Christmas Countdown 6

December 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A Christmas gift for Julian, the boy who loves maps, planning journeys and navigating: On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does, by Simon Garfield (author of the excellent book on typography, Just My Type).

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And if Julian’s been especially good this year, he could have an additional present in the form of a donation to Sustrans, the charitable organisation that supports the creation of National Cycle Routes. Sustrans are currently doing a cute Christmas gift scheme where, for £30, you can sponsor a mile of a cycle route. So Julian (or whoever) would get their name published on the online map listing sponsors, and would also receive a thank you pack, sponsorship certificate and special reflective bike sticker. And most importantly, when the Famous Five set off on a cycling adventure in the spring, they’ll have safer routes to ride along (well, safe apart from the baddies they’ll inevitably encounter).

Maps, maps, maps

August 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Cycle Rides, Eating and Drinking, Julian, Travel | Leave a comment
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“Gosh [said Julian’], how I do like the beginning of a holiday, getting ready, looking at maps, planning how to get there and at last setting off!” (Five Go Down to the Sea)

For once, I wholeheartedly agree with Julian. After a productive visit to Stanfords, map and travel bookshop extraordinaire, I’ve spent the morning channeling both Joanna the Cook and Julian, by baking a seed cake while planning the first stages of my holiday route in more detail, looking up cycle paths on Sustrans’ excellent website and marking them out on my crisp new Ordnance Survey maps (incidentally, Stanfords currently have a great 3 for 2 offer on all OS maps).

As I am joining my holiday companion in Oxford, I’ve decided to catch the train from London Paddington to Didcot. Yes, Didcot. I know this may not sound terribly exciting, but I’m interested in exploring the Hanson Way, part of Route 5 of the National Cycle Nework. According to Sustrans, this offers an easy and attractive 15 mile cycle from Oxford to Didcot (or vice versa). It goes through Abingdon and Sutton Courtenay and is a mixture of river, canal & railway paths and quiet lanes with apparently very nice views over beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. As I also have to get from East London to Paddington, I figure this makes a nice gentle start to the cycling extravaganza – a far cry from the forty or fifty miles Julian and Dick plan for the Five on their first day of holiday in Five Get Into Trouble.

Walthamstow Marshes cycle ride

June 14, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Posted in Cycle Rides, Cycling, Learning Stuff, Timmy, Travel | Leave a comment
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Sustrans sent me a really useful ‘Free Your Bike’ pack with a map of my nearest National Cycle Network route (you can sign up for a free one on their website), so today I set off on a short reconnaissance jaunt along part of route 1, from Victoria Park, East London to Walthamstow Marshes. The route goes alongside the Hertford Union Canal and the Lee River Navigation (the canalified part of the River Lee). Some parts, especially near Hackney Wick feel slightly lonely and potentially dodgy (I wished I had a fierce and protective Timmy with me from time to time) but on the whole it is an interesting and eerily beautiful journey, with large stretches of open space and plants surrounded by overhead power cables with industrial buildings and lots of cranes in the distance.

aka Five ride some horses

aka Five ride some horses

There’s also lots of FF style potential. I’m sure the Five would be interested in seeing the new Olympic stadium being built but there are also loads of brambles for autumn blackberrying, the Lee Valley Riding School (shades of Captain Johnson’s riding school in Five go to Mystery Moor) and the marshes themselves which are a nature reserve and home to over 300 types of plants as well as numerous birds and butterflies (Billycock Hill stylee). You also go past the impressively large Hackney Marshes where, as the ‘about Hackney Marshes’ notice board says, up to 100 games of Sunday League football can be seen in one day.

Next time I will have to go a bit further (you can continue past Tottenham Marshes and thenceforth out of London) and take a nature guide and some binoculars (sorry, field glasses) and see what wildlife I can identify. Oh, and some tomato sandwiches and a ginger beer of course!

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