Tuesday, 25 October 2011


My first road bike, the Condor Acciaio, has been sold. I genuinely had a bit of a lump in the throat. It was/is a fine bike which saw my first (doomed) attempt to get round Richmond Park. It saw me get up Ditchling Beacon on the London-Brighton run. Still, it was just a bike, right?

Saturday, 22 October 2011


I can explain Mrs D, honestly I can...

Click to enlarge

For more photos click here

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Turning the commute into a Charlie Chaplin themed pub crawl?

Cycling home (on the Surly custom bike) from work recently I decided to try a different route. I'd become tired of the slog from Waterloo up to Clapham Common via Kennington Road & Clapham Road. For a start there are tons of traffic lights to slow you down, and the volume of cars and buses makes breathing fairly hazardous. I'd also ended up racing, the competitive streak taking hold.The faster you go the more likely you are to crash on a commute (within reason).
So anyway, at Lambeth North tube, instead of turning left up Kennington Road I took a little right fork up Hercules Road (where Charlie Chaplin went to school).

The Pineapple

53 Hercules Road

Here you find the Pineapple, a "traditional boozer" that apparently serves the best Guiness in London according to a fan page on Facebook
From there it's a succession of back streets alongside the  railway arches with hardly a car to be seen.
The Jolly Gardeners
Crossing over Lambeth Road, heading down Sail Street and Newport Street following the railway arches, you hit Black Prince Road. Here you find The Jolly Gardeners, which is apparently London's first German gastro pub (Schnitzel, and roast potatoes and a drink for about £5?!) My friend Boris goes there and says it excellent, a great place to watch football. But perhaps not England matches.

Across Black Prince Road into Vauxhall Walk you see the Queen's Head, just 50 yards from the railway line. 
The Queen's Head
It was apparently outside this pub that Charlie Chaplin got the inspiration for his 'tramp' character. His mother was committed to an asylum when he was five and his alcoholic father was involved in the pub trade, so Chaplin spent much of his time hanging around ouside establishments such as the Queen's Head, observing the local characters.

The Black Dog
Further along Vauxhall Walk opposite Victoria Spring Gardens park you find The Black Dog, a recently renovated free house serving 'seasonal food'. It looked very tempting as I whizzed past that day. I might well be stopping here next time I'm not in a hurry to get home.

Just a coupleof hundreds of yards up the road is the Tea House Theatre serving Tea & Cake, making it an ideal spot to stop after a decent cycle ride. As far as I can tell it isn't actually a theatre, but used to be the Queen Anne pub, reputedly London's first strip bar. 
So it used to look like this....


 I think this is a great and atmospheric part of London, and one which I didn't know at all until taking the detour, with lots of great buildings; former workhouses, railway arch workshops, old tenements and some fine terraces, not to mention the many hostelries.
There's even some very well tended allotments on Tyers Street, just fifty yards from The Black Dog, surely the most central allotments in London?  

From there it's a more prosaic journey back to Clapham, although travelling along the backstreets between Wandsworth Road and South Lambeth Road you come across 'little Portugal' around Wilcox Road, yet more pubs (anyone would think Londoners enjoy a drink!), and a gorgeous circular terrace, Landsdowne Gardens. 
Through fashionable Clapham Old Town with its many bars, restaurants and pubs, and it's home via the cycle route over the Clapham Common.
I'm now dying for my next chance to cycle home. Roll on Thursday night!

Here's the route (or at least the part from Blackfriars Bridge).
The reverse ride, from home to work is almost identical although the urge to stop at pubs along the way will be less strong (I start work at lunchtimes sometimes) as you avoid Vauxhall Walk but cycle past the Tyers Street allotments instead.  Here's home to work.

Monday, 3 October 2011


To be honest, I haven't always worn a helmet. For short rides I sometimes don't bother. 
But today I went for a long ride and stopped off at the London Cycle Workshop on my way home. 
Were I just visiting the workshop I might have gone without one, but it's just as well I had one on today because joining Battersea Rise from the cycle path I attempted to accelerate away, which unfortunately caused the chain to come off.  
As I was out of the saddle I had a heavy fall, landing hard on my head, shoulder & hip. To be honest I was pretty lucky not to damage the bike. 
Rather than putting the unfortunate machine down, a team of bicycle mechanics are working through the night to acertain the cause of the mechanical malfunction. Hopefully, by dawn the problem will be rectified and we can all get on with our lives.
So it just remains for me to say: PLEASE WEAR A HELMET!!