It was about eleven o'clock in the morning and I was standing by the lights as I do every morning waiting to cross the road to start my commute. As cars whizzed past me I turned around and glanced into the Chinese restaurant and noticed a framed picture on the dark wall that I'd never noticed before. It was a cheap frame but the image was impressive - it was the House of Commons and Big Ben. My eyes moved back down towards the pavement and I cycled on when the light turned green. I was completely numb - the same feeling that is a symptom of oncoming depression. My stomach was tight - the same feeling that is a symptom of my body undergoing stress. I wasn't alone in having these feelings it transpired, but that was no comfort.Continue reading "The Horizon"
Posted by stupot at 05:33 PM Saturday 20 Sep
Cowal is a place I've been to on quite a few occasions but I've never really been over to the west side which rests on Loch Fyne. The area is incredibly accessible from Glasgow and is why the town's merchants had houses on Dunoon and Rothesay which also explains their period grandness. In miles it is not far but the ascending, descending and new, dramatic landscapes around each corner makes it feel like you could be entering another country, which, I suppose, you are. We were staying at Laura's uncle and Aunt's chalet just by Otter Ferry and arriving on Saturday evening in good weather I unpacked the bike and headed South for Portavadie on the stretch of road I hadn't ever been on. The direct route over the Bealach to Glendaruel is cruel so I thought better of it at the beginning of our break: 'Uncle Jonny' having tipped me off (to cement my decision, I met a cyclist coming the other way the following day who had broken a crank going up it).Continue reading "Lumpy and Whippy"
Posted by stupot at 07:03 PM Tuesday 26 Aug
2 weeks ago I was on the Isle of Eigg and walking over from the tearoom to Cleadale I noticed a postbox with the initials GR as part of the raised cast emblem - it was a wall mounted one: the wall looking in this case like it had been made purely for the purpose of housing a post box. It dawned on me that usually these read ER (as in Elizabeth Regina) but the GR was surely a reference to King George (Rex) of Georgian fame. We met to watch the road race for the Commonwealth Games where we'd been last year for the National Champs - just by the post box at the end of Cecil Street in the west end. We were standing about between laps, the awning out from Neil's van to shelter us - and eventually some stewards - from the rain, when an old man paused as he walked by. I could tell he wanted to say something and I asked if he was alright - he said he was happy they'd painted it. He was talking about the box and I agreed, but was oblivious to what he was getting at. "There are only a few of these left you know - the E on the box is not for Elizabeth but Edward the 8th". I'd forgotten about his short reign but it transpires the Royal Mail had managed to put up 161 boxes in that time. Few of these remain intact as most were changed to a G for George. The scripted E is followed by VIII you can notice if you're bored enough to pop up and have a look. He really rained on my postbox fact I'd been sharing for only a fortnight - but I was happy he'd shared a better one. Pass it on.
Posted by stupot at 07:12 PM Sunday 3 Aug
'People Make Glasgow' is the newly adopted slogan of the city. Glasgow has been stylish, a mister man, but now it's finally all about the people. And it's true, for good or bad, people really do make Glasgow: outgoing, talkative, helpful, funny. Standing at a bus stop in Glasgow invariably warrants a chat about situation in hand, whether you want it or not. Hardships are overcome by community and discussion: Be it standing in the rain waiting for a bus or bringing a landlord to heel (more difficult should this be the council).Continue reading "Flourishing"
Posted by stupot at 11:20 AM Saturday 2 Aug
Driving down to Penrith I could barely see the car in front of me. I stuck the fog light on at the back, the spray of the road and drizzle making for a thick mist. It had been one of the best June's I can remember - a run that has even continued into July - and I was feeling a little blue for Yorkshire who I knew had gone to town for the big send off over the weekend.Continue reading "La Grande Boucle"
Posted by stupot at 11:15 AM Saturday 12 Jul
We are now served on our trains by a retail manager who serves from the retail trolley. This used to be known as the drinks trolley or simply 'the trolley'. Retail feels a little formal doesn't it? Theres an honesty about 'the tea man' or 'the tea lady'. Sure, they sell other shit, but deep down most folks want a tea - maybe with a wee cheeky bit of shortbread on the side. These managers always seem to work alone as well which makes me wonder what they are managing- the crisps? And are they on a managers wage?!
I remember visiting Italy and seeing the kerfuffle that happened at interchange stations on the platforms as overheated passengers angled for cold, fizzy water during summertime. I recall watching guys selling from vast pots of chai in india on Michael Palin's aroud the world. The tea man in India was respected and there was theatre. He was an important part of the journey.
It now seems incredible that we are allowed to buy hot drinks at all given their scalding heat on a rocking carriage. Who could deal with such a balancing act? We are now offered packaged hymogony, probably best described on a thomas cook flight to greece where, having travelled past juicy, fresh watermelons served off a cart by the side of the road, we are offered pot noodles and cup a soups, instant coffee and maltesers.
Bring back theatre and informality to journeys!
Posted by stupot at 08:18 PM Friday 13 Jun
I still read a cycling magazine and Viz comic fairly regularly - I've done this on and off since I was 15 and I'm pretty proud of the fact. I found myself on the verge of an asthma attack last week, crying with laughter as I read excerpts of the Profanasaurus. I think the term in question was 'Tramps tongue'.
Cycling weekly doesn't quite have the same effect but it gives a reasonable amount of enjoyment and keeps me up to speed with the peleton. The other thing I've been doing for 25 years is going to gigs - something that usually inspires, elates but rarely induces asthma attacks.Continue reading "Elevation"
Posted by stupot at 12:19 PM Saturday 7 Jun
Etape is a French word which has been engrained into my vocabulary for many years. I know various obscure words and phrases with the common theme of cycling: Roleur, Poursuivants, Col, Grimpeur, Parcours, Chute, Domestique, Flame Rouge, Maillot a pois. Etape has now become synonymous with sportif events, the name coming from those who race one stage of the Tour de France each year, and the original closed road event, in the UK, is in Perthshire in Scotland.
I usually do a bit of touring each year as well as some longer one day rides on top of the week to week cycling. Manuela shouted me in November when the organisers get everyone in order - this is why I don't enter these events: Im too busy or unorganised, or both, to plan ahead enough, taking usually only 2 months to organise a holiday or trip in advance. Thankfully I was entered by proxy and even got a hotel room by the start line as a result of having other well organised friends.Continue reading "The Scottish Leg"
Posted by stupot at 07:20 PM Sunday 18 May
Despite the harshness of a serious crash just after Mahogany, the subsequent increased workload and generally poor, mild, wet weather - there is the positivity of impending Spring flowing around just now. Being back on the bike is a massive boost as the mood is enriched through the sense of freedom, elation and energy that exercise gives. The sun has been out this week but the air still fresh. Windows can be opened - the cobwebs literally being blown away. Work is busy but fulfilling and coming to the end of an intense year with a break booked in the calendar - something that should never be under-rated.
Posted by stupot at 05:21 PM Sunday 23 Mar
Celtic connections has been another great way to start the year and ward off the bleak, damp January weather. A coarse, frank but ever articulate Aidan Moffat warmed up for R M Hubbert at the packed out Mitchell Theatre, a venue which is obviously dated but ageing very well due to some decent joinery. Despite spotting some youngsters and starting with a warning of hard language, the parents of the 11 year old in front of us had to do some fairly constant ear-covering as Aidan Moffat crescendo'd his Glasgow tales with a very filthy tongue indeed. R M Hubbert? Not my cup of tea but a man obviously loved by many and a very talented guitarist indeed. His harsh language was at massive odds with the delicate quartet who joined with him as well Emma Pollock (Ex-Delgados) who was the cream of the gig with a voice from another world. I was sorry though to miss the Moffat / Hubbert duet which came at the end. Such is the pain of a broken collarbone in a confined space!Continue reading "Winter Festivals"
Posted by stupot at 02:19 PM Sunday 2 Feb