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Jim ‘Django’ Gritt fellow Night Owl and Tweed Cyclist (Raleigh Superbe) has just posted his latest film creation. I appear in the film on my Pashley and of course Jim demonstrates his ukulele skills.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

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Nipper

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Hello…It has been a long time without a post! So to kick things off again here is a little film of The Night Owls Rehearsing. The band has changed with Ian now on bass and Tom on drums. No bicycles in this film but I hope you still like it.

To any readers waiting for the songbook link I have had some problems with downloading but will have a new link up soon.

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Nipper

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Last Sunday saw yet another Taunton Tweed Cycle Chic ride.  This time we ventured from Vivary Park to North Curry, and numbered 19 riders.  The weather was positively continental and a marvellous time was had by all.  After meeting up we made our way through town, with Neil causing quite a stir on his 1882 Ordinary Bicycle (Penny Farthing).  The route took us along the canal and then down the beautiful back roads to North Curry.  We had a fine lunch and a few pints at The Bird In Hand and entertained ourselves with a selection of songs from the Saddlebag Songbook.  Thanks to all who came and made it such a great day.

I made a little film of the ride…

The soundtrack is ‘The Continental’ performed by the Lew Stone Band featuring Nat Gonella on vocals.  It was transferred from 78rpm record via my HMV163 Gramophone and a studio condenser mic.

Here are a few more photos of the day…

 

Thanks to Tom for some of the photos

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Nipper

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I haven’t blogged for some time but it’s time to get things moving again.  So before I launch into rants about crap cycling in Taunton… a little fun. Last week the members of Taunton Tweed Cycle Chic took to the cycle paths and rode from Vivary Park to Maunsell Lock.  The weather was hot, hot, hot so we only managed Tweed through town, but with bells ringing and loud ‘Good Mornings’ we certainly got noticed. Thanks go to Brian from Bicycle Chain for leading us off. We stopped for lunch at the canal side cafe and strummed ukuleles using the new ‘Bicycle and Ukulele Saddlebag Song Book’ (Post a comment for a free copy!).  So here for you delectation are a few photographs of the day set to a toe tapping soundtrack from Django Reinhardt.

The ride was great fun, because of the superb weather and the great company but also because the majority of the ride was car free and on separate infrastucture.

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Nipper

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IMG_1168Most of  ‘The Night Owls’ gigs are too far from home to cycle to and/or require the carrying of large amounts of kit.  So it is a rare occasion when I am able to cycle to a gig.  A few weeks back we played the Wilton House Summer Garden party.  The gig was within easy cycling distance so after packing the double bass, PA and several ukuleles into Pat’s car, I bid him farewell and rode my Pashley to Wilton house.  We played this event last year and were glad to be asked back.  The audience appreciate our music and the Pimms flows like water!

Pashley Roadster

Pashley Roadster and Ukuleles

The Pashley Roadster perfectly suited the venue and the style of The Night Owls. I simply parked it behind the band.

The Night Owls

Here is a little film of ‘The Night Owls’ live at Wilton House, you may even spot the Pashley.

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Nipper

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IMG_1128I was cycling home from work on Monday when out of the corner of my eye I spotted an ice cream work cycle. Even at 200 yards I could see it was a Pashley and so rushed over for a quick look.  The tricycle was beautifully kitted out with umbrella, bell and of course a ton of delicious ice cream.   As you would expect from a Pashley the attention to detail was second to none, the bike having a high quality frame (great lugs) and even a Brooks B33 saddle.  The proud owners, Cafe BonBon, rent this 1920’s style work cycle for weddings, fêtes, etc… You can find all the details HERE or by telephoning 07515 893294.

I could not resist taking some photos of my Pashley roadster with the Pashley ice cream tricycle.

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While chatting with Mr BonBon we realised that my ukulele band ‘The Night Owls’ and the 1920’s work cycle are both looking to lend a little nostalgia to weddings and garden parties.  Well that seems like an opportunity to post a ukulele video; so here are ‘The Night Owls’ performing the 1925 classic ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’.  If you want to lend an air of vintage sophistication to your event or function, get on and book the Cafe BonBon ice cream cycle and The Night Owls band.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ – The Night Owls (live) from Nipper on Vimeo.

The ice cream Pashley came fully stocked with some great flavours and the generous owner let me sample some of the raspberry.  This act of generosity cyclist to cyclist got me thinking…

If there is any cyclist out there in internet land who wants a FREE UKULELE LESSON just post a comment here and I will arrange one with you.  If you live too far away to cycle for the lesson, I can arrange a video lesson live on Skype.

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Nipper

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Those of you clicking my ukulele links will know that I teach ukulele to primary age school children. Children who learn to play an instrument when they are young benifit from improvements in their literacy and numarcy skills and of course will hopefully develop a life long love of music making.

In Holland they take cycling seriously and it no small surprize that this begins at school.  Children who cycle to school benifit from better health, a much safer environment in which to travel and they will also hopefully develop a life long love of cycling.

There is much in common here, learning to play a musical instrument and using a bicycle as a primary means of transport, both make sense. Both provide benefits for health and well-being and can help lead to a more intelligent and cohesive society. Both need to start at school and become an everyday part of life. While music making is part of the National Curriculum and taught to every child, every week, cycling remains an option, with most schools doing nothing, or at best a couple of days  training in year six.

Perhaps the biggest issue for children cycling to school is the lack of safe routes.

I read the marvellous blog ‘A view from the cycle path’ by David Hembrow and today saw his video of  children cycling to primary school in Holland.  The children don’t have to suffer the danger of cars and they are learning to treat the cycle as an everyday means of transport.  This is how children in the UK should be getting to and from school.  As in Holland, the roads should be cleared of cars to allow the children and their parents safe passage.  The car is poisening our society as it stops us experiencing real freedom and makes normal life much more dangerous.

Take a look at the video, it is a real eye opener to anyone who has experienced the car frenzy outside most UK primary schools every morning and evening. Notice also the totally lack of any cycle helmets or lurid yellow jackets as chilcren and adults cycle safely to school!

In the UK Sustrans is claiming to promote ‘Safe Routes to School’. I have checked their website and they don’t seem to have a video showing a UK school with real safe routes.  I wonder if this is because real safe routes just don’t exist for UK children. Does anyone know of any?

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Nipper

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For most of my bicycle life I have ridden on a brooks saddle, to be more precise a B17 standard.  The saddle has been my comfortable seat for many thousands of miles and in my younger days allowed me to ride long tours, with 100 mile plus days, whilst suffering no ill effects.

b17

My well used B17, temporarily away from my touring bike which I am re-building.

So after 20 years on the B17 I was excited to try the sprung B33 on my new Pashley Roadster Sovereign.  The B33 is a magnificent saddle, a work of art.  With it’s 3 spring arrangement it soaks up all the bumps in the road.  However, this was not the saddle for me! Despite much tweaking I just could not get the thing to feel right, it was just too big and springy.  So enter the B66. Today I had one fitted to my Pashley and what a difference, a much firmer ride which suits me much better. I just have to break it in!

b66 b33Top: B33 / Below: B66
b66 b33 backTop: B33 / Below: B66

So whilst I was changing my new Brooks saddles, Jim (see Roadsters!) was sorting out the saddle for his 1955 Raleigh roadster.  When he got the bicycle it had a nasty modern plastic saddle, but with a little investigation he found the original saddle still existed in the shed of the bike’s previous owner.  So Jim is now the proud owner of a Brooks B83.  This little beauty is no longer in the Brooks catalogue, but is the three rail version of the B73 which is still manufactured.

B83B83 2B83 3

Jim’s 1955 B83
roadstersRoadsters with new B66 and old B83

So all this Brooks saddle investigation got me thinking about how wonderful it is that the worlds best bicycle saddles are made in Smethwick in the UK.  The people at Brooks have made a wonderful promotional film all about the Brooks Heritage.

brooks_ad_2006

BSY

Nipper

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I ride a Pashley Roadster and Jim (Night Owls lead ukulele player) rides a Raleigh Roadster. We have both been cycling all our lives and use the bicycle as our primary mode of transport, but the roadsters are new bikes for us.

The Pashley is for me a return to my childhood days when I rode a 3 speed sit up and beg. I loved that bike, it transported me to school everyday and was my first taste of teenage freedom. After 20 years on my Dawes Galaxy touring bike I decided it was time to return to the simplicity and comfort of a traditional bike and so the Pashley has become my new number one.

So with two new bikes Jim and I decided it was time don our tweed jackets and head into town for a bit of posing… We had rather a jolly time and filmed our afternoons riding for blogging purposes. So here is the film complete with ukulele soundtrack.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Roadsters! – Bicycle and Ukulele from Nipper on Vimeo.

It is worth noting that in Taunton bike parking on the High Street comes complete with a ‘No Cycling’ sign…

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Nipper

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So the summer is really here and the number of bicycles on Taunton’s roads has increased substantially.  Riding to work this week I have noticed many more women cycling to work, indeed it seems that while men are happy to clog up the roads in their cars the ladys of Taunton are on two wheels.  I was also delighted to note that they were  dressed cycle chic and riding sensible bikes, let’s hope this is a continuing trend.

800px-Hestercombe_House_and_Garden

I have spent the last two days at Hestercombe house and have relished the change in commute to this beautiful place. The quickest  most direct route to the house takes in some reasonable cycle paths but as with all cycling in Taunton, before you know it you’re being spat out onto big, busy main roads with complicated junctions.  Despite this the journeys only featured one impatient driver over taking and then being forced to brake hard…why do they do that?

This evening I rode home with my friend Fran and so we decided to take the scenic (twice the distance) cycle path route.  Rather excitingly Fran showed me a whole new cycle path from the centre of town out to the village where I live.  It avoids the nasty and dangerous Wellington Road (every cyclist in Taunton seems to have a tale of being knocked off somewhere on it) and runs alongside the river giving the proper car free Dutch experience.  So I should be happy… well I’m not, because although it is a designated cycle path, it is a cross country route running through fields on narrow rutted dirt tracks.  It will be impassible for most of the year and is not actually a viable alternative route into the town.  For a fraction of the cost of road works this lovely route could be paved and become a great commuter route for those living to the south of Taunton.

This got me thinking about all these new cycle commuters, will they be on their bikes next week?  We are due rain and I fear this may put them off.  It would however be much easier to persuade them to keep commuting by bicycle if we had a proper joined up cycle path system that used pleasant and direct routes into the town centre, and when those routes could be car free it could really promote a change.

In the spirit of happy rain soaked English summers here is indie ukulele  man Darren Hayman with ‘Rain all Summertime’ taken from the Ukulele Songs From The North Devon Coast EP.  Darren is not only playing uke but is also enjoying a little cycling too.

Let’s hope that like Darren the new cycle commuters won’t mind the rain and will keep cycling.

BSY

Nipper

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