1. Welcome Home, Edith

    She isn’t quite yet complete, but she’s rideable and I am happy for that.  Now let us begin the tuning and fettling and finishing.

    Felt 2014 F65x Cyclocross
    Volkswagen Relfex Silver and bbllaacckk mates-rates-paint
    Brooks Swallow Select
    Specialized Fatboys 700 x 45 (and millimetres of rear clearance [gulp])
    11-32 Cassette

    … for now.


  2. "I don’t have a philosophy. I have a camera."
  3. Savouring a Surfeit of Selection

    This photo shows 8 of the 11 cameras I still own.  I moved 18,000 kilometres home in a short space of time and had to jettison some clutter.  My favourite cameras survived and lived in storage and have recently been brought home by my dedicated Dad.

    For the last 8 months I have lived on a photo-regime of: Canon EOS 650 (f) and Nikonos III.  I have really enjoyed these cameras, the Nikonos was my first foray into underwater photography and the EOS 650 with pancake 40mm is an utter joy: easy to carry, delightful to use, luscious results. 

    However, of late, my photo output has stalled.  Asides from a sponsored vacation to Vanuatu (thanks Jim and Viv!) I have photographed very little of the last 3 months.  I am unsure if this is my recognised (and previously addressed in this blog) dislike and unease of winter light.  I am also unsure if it is just that I tired of using the same camera, every week.

    I have found myself hovering at my old haunts, places I normally score: charity tat shops, antique and kitsch stores, eBay, dropped hints around family and friends…  I have been trying to get the hit of re-inspiration from a new camera, or at least the freshening of the senses from a change in camera.

    And then, they came home (L-R): MPP Microcord, EOS 300D (with Zuiko adapters), EOS 3000 (f), Olympus OM1, Pentax Superzoom, Voigtländer Vito,  Baldmatic I, Fed 1.  (Not pictured: Canon EOS 650 (f), Nikonos III, Fuji Instax Mini 7s.

    And at their arrival, I have felt a welling of creativity and an effuse outpouring - tonight I shot a roll of FP4 in the Microcord - a roll in under 2 hours.  Tomorrow I will trim a leader and load my Fed.  When I am feeling brave I will finally test the latest in a long line of Baldamatics - and if or when I tire of all of this, it might just be next winter.

  4. #wasntworking + #googleplusmisterminit = #nowworking

  5. What’s in a name?

    Clockwise from top left: Edwina, Ol’ Bess, Genevieve, Lady Huck.

    I loved Edwina so very much.  She was an inch or two too small, but she was the product of a response to a twee ad I posted in the window of a rural english village post shop.  A lovely elderly man sold her to me as she had been long abandoned by his son - she was a true campus commuter.  I took every rack and guard off her and rode her on fine sunny days.  She was my first ever drop barred bike and an absolute pleasure to pedal every single day.  I broke her…  I rode her everywhere, including forest single track and it was too much, I broke her where the seat tube met the bottom bracket.  She was Edwina.

    Ol’ Bess evolved from Edwina.  I bought a £10 frame from a bike wrecker, two inches too big, and all of Edwina ended up on Ol’ Bess.  I learnt how to build wheels with Ol’ Bess.  The feeling of flying along on tight and humming brand new wheels, the smell of grease fresh on my fingers as perfectly adjusted hubs allowed me to soar silently is an indelible experience etched in my mind.  I rode Ol’ Bess to the top of high Northern Ireland hills and I sailed down the other sides.  I abandoned her when I exfiltrated from the Northern Hemipshere.  I loved her, she was Ol’ Bess, she is missed.

    Genevieve is French, don’t you know?  She is a 90’s chromoly Peugeot racer, bunched up and tight, with an almost imperceptible difference in cogs on her narrow ranged cassette.  She has survived (not really) a winter beasting and now creaks and bangs, she is overdue a rest and rebuild.  But, she is Genevieve, she has a name and a personality.  She is fickle, fine, fancy, fast, frustrating, French.

    Lady Huck lives on, my first true total love.  I have touched every single part of that bicycle, rebuilt every single thing (except, of course, the Sturmey Archer AW hub…) and adjusted infinitely every other thing.  50 mile days on a 3-speed in a wooly shirt and jeans are a cycling must.  Lady Huck is the most loyal servant one could wish for, and she lives with the Lovely Bicyclist - Velouria/Constance.

    A name humanises something.  It characterises creaks and personifies pings.  A name emotionalises everything and enamours you to faded and flaking enamel.  That is why my bicycles all have names.

    Tonight I was talking excitedly to a beloved friend, Susan, about my new bike, which is currently away being painted, but in its absence parts amass…  A Brooks Swallow Select is brought home from England by my Daddy (side note: I still use Daddy and Mummy, my friends all have affectionate appellations and dearest people get formal salutations and surnames rule.  See yesterday’s post about “Ms”!  Names mean a lot to me, I use my middle name and my friends’ middle names at every opportunity.  I love names, nicknames, pet names, all names…) saddle, Daddy, ferried home from England.  Grand Bois Cerf tyres fly from Boston.  Pieces come together.  I was taking (my oh my I am distractable tonight) to my cherished friend Susan Mary about the bike build and lamented not yet having a name.  We talked about how Genevieve is French (don’t you know) and Susan suggested I keep with the French theme for the latest build!  A silence fell.  Susan exclaimed: “Edith!”  And so it will be.  I howled!  ”Yes!  How appropriate, Non je ne regrette rien!” and then warbled and sung in my best Edith Piaf.

    So what is in a name? Pour moi? C’est tout!  A name is everything, it is a being, a place, a time, a personality, a cherishing of a personalisation.  A name is real.  Edith is real.  Reflecting over my instagram, finding photos of my beloved bicycles for this post’s collage, I find myself emotional and looking forward to dawdling detours and days devoted to slow sequestering in a saddle, side roads and sunny saunters.  Pauses for no reason, or for badinage over a handlebar.  I long for Edith.  I long then for the luxury of two bikes and a chance to strip Genevieve bare and rebuild her in a modern homage to her gallant gallic origins.  I long to look down and see tarseal blurring below as I toil and turn the cranks.  I long to ride, with a friend who has a name.

  6. In its so far fledgling entirety, this blog has been written for I think, the sum total of five people.

    1. Me
      Of course… I mean really, when one is in battle with an ego of such fragility and immensity it behooves one to self reflect and inflate, occasionally.
    2. The Good Lady Doctor
      C’est fini.
    3. The Sprite
      A fleeting and absurd tryst of bawdry missives, frippery and charlatans.
    4. The Super Fruit
      Ha! The mere act of typing those 15 characters makes me chortle and break into an unaffected lopsided grin. My utterly hopeless attempt at teaching via this blog also gives me reason to laugh and smile.
    5. Ms.

    Ms is pictured above.  Ms is reading an ebook, hair in a ferociously tight bun, sheepskin boots over jeans, lying in the most direct sunlight to be found in the house on an unmade bed, atop a pile of pillows.

    This particular scene says a lot about Ms.  She lives to be warm, loves to read, is relaxed and sublime company.

    Ms is also impossible to write about, to gush about, to wax about, to … every keystroke is a challenge.  She is an innate, visceral, fait accompli.  She is a beauty won in summer, and prized in winter.

    Ms may be difficult to pen a post for, but she is particularly easy to pine for and miss.

  7. Why are the bike parts hanging in my coat nook?

    I bought a bike.  I have been deliberating over this for the longest time now and I made a decision, fuelled by nothing more than:

    A) It’s good enough
    B) It was in the window
    C) The shop is really rather lovely.

    So a rewarding discount later, and frame and fork are hanging in my coat nook.  Tomorrow they go to a painter, to be transformed into a metallic silver frame and a deep luscious carbon worshipping clear gloss on the fork.

    Then, this weekend my Dad arrives back from London with Brooks bounty, I’ll finish the design of some custom sticker work, and then I’ll get my new commuter/tourer/gravel/rain bike put together and ride it EVERYSINGLEDAY.

  8. (The blogger, upon a bike, being chased by a levitating leek)

    Rediscovering Happiness as a Vélocipédiste

    It is Monday night and I recognise that I have arrived home in a better mood than I have for, possibly, the last fourteen-nights.  But why?  There are probably numerous unfathomable depths in an answer.  But allow me to proffer you one:

    I cleaned my bike.

    Well, it was always going to be more than one…  Or at least an expansion on one, so hereinafter I shall waffle.  I cleaned my bike (Genevieve, she’s French don’t you know?), I tightened some spokes, I tweaked the brakes, I nudged the fenders in line and pumped up tires.

    Then I rode the freshly maintained and clean chained Genevieve to work, sailing up over the slight incline on the way, and then I smiled as I bid Genevieve a good day in the basement.

    Then I stayed (a quantum) later than I normally would.  Which meant I couldn’t ride safely home in the gloaming at 18:30 of the first day of spring.  So then I footpath scampered over curb and under cherry blossom the whole way home.  A bunny hop there a second of a wheelie there, I stood up and plinky plonked my way home.

    Sometimes that’s all it takes.

  9. Photograph Things, Not People

    (Photo by the author)

    Today I had 22 frames shot into a 36 frame film.  33 frames of a recent holiday to Vanuatu.  I really wanted to rattle through those frames and get the film to my favourite lab: ASAP.  So I left the office at lunch time with a camera slung over my shoulder and an intent to snap some shots.

    As I brought the viewfinder to eye to capture an interesting sort of a human I heard a quote loud in my subconscious: ‘photography things not people’.  I can’t tell you where I read/heard/saw/absorbed this - but today it was clear to me.  So, I photographed flowers, roadsigns, pavement, street scenes (wide and not people focussed).

    I can tell you, it’s really very hard, and reminds me of my fledgling photography efforts - where everything was interesting!  A feather in some pebbles, or indeed anything else at all that was a shape, a streak of light, or a ‘thing’.  Before I was brave enough to shoot people.

  10. Happiness

    (Photo from the author - http://instagram.com/p/rLC1GnqZmMartwork by https://www.etsy.com/shop/thegryllus)

    I am reading a book about Happiness.  Please, please understand, I am not some mountebank here to flog you a self-help-tome.  Nor am I unhappy or indeed in need of a book on happiness.  It had a pretty cover and I was in an airport.

    Ahem, I am reading a book about happiness.  It has occurred to me to consider what makes me happy.  Bill Murray makes me happy - hence he now is lofted proudly upon the wall in the study above the fireplace, his rightful home.  I look at him and smile, broadly.

    The book on happiness has also given me a more tangible notion: to publish my own blog in hardcover, dust jacketed, coffee table, book form.  The number of copies? 1.  This is for me.  So that my ramblings and interests and other uninteresting dalliances are captured in a hardcopy for me and my loved ones to idly turn pages of and …well, hopefully, smile.

    As it is suggest, lulu.com seems to be the place - and when I suggested publishing a “Volume I” to a friend, they swiftly suggest a delineation in blogs as a end point for the first volume.  Here it is… Pre 21 Jan 2014 is the first volume.  Post is the beginning of “Volume II”. 

    I reviewed my first ever blog post today, and had a smile reading it, immediately dropping the grin to a consternated frown as I realised some of the links were already dead.  So for the next while I shall be downloading content and formatting my blogs for a coffee table book.  I relish the challenge and the opportunity to review what I wrote 3 years, 6 months and a whole other life ago …pre 21 Jan 2014.