreed to stand by it after several people requested it. 

I have been pushed in a pram, dragged on reins, crawled, walked, run, sat down, skateboarded, drive and cycled over that crossing over the years. On this day I simply took a photo or two. 

Not that far away from Abbey Road we had our second album cover featuring Carly Simon. The cover for 'Anticipation' released in 1971 was shot at the gates of St Mary's Gardens in Regents Park. Again another location I have been to many times buy totally unaware of its use as an album cover. 

Despite several requests that Charlie adopt the same pose Carly Simon had chosen, he was having none of it sadly. 

The next album was 'Rise & Fall' by Madness. The photo on the album cover was shot on top of Primrose Hill and although we didn't go to the exact spot, you could see roughly where it was from where we were standing. 

Only a few hundred metres away, outside Chalk Farm tube station was the backdrop for another album cover by Madness. 'Absolutely' was released in 1980.

Again, not too far away was at Camden Market where the 'The Clash' cover was shot in an alleyway opposite the front door of the location they rehearsed, by the band The Clash. One of the traders said that the actual photo was taken a little further away down another alleyway, but we got the idea. 

For the Monopoly lovers among us, passing Pentonville Prison was a bonus. Pentonville has seen some notable former inmates. Oscar Wilde spent some time there in 1895 before being moved to Wandsworth. Footballer George Best in 1984 for driving under the influence. Boy George in 2009 and George Michael in 2010. 

The next album had the backdrop of the Dalston Peace Carnival Mural in Hackney. 'Home' by Rudimental was their debut album and of all the albums featured (along with Abbey Road) is the only album I own myself. 

The next album cover saw us in Whitechapel Road, outside the former home of the infamous Grave Maurice pub. This was originally established in 1723 and rebuilt in 1874. The Kray Twins used to frequent the pub. 'Under the Influence' was a series of compilation albums in which various famous artists/bands chose tracks that influenced their work. Morrissey was asked to do one with the album cover featuring him standing out the Grave Maurice. 

Heading back we cycled along the Victoria Embankment and I spied the memorial to Joseph Bazalgette. I thought that I would quickly take a photo for reasons that will become obvious later on. 

The penultimate album was, ' The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' by David Bowie, released in 1972. 

The original photograph of the album was taken in black and white with the colour being added afterwards. The original location was outside a recording studio off Regents Street but is now a restaurant.


Our final destination saw us up the road in Berwick Street. This street scene with a two people passing each other on Berwick Street was the cover of '(What's the Story) Morning Glory' by Oasis. 

With that done, the ride was over and Charlie did mention that there were several more album covers and locations he could take us to. Perhaps a part 2 ride is in order.

Travelling back to NW8 I passed the former residence of Sir Joseph Bazalgette on Hamilton Terrace. I really do think that an engineer of his caliber would have appreciated an orange folding bicycle!!

Another great ride with great company and many thanks to Charlie for a very interesting ride around London. Definitely one of my favourites. 

Until next time, stay safe out there people!!