London Again, Saturday 1 August 2015
Keen followers of Half Man Half Bike Kit will remember that we bagged most of the London destinations last August. Our anniversary tour of the metropolis sees us attempt to add a few of the south-western outliers we were too idle to do then, as well as two new additions from ‘Urge for Offal’.
Starting off at what Nick calls “his gaff” (I’m pleased to say he doesn’t really), we head off in pursuit of three icons of British tennis – Centre Court, Henman Hill, and the Lawn Tennis Association. Arriving in leafy SW19, we follow mild-mannered tourists and men dressed like Ian Carmichael in ‘The School for Scoundrels’ towards the All-England Club. Wimbledon being the wonderful institution it is, the officials are very obliging, advising us on the best spots to get the required photographic evidence. One of them is even so kind to take 20 (twenty) pictures of us with our bikes in front of centre Court. In hindsight we should have borrowed some racquets to put up to our faces and pretend we’re Kendo Nagasaki (who incidentally follows us on Twitter) but we’re never organised enough to think of these things in advance. That’s why we’ll never be the main man in the office in the city.
Unfortunately, we’re not allowed in very far so we have to ascend some of the (surprisingly steep) hills in the suburbs around the grounds to try and spot Henman Hill (or Murray Mount as it’s now known). This proves harder than we think, although we convince ourselves that we can see a patch of grass belonging to it in one of the shots we take.
Our customarily haphazard navigation is even worse today due to mishaps with both GPS and smartphones, and our assumption that we’ll be fine with just an A-Z proves ill-founded as we leave the Home of Tennis behind. Our cross-country route over Putney Heath (which David notes has all the hallmarks of a dogging hotspot) and Wimbledon Common is complicated by a lack of cyclable roads, so we wheel our bikes disconsolately through dog turd strewn heathland before eventually reaching the far more pleasant and bike-friendly Richmond Park. Heading west on Sawyers Hill we’re overtaken by several proper cyclists, and get lost looking for Richmond Bridge before eventually reaching Twickenham. None of us is a Five Nations Aficionado, so the place doesn’t have the same appeal as Wimbledon, but we’re quite pleased with the shot we get from the car park.
Pausing to look for our lost Barbours and fix a puncture, we head back into town via Barnes, then at Hammersmith remember the eight words that give Nigel the green light to wallow (“Up next, Brand new Live at the Apollo”) of course. We then get slightly lost on London parkland again (Hyde Park this time) and in Bloomsbury, before reaching the day’s final destination. In the hot sun, surrounded by thousands of milling tourists (who’ve presumably come to see artefacts that Britain stole from their countries) the British Museum isn’t a pleasant place to be. We pose for grim-faced pictures and turn our steeds home without even buying a ginger beer from Midge Ure’s concession stand.
Today we cycled to:
“Wimbledon and WOMAD, Ryder Cup and V” (King of Hi-Vis)
“The Centre Court amusement at the ballboy’s mishap” (A Country Practice)
“And a storm broke over Henman Hill” (Evening of Swng has been Cancelled)
“I’m going to prove once and for all to the LTA” (San Antonio Foam Party)
“I lost my Barbour /In Twickenham car park” (Split Single with Happy Lounge Label Mates)
“Elitist preservatives decorate the table of a kitchen in Barnes” (Sensitive Outsider)
“Up next, brand new Live At The Apollo” (Stuck up a Hornbeam)
“Hey, he’s got the ginger beer concession outside the British Museum” (The Bane of Constance)