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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.

BSY

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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