last updated November 29, 2015

Blessed and Naive

A year of being a parent has come and gone. Certain parts of it you allow for, or you have an inkling about how they'll be. There are two things that currently stand out, 12 months on: for good and bad. One is nursery germs and the other is a baby being a prop to engage with strangers and make them smile.

I know that people are lovely: most people are lovely, but the more you become an adult and are surrounded by adult things in adult only environments, amongst strangers, human nature has it that others are a threat. The unknown, you should not let your guard down to. Babies counteract this in a wonderful way. The innocence that they point, smile and stare at strangers breaks down any barrier. Train, bike, bus, restaurant, shops - it's the ultimate glue for society to be trusting and open. It's completely beautiful to watch.

On the flip side we have germs and viruses: the first birthday party we went to we picked up the vomiting bug. Me in London later in the week being escorted home by a new client, Laura leaving the event she had been working up to for months. A couple of colds developed into sinus infections which floored us for a week. The idea of my immune system having to withstand this for the next 5 -10 years strikes the fear of God into me. I can't believe I have been so naive to this - How we will learn!

Posted by stupot at 12:14 PM Sunday 29 Nov

Turner, at it again


The Turner Prize made a visit to Glasgow which is a great thing, and appropriate, given the influence Glasgow based Artists have had in the prize over the past decade or so. I enjoyed the immersive show at the Baltic in Gateshead a few years ago and left feeling inspired by Assemble’s engaging work with communities at the Tramway this time. Unfortunately I didn’t understand Bonnie Camplin’s “myth-science of energy and consciousness research” or Janice Kerbel’s audio piece. Nicole Wermer’s fur coats are growing on me, just as they were the chairs they are permanently attached to (it’s all about temporary ownership in public spaces you see). Both Assemble and Wermer’s pieces are as much about design as art which is maybe why I was more attracted to them. I would argue this is ‘hard’ art - quite inaccessible to mates down the pub. And that’s fine if it’s all about being high brow. The language in which some of these pieces are described is very ambiguous. They should have a plain english translation. I think the shared, transparent, practical and positive approach that Assemble have brought to the prize is to be applauded. Art is anything.

Posted by stupot at 04:00 PM Monday 19 Oct

Drumming up


Receiving my first 'racer' in my mid teens, there were few to be seen on the roads of Ayrshire. I started riding with some guys from Largs - it was already all about tech and kit: clip-less pedals and aluminium frames. I would only hear about 'drumming up' after Art School when I bought my first bike on HP. I joined the Glasgow Wheelers and during social evenings there was chat of this 'tea and soup heated on a camp fire' cycling tradition. It didn't seem to go with STI levers or carbon but it was more about why I was into cycling than time trials and scales. In any case - Geoff Smith, from the new crew I cycle with, arranges an annual drum up last week and it was a lovely way to say hello to sunny autumn. A ride to Gourock followed by ferry to Dunoon and a gallop up the cliff at Ardentinny found us half way up the magnificent Loch Eck and surrounded by some heavy weights of championships gone by - all around a fire keeping warm, meeting new friends and supping on charcoal infused soup. And there was no place I'd rather have been.

Posted by stupot at 10:35 AM Sunday 18 Oct



After the logistics of a trip to Rejkyavik with a 7 month old, the prospect of a simple car journey down to the grandparents in Newcastle seemed like a good plan. It was streamlined travel: I even left the bike at home. It so happened *cough* that the Tour of Britain was in the area so we planned a couple of half-day trips to Blyth (to welcome the riders over the border from Edinburgh) and Hexham (to see them off on the hilliest day, in the town Laura was born in). Sad but not surprised the local bike shop didn't rent bikes (this wasn't Spain) I was delighted that the Cycle Hub had a decent road bike down by the Tyne at Byker.

Continue reading "Northumberland"
Posted by stupot at 07:21 PM Tuesday 15 Sep

Arran, North


Posted by stupot at 10:49 AM Friday 28 Aug

Tripped up by winter

I blog less these days than I did in the past, when I had a bit more time and energy on my hands, and that's fine. I realise also that part of the annual routine is less updates during winter, and that's fine as well. It's good to embrace these things.

One of the reasons for not updating is more injury - the trauma my poor left arm has been subjected to over the past 12 months would make Evil Kneivel wince. Even on sabbatical from the bike, I still managed a fall whilst walking down the street which was bad enough to break my arm in 13 places. Another February healing: Not a routine I want to get used to!

Posted by stupot at 06:04 PM Saturday 7 Mar


It's incredible, but culturally important, that there still exist shops like Tam Shepherds in the centre of town. It's mis-placed sense of being from another era is only briefly brought into the Amercianised 21st century with the inclusion of a card payment system. An eighties carbon shuttle would have been perfect. And if I'd given them an 'Access' credit card.

The woman who runs the shop is balanced. She has a kind smile but quieter and more business like than you'd expect from someone who owns a trick shop. She plays her own music - an un-placeable 70's band. Despite it being less than a week to Christmas, there is little hint of festive cheer. It's refreshing. A dip into independent retail which has almost vanished from the city centre.

The layout of the shop is how it has always been - long cabinets with an oak frame and glass top and front to see the dirty soap, fake poo, whoopee cushions, blood capsules. There is low-level grey-patterened gingham formica which goes largely unseen amidst the colourful masks and tricks sitting below fluorescent tube lighting. Just as the owner is in a middle aged cardigan, unremarkable hair and a indistinctive dark blouse. She's well aware that you cannot compete with the madness they have on sale.

Posted by stupot at 10:44 AM Monday 22 Dec

The Lone Piper

The sound of the enemy can be heard in the distance, muffled but unmistakable, breaking rest. Explosions and shouts. The sound becomes clearer and closer. Hand to hand combat ensues. Screams are let out, eyes full. The smell of fear. Wrestling on the ground: uniforms torn and messy. The struggle continues. The shouting lessens. Quiet eventually has the upper hand. Upright again. The opposition sedated and weary.
The lone piper paces, focussed and steady, considerate and measured with his breathing. The battle is won for now, the victory rewarded by sleep.

Posted by stupot at 06:57 PM Sunday 14 Dec

A Decade of Social habits

Mr Third started this blog for me ten years ago. In December 2004, being social on the internet was quite a scary thing. Going into the foyer of 'Habbo Hotel' (think you directed me there too, Chris) and entering into a conversation with a stranger was enough to make me close the computer down, shut the curtains and rock myself to sleep in a dark room. Psychotic people with anger management problems would populate online forums. Then facebook emerged as the home of the lazy narcissist, the ready meal of the internet: fleeting and insubstantial, complete with layers of plastic packaging destined for the landfill. And twitter - a kind of poverty Haiku for the masses.

A more closed tool (latterly without a comment function), the blog has been a useful platform to decant head-stuff, the writing helping to untangle the brain muddle. You dissect. You put away in a box in a slightly neater bundle than you started with. For someone with a bad memory it has become a more concise catalogue of places, rides, holidays, tastes, experiences, as well as a handy reference tool to point others to. It's certainly an enjoyable pastime and encourages a commitment to writing - a subject I've always struggled with since school. Just as my sketches are a fun way of documenting life in a visual way, the words add a bit more depth. There's less preciousness when you write online - you can tweak, alter, change, refine - I can't help thinking a piece of paper charting those edits would be a far more interesting document to look at though.

Posted by stupot at 06:17 PM Saturday 6 Dec

Wee Stoater

We went to an industrial estate in Livingston the other day: it's unglamorous but there are some proper cool businesses knocking about. Click Netherfield supply museum cases (OK - cool in my book) to institutions all around the world, Endura supply kit to cycling's Spanish Movistar team. We were dropping in on the small team at Shand Cycles with a view to finding out how they work and maybe buying a local, solid, lovingly built bike. Steven shows us the process with a cheery welcome - the welding happens not far from CAD, the CAD guy is at a bench not far from the admin and the admin is spitting distance from the spray booth. It's a tight wee operation - Chris Hoy just had a track bike from there I notice from rummaging through their flickr account. It's tailored stuff. The all-round 'Stoater' has many components that are new and fascinating to me - Rohloff concealed hub gears, carbon drive chain, a split frame (for goodness sake), disc brakes, plenty of lugs. Not light but in line with how I ride. Bike weight keeps you fit. Might be a long term addition to the family, post-crash trauma.

Posted by stupot at 05:50 PM Saturday 6 Dec