A Grim North

Musings from a northerner living in the deep south…

Archive for February, 2011

No monopoly on borisbikes

Posted by Alan on February 25, 2011

So the real reason Mr C visited London was to play about on the Boris Bikes. Being the scheming planning type I thought – why don’t we try something a bit different. How about trying to visit every square on the monopoly board using only Cycle Hire? Great idea. In their glory, here’s the map of all the points:

 

The docking stations of Monopoly

Starting at Angel there were two bikes in the dock – only one would undock. Stop. Walk to the next docking station halfway down Pentonville Road.  Undock. Get distracted and cycle to Marylebone via the segregated route parallel to Euston Road (in doing so miss Euston Road & Kings Cross station).  Due to roadworks even this didn’t go well as the eastern end was closed!

Access Denied

Access Denied

Docking at Marylebone, we then struggled to find another two bikes in the same rack. Which resulted in a walk to Marble Arch and ultimate abandonment. Having not really planned a route between the docks or really thought about it past potting them it probably wasn’t ever going to go well. However, we did then cycle all the way across Hyde Park and back again. And the further east eventually finishing at Liverpool St. So it wasn’t an entirely wasted day.

Jelly family

Jelly family at Marble Arch

Ideally I need to find someone adept enough with computers to run a travelling salesmen algorithm across the points to get the most optimal route.  The two main outliers (Old Kent Road / Marlborough St) might cause you to spend a quid but otherwise everything is easily within 30 minute cycling distance of Charing Cross – but even then I’m sure with a bit of gusto and traffic lights in your favour it would be possible.

For anyone who fancies a go – here’s my Boris Bike Monopoly spreadsheet listing the squares, docks and co-ordinates of the docks.

Enjoy!

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A real cycle superhighway

Posted by Alan on February 24, 2011

At speed - on a bike

At speed

A few weeks ago Mr C of MCR Cycling came to visit, mostly to play on the BorisBikes (more of that later) as well as drink scotch at WhiskySquad #11 and buy a shiny Brompton.  As part of our day on the cycle hire scheme we took in what I would call a proper cycle superhighway.  Straight and segregated, the paths across Hyde Park stretching from Marble Arch to Hyde Park Corner and onto Kensington are absolutely fantastic. They aren’t quite wide enough for really comfortable passing at speed but it was easy enough to pass with care.

In 30 seconds we pass 4 bikes coming out of town – if there were more lanes like this maybe more people might be persuaded to use pedal power to commute regularly.  I haven’t got to commuting myself yet but after Bogle is done, I’ll be onto training for the C2C so I’ll need to build up some stamina and ditch the final 10 kgs before I hit ‘normal’.  10-11 miles each way will be hard to start with but having cycled into town once now I know it is at least not beyond my capability.

Talking of Bogle – sponsorship is now open. I hope you can spare a few quid and gift aid via http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011! There’s just over a week left before the epic overnight walk begins. Exciting times!

On a lighter note – during the quiet spell mid afternoon, Mr C managed to perfect a wheelie technique. Well, it isn’t specifically banned under the code of conduct!

Wheelie

Oh look a wheelie

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Moose!

Posted by Alan on February 23, 2011



Moose!, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

Another one from the Natural History Museum.

It probably isn’t a moose.

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Tail shadow

Posted by Alan on February 19, 2011



Tail shadow, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

On Thursday I got to wander round the Natural History museum for a bit. Pretty good, though would have been better without the hordes of screaming children.

Guess I’ll have to get up earlier next time…

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Logistics Magicians

Posted by Alan on February 17, 2011



Logistics Magicians, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

Well, more inventive than ‘logistics solutions’!!

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Bogle Training Part II

Posted by Alan on February 16, 2011

I am still in training for Bogle, Manchester RAG’s infamous 55 mile walk around the Manchester cityscape. I’ve decided to raise money for Lymphoedema Support Network this year after the support mum has received over the last few years.  I hope you can find some spare change to donate though my JustGiving page.

Back to the training…

This weekend I headed out to the Midlands to take in a  30 mile (48 km) training walk. This is a rather more pleasant scenic adventure than Bogle will be, or indeed, the previous training walk of 17 miles through London. From Leamington, we took to the canal and headed vaguely north to Birmingham.  The first real point of note, is Hatton flight -where the canal rises steeply.

Hatton Flight

Hatton Flight

Towards the top lock, in a pond in front of what must have once been the lock keepers cottage sits a rather nice dragonfly sculpture.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Further north-westwards we took a left and ventured onto the Stratford North Canal.  One of the earlier canals to be built in the UK, it shows it. The infrastructure is much more heavy – huge bridges, cuttings, embankments particularly north of Hockley Heath. It’s little wonder – apparently they spanked £300K in 1796 on just 25 miles of canal! This bit of canal is allegedly cycle free, though that didn’t stop the people who passed us … on bikes. It might surprise you to know you actually need a cycle permit! Still, it didn’t bother us too much except for the sections where they had churned up the mud.

A boating

A boating on the North Stratford Canal

Given the basic nature of the towpath, I’d guess that’s actually why cycling is prohibited on the North Stratford. It’s essentially mud. Finally by about half 4 we reached Kings Norton Junction and turned right towards Birmingham. Here the scenery became much more industrial and we realised we had to pick up the pace a little.  Despite being on National Cycle Route 5, the regular floral tributes and fading light wasn’t encouraging – so a couple of miles further up at Selly Oak we came off the canal on to the Bristol Road.

Dead boat

Forlorn, sadly unloved boat

From the canal though you do get a sense of the vast machine that is the Cadbury Bournville factory. It’s much less purple than I remember.  Perhaps the Kraft influence has kicked in already.  Some parts of the factory are still very 1930s – such as this building on the Birmingham side.

Cadbury

Corporate pride 1930s style - Cadbury, Bourneville

The last few miles up the Bristol Road were a stark contrast.  As long as I can remember I’ve known Brum to be a car city, probably reinforced by watching Brum as a small child. The Bristol Road is a fairly angry dual carriageway with lots of traffic. Thinking back to University, Manchester’s Oxford Road is also very busy – but the majority of the traffic is made up of buses, it’s much slower and seems somewhat more friendly. The relaxed studenty feel only really seemed to stretch from Selly Oak to the campus gates unlike Manchester’s curry mile and student village.  Anyway, long digression!  Final destination was The Wellington on Bennetts Hill. We even got seats, which was nice after 29.5 miles and of course the beer was excellent. A short amble towards the train home took us over the 30 mile mark. A most excellent way to spend a Saturday.

To round off – just a quick reminder. I really do plan to get all the way around this time. If you’d like to sponsor me, please do so at http://www.justgiving.com/AlanP-Bogle2011

Posted in Buildings and Places, Culture, Travelling around | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Cheeky monkey – more poor use of Comic Sans!

Posted by Alan on February 15, 2011



Cheeky monkey, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

The waterways have a heritage of taking pride in their boats, particularly the typography used to name each boat and the associated paintwork.

In my humble opinion… this is just wrong.

Grrrr…!

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Egypt – Where it all begins

Posted by Alan on February 13, 2011



Egypt – Where it all begins, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

Spotted this on Saturday in Selly Oak on the edge of Brum.

I guess when it was put up they weren’t thinking of revolution!

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Protest

Posted by Alan on February 5, 2011



Protest, originally uploaded by Alan Perryman.

As I was cycling eastbound from Paddington, coming through Hyde Park I heard lots of shouting etc.

It seems the Egypt protest is still going strong outside the Embassy in Mayfair!

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Highley commended Hackney

Posted by Alan on February 1, 2011

Cycle parking, Dalston

Cycle parking, Dalston

Possibly the first time I’ve ever seen this – cycle parking, within a car park. Taking up around 2 car bays worth of space, you could probably squeeze up to 24 bikes in here. But I didn’t leave mine here, due to the strange people loitering and incredible quiet. Instead, I opted for the racks within Junction station: busy, among many secured bikes and covered by CCTV.

Cycle Parking, Dalston Junction

Cycle Parking, Dalston Junction

It’s a very promising sign though – more parking please!

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