Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday Ride

Smallwood, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

This particular shot is from a very pleasant ride last Sunday - 30 miles or so (30.43 according to the bike computer).

The route is on here and looks a lot squigglier on the map (see below) than I remember it being. The portion up to Sandbach is a fairly regular Sunday outing, allowing me to drop off the post for the previous owners of our house, and then put in a few more miles on top of the "necessary" part of the journey.

I arrived at this route largely by following my nose, and found it pretty pleasant overall, other than the stretch of the Newcastle Road, which I turned off as soon as I could towards Astbury. There wasn't much traffic around, but any that was will have been greeted by this sign on entering the village of Smallwood. I've probably been cycling in Manchester too long, but for a moment I thought the pictures represented acceptable targets for motorists (don't run over the bunnies, splat the tortoises). I quickly realised that it was a fabular representation of the sign on the other side of the village ("Please Drive Courteously") taking the hare and tortoise as its motif.

Astbury is slightly further on, and was where I turned 'round to head home - I rather wish I'd carried on, as I had to add two miles or so of familiar road to bring up 30 miles on the bike computer. Maybe next week.

The bike is shown here fully set up for weekend riding (as it is below) with the "good" wheels (Mavic Aksiums) "fast" tyres (Continental GP4000 700x23C) and road pedals (Ultegra SPD-SL). The mudguards didn't come off because some rain was being forecast, although I managed to get home before it materialised.


I've attempted to follow the rules for Bicycle Photography here, namely;

  1. Cranks Level
  2. Valves at Bottom of the Wheel
  3. Chainrings facing the viewer.
I did, however, forget to put the chain on the largest chainring and smallest sprocket.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Yehuda Moon

I've been following the "Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery" online comic for a little while now. It pokes fun at cycling cliques, as well as at a society that sees driving to the gym to ride a stationary bike as something that's perfectly rational.

The comic's creator has a sharply observant take on both cyclists and the people they encounter - today's strip, for example;

hits a nail right on the head, as does this earlier one;

The strip does bike shop and inter-cyclist politics rather well too, capturing in particular the slightly odd feeling that missing a day's commute might be some sort of dereliction....

Well worth adding his RSS feed to your reader of choice.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Flapjack, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

A cameraphone shot, I'm afraid, but of a flapjack, so take heart.

These things power me on the commute to and from work, and are both delicious and easy to make.

The recipe is as follows, and is based on one posted by "Cathryrn" on;

300g oats
150g 'flavourings' like dried fruit, seeds, choc chips etc. I used dessicated coconut, choc chips and dried fruit.
and sesame seeds
75g plain flour
150g butter.
3 tbsp golden syrup
75g brown sugar

1) Mix the oats, flour and flavouring stuff - ie dry ingredients
2) Melt butter, syrup, sugar in microwave
3) Stir into the oat mixture
4) Grease a baking tray
5) Wack it in and level. Press down firmly
6) 180 deg c for 20-25 mins. Check after 20 mins.
7) Take it out and leave it to stand until it cools!!
8) Cut into wedges whilst still ever so slightly warm

Pictured above is a jammy variant. I made these by following the recipe above, to step 3, then spooning half the mixture into the baking tray and spreading a layer of jam over it, then spooning the other half over the top and cook as per the recipe.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Love, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

To whom I owe the leaping delight
That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
the breathing in unison.

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other
Who think the same thoughts without need of speech,
And babble the same speech without need of meaning...

No peevish winter wind shall chill
No sullen tropic sun shall wither
The roses in the rose-garden which is ours and ours only

But this dedication is for others to read:
These are private words addressed to you in public.

T.S. Eliot, "A Dedication to my Wife".

It seems that I use other people's words to say what I feel quite a lot, (the flickr post attached to the image above being an exception, from a rather dark time for us) and as I recall I wrote these words by T.S Eliot in one of the first Valentine's cards I sent my wife. I love her even more now than I did then.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bikes Are Like Cameras

In that so long as you have one, it seems that the total rises no higher.

However, get another bike (maybe you keep a commuter, and a "good" bike, or a road bike and a mountain bike or hybrid for canal towpaths and trails) and the sort of acquisition that affects camera purchasing comes in to play. I was reminded of this looking at these quite wonderful machines from British manufacturer Pashley. Given that i have a road bike (for full lycra speed merchant biking), a hybrid bike (for casual, shorts wearing mud plugging) surely it is only natural to have a bike on which I can bowl along wearing a tweed three piece suit (perhaps with a terrier riding in a basket on the front).

Of course, I'd have to buy the tweeds first, but it would be worth it, I reckon...

For doubters, I present for your consideration;

The Phantom

The Guv'nor

Incidentally, may I also refer you to Katie Doncaster's flickr page?

She toured Europe on a Pashley Princess, and the (rather good) photographs she took are posted on her flickr page.

Friday, January 4, 2008


Blakemere Moss
Blakemere Moss, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

So, back to posting again.

We start with two braces of shots, separated by a few months in time, several hundreds of miles of space, and a good few degrees on the thermometer. The first two here were taken on a very pleasant trip to Delamere forest, in Cheshire (somewhat more local to me now since the house move). It was bitterly cold, and the lake here (Blakemere Moss) had frozen over.

I'm not entirely sure I did the scene justice, but it was good to be out and about with the camera again after a long while where packing boxes, and recovering hard drives was rather more important.

Delamere Path
Delamere Path, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

The shot here shows one of the paths through the woods - you can probably tell that the light was "challenging" here, hence the decision to lose the shadows and keep the lighter tones in the sky.

Villeray #1
Villeray #1, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

Lastly we have two shots both taken at the Chateau de Villeray in Condeau, in the stable yard of the Ecuries De Villeray, a fantastic equestrian centre that uses the chateau grounds for accompanied pony rides.

Villeray #2
Villeray #2, originally uploaded by John the Monkey.

The area around Condeau, and nearby Nogent-Le-Rotrou is quite wonderful, and was near enough to the gite at Forest View to make it a good stop on the little circuits I did on the bike.

All four shots were converted using Bibble, a RAW converter I decided to try after my hard disk crashed wiped out my photos and photo software. It's very good, and I'm seriously considering a switch to it from Capture NX. If any of you are considering trying some alternatives, have a look at RAW Therapee too - a very interesting project, and a free piece of software (I strongly suggest making a donation to support the work being done on it though).