Monday, 16 January 2012

More tales from the (bike) saddle

I've now managed to get out on the mountain bike 4 times this year already. All 4 rides have been modest 12 - 15 milers but enjoyable nevertheless. This weekend's trip took me up through Penwood towards Bughclere, Old Burghclere, up on to the Whitway and home via Highclere. This picture was taken on a bridleway just outside Old Burghclere, and there's a deceptively steep hill just out of view.

Bridleway near Old Burghclere, Hampshire

I have finally finished David Byrne's excellent Bicycle Diaries and thought it was quite appropriate that soon after I had a good pedestrian vs. bad cyclist incident in London last week, that I read the chapter about the rules of the road. My incident involved me crossing a pedestrian crossing at which the green man was displaying, i.e. my right of way. I was just about to cross when someone on a fold up bike came speeding through what, for him, would have been a red light. My cry was half chastising him for his error, and half surprise that he nearly ran me down. Instead of an acknowledgement of error on his part I was greeted with a gruff "f*** off". I wasn't particularly shaken by the event, but very angry regarding this man's ignorance and arrogance. It's these sort of people who give other law abiding cyclists a bad name.

Fortunately I was en route to Notting Hill Gate where I rewarded myself with some CD retail therapy, picking up a couple Thing of the Past and Errant Charm bu Vetiver, Exile by Charalambides, along with CDs by Espers, Roedelius and Brian Eno

Anyway, having finished the David Byrne book, I am about to move on to a book I bought just before Christmas On the Slow Train. I've got a few trips to London this week so will hopefully manage to make some good progress during the train journeys.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Bicycles, books and music

My Christmas man-flu is unbelievably still lingering but at least it's nowhere near as bad as it was. Going back to work on Tuesday was a huge shock to the system, but fortunately I worked the first 2 days from home, before working in London for 2 days at the end of the week. Whilst in London I had intended to go CD shopping one evening after work but alas I ended up working late and by the time I got back to my hotel I needed food, and after that I had more work to do. However, I'm up in London again next week so hopefully will have another opportunity. I've also got a list of other places to visit this year but need to wait until the evenings are lighter for most of them.

I managed another modest 12 mile bike ride today, but this time on my own. I followed pretty much the same route as the one I did last week with my daughter, but added on a small loop around Highclere Church before heading home.

Decision point

I wasn't in the mood for the uphill trek to Ashmansworth so opted for the route to East End instead, where I was rewarded with my first sighting of a fox this year. Interesting over the last year I think I have seen more foxes in London that I have out in the country where I live. I guess the dustbins of the rich and famous are the star attraction.

Last night we watched the Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour, which I though was well written and superbly acted. I'm hoping there will be a series based on the success of this. I also caught an hour or so of the Old Grey Whistle Test last night, featuring some brilliant 70's music from the quirkiness of Captain Beefheart to the pre-punk sounds of Patti Smith playing a track from here 1975 debut album Horses, and Dr Feelgood, and through to the post-punk/new wave era with The Talking Heads performing their seminal Psycho Killer, The Jam, Blondie and The Specials.

My reading is, as always, very slow and I'm still working my way through David Byrne's excellent Bicycle Diaries. In the book, he's now in San Francisco which, fingers-crossed, will be this year's summer holiday destination.


Monday, 2 January 2012

First bike ride of the New Year

I have been suffering with man-flu since before Christmas, and today was the first day I have really felt like doing anything vaguely energetic. And apart from the illness, December has not really seen me doing much other than eating and drinking, so it was high time to address that. The weather was cold and crisp as I set off with my 11 year old daughter on an 11 miler around West Berkshire/Hampshire border, taking in West Woodhay, East Woodhay, East End and Highclere (home of TV's Downton Abbey). The bird life was wonderful and we saw a nuthatch, buzzard and various tits and finches. We stuck to the roads as the bridleways were very muddy and wet, but fortunately there was hardly any traffic around, so all-in-all the perfect day for a ride, and hopefully a sign of rides to come later in the year.

Looking towards West Woodhay

West Woodhay Church

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