Saturday, 31 July 2010

An Afternoon on Boris's Hire Bikes

This afternoon The Man suggested that we take the train up to London and try out the new Cycle Hire Bikes. We had applied for keys earlier in the week and they had arrived surprisingly quickly; I certainly felt that if that was an indication of the efficiency of the scheme that this was a good start, particularly so close to the launch.

We arrived at Waterloo Station and crossed the road to the Docking Station on Concert Hall Approach; this is meant to be a reasonably large station with 33 bikes and, happily there were more than enough for our needs.

We had heard that some of the bikes had tight rear wheels, so we checked that our bikes were OK. I chose 14389 and The Man chose 16176.

It would appear that I was better at checking than him as we had not gone that far before he noticed that his bike was quite stiff to ride, which is not what we were expecting.

We decided to do a tour of our respective work places, so headed along Stamford Street and Southwark Street towards Southwark Bridge and the City. As we went, we noticed just how many Docking Stations there are, all of them had bikes in, although the one on Stamford Street had no spaces to dock, which would have meant going to one of the other Docking Stations in the area. Some Docking Stations, like the one on Queens Street, are not fully finished yet, but had bikes, and a few are not finished at all, such as the one at Bank of England Museum, which is still a building site. But that said, even without all of the Docking Stations fully finished, the coverage on the route that we took was very impressive.

We found our way to Devonshire Square Docking Station and were pleased to see that there were some vacant spaces so duly docked our trusty bikes. My bike was more than happy to be docked and the light went the required green. For some reason The Man's dock light insisted on staying amber, although the bike seemed to be securely docked so we assumed it was as we went on a walk to my office to fill the required 5 minutes before we took another bike out (you can take another bike straight away, but then you do not benefit from the free first 30 minutes deal - having a 5 minute break means you start a new 'first 30 minutes'). The Man had not realised that it was as far from Bank as it is, he knew it was close to Liverpool Street Station, but seems to have foreshortened the distance from Bank.

When we returned to the Docking Station The Man was not able to take a bike out, other than the one that he had used from Waterloo, clearly this was the result of the incomplete Dock earlier. So we decided to go only a short distance to Wormwood Street, re-dock and have a drink before we set up again. This time the bike docked without a problem, and the drink was very welcome, so a bit of a win win.

So it was on to Monument and The Man's office. This time it was my turn to have an eye opener as I had not realised how close to The House of Fraser his offices are, and how close to London Bridge. We looked for his nearest Docking Station and found one not too far away on Eastcheap.

We then cycled over London Bridge and started to retrace our steps (or pedals) to Waterloo having had a really enjoyable afternoon using the latest addition to the London Transport System.

So what are the bikes like and how do they work? They are sedate, it has to be said, courtesy of their weight and wide tyres. Do not expect to be nipping in and out of traffic on these, they are aimed at the casual and occasional cyclist, not at the Lycra clad enthusiast. Cycling in a suit or a skirt should be no problem and there is a (smallish) space at the front of the bike where you can put a bag, probably up to the size of a laptop bag, kept in place with a strong elastic band. There are three gears, set very low, which are controlled by a grip shift on the right hand, and a bell on the left, tucked in under the grip. The usual front and rear brakes are provided and clearly labeled as such for those not used to riding. The seat is a bit like an armchair, but not uncomfortable, and the height can be adjusted very easily. So we are definitely fans at the moment and as long as the bikes are maintained well, we see no reason why that will not continue to be the case. Well done Boris!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Somewhat Odd Selection - But Hey, Life's Like That

So, I got home somewhat earlier than usual and having opened the backdoor, was surprised to find that our cat had decided to venture outside, unprompted, for the first time in months. I had to take a photo, just to prove it to The Man.

OK, so by the time I took the photo she was heading back in, but that is not the point!

But now I had my camera out, so I had to take a few more photos, some were an attempt at being 'arty' some were just for fun, the other cat is not ours by the way, although she spends as much time with us as she seems to spend with her owners.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

I've Been To A Marvellous Party

It may not have had quite the Press pull of the party held earlier this week a mere 10 miles away, but I am sure it was a more entertaining event, and the invitation list certainly did not include the dodgy characters that the 'other' garden party had to contend with.

Advertised as an evening of food, friends and garden games, that is certainly what it was.

We started with 'Smash the Glass' followed swiftly by 'Hunt the Shard', games that I invented as I was greeted by our host!

The hit of the evening was outdoor 'Jenga', which started before we arrived and was still going strong when we left, about 5 hours later. We tried a few variations on the rules, including one round of 'Cheat Jenga', but we decided that the original version was by far the best.

There was also a large Draughts Board, a game that I have never managed to get my head around, but a few games were played and enjoyed.

There was also 'Lawn Darts', which I think was our host's way of getting his lawn aerated, and Croquet, which was not played until after sunset, hence no photos.

As well as the games, there were other objects that called to me to photograph, including our hostess's new lace top, she had not realised how pretty it was from the back until I had taken this photo:

Inside there were some other objects that needed to be photographed, some just a bit quirkier than others.

Are you attending any Garden Parties this year? Do let me know what you are up to.

And for those interested in the history of the title of this post; written by Noel Coward for the New York Edition of Words and Music, Set to Music (1938) and sung by Beatrice Lillie, one of Coward's sublime parodies of the hedonistic international cafe society he inhabited. The indefatigable society hostess Elsa Maxwell had invited Noel to 'an informal beach party' that summer - 'just come as you are'. When he arrived he found a hundred revellers 'in the last stages of evening dress' expecting to be entertained by him!! Here is a really fun version (although some of the video my not be for younger eyes!), recorded by The Divine Comedy for Twentieth Century Blues in 1998; this album, one of my favourites, raised money for The Red Hot AIDS Charitable Trust.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

My Favourite Things - Part One

I have been thinking, which is always a bit of a worry, but this time I have been thinking about what my favourite things are. 

As I was sipping a wonderful cup of coffee this morning, I was asking myself what my favourite things might be and realised that one of them was in my hand at that moment, the cup that held my coffee. 

It was a gift to me from a dear friend who clearly understood me well. The note around the saucer had me in stitches, it is so apt and at the time we had three cats, which managed to occupy most of the bed, without the need for any further balls of fluff!


The cup holds a secret, although it is not very secret really when you think about it as it has already appeared on one of these photos, but I like to think of it as a secret anyway, its just more fun that way. So what is the secret:

That and the fact that it is huge, and holds an enormous amount of coffee, which for those of us who love our coffee, is a real bonus.

So what are my other favourite things? Well that would be telling, and I'm not doing that yet! But you can tell me what your favourite things are if you want.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

What a great time we had!

On Thursday evening some friends and I went to see 'The Railway Children' at Waterloo Station. I had been called off the subs' bench for the event but did not hesitate to take up the offer. The film is an all time favourite of mine, so I was really looking froward to seeing the live adaptation of the book.

I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to go, it is a wonderful evening's entertainment and everyone should try to go. It is a true spectacle, with a real steam train making more than one appearance during the show. For those of you who enjoy a different production space this is a fascinating space that makes such good use of the railway, that is the theatre. The rails are not only used for the scenes with the train, but also for trucks to change the acting space and to bring props on and off the stage space. 

The theatre has 1,000 seats split between two platforms, literally. As a result of this the acting is very much 'in the round' and is brilliant. 

We sat on Platform Two, in row H in the middle block, these were perfect seats as we were far enough back to be able to see all of the acting space, but not so far back as to feel out of touch. This is a dreadful photo taken from our seats, but gives an impression of the space.

We met at 7pm outside the theatre, by platform 19, and started our journey back in time and up to Yorkshire. As we entered the 'Theatre' we walked through and echo tunnel and were encouraged to make noise from the start. When we entered the main front of house space it was slightly surreal, having previously been in the same place prior to a Eurostar trip to Paris. 

The Front of House space is bright and airy, benefiting from its former life. We had planned to order interval drinks, and duly decided to share a bottle of pink champagne in tribute to 'red flannel petticoats'; what a good choice it was too.

All in all the show was amazing and a great way to spend an evening. And did we cry; what do you think?

Monday, 12 July 2010

A Bit Too Close for Comfort

When I was cycling home from the station last Friday I picked up the smell of burning. At first I thought it was someone having a bbq, then I realised that it was more of a bonfire smell and wondered who would think about having a bonfire after all the dry weather we have had. 

The nearer I got to home, the more obvious the smell became and my mind started running riot.

I turned into our road and saw smoke billowing from behind the houses to my left, clearly coming from the nature reserve behind the houses, and all too close. Fortunately the Fire Brigade arrived just as I was looking to see where the source was. But further along the road, there was more smoke, with a Fireman clearly trying to find how to get to the second fire. That evening we had a number of fire engines driving up and down the road.

Today I came through the reserve to take photos for Shimelle Laine's online class, and found this.

Last week the same place looked like this

What a difference a couple of days makes.

On a brighter note, I did get some good photos for the class and some generally cute shots:

And these were taken in the garden, having been grown from seed.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

This is a first!

Last night we were invited to join some very good friends for supper. He is an exceptional and inventive cook, so we knew we were in for a night of good food and company. The meal started with homemade tomato soup and bread, but look at how is was served, certainly saves on the washing up.

The meal continued in the same vein, but as we were also served with chilled Erdinger beer, my ability to take photos declined (just as well we were on our bicycles and not in a car!!)

It was a wonderful evening but eventually we had to go home, we finally flopped into bead at about 1 in the morning, so this is not going to be the longest or most erudite entry.

Friday, 9 July 2010

In the UK and, yes we do have Parakeets in the garden!!

I was talking with someone at work a couple of days ago about sitting in our garden and hearing the sound/noise of Parakeets. They could not believe that I had not actually lost my mind and was not hearing things.

Well, as I was downloading some photos from my camera yesterday for the class I am taking with Shimille Laine and found these, not very good, photos that I had taken a few days ago and forgotten about.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Why Wouldn't You?

So, as I was cycling home from the station today, taking the scenic route through the park/nature reserve, I spotted people who seemed a little unsure which where they should go and being a little hesitant about directions. Here's a question, had they done as I had, chosen to go the slightly longer, scenic route, home. 

Then I looked around me and thought 'Why wouldn't you?' Given a choice between a traffic jam, or this, there is no choice in my mind, also allowing me to take some photos for 'Love Your Pictures, Love Your Pages' Prompt 2, not the best photos I have taken, but still interesting.

The last photo is my favourite, in spite of the flower ( the supposed subject of the photo) being almost invisible at first sight, I love the perspective. What do you think?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What a Special Place

I sometimes have to remind myself about the special place I live in. At other times there is no need to remind myself because it is so clear from the sights around me that I just know. Cycling home from the station one day last week was one of the latter. I chose to come back on the scenic, but slightly longer, route and spotted these little friends as I was coming through one of the parks.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

You have to join this class!


If you only take one on line class this year, make it this one. Shimelle is an inspiration and I know that this will be a great class. It starts on Monday, but you should be able to join at any time, so do!

I hope to see you all in the Class Forum.