Monday, 30 August 2010

Orla Kiely bags

This summer I have not been using the Timbuk2 messenger bag unless it was raining or I had a lot of stuff to carry.

I have been using my Orla Kiely bags and I felt they should get a mention on the blog before I retire them for the winter.

I was lucky enough to get notified of an end of season sale and I got the tan leather bag at a reduced price at the start of the summer and then I got the tote in July, also at and end of season sale. If you go to the Orla Kiely website you can leave your email address and they will send you notice of the next sale and where it is taking place.

Neither bag is completely cycle friendly but the tan bag has a wide adjustable strap and is completely comfortable across my back. It is deep enough to carry my D-lock and all my stuff and there are four handy pockets outside to carry keys, phone, travel card, cash, or ipod. This bag is for those times when I don’t want to use a bike messenger bag but I still need a deep bag to use on my bike.

The tote bag is a little cutie. It is great for a trip where I don’t need to carry anything at all. It just pops over the handle bar and doesn’t get in the way.

Note. OK bags are not cheap and unless I get a lot of cash or loose my mind I would not pay full price as fabulous as they are. My tote was only £30 in the sale which is a substantial reduction. But a well made cycle bag is also very expensive. The Barbican leather bag on the Brooks website is priced at £587.

I am wearing my old Clarks Originals summer Mary Jane shoes.  They also will soon be put into storage.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

No room at Craven Street

I was on my way home with the Brompton yesterday when I passed the Bike Hire Stand in Craven Street W1. This is the closest docking station to Charing Cross Station and would be the one I would use if I manage to sort out the hire bike registration.

I was taking photographs and other people like me were looking at the bikes. Three cyclist on hire bikes arrived and started to wait. At first I thought they were waiting for friends and then I realised there was no spaces to dock the bikes. I asked one of the waiting cyclists and he confirmed he was waiting for someone to take a bike so he could park his bike. By this time another cyclist was looking on the map for the next docking station. (I think the next station is down on The Strand and is about a 10 minute walk back to Charing Cross.)

This is something else to consider. I catch my train from Charing Cross Station and if I got to Craven Street and found I could not park and go get my train I would be a little stressed.

This is also another reminder of how wonderful and portable the Brompton is. Yesterday I took the bike from South London via train and tube to Seven Sisters in North London, (there are no hire bikes outside central London). Cycled to my meeting. I then took the tube back to Oxford Street to do some window shopping for winter boots. As traffic seemed a little crazy with Bank Holiday shoppers I took the tube back to Charing Cross and parked the Brompton next to another black (matt) Brompton outside Waterstones book shop at Trafalgar Square where I stopped to look at books before going to catch my train. It was on this short walk back to Charing Cross that I passed the full docking station at Craven Street.

As for the hire bikes they are getting popular as I see more people use them.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Converse high top plimsoles

I had completely forgotten I had these shoes. I got them in 2006 just before I went on holiday to New York. They are shoes that are good for the transition from summer to autumn, when it’s not hot enough for open toe sandals and not cold enough for shoes or boots. Although there are still a lot of Converse shoes around I have only recently seen full colour ones in black and mine are dark chocolate.

They are comfortable when riding the Brompton despite the fact there is no heel. Converse still have the non-slip soles that were needed for sports and games.

They are not cheap but they are a good unisex classic. I plan on keeping these. Office Shoes stores seems to have a good range of colours.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A short but lovely story

Yesterday I had to take the Brompton to the Borough of Merton. This involved taking the bike to East Croydon station and then catching the tram out to Merton. Two stops into the trip all passengers were asked to get off because of vandalism (egg throwing) on the tram which now had to be clean. This incident happened before I got on but no one had told the driver. While we all waiting on the platform for the next tram, an elderly man called out ‘that’s a Brompton’. He then proceeded to tell me and the other waiting passengers about the Brompton and his memories of the first model. He said it was called a Brompton Superior, because it was a superior ride. (I have tried to find out any early names for Bromptons, but no luck so far.)

On the tram he told me that he was 87 years old and that he still used a bike when he could. He said that he had been cycling for 80 years and had two custom bikes (one racing and one for training) that were now over 20 years old. He said that he kept cycling because of his legs and his theory that if he ‘didn’t use them he would loose them’. The only thing he didn’t do was cycle in the rain because of the quality of the road surfaces and not having any mudguards.

I was impressed.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The squeek has gone

The squeek that came back with the Brompton after the service has gone. Turns out it was just ‘stuff’ on the rims. I didn’t even have to clean it as when I went out cycling after the rain the surface water on the road did the job for me.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

London Cycle Hire - Review by Sheffield Cycle Chic

I have just read a great review of the London Cycle Hire scheme on the Sheffield Cycle Chic blog. (Here is the link.)

It does seem to have problems (registration, key activation, getting through to the helpline) which hopefully will be resolved. However if you have planned to use the bike for only one day you appear to need an alternative plan to get around.

More importantly in her review SCC points out the poor cycle infrastructure, poor street signs and aggressive driving that we who cycle in London tend to accept as our lot. I completely agree with the need to reduce the speed limit in congested areas. I also don’t understand the various no cycle signs that seem to be springing up.

I nearly registered with the cycle hire scheme at the weekend but I couldn’t get through the registration process. I will try again. I have seen quite a few cyclists in Central London using them, but they appear to me to be people who work in the area and jumping on a bike is a quick way to get around, especially on a sunny day in August.

The photo was of the actor & bike I saw on the launch day of the scheme.  The fade effects are courtesy of my iPhone using the Hipstamatic Photo app.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Green Brompton locked outside John Lewis

I am not the only Brompton user who locks their bike up with a strong D lock and goes to the shops on Oxford Street in the West End. I saw this Brompton on Monday locked up on the bike racks that are by the side of John Lewis department store. I usually leave my Brompton fully opened so that I can just get on and ride, but I can see that folded takes up no space at all. My only worry with this is that another bike rider may just lock their bike on top of the Brompton and make it very difficult for you to get your bike out. Just like when you are blocked in with your car.

Nice green colour. Reminds me of deep sap green oil paint.

Last month I caught a Brompton owner locking his bike outside Cannon Street Station with one of those long but thin cable locks. I just went up to him and told him he was mad and the bike was too expensive to be left with this type of lock. He laughed and asked me if I was going to take it. I said No, I have one at home. I was parking my Trek bike at the time. The Brompton wasn’t there when I returned so I hope I scared him into taking it with him.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Squeeky clean

I took the Brompton on a trip to the shops to check all the gears were ok following the service. The cable was initially stiff but that is to be expected because it is new. All the dirt has been removed too but of course will be replaced this winter with the rain and snow. All of the six gears are fine.

The only difference is that the Brompton squeeks. This is quite loud as I break. I am assuming this is a combination of the wheel rims and break-pads being cleaned and will therefore eventually disappear. But I don’t recall it squeeking like this when I first got the bike and I don’t recall it this being like this after the service last year.

On the plus side is pedestrians can hear me and so stay out of the road.

I have gone back to wearing my old Topshop fabric flats as it has not been warm enough for sandals this week.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Brompton and I are reunited

The Brompton is back all clean and shiny from its service at Compton Cycles. The cost for a service, clean-up and new cable was £78. I will go for a proper ride tomorrow to check the feel of the cable and gears. While I was at Comptons I was invited to check out the range of new colours of the new Bromptons. I saw a juicy red titanium one, but when I picked it up it didn’t feel any lighter to my steel frame bike. I had a look at the Brooks saddles and I will need about £100. But I will do more research on this. I carry my Brompton by the saddle quite a lot and I want something that will be strong enough.

Oh yes, the photo is of me taken today by M in my green wool beret by Kangol, purple rain coat by Marks and Spencer, black leather bucket bag by the Moroccan leather company, berry and red Spanish shoes by Art. I think a crazy colour combination gets you noticed by drivers and can in my opinion do a better job than a fluorescent tabard.

Many thanks to ‘That’s not my age’ for the link and introducing me to her fabulous blog which is the reason why I posted this photo.

Thank you M for the photo.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Bike service, shoe clearout and Comments

The Brompton has gone for its service. It will be back in a couple days and I will be about £70 poorer.

As I am in the middle of sorting out the blog and clearing out stuff at home I found these black suede court shoes by New Look. They must be about five years old and unworn! I had forgotten I had them. I will be wearing them soon with my rolled up jeans.

Comments on the blog. Sorry I have had to turn them off, but it is just for a few days. They will be back soon. Promise.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Sorting things out

Over the next week or so I will be sorting out the blog mainly adjusting the labels into more specific categories and rearranging the side bar. I will try to not loose anything.

The photo is of me in my Camper heels taken a couple days ago and is a reminder that I also have to sort out my shoes and boots for autumn/winter.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Bikes for hire

I have seen the new bikes that are available for hire in central London. I saw my first one on Friday on The Strand outside the Royal Courts of Justice. I went up to the rider and asked where he had got his bike only to discover that he was an actor creating footage for a camera nearby. He was very polite but didn’t know where the nearest docking station was. But today on a trip to Columbia Road Flower Market I passed two docking stations in Shoreditch. I also saw two people cycling on the hire bikes going down Brick Lane E1.

There are attendants at the docking stations, giving information and maps. The map I was given is much clearer than the map on the Transport for London website. I can see docking stations that are close to where I go on my work appointments.

I found out that for the first month only registered users can hire the bikes. Registration is £3 and they send you a special key in the post that unlocks the bike. You also have to pay an Access Fee and there are only three rates, 24 hours, 7 days or 1 year. The rates are £1, £5, and £45. But having paid your fee any distance you travel in 30 minutes is free and you can get to a lot of places in Central London in under 30 minutes. If it is under an hour the charge is £1 which is still very reasonable.

The thing is why would I need to use a hire bike? I have a Brompton that I can take on any train, bus and in any building. If I was an experienced cyclist on a trip to London I would use the hire bikes . I do want to have a go and see how they feel when you ride them, so I will have to register or wait until September when casual users can get access.

The Evening Standard are calling the new hire bikes 'Boris Bikes' after our cycling Mayor of London who has been promoting the bikes all week.   I think I prefer this name rather than calling them after a high street bank.