Tag Archive: London


Cycling London

Face masks for cycling

With all this talk of smog and pollution I was reminded of when I first cycled in London in 2001 from Clapham (I know, London for beginners / London for people who don’t like London) to Old Street. I used to wear a face mask then and remember two things about it. The first being the horrid black deposits on the bit where you had been breathing. The second being the nasty set of spots I used to get around the side of it where sweat and dirt would collect. I eventually stopped using it for the spotty reason.

The other reason I was thinking about face masks was that I recently went for a bike ride with James and ended up back at The Gowlett after to have a OJ and lemonade in the sun. This guy rocked up on his bike and clearly wanted to chat. He asked us where we’d been and then went on a big speech about how he uses a cycling mask when riding around London and how much better he felt for using it. We then politely asked where he’d been on his bike that day and if he’d been far.

Oh no, not too far today I’ve just been to the shops to get some cigarettes.

The irony seemed completely lost on him.


Cycling London

All the bridges and three parks

I’d had this idea in my head for a while now having seen it mentioned on LFGSS many years back. I’ve long since stopped posting on there but for some reason fancied giving it a go. The arrival of my geared bike back from the shop with a new lick of paint also meant I wanted to try a longer ride without being too far from a train ride back in case of the worst. The idea was to ride all of the bridges in London you could legally ride on a bike. Fortunately this ruled out the one over the M25. It also meant the millennium bridge was out but then I didn’t see that as a problem as I was more interested in the ones less ridden as it were.

I’d originally planned a route on Garmin Connect and suggested it to a few people although the ride never materialised. It’s tricky planning the route as you have to cross each bridge but then aim to get the nicest riding between each one – ie not ending up on a busy 3 lane main road. As it had originally been intended for meeting people from North London the start was a little odd. We rode down the old canal in Peckham and ‘the back way’ via a coffee shop in Bermondsey to Tower Bridge and then promptly turned round and rode back south, neatly avoiding the awful road by the Tower of London. Turning right onto London Bridge a little later put us back on the crappy road but we were soon off again and up over Southwark Bridge, one which I rarely ride over. This pattern continued although with less abortive u-turns.


After some faffing with cleats we got going properly. We ended up riding some bit of the Thames Path I hadn’t seen before as well as a great ride through Battersea park. We ended up on a few more rough patches which were a bit more CX than planned as well as a few trips up stairs with the bike shouldered, but it was all pretty good going really. The Hammersmith Bridge was one I hadn’t seen before and we stopped to admire it if a bit before riding over it. The other treat was riding the north bank of the river around Chiswick. I’d only ever glimpsed this from the madness that is the drive along the A4 by the Fuller’s Brewery to get to the M4 to the West Country, but there’s a lovely stretch of river and path here. We ended up on a footbridge at Putney with some incredible views over London with the hail that had briefly hit us earlier.

Rain over London

As I’d hastily planned the last few bits of the route on Garmin Connect I’d not really checked them all properly, including the section that had us going through the middle of Kew Gardens. The six foot wall kind of put a stop to this but we found our way around and back onto the route again skirting around Richmond, through Teddington and through Hampton Court. The tarmac was lovely on this bit. So smooth and fast! Back around the other side of the Thames and into Kingston which was horrid. Another trip over a bridge and a u-turn to say we’d done it and then up to Richmond park via a few wrong turns. We got there in the end and enjoyed a coffee at the stall at the top after the first hill. James was starting to run out of energy so we got some more food and limped round the other side of the park.

We then retraced some of our steps on the north of the river through Chiswick and Hammersmith before finding ourselves on a strangely diagonal route through Chelsea which seemed to cut through London in an odd manner. This would have taken us on a fast route up to Buckingham Palace but the Chlesea match was kicking out and the streets were mobbed. Fortunately they had won so they were all pretty friendly. We then stopped at the Rapha Cycle Club for coffee and lunch and James headed home and I went to work for a few hours, via Regents Park. All told it was about 105k so a fairly big day out although not at a fast pace due to lots of little twists and turns of the Thames Path. Still great to get some proper distance in and explore some new parts of London and oh so pleasant to be riding geared again! 100k isn’t too shabby for the first ride back.



Sensing Spaces

We went to the Sensing Spaces exhibition a few weekends ago after I did a quick shoot in town. Surprisingly they were happy to let me in with my camera gear and even had no issue with the tripod! Everyone should judge for themselves but for me it was a refreshing take on an Architecture exhibition. No boring boards, models, sketches and pages of text as usual. Even the 18 minute long film was enjoyable and thought provoking. It felt like it treated the viewer with some intelligence of their own and seems to invite people to explore and make their own minds up about the spaces and broader issues of Architecture. Perhaps it will also stimulate further awareness in the public of the environment, built or otherwise. Furthermore it wasn’t the usual suspects* showing their wares but new and interesting people.

Picture taker
Sensing Spaces, Royal Academy

Go and see it and make your own mind up. It seemed to be a real hit with children too. What was also nice was the space around each area. Whereas our experience of the Photographers Gallery was of a conveyor belt there was plenty of space at the RA to spill over and wander around. This space is so important to the overall experience. Go before 11am on a weekend if you want to get the best out of it.

Warm moody bit
Round bit, square bit, wall bit

Emma went a bit crazy for the coloured straws! She completely loved them.

Straws, lots of straws
Another straw in the wall

*When I saw usual suspects.. well I’m referring to this design competition. The shortlist had me hopping mad and I’m so glad the RA avoided the same mistake.



When to not use emoji?

Last night, during the storms that were taking place, this tweet found it’s way into my timeline by Hackney MPS.

Something awful had happened in Holborn where a section of building, presumably a parapet, fell down on a parked car and killed the poor woman sitting in the drivers seat.

The tweet from the Hackney section of the MPS was the first out there and included two emoji characters the hand together praying and the head in hands smiley. My first reaction to that was it was a bit weird to include those. My use of smileys and emoji is usually on Instagram or Twitter and used in a slightly comedic or playful way, especially the last character, the head in hands. This is usually used as a sign of shame or embarrassment usually posted on a compromising or silly picture.

Screen Shot 2014 02 15 at 19 51 12

I still think it’s kind of odd as I’d like to think of a police twitter account as being purely factual and professional and devoid of smileys. I guess the test would be, in my mind at least, whether you would message your boss with a smiley or emoji character.

But then as I’ve learnt before people use social media in different ways than you might expect and what is deemed acceptable is constantly changing. Maybe I’m being too old, miserable and over sensitive but it still doesn’t seem quite right or terribly respectful in this instance. I’m sure other people won’t see it as a problem though.

Writing this post I also discovered a WordPress bug in that it really doesn’t like emoji characters!



The Crown & Goose, Camden

It’s so sad to see my favourite pub, after The Gowlett, close at the end of last year. I feel like I should record it’s passing in some way so popped out with my tripod and camera at lunch yesterday. I kind of missed my weather window a bit but I think I’ll record a few more shots as they take it down.

Had some really good evenings in there after work. It was a pretty special place with a great crowd of people, staff and also a decent kitchen. I guess good things don’t always last forever. We were fortunate enough to have our Christmas do in there this year as a fond farewell to the place. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in there for quick drink after work at 6.30 / 7 and left at 1am in a worse for wear state after getting carried away chatting with colleagues friends.

I wish I’d got a few of the interior just after they closed too. RIP Crown and Goose. Now we just have to find a replacement pub to adopt.

Crown and Goose, Camden
Crown and Goose, Camden
Crown and Goose, Camden


Family & friends London

Not drinking for a bit

We didn’t call it a dry-athalon or try and go on about it too much hopefully, but we did somehow end up not drinking during January. We didn’t start immediately as it seemed a little odd to not have a glass of wine with our food on New Years day but since then we avoided all contact with the stuff.

I’ve never really considered giving up booze but over the years beer, and drink in general, has crept further and further into my life. Whether working late at work, relaxing in the evening, meeting people, weekends, dinners etc, booze has very much been a part of it. A pint of Guinness there, a can of Red Stripe there, a glass of wine with dinner, a G+T after a stressful day etc, it all adds up. The worst part being that your liver needs a break I guess and it’s just not getting it. I’m not suggesting that I’ve ever had a problem with the stuff, as I’m too much of a control freak, but booze pervades almost every part of my life at times. I’ve been weak too and it’s just easy to grab a drink as a habit.

We tentatively floated the idea and both agreed to do it for at least a month, or try. So we took all the booze that was in the house and moved it to the top shelf in the kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind so they say. At least it wasn’t looking at you in the face each time you were in the kitchen.

Forbidden fruit

And yes it’s a fairly random selection of drink. The Bells is for hot drinks with lemon and not to drink with coke or anything, and the Desperados – what can I say… I quite like one every now and then.

I guess booze is like any drug. It’s bloody hard to give up and we found the first few days painful, oh so painful. Trying to break out of the habit was really difficult, especially at the weekends where we might grab a few drinks and watch a film together. It’s hard breaking those ties or links to activities that usually involve a wee drink. Aleks likened my Twitter posts about not drinking to the five stages of grief which she seemed to find amusing. Those stages being, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance.

So what do you replace it with? Well chocolate seemed to be a suitable substitute but it’s not quite right to replace it with another vice. But your body seems to want something else. We both ended up drinking a lot more water and have both lost a bit of weight as a result. It seems to have been a good thing to re-visit and reassess your relationship with alcohol, not as a detox* but just because you should probably have a break. I’ve also slept better, felt far fitter on the bike, had better sense of well being and not been such a grumpy arse. The latter has come back as the stress levels have risen again. It’s also a lot better for the bank balance, not shelling out all that cash at the corner shop on Red Stripe each evening.

And the strangest thing.. well we could have started drinking on Sat, but we didn’t. There seems to be a slight sense of fear of going back to the old ways, or maybe it’s just that we’ve broken that bond and we’re more able to say no? It would be nice to have a drink again but to keep it as a treat, just at weekends or something perhaps. Regardless it has been a fascinating experience to see how you react when something like this is taken away or you try to limit yourself in some way. I even had a crazy idea of trying to give up booze, chocolate and coffee but that really was scary. It does make you think that it could be quite achievable with enough will power. There’s something quite liberating about taking control of all that again. Perhaps we’re at the final stage of our grief, acceptance.

* I read Bad Science this year so avoid the term Detox at all costs now.


Cycling London

Bloody cyclists, always running red lights

They drive me mad!


Interesting how the pink is brighter and more visible than the yellow. Although clearly you shouldn’t judge this from an Instagram with a filter applied. Does make me think that one of these isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Pic by Andy Waterman.


Cycling London

Past Woolwich and back

On Sunday I wanted to get a ride in but without the faff of mountain biking. My road bike is out of action as it’s being re-sprayed and all I have at the moment is the fixed (and the Brompton). I also had my tax return hanging over me so wanted to get a good bit of exercise without spending too much time out of the house. I thought about having another go at my favourite trail from the design museum east which I’ve done a few times before. I managed to talk Jonty in to meeting me and coming along for the day. The weather looked like it would hold til at least 2pm so we met at 9am for coffee on Bermondsey Street and then headed out East.

All good rides start with coffee.

I’ve done the ride loads of times before with various options. Once I got the Woolwich ferry and rode back along the North side. Other times I’ve got the clipper back from Greenwich as well as various permutations of. It’s always a good ride though, nothing too fast or challenging but nice to see some sights as well as the changing context. Riding by the river is great too.

I ended up sounded a bit like a tour guide explaining things I’d seen before or pointing interesting items out. We kept going and going, past Greenwich and on to the Thames Barrier. The idea was to see that and if it was working and come back.

This way and that

So we had a poke around the Thames Barrier and thought we’d push on. We ended up at the Woolwich ferry which is the furthest I’d been along the path. The bit after was more like a larger towpath and was nice riding. Again nothing too fast or crazy but just nice pushing the pedals and admiring the view.

Keeps on like this til you meet the sea, maybe.

I was also riding with a pannier for the first time which is surprisingly good. Whilst it doesn’t win any awards for looking cool it is amazing to ride without a rucksack. I’ve been using the same this week for commuting and love it. Apparently it really comes into its own in the summer though to avoid that awful sweaty back look which is so unpleasant.

Anyway by this point we’d gone a fair way east and spotted a big concrete housing scheme to go and have a look at. We looped round than had to decide what to do. The Garmin said we’d got to 35k so thought it best to head back and we knew that at some point the weather was going to turn. We got a little more sun on the way back and the stinky Tate and Lyle factory was looking pretty good in the winter sunshine.

Tate & Lyle
Urban alien

We also came across this odd little pavilion which has fallen into disrepair. Not sure what it was but it was set in a formal pair of pools. No idea what it was or what it was used for it was intriguing. I’ll ask the book of knowledge old Matthew Wickens and see if he knows.

Once glorious, now derelict

And then there was lots of this kind of stuff. Heavy industry, derelict factories, ship yard, docks, gravel pits etc. But then lots of it is all changing and being replaced by housing. The old electronic factory has started to be demolished too. The whole area keeps changing each time I cycle this way.


After a quick stop for a burger in Greenwich we were back to SE1 and another coffee to finish off (at the same place). Not a bad run out and managed to nudge the Garmin over the 70k mark which I was pretty pleased with, especially being fixed. It just started to rain as I was doing the last few kilometres. A great day out and so nice to ride directly from the front door. Maybe push it out a little further next time.

And here’s the route map which kind of looks a bit funny.

Muddy aftermath


Cycling London

Bloody cyclists, jumping the red lights all the time

An interesting little study of a junction in Kentish Town showing a few changes of the lights and those people who choose to obey or not obey the rules. Watch it to the end and watch out for the Royal Mail van.

This seems to show what I see each day on the way to work. 99% of people riding bikes sitting at the lights amongst the scooters and cars in the ASL. A few departing early from the lights to get clear of the traffic (me included) but most waiting for the lights to turn green.

Via @Londonneur


Family & friends London Peckham

Saying hello to Frank again

Nice to get back to Franks again this year with Emma. I’d already been once for the VIEW summer party which was rammed. Seems to be best to go at the weekends or get there early on a week night. Same kind of thing as usual, good food, views and Negroni’s. We had a great time although had a little too much sun.

Pikker taker
I /
Me and her

And of course someone turned up with their tomato plant. As you do.

I brought a tomato plant