Thursday, 15 December 2011

Barry and Pugin Architecture Ride for Lambeth Cyclists

The Architecture Ride I led for Lambeth Cyclists in December looked at the work of Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin, in particular the Houses of Parliament. The ride was 'interrupted' by a morning tour of the Clocktower to see and hear Big Ben strike noon, 

and an afternoon tour of Parliament itself where we could really take in Pugin's extraordinary level of ornamentation.

The ride started by Clapham Common at Barry's rather grand last home

We also passed by the Imperial War Museum, previously Bethlem Hospital, or Bedlam, where Pugin unfortunately ended up, right next door to Notre Dame Cathedral for which he was the architect.
Between the Parliamentary tours we visited Pall Mall to see the Travellers Club and the Reform Club then on to Bridgewater House (pictured), all three designed by Barry in Italianate style.

A part of the ride that I particularly enjoyed was the view of parliament from Lambeth while cycling along the Thames Path.  Lambeth Cyclists had fought hard to successfully overturn a ban on cycling that has been imposed there. 

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Riding into winter with Pedal Power Kennington

Despite it getting darker, a little wetter, and colder the rides have continued and are attracting new participants. On Tueday 29th November we went to Tower Bridge and St Katherine's Dock to look at boats in the rain

 It happened to be the day that the gangway onto HMS Belfast had collapsed.
 On Wednesday 30th we went through the City of London to Hoxton to tour around the Circus Space - wonder if those we took will end up on the Circus degree course?
 We also nipped into the Classic Car Club on Old Street

 This Tuesday we decided to go to St Pancras to see the Lego Christmas Tree

 and yesterday we had a repeat visit, by popular demand, to Winter Wonderland
 before heading, via a brief diversion into the Aston Martin showroom on Pall Mall, to Bond Street for the Christmas Lights.
Just two more rides to go this term - one of them maybe to the Olympic site if I can find a quick and safe route. Hmm.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Loving London at night

 We had a terrific Pedal Power Kennington ride tonight up to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. None of the pupils, from Lilian Baylis and Charlotte Sharman schools, had been before and, as you'd expect, they loved it.
 We had enough money for chips but not enough to have a go on the big rides
 We did have a go at the Throw a Ring over the Glass and Box contest. Unsuccessful, of course, but fun.
On Tuesday we'd ridden to Covent Garden with a couple of the 13 and 14 year-old pupils who also came tonight. Though living maybe three miles away they hadn't been to Covent Garden before either. They loved the decorations, the smells in Lush, the Apple Store, the rules about throwing fruit from the original market, the huge Christmas tree baubles in the roof of the market

and the lights.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ferry across the Thames

This Wednesday's Pedal Power Kennington ride, with a trio of Lilian Baylis pupils, took a twisting backstreets route (stopping to check out the fencing in Tabard Street made from wartime stretchers) to suddenly emerge by the Thames, equidistant between Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf

The riders were really looking forward to taking the ferry across to Canary Wharf so we continued along National Cycle Network route 4, stopping briefly by the Brunel Museum above the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world.

We went through the foyer of the Hilton Hotel opposite Canary Wharf to the jetty for the Thames Clipper ferry. The view of Canary Wharf from the ferry (which easily had room for all our bikes) is fantastic, as is the short crossing itself.
(photo Hamish2k under Creative Commons)

Our route home was along the bizarre Cycling Superhighway 3, followed by the usual getting lost through the City of London en-route to Cycling Superhighway 7 and back to base.

Once again all the riders really enjoyed the ride, amazed and delighted to discover the wonders within easy pedal power from Kennington.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Hundreds turned out for the Tour du Danger

Saturday's 'Tour du Danger' had an amazing turnout of people who want to be able to ride their bikes without fear and, more importantly, want a London where those who currently daren't ride a bike will be able to do, feeling and being safe - something the Cycling Superhighways are signally failing to deliver currently.

It was a peaceful ride and pedestrians took photos, clapped, smiled and voiced their support. I loved the smartly dressed female tourist standing in the middle of the Strand repeatedly saying 'Fantastic, Fantastic, this too is just starting in Valencia'. We'd clearly made her day.

The throng of cyclists behind me meant I was relaxed enough to be able to cycle one-handed and take a photo, albeit not a good one, over my shoulder as we left Hyde Park Corner and entered Park Lane - something I wouldn't conceive of doing in its normal race track mode.
Bravo to all those who took part - we hope it will encourage the politicians and Transport for London to step up their efforts to create a London where children will enjoy cycling to school and visit friends, and where their mothers will feel confident in letting them.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Kennington takes on the City

I don't know whether the marches in London today scared the parents but today's Pedal Power Kennington trip in search of gold in the City of London had just two pupils, one regular and one whose bike we'd fixed on Monday at a Dr Bike at his school.

I'm pleased to say both pupils had a fabulous time.

Our first port of call was the Bank of England Museum to pick up a bar of gold. We arrived within their opening hours but they had locked the doors early to prevent us (or anyone else) from entering, apparently out of their fear that the students' march today turning nasty. There were an incredible number of police throughout the city though we saw no students.

With the bank shut to its customers we decided to nip down to the Monument, where the staff were pleased to see us and let us in. The views from the top of the 311 step tower are fantastic

I got a little nervous on the spiral staircase three quarters of the way up when I saw this sign

We managed to make our way down safely and were given certificates

We then moved on to One New Change which has a wonderful view of the adjacent St Paul's Cathedral from its roof terrace

We then meandered past more van loads of police to see the tranquil tent city (where my photographic skills deserted me), before returning to Lambeth via Southwark Bridge and the superficial highway 7.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dead curious and curious dead things

Yesterday's Pedal Power Kennington Ride, on All Soul's Day, saw us reflecting on the dead, our version of Dia de los Muertos / Day of the Dead.

Our first port of call, in the nick of time before the 5pm closure, was the Grant Museum of Zoology. This is a fabulous, free museum which houses not one, but two sets of Dodo bones - they're scarce given that the bird became extinct around 1700, following the Dutch arriving in 1638 in the birds' island home of Mauritius.
We then hopped on our bikes for a quick ride to the British Museum to check out the Egyptian Mummies, c2686 BC-AD 395, before that museum shut at 5.30pm. (photo by Klafubra, under Creative Commons)

From the British Museum we headed back to UCL to see the Auto-Icon: a wooden cabinet containing the preserved skeleton of philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832), dressed in his own clothes and nowadays with a wax head - the original being looked after in a safe! 

On our journey home we happened upon a projection on, I think, the University of London in Malet Street. We were dead curious, but didn't have time to find out more.
Next week, all things being equal, we're be going with the pupils to The Monument and to the Bank of England to pick up a bar of gold.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Lawn Tennis, Mozart, Fossils and Kayaks

Today's Pedal Power Kennington was, by request, to Chelsea. We nipped over Lambeth Bridge, past the home of the Major who wrote the rules of Lawn Tennis to the new Pimlico Academy (stopping to admire their climbing wall), and then just south of Sloane Square where we admired the house Mozart lived in when he wrote his first symphony.

Next stop was a shop specialising in crystals and 140,000,000 year old fossils, selling for £220,000!

We went past the Royal Hospital for the Chelsea Pensioners and turned to cycle down the Kings Road, stopping for some chips from McDonalds. We made our way down to the Thames at Battersea Bridge and took the lovely shared use pavement along the river past Albert Bridge to Chelsea Bridge where we admired the Kayakers in the small dock, before making our way back on Cycling Superhighway 8 to Lambeth Bridge and home. It was quite a long ride for our Year 6 cyclists, coping with some proper London traffic at dusk. They did really well.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

From small acorns..

We had a small Pedal Power Kennington ride today with four pupils (three regulars, one new). We cycled over Waterloo Bridge to Covent Garden, for the Apple store, market and street entertainers. Then over to the law courts and chambers (unfortunately Ede and Ravenscroft were shut so we couldn't ask to try on a judge's wig). Returning via Blackfriars Bridge, one moment we were hemmed in by taxis, cars and vans, the next we were a small group amidst the thousand plus cyclists attending the LCC Flashride. The children were gobsmacked. I suspect there'll be more attending the next ride!