Category Archives: cycling

Rutland Water – A Lake [2018]

A late waking up – its bank holiday weekend and the forecaster predicted a miserably wet day… So i awoke to a warm and musty/not clear blue skies but distinctly dry day

A couple of weeks ago i had a potential job in the guise of an interview that gave cause to visit the area – this is that area
Google Map

The day had started with a now potential unhelpful delay, in the making constructive use of it stakes. Even with that backdrop it was hardly a leaping forth out of the blocks effort that followed as contemplation attempted to form into some of a version of a conclusion.

As the title suggests and accurately on this occasion then i did opt for a return visit, cycling around water normally at least means some semblance of direction, an orbiting sort of direction and more flatness than might otherwise be achieved. Exercise has not been much a centre piece to life of late (and not so late) and so things not not going up all too often or too grievously, seems a workable route toward doing something which ought to stand in not too wrenched grasp.

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rutland water route map

Its not overly well sign posted as a place – and there are multiple little mini centres dotted around, at least there are in the Whitwell bit, one of two places where bikes can be hired for those looking for a sort of pace and progress walking just cant quite provide. There is though bike hire, if you can find it or alternatively set about asking for directional assistance within one of the other ships or centres and then with that successfully triangulate its location &/or stumble upon it though illumination of options.

The pathway, once you get going is decent, a proper pathway with surfaces of deliberate and tarred human endeavour, weaving along and then into the next dollop of car parking and relatively warm (long) weekend human clustering – and to be fair to us all a reasonable place to cluster.

Unlike other European counties but very much like the uk accessing a natural resource and pleasant spot such as this is not free, parking is not quite like a visit to Lutons pickup area but given a fair bit of it is just a field they seem like they might be doing ok out of their investment such as it is.

Its owned by angian water – and once it would have been owned by us – today as anglian it is owned by AWG plc – so its owned by some of us, but even those with shares on the publicly listed AWG will be paying to park upon their water side fields.

An unintentional diversion into the political wrongness of the UKs reasonably recently formed norm.. abort abort not always about that .. back on topic

The water of Rutland is big enough to have a boat with a name that people queue for and it ferries them about.. I’m unclear or rather completely unaware on whether it ferries them to somewhere or if its simply a pleasant distraction for those looking to take in the waters but find themselves handily back exactly there where they’d started and thus in clearly re-traceable steps to their deposited vehicle.

The lateness of the start meant it was now about 15:00/15:15 and the bike was at hand and i was underway. Why dont i own a bike of my own .. well i do but they are neither of them in quite the right way. The main one, which travelled with me around France (Italy & Switzerland – briefly) & Germany, its in need of some significant work, having lived in the garden in states of various coverage for too long. Unfit for outings .. The mountain bike, that ive had much longer and it is a reliable enough old thing except for a dent in its top front gears, which makes its highest gears something of unattainable promise. Thats been true of it for really quite the time, more time than i can quantify, i remember it no other way though i bought it from new and surely encountered by light blue friend in better, more 21 geared times.. Imagine a world of 3 gears or none, those were cyclists of a hardy leg and lungs. Its breaks dont work and i dont have a bike rack on my car and while i can cycle, i can fix stuff and break pads and cycle racks on cars, they are both kind of fixing things in the most minor way possible.

Which reminds me the long life bulb may have gone in the downstairs toilet – it started flickering before opting to do far less.. Post champions league final – not a good night, but a strong argument against 10 man teams playing float goalkeeper in a champions league final or just inviting a random German in a T-shirt to give it a go … Anyway tackled the no longer flickering bulb and inserted a new bulb.. pretty good fixing .. point before disproved – only not .. so either the connecting plastic sockety thing was all hanging down before, hence the flickering and the then not working or the replacing came with unintentional doings. Either way in the day after the fixing (and the bulb did restore light to the downstairs cabin yesterday .. qualifying by some definition as fix) today its hangs beneath the also hanging ceiling unit to which it ought to be fully attached in a none eliminating form.. Leading me to feel maybe i have tested and found my limits and they are altogether in that case, all to accessible. I do however own some short sleeved tops and could also muster the ability to roll the ball to the attacked to kick it in.. or swot a long distance ball into my own net – so perhaps my calling lies elsewhere.

Liverpool Karious Catching A Ball
If you’re German and able to wear short sleeved tops – does that mean you’re a goalkeeper? or could you just have gotten lost while seeking to track down that AAC course you were going to start at De Montfort & been too polite to correct people

This is not Rutland Water and that is where we were to be .. getting around it and timings – it was a question and i was not entirely sure how far all the way around was.. and if i were, which i certainly wasnt, what sort of velocity a person in my sort of state of fitness, such as it isn’t, would go about it with.
I’d gotten to Normanton, the map seemed to say this was 8 miles and therefore would be 8 miles back.. it also seemed to say the route round was something a little more than 17 miles… suggesting all the way around was little more in the way of distance than going on… the map with its circle around the lake did not appear to back this notion up, nor did any level of looking around provide a strong support for this premise.

It was not 16:00 yet and logic suggested getting around what seemed like, something in the range of being more than 11 miles but probably not more than 16 miles, should not present a problem. The bike needed returning by 17:30 and the place closes at 18:00, so thats a firmer sort of deadline. This was quite a bit of time and a speed in excess of 8mph really seemed like theyought to remain within the bounds of distinct possibility.

The weather continued to be warmer than it was sunny but beyond this – it was dry. At a couple of points the path moved away from the lakeside and took to out of the no where gradients, it went up the extended hills of its banks and effort was required. The fried egg and cheese, double decker sandwich of lunchen fame seemed to be contributing to a stomach based unease with such efforts. The stomach in these unfit times, it tends to lead the case for the Plaintiff. This passed of well enough for the most part, no misadventures with revisiting came to pass or ever got to threatening to.

Time, as it always seems to, it past unevenly with much of the progress seeming to be made with little of the initial time passing, then not, then time got to passing while the distance travelled seemed pointedly diminished. The track joined road for a bit, but only for a brief bit, then re-found itself with its own track. The signage was there at all junction and points where an option might exist and the route easily stuck too.

Its a pleasant spot, a well made and maintained route and i was back by 17:10, in more than good time for the cycles return without repercussions or issues.

What are you trying to tell us – is it timmy is in the well and needs help?

[He once caught a fish, it was this long – but if he’s honest .. ]

Oh im sorry – you’re not a goalkeeper and you really want to be free to start those initial modules of that AAC accounting course you’ve been denied since arriving in the UK.. its only fair and right. Sometimes everyone can be a winner.

* Rutland Water Has Bikes To Hire and Pathways To Cycle Them On With Little Hinderance
* Getting around takes about 2 hours – better to have longer/awaken earlier, more looking about, appreciation and refreshment break time
* Rutland Water Is Nice Enough As A Place To Visit
* Try To Avoid Playing Confused & Lost Want To Be Accountants In Goal For Relatively Important / Showcase Football Fixtures, Regardless Of Their Nationality &/or Wardrobe

CYCLE SWITZERLAND – Planning [2010]

Back on the subject of this holiday:

The idea was born in various stages.

The first of these being a conversation the two of us had at the Duke of York pub near Victoria station in London.  This was around the end of March or maybe beginning of April and some chap had been cycling his way done the Americas, north to south.  He’d been keeping some sort of video diary of his efforts and this diary, slash reality TV documentary, were apparently being broadcast regularly on the TV.

It was a subject of some interest both at that time and quite clearly, continued to be so subsequently.

This was a time, for me, when I was beginning to firm up and expand upon a long standing realisation.  A realisation some others may even recognise, my new job seemed to be far from interesting, far from how it had been billed.  So I had been mulling, gently.

The background to this mulling was:

A little earlier that year, beginning of March, I’d changed jobs and as result I’d moved.

During my time in my old role i’d hypothesised:

  • That perhaps the tedium and disconnection of recant times was not entirely the product of my job and employer, as objectively ponderous and pointless as it all was (and could, if called upon, be readily shown to be.)
  • That it was, potentially, a wider malaise which could not unfortunately be so easily explained.

This recent move was yet to provide any evidence to counter these old hypotheses.  It was early days, very early days but this time it was on the clock, it needed to show me that the move (and all that had meant) had been worth it.  For now, while this new role failed to achieve the same iron fisted and certain ownership of being ponderous and the pointless,that its predecessor had buffed up as its defining badge, it was certainly showing concerning signs of being quite dedicated to doing some most ardent flirting in that direction.

I’d been looking for what drove the common trend of these arguably less than positive perceptions. The three key things these most recant jobs had in common were:

  1. The role – both revolve, in some notable way, around website management
  2. The employer – a rather large organisation (it could be said that there were certain other shared characteristics but large went without saying, it was an objectively true)
  3. The employee – was me.

It would have been quite remiss had I not considered that the third among these might be playing its part.  Though, in terms of things that can be changed, it also seemed the most limited, by no less than physics itself.

So that brings me back to the mulling, which had been so familiar in recant years.

Should this move fail to work out, then how do I address all of these three, in one fell swoop? what new thing to take up? be it a permanent or a temporary thing.  Mulling that had rolled on without a decisive outcome and nor should it.  It was, after all, only so very recently that I tried the new job thing, complete with it’s, less than sought after, geographic move.  (I’d spent the previous 4 years living in London, before the new job had me moving to the north-west).  Patience young Grass Hopper…..

Any firm conclusion on the success or not of this attempt needed to be delayed, at least until the passing of the 6 months marker.  A marker I’d laid down for myself, at the outset and remained committed to.  That said, if something promising was to be mulled up, well …. that probably wouldn’t do too much harm, purely as preparation, something to warm up in case things weren’t to change.

So I was mulling and we were there, sitting in the Duke of York, a rather traditional looking pub in the centre of London, Oscar, me and a number of Oscar’s other friends (friends who’d clearly been a little longer in the pub or otherwise in the company of alcohol.)   Oscar and I were discussing the efforts of the aforementioned dedicated cyclist of the Americas (yep, back with him now), when a notion of a new, improbable, thing that might be done came to me.  To get on my bike and just cycle.

Who knows where that would lead or how far my, not so finally honed athlete of a person would carry itself, but does that really mater? Perhaps it was the light smattering of alcohol but for all that, it seemed an uncommonly promising notion.

At the end of that weekend I returned to my new home in the north-west, with a not totally full hearted but none the less persistent and deliberate eye on this future.  So it was, from then on my bike was to be wheeled out from its place of rest (in the garage) and the trips I took it on, they were to be a little (only slightly so) more strenuous and given to adventure.

The second of these, retrospectively identified, stages that formed our trip’s inception came in late May.  We met up again when Oscar, along with some other mutual friends, descended upon Manchester.

At some point in the earlier part of that evening, as we sat again in a pub, we got to talking around the normal things.  You know, things like our what we’d been up to and any plans for holidays.  As part of this I reminded Oscar of our Duke of York conversation, how I was thinking of maybe just cycling for a bit at some point and how I was now trying to spend my time cycling about the place, at least a bit more cycling about the place than had been the case before.

Anything less and I was just sat there telling one of my good friends that my thing, the thing I’ve been doing since last we met, was taking my bike out occasionally after work.  Barn storming stuff, I was just putting that bad boy right out there, whether others were ready for it or not.

It was about here that the joint ideas first took hold, of our going on holiday together and that this holiday would be cycling orientated.  For as it transpired Oscar had been weighing up holiday options, one being a walking/hiking trip (Tibet or Nepal I believe it was) or a cycle trip of some sort.

Soon after, we found ourselves some mutually acceptable dates for our holidaying, booked the time off work and began the process of exchanging thoughts about possible routes.

31 May 2010 18:09

Me – > Oscar

As i’m about in 2 weeks time and 3 weeks when I get back from Switzerland it might be an idea, if your free to sit down and work out who needs to get what for the trip as I won’t probably be down again after that before we go away.

If your not about sure we can fashion sufficient communication of information via the evils of email and/or the ever more wrong telephone

1 June, 2010 10:19:46

Oscar -> Me

Subject:Re: bike

Sure want to meet on the 12th or 13th then? Did you have a look at the train tickets? Was reading about some of the things heading east – e.g. lake Constance and the black forest that look good….

1 June 2010 11:36

Me -> Oscar

black forest is very nice, as is lake Zurich and lake Genève, the four valleys lake – and como etc many nice places, i like them – Constance i think has a different name in Switzerland but i think i know which one that would be, i don’t know it but i believe it to be one of the biggest

13th would be good for me

1 June, 2010 14:20:36

Oscar -> Me

Subject:Re: bike

sure – 13th is a Sunday – are you not playing football on that day though?
Lake Constance –

Some routes – though you have to pay to view them. A friend of mine who works in a bike shop said they are pretty good. We can have a look at this on the 13th if you want to come over to mine – then head off to some bike shops etc.


The third stage came toward the beginning of June

As part of one of my frequent return trips to the south, I met up with Oscar near Waterloo one Saturday.  Oscar had found an economical bike rental company on the south bank and we were going to pay them a visit to determine the quality and suitability of their bikes.  We found it tucked away in a little shopping village, just of the south bank, that id been quite oblivious to.  This despite having walked past it countless times and even sat having dinner in plain sight of the very same shopping village, at one time.  It was as if the curtain had just been raised on this part of the stage for the first time.

So this secret shopping garden found itself revealed to the world and as a result, the world had gotten in and taken all the bikes. No more bikes, none for me, none for Oscar but we could come back, apparently if we were to come back a little later, there might be bikes.  The hire people were helpful.  They told us many of their bikes were expected to migrate back to them in a couple of hours and that they would be quite happy for us to take a couple of bikes out for a test ride at that time.

We left, with little clearly in mind beyond the knowledge that (a) we would need to come back and that (b) not too long thereafter, England would be playing their first world cup game.  Walking past Waterloo, it became imposingly clear where some of the absent bikes had got to.  The naked London bike thing, it came the other way, or at least a section of it did, hard to miss, a gaggle of nudey cyclists ploughing past.  We, along with the other pedestrians (even the running, flinging, grappling, clambering street marauders who, at the roundabout edges, had been doing a very solid impression of highly caffeinated, caged chipmunks) took pause.

In terms of our travel plans and the issue of getting to a suitable point from which to commence them:

There were trains but these, for mostly cost reasons, had not shown themselves to be quite the option Oscar had had in mind.

So he’d been looking at alternatives and discovered a coach service that took cycle enthusiast and their cycles, to alternating points in main land Europe.  One of the points they went to, was not so distant from one of the routes we’d been looking at, only two problems.

  1. The alternate week, when the coach would be visiting that area, was not the week we’d booked and prepped for holidaying commencement.
  2. Coaches were not quite the option I had in mind.  Not for a rational as transitory or as sound, as cost might be … but reasons that would likely go un-shed and permanent, for the ‘just because’.  Just because they’re coaches and I don’t care, for spending any sort of extensive period of time on coaches. The wrongest, of all the familiar forms of travel.

So there at least we had an option, something to discuss as we headed of in pursuit of any conveniently positioned stores, the ones that could be found in this neck of the woods.  These were mostly bike and cycle accessory stores.  I’d not adjusted myself (thinking whys) to a position where I was giving any real consideration to that which, perhaps, I ought to be looking to acquire.  So as Oscar looked about, I rather mooched and loitered without intent.  It was an intent-less state, which remained firmly in place until we ventured into an army supplies shop or something by a similar name.  Oscar was looking into securing an appropriate tent, the shop keeper was talking to us and I was intently listening, to the muffled sounds of his radio.  Argentina had kicked off their first game of the world cup, there was no mistaking the sound of football commentary.  Not so the specific words of that commentary, which despite a concerted effort on my part, continued to elude me almost completely.

Eventually we completed our little circular wonder and returned to the scene of the absent cycles.  They were now back, bountiful and kind of practical looking.  A practical look, that it transpired, was not quite matched by the experience offered.  That was one of five things that I discovered in the very brief time we then spent cycling them round the nearest block.

  1. The level of discomfort I’d long felt at the idea of cycling in London was matched by the level of discomfort I did now feel peddling about on these, quite quiet, back streets
  2. I was having some issues slowing down.  So other road going vehicles, pedestrians and Oscars on bikes were a real problem, specifically if they decided to slow or worse still, to stop.  [hit a listing propensity]

The Other –     A related matter, to the second point..  At least one set of brakes, on my bike, was not inclined to grappling remotely with its assigned wheel.

& The Last –    Confirmation.  These were indeed cycles and cycle not unlike the other cycles that I’d known over the years, all be it temporarily bereft of a couple of handy brake pads and a such, perfectly well suited to take their part in a cycling holiday.  Returning the bikes we thanked them and set of toward Oscar’s house, in the hope of catching the beginning of England’s World Cup campaign.

One of his housemates was stood by the front door, speaking loudly on his mobile, something about chicken, pork & a takeaway.  We continued past and into the celler, the home of the TV.  Having reached a new pitch of severity, the pork chicken conversation had clearly not yet reached its conclusion upstairs.

We were going to clear up our plans … but there was football and the lateness of hour that this suddenly brought to us …   I opted to head home. We had settled on the sorts of holidaying options that were before us and could no more resolve these then, than on any other day, so that is what we would do.  (2012 note: not resolve them)

The forth, not so much a stage, was more a juddering rolling sequence of communications, conducted predominantly over email

It went a little like this and somehow resulted in a plan.

18 June 2010 11:33

Oscar > Me

Subject: Fwd: Your Order with

I ordered some books and maps to help guide us….

———- Forwarded message———-


Date: 16 June 2010 10:36

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Your Order with

Its that or the random selection – we go left we go right … pick a direction at random and head that way
approach which I do like but I can see it has its weaknesses

That bike place you sent through I am told is more a shop that hires bikes out as an option before buying, like trying shoes on before you buy going to need to look at other options

20 June 2010 11:03

Me > Oscar

Subject: Screenshots

Most, to all, that we have found around zurich are around the 150-250 francs mark

Some of them require insurance and cleaning fees etc on top

There is on/around lake constants (on the austrian side) one that is 10 euros a day which is better, but then
we still have to get there. Based on this price bracket and the relative complexity of insurance etc, I still think that the attached one is the best option for bikes in Zurich

We have sent a query to another bike shop near zurich so might hear back from them Its 220 from SBB for 12
days or something like that

20 June 2010 11:04

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Screenshots

Also it looks like SBB bikes travel free on swiss trains should that be of any help

13 June, 2010 11:47

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Hey, Thought I’d write a reply in one email rather than have several flying around

<< Its that or the random selection – we go left we go right … pick a direction at random and head that way approach which I do like but I can see it has its weaknesses >>

There may be a fair amount of this anyway, but getting lost on bike is a fairly exhausting process. There may be
roads or walking paths too that would be unsuitable for cyclists – so in a sense we should find out the best routes for cycling as a starting point and if we wish to venture off them that’s fine. Anyway its arrived and is in the post office – so will pick it up later.

<<;>>#This link is in german – i can’t read  it!

<< >> I have submitted a form in this one – rather than giving me a price it said it’d review and get back to me in 48 hours – though I think it’ll be in the range of about £150 – which is just about ok I suppose.  <<>> This one comes to over £250 – which is too much I’d say.  << We have sent a query to another bike shop near zurich so might hear back from them Its 220 from SBB for 12 days or something like that >>Thanks for looking into this for me – let me know.

Just to check does your grandpa’s bike have a luggage rack?

Also tent – mine weights about 3.5kg – heavy – was the one we saw in the shop 2kg do you remember?


20 June 2010

Me > Oscar

not necessarily helpful but important to know there are such options


23 June, 2010 13:46:53

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Thanks for booking the bike up – I phoned them they said it was confirmed – 230 swiss francs = 140 pounds – this sounds ok.If you are doing some shopping on Friday we prob need the following:

> Small Bike Pump

> Spare inner tube

> Tyre repair patches kit (with sandpaper / glue – I have the inner tube> removal)

> Expandable clothesline

> Lightwieght compact 2 man tent (not a pop out one tho – I can never pop them back in – am thinking
about 2 kgs) Lightweight compact 1

> Season sleeping bags x 2

The bottom 2 or 3 things I can pick up from London bridge if you can’t find them. But if you could get the
tyre related stuff that’d be good. Also if you’re buying panniers maybe an idea to get large ones….I have a medium sized set.

Got the guide book – should be helpful.

Anything else we need to think about?



On 23 June 2010 15:31

Me > Oscar

I have not booked it, Osc I sent you two quotes for booking – that is all, i am happy to book it but i need to
know what you want to do Cause of travelling down –

Lightweight compact 2 man tent is quite big, may struggle to commute that all down along with other stuff.. so smaller things better for me where possible

23 June 2010 17:26

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

I think I have booked it – will send you my confirmation.

Sure – I’ll pick up the tent (and 2 sleeping bags?) if you want to try and get the top 4 items…

23 June 2010 21:47

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: your emails


Will see how I get on with the purchases, presuming different tyre sizes. ideas on the size needed?

In the end the decision went like this:

Where all else fails go for medium, I ordered my pants and cycling gloves.  I didn’t know where my physique stood on the cycle short size guide.  I knew my shoe size varies, especially in the sporting arenas of skiing and football.  So the pants, medium, unlikely to be significantly oversized and improbable that they should be too small, in the absence of understanding, there is medium.

29 June 2010 17:49 > Me

Subject: Your order has been placed on Wiggle

Hi Mr. Neil,

Thank you for placing your order with us;Order number: 62xxxxxx09.

This email contains details of your order confirming the contents, dispatch method, delivery address and instructions of what to do if you wish to modify your order.

The following items will be dispatched as soon as possible:2 x Altura Airstream Lycra Cycling Shorts Medium Black1 x Altura Gravity Mitt Short Finger Cycling Gloves Medium Black/Red

Your order will be delivered to:



Regardless of having found a fresh new email correspondent in wiggle, i stayed loyal and continued my
correspondence with Oscar.

5 July 2010 18:19

Me > Oscar

I have 1 sleeping bag1 puncture repair kit

Need to get 1 little inflating pump thing

Do we need to get side bags for the bikes? Um what else.. ok so we’re not going to get started that early on
Saturday once we’ve got there..picked stuff up.. Thought about food, resolved the thinking about food with positive conclusive action. set off. at some time that won’t be early – need to see if I can find the flight times that
might help

And around this time in early July I set up a facebook event to post some potential routes on.!/event.php?eid=117177631656677

05 July 2010 19:18

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Yes you need bags (panneas), I have 1 set of 2 you will need the same > (mine are medium size – ample –
but if you want to get a large that might be helpful) and yes we need a small pump too.

You will also need a sleeping mat to put your sleeping bag on to (I might be able to get my spare one from my
parents house if you need me to) or you’ll be uncomfortable.

Yes we need to think about where we are going after Saturday – hence the links i sent u to look at have cycle
routes and tours. I’ll look at the guide too so we can have a few options to discuss.


05 July 2010 19:56,

Me > Oscar

The thing with the last point – what I was after understanding is how far did you want to go on Saturday or
rather at what time of day would you like to stop – I was thinking no later than 7ish as it will have been a long day, what do you think?

05 July 2010 21:53

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Yep – I think its probably best we take it easy on the Saturday – we’ll be tired from the early flight and will
need to do sort out our bikes and stuff and get some rest rather than legging it elsewhere in a hurry.

In short there it was, a firmed up intention with a definitive start and not just dates.  We would fly to Zurich, Oscar would hire a bike, I would borrow my Swiss Grandfather bike and we’d both head of in the direction of the black forest, taking in Lake Constance on route and then off to Munich.  It was almost a plan and this collection of correspondence has taken us up to the 5th of July.  Coincidentally, probably, this was same day that I was struck by my failure to take any action on the acquiring of bike bags front.  I’d taken the opportunity to revisit my ‘10 point plan of thing I’m to be sure and bring on holiday’ and it quickly became clear that after some well prepared early purchases of the cycle short & gloves items, I had brought down an untimely cessation on these efforts.

These bags, they had a specific bag name, for bags that go with bikes.  The name was a sound-alike for an Indian Cheese and according to the websites, they came in an array of sizes.  I had no idea what I should be looking for and less time still to decide.  For by now it was only a matter of days until I was due for departure.  Fortunately my housemate, a very outdoor activities orientated type, was considerably more informed on such matters.

I went large and then having placed this order, only to have the delivery date estimated as the all to distant and uncertain “9 July 2010 – 13 July 2010”, I went large again, with a second order.  Fortune shone on me rather and within only a couple of days my second order had turned up and my first order had been confirmed as cancelled, a relief and a small defeat for the forces of sound planning.


I’d been to Oscar’s previously, largely in advance of other holidays along with their early flights but had no real appreciation of how one came to arrive at his door, so I asked.


Me > Oscar

Before I forget.. cause
I may just.. how do I best get from Euston to yours on Friday night?

In my head the response went something like this – Yeah, go to London, Get to London Bridge Station, then get on a train to (some station name goes here)…Come out of the station, go left, left again at the lights and on a bit.

To be accurate however the official reply went as follows:

06 July 2010,09:34

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Get the mainline train from london
bridge to queens road peckham. Take a leftout of the station and another left at the lights onto pomeroy street. My house – 13 new cros road – is visible right at the end of pomeroy street.

Thanks for checking out the route – will have a look later – have an idea or two myself now – can discuss.


With the conversation then tapering of from this central point, continued:

6 July, 2010

Me > Oscar

Subject: Re: your emails



if you can get a -would be handy thanks

6 July, 2010 15:44:05

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Cool – will ask my mum to dig it out for me


7 July 2010 11:01,

Me > Oscar

that clothes line is in stock now – at Argos – i can go get it if you haven’t picked it up already.. let me know

7 July, 2010 11:33:59

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Think these bungee hooks might do the job of hanging up clothes…..well ihope they will


7 July 2010 11:38,

Me > Oscar

how much clothing and that are you thinking of taking? no idea


7 July, 2010 12:33:57

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

Check the packing list i sent a few weeks ago – minimal -should fit into 1 pannier or maybe less


7 July 2010 12:42,

Me > Oscar:

did you.. ok

what about my assorted collection of stuffed mongooses i
don’t go anywhere without them?

07/07/2010 13:28

Oscar > Me

Subject: Re: your emails

You can put them in the space for food. Where their use as pets comes to an end we can use them as emergency food on the alps

So there was a packing list, how about that, I decided to rummage about a bit, see what I could find.

28 May 2010 13:32

Oscar > Me

Subject: Packing list…..

Obviously space and particularly weight are an issue so we should keep it as super light as possible and share what we can………

CLOTHES and toiletries bag


Light rain coat

2-3 cycling or general synthetic sports t-shirt – 1 of which is long sleeve

1-2 padded cycling shorts, 1 spare shorts

1 fleece / thicker sweatshirt, 1 casual wear thinner jumper

1 pair long socks, 4-5 pairs normal socks, 4-5 underwear

Swimming trunks

1 Pajamas/ Casual top and trackies

Normal trousers / belt

Cycling shoes, helmet, gloves

Spare trainers / flip flops?

Sunhat / sunglasses

Personal: Soap, toothbrush, razor, towel, flannel

To share: Shampoo / conditioner, shaving foam, mouthwash, moisturiser, deodorant, toilet paper, anti-bachandwash, Insect repellent?

anything else?

Peripherals bag

Spare Carrier bags


Spare inner tube

Multi-tool / tyre removal wedges

Tyre repair patches

Expandable clothesline

Map / Guidebook



Swiss army knife

Lights / batteries / torch

Passport / tickets

Language dictionary

Water bottle / food

Reading book

First aid / medication

Wallet / keys / phone / alarm clock /watch

Distance / speed measure

Camping gear ??

Tent or bivi/tarp

Sleeping bag / mat

Firelighting / gas / pot / spoon / mug

And of course the bike with lugguage rack as well….

Let me know if I’ve forgotten anything….


It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. I’d clearly seen this particular piece of correspondence before, for along with this helpful and accurately titled email, I found my reply, a telling contribution to our planning process.

28 May 2010 13:34

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Packing list…..

Do we share the rain coat – onlookers might find that novel

So I wrote back to Oscar, to confirm my finding of the long lost & clearly forgotten packing list:

07 July 2010 22:07

Me > Oscar

Subject: RE: Packing list…..

Found it

Sun cream.. in case it stays warm – I have no sun glasses.. far too cool for the likes of those

Cycle Switzerland – 2010 – Getting Going

CYCLE SWITZERLAND – Background [2010]

Back in July one of my fiends (Oscar Saks) and I went on a cycle based holiday, or rather a holiday in which cycling was planned to play a predominant part.

So, to start at the beginning.  Oscar and I met just over four years ago, when my colleague and I interviewed a rather quiet, unassuming fellow.  It was an unusual situation, as we both (the interviewers)  were ourselves but mere interns.  There we were, quizzing quite a number of really rather over qualified individuals for the privilege of being our replacements.

We were working at Westminster and that quiet, unassuming fellow, who was also our unanimous choice, was Oscar.  Now that’s a twist, surely no one would see coming, sitting as this paragraph does under the banner ‘Oscar and I – How we met’.

While Oscar joined the office I failed to leave it.  Having been offered a position and with it an option to remain, in the intervening period.  An option I’d taken.

In truth though had they, the prospective new faces (of which Oscar was one), known how things were going to transpire, then they would surely have turned on their heels and marched their way to pastures different.  While had I (the remaining slightly disillusioned not quite old guard), similarly had such future sight (and been in my right mind) then I, well I should have clasped their hands tight, skipped with them, down that yellow brick road, on and out.

In short, it did not go well and yet.  Despite all that came to pass, three years later I counted Oscar among my very good friends.  We’d got to know each other quite well: we’d visited one of our old colleagues back in his home of Sweden, I’d ‘managed’ the five aside football team he’d started and a year ago, along with other friends, we’d all been on what was basically a top ski holiday.  ‘Soll’ – Austria.

So in summary

2006: Recruited Oscar, worked with Oscar, experienced quite poor office times with Oscar, went to the pub with Oscar, watched some football and went to some gigs with Oscar, went to some more pubs, went to Sweden, played football, went to pubs and went skiing in Austria – then 2010 turned up.  All of which, to provide unnecessary clarity, included various assorted others of varying note.


As for Westminster

Then earlier this year (2010) a sort of closing chapter to where it all began.

It came in the form of the ‘expenses scandal’ which had come around at an inconveniently good time for the coming general election. 

There, with the sort of prominence she’d always dearly craved, sat our favourite old MP, smack in the dirt splattered middle of it.

We’d long had cause to doubt her integrity and purity of motive but this somehow still came as a surprise, least it did to me.  Probably shouldn’t have done, having had much of my enthusiasm and belief in politics eroded by what I’d seen during my time in that office.  It did though and for all the damage this scandal wrought on the party, the party that we supported and had worked for, none the less it had the definitive sense of justice being rightly served.

CYCLE SWITZERLAND – Planning [2010]

Telegraph Article

Source: Journal Of Trips


Google Images


Cycle To Cambridge … effort

Back in 2011.. as part of a cycle distance judgment exercise i cycled to Cambridge.. i had an intention to go for a cycle in Europe later that year and needed to know exactly how to space out the days, stopping point wise. A couple of weeks ago, after around about a 1.5 years of unplanned tardiness i played my first game of football, it did not go well, worse than i thought it might.  My right thigh had been struggling when ever i ran for a train, it buckled and as i attempted to move about the astro-turf it gave way, over and over it struggled and failed all to often to retain me upright. So before the next game i stretched and squatted, within those free moments that fill a day and a week later i played again.  Rather pleased was i to see that while fatigue and speed remained an issue, already my leg had held up throughout.   It had been Mitch’s advise to attempt these, what with his propensity to run around Marathon circuits in all together inexplicably swift times, he’d seemed like the logical person to query on such matters. The other advise was to cycle… For over a year id been contemplating revisiting the cycle to Cambridge but it wasn’t pleasant back in 2011, it hurt on the mountain bike and i just didn’t really think i could muster it any more.

It was a warm day and the the none main road route was a confusing manglement of country lanes, which when caught out by they’re 2 house village sized direction signs and intersections can lead to places which are anything other than on route.

Cambridge RiverCambridge Punting SummerCambridge Parker's Piece

Any surprise twist in the story arc such that there isn’t – may be lost buy the evidence of photography but i went and made it.  Its not a massive achievement, having done it before and by the simple fact it just isnt so very far… the questions now were, how long to rest up in the park, cycle back or get the train as id offered to myself earlier as an option and how to relax while keeping contact with all the most needed thing id brought with me … phone.. keys.. wallet etc.. while resting up and shielding key parts from hot hot rays from above.

As i’d arrived there had been a lot of people… i rather hoped Harrie wasn’t among them, an old friend who now live up here, but we hadn’t spoken properly for quite some time and running into a person like this well that would be rather awkward.  An effort though small was made not too look around overly, just in case, but there was the water, the punting people, the park dwellers and the touristic slow wonderers.. odds had to be on my side, like a modillo puzzle.. even if people did happen to be in the same area the swarm would act as cover enough … its not the sort of thing you ought to concern yourself with either.

Meanwhile the thunder flies seemed to have become convinced a large and most once in a lifetime butter cup had shown up and they were flocking…. pilgrimaging .. swarming my specially traffic notifying yellow self… Thunder Flies Yellow Top

How i like Cambridge, i knew this, but not being here i forget, since those three years of University when i came to know it well enough. Cambridge, this would be a good choice of places to live, were it not for the commuting time to London… and the prices, the expensive property prices… apparently an unfortunate effect of supply and demand… if only other people were not of the same mind on such matters

The train seemed like opting out, i was hungry, there was little drink left in the rucksack as well… but for some reason id opted out of bringing any sort of lock…i’d looked at it and positively discounted the idea.. and here i was in the known… famously known.. bike theft ca[ital of the world… only a matter of meters away from the only place ive ever witnessed in person what was surely a most brazen theft effort, lockless and need of visiting a shop, or not … was there something on the way back perhaps…. not that i could remember… choices needed to be made…

I could plop the bike along side a bunch of locked up bikes and hope that the masses would disguise its locklessness…or i could place it somewhere in less plain sight and make a rush for it in the shop… i did the latter… the self checkout had gone into error mode almost immediately having detected that someone was attempting to use it for the act of purchasing items, that was the quick in quick out idea scuppered.

After delayed assistance was not given by the shops assistance, but rather by a friendly outsourced security personnel, who thankfully took pity on a sweaty alumnus yellow, person in emergency red faced need for some chocolate biscuits and flavored water.

Glancing round the corner there were wheels… the bike remained


The wind was clearly in my favour on the way here, i hadn’t noticed earlier but now as i headed the other way in hope of mustering a return it was there to greet me .. wind and what seemed like an increased amount of adverse undulations, i set to wondering whether there was some difference in altitude, perhaps cambridge was beneath sea level and had therefore been relatively readily reached due to being blown downhill which was all now set against me as i struggled to return…. focusing on one next train station option town at a time.. roads which dedicate  a focal point of their naming to the word ‘hill’ those are not the types of roads you welcome… and the bike it had forgotten how to change to the uphill gear some years past… i’d not fixed it, didnt know how and had never taken it to someone who did … so that added to the fun.. manual unhooking time had come if this was going to be attempted.

Hill country lane shire uk
Photos do poor justice to gradient and length

Past trips: California, San Francisco and The Golden Gate Bridge [21]

We’d wondered around the ocean front and as with many things on US maps, with their scales, it was further than immediate perceptions of the doodle had suggested. The further distance created by taking some faulty turns on the way toward the water had also had an effect.
We were about half way around, perhaps a little more, when the cartel pricing of the various cycle rental places was clear. By now we could have been cycling for some time having encountered the first ocean from hire place quite early on.

Having been no immediately drawn toward the premium tourist fund relinquishing bike hire schemes, with those earlier options, the later options now fell under that recently established common law not quite judgement but reticent pondering.   So we remained meandering along, options were running out, heading toward the end of the commercial town center part of the promenade.

Small ships were docked with members of their crews loudly and repeatedly alerting those who passed by as to their departure times. One was heading off, quite soon, on a trip out and past the bridge, Mitch seemed inclined we could after all get quite a good view from that sort of vantage point and with the price of the two cartel backed bikes, why not.

Occasionally I may be guilty of some degree of mental inflexibility and having had bikes in mind was open if not wholly persuaded by this boat idea, so without a vigorous sponsor to lead the case for the boats we mooched on, it was not late, we could always come back after all.

The assorted fish market stands & boat trip touting boats behind us we drifted up against the end of the commercial stretch.
The bike rentals weren’t done yet mind, perhaps we weren’t the first visitors to these shores to hatch such a plan.

There were not so many bikes left as a small bike place attendant popped up. They had all been most friendly, all the way along, I guess you’d have to be all those dithering tourists humming their uncertain holiday brain tunes about them all day. We didn’t know anything about all that.
This one though seemed less sales friendly somehow, more I like bikes and outdoor things so I’m doing this, it’s alright relaxed sort of friendly.
The price was also a bit better at this one, though it then transpired once inside, they didn’t actually have two of the cheaper bikes available anymore. It could have been a most cunning manoeuvre only it probably wasn’t, either way after unleashing the great countermeasure, befuddlement empowered procrastination, into proceedings it was settled.  We had one higher grade bike instead for the same price.

Somehow we also seemed to end up on some pay as you go style deal, which worked out fine, shed told us roughly how long the roundtrip tends to take, with the proviso that not all cycle speeds are equal and there were different places we could cycle to. If memory serves we’d pay for the hours we used up to the maximum of the 1/2 day and whatever that might be it would be less than the rather familiar standardised charges offered by all the others.
Cycle hire leaflet
The bikes came with little storage bags which was handy for things like cameras, the multitudes and their shares habits – while the more general clobber was left behind at the bike shop for retrieval at that unspecified juncture of our return.

Heading off, it was a broad well maintained path that bowed over hillocks and arout grasy parkland bits.San francisco dock housesIt was all going pretty well until really quite suddenly it wasn’t. It was warm out, there was a moderate incline and yes I was out of practice but this seemed unfounded, my stomach contracted and convulsed making every sign that it had intention to relinquish that which lay within.
After a brief period of chewing and further faltering effort I pulled up and went to crouch by a bush.. There was reaching but unproductive, this was odd and not really acceptable, there was no call for that sort of reaction.

I gave up on that idea and with the benefit of the break continued on to the top of the hill with one thing in mind, the nuclear strike remedy that was coke and its stomach nuking powers.

There was a tourist shop and refreshment store up there, near enough to where the bridge began, neither sold coke they had silver canned cola, full of organic wholesome things… Normally fair enough right now I doubted it’s capacity for destruction was up to the only artificial ingredients and sugar destroyer we all know so well, all trusty, red and corrosive.

Still it was chilled, sugary, water based and there. This the angelic white cola really did help, though there was no more hill to contend with and I did wonder if I had maybe sunk that low a little bit.
Golden Gate Bridge full viewGolden Gate Bridge head on viewSan Francisco golden gate bridgeTourist deeds must be done.
San Francisco bayPrison Alcatraz IslandSan Francisco BayGolden Gate Brige Rusty Coloured Tower

San Francisco Boats and Ocean ViewPacific Ocean San Francisco

San Francisco Distant View

Bay Area Golden Gate BridgeSea Lions Lime Point San FranciscoHorse Shoe Bay Sea Lions

On the other side of the bridge and despite the great good done by the silver cola thought of coke remained very much at the forefront of hopes, aspirations and general thoughts for what might be.

Google Map Image Alexander Ave Sausalito
Sausalito Alexander Ave Ocean View

Photos don’t seem to do gradient, a lesson from skiing holidays pasts and clearly just as applicable without the presence of snow, something about dimensions and its good to know that even the google has not mustered dominion over this particular law.


Defintion of word evil by google

Though to be fair to them, not the most narrow of restraints, “profoundly immoral and wicked”, profoundly .. it does leave a fair bit of scope for well quite the array.  On the other hand maybe they were going for the noun …. “when regarded as a supernatural force”  … ,great spell checker, much better than word with its mangled phonetics decoder – no clue how it recognises some of those offers, very impressive.    We were on bikes heading down the hill to Sausalito, it was not the most arduous of efforts, gravity was much in our favour, which was nice as we could spend quite a bit of time just skooshing along taking in the scenery.

As we came into town another shop appeared, a more traditional general sort of store, swinging around we came to a halt and took it in turns to venture in.  The need was not longer so great but i headed of to hunt down a drink, before eventually settling back on that familiar red label, a big old bottle it was too, i made off with it.

By the time Mitch had returned from his explorations within, much of the cola had been take care off, a uprising amount given the issue of absorbing such a frothy fizzing sweetness has somewhere found itself a home.