24 November, 2012


I’m going to have a bit of a rant in this post—about cyclists.

Now, I do understand that cyclists have a hard time of it competing with all the other (much bigger) vehicles on the road, most of which rarely seem to give them enough space. I also understand that there are few dedicated cycle paths in this country and that the roads are very busy, which makes cycling a dangerous business.

However, I am also aware that some cyclists (some, not all) seem to treat pedestrians with the same lack of respect as some car drivers treat cyclists. There are two instances that I am thinking of in particular.

The first is that some cyclists appear to entirely disregard the rules of the road. Specifically, some cyclists seem to think that the green man for pedestrians is actually a green card for them to cross a junction in the path of all the pedestrians whose right of way it actually is. Cyclists, like all other road users, should of course stop at a red light, but many don’t, and this is both discourteous to, and very dangerous for, pedestrians. Not to mention illegal. A bicycle can do a lot of damage to a pedestrian—especially a child.
Secondly, some cyclists, when using shared cycleways/pavements, simply ring their bell to warn pedestrians of their approach and then push past without so much as a thank you. This seems rude to me. Surely it would be better (and some cyclists do this) to say ‘excuse me’ on the approach and then ‘thank you’ when the pedestrian moves.

I should reiterate that my rant only applies to some cyclists—many are entirely law abiding and polite model citizens. Call me old fashioned, but I think everyone should be aiming for law abiding and polite, whatever their mode of transport.

17 November, 2012

Punk history versus Horrible Histories

My family and I had an interesting day out in London during the half term holiday. We did something for the adults and something for the kids.

The something for the adults was a visit to the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre to see a small punk exhibition called 'Someday all the adults will die!' I'd heard about the exhibition on Radio 4 and it sounded intriguing. And intriguing it certainly was. The display included fanzines, clothing and record covers from the punk years. These exhibits gave a real feeling for the era and it was particularly interesting to see the hand-drawn and photocopied posters and magazines which were characteristic of the movement -- at a time before professional printing was cheap and available to the mass market.

I was a little concerned when we entered the exhibition space and were greeted by the deafening wail of punk music that this perhaps wasn't the ideal place for kids (mine were the only ones there). But actually my two were totally unphased and browsed the exhibition with interest. My oldest asked lots of questions and declared at the end that she really liked punk style! Let's hope she doesn't take up the safety-pin-through-the-nose look in her teenage years!

The something for the kids was a complete contrast -- a Horrible Histories play at the Garrick Theatre -- but equally entertaining. The 'Barmy Britain' show aimed to provide a short history of Britain 'with the nasty bits left in'. True to the Horrible Histories formula, there were plenty of gruesome happenings and plenty of gallows and toilet humour. The acting was excellent -- just two actors on stage for an hour, supported by an ingenious range of props. We laughed a lot -- even the adults!

We completed our day out in London with dinner at Cafe Rouge. Everyone was happy and everyone had enjoyed themselves. A successful day all round!

10 November, 2012

Bath: hen party capital of the world?

Back in the summer, my husband and I had a night away in Bath. Just the two of us. It's something we did a couple of years ago and really enjoyed so decided to repeat.

We stayed in the same hotel again and did the same things -- spent the morning at the Thermae Spa, had a late lunch, wondered around Bath, checked into our hotel, then came out again a bit later for dinner at our favourite Mexican restaurant. Perfect -- so why change the formula?

However, something had changed about Bath since we last visited -- suddenly it had become the hen party capital of the world. Or so it seemed  Everywhere we went we were beset by groups of giggling young women, one of whom was invariably sporting L plates, or a tiny plastic tiara, or, in one case, a pair of head boppers with a tiny L plate fixed to the end of each stalk. Why on earth do people do that? Aren't they aware of how silly they look?!

These hen parties were omnipresent -- in the spa, wandering the streets, in the restaurant that we'd booked for dinner... Just about managing to make ourselves heard over the din that these young women were creating, we asked our waitress why they had so many parties in. She responded that Bath had recently become a very popular destination for hen nights and that the restaurant always had a couple booked in for dinner on a Saturday night.

We really enjoyed our night away in Bath and had a lot of fun laughing at the L plates and head boppers, but in some ways it was quite a relief to return to the tranquility of my parents-in-law's house to pick up the kids. I'd recommend Bath for many things -- beautiful architecture, nice shops, good restaurants, interesting museums -- but not for the hen parties.

03 November, 2012

Never mind the bollards!

I came across rather an interesting temporary sign recently when taking a walk along a shared pedestrian/cycle path in my hometown. Black text on a yellow background, it read ‘Bollards’.

The sign’s purpose was actually to warn cyclists taking part in a race that this particular cycle path ended in a row of bollards. Very useful to know for non-local participants in the event. And yet, something was missing, I felt. Perhaps an exclamation mark thus: ‘Bollards!’ would be appropriate. After all, ‘Bollards!’ does have the ring of a swear word about it. Or, as my husband suggested: ‘Never mind the bollards!’, which puts the Sex Pistols in a whole new light.

Either way, I found the sign rather amusing. But you’ll have to take my word for it—unfortunately I didn’t manage to return with a camera before it was removed.