Once again it’s Christmas time with GBMCC London’s Xmas Lunch pulling in a house-full of London bikers and our friends. Good to see again rider-friends and followers from my many years of biking. Then on to the RVT (Royal Vauxhall Tavern), which was packed out from the start; the first act of the evening was the Dame Edna Experience.
Brief visit over the North Downs to Longfield in Kent. It’s the first stop after Bromley South on the fast train to Dover. Brian showed me a short hike up to Ruffet’s Wood for the views towards the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf in the London Docklands. There’s a feeling of wide openness under a huge and distant horizon but it’s impossible to ignore the pylons in every direction.
Longfield is an intriguing place because it stayed small for so long; it’s recorded by its Norse/Danish name as Langafel in the Doomsday Book and before but there are only the church and rectory shown on the OS map of 1869. The railway passed through but didn’t stop here until a station was paid for in 1872 by a landowner in nearby Fawkham. By 1897 the OS map shows a smithy, a children’s nursery near the station, chalk and clay pits, brickworks, farms, orchards and pub: an infrastructure has been established, including a National School in the next village for “Lost Boys” (orphans), presumably also to supply labour.
Longfield has a small church, the tradition locally is that much of the early church was built c.1343 with major additions in 1886, including the tower.
One lovely thing about the Lake District is that it has so many of the features of the big world outside Cumbria but on a scale that makes them accessible. The River Greta is powerful and causes damage for sure, but it’s a miniature compared to the Snake River (US) or the Kawarau (NZ). Nonetheless, the Greta has impressive rapids as it passes through its gorge upstream of Keswick. Waterfalls get the artists’ attention but it’s river rapids where you feel the power of moving water.
Early ride out from Keswick on a fine November Friday with hardly any traffic, so easy to stop as well as enjoy the route on my Ninja Z250SL. This light bike’s ideal for these roads. Fine clear morning light with a typical November pure blue sky after a cold front had passed over the Lake District. As being well layered up, I took a flask of coffee. When I got back to Keswick the sun was setting on Skiddaw and the chill was coming on fast.
This is London - towers of boxes. I surmise that this architecture nurtures thinking likewise, in boxes and towers.
View through the dirty window of a moving train approaching Battersea Park station, London.
I rather like the distortion due to the motion and softening due to the dirty window.
A Saint Emilion Grand Cru of a vintage nearly thirty years ago, one of the last of my Father’s cellar. It’s a long time ago: in 1995, John Major was Prime Minister, the €uro had not yet been introduced and the UK enjoyed a long summer heatwave. My Father would have been just seventy, still contributing research papers to the academic journals of biology. Me, I was lighting television studio programmes in London.
Riding through the last burst of colours on the trees and vines as the autumn closes down. The autumn air is so clear I was able to make out the Cévennes and Ventoux to the west and the Écrins to the north. The sky was clear over the canyon but the storm at the weekend had closed the South Rim Road with a rock fall (as last year). Access was possible to the gorges for the 14 km in from Aiguines, but not a through route and I saw just a pair of scooters and one cyclist in the hour and a half or so I was in the canyon!
Just can’t beat riding a sportsbike in Provence on clear, dry roads as here, and let alone the scenery and fantastic food.
Hike in the Calanques from La Madrague-de-Montredon at the end of Marseille bus route 19. We started out late in the day as there were problems hiring a city bike as the app wouldn’t work. But hiking in the sunshine under the blue sky and in moderate temperatures is always a great tonic, even though we didn’t get that far in or up the Marseilleveyre Massif. Great views of the Baie de Marseille and even Mt. Ventoux far away.
I realise not everyone has a folly in their garden, but as my garden in Keswick does feature a folly it seemed a good idea to reveal it from underneath the fast-growing vines, brambles and hedging plants that have overwhelmed that corner of the garden. This is a containment and control plan for the autumn rather than a particular idea or feature; a pond would be fun but more work than I want to take on at the moment. I also have a hedgehog hide in the garden, even so, I was being very careful in case of sleeping hedgehogs in the tangle. Also revealed, another mythic beast, I’ve taken him to the shed for winter. Fantastic autumn colours all around as I work.
The result is a resurgence in the wildlife interest in the garden: more birds at my feeders; the hedgehogs - wherever they are - didn't show themselves.