Cobbled joy
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
1d ago
Le Troueé d'Arenberg Nothing can compare to a spring-time ride on rough roads across the muddy and war-wounded fields of Flanders in search of Belgian beer and frietjes. Nothing, absolutely nothing. Le centre des sports, Roubaix We, the 6,000, meet in the thin light of dawn and stand in a mighty long queue which rounds both bends of the running track at the Centre des Sports in Roubaix. An overly excited announcer shouts into his mic how each of us will be a hero if we conquer ‘The Hell of the North’. In between his hyperbole, Europop storm-blasts the eardrums. After three-quarters of an hou ..read more
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The Dagenham Idol
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
1M ago
The Dagenham Idol (courtesy of Valence House Museum) Face to face with the Idol “We’re closed for lunch now,” said the woman in a heavy Thames estuary accent. “Sorry.” Her keys shifted in the old manor house door and she turned to walk away down the gravel drive. “Er, I er, erm, was hoping to see the Dagenham idol.”  “Well you can love, of course you can, but after lunch. As I said, we are closed now from twelve to one. For lunch.” She paused and smiled and then added, “There’s the walled garden you can look at. That’s open, and of course the cafe is open. They do good lunches and coffee ..read more
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Wishing for flowers
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
1M ago
   A Spring breeze is blowing I’m bursting with laughter — wishing for flowers Basho March is here, with its limpid light and hydrangea blue sky. There are flowers on every tree, on every street and in every park. Magnificent magnolias, cool camellias, cheerful cherries, pretty pears. The Japanese have a word for rides like these; hanami. Loosely translated it means finding a quiet space for blossom viewing.  a camellia falls a rooster crows another camellia falls —Baishitsu (Tr. David LaSpina) View fullsize View fullsize View fullsize In the gardens of Chiswick House, a lad ..read more
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Tasting the landscape
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
2M ago
Wild cherry-plum blossom in the wild woods of West London Sometimes it’s not enough just to ride. Sometimes you need fill your soul and eat the land. It’s a raw February day and a louring sky warns of another impending storm. Dampness chills the bones. We ride till we’re warm, then stopping for a moment, we chew on a few exotic tasting violets which we’ve picked from a vast bank of them deep in the wild wilderness lands of West London’s boundary. As we stand, we hear a great tit’s shrill two note call pouring from the lower branches of an ash tree. On the black still waters where a river has ..read more
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The Flood and the Ark
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
6M ago
   'And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth’. The Noak’s Ark, Lurgashall, West Sussex The Ark originally built of gopher wood, has had a refurb. The Biblical damp and dark barge has been transformed into a warm and brick-walled pub overlooking Lurgashall’s picturesque village green in West Sussex. We, the Surgeon and I, arrived as the others had done millennia ago, soaked and mud-caked. A re-vamped Mrs. Noah with swept back grey hair and a striking pair of black-rimmed glasses, checked our kind against her list. Other touches of post-bi ..read more
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An acceptable activity
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
6M ago
River Colne Cycle Trail    The Colne Valley Cycle Trail The first year student who lives nearby, messages me; - I’m planning to cycle across America with a friend next summer. I need some advice. Can we meet? Next morning after a short train journey from Shepherd’s Bush we arrive in Watford to ride London’s Westernmost boundary. It was still quite early for a student, but she’d arrived on time and with a bike that worked. Little was said on the train. Out of town, we ride on a disused railway line known as the Ebury Line. The path is high and dry above the river, which has spilled ..read more
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Lisbon's seven hills
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
7M ago
The hilly streets of Lisbon Cobbles, climbs and trams For the past hour I’ve ridden over more cobbles and up more steep hills, seen more tiles and wonderful city views than I ever thought possible and the route-map tells me, I’m not even half way round on this circular city route. Ahead I hope, there are many more tramlines, urban forest single tracks, palace gardens filled with peacocks and street trees covered in pink-purple flowers. The view from the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte over Lisbon to 25 April bridge As the soft-morning light gathers speed, I ride under an oversized arch-way and ..read more
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The Suffolk Coast Cycleway
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
8M ago
Westleton Heath    ‘I must down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky’ (John Masefield, Sea Fever) The beautiful curve of the Suffolk and Norfolk coast is like a rounded prow facing the North Sea’s forceful waves. To ride along this beguiling coast in summer, is to combine the wild and windswept with the gentle pursuits of crabbing and licking ice-creams. It is a curious part of the world, both melancholic and timeless, where you can stand alone on the marshes listening to the lonely gull or mix with the cheerful holiday makers emerging from their beach huts onto the wid ..read more
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An Ice Age Lake
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
9M ago
Pantaniella National Nature Reserve, with the lake in the middle distance    A golden eagle mingles with the puffy summer clouds and glides across the smallest National Nature Reserve in Italy. It flies over the two hectares of the reserve without even beating a wing. It glances at the 12,000 year old Lago Pantaniella, a glacial lake formed during the last Ice Age, and disappears over Mt. Greco, a fortress of a mountain. Then comes a peregrine falcon, ruling a straight line from a cliff across the lake and over my head to be lost in the sun, followed by a mountain biker racing up th ..read more
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The land of the Brigands
Where My Wheels Go
by Julian Kirwan-Taylor
9M ago
Monte Marrone    Not everyone in Italy wanted a unified land, under the rule of one king; indeed many saw it as just another conquest of their lands, this time from the Piedmontese. In the summer of 1861, in the villages and fields around Passo San Leonardo valley emotions were simmering. Bands of men, armed with pitchforks and other agrigulcural weapons patrolled their fields, using the woods as cover from the Piedmontese patrols. Amongst these men was the brigand Colafella, and another, Mancini, known as the ‘Merchant’. On June 26, seven soldiers of the 39th Bologna infantry and e ..read more
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