The Anonymous Widower

Brompton’s Electric Bicycle

Brompton were promoting their new electric bicycle at Kings Cross.

It looks a neat front wheel drive, pedal-assisted design.

At nearly £3,000, it would only be a bike for a serious commuter. Although, I suspect many will buy one to potter around their local area.

What I found interesting was that the battery weighs three kilograms and has a capacity of 0.3 kWh.

This energy density is very much in line with the most efficient, large traction batteries in road vehicles, trains and trams.

 

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

A Brompton Bicycle At West Brompton

I just had to take this photo.

A Brompton Bicycle At West Brompton

A Brompton Bicycle At West Brompton

It’s probably not the first that has been taken.

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Innocent Sell Out

Innocent smoothies have sold out to Coca-Cola and you can read about it here in the Guardian.

In some ways it’s rather sad.

But in some ways, it’s due to the culture that says you can’t be small and create a global brand. Although, over the last few years, some global British companies like ARM and Brompton have done just that.

I won’t stop having the odd smoothie, but I do think that in the UK, their sell-out may have opened up the market for a new brand to move into the hole. After all, look how we’ve all fallen out of love with Starbucks, if the morgue in Islington is anything to go by.

February 24, 2013 Posted by | Business, Food | , , | 2 Comments

Medical Progress

I got my driving licence back on Thursday and yesterday I went to see my stroke doctor at Addenbrooke’s.

So how do I feel both physically and mentally.

Take yesterday.

I needed to get the Lotus Elan back from having the MOT from Newmarket and as everyone was busy and my secretary was not in, no-one could give me a lift.  So it was get out my trusty Brompton and cycle.  It should have been easy as although the trip was about sixteen kilometres, most of it is downhill.  Or at least it is if I go the shortest, but not the car-friendliest route.  But the Brompton slipped into fifth and couldn’t get anything lower than fourth.  And then there was the cold strong headwind.

But even so I made it easily in an hour.  I suspect I would be a lot quicker on my proper bicycle with the wind the other way.

On Wednesday the stroke doctor had told me that I had a leaky valve.  Now sometimes I think I can tell when it starts to leak.  Or am I imagining things.  I just push myself too hard and then I get a bit breathless, but if I get a rhythm going, I can pedal for over an hour.  Especially in Holland, where they have abolished hills by law.

It was nice to get back in the Lotus, which is now all pristine and clean.  I must take a few photos before it gets dirty!

Mentally perhaps I worry, but then who wouldn’t after what I’ve been through.

But as to brain function, it all seems to be working.  Word functions such as spelling are as good (or bad) as they ever was but I can only type with two fingers.  But then I never used more.  I do various memory functions when I collect my Zopa statistics, and these are just the same.

So far so good.

Except for one curious thing.  I do the Sudoku in The Times every day and have always found that the Super Fiendish were beyond my powers, unless I resulted to a process of elimination.  That in my book is almost cheating.

But since the stroke, I can do these without problems in just a few minutes.  I would never accuse such an august newspaper as The Times, of dumbing down, but they have just introduced a new section called Mind Games.

I should write to them.

My GP asked me how I was getting on mentally.  After all, to lose one of your close family is perhaps normal or bad luck, but to lose two is catastrophic and a downright disaster.  And then having a stroke doesn’t make you feel better.  Does it?  I don’t know, but I sometimes wonder that I now I think it can’t get any worse, so I just l0ook forward to the future.  She asked me to fill in a form about how I was feeling.  I scored very low.  But then that was good.

So what did the stroke doctor say?

He explained that the leaky valve wasn’t probably trivial and that he would refer me to the cardiology team.  But then I now feel that I’ve had it for years.  I don’t think that my stamina was any better in 1980, than it is now.  In fact sometimes I think it is better.  But I’ve always had this problem of being able to walk miles and not being able to run more than a couple of hundred metres.

He also said that the heart monitor had said I had an irregular heart-beat.

Because of these problems, he suggested that I go on Warfarin or rat poison.  This will then the blood and make it less likely that I have a repeat occurrence of a stroke.

On the positive side, he felt that the research from Amsterdam on B6, coeliacs and strokes was interesting.

So I feel a lot better this morning, as we have a whole set of reasons, all of which it should be possible to overcome.

As I like to say – The Struggle Continues!

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 13 Comments

Brompton with a Trailer

It’s not a good picture, but at the lights is a lady riding a Brompton pulling a trailer.

Brompton with a Trailer

It rather took me by surprise otherwise I would have taken a better picture.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Travel, World | | Leave a comment

Fast Train to Rotterdam and Den Haag

It has just been announced that Thalys is now running fast through to Amsterdam.  So I looked up and see if I could book from Ebbsfleet to Rotterdam for a reasonable price at a reasonable speed.  I actually would go to Den Haag, but couldn’t find that on the Eurostar web site.  Or should I say, I could find it, but I couldn’t book it!

In mid-January, I have found that I could do the trip in three hours and forty-seven minutes for a return cost of £127.50 with a credit charge of £3. 

So how does that compare to easyJet?

easyJet on the same days costs £47.98 with a charge of £8 for the credit card. 

The parking at Ebbsfleet and Stansted are about the same and I suspect you can get them for about £70, with perhaps an extra tenner for diesel for Ebbsfleet.  And then you have the trains at the other end, which would both be just a few Euros.

As to time, the flight takes about five hours door-to-door and the train takes about six and a half.

So is it a no-brainer to take the plane?

No! I hate airports and all of the ridiculous rules.  Not all are security too!

So it is perhaps why I actually prefer to take the boat.  The last trip, I used Stena from Harwich and because I had a problem with the Lotus, I came back the same way.  It is not really such a long trip in terms of time, as I would do Harwich-Hook overnight.  But then coming back, you have the annoying delay, whilst they keep you on board, so you might have breakfast.  I don’t, as their offerings are not gluten-free!

I normally go over using Norfolk Line from Dover to Dunkirk, which usually takes about eight hours door-to-door.  That may be a lot slower, but I can fill the car with all the goodies that expats can’t get in Holland.  And I can also take my Brompton!

Cost of the ferry is usually about £60 with perhaps about the same amount for diesel.  I know that calculating the cost of motoring on the fuel cost is not valid, but it is the way we always add it up!

So perhaps, the easiest and most relaxing way is to drive via Dover.  At least you get a nice break on the boat and can listen to BBC Radio 5 Live all of the way.  And it’s only three hours slower than the plane.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cambridge Busway Pictures – Swavesey to St. Ives

It was sunnier yesterday, so I took some more pictures of the Cambridge Busway from Swavesey to St. Ives.  I actually parked at Fen Drayton Lakes and used my Brompton.

Incidentally Fen Drayton Lakes looked a great place to take a family and with a stop right in the middle, I hope they get the ticketing for families right.  It has been reported that the two bus companies will not be allowing interchangeable ticketing.

Pictures for the Cambridge to Swavesey section are shown here.

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Pleasures of NOT Flying

I have come to Utrecht for a weekend away at a wedding.

I did think about flying, but although the drive would take nearly ten hours, I thought it would be the best way to do it.  It has its compensations in that I can get the suits I’ll need and the smart jacket in the car without cramming them into a suitcase. And I can get my Brompton in the boot of the Jaguar estate.

I’ve just been for a ride around the city.  It seems much like most Dutch cities; water, bicycles and windmills.

Utrecht

Utrecht

As to cost, well because I couldn’t be sure that I’d ever get here, I couldn’t book until a few days ago.  Norfolk Line cost me about sixty pounds one way and easyJet would have been over a hundred and twenty because of the late booking and the luggage.  So on balance the drive was a little bit more expensive, but it was certainly hassle free and I had the bike.

The only hassle was the difficulty of getting diesel at Total garages on the Belgian motorway.  You had to pay first and I think they keep the card.  I’m not doing that, because if someone skims it, it’s my fault, as I gave the card to someone else.

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Late Flowering

I had thought that when I left Antwerp the roads would be a lot clearer than other Friday nights, when I’d done this trip.  They were but they were still crowded.

I should say that the main route from Antwerp to Ostend is to take the road to Gent and then the E40 motorway to Ostend. It is not as quick as it should be and sometimes is blocked either by accidents or just too much traffic.  So I prefer to take the E34 towards Brugge and then cut down the N44 at Maldegem.  It’s probably a few kilometres further, but on most days it is quicker and probably a lot safer.  When coming direct from Holland, I also cut across from Breda and through the Liefkenshoek tunnel.  That route is usually traffic-free as the tunnel costs five euro.

But within ten minutes of leaving my parking space near the station, I was on the E34 and heading towards Brugge.  The weather was good, so the top was down on the Lotus and I was enjoying the rather weak evening sunshine.  But the road was busy and it took me quite a few minutes to get out of the right-hand-lane with the trucks at a hundred or so kilometres per hour and into the left at a lot faster.

I often say that the Lotus Elan is the Second Best Car in the World. I did in this piece.

When you are in fast traffic it is in its element and it proves my description.

With the top down, the vision is superb in all directions and you’re never in danger of cutting anybody up, as you can use all three mirrors and even turn your head to check blind spots.  I don’t want a coming together at about a hundred miles per hour or more.  You don’t come out well.

When I made the left hand lane, it was either stick there with the mad Belgians in their BMWs, Mercedes and Porsches at speeds of over a hundred fifty kilometres per hour or tamely get stuck with the trucks.  I chose the mad Belgians!

But I did watch all the dials; turbo boost, temperature, oil, water and fuel.  They are so much more instructive than a set of anonymous lights, which generally go red for every sort of engine problem and then present you with a large bill for the technician to plug his computer into the one in your car.  Incidentally, the Lotus has its own engine management computer which is as old as the car.  Why can’t PCs last a bit longer?  I do wonder though what will happen when one of these computers needs replacing on a classic car in say thirty years time.

At speed with the top down, there is little wind noise in the Lotus.  There’s even less with the top up!  Could this be because the car is actually aerodynamically clean and doesn’t create all the vortices that occur on the average car, where interior space can’t be compromised for the dynamics and you tend to end up with all sorts of wings and spoilers.  Not that the interior space was minimised in the Lotus, but it was designed first and foremost as a fast and stable sports car.

And on the subject of interior space, the Lotus may be a very short car, but because it is front-wheel drive and it has been intelligently designed, it can pack a vast amount of luggage for such a small car.  All of the books, maps, tools and safety equipment actually fit in the space under the hood, which because it is manual doesn’t take up half the rear of the car and add significantly to the weight.  I can also get two soft cases and a Brompton bicycle in the boot.

I’ve tended to think lately that the cars acceleration is getting a lot slower than some of the modern BMWs and Mercedes, but on the road to Brugge, there are several sets of lights and she performed well.  Perhaps, they have a lot more power, but they also have a lot more weight.  Cars are getting obese like people!

At Maldegem, I slowed on the E44 and transferred to the main motorway before picking up pace again towards Ostend and Dunkirk.  The pace was less frenetic and the road was also a lot less busy, with a lot of British registered vehicles going towards the Channel Tunnel and the ferries.

But the car finally showed it’s superb design credentials in an unusual way.  There appeared to be very dark clouds over Dunkirk and it would have not been very prudent to raise the hood.  Luckily, there was a handy service area and I stopped, got out the car, lifted the cover for the hood, raised and clipped it into place and drove off, all in about twenty seconds.

Try doing that in anything with an electric hood.

August 8, 2009 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Travelling in Style

This picture shows the typical way I travel.

Lotus Elan, Brompton Bicycle and a Paul Smith Case

Lotus Elan, Brompton Bicycle and a Paul Smith Case

The Elan was built in 1991-92, whilst the Brompton was made around the turn of the millennium.  The case is newer and was a present from my son.

There is space in the boot of the Elan for a lot more than just the Paul Smith case and the Brompton.  I actually think that you might get two Bromptons into one Elan.

What is my next trip?  Not sure, but I really would like to circumnavigate the Baltic, taking in St. Petersburg.

July 21, 2009 Posted by | Design, Travel | , , | Leave a comment