Friday, 2 January 2015

The Trek District 2010 Single Speed Hybrid - Four Years On

A customised and revitalised four year old Trek District

After 5,000 miles plus on the road, the 2010 model of the Trek District Single Speed carbon may need a replacement belt. If you get in touch with the belt manufacturer Gates, it can point you to a local dealer. It is tempting to upgrade the original CDC system to the newer CDX system, which is supposed to be stronger, lighter and more reliable. Crucially, you can also speed the bike up by 10% by installing a 20 tooth rear sprocket, in place of the original 22 tooth sprocket. Note, you can't change the size of the front sprocket (which has 55 teeth) because there isn't enough clearance.

The Art of the Brick Exhibition, Old Truman Brewery, Loading Bay, Ely’s Yard, Hanbury Street, East London

Featuring more than one hundred sculptures made from more than one million Lego bricks, the Art of the Brick Exhibition (adult tickets start at £14.60) will captivate grown-ups and kids alike. Nathan Sawaya’s first wave of sculptures are inspired by works of art. He has used tens of thousands of grey bricks to painstakingly reproduce everything from Roman statues to contemporary paintings, such as The Scream, which is represented by a kaleidoscope of brightly colour tiles in both 2D and 3D. The next set of exhibits are models of seemingly random objects, such as a massive pencil writing the word "yes", giant chess pieces, a surprisingly curvaceous red apple, the planets of the solar system balanced on top of each other and even a cello, which looks like it could play a tune. The third phase of the exhibition turns a little darker, with a series of angst-ridden monochrome sculptures examining the human condition. These models include a very blue swimmer with limbs and lego water protruding from a piece of glass and the widely-advertised statute of a yellow man ripping his chest open. Many of these psychoanalytical  sculptures are either cracking up or missing key body parts, neatly capturing the modern-day struggle to hold it all together in an increasingly frantic world.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Brixton Road, south London

Running from Kennington Park down to Brixton, Brixton Road is still endowed with rows of handsome Regency terraces. Most of them retain their tall sash windows and cast iron railings. Many of the side roads, such as Lorn Road and Groveway, are also lined with well-preserved period properties dating from the early nineteenth century.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Worcestershire

An unspoilt period pub in a peaceful village in the Vale of Evesham on the fringes of the Cotswolds, the Fleece is a museum piece owned by The National Trust. Dating from the seventeenth century, the timbered frame building was badly damaged by a fire a decade ago. But it appears to have been painstakingly restored and the interior takes you back in time. The low ceiling is held up by blackened timbers, while the flagstone floor is heavily worn and uneven. The windows are lead-paned, the fireplaces are ancient, the walls are lined with antique crockery and pewter, and the wooden furniture is a pleasing mismatch of benches, chairs and snugs. With the fires roaring on a cold winter's day, The Fleece is one of the cosiest pubs you can hope to visit.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Circular Walk from Stanton Village, Worcestershire

Stanway House's impressive gatehouse
From the postcard-pretty village of Stanton, follow the Cotswold Way across the fields south west towards Stanway House - a handsome and extensive Jacobean manor house built from golden Cotswold stone. After you round the corner, you are confronted by the extraordinary three-storey gatehouse with its lead-paned windows and towering gables. When you hit the road, follow it east, taking care until you join a bridleway heading north east that climbs steadily up through Lidcombe Wood, overlooking PaperMill Farm. In the woods, you might hear the churning of a pump, which uses gravity to power a 300-foot fountain in the grounds of Stanway House. At the top of the lengthy climb, you will emerge from the woods and onto an exposed hill top at an altitude of about 300 metres - the top of the Cotswold escarpment. A track north west enables you to rejoin the Cotswold Way and descend steadily back through the fields down into Stanton. It is a short climb through the village up to the Mount Inn. After this satisfying and stimulating five mile round trip, you'll deserve a drink. 8/10

Friday, 19 December 2014

Southwark Bridge, central London

The view north west from Southwark Bridge, which dates from 1913. It was restored and repainted in 2011 using 13,000 litres of green and gold paint.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Boundary Rooftop Bar & Grill, Boundary Street, East London

On the top floor of a converted Victorian warehouse, the Boundary Rooftop Bar & Grill has an open terrace with views over Shoreditch, outdoor heaters and an pergola enclosed in glass. Surrounded by pot plants, creeper plants and cool, contemporary lighting, you can sit on canvas chairs at a wooden garden-style table. The Mediterranean menu up here is fairly limited, but it is difficult to go wrong. The starters and hors d'oeuvres can be very good, perhaps featuring dressed yellow beetroot, salami with rocket and bruschetta topped with vegetables, parmesan and olive oil. The latter is particularly delicious. Among the main courses, the rib-eye steak (£24), served with béarnaise and anaemic chips, is juicy and enjoyable. You can get various side orders at about £4 a pop. The wine list, starting at £20 a bottle, is short and French. Although the wine is served in tumblers, it is decent stuff. Among the deserts (£6), neither the creme brûlée nor the chocolate mousse, topped with fresh fruit and cream, really make their mark. Although it is not the ideal winter venue, the Boundary Rooftop Bar & Grill must be a atmospheric place to eat on a sunny evening. 7/10