It’s been a while so here is a little post about ‘The Great British Tea Party”.  This is a new venture from a couple of my tweed cycling/ukulele friends.  In there own words…

The Great British Tea Party offers the genteel experience of afternoon tea from the back of a beautifully restored Morris Minor van. The simple pleasure of a cup of tea in a china cup and a slice of cake made with love. GBTP provides a tea and cake service for weddings, parties and events.


The Night Owls played the launch party and a marvellous time was had by all.

Tea and Fezes

The Night Owls serenade the guests

The Night Owls

For more photos visit the Flickr set HERE



I love to throw a ukulele in my saddlebag and head off for a days ride. I felt I needed a compact songbook  to take along, so began compiling a collection of ukulele arrangements. I choose the songs of the jazz era , a heyday for both song writing and bicycling. The songs chosen are perfectly suited for the vintage chic cyclist.

The songbook is intended for the use of cycling ukulele players and/or singers.  It should be printed in A5 size and spiral bound to make it the perfect saddlebag songbook.  If you are not familiar with the songs contained in the book try searching titles on ‘You Tube’.

The Songs

Accentuate The Positive

After You’ve Gone

Ain’t Misbehaving

Ain’t She Sweet

All I Do is Dream Of You

All Of Me

Anything Goes

Bei Mir Bist Du Schön

Besame Mucho

Blue Skies

Choo Choo Ch’boogie

Daisy Bell

Dance Me To The End Of Love

Don’t Fence Me In

Five Foot Two

Hilo Hattie

Houdini Never Hung Around In Bars

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love

I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire

I Love A Ukulele

I Wan’na Be Like You

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate

I’ll See You In My Dreams

I’m Pau

If I Had You

In The Mood

It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing)

It Had To Be You

It’s Only A Paper Moon


Leaning On A Lamp Post

Love Is The Sweetest Thing

Mack The Knife

Minnie The Moocher


My Blue Heaven

My Melancholy Baby

Night And Day

Nobody knows You When You’re Down And Out

Noughts and Crosses

Pennies From Heaven

Roll Along Prairie Moon

She Tunes Her Ukulele GCEA

Shine On Harvest Moon

Singin’ In The Rain


Sweet Georgia Brown

The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

The Girl From Ipanema

The Glory of Love

The Hypnotist

The Sheik Of Araby

The Trail Of  The Lonesome Pine

Till There Was You

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

Tonight You Belong To Me

Ukulele Lady

When I’m Cleaning Windows

Without My Walking Stick

Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart

NB: You may notice a couple of modern songs in the list, I included them because they are in the style and just great songs.

If you are a cyclist and would like a free copy of the “Saddlebag Songbook” then just leave a comment and I will email a link and password for the download page.



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.



I have always been car free, never even driven one, I don’t actually know what the pedals do.  It was never a really big lifestyle choice, I cycled to school and to friends houses and just never felt the need to travel any other way.  When I was 17 I began touring and 100 miles a day was a breeze, I could go anywhere by bike.

My first cycle rides were on the narrow lanes around the village where I grew up.  I remember many wonderful family rides, zooming around the Somerset levels and stopping for picnic lunches.  We almost never saw a car and the sun always shone…happy days.

In 1990 a  most significant cycling moment came with my first ‘Young Bell Ringers Cycling Tour‘, a week long adventure ringing in churches around Oxfordshire.  We stayed in youth hostels and cycled to around six towers a day.  The 30 strong group of cyclists made quite an impression on me and I knew then that I would always want to make the bicycle my primary mode of transport.  I went on two further tours and remember them with great affection.  Geoff the organiser has continued to run the tours and I am sure has inspired many more young people to become serious cyclists.

Fast forward 20 years…I am married with two young children and a demanding full time job.  I no longer have time for endless days of touring but I still ride my bike every day.  I have a trailer for shopping and to take the children around and ride to work every day. I  love the feeling of whizzing along and day dreaming about the long summer days of my youth.

OK, so I know I have rather rose tinted spectacles on when it comes to my memories of childhood cycling, but the point is I have positive memories of cycling from a very early age.  In my teenage years I flew around everywhere by bicycle and just remember the pure freedom it gave me. Are today’s children having the same positive experiences? Some maybe, but with the roads increasingly clogged by maniacal car, van and lorry drivers the experience of those lucky enough to be allowed out on a bike is likely to be much less satisfying.  The 21st century teenager is probably far more likely to be a car driver or passenger than to be using a bicycle for daily transport.

If we are to see more young people cycling we have to make it feel safe and fast.  The only way I can see this being achieved is if we adopt the Dutch model of segregated infrastructure.  When parents feel cycling is safe they will begin to use the bicycle for everyday transport and children will be able to cycle to safely school.  Cycling children will become cycling adults.



Top Ten Ukuleles and Pashley Roadster.

Ukuleles are;
On saddle – Crossett Hollywood Concert
L to R – Mele Koa Concert, John Grey Banjo ukulele, Nipper Soprano made by John Colter, Favilla Baritone, Jetel Soprano, Martin Style 0 soprano, Regal Baritone, Joel Eckhaus 1K soprano, National Soprano.
The ukuleles range in age from the 1930’s to present day.

Over the new year I decided to start a Flickr for Bicycle and Ukulele.  I have uploaded all my photos from the last year and some new ones of my favourite ukuleles and bicycles. You can view my sets HERE.

I would like to feature readers photos of bicycles and ukuleles on this blog, so if you are a ukulele player and a cyclist please send me a photo of your bicycle and ukulele.



I have recently been commenting on blogs and forums about the need for better separated cycle paths.  I am totally committed to the cycling strategies that have actually worked in Holland and Denmark.  I want to live in a quiet, clean and safe town and removing a large proportion of cars is the only way to achieve this.  Blogs from Copenhaganize and David Hembrow show how high quality separated cycle paths and other traffic calming measures can increase cycle use by massive amounts and so actually make the difference.  Most people I talk to including cyclists think this is a crazy idea and “Can’t see it working over here”.

So here goes, let’s see if it might be possible to change Taunton from a car nightmare to a cycling heaven.

  • Taunton is flat. There are a few bumps but nothing to worry about. So we can get people on their bikes a for around town journeys without any worry about hills.
  • Taunton is compact. Half all journeys by car are less than 5 miles and a quarter less than 2 miles.  Anyone who lives in Taunton will travel less than 5 miles  to shop or work within the town.  This means they could easily replace the car with the bike.
  • Taunton has good weather. As Taunton is located in the south west of the UK the weather here is good.  It is certainly milder than in Denmark!
  • Taunton nearly has a good network of cycle paths. The town is compact and so a few paths can make a huge difference.  There are some good paths, that, with some resurfacing and a little care to join them up would provide the basis for a great network.  There are some dangerous paths, but these could be removed and some of the worst offenders would go if  the whole town centre was made car free.  This could easily be done and would allow the safe linking of all the major separated paths currently in use.   There is much to be done but the problems are not insurmountable and the network could be transformed in a very short time if only the will was there to do it.
  • Changing priorities is simple. It would not be difficult to give bikes on bike paths the right of way at all junctions.  Adopting the Dutch system for paths would require some redesign but the roads are big enough and we could lay the curbs and paint the lines IF WE WANTED TOO.
  • 20 MPH works. Some parts of Taunton already have 20mph limits and a town wide scheme would calm traffic down, saving life and limb, and making walking and cycling more attractive.  It would not change journey times much as the town is compact and journeys are short.
  • Much less on street parking is possible. Many streets could be improved if on street parking was totally banned.  There needs to be a commitment to reducing on street parking and if we make a start, even small reductions, could make a huge difference.

Taunton could with relatively little cost become the best cycling town in the UK.  If spending was moved from car infrastructure to bicycle we could make many of the changes in a very short time, maybe just a year or two.  Will this happen?  Probably not, because the council lacks vision, and most people are selfish when it comes to their car use. The main thing is it would not be impossible or a far distant dream, all we need is the will from people to stop driving the short, flat journeys they make around town and to get on two wheels.



A couple of weeks ago friends Steve and Alison invited Jim and I for a little tweed run down at Vivary Park.  They have recently acquired vintage bikes and have began developing a website for Taunton Tweed Cycle Chic.  Here are a few quick snaps of a lovely afternoon.

The Bikes


The Bicycles in the bandstand  Raleigh, Triumph and Pashley.


Steve taking photos


Alison with cup of Tea



Nipper and Jim playing some ukuleles!

More about TTCC to follow…



Riding to a Gig

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.



Skirt Guard

Ukulele player and work colleague Fran has fitted a skirt guard to her bicycle. This is significant in that most bicycles in the UK don’t come with skirt guard fitted. Fran after many years of cycling is now finally able to ride while wearing a skirt.





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.



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.