British Wildlife as seen from the bicycle (bit upsetting)

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Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 10:21 am  Comments (5)  
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Three Worlds, Frome: homage to Escher

bike in water

Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 5:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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Copenhagen – City of Cyclists

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Copenhagen – City of Cyclists on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

The Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog is a superb resource for the style-starved cyclist, (particularly , like me, you’re in the UK) offering a refreshing respite from the gear-headed lycra brigade. It’s a photoblog recording people just riding bikes in their normal clothes, suits, jeans, skirts, high-heels… not all at once I hasten to add, and looking fabulous. The blog is based in Copenhagen, but sometimes there are offerings from other cities around the world. Read and enjoy.

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 10:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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Slightly bored during a web seminar

Sat watching a live web seminar online (a webinar if you will) my mind wandered onto other things…

Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 5:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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Highway Cycle Group + Warminster Cycle Group = Warminster Wobble

Had a meeting with Colin French of The Warminster Cycle Group yesterday to discuss a summer bike event for 2009. Colin and the Warminster Cycle Group are planning a bike day on Sunday 14th June in Warminster, Wiltshire to promote and celebrate cycling. It’s early days yet, but it promises to be a great event with something for everyone, from BMX displays to maintenance advice and riding masterclasses. There’ll be food, a cycle tour, trade stands, kids events and plenty of competitions and workshops. It’s going to be fantastic.

The event is called the Warminster Wobble and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the coming weeks and months. Keep that date in your diary free and stay tuned.

Poster for the warminster wobble 2009

Oh look, a rough poster I put together just for this post.

Award for Light and Dark

Congratulations to Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith, directors and subjects of the film Light and Dark which I blogged about here and here in connection with another film ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’. They won the Current TV Best Documentary Award at the  Night of the Living Docs event in London. They came away with a rather splendid trophy and a grant to make another film. Both directors had no idea they were in with a chance of winning and were by all accounts suitably gobsmacked when receiving the award.

Light and Dark is a phantasmagorial autobiographic film exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.

It’s the contrast between the two alter-egos that really makes the film, with Tom’s alter-ego (mustacheoed video engineer Graham Lightside) ultimately presented in a similar heroic framework to Michael’s Dark Fox. Graham Lightside is Tom’s reaction to the overblown technology obsessed male who one meets in the media world. I remember Tom and I seeing documentary photography students at our college wearing military commando vests and SWAT team boots as they photographed old ladies in the streets of Newport, South Wales, we would surmise that in their heads they imagined themselves on the streets of then wartorn Sarajevo. There’s a lovely shot of Graham exclaming “It’s render time!” in a low voice as he clicks a button on his mouse, Cue diving electronic tone and close up of the timebar on his mac.

Michael’s alter-ego, the Dark Fox, is perhaps an outlet for his frustrations as a young man who is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum. Creativity is bursting out of him in the form of his artwork and the attendent stories his characters live through, his humour is dark and unconventional, even socially unaccceptable (we see him delight in the reactions of his youth worker to his artwork), yet he and Tom’s alter-egos have more in common that you might think.

Through a combination of animation and live action, talking heads, documentary footage, the film-making process laid bare, costumes and even a song at the end, the two directors talk about, and act out their alter-egos. All within the space of ten minutes.

I’ve also seen some wonderful extra footage of Tom explaining his teenage artwork to Michael, which I hope will one day be included in an extended edition or something.

Here they are with the award in London.

Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith in London with the award for Light and Dark

Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith in London with the award for Light and Dark

And here is a piece of video I shot of Tom’s band My Two Toms performing on stage after the showing of Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on Bicycle) and Light and Dark at the Cube Cinema in Bristol (October 17th 2008). They are joined by Michael Smith, who is drawing on acetate and projecting the results onto a screen as the music plays. The camera was my old Kodak compact digital, very poor quality, bad focus and noisy mechanism. The quality of filming is not helped by the laughter of the audience in the immediate vicinity. The camera went the way of all circuits later on in the evening when I dropped it on Tom’s kitchen floor whilst trying to take a pic of his household bicycles. Without any further ado, I give you a very poor quality film of My Two Toms Vs Michael Smith. If you can’t read what Michael has written on the acetate due to the poor focus of my camera, leave a comment and I’ll give you a transcription.

If you’re interested in seeing Light and Dark by Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith (and I really recommend you do, it’s funny, moving, funny, beautifully made, inspiring, funny and did I mention that it’s funny?) it’s exactly 10 minutes long and I believe DVDs may be available at an extremely reasonable price. Leave a comment expressing your interest and I’ll get details from Tom.

For more on what Tom does, go to which is the artists collective he works with.

Bike Hero

Thanks to Novemberfive for the pointer on this one. Words fail me when confronted with the ingenuity of the people who set this up and created it. They’ve recreated the world of guitar hero – the little dots and on screen instructions and the scores and milestones, and applied it to a bike ride. The timing is perfect, but the set up to achieve it must have been incredible to organise. Even if this does turn out to be a viral marketing film (which wouldn’t surprise me) it’s still a fabulous piece of work and obsession. Hats off to the creators, whether they be an ad agency or a genuine group of Guitar Hero fans.


Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 1:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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Of railway cats, cycle paths, ancient mariners, cancelled trains, films and rock n roll

Way way back in October I rode to Bristol for a great evenings entertainment courtesy of the Cube Cinema and my chum Tom Stubbs. I advertised the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on bicycle) event a while back, but I didn’t mention that I was going to cycle there. I thought it would be poetic to arrive at a showing of a bicycle film by bike. Having set off a little later than planned, I realised that I would have to cycle considerably quickly to get to Bristol on time. Not a problem, despite barely cycling at all recently, I made good time on the road between the village and Bradford on Avon, before turning onto the canal path. It’s difficult to get speed up on the towpath, not least because of the danger to pedestrians, other cyclists and wildlife. There’s no reason to go fast on a towpath anyway and I knew I could make time up on the Bath/Bristol cycle path, so I just spun the cranks at a nice even pace and enjoyed the ride. Particularly pleasing was the scent of woodsmoke from the various barges and narrowboats. I was on the Lemond Etape, which provided a none too smooth ride over the various surfaces, cobbles, gravel, dirt, broken tarmac. Suffice to say that on arrival in Bath town centre I was wishing I’d decided to wear padded shorts. I had a change of clothes in my panniers (and a change of shoes), but had elected to leave the padding at home. Bath town centre proved easy to navigate, mainly because the cycle route is so clearly and regularly signposted. Quicker than I expected I was riding along the smooth tarmac of the Bristol to Path cycle way. For a long time this was (and may well still be) the jewel in the crown of Sustrans, a beautiful route following one of the old railway lines, dipping through meadows, woodland, over valleys and rivers, very picturesque in any season. The weather was good and the riding very pleasant. Leaves lay in drifts over the path and crunched pleasingly beneath the tyres. Here are two cats I saw en route:


All the way along, the route was busy with cyclists and walkers. As I arrived at Staple Hill Tunnel, a postman slotted in behind me and began drafting close on my wheel. I yanked out my cronky ol’ camera, which was giving up the ghost the screen had malfunctioned, and took a bit of poor-quality video footage:

Music provided by My Two Toms, who I was to see playing later on that very evening.

I approached Bristol deep in the gloaming, necessitating the use of my lights. Many, many cyclists were using the path and in places it became quite congested, but unlike being in a car, it felt great. Everyone was all smiles and ‘after you’ ‘no after you’. Hipsters with messenger bags mixed with grannies on Pashleys.

It took me a while to understand Tom’s directions, but soon I was ensconced in The Cube cinema, enjoying some terrific films, chatting to people about cycling and listening to some splendid tunes courtesy of My Two Toms and Bucky. The film maker and artist Michael Smith stole the show with his introduction to the film he and Tom made, and also his drawing along live to My Two Toms music. It was a great evening, and nice to find out afterwards that a Highway Cycling Group reader, Mair had turned up and enjoyed herself.

Back at Tom and Katherine’s, we stayed up until three, drinking and talking. During an attempt to take a picture of Tom and Katherine’s bikes I dropped my ailing camera on the stone floor and destroyed it. Ah well, goodbye old friend. A few hours sleep, then we were out on a visit to the famous Bristol Sweetmart, then on to Tom’s studio. Finally, I cycled to the station envisioning a nice sit down on the train, only to find trains on that line were cancelled due to engineering works. Buses were supplied but they wouldn’t let my Lemond Etape on. Wearily I cycled the thirty two miles home. A great weekend.

Why, here are some pictures:

Great Pultney Street, Bath

Great Pultney Street, Bath

Cafe Kino Bristol

Cafe Kino Bristol

Tom and Michael Smith introduce their film

Tom and Michael Smith introduce their film

Bucky Unplugged - Joff wearing my Walz Cycling Cap

Bucky Unplugged - Joff wearing my Walz Cycling Cap

Tom with bikes my smashed camera in his hand

Tom with bikes, my smashed camera in his hand

Street scene - Bristol

Street scene - Bristol

The menu at the old station halt cafe

The menu at the old station halt cafe

It is an Ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three

On Friday October 17th 2008, in Bristol at The Cube Cinema, there’s going to be an event that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. My good friend Tom Stubbs (one half of the back-porch, West-country, banjo-xylophone-mandolin-guitar duo My Two Toms, one quarter of lo-fi supergroup The Lonely Ponies, community film-maker, artist, animator and alter-ego of Graham Lightside) is showing three films that he has directed or co-directed. They are the following:

The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)

Shot in a frantic week in September 2007, and only recently finished ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’ is a travelogue that cycles in the footsteps of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge whilst also somehow being lost at sea with The Ancient Mariner.

Armed with a photocopy of the poem four intrepid Artists travel a route that Coleridge would’ve regularly walked, from Nether Stowey to Bristol. Along the way they drew as many people as they could into The Mariner’s plight.

The team worked with a primary school, a school for people with learning difficulties, several community groups, two homes for elderly people and a pub.

The film knits together The Mariner’s tale with drama, reminiscence, writing & animation, to make a psychedelic yet perfect mix between entertainment, community outreach and human interest.

Directed by Tom Stubbs, co-directed by Jay Kerry, Jon Nicholas and Joff Winterhart. Produced by Wolf + Water. Running time 50 minutes.

Shape UP

20 min video about healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties

written by Stephen Clarke + Tom Stubbs

A biggerhouse production for Learning Disability Services, Somerset in association with the engine room

Light and Dark

A Phantasmagorial autobiographic masterpiece exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.

All the films are superbly realised and beautifully produced. At the same time they are laced with humour, yet moving and engaging. I’ve been meaning to blog about The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle) for ages, it’s just so marvelous that I want to share it with everyone, but it utterly defies description. It has too many lovely moments – Joff drawing the scenes described by residents of an old peoples’ home as they share their memories, A drunken narration of the poem in a rowdy west-country pub as the locals cheer on the press-ganged reader, a serendipitous meeting with a descendant of Wordsworth come to trace the same route, the way the primary school children throw themselves into the task of telling the tale, the double-booked hall.. it’s all good.

When I saw Light and Dark for the first time I was blown away. It’s very short and as soon as it finished I watched it again immediately. Again it defies description, all I can say is turn up on Friday 17th, watch and enjoy.

Music will be provided by the aforementioned My Two Toms and Bucky.

Admission £6 (£5 concession)
Friday 17th October 2008
Doors open 7.30

For directions and a map to the Cube click on the link below.

I hope to see some of you there.

Support The Bike Show

The Bike Show, as far as I am concerned, is a national treasure. This fantastic radio show (also available as a podcast from iTunes) is probably the only show about bicycles on the airwaves in the U.K. It has it’s fair share of listeners the world over too. The content is always rich and varied, from rolling interviews (interviewing while cycling along), examinations of cycling and politics, town planning, weird cycle rides, sub-24 hour camping, a history of Moulton Cycles, Round the world by bike, bicycle films, bicycle music… that’s just the last six weeks or so. If you haven’t listened to The Bike Show, then I implore, nay, insist that you go to the web page and listen. There are also complete archives available, if you are just discovering The Bike Show for the first time, then there is over three years of previous material to keep you going, load them up onto your iPod and listen at your leisure.

In an interview, the Bike Show presenter Jack Thurston once said of the connection between bicycles and radio:

“I think they are both subtle technologies, and gentle technologies. Television shouts, whereas radio is just a word in your ear. I think a bicycle compared to a car is the same kind of thing. There’s a subtlety the bicycle shares with radio.”

He also has great taste in music, lacing the articles with sounds, old and new, to create a collage or a tapestry of sound. It’s lovely to hear the sound of gentle exertion as an interviewee eases up a hill while talking about an around the world trip by bike. Or the ringing of bike bells as the interview rolls along a canal path. Or my very favourite sound, the ticking of a freewheel.

If you listen to The Bike Show already, then, if you have not yet done so, you really should make a donation to Resonance FM, the radio station that broadcasts it. Actually if you have already done so, you should do so again.

“Resonance 104.4 fm is London’s first radio art station and is run by the London Musicians’ Collective. It started broadcasting on May 1st 2002. Its brief? To provide a radical alternative to the universal formulas of mainstream broadcasting. Resonance 104.4 fm features programmes made by musicians, artists and critics who represent the diversity of London’s arts scenes, with regular weekly contributions from nearly two hundred musicians, artists, thinkers, critics, activists and instigators; plus numerous unique broadcasts by artists on the weekday “Clear Spot”.”

Which is as much to say that it’s essentially run by volunteers. As you can imagine, it costs a lot of money to run a radio station, so Resonance rely on donations, it’s continued existence often looks a bit precarious. If you have listened to, and enjoyed, the bike show, I implore you to chuck them a bit (or a lot) of cash to help keep them going. It would be a sad day indeed if the bike show could no longer be heard thrumming out of our speakers or headphones on a Monday night. Support Resonance FM by making a donation here.

I’ll leave you with a photo that goes with a set from a recent interview on the show with the owner of London’s ‘anti-bike shop’ selling old restored classic bikes. More gorgeous pics from the flickr set here.

Published in: on October 2, 2008 at 10:24 pm  Comments (1)  
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