Tuesday, April 19, 2005

suicidal peds and homocidal motorists

Has spring turned the peds of London suicidal, so that instead of looking before they cross the road, they take a flying leap in front of the nearest oncoming cyclist?
I ask this because I cannot believe how many times I had to resort to dinging my bell this morning. But of course, spring has also contrived to make these people deaf too, as I had no response to my dinging at all – so shouting at top of my voice was the only method left for me to make my presence known, other than actually colliding with, eg, a young mother, the sprog trailing behind her, or the buggy (with baby) being pushed ahead.

But still, spring seems to be in full flourish right now – the sunlight reflecting off the rain dampened roads, lifted my spirits no end. Only the large puddles around every blocked street drain caused me a problem. I usually choose to go round, as cycling through them would ensure I was sodden for the rest of the ride. But going round puts me in conflict with the speeding traffic, driven by morons who will not give an inch to a cyclist – forwhat reason I have no idea. I drive, and I have no problem leaving space for cyclists, anticipating when they might need to pull around an object, etc. But then – I give a shit, and most drivers clearly don’t.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Woolwich Ferry

I lived in Woolwich for four years while I was studying at Thames Polytechnic. but I never actually made it onto the Ferry.

I'm not sure why. We used to drink in a pub just up the road from it, and I even used the foot tunnel to get to North Woolwich once, but somehow, never ventured onto the ferry.

That's all changed now, as I had a little while ago I had to get to Thamesmead to buy a discontinued item from the Argos there, and then get into work.

It's not a profound experience really, but I enjoyed the 15 minutes standing looking at over the side of the ferry, watching the ferry on the other side of the Thames do exactly the same, smelling the estuary smells, watching a barge or two go by, listening to the seagulls, and then finally the view of Woolwich from across the river.

There's always a huge queue of vehicles - both sides of the river - waiting for the ferries: there's usually two in service. I've spotted lorries from round Europe - camper vans - cars jammed with luggage and kids, god knows what these visitors think of the arrangement here - probably wondering why the authorities never built a bridge here.

Once the ferry sets off there's usually only a one or two drivers who get out of their vehicles and take in the full Woolwich Ferry experience. Not only are there the usual river sights, but there's the Dome, Canary Wharf, Thames Barrier, Tate and Lyle sugar plant and 9 times out of 10 a large freighter unloading into it. I tend to do a bit of bird spotting on the way - usually seeing common terns, gulls and cormorants.

Another link

The cycle ride up to Stratford takes about 45 minutes, making the route viable for me to use as a regular route to work, and I'm sure I've mentioned how much I hate the Greenwich foot tunnel with its unreliable lifts, herds of tourists and grumpy operators.

street furniture

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The plane touched down at 1.30 and we finally got out of the airport at around 2.30. An uneventful drive home, only to find that the cats had pissed and shit all over the bed while we were away.

It's 4 am now, and it only remains for me to unpack the piles of sausage and cheese we brought back, and stash in the fridge, before laying down on the sofa and getting a well earned four hours kip...

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Granada and Sierra Nevada

We've been on a jaunt to Granada and round the Sierra Nevada, back through the Alpajarras and then, via Malaga, to Antequera.

S. was wiped out afterwards - despite my offers to take over - S. doesn't trust me as a driver - and maybe she's right - it's not in my top ten skills to boast about.

I got K. put on the insurance - so he drove for a bit on Friday.

I was impressed with Granada - full of students and quite lively. We walked round the Albaicin - even though the guide book said not to after dark - we did anyway. Found a half decent restaurant which we thought was posh authentic Spanish - until we noticed that all the other customers spoke English. Still we made the best of it. Had a seafood soup and we all shared a meaty Paella. Very nice - I've never had it before.

Then we staggered back to our hostel. I had an early morning the next morning - standing in line to get tickets for the alhambra. We thought we'd made it to Granada without seeing the alhambra for a second time, but after a bit of advice from the nice girl who ran our hostel, I decided to make the supreme sacrifice - getting out of bed before 8am.

It was worth it. S. was happy, and I was quite gobsmacked by the interior decor of the palaces.

After a meal in a nearby restaurant it was back on the road till we hit the mountains. I took us the wrong way initially, but eventually we got the map-reading sorted and made it up to the highest roads in Europe.

Windy roads, loads of donkeys, old ladies - thicker than tree trunks, walking between villages with hand-picked herbs - old men with goats - dogs with road sense - little white villages hanging from the hills - ham hanging from the ceilings - and finally a meal of traditional meats in Orgiva.

Then home.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Costa Del shit-hole

After a late rising, we drove down to Malaga and along the Coast road - to rubber-neck at the plebs on the Costa Del Sol.

It's wall-to-wall high rise hotels and tacky bars. All traces of Spain have been wiped from this coast and replaced by an Essex mans' ideal night out writ large.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


A tapas bar in Antequera in the morning, and a drive out to the town of Ronda in the afternoon. Breathe-taking views over the gorge.

K was still up when we got back - after midnight - and "Help Me Ronda" came on the radio. Fantastic!!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


Arrived in Andalucia in the early hours. We were given an "upgrade" by the hire company from Ford Focus to a fecking Kia. Some upgrade!!

Found Antequera quite easily - looked round the town, castle on the hill et al and then hooked up with my mate, K.

K. has a town house at the top of the town, near the castle, which has a quite magnificent view across Antequera.

In the evening we drove to the local lagoon and saw flamingos, other birds and bats. K. demonstrated his bat "detector" both on bat sounds and his own exhalations of wind.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Glastonbury Tickets

We got tickets
We got tickets
We got tickets
We got tickets


Friday, April 01, 2005

I'm back

It's been a long time since I posted - but now I'm back.

Spring is here again. I've been watching the moorhens attacking each other on the Regent's Canal -a sure sign that the little moorhen chicks are about to emerge blinking into the light. But I might not be here to see the first ones. See, I'm off to Andalucia on Monday, for a whole week.

While I'm away, we'll see the election of a new pope (he's not quite dead as I write, but he is quite poorly), and Prince Charley will have married for a second time. And who knows what else?

I'll be able to avoid these momentous events - even though I suspect the pope thing will get quite good coverage in Spain - I believe they take Roman Catholicism quite seriously there.

Now that spring is here the roads are again packed with fair wheather cyclists, many of whom are barely competent, and it will only get worse as we head towards summer. For at least one day in the fortnight of minor blizzards we experienced in February, I didn't see more than one other cyclist on the road.

and yes, in the end we did get snow on the ground - about a couple of inches, enough to make my journey to work a little slippy. The canal was frozen that day so I was able to watch the water birds walking where they usually swam - waddling along slowly on the frozen water.

Bye for now...