Saturday, January 27, 2018

New Year, New Experiences, part one

French Village Diaries 2018 new experiences, Brompton Bike Hire
The cyclist and the London skyline 
It seems hard to believe that January is almost over, but what a month it’s been. 2018 certainly seems to be turning out to be an exciting year of surprises and new experiences for me and with so much going on, I think it will take me about three blog posts to get you up to date with all my news. I’ll start on a sporty note, as to my surprise the year started out cycling, in London of all places.

French Village Diaries 2018 new experiences, Brompton Bike Hire
Adrian and Delilah in London
Unusually for us we spent New Year’s Eve in the UK, so decided an organised club cycle ride on New Year’s Day would be the perfect start to 2018. Adrian recently treated himself to a new bike (N+1) for cycle commuting in the UK, however, it’s not just any bike; it’s a folding bike, a Brompton folding bike. Depending on his work schedule he cycles up to 100km a week on it, sorry, on her, Delilah, and on weekends he’s free to cycle away to his hearts content.

For those of you who don’t know, over 20 years ago Adrian and I met when we were both members of the London and Surrey Mini Owners Club. Our weekends (pre-marriage, Ed and France ) consisted of driving miles in our Mini’s, in convoy with our club mates and having a blast at Mini club events. We still have Ade’s Mini, but moving to France meant turning our back on the club scene. Until now that is. Ade and Delilah have joined the London Brompton Club and are often to be found cycling in London with them, and on New Years Day Ed and I, with two hired Brompton bikes, joined in the fun too.

French Village Diaries 2018 new experiences, Brompton Bike Hire
London Brompton Club in Osterley Park
43kms of fun to be precise, cycling the London parks around Richmond, Isleworth and along the Thames to Hammersmith. I’d forgotten how much fun club camaraderie can be, and you can’t help but be cheered by the smiles the public give you when they realise you’re part of a convoy of quirky looking, cute bikes. The added bonus for me was that it was in the area of London where I was born and spent the first four years of my life. I can’t say I remembered too much, but had a blast on my first Brompton experience, and first time cycling in London too. This is something I never thought I’d do, but with a great network of cycle paths it wasn’t as tricky as I’d been expecting. Being of short stature myself, I rather enjoyed the compactness of Ajax, my nippy little hired Brompton with her low centre of gravity – we were made for each other.

French Village Diaries 2018 new experiences, Brompton Bike Hire
Ajax and I in London Docklands
In fact our UK trip saw us cycling in London twice and proved to be a real trip down memory lane. Not only did we visit west London where I was born, but another cycle adventure took us to the east end and docklands area, where Adrian’s family are from and where he spent school holidays with his Nana. We found the church his parents got married in and also cycled our favourite haunts in the City.

French Village Diaries 2018 new experiences, Brompton Bike Hire
St Pauls
We both commuted to work in the City for many years and I’m sure meeting for lunch every day when we were ‘just friends’ helped to cement our relationship. We have lots of happy memories of those days and revisiting by bike was a great way to start the year we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.

French Village Diaries 2018 new experiences, Brompton Bike Hire
Brompton Bike Hire Reading station
Ed and I signed up to BromptonBike Hire in order to join in the fun, and the individually named bikes we got were in good condition, even if the hire process does seem to have a few technical issues. For example, codes given when reserving a bike online didn’t always open the secure bays where the bikes were collected and deposited back to. Following a text to inform us we’d left a bay open, we had to return, only to find it was securely closed. As if there weren’t enough issues when collecting the bikes, returning them to find a vandalised bay meant another phone call to the (thankfully) helpful helpdesk. Despite the problems we encountered I’m sure Ed and I will hire again when we are in the UK, so we can join Adrian and Delilah on another club ride.

The next blog will see me trying out yoga in a yurt and Zumba. Go me!