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.