Monday, June 23, 2008

London to Paris - Training 02

Sunday morning it was another training ride for the L2P. We cycled over to Richmond Park to meet up with Chris (mrtee) for two and a half circuits of the park and home again.

Only 30 miles but hard work what with the hills and the b******d of a head wind. Still Mary likes to see the positive side "think of it as a thigh strengthening opportunity"!

Training in Richmond Park 02
Chris, Mary and Mark Training in Richmond Park

The park is Cycle City, you could not move for lads in Lycra whizzing round the Park. Personally I dislike Lycra, artificial fibres feels clammy and unpleasant to the skin. The last time I wore nylon shirts was as a geeky schoolboy, never since. Give me natural fibres any day.

Training in Richmond Park 01
Tame Deer in Richmond Park

There is so much human activity that the deer are pretty unfazed by it all, no run-away deer here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hannington Hall

Another hectic weekend - is there any other sort? Straight from work to visit old friends Lorna and Carmichael.

Immediately after I finished college in '75 I stayed with L&C as their lodger whilst finding a job and as that happened to end up being with the local county council I stayed with them for the best part of three years.

Subsequently L&C moved to Switzerland then Canada and then inherited Hannington Hall from Lorna's Aunt Mary:

Hannington Hall

They are over in the UK for a six month sabbatical so we were able to meet up. We dined with them Friday evening and then on Saturday, between walks round the estate, met up with Carmichael's parents and other old acquaintances from Oxford.

Lunch in Hannington Hall

Saturday it was off to Brasserie Blanc in Winchester to meet slightly more recent friends for more eating and drinking. A late train back to Wandsworth Town and so to bed ready for our training session on Sunday morning...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Wine Society Dining Club - 235th Dinner

A while back we went to an Alto Adige Wine Tasting Dinner at Enoteca Turi and got chatting to Stuart and his wife. It turned out Stuart was chairman of The Wine Society Dining Club. He invited us to their next dinner but alas we had prior arrangements.

However time passed and we were able to make Thursday's dinner which happened to coincide with their AGM. The nature of these dinners is such that, even if you know no one, you can be sure to have an enjoyable time. People who go to such events are self-selected to be types who enjoy good food, fine wine and convivial company. The theme of the dinner was Champagne Alfred Gratien with a guest speaker from the house that supplies much of the Wine Society offerings.

The Wine Society Dining Club

The 235th Dinner
Tuesday 17th June 2008 at 7.00pm
Guest Speaker Mr Olivier Dupre
In the Chair Nigel Black
The Painters and Stainers Hall 9 Little Trinity Lane, London EC4

Wine Society Dining Club 01

  • Tian of Smoked Chicken & Avocado Smoked Pancetta Wafer & Lime Creme Fraiche
  • Selection of Warm Organic Rolls
  • Grilled Supreme of Salmon With Tied Green Bean Bundles, Fennel & Artichoke Confit White Wine and Chive Butter Sauce Chateau Potatoes
  • Selection of Cheeses
  • Mango and Fig Tarte-Tatin Served with Vanilla Pod Ice Cream & Butterscotch Sauce
  • Tea and Coffee Selection of Indian Teas & Herbal Infusions Richly Roasted Arabica Coffee Hand-made Chocolates & Petit Fours
Wine Society Dining Club 02

The wines
  • The Society's Exhibition Blanc de Blancs
  • The Society's Champagne, Brut
  • The Society's Rose Champagne
  • Macon-Farges, 2006, Paul et Mallory Talmard
  • Alfred Gratien Brut 1997
  • Alfred Gratien, Cuvee du Centenaire
  • The Society's Demi-Sec Champagne
Wine Society Dining Club 03

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

London to Paris - Training 01

A hectic weekend starting with a BBQ for Tim and Sarah on Friday evening.

Saturday morning was a trip to Bright Cycles in Raynes Park to pick up Mary's new bike - a Specialized Roubaix Comp. A shiny toy for the L2P bike ride but not for riding on the road until Mary has had a chance to ride off-road and get used to clip-in pedals.

Then it was off to Richmond for Jeff and Jackie's combined 60th birthdays and 30th wedding anniversary celebrations followed by seafood gumbo at home and an early night.

So Sunday was our first opportunity for a real long training run. Up at 8:00 on Sunday morning we set off to visit my parents. The direct road route is 37 miles but we chose the scenic route <rolls eyes>. Up the River Wandle as far as Carshalton then via Epsom, cross country to Guildford and finally Cycle Route 22 alongside the Hogs Back.

We are not sure quite how far we cycled as the little trip computer stopped working after 17 miles but we reckon easily 50 miles. We arrived knackered and a couple of hours later than anticipated for a light lunch and the train back.

We got to Farnham train station to discover engineering works meant a replacement bus service to Woking and we were told "no bikes on the bus". Arrgh. Mary's legs, especially, were done for and we were looking at locking up the bikes and coming back later with the roof rack. Fortunately the driver was a very nice man and let us put the bikes in the luggage hold.

I can tell you my thigh muscles are getting pretty solid and we still have a lot more trainng to do.

Monday, June 16, 2008

London to Paris Bike Ride 2008

Mary, Lynn and I are gearing up for a London to Paris bike ride in September in aid of the Stroke Association. The ride will cover 244 miles in 3 days. This involves 85 miles on the first day to Portsmouth; a ferry ride and 59 miles on the second; and a colossal (for us anyway) 100 miles on the last day!

This is far more serious than anything we have ever done before and we are hoping to raise substantial amounts of money as a result.

Stroke is the 3rd biggest killer in the UK. By sponsoring our participation in this event you will be helping the charity to provide the services stroke survivors and their families so desperately need. The Stroke Association ( provides help through community or information services, funding pioneering research campaigning or providing welfare grants to help improve the quality of stroke survivors lives, and relies upon donations from supporters to help fund these activities.

You can sponsor us at
"" and
"" or by cheque made payable to the Stroke Association sent to our home address.

Thanks for your support

Mark & Mary
And these are the bikes Mary and I will be doing it on:

Mark's 30 year old Claud Butler
Mark's 30 year old Claud Butler

Mary's Brand new Specialized Roubaix Comp
Mary's brand new Specialized Roubaix Comp

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hampton Court Twice

Once again it is the Hampton Court Festival and we have been twice within a week.

Last Saturday we went to see Curtis Stigers, Cleo Lane and John Dankworth. We booked the tickets a while back to go with our friend Andrea. Unfortunately Andrea had to have a knee operation and wasn't able to come; she was not able to walk or drive or go on public transport. Then Mary had an inspiration, we knew that HC did wheelchairs from taking Mary's Mum round there last year.

So I was dispatched to off to Essex as a private ambulance to collect the invalid. We drove right up to the gates of the palace, popped Andrea in a wheelchair and pushed her to her seat. All the staff there were incredibly friendly and helpful.

Sunday the three of us spent several very pleasant hours wandering round the RHS Gardens at Wisley. Mary is a member, Andrea went in as her guest and I got in free as the "pusher". Wonderful gardens, a beautiful day and a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Of course we came back with a boot (US:trunk) completely full of plants.

Thursday it was back to see Van "The Man" along with brother Ian and partner Sarah. The nice people from Sky accosted us as we entered and, on being answered that we came by train, gave us a complementary picnic blanket.

picnic at hampton court

They had a photographer going round taking photos for free and downloadable at - so that was a nice souvenir.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Other Executor

Last week I spent a pleasant evening with the my parents albeit with a slightly macabre twist. I went down to Godalming to meet Murray Campbell, for years the family solicitor and also the other executor of my parents' will.

As the first born I was asked to be one executor and Murray the other. When I heard that he was retiring I expressed a desire to meet the man as I had never met him in person. Although he is retiring he has agreed to continue as fellow executor and any legalities will be dealt by one of the partners, Guy Crowther, at his old firm of Barlow Robbins.

So last Wednesday evening I went along to Murray's retirement party in a marquee in the grounds of their offices. I met Murray and Guy and I am glad to say formed a good opinion of them both. Murray especially is a very solid, robust seeming sort of a chap, he looks like he ought to have been a rugby player.

That done it was back to Farnham for a meal with Mum and Dad and a late train home.

I am forunate that Dad and Mum take a practical view of these matters. They have made a will, appointed executors, granted me "enduring power of attorney", drawn a list of bank and other accounts and even written a "living will".

Although I hope they will be around for a good few more years it is comforting to know that when the time comes my grief will not have salt rubbed into the wound with all the hassle of intestacy and legal wranglings.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tramps Like Us...

...Baby, We were born to run.

Saturday was a busy day. First the Guinness Premiership final at one stadium (Twickers) then straight from there to another stadium (the Emirates) to see "The Boss". We saw the rugby with our friends Bob and Lynn but hardly hard a chance to chat as we rushed off in opposite directions after the game.

We went via Hammersmith for a quick bite to eat and meet up with Geraldine and Alasdair and their friends, Pat and Paddy. From there it was off to see Bruce and the E. Street Band.

Bruce at the Emirates Stadium, London, 1

Bruce at the Emirates Stadium, London, 2

It was loud and the crowd knew all the words but I only recognised a few of the tunes. I only possess the albums "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Greatest Hits". A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Rhine Cruise Photos

On deck of the Serenade 1

Our cabin on the Serenade 1

Typical Rhine view

Lindt Chocolate Museum

Wine tasting in Cochem

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Rhine and Moselle Cruise

I have been off air for a while as Mary and I have been on a river cruise with the mother-in-law. It was a Page and Moy cruise on the MV Serenade 1. As such my expectations were modest - a Granny cruise full of white haired old dears. Which is pretty much what we got but in fact it was OK although I am not sure I would necessarily repeat it.

I had not holidayed in Germany before, the cruise took us through some beautiful scenery, we tasted a number of wines and visited some interesting cities:
  • Amsterdam
  • Cologne
  • Bonn
  • Rudesheim
  • Cochem
  • Alken
  • Koblenz
  • Dusseldorf
  • Arnhem
  • Amsterdam (again)
The rooms were 4 star hotel quality but of necessity small, the food was good though the scales told me that a week of cooked breakfast, four course lunch and four course dinner with wine may have been more than was strictly needed to keep body and soul together :-(

One thing it did bring home is the importance of good diet and good posture. I have never seen so may people whose heads hung forward like a hump backed tortoise, with a gut hanging over the belt.

Pictures to follow once I has winnowed out the chaff and selected a few representative images...